Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Oprah winfrey Network’

We all have that moment when we look in the mirror and truly see ourselves for the first time.  It might be the day of a big birthday, graduation from school, or for some, the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness.  It’s a moment when clarity mixes with curiosity.  A split second when you ask the question, “Who am I?”

I spend a lot of time in my studio and I listen to podcasts to keep me company.  This is a recent shift because music used to be my go-to studio mate, but there’s so much to learn that the podcast has been like being in a virtual classroom.  Listening to podcasts coupled with watching interviews on the DVR gives me plenty of material to convert into creative iterations of my life.

On Super Soul Sunday Oprah interviewed Pastor A.R. Bernard.  A pastor for forty years he has one of the largest congregations in the country.  Well-spoken and thoughtful, he gives you the feeling like you’re sitting in his study ready to experience an epiphany.  He turned to Oprah and said, “Every personal crisis starts with an identity crisis!”  Can you think of anything more poignant when considering the diagnosis of an illness?

When we couple the question of mortality, quality of life, and identity in one equation we’re faced with a big challenge…who are we?  What makes us who we are?  What do we need to learn?  How will this/these experiences change my life, change me?

I’ve facilitated thousands of hours of support groups over my twenty-five years as a therapist.  The question of identity is center to a diagnosis.  All too often people surrender to a label.  All the qualities they embodied prior to the doctor saying, “I’m sorry to tell you….” disappear into thin air.  There is a tendency to redefine ourselves by our diagnosis, our side-effects, even our limitations.  What would happen if we redefine ourselves by adding qualities instead of subtracting them.  Imagine adding qualities like determined, dedicated, self-loving, and conscious to your personal identity!

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times in these posts, “We may not get well, but we can always get better.”  So how has your identity been altered?  What do you see in the mirror that you may not have seen prior to your diagnosis, or other life challenge?  What new qualities will you inhabit with your ever-evolving identity?

We’re all in this together…I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

As a psychotherapist I spent much of my time in classes studying human nature. I’ve read countless books about personality theory, psychopathology, and human development. I’ve sat with thousands of patients over the past twenty-five years, each time gaining a little more information about the human condition and how our lives are shaped.

I’ve been thinking about the missing link in my education and the only thing I can come up with is the nature connection. What is my recommendation? I’ve started playing with the idea that part of the education curriculum needs to studying the animal kingdom. We’ve become so caught up in technology and industrialization that we’ve forgotten that our primary instincts are embedded in our reptilian brain. Our motivations and survival instincts are not new found ideas, but long standing actions that have been cultivated and reinterpreted to fit modern day society.

When we go through tough times it would be great if we had someone to save us. I was watching a news report about a bear cub that was on the edge of a freeway. The cub’s mother reached over the meridian and grabbed the cub by the scruff of the neck bringing it to safety. The mother instinctually knew how to save her baby. Are humans any different?

I was watching an interview with famous author Anne Lamott. Her history is fascinating and how she has shared accounts of her true life has been inspiring. On an episode of Super Soul Sunday (on the Oprah Winfrey Network) she discussed how she got sober. Lamott shared, “I felt like God picked me up by the scruff of my neck and I got sober.”

What if we all had that safety net? Who’s to say we don’t? There are forces working around us every day that serve that purpose. It may not be what you perceive as the hand of God, but a force that protects you like that of a superhero. Watching the news and Facebook posts there are continual stories of people helping others less fortunate or in dire need of being saved from a challenge whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Developing a sense of community is part of this safety net. When we have a community, a tribe, we can take risks that we believe will further our desire for hope and healing. It gives us the courage to move beyond our self-imposed limits of what’s possible. It’s important because without pushing boundaries we’ll never know how capable we are of achieving personal greatness.

Who’s grabbing you by the scruff of your neck when you need saving? Are there people, agencies, programs that are your safety net? How will you push your personal boundaries knowing you have back up?

Facing a challenge in your life?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to experience how art heals the body, mind, and spirit?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Read Full Post »

We hear a lot about mindfulness and engaging in the practice of mindfulness, but have you seen the impact for yourself? We’re told over and over that mindfulness is the key to inner peace, allowing us to focus on what’s important. If you’re one of the skeptics allow me to share my most recent finding.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about the importance of meditation as outlined by Dan Harris in 10% Happier. Harris had a panic attack while reporting on Good Morning America. After much soul searching, psychiatrist visits, and retreats he concluded that meditation is the one thing that brings him to center and has improved his life.

I’m a seeker. I love learning new things, exploring the things that capture my attention, and expand what I think is possible. I look for reporters that are covering topics we would like to breeze by because they make us uncomfortable. Lisa Ling is one of those reporters. Ling’s show Our America with Lisa Ling, airs on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), tackles tough issues that we grapple with every day. Her latest show was about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

There are fifteen million people in the United States diagnosed with ADHD, most of them children. It’s disruptive to the lives of the children and their families. It leaves school systems feeling helpless and at odds with how to provide an education to these kids without interfering with their regular school programs. The episode followed those who are taking medication, as many do, and a case where an alternative to medication was used.

Wilson, a child with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder was struggling through school. Things got so bad that in the second grade he told his mother that if he had to go back to school he was going to commit suicide. Fortunately his mother, an educator, hired an education advocate and they found salvation at The Hunter School.

