Posted in Authentic Freedom, Healing, Inspiration, spiritual awakening, Spiritual Development, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Staying Sane in an Insane World

Staying sane in an insane world is about tools, practice and support. Below are my thoughts on staying sane along with resources and support for doing so:

It’s getting pretty crazy out there! Just yesterday I posted two comments on Facebook, one about not knowing what to believe, or if there is anything to believe in the media and an outright call to the universe:  “Mothership take me away!”  No matter where you lie within the spectrum of the perceived separation dividing our nation and the world, you must be feeling it.  Anxiety.  Fear.  Depression.  Despair.  Frustration.  Impatience.  Anger.  Powerlessness.  Perhaps even a sense of hatred.  It seems that no matter where we turn, there is another news article, news show, advertisement, etc. that is attempting to trigger our fears, anxieties, insecurities, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. interfering with our desire for staying sane.

The good news is that while we might feel pretty powerless in a world that seems to be imploding upon itself, we are not! We have the resources within us for staying sane in an otherwise insane world – we just need someone to help us discover, cultivate and then activate these resources.  THIS is what I have spent the past 25 years mastering and what I would like to share with you now:

REMEMBER your original nature is contentment and peace. If you don’t know or remember this:

Develop or deepen a daily spiritual/meditation/contemplative/prayer practice. If you don’t currently have a practice or need getting started, take my FREE online course Starting a Spiritual Practice.  Learn more and register HERE.

The Greatest Obstacle to remaining in a state of peace is our unhealed wounds and unacknowledged anxiety and fears. To learn how to identify and then heal and transform these wounds and fears:

Read my book Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joyor better yet, take the online course.  Learn more and register for the course HERE.

REMEMBER you are not alone. There are people out there who have learned how to stay sane in an otherwise insane world. Reach out to them for guidance and support:

As a trained Spiritual Director, I have spent the past 20 years supporting people in finding their way through the tangled web of life….supporting them in identifying and healing unhealed wounds and unacknowledged fears and freeing them from the inner obstacles to enjoying a peaceful and fulfilling life. Learn more about my Spiritual Direction/Counseling services HERE. 

Take Action! If there is something you don’t like about our world, DO something about it. If you want more peace, then work for peace.  If you see injustices being done, speak or act out against these injustices.

Join the LOVE WARRIOR movement.  Become an agent of non-violent social change in a community of people trying to do the same.  Learn more and join HERE.

 

Love and Peace to you!

Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS

 

Posted in Healing, Inspiration, mental illness

Anxiety, Depression, Panic Attacks, Video Blog with Kayla Burger

This morning, I was so honored to be contacted by Kayla Burger, a lifestyles Video blogger.  Yesterday she posted a video blog on the topic of Anxiety, Depression and Panic Attacks and referenced some of my writing.  I found her work to be inspired, articulate, authentic and empowering.  Check out Kayla’s Vlog here and learn more about her work below:

In Kayla’s words:

In stopping and listening to our symptoms, we no longer need to get rid of them, because we are allowing them to tell us what we need to know. 

Read Lauri Ann’s blog here : https://authenticfreedomacademy.com/2…

Watch the first video by clicking the link: https://youtu.be/_9UOe76x3J4

This video is really important to me and even though I may get a lot of hate for it, I feel like it’s something we need to talk about and open our minds to. Thank you for being here and thank you for being you, I hope you find the courage to love yourself enough to start the journey of discovering and listening to the voice within. 

“May you listen to the voice within even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding and lead you to freedom.” 
Elizabeth Lesser 

W E B S I T E :

designlife.wtf@gmail.com

T W I T T E R :

@kaylabecoming (https://twitter.com/kaylabecoming)

I N S T A G R A M :

@kaylabecoming (https://www.instagram.com/kayla.burger/)

B L O G G E R :

http://kaylaburger.blogspot.co.za/

P A T R E O N : 

https://www.patreon.com/designlife


// A B O U T : 

My name is Kayla. I am a writer, video creator and a holistic beauty and life coach. My purpose is to share information and inspiration about loving yourself, body mind and soul. 

DESIGNLIFE is about living your life by design and not default. It’s about living a life of inspiration, rather than desperation. 

Follow the journey and join in on the discussions, each happy and open-minded person makes the world a better and more loving place. We are a community of people who are willing to learn and share and help.

