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, 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






Friday, March 15, 2019

Operation Varsity Blue- A Statement of Our Society's Facination with Appearances


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

It was hard not to be glued to the news feed about the college admissions scandal this week. Wealthy and privileged people accused of buying their way into highly regarded educational institutions. What an unimaginable plot...

Really?

Let's look at how our society has become more and more outwardly focused in the age of 'celebrity'. Influencers are now people with no obvious qualifications but with huge social media clout. Young teenagers are caught up in becoming You Tube stars. Photo shopped nirvana is what gets likes and hence ranking and popularity in the social media world.

It's a feeding frenzy to achieve a conspicuous, status driven and name brand identity.

Is it shocking that some people allegedly would go to the lengths that have been reported in the news this week to get their kids into prestigious universities? If we were honest we would say no.

The process of college applications and admission is full of stress, uncertainty and chance. Many high schools report a high level of depression and anxiety amongst their student populations. Sleep is a big trade off for these already mentally and emotionally taxed students. The results are disastrous at worse and difficult at best.

Until we encourage our children to do their best and be happy with that, there will always be a sense of failure if their 'goals' are not met. But these goals are not what their life is about. It's about their resilience when what they dream about and plan for does not happen. That is when they will rise above who they are at that moment and redefine themselves. And create something of value in their life. There is no elite school pedigree or unearned glory that can give them that.

This scandal has given us a great opportunity to talk to our children about many important issues in our society that it has uncovered. It is also an opportunity to reassure them that they are enough as unique human beings. Their intrinsic value is what makes them special and will lead them to do great things of distinction in their lives. Just because millions of people may not hear about their greatness does not mean that they are not amazing!

Building a meaningful life takes a lifetime of commitment to both our inner and outer worlds. Not just a fancy college degree. We need to remember that at all times if we want to reach our full potential.

Wishing you a thoughtful week,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement

Friday, March 8, 2019

Ken Burns and Dr. Siddhartha Mukeherjee Team up to Bring it Out of the Attic


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

This week, I tuned in to PBS to watch Cancer- The Emperor of all Maladies . It premiered in 2015 but is just as fresh and relevant today.  Ken Burns presents this 3 part film based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Emperor of All Maladies by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee

In the first part, one of the people featured in a storyline vaguely remembers his relative suffering from cancer. That was because she was living in the attic, away from anyone who could find out that she was suffering from the disease. Out of the way and hidden. She died and no one was the wiser.

In this day and age, it's hard for us to imagine that a diagnosis of cancer carried such secretiveness and shame. We now recognize that we are all affected by cancer in some way or the other and have developed an understanding of it's brutality and impact on the patient and their loved ones. Resulting from this understanding is our compassion and empathy for them. And our desire to help in the process of treatment in any way we can.

Cancer : The Emperor of All Melodies matches the epic scale of the disease, reshaping the way the public sees cancer and stripping away some of the fear and misunderstanding that has long surrounded it. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance but also of hubris, paternalism and misconception. Source, Official website of  Cancer- The Emperor of all Maladies.


Ken Burns film Cancer- The Emperor of all Maladies gives us a history lesson on how we got to the point of social acceptance and a relentless determination and efforts to find a treatment for all cancers. It was not overnight and certainly not easy. Many people devoted their life to making this change. From clinicians, to researchers to philanthropists. And governments and society at large. It was decades of work and fund raising that brought us to the point where cancer in most cases is not an automatic death sentence.

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee has honestly and candidly described his family's relationship with mental illness in another book of his The Gene. "I went with my father to visit my cousin in a Calcutta mental institution, a grim place where I saw a man disintegrated from schizophrenia and from institutionalized life."

I would like to think, or perhaps hope that Ken Burns and Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee will pair up once again to illuminate the plight of those who suffer from mental illness and bring them out of the attic.

It is much needed.

Mental illness affects us all, directly or indirectly. But it is still a taboo subject in our everyday conversation. We applaud those who come forward to share their stories of mental suffering as if they are doing something very brave. Well, we are, but it shouldn't require 'courage' to talk about our inner world. It should be accepted as an ordinary conversation. Our mental and psychological health should be considered just like our physical well being. Actually it should take precedence since it controls a large part of our physical health as well. The mind -body connection is no longer only a philosophical concept as researchers like Allan Abbass, MD and his team are showing empirical evidence of the effect of undiagnosed and untreated psychic pain on our bodies.

I end today with a statement attributed to Sharon Percy Rockefeller in connection with the film, Cancer - The Emperor of All Maladies. 

I would however request that you replace 'Cancer" with 'Mental Illness' when you read it. The statement stands just as true to this suffering as it does to cancer.

"Cancer touches nearly everyone in this country, and public media can play a vital role in educating Americans about this disease," Rockefeller said. "We will illuminate cancer as never before, exploring in depth its history, sharing the experiences of those battling it, and offering new hope by spotlighting some of the most extraordinary research being done today"

Mental Health- The Monarch of All Well Being  
Ken and Siddhartha, in case you are looking for your next project...

I am hopeful that our mind and our inner life will continue to get the spotlight it deserves so we may live a life free of stigma, shame and unnecessary suffering. And so research and treatment for mental illness will continue to find ways to effectively and predictably help patients and their families live with dignity, purpose and meaning.

Wishing you a week of creative wonder,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement


Friday, March 1, 2019

Sloths teach us a valuable lesson about Attachment

Mother and baby sloth in Costa Rica

Hello,
It's Sunita here.

On a recent visit to the south western part of Costa Rica, I was delighted to see a fair number of sloths over the time I was there. Sloths are slow moving mammals that live in tree tops. They come down from their sky-high perches only once a week to relieve themselves. Like many animals that live in nature alongside their predators, sloths blend in with their enviornment due to the good camouflage provided by their bodies.  As elusive as they are, once you spot a sloth in a tree, the risk of them moving out of your sight before you can take photographs is non existent. They just don't move much and if they do, it's so slow that there is no risk of them moving out of your frame.

So my husband Tim, who is photography enthusisist, was in sloth heaven as he went about The Sloth Institute at Telemar with his camera. Both two and three-toed sloths inhabit the preserved area where the Institute exists and he was able to get many great shots of different sloths. This photograph however caught my attention in a special way.

The mama sloth is hanging on a branch in the tree canopy on which she had chosen to stay put at for a while. She is hanging upside down with her baby laying across her belly. Sloths have a gestation period of six months and give birth to one baby sloth at a time. The baby 'sticks' with the mother for the first six months of their life during which time it bonds with her and learns from her.

This photograph immediately and unconsciously depicted to me all the characteristics of a good 'Attachment'.

It shows a parental figure (here we could safely assume it is the mother) who is physically close to her child. There's not much closer the baby sloth could be sticking to it's mama.

It's hanging upside down while the baby is unconcerned and unaffected by it's mother's position. It is securely attached to the mama sloth's belly.

The baby sloth looks like it is fully trusting of it's mother and is sprawled on her body with no concerns of having to 'fit' into any given space. There is an openness and abandon to any spacial restrictions that I perceive in the expansiveness and comfort level in the body language of the baby sloth.

There are no predators around the Sloth and her baby as she hangs high in the canopy, well camoflaged from predators like eagles and jaguars.

All the markings of a secure attachment are evident in this photograph.

Security
Comfort 
Protection

And that is what got my attention when I saw it. I just hadn't worked it all out as I have here.

I leave you today with these questions.

How does your attachment with your children compare to what is seen in this photograph?

What kind of barriers do you face to being the parent you want to be and what you know your children deserve?

How does your attachment with your intimate partner and close friends compare to what is seen in this photograph?

What kind of barriers do you face to being the intimate partner and close friend  you want to be?

Wishing you a week of reflection and hopefully an opportunity to 'stick' with someone you love :)

Be well Do well Live well
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst

Photograph credit : Timothy J. Carlsen