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, October 11, 2019

Self Love Self Care FIRST- Not Just when Convenient- Why it Must be our Top Commitment and #1 Priority


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Our mind lies to us.

It tricks us to pay attention to what we have, at some point unconsciously set our priorities to be. It creates a sense of urgency about events that may not deserve that attention. As I said, our mind lies to us- often, and without us noticing. Unless we consciously define our priorities and make a plan to commit to them. Even under tough circumstances and trying conditions.

I was visiting with a close friend this week. As usual, we quickly got down to the nitty- gritty of our lives. As I listened to her, I felt sad to hear about the pressure she had been under. One of her teenage son's suffers from a chronic and debilitating illness that has a wide range of unexplained symptoms. She is constantly visiting various doctors, nutritionists, holistic healers and massage therapists with him, as they seek relief and answers. I was getting exhausted just hearing about her day to day schedule. This is all on top of her having a full time career, family and social commitments. My heart wanted to be able to just stop the pain for her. But I knew that was not possible for me to do.

I could see that my friends focus was entirely on her child's needs. That makes sense. That's what our motherly instincts are pushing us to do, and nature had a good reason to have designed us that way. It has ensured our survival over the centuries. But nature never instructed us to ignore ourselves.

What my friend seemed unable to see was how run down she had become. In her quest to find relief for her son, she had totally neglected to take care of herself. The result was a state of utter physical and mental exhaustion, fogginess of thought process, irritability and weight gain. She, despite wanting the best for her son, was now constantly fighting with him. There was discord and tension creeping into their relationship. He thought she was being overbearing. She thought he was unappreciative of her.

I gently asked her if she was taking any time out for herself in this storm. Here's what she told me. And I must say, as I listened to her, she immediately reminded me of someone I knew. Myself...

"Its hard- he needs me more right now."
"I don't have any time to spare. I barely get through the day as it is with all that I have to do."
"My other kids need me when I have any extra time."
"Work is busy right now."
"I'll start taking care of myself soon, when things settle down a bit."
"I can't."

I used to say, and believe all of these 'reasons' for not prioritizing myself FIRST. It felt wrong. I felt guilty to put myself above others, especially my family. But deep down, there was a dark, hidden message that I had absorbed that I never wanted to examine. Because it was so painful to admit.

I didn't believe I was worth it.

My reasons for absorbing this message were complicated and complex, and a result of trauma. But it is a message that has been downloaded by many of us, even in the absence of the experience of any trauma. It is a social message that is perpetuated every time 'selfless love' is celebrated.

I have discovered something entirely different as I healed, and continue to heal.

"I am sacred. I am important. I am divine. I have been created to be of service to my family and my community. But I have also been created to experience joy and to manifest the highest form of my being. So I must take care of myself with reverence. So, I must practice Self Love Self Care First. Before, my day of responsibilities and duties begins. Despite, my many obligations. Especially, when the demands on my mind, body and soul are high. More so, when my family and my community need me. Only then, can I take care of them to the best of my abilities, and in accordance to the love and devotion I have for them."

Self Love Self Care First
I am worth it. I deserve it. I am entitled to it.

The next few blogs will be on how to create a practice of Self Love Self Care First. But in the meantime, I share a picture of one of the activities that makes me happy and relieves stress for me. Baking. 

The process of making the 'Pear Bread' shown at the top of this blog gave me such pleasure. Every step was a SLSCF exercise for me. From picking the pears at the grocery store, to the actual process of baking, and then packaging the mini loaves to gift to friends. And, of course, the ultimate SLSCF act was to finally sit down with my husband Tim, and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee at the end of a busy day, with a slice of this sweet, nutmeg infused, heavenly fall delight. 

Coffee, dessert and an intimate connection with my partner. For me, this is SLSCF in the most joyous of ways.

Here's to a week of SLSC FIRST,
Be well Do well Live well
With my love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#selfcare#trauma#baking#joy

Friday, October 4, 2019

If You Are Feeling Defeated then This Blog is Definitely For You


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Many a times, we all get taken in by the brash light of success that is personified by those who achieve and succeed.

What we don't see is the journey of how they got there. Today is about the path littered with 'defeat'.

"Describe the defeated ones," said a merchant, when he saw that the Copt had finished speaking. And he answered:
Defeated are those who never failed. Defeat means that we lose a particular battle or war. Failure does not allow us to go on fighting.
Defeat comes when we fail to get something we very much want. Failure does not allow us to dream. It's motto is "Expect Nothing and you won't be disappointed".

Defeat ends when we launch into another battle.
Failure has no end : It is a lifetime choice.

These are Paulo Coelho's words from his book Manuscript Found in Accra.

Are you going to give up your dream because of a setback? Or a few setbacks?
Or perhaps many setbacks in succession?

I hope not. Because these setbacks are merely defeats- not failures. They are meant to be in our path so we may fall down, hurt and find the determination and strength to get up again. In that act, we grow. The scars that we bear after every defeat are our badges of honor and a map to our journey. There is honor in these scars- not shame. Shame would be ours if we gave up on what we have determined gives our life meaning.

Defeats, I have discovered, are lessons that we must learn to become the people we are destined to be. So we must re frame our understanding of defeat and being down and out in our mind. It is only a temporary place that we inhabit while we regroup to rethink our strategy and sharpen our minds for the journey ahead.

And in defeat, despite how hurt and paralyzed we may feel, our dream is manifesting itself. Even though it may not feel that way at that time.

But one day, you will be triumphant in the form that you were dreaming of. And you will realize that every defeat was a little triumph along the way to your Promised Land.

If you are feeling defeated, here is some practical advice for you,

  1. Understand your journey that you believe you are meant to be on (you have decided to be a 'writer/entrepreneur/social worker/etc., etc.____' and are starting out.)
  2. Have support and guidance around you- emotional, financial, spiritual...(The more defeats you suffer does not get you 'bonus points'. Let's be real- defeat hurts like hell! so it's prudent to minimize it. And loving support helps us lick our wounds, regain our confidence and move forward faster and with less damage to our spirit.)
  3. Give yourself time to think as you go about the business of being on your journey. (if not, then you will constantly miss out on  the contemplation necessary to discover the hidden gifts of your defeats. Solitude and reflection are necessary for us to become wiser) 
I leave you with a few lines from my poem 'Shutters' in my book Stripping : My Fight to Find Me. I hope they inspire you to move from defeat to the next battle of your fight!


From 'Shutters"

I’m in love with my cruel story
I’m in awe of my ugly scars

They’re mine they’re mine they’re mine
For me to proudly show

The carnage is my teacher
The darkness is my guide


Wishing you a week of wisdom and strength,
Until next time,
Be well Do well Live well
With love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#paulocoelho#defeat#victory#persistence#wisdom#scars#pride#determination





Friday, September 27, 2019

Twyla Tharp's Wise and Inspiring Words are Perfect for Making Self Love Self Care First a Ritual


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Self Love Self Care First sounds simple enough to do. But this simplicity of concept is deceptive. It's the hardest thing to do, for a variety of reasons. There are many barriers that we all have to truly loving ourselves. So how can one start on the journey of loving ourselves?

Establish a ritual that leads to the practice of Self Love Self Care First.

But how?

Right now, one of the books that I am reading is Twyla Tharp's 'The Creative Habit'. Well reading is not exactly what I am doing. I'm reading, underlining, re-reading, highlighting, absorbing, re-reading... You get the picture.

For anyone who is creative (that means everyone) and wants to maximize their gift and talents, Twyla Tharp's book is an absolute must. She lays down a plan for those who believe that creativity is temperamental and fleeting. And think that we must bow down to it's ebbs and flow. Twyla disputes that and generously gives simple, bit by bit instructions on how to design a life style of habits that promote and enhance your creative output.

Chapter 2 of 'The Creative Habit- Learn It And Use It for Life' is titled Rituals of Preparation. Twyla writes,

 "I begin each day of my life with a ritual...
It's a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it- makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about....
First steps are hard...
It's vital to establish some rituals- automatic but decisive patterns of behavior- at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up,or going the wrong way.
...Thinking of it as a ritual has a transforming effect on the activity. Turning something into a ritual eliminates the question. Why am I doing this? ...
The ritual erases the question of whether or not I like it. It is also a friendly reminder that I'm doing the right thing." 


     I've done it before. It was good. I'll do it again.

I ask that you imagine creativity to be Self Love Self Care First. Think of all the barriers that come between you and regularly practicing SLSCF. It maybe mental illness, depression, a busy schedule, a need to do for others before caring for yourself, being in an abusive relationship, etc., etc. The list is endless and topics for many future discussions but for today, we will not delve deep into the challenges of putting ourselves first.

Today is about establishing rituals. 

What can you do to start your day on a note of self love and self care? What ritual can you establish to prevent talking yourself out of taking care of yourself first, and prioritizing your well being?

A couple of suggestions,
  1. Put on your exercise clothes and sneakers as soon as you wake up. A cue to your brain to work out.
  2. Open your journal. A cue to write.
  3. Set your alarm to get up an hour before the rest of your family. A cue to have that time reserved for you to devote exclusively to you and your interests.
  4. Light a candle. A cue to meditate and reflect.
There are no limits to what you can conjure up as your ritual. It will be unique and intuitive to your definition of self love self care first. The ritual will be your gateway to taking care of yourself first- before you offer your energy and efforts to others. 

As Twyla wisely said,

First Steps Are Hard


Make a ritual a habit. That habit will become a practice. That practice will eventually become a way of life.

Try it. It works. I know it does and Twyla knows it does. Her magnificent career and life is evidence of it. She is creative, productive and brilliant. I am inspired by her spirit and dedicate this blog to her.

Wishing you discovery of your unique ritual of SLSCF,
Be well Do well Live well
Love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#twylatharp#thecreativehabit#rituals#selflove#selfcare#habit#practice#inspiration


Friday, September 20, 2019

A Narcissist's Love is Not Love- So Why Do You Stay?


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

CRAZY HUNGRY LOVE

You're good.
You're damn good.
I'll give you that.

I thought you knew me
Better than I knew myself,
So, 
I let you paint my portrait 
In all the strokes and colors
You chose,
Only to have a lost woman
Stare wildly back at me.

I didn't know any better.
I was hungry for love.
I was lonesome,
So,
You had me believing
That I was the crazy one.


You can read the rest of my poem in my book Stripping : My Fight to Find Me
and also hear my dear friend Paulette S. make it her own on YouTube.

How many of us allow others, and may even invite them to tell us who we are. The problem with that is that they get to choose which filter they will use to assign us an identity. 

When we are in a relationship that is dysfunctional, many a times, we are unable to see that from a close distance. 

Our friends and family can warn us all they want about the perils of such a damaging relationship, but it is only when we wake up to this reality that things can change.

How can we take control of who we are? 

By going inwards and finding our strength. Courage leads us to our truth. Dealing with all parts of us- the good, the bad and the ugly, reconciling with them and accepting them is the only way that we can gain agency of ourselves.

It is a supremely difficult, and often times, very painful process. That is why we avoid it. But it is worth it in the end because we find out who we are- not, who someone else sees us to be, through the filter of their skewed lens. No longer do we then need to find validation in other people's selfish and narcissistic love.

When we are stuck in a cycle of crazy, hungry love, the question we must ask ourselves is- How did I get myself into this position? Even more importantly, Why did I get myself in a relationship where I must disguise who I am to keep the peace? What do I constantly do to appease, calm and mollify this person at work/home/play? What happens when I express my opinions, my wants and my desires? Is there even room for two in this relationship?

The answers to these questions are usually very complex and unavailable to us without  deep work. And it is not advisable to go about looking for the answers on our own. 

A trained mental health professional who has experience in their field, and a compassionate bend of personality is the best bet for effective help here. 

In the meantime, there are many resources that can start you on the path of illumination of your past. 

The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists by Eleanor D. Payson, MSW is an excellent start to learning more about your truth in a one way relationship. If after reading this book, you recognize patterns of dysfunction that apply to your relationships, get help.

Do the work. Break free.

You're worth it!

Wishing you a week of illumination,
Until next time,
Sunita
Be well, Do well, Live well

#selfloveselfcarefirst#relationships#mentalhealth#narcissism#therapy#livingfree#boundaries#eleanordpayson#wizardofoz





















Friday, September 13, 2019

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge in Sea Wall / A Life- An Opportunity to Deepen our Relationships


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

We sometimes fail to realize that others don't think, feel or experience life the way we do. So their opinions and reflections may come as a surprise to us. Such occasions are ripe with the possibility to get to know them better, and more intimately if we just follow our curiosity to learn about their perspective.

I was presented with such an opportunity this week.

My daughter Nina and I saw the play Sea Wall/ A Life at the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan. There are plenty of reviews that you can read about the play and the performances. That's not what this story is about. It is about how two generations experienced it so differently, based on what their life experiences have been.

The play tells two stories of love, loss and grieving, through two monologues, separated by an intermission.

The first story is by Simon Stephens and is narrated by Tom Sturridge. It starts out charmingly enough as Tom chronicles his idyllic life that includes a wife who he is insanely and completely in love with, a gruff father- in-law that he has created a deep bond with, and a young daughter who has him wrapped around her little finger. They visit his father in law every year in a little town by the sea in France.

Tragedy strikes at one of these visits in a most unfortunate manner. Tom's young daughter, under the care of her doting grandfather, during a brief unsupervised moment falls off a cliff. This happens as Tom watches this unfold as he swims in the the water, ironically, taking in the perfection of the day. Her untimely demise causing gut wrenching agony and grief for her family. The monologue is descriptive of the complexity of Tom's sorrow and grief and the mixed emotions that Tom has for his father-in-law, whose momentary inattention resulted in the accident. His nuanced performance creates a space in the theater, leaving Nina and I both deeply immersed in the story.




The second story is by Nick Payne. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a character called Abe who bumbles through the birth of his first child, a daughter, and the death of his father. The transition between these two story lines is razor thin at times, leading the audience to sometimes miss the appropriate emotion as Jake moves from one scene to the next. However, his internal conflict of the huge variation of his emotional investment in his father's deterioration and ultimate death and his daughter's impending birth and her arrival is obvious. Even during moments when he is rapturously engaged with his new born, and is looking at her with wonder and awe, he remains with his focused and preoccupied with grief over his father's passing. This adds an element of guilt to the cauldron of his pain.

After the play ended, Jake invited interested audience members to share their feelings and thoughts about their experience of the play. Nina wanted to do that so I did too. That is when I discovered how different our evening's experience had been.

Nina had been most affected by the story of the slow deterioration and death of Abe's father. She realized that she had not yet suffered the loss of a close relative and her mind kept going to thoughts of her losing me and her father. I, on the other hand was much more affected by the first story and imagined the despair I would feel if my children died before me.

We both went to a dark place but for different reasons.

Being curious and genuinely interested in each others perspective brought our conversation to a level of intimacy and understanding that did not exist before that evening. And that is the magic of conversations. They create a bridge to connect with others. Feeling connected to those who me love gives us a sense of well being and belonging.

The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our life.

So tending to our relationships are an act of Self Love Self Care First for sure.

I leave you with 3 things you can do to practice this essential form of SLSCF.

  1. Write down a list of the 5-10 people who mean the most to you.
  2. Reach out to them (phone call/note/card) and express how you feel about them, and what their presence in your life means to you. 
  3. Plan to do this on a regular basis. And by plan, I mean make a plan and write it down. Then stick to it.
You will quickly see how these simple steps make you feel happy. In addition to making the recipients feel loved and appreciated. It's a win-win!

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge did a terrific job of taking us to a space where we felt the stories they were telling. And both stories were about relationships, love and loss. Bravo to them both! Nina and I left Hudson Theater not only having enjoyed a wonderful, through provoking play, but also more connected to each other.

Wishing you a week of great conversations,
Love,
Sunita
Be well Do well Live well

#selfloveselfcarefirst#SeaWall/ALife#JakeGyllenhaal#TomSturridge#NickPayne#SimonStephens#HudsonTheatre#relationships#wellbeing#love#grief#loss#family#intimacy#theater