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 25, 2019

The Perils of Lying to Ourselves Include Certain Sabotage of the Practice of Self Love Self Care First.



Hello,
It's Sunita here,

I was in Columbus Ohio last weekend to attend a Sleep Medicine course at the Metz Center. I had been looking forward to this opportunity for the past few months, to not only learn and share, but to get to meet other sleep professionals. I had planned to be there a day before the course started, so I could explore the city and give myself some time to do nothing but think and feel without the interruption of the daily demands of my life. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it. 

Well, Thursday didn't go the way I had planned. Let me explain.

Fridays are the days I post my blog www.selfloveselfcarefirst.com. That usually means that I dedicate time on Thursdays to write it and then share it the next day. I chose Friday because it was suggested as a day when blogs get read most (don't ask me about where these algorithms come from and how). I figured, I don't see patients on most Fridays so this will work perfectly. 

But the reality is that I am usually scheduled to do non patient related things at work and find it very difficult to carve out the time that I need to write. And because of that, when I have been sitting down to write, it had begun to feel more like an obligation, than a passion to share and help others. 

I had downplayed this unease and even went so far as to be self critical. My inner voice had the audacity to tell me "If you had used your time better during the week, you would not have this mad, last minute panic."

So Thursday in Columbus was spent in my hotel room, frantically writing and posting, instead of exploring the city and chilling. 

It's at that point that I decided to STOP DECEIVING MYSELF and look at the reality of my situation.

Friday was not working out as the best day for me to post my blog. Something had to change.

An act of love and sharing became an event of stress and distress for me. The total opposite of Self Love Self Care First. I did not want to admit that, even to myself. And admitting it here took a lot of courage. But I hope it illuminates the point I'm making this week. 

The perils of lying to ourselves lead us to harm. 
When we don't pay attention to how we feel, we derail our commitment to live honestly and free. 
Self Love Self Care First demands absolute honesty from us. 
We feel bad when we aren't because it is a betrayal of ourselves, and in that we lose our essence, agency and authenticity. 
That essence and agency is our power. 
To fuel it we must practice Self Love Self Care First.
Looking at what causes us distress requires us to be flexible and ready to change our beliefs, convictions and mind about things. 
It's okay to give ourselves the permission to do so. 
Fluidity is health. 
It is protective of us and guides us to take care of ourselves in ways that we can be our best and give our best.

So from now on, I look forward to visit you at www:selfloveselfcarefirst.com on Sundays.

I hope you will reflect on any thing that you want to do differently so you may enjoy and relish the experience as well.

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

#selfloveselfcarefirst#blogging#flexibility#fluidity#mentalhealth#selfcare#selfcompassion#honesty

Photo Credit- Nina Singh Carlsen, The Dovre National Park in Norway

Friday, October 18, 2019

Use Mindfulness to Prioritize, Plan and Practice Self Love Self Care First- Nicholas Galanin's White Noise, American Prayer Rug Inspires


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Nicholas Galanin's White Noise, American Prayer Rug is a piece of art that has
recently been instrumental in advancing the conversation about many long standing social injustices. It had hung in the Whitney Museum as part of their Biennial Exhibition until he decided to pull his work out of the collection being shown. He explains his reasons for participating and subsequently withdrawing 'White Noise, American Prayer Rug' with great clarity and eloquence in ARTnews.

Nicholas talks about many serious issues in this piece, that I believe, deserve careful consideration, and thoughtful reflection from all of us. However, today I want to focus on these words of his about 'White Noise, The American Prayer Rug' because they connect us to the distance we face between our lives, and ourselves. This distance creates awareness barriers to practicing Self Love Self Care First. The lack of SLSCF further creates a disconnect inside us, leading to great physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain.

" This is the American prayer rug, a reflection of an image accompanying a droning sound to distract us from our own suffering from love, from land, from water, from connection; there is no space for prayer, only noise."

If you are looking to reconnect with your true self and take care of him/her, start with these simple questions.

What sounds are droning out your voice?
If it's the voices of others- Who?
If they infiltrate your mind and your decisions- Why?
How do you spend your time?
Do you believe you have control over your time or do you just go along with whatever is demanding your attention at a given moment?
Do you plan your day?
What gets you stressed out or causes you pain and suffering?
Is there are recurring pattern of cause and effect that you have noticed when it comes to your emotions?

Becoming Aware of your inner world or Mindfulness is the first step of practicing Self Love Self Care First. For that you have to shut out the White Noise in your life to be able to listen to yourself.
Determining your needs is the second step.
Prioritizing your needs is the third step.
Planning to take care of your needs is the fourth step.
Doing what you planned to do is the final step. (This is usually the hardest step, because if you have any deep seated resistances to loving yourself, they will come up in full force here to sabotage your efforts to take care of yourself. Help from a mental health professional may be warranted to reach those resistances and work through them.)

When you repeat this sequence with consistency, Self Love Self Care First becomes a practice. Your brain now recognizes the pathways you have developed, as you repeatedly act with self compassion and self love, doing things that light up your brain's pleasure zones. A calmness and confidence comes about that is from within.

This week, a friend of mine takes the prize for being 'Most Prepared for Self Love Self Care First'. Here's how she snagged that award.

She shared with me that she suspected that she might be pregnant. She intuitively felt it, this being her second time around. She is a very self aware person and admits to even possibly be being 'border line neurotic' about just about everything. Her body and her mind are part of that 'everything'. Even though she was not yet sure if she was pregnant, she told me that she had already mapped out what she would do differently because of what she experienced when she gave birth to her daughter, who is now 4 1/2 years old.

She shared with me that when she had her daughter, it had been a very difficult postpartum period, filled with loneliness, self doubt, anxiety and depression. The only thing that ended up helping her, much to her amazement, was joining a local breast feeding support group. She felt connected to the other mothers and started to feel less alone. She remembers 'dragging' her tiny baby with her to all the meetings because she would feel better every time she went.

So my friend now, based on her previous experience, has a plan for her possible second pregnancy. Here it is

- 'Reach Out' proactively, all through the pregnancy and after because I felt better when I feel connected to others.
- Cut down on work commitments and continuously re-frame my expectations of myself based on what I truly value and enjoy most (Despite being, and identifying herself as a driven, ambitious, successful, engaged and very bright professional, she discovered that motherhood, spending time with her daughter and her husband and seeing her daughter grow into a spectacular little person was what gave her true joy)
- Feel more and Do less

I think she hit all the points of how to practice SLSCF that I listed above. And knowing how determined and self aware she is, I have no doubt that when the time comes, she will execute her plan of SelfLoveSelfCareFirst flawlessly.

I hope you do the same for yourself.
Because you are worth it!

Until next time,
Be well Do well Live well!
With love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#Nicholasgalanin#whitenoiseamericanprayerrug#mindfulness#selfcare#selfcompassion#selflove#prioritize#plan#practice






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