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, April 19, 2019

Tiger Woods 2019 Masters Win- A spring miracle ?


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

I was transfixed this Sunday, along with millions of others, as I watched Tiger Woods win the Masters at Augusta National. It was a experience to watch this 43 year old athlete compete at a level that no one believed he could, after a series of personal and professional failures of huge magnitudes, and physical setbacks.

It was April 13, 1997 when the world heard of a 21 year old Tiger Woods. The game of golf was changed forever.

November 25, 2009 however brought Tigers career and life to a screeching halt in many ways. That was the day The National Enquirer published a story of Tiger's indiscretions with a cocktail waitress. What followed was the unfolding of a  cascade of embarrassing disclosures of his transgressions with many women outside of his marriage. It was years of scandal, the break up of his marriage and many untold stories of pain and suffering of all parties involved.

No one plans to light their world on fire like that. Least of all an athlete of the caliber of Tiger Woods, someone who had endorsements worth millions of dollars with major international brands and a wholesome family man image.

The complexity of human nature is not easily decoded by someone who is not privy to inside details so I will not even begin to offer any understanding to what Tiger's mind frame was to have behaved the way that he did. But what I do want to say is that what followed the scandal was years of emotional, physical and professional breakdown.

Things were so wrong that on May 29, 2017 Tiger was arrested for driving under the influence.


How does one go from that to this?


April 14, 2019 was the sight of Spring miracle of redemption. But was it?

I suspect that Tiger's win last Sunday was no such thing. It was most likely years of hard work, deep introspection and reflection and a spirit that was unwilling to call it a day. I have no doubt that many a times it must have seemed impossible to achieve this feat to even Tiger himself.  But the result last week shows a belief deep down in him that said otherwise.

The question begs to be asked Which win is more significant? Tiger in 1997, winning the Masters as a supremely talented 21 year old, bi-racial young man or Tiger, the older, hopefully wiser and healthier 43 year old? Now a father of 2 young kids and still a supremely talented golfer.

You make your own decision on that.

What I leave you with are these questions. 

Do you think you have it in you to fight your way back from absolute rock bottom? 
Do you think you are worth it?
Do you believe that you deserve a second chance?
Do you love yourself enough and have the self compassion to forgive yourself for your failings?
And most importantly, are you going to let your life's harshest injury define you or are you going to get up and fight to not only get back in the game, but WIN THE GAME?

I do.

I hope you do as well.

Because we are human.

Wishing you a Happy Spring, Baisakhi, Easter, Passover and anything else you may celebrate at this time of opportunity for renewal and redemption!
Warmly,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst

Photo credits News organizations, Palm Beach Sheriff's office and Kevin C. Fox




Friday, April 12, 2019

William Styron Paints One of the Most Vivid Pictures of the Dark World of Depression.


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

William Styron is well known for his body of work, many literary awards, and commercial success with his books. Notable amongst them are Lie Down in Darkness, The Confessions Of Nat Turner, (which won a Pulitzer Prize) and Sophie's Choice, (which was made into a superb movie starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol.) However, it is in Darkness Invisible that he gives us a special gift of incredible value.

William Styron describes his descent into 'madness' by vividly painting a picture of how depression wrestles with a human being and pins him down. There is no getting up from under this million pound gorilla. Styron is effective in conveying the helplessness one experiences when depression engulfs one. There is no 'thinking out' of this illness. It is a disease just like any other physical illness that has visible symptoms and signs. Imagine telling an automobile accident victim to put back their severed leg on their body by thinking 'hard enough and positively enough'.

Such rubbish!

Styron laments towards the end of the book that he should have been hospitalized for his depression long before he actively started to consider suicide as his only way out. As he quietly prepares to kill himself, it is only after hearing a soaring passage from the Johannes Brahms Alto Rhapsody  that he feels a connection to his world. The music gives him pleasure which reminds him of the deep love that he has for his family. This momentary withdrawal from the numbness of depression allows him to discover that he could never inflict on them the pain that his suicide would. He immediately wakes his wife Rose up and makes arrangements to be hospitalized for depression. He remains in the hospital from December 1985 through February 1986. Darkness Visible : A Memoir of Madness' was first presented as a lecture by Styron. The best selling book was released in 1990.

Before I accepted that I had off and on for years suffered from depression, I was not willing to even entertain that possibility. It wasn't that I was in denial. It was just that I believed that everyone went through 'bad patches' and it was part and parcel of the landscape of being human. A lack of awareness of the importance of mental health and a total buy in of the stigma associated with any kind of mental illness was a hallmark of my family culture. In all fairness, this was not very unusual in the times that I grew up in, nor in the cultural context of my upbringing.

So when I finally hit a wall that I could not find a way through, I sought help. And I learnt that in my case, depression was only the calling card of all the trauma and invisible damage that lay hidden behind it. But that's another story for another day...

