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



Friday, August 30, 2019

Seneca, The Shortness of Life and Your Sundown GPS


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

I sat by the edge of the lake last week surrounded by the pleasant chatter of families gathered there to see the sun set. As I enjoyed the exquisite show in the sky put on by nature, I was immersed in my own thoughts of what the sundown meant to me.

The departure of the sun was ceremonious and marked the end of a day that would never be experienced by me again. I was reminded of the words of the  philosopher Seneca.

" Even if all the bright intellects who ever lived were to agree to ponder the one theme, they would never sufficiently express their surprise at this fog in the human mind.
Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is any dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives- why, they themselves even invite in those who take over their lives.
You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property: but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy."

Our lives have a flow to them that is constantly being influenced by external factors. The motives, needs, desires and sense of urgency of others can become a driving force of our day.

One day leads to another and before we know it, we are at a stage of our life where we question what we accomplished. What did we spend our time on? Was it meaningful to us? Was it our deep work? Did it bring us joy? Was it just what others wanted us to do or was it driven by our passions and purpose?

How did we spend our time?

Seneca, in The Shortness of Life offers an absolute must read for anyone who is looking to create a life of meaning in today's world of distractions and illusions of urgency and importance. There is no reason for any of us to be overwhelmed by the shortness of life as the fact as Seneca succinctly articulates is that Life is long, if you know how to use it.

At sundown, I ask myself these 5 questions every day.
This practice keeps me focused on my priorities and helps me stay in my lane without veering into the millions of other lanes that are going in directions and to places that I have no interest in. They also save me from taking turns that lead me down the wrong path.

Sundown GPS.

  1. Did I invest in myself- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
  2. Did I move my life plan forward in any way- big or small?
  3. Did I do for those whom I love and are responsible for?
  4. Did I give my time away to people, activities, meetings, projects and matters that play no role in my life and it's mission?
  5. Did I love?
We all have the power to choose and how we choose to spend our time determines the outcome of our life. My Sundown GPS has changed the way I look at each day and I think it can do that for you too! It is never too early to understand how short life is and we must stop waiting for a specific age or stage of our life to truly start living our truth! 

It's Today. Right Now. This Very Minute.

Wishing you a week of good use of your time,
Be well Do well Live well

Love,
Sunita.
#selfloveselfcarefirst#seneca#shortnessoflife#greatideas#sunset#sundown#sundowngps#time

Friday, August 23, 2019

It's Okay to Take Shelter Under a Bridge on a Rainy Day


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

I was driving back from visiting a friend last week when it started to rain. I slowed down a bit but otherwise, the weather had no impact on my trip. However as I drove under a bridge, I noticed a group of motorcyclists who had stopped there to avoid driving in the rain. It certainly made sense to me as I passed by. If I were driving a bike, I would not want to venture out in the pouring rain and would have done exactly what they were doing. Taking shelter under the bridge until things cleared up on the road.

So why is it so hard for us to do that when we feel blue or under the weather? Where does the belief that we must forge ahead at all costs come from? Many a times, dragging our battered selves to 'show up' is punishing ourselves for the simple crime of needing some 'under the bridge' time. Life is not a straight line and sometimes, we feel less than capable of tackling the big and small of our journey. I believe those times are hints for us to take it easy so we can regroup, recover and regain our vitality.

I now understand that the rain is only going to be for a short time and as soon as the clouds clear up, I will get on my bike and get back on the highway. While I retreat, I use that time to pamper myself with stillness, consideration and compassion. I allow the blues to stay with me as my friends for a short period of time- listening to the messages that they may bring with them. I don't judge myself for taking a short break but instead, am proud that I know when I should be taking shelter 'under the bridge'.

Self Love Self Care First is not only a practice, but an art of being able to listen deeply to ourselves and to be able to respond appropriately, effectively and in a timely fashion to what we understand our needs to be. Self love is about successfully replacing our narrative of self criticism and judgment with self congratulations on being in tune with our body and mind. And soul.

It's okay to feel the need to be cocooned and the desire to withdraw from the hustle of daily life. Actually, it is a necessity. That's why we have days when it's almost impossible to get up and go. They are signs. On those days, do what you must, but otherwise, go easy on yourself and make it a point to take shelter 'under the bridge'. I promise, you will feel invigorated and energized once you do and will continue on your journey with vigor and enthusiasm as soon as the rain stops.