Posted in detachment, Inspiration, Lessons, world changes

Resting in the Unknown

December 26, 2016, and we are at a powerful place of transition as a culture, as a species, as a world. 2016 is drawing to a close (THANK GOD!), and a new year, a new age, a new world is dawning.

planetsunrisepixabay

We just don’t yet know what that new world will look like. We can hazard a few guesses – there will be a multitude of changes and many will choose fear in the face of these changes, especially those changes that bring endings and even death.  But in the midst of what some might call “fearful,” there also exists the promise of magnificent and magical things trying to be born into our world.

As change is our greatest fear as human beings (we fear it even more than death), this is a tenuous time, especially as we grasp after the illusion of surety in the face of cataclysmic change. We want to control the journey.  We want to know what is happening, where we are going and our role in all of this.  We want to know how these changes will affect us.  And we want to know all of it NOW!  We are not a patient species.

The thing is, we don’t get to know! We will only know it as it shows up, and even then, we might only get a glimpse.  We will grasp after labels and the illusion of a final decision, only to have it ripped from our clutches.  So, what are we to do in a time of such enormous change?

NOTHING.

Yep, you heard it right. To quote a Course in Miracles, “We need do nothing.”  There is literally nothing we can, should or ought to be doing EXCEPT resting in the unknown as the old life comes to an end and the seeds of new life begin to find their roots.  Our job is to rest. To wait. To simply be.  Allowing the old to pass from our sight and the new to step forth into its place.  Here, we are resting in the unknown.

And BOY will we be UNCOMFORTABLE! We have been conditioned to be afraid when we are not in control.  We grow restless, impatient, anxious, worried.  When these emotions arise, it is even more critical that we DO NOTHING.  Acting out of fear only brings more fear, so don’t!  Sit with the discomfort.  Be with your restlessness, boredom, anxiousness, worry and fear.  Discipline yourself to BE not Do and as you are busy doing nothing, that which is coming into being will have the room, the space, the freedom (from your controlling hands) and the safety to come into the world on its own.  Much in the same way that a baby comes into the world on its own (when a birth is difficult, it is not the baby that is the problem), so too will the new life that is coming into the world through us.

Rest in the unknown and you will be thrilled at what comes forth – all on its own!

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Midlife Journey, women

Surviving Midlife – New online course!

Surviving Midlife – guidance and support for women through the sometimes treacherous journey from childbirth to birthing themselves.

12 self-paced online lessons with instructor guidance and support.

Only $66.00!!!!

Click on image to learn more and register
Click on image to learn more and register

Somewhere between the ages of 35 and 45, (and which continues until our death) women begin the process of the midlife journey – a process through which they move beyond childbearing to birthing themselves.  For many, the advent of this transition comes in the form of a rude awakening, personal crisis or tragedy and continues through volatile physical and emotional changes which seem at once to be disconcerting and confusing.  The purpose of the midlife journey is to knock women out of the comfort of status quo and into the passion, meaning and purpose that will define their lives beyond motherhood.  Like childbirth, the midlife journey can be dangerous and fraught with pain, but like the birth of a child, can produce a gift beyond measure and miraculous to behold.

Common signs that you might be in the midst of the midlife transition:

Experiences of:

  • Restlessness
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Longing
  • Discontent
  • Impatience, anger,  rage
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Physical and emotional changes
  • Grief
  • Sadness

The purpose and goal of the midlife transition is to clear out all the inner and outer obstacles and make way for the birth of our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning and purpose in our life and to contribute to the betterment of the world, then it is time to put on our big girl and big boy panties!  Only the truly brave and courageous will succeed in their goal.  The rest, will be doomed to a life of quiet desperation,  – just sayin! (not that there is anything wrong with making that choice).

mapofmidlifeimageonly

The purpose of this course is to support you in your midlife journey. This course supports you through the midlife awakening and on the labyrinthine journey through the twists and turns of unraveling from the past toward returning to and reclaiming your Soul. Here you will discover you Soul’s purpose for the second half of life, a purpose that is meaningful, fulfilling, joyful and content.

Lesson One: Awakening

Lesson Two: Confronting Fears

Lesson Three: Unraveling the Past

Lesson Four: Finding Support

Lesson Five: Illusions Shattered

Lesson Six: Seeking the Voice of Truth

Lesson Seven: Dark Night of the Relationship

Lesson Eight: Befriending Our Bodies

Lesson Nine: Hiding in the Shadows

Lesson Ten: Childhood Dreams

Lesson Eleven: Birthing our Soul

Lesson Twelve: Returning

Click on image to learn more and register
Click on image to learn more and register

Posted in About Lauri, Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Empowerment, Lessons

It’s Not That They Don’t Love Me – It’s That They Don’t Love Themselves

There is nothing more healing than the startling realization that a deeply imbedded emotional wound has always and forever been based in a lie. Here the wound was the fear that I am not/was not loved.  The realization is that in every situation where I was treated in less than loving ways, where I felt rejected or unloved, it was not because I am not loved…..it is because those who were doing the “rejecting,” don’t love themselves.  Here’s how it happened:

For the past several months, I’ve been working with a trauma specialist, hoping to alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic attack, due, in part, to past traumas. The specific treatment protocol we have been using is Brainspotting.  (Please check out the Brainspotting website to learn more.  If you are in the Oshkosh area and are interested in exploring treatment for healing trauma, I have been working with Kristin Gage, and I recommend her highly!).

In this week’s Brainspotting session, what surfaced was a life-review of sorts. In this life review, I was shown every single situation in my life where I felt rejected, criticized, condemned, or falsely accused.  The life-review began with Mrs. Plager, my kindergarten teacher taping my mouth shut and locking me in the closet for the simple reason that I was a happy, gregarious, creative, 5 year old.  I was punished simply for being me.  The life review then continued through every conflictual relationship – my third grade music teacher who pounded my head against my desk for humming the wrong notes, the “mean girls” of middle school and high school, every boy who wouldn’t love me, teachers who hated me, Fr. Doyle who gave me a “C” in high school religion class for challenging his contention that he got to go to heaven first simply by nature of his ordination, my college nemesis, the self-appointed inquisition, the priest who became the final straw and our local bishop.  I saw every situation in my life where I felt rejected and unloved ….  Quite frankly, for simply being me.

1960's 005

After the life-review, I was then shown a different viewpoint. I saw every single one of these “rejections” not from my own vantage point, but from the inner experience of those who were doing the “rejecting.”  What I saw BLEW ME AWAY.

It was not that they didn’t love me. It was that they didn’t love themselves.

Here is how it worked. Unless pushed to act otherwise, I have never, in my whole entire life, wanted to be anything but loving toward another.  Yes, I have reacted in anger to feeling hurt or rejected.  Yes, I did the normal sibling things of fighting, arguing, bickering, etc.  Yes, I have been human and liked some people more than others.  And there have been some people I have stayed away from because, quite frankly, they scare me.  But in all of this….I still want to treat everyone with love.

What I have learned is that not everyone wants to be loved. Not everyone can stand in the light of love.  When love comes toward them, it triggers their own unhealed wounds around love, specifically all the ways in which they do not feel loved within themselves.  Once this wound is triggered, (and believe me, my own woundedness around love is triggered from time to time), we do one of two things:

  • We recognize that our wound has been triggered and we do some self-care to help support the healing of that wound.
  • We project that wound back onto the person who triggered it, making them the enemy.

The latter is what happened in each and every one of those cases where I felt unloved by a teacher, “friend,” stranger, etc. It is not that they did not love me, it was that my presence somehow triggered their own unhealed wounds around love and they either did not have the awareness, the courage or the tools to do something about it.  So instead of treating their own wound, they turned it back on me, making me the enemy.

So again, it was never that they did not love me, it was that they did not love themselves. How freeing and empowering is that?

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, detachment, Faith, Freedom, Healing, Lessons

Authentic Freedom – Help for When the Bottom Falls Out

About a month ago, I received news that is a COMPLETE game changer. This news changes everything AND puts everything into question.  This news impacts literally EVERY aspect of my life and to say it has caused a mild state of shock would be an understatement.  It is during times like these that Authentic Freedom – the process I created which supports human transformation – comes most in handy and proves its effectiveness.

Each and every one of us has had these kinds of experiences – when the rug is pulled out from beneath us, when the ceiling caves in and when the universe, in one fell swoop, tosses us out of the nest of what we have known into what we cannot yet imagine.

