Self Love. Self Care. Inspiration

My book of poetry, "Stripping- My fight to find Me" is a story of the triumph of the human spirit. It is a story of our deep need for connection and the infinite power of love to heal.

Hello,
It’s Sunita here.

I am a poet, an author, a wife, a mother, a clinician and a childhood trauma survivor. I healed when I understood that I was broken,
not a victim. I learnt that everything I needed was within me. And that my mental health and my inner life was the essence and driving force of my existence.

I now want to challenge and inspire you to move beyond your old stories so you can embrace possibility and fulfill your potential. So, if that is where you are in your life, I invite you to come visit with me every Friday.

The conversation is honest, the topics are varied, the perspectives are from many angles, but the bottom line is always
Self Love Self Care First. I hope you will join me in a journey of discovery, wonder, growth and a celebration of our truth.

And love

Because what else is there to talk about?

Be well, Do well, Live well,
Warmly,
Sunita

Friday, June 21, 2019

Be Fearless in The Pursuit of What Sets Your Soul on Fire- Not Reckless


Hi,
It's Sunita here.

A friend of mine had been talking about opening his own business for some time. We would periodically discuss his desire to make a difference in the world.  His current corporate employment, while enjoyable had become limiting in what he could offer his clients. He felt that he had a mission and in order to 'live it', he needed to have the autonomy to set up things in a manner that would allow him and support him to function according to his values, not someone else's.

I personally know him to be very capable and knowledgeable about his field so have never had any reservations about encouraging him to 'go for it'. Of course, that comes with a caveat.

There are hundreds of quotes, blogs, memes, posters, cards, speeches and books written about being Fearless in the pursuit of what sets our soul on fire. This message is not only critical but is essential if we desire to live our best life and fulfill our potential to the maximum possibility.

But, it must be received as such.

Be Fearless in the Pursuit of What Sets your Soul on Fire
But
Don't be Reckless.

Let me explain this with the help of my friend's example.

Last week I was thrilled with the news that he had taken the first step in his journey to establish his own business by registering it as a legal entity. I could see how excited and proud he was. I was delighted for him. As he was sharing how it was a 'sudden' decision on his part, I couldn't help but disagree. We had spent months talking about his vision. What would make him say that I wondered...

He told me that he had gone to his lawyers office for some other matter and once there decided that "I might as well take the leap and be fearless and do the paperwork for my business idea". But in reality, he had done the due diligence required before taking such a step. He had researched his business idea from many practical dimensions and had a very good understanding of the local market from the point of view of opportunity and competition. So in other words, he was prepared. Not reckless...

When I reminded him of this, he realized that he had actually made his decision to register his business not hastily, as he initially felt, but in reality as a sound move after doing his homework. It was certainly a leap of faith. But not an impulsive, risky move.

Our souls work is still work. We must come to it from a place of preparedness. Even if we are dead certain of where our purpose is leading us, it behooves us to look at all the practical considerations that must be accounted for before leaping onto the path of our calling.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author says it beautifully when she encourages people to be their creative selves, but not at the cost of a day job in her book Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Being reckless and blindly following your soul is not an act of 
Self Love Self Care First. 

It can bring tremendous stress and hardship to you instead of taking you to a place of personal joy, meaningful success and transformation.

So stop and listen to your soul in stillness. Hear what it has to say to you. Then get to work and plan to create a life of meaning for yourself. Prepare to do the most meaningful work of your life that will not only bring you joy, make the world a better place but will also live on as your legacy.

And as for my friend, I have no doubts that if he continues on his path of prepared fearlessness, he will be successful beyond his wildest dreams!

Wishing you a week of fearlessness,
Until next time,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst#fearlessness#living beyond fear#lizgilbert#soul#purpose#meaning

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Dr. Edward Tronick, The Still Face Experiment and Stripping : My Fight to Find Me- It's Personal.


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

In this picture of a baby, I see beauty, innocence, curiosity, openness, trust, love, playfulness, confidence, eagerness...

What do you see?

How does one go from this state of purity and security to a place of darkness and endless despair? Look around and the mental anguish our society finds itself in is hard to miss.

Early childhood trauma is a major player in the etiology of depression and anxiety, inability to form healthy social relationships, poor or absent emotional regulation and a constant fight or flight state, even in the absence of an actual threat. And this list most certainly does not cover all the consequences of such trauma. Advances in scientific findings now connects childhood trauma as a common factor in the history of those who suffer from addictions.

Brain research has shown that child abuse and neglect not only changes the way a child's developing brain functions but it also causes it to suffer actual structural damage. Such trauma is called Developmental Trauma and its  effect on the brain is different than that on an adult brain.

 The Still Face Experiment is very hard to watch but it demonstrates a critical point in our current understanding of how early in our development we are socially receptive. This video shows the work of Dr. Edward Tronick, one of the pioneers of research on attachment and mother-infant bonding and the originator of the “still-face paradigm,” He is Distinguished Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and the Director of its Child Development Unit. 

Dr. Tronick explains it like this, "It's a little like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The good is that normal stuff that goes on, which we all do with our kids. The bad is when something bad happens, but the infant can overcome it. After all, when you stop the ‘Still Face,’ the mother and the baby start to play again. The ugly is when you don't give the child any chance to get back to the good; there's no reparation and they're stuck in that really ugly situation."

One of the prominent risk factors for child abuse and neglect is a history of transgenerational trauma. That is, if a parent or primary childcare provider was abused or neglected themselves, there is an increased risk of them doing the same to their children.

That is why there needs to be more awareness of Childhood Trauma, it's risk factors, it's effects on the abused and neglected child and the perpetual suffering that it causes not only to that child in their lifetime but also to the generations that follow. 

With education and awareness, this cycle can be broken. 


There is treatment for childhood trauma that works. I know that first hand. Because I suffered deeply and for most of my life due to childhood trauma.
The process of Davanloo’s ISTDP  (Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy) transformed my experience of myself and of the world. It also re- connected me to the creative process of writing and expressing myself. My poetry in Stripping : My Fight to Find Me came about as my unconscious was activated and many poems came into existence way before I had accessed those experiences and parts of my life’s narrative in my therapy sessions.

My poems give a raw and honest account of how dark and lonely the world of attachment and transgenerational trauma is. And how resistant depression, anxiety and our defenses can be to our desire to get better. 
My poetry takes you through the fight that I had to fight to be free and whole . 

But there is success at the end. And that is why I share my poems. So, others can find hope in my story. And seek treatment.

By being open about my struggles, it is my goal to encourage others who maybe suffering in silence due to the shame and stigma attached to mental illness to come forward and seek the care they desperately need, deserve and are entitled to. 

And lastly, it is my hope that those who do not suffer from mental illness will read my book and get a better understanding of the pain and suffering of those who do. In that understanding lies compassion. 

Join me in breaking the cycle. Please share this blog with anyone that you know may be suffering from the effects of childhood trauma. They may be adults and may even be in their advanced years of life. This trauma does not leave you unless treated. And living whole, unfrightened and consciously is a reward that is worth everything it takes to break free.

With education and awareness, this cycle can be broken. 

I end with this poem from my book, Stripping : My Fight to Find Me.


AROUSAL

My slumber went unnoticed
No reason for detection
No cause for concern
No need to wake up from this deep sleep

I opened the door
To a gentle tremor
Innocently
Unsuspecting
Of this avalanche that I was hiding

#17 in the collection

Until next time,
May you have a week of love and connection,
Be well, Do well, Live well.
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst
#edtronick#stillfaceexperiment#childhoodtrauma#depression#anxiety#ISTDP
photo on top thanks to generosity of Regina Zulauf.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Being a Butter Biscuit, listening to Celeste Headlee's advice and putting Self Love Self Care First!


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

I believe everyone who walks in and out of our life does so for a reason.