Wishing you a wonderful week!
Be well Do well Live well.
Love,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst#underthebridge#shelter#cocoon#motorcycle#blues#selfcompassion



Friday, August 16, 2019

Where to Start to Be Kind


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

"Be kind". I see this sign every day. It hangs between my writing sanctuary and my work space. I spotted it a few months ago while browsing at a store that sells cute stuff. And inspirational sayings, in all forms. Pillows, signs, wall hangings, stationary, mugs and sundries.

What does it mean to be kind.  Kind is an adjective. The definition of kind is
1 a : of a sympathetic or helpful nature (was helped by a kind neighbor)
   b : of a forbearing nature : Gentle (kind treatment of animals)
   c : arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance ( a kind act)
2    : of a kind to give pleasure or relief (cooled by a kind breeze)
3   Chiefly dialectal : Affectionate, loving
Source: Merriam Webster dictionary

We are taught to be kind to others from an early age. It feels great when we are the recipient of kindness from another person. But now, looking through my lens of Self Love Self Care First, I note how I was never encouraged to be kind to myself. By anyone. Not by my parents, not by my teachers, not by my friends. I always thought of kindness as something that I was supposed to offer to others.

I am down with that. I love being kind. I feel awful about myself when I am not. But being kind has always been in relationship to others. Never has kindness been about being kind to myself.

Until recently.




Now, having the understanding that I do, I practice self love first. Such a basic concept has changed my life. And that of everyone around me. Because I am a much better person when I treat myself with love, consideration and kindness.


When I see the sign Be Kind as I move about my work space, I am instantly reminded to be kind to myself. Instead of getting frustrated and down on myself when I don't succeed at something, I consciously decide to appreciate my determination to get it right. I give myself kudos for having the motivation to overcome the barriers to accomplishing what I want to. 

That instantly relieves the pressure of judgment and disapproval. And it gives me patience to work through what I have to, without resorting to being miserable to be around. 

It has simply changed the game for me.

I stuck this note on my door so that every time I enter my room, I read it. My brain registers the message of self love first and I am reminded to be kind to me. That leads me to a state of calm, optimism and creativity which spreads to my environment. And makes me want to be more kind to others.


It now makes no sense to me to offer kindness to others while I viciously tear myself down. When I suffered from the ravages of the effects of trauma, I routinely neglected myself in ways that were invisible. Not offering myself kindness was one of the more commonly used methods of self punishment.

So to answer the question- Where to start to Be Kind?

With yourself! 

If you need to put up reminders to show compassion and love for yourself, do it. Eventually, you will become a pro at Self Love and will know when you are out of sync with yourself and be able to find a way to get back into a Self Love Self Care First mode.

Good luck :)

Wishing you a week full of kindness,
With love,
Sunita
#selfloveselcarefirst#kindness#selflove#selfcompassion







Friday, August 9, 2019

Toni Morrison and Language- How She Inspires Us to Use this Instrument


Hello,
It's Sunita.

We lost a towering human being this week. Toni Morrison died on August 5th, 2019 after a brief illness. Ms. Morrison, a celebrated writer , influenced and touched millions of people in her lifetime. Tributes poured in and continue to, describing the effect she had on individuals.

Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.- President Barack Obama

In the beginning was the Word. Toni Morrison took the word and turned it into a Song…of Solomon, of Sula, Beloved, Mercy, Paradise Love, and more. 
She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller. 
She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them. 
It is exhilarating and life-enhancing every time I read and share her work.
This pic was her first appearance on the Oprah Show.
She was Empress-Supreme among writers. Long may her WORDS reign!- Oprah Winfrey


Toni Morrison's talent and courage made her contributions to humanity so vast and deep that eulogizing her in a way that would reflect any resemblance of her impact on us would be impossible. So I won't even attempt to do that. Instead, I would like to share the words of this incredible woman that made a deep impression on me and serve as a guide to how I aspire to use words.

On December 7th, 1993, Ms. Morrison delivered her Noble Lecture on the occasion of her receiving the Noble Prize in Literature. You can hear Toni Morrison's Nobel Lecture too.

"...She's worried about how the language she dreams in, given to her at birth is handled, put into service, even withheld from her for certain nefarious purposes. Being a writer, she thinks of language partly as a system, partly as a living thing over which one has control- but mostly as agency..." Toni Morrison.

Most of us cannot be Toni. Neither should we aspire to be her.

We should aspire to be the very highest form of who we are.

That is enough. And that is much more than who we usually live as. So I take Ms. Morrison's words about language as an inspiration to use words to speak my truth and to speak out against what I know is the opposite of truth.

If we all did that, to the best of our abilities, then we can together, unveil and expose the tyranny, injustice and cruelty that exists, unchallenged in our world. If we did that, to the best of our abilities, then we would also, collectively create a narrative that gives words to the beauty and power of our truths and illustrates the infinite possibilities for connection with each other through love.

That is what Ms. Morrison did with everything she wrote. She used language as a vehicle of agency.

We can too.

How do you use language? I challenge you to ponder this question and furthermore, see how you can you be inspired by the work of Toni Morrison to be the voice of our collective conscious in the trying times of today.

I wish you a week of language,
Use it wisely and deliberately.
Our voices have power!
With my love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#tonimorrison#nobelprize#literature#RIP#respect#words#barckobama#oprahwinfrey#language#truth#authenticity#power

Photo Credit- Noble Foundation, Photo Boo Jonsson


Friday, August 2, 2019

Our Intuition Recognizes 'Strangers' as Our Soul Friends - The Story of The Zen Bowl




Hello,
It's Sunita here.

It was the summer of 2014. 
We were in Seattle on the last day of vacation. Our flight back to Newark was not until 11 pm that night. We were slightly at odds on how to spend the day. Having energetically and enthusiastically checked off many tourist musts in the Pacific Northwest over the past couple of weeks, we were in a place of 'now ready to get back home'. Something ambitious was not appealing. However, the thought of doing nothing and spending the day resting in our hotel room was not what we had in mind either. So we found a comfortable middle ground. After breakfast, we decided to leisurely explore Seattle's First Avenue.

As we walked down the vibrant, bustling artery of Seattle's urban landscape, we dipped in and out of shops, visited the Seattle Art Museum and ate our share of creative fare offered by the gourmet eateries along the way. And of course, drank coffee. Lots of it. It was now approaching the time to get to the airport.

As we were walking back to our hotel, I noticed a store. I passed it, but could not ignore something that was buzzing around me. I went back and looked at the display. It was an art gallery named Ventri. 

It looked expensive. I did not need anything from there. We had no time to waste as we had a flight to catch. My husband and daughters were certainly not interested in going into one more store at this point. Let alone an art gallery...

I walked away. My common sense and logic prevailed. Yet, I somehow felt uneasy about my decision. Feeling guilty about holding everyone up and possibly causing a delay, I hesitated a bit but then decided to turn back and enter the world of Ventri. As I had suspected, it was full of exquisite art, mostly glass, and wildly beyond any budget I would have had for a 'parting gift' from our trip. I wandered upstairs to the Chihuly Exhibit. In contemplation, I quietly admired the artistry and imagination of this great artist.

But I still felt a pull to something unknown, somewhere else in the store. As I was making my way to exit the store, my eyes landed on a glass bowl. I stopped. This was it! It was what I was meant to see. An instantaneous purchase was made, paid for and packed for the flight back home. Somehow, unexplainably, in that moment, I felt a clear calmness.

It was weeks after getting home that I found time to read the information that Ventri had enclosed with my glass bowl. I learned that it was the art of Scott Fitzel from Hawaii. And that there was an entire line of Zen glass bowls that he made, based on the chakras that we inhabit. All, very much in synergy with my interest in meditation and energy fields. I reached out to Scott directly and started to collect his Zen Bowls. I would also gift them to friends and family on special occasions. Scott and I would email back and forth. Pleasant enough and cordial.

Until last year when he learned about my poetry and my journey of healing. That is when we both realized that we had met before. 

Aloha Sunita,
... 
I was compelled to put off all the crazy busyness of this Friday morning and watch and absorb completely the conversation of you speaking of your work. I felt almost as if we were in the same room and you were in conversation with me and I was answering back to you
 ... 
Thank you for living for truth, growth and sharing and thank you for finding me all those years ago-otherwise I likely would not have found you now...
Me ke aloha
Mahalo nui loa
Scott

The fact is that Scott had found me years ago. When his soul whispered to me as I walked the streets of Seattle. I am so grateful that I paid attention to my intuition and surrendered to it, allowing me to be led to something unknown.Trusting that it was part of a plan. And in that, I reconnected to a soul friend. Even after this connection was made, it took me awhile to recognize Scott.

Now, Scott and I catch up ever so often in a manner that is deep, meaningful and familiar. I see him through his sculptures and his words and I feel he sees me through my poetry and words.Our creativity was the bridge that brought us back together. We recognize each other from before. Our communication is without pretense. It is full of vulnerability and share. 

We are still to meet in person but don't feel the compulsion or urgency to do so in order to solidify our friendship. It is already there. It existed before we knew each other. It will remain after we are gone.

I share a photograph of a sculpture that Scott and his partner KC Grennan recently designed, and his words that describe their vision and intent. 



"Here is a photo of a piece that Kc and I finished recently for the Hapuna Hotel on Hawaii Island. It's called Ao Lani Wai Lani. Translates closely but not heaven in the Bible context to 'Pure light from heaven, sacred water from heaven'. The gathering bowl below is alo a place to gather, sit and look up and out at the sunset and endless blue."

Have you felt such an intuition? Did you listen to your inner voice and follow it's track to discover a soul friend? Did you ignore your intuition and regret it?

I'd love to hear from you about your experiences.

We have a guide inside us who is wiser than our conscious awareness. But to be able to hear it, we must do the work to cut down on the noise, doubt and fear that we collect along the way of our journey. Only then can we connect to the infinity that we inhabit. And be led to our soul friends.The joy of discovering our souls companions, connecting to their energy and inspiration and being in harmony with them is what our journey is all about.

There is no one who writes about this more exquisitely and tenderly than John O' Donohue. I encourage you to read Anam Cara. You will quickly see how it becomes a companion book that you will want to keep with you at all times and gift to your loved ones.

I thank you Scott- for being a soul friend to me and bringing great beauty to my life through your art, your words and your spirit. I look forward to seeing you in Hawaii someday in the near future!

Wishing everyone a week of light,
Aloha,
Sunita


#selfloveselfcarefirst#scottfitzel#glass#sculpture#seattle#ventri#soul#zenbowls#chakras#hawaii#johnodonohue#anamcara#meditation#mindfulness#poetry#anamcara#hapunahotel



Friday, July 26, 2019

Attachment Trauma is Not a Life Sentence- I Know That For a Fact

Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Addicted

I walk on sand.
My sand shifts with the wind.
It runs after the outlying horizon.
Carelessly leaving me groundless.
I walk on sand.
Loyal to its invariable whimsies,
Longing for its fickle love,
Accepting of its infinite, illicit transgressions.

I walk on sand,
Even as it brutally blinds me.
Blasting my bare, trusting face,
When propelled by a cruel, stormy gale.

I walk on sand,
Crippled by my craving of its wayward flights,
Shackled by the bottomless pit that it conceals,
Imprisoned by my fear of solid ground.


#32 in the collection
'Stripping : My Fight to Find Me'

We are social creatures and are born to connect with others. We are biologically wired for relationships and from the moment we are conceived we need others for our survival. This survival goes way beyond food and shelter. For us to be able to thrive, we need human emotional connection. That connection and safe interactions first start with our primary caregivers and lay the foundation of our 'relationship template'. We learn about ourselves and our place in the world through what we see and experience with our caregiver. Their responsiveness to our emotional needs is key to the healthy development of our inner world.
The connections we have as infants to our primary care givers and those close to us can in many ways be compared to our internet connection. If it is not working, you can't connect to any of the sites you need to in order to do work, play, be entertained, reach out to your friends, connect to new people, create new work and much more.

When attachment bonds are patchy, interrupted, destroyed or damaged, our lives take a turn for the worse. This trauma is called Attachment Trauma and it leads to many variations of hell on earth.


Attachment theory in psychology originates with the seminal work of John Bowlby (1958).Bowlby defined attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (1969, p. 194). Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space (Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969). See Attachment Theory and In depth discussion of Attachment.


Dr. Beatrice Beebe, a Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University studies the baby's non verbal language at Columbia University. The level of responsiveness of infants and their ability to communicate with us is amazingly higher than formerly understood or even believed to exist.

Millions of adults suffer from depression, anxiety, isolation, lack of self, addictions, relationship problems and unexplained medical symptoms and much more debilitating conditions. And yet, they may function and be successful in many other ways, so this damage and inner world fragmentation may be totally invisible and unnoticed on the outside- by others and most unfortunate of all, even by themselves.


But deep inside, you know something is not right. If you are one of such people, get help! Science has come far and there are predictable treatments for Attachment Trauma/ Developmental Trauma that work to help people claim their unlived life and find joy.
There is hope!

Walk out of the darkness. Fight to find who you truly are. Fight to move towards your light. Fight to reclaim your life. Fight to rebuild your life. Fight to find joy.

Stay tuned,
Our conversation will continue.

With my love and hope for you,

Until next time,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#attachment#attachmenttrauma#depression#istdp#davanloo#dynamicpsychotherapy#poetry#words#creativity#healing#connection#brain#light#beatricebeebe#johnbowlby#reaching throughresistance#allanabbass

Friday, July 19, 2019

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken and the Pioneers Need for Self Love and Self Care First


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

The year was 1916. The poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost was published in the collection Mountain Interval.



...
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Who cannot be moved by these words of the famous poet?  Like with any poem, its interpretation is personal. I understand these words to be a call to create a life that is of our choice and not common . These words inspire the reader to take a path that leads to an unknown destination. Implied in following that advice is a promise that it will be a journey worth taking. 

What did Frost mean by "And that made all the difference?" What is the 'difference' that he refers to?

I believe the path that he wrote about to be the journey that we say yes to when we follow our truth. It is lit by the brightness of our intuition and is guided by our inner voice. We become pioneers of our destiny.
pi·o·neer
/ˌpīəˈnir/
noun
  1. 1.
    a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.
    synonyms:settlercolonistcolonizer, frontiersman/frontierswoman, explorertrailblazerdiscoverer
    "the pioneers of the Wild West"

The year is 2019. The blog Ahead of the Curve by Seth Godin gives you an idea of what a journey that most others have not yet taken looks like. He paints a picture of turbulence, uncertainty, challenges and danger.

Ahead of the Curve
When you’re traveling ahead of the curve, it’s silly to imagine that the road will be straight and flat. It’s actually more like a cliff. With bumps.
That’s all part of the deal. That’s why it’s not called the curve. You’re in the void, uncharted, ahead of what’s behind.
In fact, ahead of the curve, the weather is pretty lousy too. Often with catastrophic lightning storms.

So why would anyone in their right mind choose to be ahead of the curve, on a road less travelled ? Because, as Seth explains, "you get the thrill of finding a new path instead of merely following the old one."

There are countless examples in history of individuals who spent their lives honoring their truth in the life choices they made. Many a times they changed the course of history. Mahatma Gandhi made a stand and chose non violent civil disobedience over the raging fire, violence and mayhem of political and religious conflict that existed at the end of the British Colonial rule of India. It may seem like an easy choice today, but at that time, he was going against the grain of his countrymen and considered a traitor by many. But he wasn't deterred by what others thought of him and was steadfast in his message of non-violence in the pursuit of India's independence and to this day, is held as an inspiring example of moral leadership.

Gandhi took the road less travelled and was certainly ahead of the curve.

If you want to design your life around your truth, it will be worth it. But it will not be easy. Because 'worth it' does not equate to 'simple, safe and pain free.' So Self Love Self Care First becomes even more urgent and necessary when you are a pioneer of your life. 

Here are some fundamental SLSCF tips for you if you are a Pioneer.

  1. Pioneers are incredible human beings so treat yourself like precious cargo. 
  2. Pioneers have doubters so make sure you surround yourself with those who believe in you, cheer you on and support you.
  3. Pioneers confuse many with their ahead of the curve vision. These people respond to the discomfort of their inability to comprehend and see your vision by shooting it down and discrediting it. Let them. Don't stop to try to bring them along.
  4. Pioneers are often lonely because of the bigness of the nature of the task they have taken on. Make friends with yourself.
I leave you with good advice from Ellen, who I admire greatly, as an exception to the rule that Robert Frost alludes to.

"Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that."

Until next time,
With my best for you and your unique journey,
Love,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst#RobertFrost#poetry#theroadnottaken#sethgodin#mahatmagandhi#ellendegeneres#pioneer