Thank You for Hearing Me – Thanksgiving Isn’t Always A Cause For Celebration, But You Can Be Thankful The Hard Times Made You Who You Are

It’s American Thanksgiving today. Cause for celebration, right? Not necessarily. I’m ruminating on what Thanksgiving means as an expat living in Saudi Arabia, and as someone who has a spotty history with holidays ever since leaving my Canadian homeland in 1996 and taking to the international airways. Let’s face it: sometimes the seasonal holidays set off a sadness. Thanksgiving isn’t always a cause for celebration. But brave and bold Sinead O’Connor reminds us: we can always celebrate ourselves and our strong, strong selves…what we grew out of.

Continue reading “Thank You for Hearing Me – Thanksgiving Isn’t Always A Cause For Celebration, But You Can Be Thankful The Hard Times Made You Who You Are”

I Am Light – What Do You Believe (And Say) About Yourself?

What do you believe about yourself? Where did you acquire those beliefs? From whom? Where along the way did you come to believe in yourself or come to believe you are flawed and fundamentally ‘not good enough’? Here’s a healing song to remind you that you are fundamentally okay as a woman, even in your brokenness. You (we) do not need to apologize for being just who and where you (we) are. We simply are part of it all, and as such we are our own little miracles, our own little bundles of light – whether we see it or not. So, let’s see it and believe it.

In ‘Life’ in How Women Heal, we examine our beliefs about ourselves, and one thing is for sure: we women often tend to be hard on ourselves. I wonder why? Do you wonder why?

India Arie makes clear in the last live video below that this song is about the abuse that she suffered as a child, and a good many women have suffered from some form of abuse or another. What’s worse is the abuse we heap upon ourselves…in our heads.

We expect a lot of ourselves, and the world expects a lot of us. There are so many ways we can become worn down by this. This song is an anti-dote to the voices in our heads that fundamentally are adopted from the criticisms we’ve received along the way, over the course of a lifetime.

Listen to this song and listen again when you take yourself down the rabbit hole and begin to bash yourself. You are not your abuser. You are your liberator. You are the one who needs to exercise that mental muscle, and sometimes that’s just too hard, I know. Music serves beautifully. Singers and musicians do half the work for us; music is like a conduit. Close your eyes and meditate as you listen. Then do it again and again.

Keep a journal and share what comes for you, if you like. I wonder if, over time, your voices of self criticism will become weaker as you counter them with these messages of just how special you are. This is our goal. Self love. All. The. Way.

To you!

I Am Light – India Arie

I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light

I am not the things my family did
I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside, I am light
I am light

I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light

I’m not the mistakes that I have made
Or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind, I am light
I am light, I am light
I, I am light

I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light

I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race
My soul inside is all light
All light, all light yeah
All light

I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light yeah

I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light

Wonderful – Re-program Your Brain

How do you power up so you can face anything? How do you make the changes necessary to grow into the new you you’re ready for? This is how…say “I am wonderful.” It will test you. All of your sh*t will surface, as you discredit yourself. But positive, meaningful affirmations lead you to understand the power of a growth mindset. Affirmations help you through your barriers. They help build tenacity. Reprogram your brain until you believe it. “I am wonderful.” Because you are. Do it fast. Do it over again and again. Watch life unfold for the better.  

Affirmation. It’s an old ‘trick’, but it still works.

I learned of the power of affirmation when I was sixteen years old from a teacher who taught me the power of positive thinking. Edna had a smile as wide as the Niagara Falls and an enthusiasm and fire that have never diminished in her – not in all the 34 years I’ve known her. We’re still friends today. “What you say matters,” she said. “Believe it.” I didn’t but look at the evidence:

One highly accomplished athlete, musician, actor, inventor, philanthropist, author, scientist, doctor, engineer, aid worker, leader, (fill in the blank) after another states that it was the power of belief that got the person to the pinnacle of success.

“I believed I could.”

“I’m already there.” (in my mind and thus in life)

“I’m good enough.”

“I can do it.”

Affirmation = positive mindset = tenacity, grit, persistence, not giving up, getting there in so many more cases than not. 

What you put into your mind matters, and this is why self help books like psychologist Carol Dweck‘s Mindset (here’s a 4 minute book summary that is fabulous!) remain important tools in the personal growth of human beings. We read for ideas, learn them and repeat those ideas. Thoughts become stuck in our heads. We start to act as if those ideas are true and we take bigger risks. Life rises up to meet us because we rise up to life. That’s a lyrical way of saying that affirmations give us the strength to challenge ourselves in life.

Transcript for TED Talk below:

You are the placebo – ie. you can give yourself the edge with the power of belief. Positive affirmation and thinking, together, are a practical form of faith, which has a capacity we are just beginning to understand. 

Dr. Joe Dispenza researched this phenomenon in a way that particularly interests me, as I have undertaken my own experiments in the power of the mind to heal the body and psyche/soul.

Dispenza’s research has led him to write many books about this – get this one on audio (as there’s a lot of research to digest), or just YouTube him and his argument: YOU ARE THE PLACEBO. The point? You are the factor that gives you the leg up in life. People who think they are stronger, better, capable of healing and capable of surviving and fighting against terrible things like diseases…recover more, survive and live longer, overcome great odds and sometimes or many times experience miracles. It has been scientifically verified over and over that our own thoughts influence our health outcomes.

So, why wouldn’t we take care with our thoughts?

Back to athletes and highly accomplished individuals. If we imagine for a moment that they filled their heads with ideas like: “I’m not capable of this. I’m an idiot. I can’t do this. I will never do this. It’s too hard.” it becomes clear that negative thinking can have dire consequences in depressing our capacity to work hard.

And it is that hard work that helps us to accomplish our goals. We know this now.

Thus, thanks to the plethora of positive affirmations that exist in many places on the planet, including in the media, as social messaging does attempt to bring us to the awareness that we have a personal obligation to believe in ourselves, to grow, to contribute…I believe most of us as humans have a survival instinct that can help us to turn negative and self-defeatist thinking around. Barring that, I happen to think that music helps. Bless the songwriters of happy songs in this world.

I personally relate to this. 

This is how I power through my own negative and self defeating thoughts. I follow the advice I was given years ago and have been given time and again…

I acknowledge that I have a unique contribution to make in this world. When the glass is half empty, it’s actually also half full. Whatever my ‘failures’, the truth is there are more successes than failures. This is how I begin to turn my tendency to frame everything as a potential failure into – in fact – a success.

We are successful for trying.

We are successful for achieving ALL of the things we achieve.

What we fail to do is irrelevant.

If we look at our lives wholistically we actually are the masters of a great many things we never stop to give ourselves credit for.

We love some even if not all.

We accomplish much even if not everything.

The perfectionist in us is the critic and this voice in our heads leads us nowhere good.

When negativity persists and brings you down…

Take that person by the proverbial hand, that little part of yourself that’s talking, and soothe and comfort that despair with a soft and self compassionate other voice.

The words of this song say it all.

We are wonderful. Just as we are.

Believe it until you know it.

To your success and happiness,

PS. These are all beautiful versions of this song. The symphony orchestra indicates what magic can come if only we try. I’m sure Gary Go when he wrote this song never expected one day to perform it with a symphony. Makes me smile. 🙂

Say “I am” – Gary Go

The person that you were has died                                                                                 You’ve lost the sparkle in your eyes                                                                                     You fell for life – into its traps                                                                                                 Now you wanna bridge the gaps

Now you wanna bridge the gaps                                                                                          Now you want that person back                                                                                            And all your ammunition’s gone                                                                                              Run out of fuel to carry on

You don’t know what you wanna do                                                                                  Cause what you want does not want you                                                                               If what you want does not want you                                                                              You’ve got no pull to pull you through

Say “I am”                                                                                                                                            Say “I am”                                                                                                                                            Say “I am wonderful”

 

Say “I am”                                                                                                                                            Say “I am”                                                                                                                                            Say “I am wonderful”

If what you’ve lost cannot be found                                                                                      And the weight of the world weighs you down                                                                 No longer with the will to fly                                                                                                     You stop to let it pass you by

Don’t stop to let it pass you by                                                                                          You’ve gotta look yourself in the eye

Fight Song – We Don’t Shut Up, We Fight! (Find Your ‘Fight Song’ And Live Your Dreams)

 

 

Ever been frowned upon, dismissed or accused of being an angry ‘b*tch’ because you’ve EXPRESSED your anger or, worse, just been yourself? Well, what’s a woman supposed to think and do about this? Anger is an emotion that, in fact, advocates for us when we need it and gets us out of trouble when we’re in it. Anger pushes us forward when we’re stuck.

So, my dear, find your fight song, take back your life and prove that you’re alright. Turn on your power! Blow past the injustices, the disappointments, the sense you have that you are not worthy…because you ARE. You have a right to take your place in life. Use that energy, and if it’s anger then that, too, to fuel your dreams!!! The world needs you. 

Continue reading “Fight Song – We Don’t Shut Up, We Fight! (Find Your ‘Fight Song’ And Live Your Dreams)”

Heal This Land – Heal Yourself

Heal This Land – Heal Yourself

What to do when the world is on fire and so are you? How service, citizenship and volunteerism can help both heal the planet and your heart and mind. 

Checking in after most of the summer off

Hey heyyy! Summer is winding down and I’m back to my laptop typing away, ramping up for the new academic year and some new and exciting things here at How Women Heal. Amazing things coming soon!

Just returned from a quick trip to Cairo, Egypt following a sojourn in Jubail, Saudi Arabia (my present home) for the first half of the summer…and a spa town in Germany called Bad Nauheim for the second half of my holiday…I find myself returned to Saudi feeling both refreshed and tired from the travel.

