Thanks, Karen Kleiman. Let’s Keep Our History Alive!

Two weeks ago in her weekly blog, my colleague and friend, Karen Kleiman, of the Postpartum Stress Center, thanked ten of us who had been involved in promoting awareness and education of postpartum depression. It felt wonderful to be recognized among such an esteemed group of women, many whom I’m happy to say are friends.

It also made me think about a book I’ve been reading, Crones Don’t Whine by Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, and the importance of having gratitude for the women who have come before us and cleared the way for us to follow. I remember 28 years ago when I became one of the psychologists associated with PPD (postpartum depression) and other postpartum conditions (anxiety, OCD, PTSD, PPP), there were two women whose tireless efforts led the field now called “perinatal mental health” to what’s it’s become: Jane Honikman and Nancy Berchtold.

Both were survivors of postpartum conditions and had the courage to speak out, each in their own way, about how we needed to pay attention to these conditions women were experiencing after childbirth for the mom’s and her family’s health. Long before others, these two pioneers dared speak the unspeakable, that motherhood is not always bliss, and that most women who experience PPD suffered in silence and tried not to let it show so as not to be judged a “bad mom.”

They helped many of us start a journey which continues to be an important part of our lives today. I know it has been in mine. Here’s to you Jane and Nancy for your passion, leadership and inspiration.

With much gratitude and affection.

Namaste.

 

Living Self-Care: A Mindful Journey

Last week we started a new class Living Self-Care: A Mindful Journey at the Midwest Mind Body Health Center in STL which Stacey and I hope to offer online next month. We talked about our five mindfulness foundation skills, practiced “Simply Breathe,” and discussed how we could take care of “Our Bodies” outside of class.

My students gently reminded me how challenging it is to practice self-care and mindfulness outside of class and how helpful it is to have a group in which we deliberately set aside time to practice and how much they’d missed this. Honestly, I missed it too. Although I make time usually for self-care or mindfulness, I was also more lax since our weekly meetings stopped.

Likewise, because I often teach “formal” skills/exercises in class, I realized I hadn’t said enough about how to practice “informally” throughout the day with the opportunities that naturally occur. For example, today when I was out for a walk, I stopped to look and listen to a passing train until the caboose went by. Or the other day, noticing the passing clouds in the sky instead of rehearsing my to-do list. Or, being in the shower, and paying attention to the smell of the soap, the sound of the water hitting my skin and the way it feels when I open the shower door to grab my towel.

This week, see if you can find a group of like-minded souls to spend some mindful time together or look for ways to add informal practice wherever and whatever you’re doing. For formal practice, check out the “Simply Breathe” video above.

Best to each of you. Namaste.

The Year in Review

2014 turned out to be an extra-ordinary year for me. It was not easy but as Stacey and I and others (much wiser) say, we often discover more about who we are through life’s challenges than when the road is easily traveled. Last weekend, I was reminded of this again when the characters from “Into the Woods” start out on a path which “is clear and the light is good” and in the course of the story, the path becomes barely recognizable to them.

I will be sharing more throughout the year about this past year’s transformative journey and my personal growth; however, I would encourage you to take time now to reflect on what you gained in 2014. The challenges you faced and what you learned from them. The triumphs, large and small, which continue to define you. Maybe, you were reminded like me that we live in a constantly changing universe, and our ability to “keep doing our inner work” is how consciousness evolves.

Here’s what Patanjali wrote almost two thousand years ago on the subject of inspiration. Click here to listen to Wayne Dyer discuss this passage in his lecture on the Wisdom of the Ages.

Let it be a guidepost to you in 2015 in your endeavors to fulfill your potential, whatever the task.

INSPIRATION

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds.

Your mind transcends limitations, and your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.

Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

Enjoy the journey! Namaste

Happy Thanksgiving to You From Us

Here’s a little something from us to you. Click here to put a smile on your face. Happy Thanksgiving and make certain to take time to celebrate your wonderful self.

We are grateful for each of you!

All the best, Diane and Stacey

Summer: A Time of Wonder

Summer is a wonderful time to reflect on the magnificence of being alive. Enjoy reading Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” below. This week, see what you can discover in the magic of a summer day and savor each moment. If you need a little help, the hummingbird picture above can be the focus of your contemplation.

Hummingbird photo from Maggie.

Hummingbird photo from Maggie.

“The Summer Day”

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

~~Mary Oliver

 

Namaste.

Simply Self-Care

My Backyard Oasis by Rachel Sanford

My Backyard Oasis by Rachel Sanford

 

I took a break last week from posting. I needed it. The holiday weekend had me “holidayed” out. I didn’t do much but I felt like it after weeks of too much doing and not enough being.

Instead, I spent the afternoon relaxing in the thirty dollar wading pool (for adults), my daughter and I got at Sam’s Club earlier this season. I was so happy sunning and doing nothing. It reminded me (once again) that I need to stop more often and experience life with “ease and joy” as one of my mindfulness teachers says. Likewise, it doesn’t take a “special” situation or circumstance for this to occur. In mindfulness we call this as “informal” practice. Simply, paying attention to what you’re doing.

This week, I encourage you to take 5 minutes a few times each day to pause and become fully engaged in the moment you’re in. Then take 15-20 minutes once or twice during the week to intentionally choose an activity that eases stress and brings you joy. Your to-do list will still be there when you’re done but it may not seem as urgent or oppressive. A little “time-out” can go a long way.

Namaste

 

An Unstoppable Spirit: Paula Sims Turns 55 in Prison

This post is in honor of my friend, Paula Sims, who’s been incarcerated for the past 20+ years following the deaths of her two daughters due to postpartum psychosis. In spite of serving so much time in prison and countless denials of her appeal for clemency, her spirit remains strong and resilient. She inspires me to be a better person because she continues to rise above her circumstances every day of her life. What follows is part of a letter I received from her this past week.

“Yesterday was Summer Solstice, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. In many cultures, it is a day of celebration. So, a few of my friends and I celebrated the radiance of summer by giving extra thanks for the sun and its life giving warmth of our planet. Plus, we honored the beauty of creation by enjoying it by going outside to the “Yard,” walked in the grass and simply sat in the sun at a picnic table and socialized. Also, I enjoyed the fresh air, basking in the warmth of the sun, and marveling at the beauty of the day. We always revel in the bounty of creation and are thankful for all our blessings.

I continue to keep real busy with my ADA (service dogs) attendant job, Toastmasters, etc. I had a great 55th birthday a month ago, and my room-mates and several friends down the hall showered me with cards, gifts and sang “Happy Birthday” to me:). On the unit, my room-mates and friends had a party with good food and fellowship. My brother, Aunt and Uncle, were able to visit for 4 hours. We had a super time and they’re fine. They plan to visit again around my brother’s birthday in August.

I’ve got more “great news.” On June 10th, I completed my goal of doing 10 speeches in Toastmaster’s which I’d been working on since April 2, 2013. My 10th speech, “Don’t Give Up” based on a story about how the great Russian writer, Alexander Solzenheitzen, overcame his prison experience, led to my winning “Best Speaker of the Night.” This story has inspired me for years. I hoped it would inspire my audience and I believe it did. Also, I shared one of my many dreams as a young girl, to become an artist. At the end of my speech, I showed a few of my drawings.

Drawing by Paula Sims

Drawing by Paula Sims

Now, that I’m a certified public speaker on Toastmaster’s International website, I hoped to get some speaking engagements to share my story about my daughters and my postpartum psychosis, bringing more awareness to PPD/PPP, and helping to save lives. But until that happens, I’ll keep working on being and advanced speaker at our weekly meetings! I’ll keep you posted. Okay?”

Paula concludes her letter by asking me to send a birthday to Andrea Yates who turned 50 recently.

I believe that we can all learn from Paula, her strength, her generosity and her gratitude for the gift of life. Happy birthday, friend.

Namaste.