Even while in treatment, I would beat myself up for not being able to 'think my way' out of the darkness. I thought that it was my fault that I was not getting better because I was not 'trying hard enough'. I would repeatedly tell myself that I needed to be more 'positive' to get better.

With this, now what I recognize as deeply flawed thinking, based on society's uneducated and ignorant projections about depression, anxiety and mental illness, I tortured myself endlessly. I manufactured feelings of shame, failure, hopelessness and worthlessness. And this misery was on top of what depression, toxic stress and ACE's were doing to me.

I now understand what trauma does to a brain. Especially a young infant or child's brain. It is complex and very complicated but this damage is now well understood by researchers and clinicians. So the success rate of treatment of such trauma is steadily increasing. Depression has many forms and causes but a very big component of etiological factors resulting in depression is childhood trauma.

Depression is a real disease. It must be recognized by healthcare professionals. It must be respected as a tenacious and clever invader of our minds and bodies. Even though it usually has a complex origin, it's source must be determined and diagnosed as best possible. And finally, it must be treated. Once the severe phase is over, depression requires us to be vigilant about it's return and recurrence. It demands a lifestyle change to stay ahead of it and not be ambushed by it when it returns.

A life entirely free of depression may not be possible for everyone who suffers from this illness, but a diagnosis does not mean a life sentence of misery, a joyless existence or thoughts or the actual step of committing suicide as the only means to find relief.

Depression is a treatable disease. In many cases, permanently. In some cases, it can be well managed with medications and talk therapy.

But the first step is recognizing that you are depressed and then seeking help.

I share with you my poem 'Arousal' from my book Stripping : My Fight to Find Me It is #17 in the collection of poems.

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.

Incidentally, William Stynor lost his mother at the young age of 12 and considering those times, most likely did not get the emotional support and assistance a young child needs to grieve and heal in a healthy way. He hit the wall at age 60 before suffering from Major Depression. In hindsight, he picked up on his predisposition to mood swings and depression earlier in life and also realized that his family's emotional history was marked by this predisposition as well.

I challenge you to be honest with yourself. Are you just surviving or thriving? Do you need to look at your family's emotional history and your life thus far. You deserve to THRIVE! Not just survive.

Wishing you a week of honest discovery!
Until next time,
Warmly,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst

Friday, April 5, 2019

Busy or Fully Engaged?


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

How was your week? Does it feel like you got a lot done to move ahead in your life or was it a mad dash from one thing to another that has left you exhausted and saying TGIF?

What was the pace of your week? Did you have time to do any of these activities- exercise, relax, reflect, rejuvenate, talk to your loved ones, reach out to some friends, accomplish some long term and short term goals you had set for yourself, look towards your future and identify what you would like to do next, practice Self love Self Care First and experience your Heart Bliss?

If not, did your week look more like the picture above? Did you feel like you lived in a task driven world where the pressure of getting to the next item of a 'to do list' was suffocating you? Or did you end your work week feeling like you advanced in your life plan and were now ready to enjoy what the weekend had in store?

Friday evening does not have to be a celebration equivalent to what it feels like of get out of jail. The weekend can be a continuation of the excitement and rejuvenation of a well lived week. But for that to happen, we must ask ourselves these key questions.

During the week,
What all and to whom did I say yes to?
Did that yes have any meaning to my life and it's mission? If no,
Then WHY did I say yes ?

When we focus and allocate our time to our identified priorities and people, it becomes very easy to be energized during the day. Of course, this doesn't mean that there will be no challenges or hurdles to get over, and there will probably be a fair amount of stress involved as well, but the end result is what gives meaning to our lives. Living this way is a natural high and propels us to do more of what drives us to be the best of who we are.

Being 'busy' is a way to be distracted and get out of asking ourselves these important questions. Honest self reflection, introspection and assessment brings up parts of ourselves and our life that we don't like and wish were different. These hard truths can hurt. But without going to these dark places, we are unable to get to the light and design a life that is full of meaning and reflects our true selves.

When that happens, we become Fully Engaged, not busy.

Busy is a four letter word that I prefer not to use anymore. 'Busy' does not take me where I want to go.

'Fully Engaged' is where I want to be. It is a state of mind and being where there is ample time for me to 'do' and 'think'. It is a way of life which is designed on the basis of my priorities, goals, interests and purpose. With built in time for me to practice Self Love Self Care First. With abundant time for my Heart Bliss. With always time for me to love. It is a place where I create a meaningful life that matters to me.

Wishing you a weekend of being fully engaged,
Warmly,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst

Friday, March 29, 2019

Are you 'Shoulding' your life away?


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

I am often, as a recovering 'Shoudaholic' amazed at how common the use of the word should is.

How many times a day do you use it to remind yourself of things you need to do?
What emotion comes up when you conjure up the word should ?
How do you feel about the task you just reminded yourself to do when you use the word?
What kind of energy is attached to your motivation to do what you 'should' ?