I’m not complaining in the least. Mentally, it was great to switch off. I needed it. I highly recommend that we all take advantage of the time off. It’s called ‘rest and recovery’. Teaching professionals and many of us facing the demands of work and life need the down time. I hope you had a good rest even for a couple of weeks this summer. We need it!

But the world around us doesn’t stop…what’s going on?!

I came back, mindful of the images I had seen of both progress in Cairo and poverty that I remember seeing 20 years ago when I visited that city (we drove through the city slums, which looked not that different from the poorest district of Frankfurt, which I saw from the train). It made me realize we are a hardy planet with a complex set of circumstances. I always return from any trip cognizant of my privileges as a Canadian expat working in Saudi Arabia.

And anyone who knows me knows…I consume the least amount of news that I can in order to stay globally informed, but at present a lot is happening. So, I’ve had the news on since returning home and the stories have been rolling in.

People are suffering 

My book editor’s home in Texas flooded, and a few of my other Facebook friends’ homes, too, were affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Watching everyone nobly handle that while, too, I sense their pain triggered my desire to help. I did what I could. I offered to donate to a crowdfunding campaign if needed and donated to a fund which purchases and provides new and clean underwear for disaster survivors.

The same hurricane nearly leveled everything in Barbuda, which reminds me of the Asian tsunami I found myself uncomfortably near, too…I felt the earthquake in Penang, Malaysia. The Caribbean island that bore the brunt of this natural force, Barbuda, reminds me of the haunting devastation of Banda Aceh in Indonesia – which made me look up how Aceh is doing today – much better, of course.

Hurricane Irma is headed for Florida, where former students of mine are anxiously waiting at the airport for a flight out while another Facebook friend worries about family who are sitting out the storm.

Meanwhile, yet another Hurricane Jose is headed straight for Barbuda again in another natural assault against man. We humans are small in the face of real nature. Mother Earth is perhaps telling us something, no?

We’ve got the planet warming up, and now I’ll fast track this conversation just to say: we all know there are a number of big and very real concerns on the planet. What on earth is one to do about the effects of the economy, the effects of politics, the effects of war crimes against people in many hotspots on this planet (Burma currently in the news…but there are so many others)? What? What do we do?

Continue reading “Heal This Land – Heal Yourself”

Cool Down Rewind – Forgive Yourself and Heal That Longterm Agony

Cool Down, Rewind – Kirsty Almeida – The song that helped me recover from one big clusterf*ck

I was introduced to Kirsty Almeida‘s music in 2011 after what I’ll call…a string of personal disasters in my life – what I’ll call one giant clusterf*ck – most of which was the result of actions I had taken in some senseless attempt to figure myself out after the stock markets crashed down on my life savings in 2008. I’d lost my fortune (almost $100k), made some bad decisions in love and was utterly bereft, regretful, self flagellating and brokenhearted, though good things were happening, too. Yet that just somehow was not enough to make up for what I’d been through.  Continue reading “Cool Down Rewind – Forgive Yourself and Heal That Longterm Agony”

Keep Breathing – Sometimes It’s All You Can Do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have written about grief in these posts a few times already. Dig and you’ll uncover the layers of my pain.

It hides in accidents and breakups, deaths and departures, disappointments and unanswered questions, the selfish stony silence of betrayal by those who never were deserving of my love, and the trappings of my own human imperfections…jealousy, hurt and confusion, which do strange things to a person.

The older you get, the more you realize you’re incapable of escaping the planet without a ‘collision’. Continue reading “Keep Breathing – Sometimes It’s All You Can Do”

Dance – Keep the Faith

Life can sometimes throw a lot of curveballs. Can you stay strong enough to keep the faith and…yes…dance? What reasons have you got to keep up the good fight?  

This week’s Friday song is the ‘dance’ version of Lee Ann Womack‘s ‘I Hope You Dance’ – the best remix of the song, in my opinion, by highly understated and mega-talented British music producer Brian Rawling of Metrophonic. Google the man and only this wee snippet on Wikipedia comes up. This version of the song is so typical of the quality of talent that exists in the UK when it comes to music (discovered by me only, really, since living in England from 2007 for six years).

This past week I tried to write a post on suicide after learning of my business manager’s American military friend who killed himself (the sixth of her military friends) and the next day learning of a married couple jumping to their deaths in a double suicide from the ninth floor of their Manhattan office building…due to the stress of finding themselves in such dire financial debt they could not cope. They left behind two young adult children just beginning their adult lives. I felt such a sadness about these stories, as I always do, and the length of that post got so long because I have so much to say about the matter, I had to stop and park it for the time being – I’ll return with Continue reading “Dance – Keep the Faith”

Lost and Found – Grief and Survival

Lost and Found – Katie Herzig

‘Lost and Found.’ Such a torrential, self-evidential lyric. What’s the point? In our deepest losses is where we find our deepest and truest selves. As hard as it is to accept, it is true. Grief is the thing that crushes us and squeezes out more pain than we ever knew we had while pushing us closest to ourselves. What’s a girl to do?

Continue reading “Lost and Found – Grief and Survival”