I met Jada Rice last week when she came to my practice to work with us for the day. We never know who will show up at times when we request a temp from a service on days that we need extra help. Some days it's a relief to have an extra pair of hands to do tasks and other days it's like a burst of sunshine comes into the office. It all depends on the energy of the person who shows up.

Well, last week, it was sunny the day Jada showed up. There was a natural ease about her and a spunkiness that was evident from the get go. It was fun hanging out with her.

Jada and I were chatting about life and relationships as I worked on a patient .We do that often in my practice. When it came to her personal life she shared that at the moment she was working on herself, while still open to love and a 'forever relationship'.

I told Jada , " That's what our journey is about and why we are in this world. To discover ourselves and become the best version of ourselves possible. Everything else is gravy". To which she replied, "I'd rather be a Butter Biscuit on my own and just wait for my gravy rather than be with someone not deserving of my solitude, my peace and my presence."

WOW!
A Butter Biscuit on my own. 
How appetizing! How delicious! How filling!
A butter biscuit is satisfying all by itself. 
A Butter Biscuit is not wanting of flavor and can actually be easily ruined with a gravy that is lumpy and flavorless.
A Butter Biscuit has its own richness so does not rely on gravy to give it any oomph.
But the right gravy can add to a Butter Biscuit. 

Until we are happy being with ourselves and until we make our happiness and growth our priority, it is unrealistic to expect someone else to 'make us' happy.

Many a times, in our desperation to find happiness outside of us, we will seek, accept and even tolerate relationships that are wrong for us. Even damaging or abusive. It's like putting a band aid on a hole in our heart. It just covers up that wound in a way that is deceiving us. A band aid doesn't a fill the hole in ways that would heal us.

So I ask you- 
Are you a Butter Biscuit ?
Are you with someone deserving of your solitude, your peace and your presence?
Are you practicing Self Love Self Care First with joy and dedication to yourself?

I hope so.

Because that is the well that must be constantly refilled. Only then do we attract great love, give freely and honestly of ourselves and still have more left to give.

Celeste Headlee says it beautifully in her TED talk,

"Be prepared to talk to people, Be prepared to Listen to people but most importantly, Be prepared to be Amazed!"

So Cheers to Jada who amazed me and taught me about Butter Biscuits!

Wishing you a week of amazing conversations,
Be well Do well Live well!
With my best,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst #CelesteHeadlee#conversations#listening#selfdevelopment#love#relationships





Friday, May 24, 2019

You have to Bloom Where You are Planted


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

The past few weeks have been full of celebration of my daughter Nina's college graduation. My visit with you today is to talk about the commencement speech that Dr. Mary C. Daly gave to the students, faculty and families at Syracuse University on May 9, 2019.

Dr. Daly has an impressive resume. At just 54 years old, she has achieved more than most people will in their lifetime. She has broken many glass ceilings and blazed a trail that will allow many people opportunities that they may not have had without her success. I had read up on her before we headed up to Syracuse that weekend so I could have an idea of what she may talk about at commencement.

Everything that I could have imagined Mary touching upon in her speech did not materialize. Instead of a highly successful bureaucrat, a human being showed up. Instead of advice on how to become successful in a cut throat world she talked about what it took to become a person who felt comfortable inhabiting the life she had built. Instead of proclaiming how important she was, Mary shared how others recognized how important she was before she even had an inkling of her worth.

The Mary that showed up that morning in Syracuse brought her humanity with her. Not her resume...

Mary shared with us that at age 15, she had dropped out of school due to the turmoil that had invaded her home and family, she had nowhere to go, no future to look forward to and had pretty much given up on herself. A school counsellor suggested she meet a woman named Betsy who might be able to guide her.

Mary describes how she went to meet Betsy at a local McDonalds in her hometown of Ballwin, Missouri. Looking back, Mary remembers the advice Betsy gave her as the turning point of her life.

YOU HAVE TO BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.

Betsy compassionately acknowledged that Mary had a tough situation but she reminded her that life was not fair. 

Good people do not always get a good start. There maybe many people that have advantages that they did not earn or work for. Or even deserve. But that's life. And as long as we fight our circumstances, we will never rise above them. So much time is wasted on lamenting about the challenges we are facing. Some of us may have more than our fair share of unfortunate and tragic events occur in our life. Poverty, death, mental illness, abuse, incarceration, racial and social discrimination, violence and neglect only cover some of the more common road blocks that we face as human beings. 

The point is that our reality will not change with compassion on the part of another human being. Compassion with sage advice that leads us to understand and accept our current situation is the only way for us to make changes.

Betsy that day went above being a compassionate friend to Mary. She acknowledged her hardships but empowered Mary by telling her that she could bloom even under the harsh circumstances she faced. She didn't sugar coat her reality. She also didn't allow her to believe she was a victim though. She was honest with her when she said that to get unstuck, it would take a lot of effort on Mary's part. But she gave her hope by saying it was possible with a good plan and perseverance.

But first Mary would have to come to terms with her current lot in life and accept that she would have to build her life from that starting point. That takes immense effort and strength because then one cannot blame others, feel sorry for oneself, be angry at the world, find escape routes to numb the pain of one's difficult situation (drinking, drugs, promiscuity, etc, etc,). 

Basically, it means saying, "This is what I have to work with. Now I must get to work"

Dr. Daly put in the work, and continues to. That morning at Syracuse she credited Betsy and the many other mentors, friends and supporters who have guided her throughout her career and life with creating a life that at age 15 was  "completely improbable and wildly unrealistic" 


Here are my favorite pieces of advice from Dr. Daly's speech that morning. I hope you find them as inspiring and useful as I did.

  1. You have to bloom where you are planted- courtesy Betsy
  2. Books show you a way out that you could never have imagined.
  3. True confidence comes when we accept ourselves, our experiences and our stories
  4. Be vulnerable and ask for help. It will make your life richer.
  5. Be brave enough to accept help.
  6. Be open to opportunities that you have not yet conceived.
  7. Don't worry if your journey wanders. It will help you figure out what's next for you.
I end our visit today by sharing this poem of mine as it is essence what we have talked about.

PERMISSION

To love myself,
I must know who I am.
To know who I am, 
I must go back in time.
To find my own voice,
I must silence what you said.
To find my own truth,
I must leave the lies behind.
To live in my light,
I must make peace 
With the darkness.


PERMISSION is #38 in the collection of poems in my book 'Stripping : My Fight to Find Me".

Wishing you a 'Betsy" in your life,
Be well Do well Live well
Warmly,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst

Friday, May 10, 2019

Mother's Day- A celebration of Transgenerational Health and Strength


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Happy Mother's Day!

I am grateful each and every day to have been chosen to be my daughters, Nina and Simrin's mother.

I believe my biggest job as their mother is to live my life in a manner that inspires them to be the best human beings possible.

It is my hope

- that my courage to be honest and open about my struggles will free them to live lives that are authentic and true to who they are, not to the unrealistic expectations of others.

- that my fight to overcome childhood trauma will encourage them to disallow  challenges to bully them into making a choice of leading a 'small life'.

- that my decision to publish Stripping : My Fight to Find Me , a collection of poems that journals my pain and suffering due to trauma, demonstrates to them how being open to being vulnerable led me to being  brave.

It is my deepest wish

- that their existence be not only free of suffering, but one of joy.

- to see them live lives of curiosity, their choice and in alignment with their truth

- that they not only live happy lives, but more importantly, of meaning and purpose.

- that they make a difference in this world.

The commitment that I have made to being compassionate and kind to myself,  Self Love Self Care First , is the legacy that I want to leave for them. 

Above all, I want them to experience and cherish the greatest gift of life- Love!

Because what else is there to talk about?

Wishing you all a very blessed Mother's Day!

With my love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst