Category Archives: Spiritual & Life Coaching

Young Minds Matter

Santa Sabina, Ripa neighborhood, Rome

A friend recently said to me that if she has a daughter she’d want her to be a Virgo. My first thought was: Why would you want that? Then you’d have a daughter like me. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want someone like me. Granted her daughter wouldn’t have a mirror image of my life, even if she were born under the sign of Virgo, as I was. She’d have different experiences, a different environment, different beliefs and a different world around her. But the fact is that I wouldn’t wish my life on my worst enemy. From the outside, my life doesn’t look that bad, and I’m sure some of the things I’ve done would make a number of people envious. On the inside, though, is another story.

I’ve been reading some of the articles the Duchess of Cambridge has commissioned for the Huffington Post UK for the campaign Young Minds Matter, which aims to raise awareness for children’s mental illness. A significant amount of the articles are directed at parents who feel ashamed to expose themselves and their children to the stigma of mental illness. I sincerely applaud the Duchess’ efforts. I think it’s wonderful that mental illness is finally coming out of the Dark Ages and being approach with openness instead of shame. I decided to share my Young Minds Matter story, though I’ve written before about my struggle with depression, because I’m what happens when childhood mental illness isn’t treated.

I’m perceived by many to be cold, abrupt, and unfriendly because I pretty much shrivel up in social situations. Throughout school, I never had any friends that I hung out with. I never learned social skills in my teenage years. When I got to college, people gave me looks that ran the gamut from pity to what is wrong with you. It was such a gift when I met some really good friends my sophomore year. Along with the friendships, though, came more anxiety, because I couldn’t believe they really wanted to be around me. I lived in fear they would figure out what a fraud I was and see me for the useless freak I was.

To this day, I try to have as quick a conversation as possible with people, so as to not inflict myself unwanted on other people. I don’t believe they want to be around me, so I eliminate the small talk and just ask my questions, get my answers, and quit the conversation. I’m an introvert naturally, so being social is incredibly stressful to me anyway, but a lot of my awkwardness is because I have no self-confidence or sense of self-worth. I assume I don’t belong anywhere and that people are just tolerating me, and because of this stiltedness people think I’m a bitch.

I’m just going to lay it on the line for parents out there who are afraid or ashamed to get help for their children. I understand shame and I don’t want to belittle anyone. Parenting is hard. I’m not a parent so I’m not going to give any advice in that area. I’m speaking from the child’s perspective.  I am what your child will look like in thirty years if you don’t get her or him help. I have no savings or retirement because I’ve never thought I’d make it to that age. I have no career because I’ve never believed I can achieve my dreams. I stopped dreaming a long time ago because I knew that, even if I accomplished the physical aspect, I still wouldn’t be happy or feel joyous about it, so it seemed pointless.

I’m in fight or flight 24/7. I have no reserves because my hormones are always pumping into my bloodstream. I have anxiety about everything. Little things are colossal to me because I know after one or two of them, I’ll be back to trying to talk myself out of suicide. I spend the majority of my time and energy trying to function normally with the burden of my depression and anxiety.

I actively avoid human beings for fear of being hurt. I am positive they’ll say something to insult me. It’s not a valid fear anymore but growing up, going to school was like being a soldier going to the battlefield. I had to be ready for an attack from any direction. Many times the verbal attack did happen. Other times it was a physical attack. Then I just imagined threats everywhere and my stress levels skyrocketed. While I don’t rationally think that I’m going to be attacked anymore, years of constant readiness have taken their toll. I’m so paranoid that I assume people have it in for me, that they hate me and will attack me given the chance.

Ask yourself if this is what you want to see in your adult child.  Please get your kids help. You don’t want them ending up like me.

#youngmindsmatter

Book: The Untethered Soul

Untethered SoulI stopped reading self-help books ten years ago when I realized they were all saying the same thing.  I went on to pursue my spiritual life in other ways, but recently I decided to see what was new in the area that had been published in the last decade.  The bestsellers today are mostly what have been popular for the last 20-30 years–Louise Hay, Abraham Hicks, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra.  However, there were some that intrigued me or that I was finally ready to stop resisting, as was the case with Byron Katie, whom I’d heard about for years but could never get my energy to line up with until now.

The first book I picked up was The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.  (FYI, Singer’s latest book is The Surrender Experiment.)  The cover caught my eye years ago.  I mean, really, it’s a horse running on the beach.  Who isn’t going to want to pick that up?    But I never felt called to read it until now.  Singer says the same thing as other metaphysics self-help books do, but in a different way.  He spends a lot of time talking about that voice in your head.  Everyone has it.  Everyone wishes it would just shut up.  But Singer was able to really step back and be the observer and realize that voice wasn’t him.  We all know this because our true self would never say the things to us that the inner voice does, but making peace with that voice is much more difficult.

Singer spent a lot of time just observing how this little voice would careen out of control into crazy land.  I have not been very successful of quieting that voice, though I keep at it every day.  Singer recommends just allowing all the emotions and thoughts and verbal diarrhea of that voice to come up and go through.  Resisting it doesn’t help.  I was so enjoying the book that I didn’t mark my favorite quotes until Chapter 14, but here are the best from the second half of the book:

This journey is one of passing through exactly where you have been struggling not to go…You will be aware that each moment of each day is unfolding and you have neither control, nor crave it.

If you really want to break through, you have to be willing to just watch the fear without protecting yourself from it.

You’ll define this [letting go] as good because you are no longer willing to put any energy into building and solidifying your façade.  Instead, you will actually permit the things that disturb your model to act as the dynamite to break it up and free you.

The only way to inner freedom is through the one who watches:  the Self.  The Self simply notices that the mind and emotions are unraveling, and that nothing is struggling to hold them together.

You will come to realize that the center from which you watch disturbance cannot get disturbed.

Any condition you create will limit your happiness.  You simply aren’t going to be able to control things and keep them the way you want them.

Things are going to happen.  The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what happens.  The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences.  You were not put on Earth to suffer.   You’re not helping anybody by being miserable.  Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that you were born and you are going to die.  During the in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience.  Events don’t determine whether or not you’re going to be happy.  They’re just events.  You determine whether or not you’re going to be happy.

No matter what happens, you can choose to enjoy the experience…In the end, if you stay happy, you win.

Things are going to happen to you, and you’re going to feel the tendency to close.  But you have the choice to either go with it or let it go.  Your mind will tell you that it’s not reasonable to stay open when these things happen.  But you have limited time left in your life, and what’s really not reasonable is to not enjoy life.

Stress only happens when you resist life’s events.

What we’re really resisting is the experience of the event passing through us.

Learn to stop resisting reality, and what used to look like stressful problems will begin to look like stepping-stones of your spiritual journey.

What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it.  It isn’t any particular event; it’s the willingness to experience life’s events.

You can turn your eyes from the sun’s light and live in darkness for a hundred years.  If you then turn them toward the light, the light is still there.  It is there for you just the same as for the person who has enjoyed its brilliance for a hundred years.

 

Horsing Around in Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

One of my New Year’s resolution is to blog consistently.  Since It’s already the 20th, I’d say I haven’t started out too well, but as the saying goes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  So I’m starting now with recent events and I’m going to slowly post my pictures from the last two years.  My trip to Italy alone is going to be a number of posts, considering how many pictures I took.

Morning fog in the mountains, Buellton

Morning fog in the mountains, Buellton

Last weekend, I drove up to Solvang, a cute Danish-styled town near Santa Barbara, for a Horsemanship class at the Monty Roberts International Learning Center.  I’ve always loved horses and wanted to learn how to ride, but for one reason or another, it never came about.  Now that I’ve decided to start riding lessons, I figured I should learn about the care of these beautiful animals but also how to handle them humanely.  Monty Roberts has been known as the original horse whisperer for years.  I remember his book coming out back in the 90s, but I never read it until I signed up for the class.  Now, with all my years of energy work, his philosophy about horses makes complete sense to me, and I wouldn’t want to be at a stable that didn’t follow his teachings.  Now I just have to find a riding instructor that follows his principles.

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

With little horse experience, it was really interesting to see how my energy affected the horses.  Animals don’t lie.  They can read your energy and can only see the truth.  Humans mostly go with the verbal cue.  Horses are the ultimate prey animal and can only read your energy.  Every single movement means something, but more importantly your energy and intention is picked up right away.

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

After watching our instructor Petra take Bugatti around the pen (and after he finally got to roll in the lovely dirt after his exercise), we were given the chance to go into the round pen and spend time moving a horse with our energy.  I would love to just spend time with a horse in the round pen learning the subtleties of the language of Equus and having a conversation with these magnificent beauties.  You learn so much about yourself and how you’re perceived.  Horses are teachers and healers and it was an honor to spend time with them.

Bugatti and Petra, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Most of my time was spent at Flag is Up Farms, but I did get into Solvang on a break to take some pictures.  The town is kind of the Disney version of a Danish town, but it’s fun to walk around for the afternoon.  There’s always the added benefit of being surrounded by vineyards and lots of vino.

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Andersen's Pea Soup Inn, Buellton

Andersen's Pea Soup Inn, Buellton

Andersen’s Pea Soup Inn, Buellton