I believe that it was the same group of people who invented medieval torture devices who went on to create the word should. Because, what other purpose does this word serve, other than to send us in a tizzy, down a path lined with guilt, shame and ample feelings of failure. 

Every time I would think, I should  ______ I would be transported to a world of resentment. I never understood why. I do now. That's because I am now honest with myself and realize that I did not want to do _____. It didn't serve my purpose, it wasn't my priority and it had nothing to do with my motivations. It was something that was a result of my absorption of an external message or/and someone else's expectation of me.

We have only 24 hours in a day. And a finite time in our life to accomplish our goals, fulfil our potential and realize our dreams. We determine what our priorities are. Once we do that, we must bring our full energy and commitment to our life. That means we must allot every second of our time to live life fully and with focus. There is no place for should in a life of love, passion and deliberate choices.

The only words I want to use when I think of my day now are;

I want to
I'm so lucky to
I will make time to
I'm excited to
I'm challenged to
I'm blessed to 
I'm thrilled to
I can't wait to
I must (yes, we all have duties and obligations that we are not thrilled about but must attend to)

The only way we can get to a place of conscious and joyful living is by accepting the realities of our life, reconciling with all the things we will never get to do and realizing that we will never please everyone.

That's when we start to design a life that is true to who we are and what our purpose is. This fidelity to ourselves is the key to doing our best work in this Universe. The work that matters to our soul. The work that brings out our talents, gifts and inner beauty. This is the work that needs the support of people who will never remind us to do something because we should.

So here's my challenge for you today,

-Pay attention to when you say should.
-Stop when you hear yourself or someone else say it to you.
-Examine the context in which you/they said it and determine if you need to   rephrase the scenario or drop the task.

Then take action accordingly.

This will create a paradigm shift for you which will support your decision to live truthfully and free.

An example of a scenario worth rephrasing for me is,

I should finish making dinner. It's getting late.
Rephrase To
I can't wait to finish making this pasta dish and tasting it with my family. It's taken a bit longer than I wanted but it will be worth it. I am so excited to hear about everyone's day.

An example that is not worth rephrasing for me is,

I should read the book ____________ gave me for my birthday. I don't know why he did?? He knows I don't have any interest in alligator hunting....
Drop the task
There's no way I will spend my time reading this book just because he gave it to me as a gift. I'll send a nice thank you note and donate it to my local library. Or re-gift it.

You are the only one who gets to choose what is important to you. In doing so, you can eliminate all the shoulds in your life, one by one. Until you are left with only your genuine wants. And that's when the magic begins!

Wishing you a fun week of discovering those wants,
Warmly,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst




Friday, March 22, 2019

Wistar Institute Photo Exhibit and Emotions- What could be the Connection?

From a Wistar Institute photo exhibit
Hello,
It's Sunita here.

This picture came across my desk this week. I was immediately drawn to its symmetry and intricate patterns, thinking it was a piece of art, most likely a pencil drawing. I was wrong.

It's a photograph from an exhibit at the Wistar Institute. This exhibit is of digital pictures taken through a microscope. The pictures displayed in this exhibit are images that are used for medical research. Imagine what a 3-D image looks like. Well, these are 6-D.

The exquisite picture above is of a human tear drop. It gives me an entirely new perspective of the act of shedding tears. To think that such magnificent beauty is associated with our eyes tearing up makes me want to weep.

Here's what the photograph's description was in this exhibit CBS Philadelphia local news



It is a blessing to be able to have access to the emotions that cause us to tear up. That is an indication that we are healthy and can experience the emotions that are part of our story.

We do feel better once we've had a cry. It could be in response to any situation- for example when we listen to a piece of music that touches us, or the times when we think of someone we love, or when we grieve for a loss that feels unbearable, or when we are hysterically cracking up because we found something funny. As soon as we cry, we feel like we have processed something and are lighter. Well, that 'something' is our emotion that triggered our eyes to moisten. And to think that tears have actual painkillers in them as well is an absolute added benefit.

Trauma can have a notable impact on how we process emotions. Repression of emotions is common amongst those who suffer from the effects of trauma. Being able to access appropriate and instinctive emotions in response to situations that would normally trigger emotional reactions may be impossible due to instant suppression of those emotions. It's a deeply embedded, complex and unconscious process that comes into play that results in this suppression.

This bypass of emotions causes great personal suffering and relational damage.

When is the last time you cried?
Which emotion triggered you to cry?
How did it make you feel after you cried?

Grief ?
Anger?
Love?
Laughter?

If any one of these 4 emotions triggered you to cry then you are alive and well. It is a blessing to be able to 'feel' life.

If you have difficulty accessing your emotions, you may not even be aware of it. Many times it's your spouse or loved ones who are constantly complaining about being emotionally starved in their relationship with you. Take heed and consider seeking professional help. It can open up a whole new way of living life. Fully and completely with a richer experience of love and connection. Not only with others, but even more importantly, with yourself as well.

Why would you want it any other way?

Wishing you a week full of emotional connection,
Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst