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, November 30, 2018

Sending out holiday cards- A source of stress for you or an act of Self Love?

Artist credit:Amy Payne of minted.marketplace.com
Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are all eaten and the turkey platter has been put back in the china closet, I look forward to receiving my friend Tracey's holiday card. She is always the first to mail her cards and opening her envelope and seeing her beautiful girls picture officially starts the season for me.

I don't know about you, but years ago, I used to get very stressed around November. Either my cards had not been ordered or bought, or my mailing list was outdated, or my time was stretched in a million different directions by then. Whatever the reason, I would feel very overwhelmed by this 'task'. It would cause heart palpitations and frankly some resentment at 'having' to send out Christmas cards.

Until I changed how I was approaching my life.

I decided to be truthful about my feelings.

And that included my feelings about those that were on my list. That released the obligation part of the process and allowed me to focus on the 'why' of sending out our family's greetings at this wonderful time of the year.

I looked carefully at our list and recognized names of friends and family that had not only never reciprocated with a card, but had never even acknowledged receiving our holiday card and note. Nor had they contacted us any other time during the year to catch up and make an effort to include us in their life.

They were crossed off the list.

Next were those that I knew were on the list only because they sent us a card or had been on the list for years. Kind of like being grandfathered in. I felt it was disingenuous of me to do the same, when I did not necessarily feel like making the effort to mail them a card. I realized the insincerity of me  doing that. I must admit that crossing them off took a lot more courage than I thought it would. I felt 'not nice'.  But after some honest conversation with myself I realized that that feeling was in response to my perceived expectations of others.

So I crossed out those names from my list.

After this editing process, I consciously decided how I wanted to be guided in this tradition of ours. I wanted to feel happy inside and smile every time I addressed an envelope. I wanted to be able to visualize the faces of those whose names I was writing on the cards and feel a desire to enclose a warm hug or a genuinely interested 'how are you guys doing' along with our greeting. I wanted this tradition to be a reflection of a conscious and authentic choice that I was making to connect with the people that are a significant part of our life.

I wanted to find joy in this ritual of connecting with those that add meaning to our life and use it as an opportunity to express that sentiment to them.

I must say that the list gets edited every year because life is dynamic and that is reflected in the edits. I still use the yardsticks mentioned above to keep my list manageable but it's sad for me to cross off names because people have passed on. When that raw emotion hits me, I take that moment to sit and think about them and reflect on how they enriched my life. I also make sure that we add names to the list of those that have joined our life in beautiful ways that year.

And then I move on to the next name...

So you see how sending out our Holiday Card become a beautiful opportunity for me (the person who writes the cards and mails them) and us as a family (we design our cards and work on the list together) to enjoy and cherish our relationships. The celebration of our loved ones through this communication connects us to them.

And that makes it an act of Self Love Self Care First.

We haven't got the list down to a science because that would be impossible. It is a work in progress. Just like we are. And just like our relationships are.

If someone is not on our Holiday List that does not mean that they are not important to us. It's just that we had to scale things down to the point where we could eliminate the stress and instead enjoy the process and add meaning to it.

That made all the difference.

So here's to a magical hot cocoa or hot toddy evening of writing cards, while you listen to your favorite music and visit your list,
Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement


What Amy Payne says about herself
I am a loving wife and mother of four cute kids. I am a lifetime resident of Pacific Northwest. Before falling in love with stationery design, I studied and worked as a food scientist making ice cream and yogurt favors! My designs are typically inspired by my beautiful surroundings in Washington. I love cool greens, blues, and grays and always gravitate towards simplicity.

I hope you will take a moment to visit Amy's page 
https://www.minted.com/store/amypayne?feature=artist_store&event=click&domain=pdp_header&t_api=1



Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving Dinner, Penn Station, Self Love and Self Care


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had planned to go into Manhattan to see family who were visiting from Texas. The weather decided to turn on the 'Monsoon' station and put a wrench in those plans. It was dark, cold, windy and raining cats and dogs. Meeting up with my brother-in-law and his wife, despite both being favorites of mine, suddenly lost its excitement . Walking long city blocks in that weather after a work day and a train and subway ride to get there did not appeal to me. However, some creative thinking solved the problem. We decided to meet up at Penn Station. This way, we could all travel underground and no one would have to brave the elements, so we could still catch up and visit as we had wanted to.

If you have ever been in Penn Station you know that it is one of the world's best place to people watch. As we sat at one of the many restaurants that make up this underground world, I noticed that almost everyone (if not everyone) that was by them self was on their cell phone or some another device. Heads down, intent on texting, reacting to scrolls of pictures popping up on their screens, playing a game or listening to music. Daily commuting is draining, boring and unpredictable with schedule changes and train issues that pop up so I understand the want to escape from the craziness that can set in.

But what was really disturbing to me that evening was observing what unfolded at the table next to us.

A young couple sat across from each other after greeting each other with a quick kiss. They both looked like they were possibly in their mid to late 20's. She had a sparkling diamond ring on her engagement finger that suggested that they were engaged to each other. They both had a rolling suitcase with them so maybe they were on their way out of town. They sat there for a period of about half an hour eating pizza and sipping on a soda.

During this entire time they were on their phones. They only occasional communication they had with each other was when they stopped to share an Instagram photo with the other and maybe say a few words at that time. I watched them as they both lifted their pizza slices to their mouths without even looking at their food. Their eyes remained glued to their screens. They mindlessly chewed and then sipped their drinks through their straws, again without detaching from their engagement with their devices. When I looked carefully at them, they looked stressed, were overweight, and had the appearance of being overwhelmed.

Now you could make a strong argument of me not knowing what is going on in their lives and jumping to conclusions about them being in a place that is less than optimal living. And you would be absolutely right. You could tell me that it is none of my business to judge them. And again, you would be right. You may even suggest that I should have been engrossed enough in my own company to not have time to make to these observations. And once again, you may be right.

The fact, though, is that we as a society have adopted behaviors and habits that are detrimental to our mental health and well being. We are wired for connection, so every time we neglect to nurture that need, we suffer. We get disconnected with those we love and need to feel connected to in order to live vitally and vibrantly.

And worst of all, we get disconnected from our self. That causes us to feel depressed and despondent. It may just start out as sadness and feeling 'blue'.

But it is a hole that is endlessly deep and dangerous.

So I am choosing to speak out about the harm of behaviors that are now embedded in our ways of life. Not from a place of judgement but a place of grave concern and with the hope that it will spark an honest conversation.

The unconscious habit of grabbing our devices and feeling like we are 'connected' to our Facebook "friends" or are part of a celebrity's life is deceptive and an escape from the realities of our own lives.

How is it that the person right in front of us does not get our attention and presence but a fantasy friend does? How does broadcasting a 'connecting moment' happening in real life on one's social media, in real time help us to connect to the emotion of that moment?

It doesn't...

And we are seeing the ravages of this disconnect all around us. The anxiety, depression and uncertainty felt by millions is no longer a secret.

We cannot ignore it any longer.

We publicly make  a big fuss of Thanksgiving Day being an occasion for us to get together with those whom we love and to be thankful for all our blessings. I wonder if the scene at that table in Penn Station was a theme that repeated itself in any shape or form in homes across the country yesterday, even on the smallest of scales.

I hope not.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful day when friends, family, food and traditions come together to create lasting memories of love and connection in our brains. It is such occasions that create a history of positive emotions and memories in our brains that help us build the resilience that is critical for us to survive harsh events and challenges in our life.

So I hope your device was tucked away yesterday - somewhere you were not responding to every notification, but you could periodically check it, on your terms, for loving messages of those that could not join you but wanted to reach out and let you know that they were thinking of you, and are grateful that you are a part of their life. That way you could be present for them while not neglecting your guests and being distracted all day. It would be a win-win situation.

I hope your day was spent cooking, laughing, eating, watching the Macy's Day Parade and the countless (or so it seemed to me...) football games on TV, going for a walk with someone you enjoy, napping on the couch after feeling a food coma come upon you, visiting the never ending dessert table or indulging in any other family traditions of the day.

Most of all, I hope you truly connected with your company by being present.

We are blessed if we did.

Because our families, in whichever way you choose to define "family'" are our true wealth. They have the power to make us feel loved, safe and valuable. And that results in us feeling strong. And that helps build resilience in us. And that adds infinitely and consistently to our health, happiness and well being.

So you see, loving others IS an act of Self Love Self Care First.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,
Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement



Friday, November 16, 2018

Love is the Master says Rumi. Trauma disagrees...



Hello,
It's Sunita here.

My heart gets drenched in love when I visit with Rumi. This maybe the first blog post where I share his words but I promise it won't be the last.

I often dismissed, downplayed, ignored, and downright declined the invitation to love when I was suffering from trauma. Depression artfully convinces us that we are not good enough to be loved. It also successfully propagates the lie that no one loves us. We will delve into that in more detail at other visits. 

Today however, is all about Rumi and his words about love.

If you are suffering from depression and are anxious, he will remind you of the power of love. If you are feeling strong and connected, he reaffirms so beautifully what you already know about love.