The Hunter School is a unique boarding and therapeutic school helping young children with ADHD, Anxiety, Sensory and related conditions(taken from their website, www.hunterschool.org). The first shift in perspective came from the administrator. She reframed ADHD as a diagnosis to calling these children Energetically Sensitive.  It shifted the cloud hanging over these kids to blue skies of hope.

The school is truly unique. The student teacher ratio is 1:3, unheard of in the American education system. The school takes a holistic approach, no medication. In its place the children are taught to meditate. They are guided in techniques to center themselves. If a child is disruptive in the classroom he or she is taken out of the class and brought to the mindful room where the student and the teacher work on refocusing, centering, and strategizing about ways to regain control.

Wilson, the student I spoke about earlier is thriving. He lives at the school during the week. His life has totally changed. He feels re-invented. He’s learned to structure his life so it’s manageable. He is renewed body, mind, and spirit. He eloquently discusses his new lease on life.

I understand that not every child has access to an educational institution like The Hunter School, but the school model is one we need to explore. The next question is if it works for kids, what could the impact be for adults. Dan Harris talks about the impact of going on a ten-day silent retreat and other meditation revelations.

I’m not saying that mindfulness is a cure for everything, but explore it. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, angry or simply out-of-sorts, explore the impact of mindfulness. As always I’m not saying this is the definitive answer. You should always consult with a therapist, coach, or spiritual director to explore your options so your choices are made with informed consent.

Facing Adversity?  Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Exploring how Art impacts healing the body, mind, and spirit?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Read Full Post »

Legends, those people in our lives that blazed a trail before us.   These are the people whose work, ideas, and personhood, inspire us. They are the people whose shoulders we stand on. How do you know who the legends are in your life? The legends in your life are the people you make reference to on a continual basis. They are the people who let you now the path may be hard, but it’s worth it.

I’ve had the pleasure, honor, and joy of having legends in my life. Fortunately, some are still living, but recently two legends have left this earth. Angeles Arrien, a noted cultural anthropologist was the professor of the first class I took when I started my doctoral program.

Arrien was teaching The Nine Muses. The course explored the mythological and current implications of creativity. We looked at the many ways we can all use our stories and realize that our stories are told in an individual way. I followed Arrien’s work for years. Fortunately I had the opportunity to have a full circle experience with my legend; she was the external examiner for my oral defense. Having Arrien read my work, dive deep with me about the material, and offer ways to utilize the information moving forward was the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.

Unfortunately Angeles Arrien died on April 24. She asked that instead of memorials that anyone who wanted to commemorate her life to light a candle, every month for the next year, on the date of her death. It gives me the opportunity to connect with her and her work on a regular basis. It also gives me the opportunity to honor the impact she had on my life and work.

The same can be said for another American treasure, Dr. Maya Angelou. A poet, singer, actor, producer, teacher, etc. broke barriers, inspired many, and provided us with a life story that, although difficult, shined brightly as she overcame adversity. If you watch anything that Oprah has done you know that Angelou was a legend to her. Her favorite lesson from Angelou is, “When you know better, you do better”.

This weekend to honor Angelou’s life, OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) has been showing programming about the legend. One of the rebroadcasts was of Oprah’s Legends Ball. The Legends Ball brought legends in the African American community such as Maya Angelou, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Valerie Simpson, etc. In addition, she had the Youngins’ who included Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, etc. Celebrating the continuum of talent, experience, and possibility is critical for all of us. Having those moments of honoring those who come before us punctuates the decisions we make in our lives to follow a particular path.

Where am I going with all of this? I believe we need to honor the legends in our lives. Identifying why specific people past and present are important to you gives you the opportunity to continue on your own journey and do so with the blessing of those who walked the path before you.

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness and looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Interest about the impact Art has on Healing?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Read Full Post »

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) may not be a success, but some shows are obviously taking center-stage on the network.  It shouldn’t be a surprise, but the shows that are doing well are the shows where Oprah’s touch is evident.  In these cases she’s either doing the interview as in, “Oprah’s Next Chapter”, or “Oprah Winfrey’s Master Class”.  It’s the later that caught my attention last night when the guest of the show was the famous actress, activist, and fitness guru, Jane Fonda.

If you haven’t seen the show it allows the guest to speak about their life dividing the segments into “life lesson” segments.  The show is tasteful, insightful, and inspiring.  When I was listening to Jane Fonda speak last night I kept my notepad close by waiting for those bits of wisdom that would get me to think about my own life in a new way.  The lessons that caught my attention were: Allow your vulnerabilities to show; we’re not meant to be perfect, we’re meant to be whole; and Empathy is revolutionary!

This got me thinking about all the client/participant stories I’ve heard over the years and the lessons I’ve learned from all of you.  On the other hand, I started wondering what it would be like if I put you in front of a camera for an hour and you got to distill your life down to four or five pivotal life foundations.  This is very different than conducting a life review because it’s not about summing up your life at the end; it’s about punctuating those things that have made you who you are today!

I believe this can be a great part of your health and healing journey.  After your diagnosis you may have began to reflect on your life, your experiences, relationships, and adventures.  What have you taken from each of those experiences that will support your journey to wellness.  One of the things that Jane Fonda made very clear is “It’s never too late!”  That would mean that even for you, getting a diagnosis of a chronic or life-altering illness doesn’t have to be an end, but a beginning.  It can be a launch pad for your new life.

What would you impart to us if you were filming your own Master Class for the Oprah Winfrey Network?  What do you believe are the most important, helpful, inspiring lessons you’ve learned that will propel your life and ours forward?

Read Full Post »