The greatest temptation during these times of freefall is to make plans. Our mind, in search of something to hang on to, out of fear of the unknown, tries to make plans, or tries to become attached to potential and possible outcomes.  As many have learned, when we make plans (or try to make plans), God laughs.  I have witnessed the truth of this many times over in the past month as I have tried to plan my way out of and through this change.  A possibility shows up, a potential, a promise, and I get excited about it, imagining all the possible ways in which this will support myself and my family and then POW, the Universe throws a wrench in the deal and the whole things falls apart.  This is EXACTLY what happened this past Wednesday.  Two universes collided and everything that I had planned and waged my future on completely collapsed.

anxiety2

Understanding the importance of grieving our losses, I have allowed myself time to grieve – to cry the ugliest cry, to tantrum, to rant and rave and wail. I reached out to my most trusted advisors for support and perspective and allowed myself to move through and to feel deep support.  In this, I found my way through the debris to the place where I can be open to what truly needs to manifest, knowing that in every death is the promise of new life.  I just don’t yet know what that new life might be.

I then created time and space away from all that might distract me from what I truly need to be doing at this time: SURRENDER. And in this surrendering, turning to what I know will guide me and support me in ALLOWING what it is that the Universe has in store for me – not a plan of my making, but one that comes directly from God and which is sure to be in my highest good, using my gifts in a way that is both fulfilling for me and in service to the betterment of the world.  And what I know will guide and support me is the very process that I created for others, Authentic Freedom.

In this process, I maintain diligent attention to my spiritual practice and apply the principles of Authentic Freedom for identifying and moving through the fears that might otherwise prevent me from seeing and knowing God’s plan when it shows up. I will then use the process of Authentic Freedom to move me through any fears or inner resistance to God’s plan so that I can step into the freedom that God has in store for me (and for all of us when we are paying attention).

The irony is not lost on me that all of this has occurred in proximity to the Fourth of July – the time we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the journey that secured our liberty. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, let us be grateful for this external freedom while taking steps to secure the only freedom we will ever truly need – freedom from the inner fears, resistance and unhealed wounds that might otherwise stand in the way of a life of contentment and joy.

Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy available now on Amazon.  Buy it HERE.

AuthenticFreedomcover

 

 

Posted in Being Human, Discernment

Why I’m Choosing Prozac

 

Trauma

A creeping sensation crawling up the length of my spine,

Arriving at the base of my skull,

Gripping my head like a vice,

Wrapping its tentacles around my ears and jaw,

Pain creeping over the top of my head.

Eyes darting,

following the anxious thoughts in my mind

My consciousness on hyper-alert

Attentive to

Every

Subtle

Tiny

Thought

Movement

Change

Shift

Sensation

Emotion

Awareness

Breath.

Did I remember to breathe?

A flood of chemicals pouring through my entire being

Paralyzing my mind.

Gripping my sight

Fretfully seeking out the next possible threat.

Image: Pixabay.com
Image: Pixabay.com

Anxiety and panic attacks accompanied by migraine headaches and depression. It hasn’t always been like this, but for the past 12 years, since I had my first (known) panic attack in 2004, this has been the preoccupation of my waking (and sleeping) mind and the lived experience of anxiety as it floods my body.  And when anxiety isn’t flooding my body, all my energy has been directed toward trying to prevent its onslaught.

It didn’t used to be this way. In fact, I remember a time when I simply enjoyed life.  Yes, I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve and succeed, but I used to remember how to have fun…and how to play.  And driving used to be one of my most enjoyable tasks, relaxing even.  But when panic attacks happen while driving, driving becomes something you dread, equating driving with death, because when you are having a panic attack, it feels like you just might die.  And when you are driving a vehicle at 70mph as your vision is closing in and your heart is pounding, it just doesn’t feel very safe.

It didn’t used to be this way. But, couple the genetic predisposition to the Irish curse (depression and anxiety) with 25 years of on-going and relentless trauma, and panic is bound to happen….and anxiety….and migraine headaches…and depression.

At first I was in denial. “Oh, it’s just low blood sugar, an endocrine imbalance, the wine I had last night, the lack of sleep, blah blah blah.

Then I bargained. Yoga helps.  Meditation helps.  If I eat the right foods, get the right amount of sleep, learn to be present with my emotions, let my Soul’s purpose come forward, allow 30+ years of suppressed emotions to find their expression, engage my creativity, dance, move, run, drum, scream, chant, etc. etc. etc.

While all of this has helped, and given me relief from time to time, mostly I have spent the past 12 years trying not to have anxiety or a panic attack – scrutinizing every thought, feeling emotion, social situation as potential triggers, forcing myself to BE MY TRUE SELF….watching all the while as my world gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Avoiding social situations because I might feel anxious.  Choosing not to drive….or making excuses, so I won’t have a panic attack.  Then feeling guilty as hell for depriving myself and my children of a life that should be about enjoyment….not imprisonment.

It isn’t even the panic attacks that are the problem – because in truth, I’ve only had a few. It is the on-going fear and protective measures taken in the hopes of preventing a panic attack, measures which ironically are most likely an enormous part of the problem.

So what does one do? A few years back when panic attacks were waking me out of a dead sleep, I tried Lexapro.  Yes, it silenced the other voice in my head, the panic attacks stopped and I even began to feel some measure of joy.  But the entire time I was on it, I felt like shit.  I felt hung over and nauseous every day.  I was tired and I gained weight.  This was not how I wanted to live my life.  Then the Lexapro stopped working and I forgot to take it.  For a time I managed on my own, but was I really? I’m no longer sure.

Because now I see it plainly. This past weekend I took my son to the mall, which required driving on the highway I’m most afraid to travel.  I employed every tactic I could to “make” myself able to do it.  I breathed.  I drummed.  I took a flower essence.  I listened to a comedy CD to distract my anxious thoughts.  I did it.  But instead of feeling victorious, I felt like hell.  I felt sick, I felt exhausted, I felt worn out.  Then I examined what I had been feeling in preparation for the drive and how my body truly responded….and then wrote the poem above.

This is not a life. Making myself do things I am currently unable to do…and making myself sick in order to do them.

This is not a life. Using all my energy to “manage” symptoms I ultimately have no control over.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Migraines.  Panic Attacks…..all the after-effects of trauma.  You could almost say I earned these symptoms.

This is not a life. When all my energy is directed toward managing these symptoms, I have nothing left to give to the things I want to enjoy in my life – creating, nurturing, nourishing, enjoying, playing.  When every ounce of psychic energy is directed toward treating anxiety, depression, migraines and panic attacks, I have nothing left to give to anything else, and this is not how I want to spend my energy – especially when Western medicine has tools to help ease, and maybe even heal the trauma that caused these symptoms in the first place.  Because again, when all my energy is directed toward managing these symptoms, my body is not able to heal – and I want to heal because I am more than the trauma that I have experienced and more than the anxiety that has since defined my life.

This is why I am choosing Prozac (or whatever else my doctor might recommend in helping to treat the after, and ongoing effects of trauma).

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Relationships

How the “Unholy Masculine” is Killing Us.

I want to be clear, right from the start, this blog is NOT about men and it is not against men. This blog is about a characteristic and behavior pattern of Western culture that I have come to call “the unholy masculine.” Both women and men are guilty of embodying characteristics and engaging in behaviors consistent with the “unholy masculine,” and THIS is the cause of all that is wrong with Western culture and IT is killing us.

The unholy masculine can be defined as:

Behaviors and characteristics of power and control, ultimately motivated by fear.

The unholy masculine are all the ways in which we attempt to have power over ourselves and/or others through acts of coercion, bullying, manipulating through fear and insecurity (think advertising and the media), trying to “make things happen,” forcing outcomes, agendas, our own will, etc.

angrywomanpixabay

The unholy masculine ultimately arises in response to our wholesale rejection of all that we perceive in ourselves as weakness, vulnerability, imperfection, helplessness, powerlessness, etc. Often this rejection of self isn’t even known, but is instead projected onto others, resulting in behavior patterns where we reject “them” (think “the poor,” “the jobless and unemployed,” “homeless,” “disabled,” “sick,” etc.)  because of their “weakness” or “powerlessness”.  The irony is that when we are rejecting others for their “weakness” what we are really rejecting is the weak and vulnerable parts of ourselves, which we then mask with behaviors of power and control.

Let me tell you a little story to help illustrate the subtle and insidious nature of the unholy masculine, as I have experienced it within myself.

As a Type One on the Enneagram, the Perfectionist/Reformer, imperfection is not allowed – specifically, imperfection as I define it. Imperfection in my mind has been anything that has to do with my definition of weakness and includes such things as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, helplessness, neediness, illness.  Sadness, loneliness, and anger have also been included in the soup of what I had/have rejected in myself, and what I therefore rejected in others because I could not accept them in myself. In contrast to the weakness that was not allowed, what was allowed was my definition of perfect….which meant independent (self-sufficient), courageous, smart, strong, and accomplished – specifically accomplished.

If I was accomplishing tasks, achieving my goals, I was perfect and strong. Especially if I was accomplishing these goals in spite of my fears, my insecurities, my sadness, loneliness….and later…anxiety, depression, panic attacks and SHEER EXHAUSTION. For most of my life, I rejected these parts of myself so much that I didn’t even know they existed.  (My Chi Qong master once observed, “Lauri, I sometimes think the only way you are making it from day to day is simply by force of your own will.”  Yep…she had me pegged!)

Accomplishing arose out of Doing, therefore “doing” was “good” and “not doing” was bad. Enjoyment, for the simple sake of enjoyment was also not allowed – because enjoyment did not equal “doing.”  Besides, enjoyment is only allowed after the doing is done, and the “doing” is never done – there is always something else I could/should be doing to accomplish my goals and complete my tasks.

THIS is the UNHOLY MASCULINE – suppressing the parts of myself I had rejected by means of power and control, forcing myself to DO and ACCOMPLISH because this is what I perceived to be of value and what I believed it meant to be perfect.

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As it turns out, all of this “DOING” for the sake of “ACCOMPLISHING” was mostly done in opposition to what my Soul actually needed and wanted. On occasion, my Soul would let me know this by casting me into a pit of profound “weakness.”  In high school it was two bouts with mono, in college it was chronic migraines, in midlife, anxiety, depression and panic attacks.  Most recently, it started with a MASSIVE virus that turned into an ear infection leading to vertigo, which then led to anxiety and depression, even panic attacks– the effects of which I am still struggling with today (hint….”struggling” is another manifestation of the unholy masculine).

THIS is the UNHOLY MASCULINE….and I am not the only one guilty of this behavior. In fact, the Unholy Masculine is what is wrong with our culture and it is the Unholy Masculine that is killing us.

  • Every time we act in opposition to our Soul,.
  • Every time we FORCE ourselves or others to do something, through coercion, bullying, manipulating through fear or by triggering insecurities.
  • Every time we JUDGE parts of ourselves as weak, worthless, unworthy, imperfect, bad, and then reject these in ourselves.
  • When we project our judgment of ourselves or our rejection of ourselves onto others.
  • When we bully, intimidate, try to “make something happen,” force ourselves or others into situations that are in opposition to their Soul.
  • When life feels like a struggle, a fight, a war.
  • When our relationships feel like a struggle.
  • Every time we treat ourselves or others in ways that are non-loving or unkind…

We are engaging in the Unholy Masculine.

lovingchildrenpixabay

The key to healing ourselves and therefore our culture of the Unholy Masculine begins with identifying and learning to love all the parts of ourselves we had previously rejected:

  • Our perceived weakness (which often turn out to be our greatest gifts).
  • Our vulnerabilities.
  • Our needs, wants, desires.
  • Our past hurts and unhealed wounds.
  • Our losses, our sorrows and our grief.
  • Our aging, changing bodies.
  • The ways in which our looks don’t measure up to what Victoria’s Secret or GQ Magazine tells us is the ideal.
  • Our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual “illnesses”.
  • Our past traumas, and broken hearts.
  • Our emotions.
  • Our thoughts.
  • The unique way in which our Soul NEEDS to move about this world.

As we come to accept these in ourselves, we come to accept them in others, the result of which is loving behavior toward ourselves and loving behaviors toward others.

In this we transform the unholy masculine to the HOLY MASCULINE – providing, protecting and supporting through kind and loving acts, which is exactly what I am off to do for myself this day. Game of Thrones, Season 3, here I come!

 

 

Posted in Teenage Suicide

The Causes of Teenage Suicide

The topic of teenage suicide has been high on my list of concerns since the first of two suicides of girls my daughter’s age in the seventh grade. Six of my children’s peers have committed suicide in the same number of years.  When the national statistic for teenage suicide is 7 out of 100,000 students of the same age, the suicide rate in my daughter’s class alone is alarmingly high!  FIVE OUT OF 250!  As a parent, and a psychological and personal development professional, I am deeply concerned!  What is happening with our children and how can we help them?

Teenage suicide is an enormous topic and one that will not be solved through a single action (or blog in this case). But as a dear friend and respected colleague recently stated, our goal around the topic of teenage suicide should be ZERO TOLERANCE. None of our children should be left to believe that suicide is the only way out of whatever difficult situation is troubling them.  Preventing teen suicide and providing support for those who have lost a family member or friend to suicide requires the collaborative efforts of many people, social service, educational and government entities.  Before we can solve the problem of teenage suicide, however, we must first explore the underlying causes of suicide.

CausesofSuicideVisual

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it gives us a glimpse into many pieces of a complicated puzzle that when added up, might lead one to believe death is the only possible solution.

STRESS

Our teens are under an enormous amount of stress. Stress related to:

Relationships – peers, friends, family, cliques, boyfriends, girlfriends, breakups, heartbreak, unrequited love, divorce, etc.

Pressure to Achieve – school, pressure to do well in school, decisions about college and career, pressure from the media, friends, family, pressure to belong, pressure to conform, etc.

The World – as I mentioned in a previous blog, “Our Kids Are Not Alright!,” our world is a mess!  Our children have NEVER not known a world at war!  Our economic and political situations are the worst they’ve ever been.  The educational outlook (the reason for pursuing education post-high school) is grim.  Our children know that the promise of a “financially rewarding career” after college is a lie.  They are facing the very real possibility of not being able to afford college (tuition rates are at an all-time high), and that the only way to attend might be through student loans which will leave them forever indebted to the government and never able to buy their own home.  This is real folks!  And our children know it!

Stress untreated = more stress = apathy = anxiety = depression

 

GRIEF

Every death, change, disappointment, hurt feeling, divorce, physical move, school transfer, breakup, change in the status of friend relationships, etc. triggers grief. In our culture we don’t know how to do grief.  We don’t even know what grief is, let alone how to deal with it.  This is no different for our children.  They are grieving, they might not know they are grieving (or the symptoms of grief), and there are few there to help them (we can’t help them if we don’t know how to grieve ourselves!).

Grief untreated = anxiety and depression

ABUSE

Abuse is rampant in our society and many of our children are living in abusive situations – physical, emotional, mental, verbal, spiritual, sexual, being bullied or neglected. Whether they are being abused, or someone else in their home or close-knit circle of friends is, they suffer the effects of abuse.  On-going abuse can lead to PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other “diagnosable” mental illnesses.

Abuse untreated = anxiety = depression = PTSD = panic attacks

 

POVERTY

While teenage suicide is not unique to any specific socio-economic category, poverty adds another dimension of stress– poverty, hunger, homelessness, poor nutrition, access to quality healthcare (or any healthcare for that matter), transient families, etc. all contribute additional stressors in an already difficult situation that might lead to believing death is ones best option.

Poverty = anxiety = isolation = depression = helplessness = hopelessness

 

LEARNING DISABILITIES, PROCESSING and SENSITIVITY ISSUES

According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), this category should fall under that of “mental illness.” I refuse to put learning and processing issues under this category as it would only reinforce the false perception that if we learn differently from what the Common Core says is the “norm” there is something “wrong” with us.  While some “learning disabilities” are readily identified and accommodations are able to be made (because this is mandated by the State or Federal government), most are not.  Dyslexia, for example, is one processing issue that often falls through the cracks.  This does not even begin to touch learning style differences and sensitivity issues.  HSP’s (highly sensitive people) are not identified in education, neither are accommodations made for them.  When our children learn by seeing or doing and teaching is not adapted to meet their needs, or accommodations are not offered to help them learn, they can’t learn.  And when they can’t learn, they cannot succeed in education.

Not learning=not achieving=not succeeding=feelings of failure=stress, depression, anxiety, etc.

 

MENTAL ILLNESS

See above! No wonder the number of children who are being treated for symptoms consistent with mental illness – depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, etc. is at an all-time high.  Our children are suffering and much of this remains unrecognized, unacknowledged and therefore, untreated.  Throw in access to healthcare (or rather, the lack thereof) and a culture that is incapable of processing grief and you have a MESS!  Our children need our help!

Depression    Anxiety    Panic Attacks    PTSD

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Preventing teenage suicide begins by treating it at its cause. When we go directly to the cause we effectively eliminate the issues that would lead one to believing death is the only answer.  While this approach ultimately means widespread systemic change, the resources are already here, if we know where to look and if we can figure out how to work together toward this common goal.  While we might not save every life, our goal should be to make teenage suicide rare, instead of what has already happened in Oshkosh where teenage suicide has become expected and almost normal.  This is wrong….way wrong, and as parents and professionals, it is our responsibility to do something about it!

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Posted in grief

Education in Wisconsin – Budget Cuts, Grief and Anxiety

Today’s blog goes out to all those men and women who are educators in the state of Wisconsin, and specifically to all my friends who are on the faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Area School District. All of these talented and hard-working men and women are suffering under the effects of recent legislative decisions, including a $250 million cut to the UW system. (Read the details HERE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/13/gov-scott-walker-savages-wisconsin-public-education-in-new-budget/). Many will lose their jobs. Those who are chosen to remain will still have a job, but likely with a lower rate of pay, significantly reduced benefits and an ever-increasing workload. Schools will have to do more with a LOT less and everyone is afraid.

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I’m writing on this topic because I have been a part of several major institutions that have experienced similar traumas and I have seen the effects these kinds of losses have on an institution, most importantly, on its employees. While the administration may be skilled at making the difficult decisions about which programs need to go, where expenses can be reduced and where benefits can be shaved, they typically have no experience in addressing the “soft” issues of grief, anxiety and fear. This was recently confirmed for me when I offered my services as a grief and transitions expert to a local institution and was told (in so many words), “Thanks, we got this!” Based on the conversations I have had with various faculty and staff who related to me the deep grief they are feeling, the chaos that is unfolding, and the fear and anxiety that have now become part of the academic culture; No, you don’t “got this.”  The administration does not “got this” because, as is common in our culture, they have no knowledge of, or experience in dealing with grief or anxiety. Instead, they take the typical attitude of “get over it and move on.” This is NOT a helpful response to grief and anxiety especially when you desire productivity and effectiveness in your employees.

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The analogy I like to use when addressing budget cuts such as those currently facing Wisconsin schools is that these cuts are akin to receiving a cancer diagnosis. For those who will be impacted by these cuts (not likely to be the person in charge), the greatest and unspoken fear is that of death. In this case, that they will be without a job or that the salary for the job they retain will be greatly reduced forcing them into financial hardship. The second fear is that they will not be valued for the work they are doing. When professors have to fundraise for their own programs and research, or do the work of three professors, this greatly devalues their gifts, along with the experience and passion they once brought to the job. When these fears and their resulting grief are not acknowledged and tended to, the anxiety, fear and grief begin to come out sideways. Morale decreases. Apathy sets in. Productivity decreases and company loyalty is all-but eliminated. Soon the institution suffers a mass exodus of its greatest assets – its teaching staff.

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Perhaps this is what the academic institutions want – a mass exodus of their greatest assets so as to make their job easier. If people leave (in droves) of their own volition, the institution doesn’t have to make the difficult decisions of who or what to cut. I must believe, however, that this is not what our academic institutions want. I want to give educational institutions the benefit of the doubt in believing they do want to retain their quality staff and provide a supportive environment, in a difficult time, for those who choose to remain. If, this is true, then educational institutions need to be providing sound grief and transition support for their employees, faculty and staff; including training on how to manage the inherent anxiety of these kinds of transitions.

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Grief support provides effective tools for moving through the faces of grief including: denial, bargaining, depression/apathy, anger and sorrow and provides resources in helping the grieving manage their anxiety. Grief support gives individuals the tools for identifying grief when it shows up and effective means for dealing with that grief. Supporting the grieving process and giving people tools for managing anxiety clears the ground for the new life that is waiting to emerge on the other side of the loss. In the case of education the new life that will emerge will be more creative, efficient and cost-effective ways of providing a quality education for people of all ages. The question facing Wisconsin schools is, do they want to arrive at this new life the hard way by denying and ignoring the grief, anxiety and fear; or through the easier path by tending to their grief?  Only time will tell.