Love is the Master 
Love is the One who masters all things;
I am mastered totally by Love.
By my passion of love for Love
I have ground sweet as sugar.
O furious Wind, I am only a straw before you;
How could I know where I will blown next?
Whoever claims to have made a pact with Destiny
Reveals himself a liar and a fool:
What is any of us but a straw in a storm?
How could anyone make a pact with a hurricane?
God is working everywhere his massive Resurrection;
How can we pretend to act on our own?
In the hand of Love I am like a cat in a sack;
Sometimes Love hoists me into the air,
Sometimes Love flings me to the ground.
Love swings me round and round His head;
I have no peace, in this world or any other.
The Lovers of God have fallen in a furious river;
They have surrendered themselves to Love's commands.
Like mill wheels they turn, day and night, day and night,
Constantly turning and turning, and crying out.
(translated by Andrew Harvey)

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

#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement


Friday, November 9, 2018

Scheduling time for yourself to 'do nothing'



Our mind is a source of infinite wisdom, guidance and intuition

Hello,
It's Sunita here.

If you feel even a little overwhelmed thinking about the slew of activities, obligations, duties and chores that you 'must' accomplish before Monday morning hits again, then you belong to much of our society.

It may be that a lot of what we have on our 'to do list' is important to the process of moving our lives along but it's hard for me to accept that all of it is. Our priorities are strongly influenced by so many factors that are internal and external. I am often driven by the need to be a good ________.

You can fill in the blank here by all the roles you play in your life and you get the picture.

But I learnt that I did best when I had time to myself. Time that came without an agenda, a plan, interruptions, expectations or demands of myself. I call it my 'do nothing' time. I ended up finding myself in that time. From an unstructured place came great structure. From silence came great insights. From seclusion came connection- to me.

The single most often asked question I get is 'How do you find time to do everything that you do?

This 'do nothing' time is my secret weapon.

It gives me clarity, taps into my intuition, restores me and gifts me the ability to prioritize and channel my energy and efforts towards the things that matter the most to me.

And I am convinced that it will do the same for you.

However, I must tell you that it does take discipline to make yourself a priority and schedule time to 'do nothing' on a regular basis.

Yes, schedule time. Just like you do for everything else in your life. No matter how busy you are, you must commit to this time.

There is an additional benefit of making time to 'do nothing'. Just the act of doing so lifts my spirit and confirms my self-worth to me. In carving out time for myself with no outward 'label' (like driving my kids to activities, date night, working, having dinner with friends, etc...) I reaffirm my intrinsic value.

So, I ask you- are you ready to dive into the world of doing nothing?

Baby steps, perhaps? A half hour this weekend?

I would love to hear from you about your experience. And if you already are a do-nothing person, I invite you to share what you experience in that space and place.

Wishing you a week full of wisdom and intuition,
Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement

photo credit gdtography

Friday, November 2, 2018

Forbidden Love

Just thinking of loving you
Seems so felonious
From Forbidden Love
#12 in the collection



Hello,

It's Sunita here.


Self Love Self Care First is a simple phrase that sounds earnestly good to me. When I hear it, I automatically connect to the common sense that goes along with this concept.

But it was decades before I realized how deeply ingrained and hidden to me my lack of self-love was. It was years of grappling with the devastating and damaging effects of developmental trauma that led to my discovery of the twisted relationship I had with myself.

It wasn't all bad though. I had always had a healthy and strong component to my being that helped me become the successful person that I was. But, there was a constant internal production of self-doubt and disapproval of me buried within my psyche that would never allow me to be completely happy. Whatever I achieved was not enough, whatever I accomplished was never good enough. It was a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction and discontent.

As I worked through the process of repair, I regained my sense of self and ultimately found out that I was good enough and worthy to be loved for who I am- not for what I do.

But that love for me needed to come from me. That is what built my resilience and healthy drive to fulfill my potential as a human being. Now anything I do comes from a place of self love- not from a need to fill an infinite hole.


As I got healthy and started to consistently play by the Self Love Self Care First rules, I started to notice how many others were suffering because of their dissociation from their highest self.


Brain damage and mental illness is just one of the ways we lose touch with our self. We are shaped and influenced by society's messaging, role definitions, family structures, cultural expectations, portrayal of beauty and images of success in advertising, gender politics, social media distortions, peer pressure and frankly, projected inadequacies of others on us.


From the time we are born, we absorb all of this. Consciously and even more dangerously, unconsciously.


If you feel that you want to break free of whatever it is that is preventing you from loving yourself as the divine being that you are, then this blog is for you.


I intimately understand the daunting challenges of stripping off the layers of negative messaging and unconscious drives to self sabotage. Or achieve empty success.


I now also intimately understand that Self Love Self Care First is the only way for us to live a life of joy, fulfill our potential and most importantly, selflessly serve others.


So, I hope you will continue to tune in here on Fridays and will invite your friends to join us as well. This is a complex and complicated issue that demands an honest conversation. And that is what I promise you. I will be talking about both the science and spirituality that must be accessed to get to the point of self love. And celebrating our successes as we go along!


What will be your act of Self Love Self Care First today? I am headed to the gym to get my groove for the day.


Be well Do well Live well,

Sunita


PS- To read the rest of Forbidden Love in Stripping: My Fight to Find Me or listen to me reading it to you on the Audio version of the book, please visit SunitaMerriman.com