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.

I am energy. I am infinity. But I am also a poet, author, artist. wife, mother, sleep doctor, and attachment and complex childhood trauma survivor. I healed only when I understood I was broken, not a victim. I learnt that everything I needed was within me. And that my inner life was the essence and driving force of my existence.

Where did Self Love Self Care First® come from?

I needed to find meaning in my suffering so I kept thinking, “What truth did I come out of this journey with? How can I share what I know in forms other than what I receive through my poetry? What is the most foundational and fundamental truth about human existence that I discovered to be true in my suffering? That is where SLSCF® comes from.

I discovered that if we do not know our truth, we cannot love ourselves. The pain and suffering of our lives, the false external messages about life, success and achievement that we receive, and the projections and imposed expectations of others we are subjected to, mangle our truth, distract us from our destined path, and cut deep into our body, mind, and soul. They cause us to not pay attention to ourselves, and to how we live our lives. These feelings and beliefs descend into our unconscious and become habitual patterns that hijack our lives.

SelfLoveSelfCareFirst® is the journey of truthful self-examination and acceptance of our truth. Only when we are ready to find value, love, and compassion for our true selves do we begin to live free.

This blog is a celebration of love, stillness, growth, joy, discovery, and the truth. The conversation is honest, the topics are varied, the perspectives are from many angles, but the common thread weaving the discussions together is Self Love Self Care First®.

You are not moving towards any light. There is no light out there. It is inside you. You must move inwards- not outwards to look for it. No one can guide you there. Only you can give yourself the permission to embark on this journey. Only you can reclaim yourself.

Your freedom is in your hands.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Why the COVID-19 Pandemic is a Call and Opportunity For Us to Dare to Live a Chosen Way of Life

It's Sunita here,

As it stands this morning, COVID-19 has infected 678,113 people around the world, of whom 31,748 have died. Source Worldmeter.

We stand at the edge of a new era as we watch this pandemic unfold from the inside of our homes. Or from the battlefield that our health care facilities have become. Or perhaps as part of a declared essential service in our society.

Whatever our place is right now, we have all been affected by the appearance of COVID-19. 

The lack of data on the virus has lead to a massive amount of fear and misinformation that only exacerbates this panic. Scientists, researchers, clinicians, public health officials and leaders at every level are scrambling to stay ahead of the aggressive speed that COVID-19 moves with, wreaking havoc on human life, our medical systems every dimension of our society.

How Does the Corona Virus Behave Inside a Patient, an article by Siddhartha Mukherjee explains a lot, but more importantly, asks the intelligent questions about this pandemic that currently remain unanswered. It is this gap in information about COVID-19 that demands our drastic, but necessary response of social distancing to it.

As we all do our part to flatten the curve of the infection by isolating ourselves in our homes, severely limiting the contact we have with others and practicing social distancing, we have found something we never really had, or thought we didn't have- the luxury of time.

Free time. 
Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to review. Time to take stock. Time to create a life of design. Time to live a life of choice.

Winston Churchill said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

Who are you going to decide to be at this unprecedented crossroad of our times? 

A pessimist or an optimist?

You must make a decision. To make that decision, you must make a choice.

As we awake, the budding trees outside our windows are heralding spring. They are unaware of the pandemic that we face, our retreat into protective sequestration, the fear, uncertainty, suffering and isolation that surrounds us. 

We can choose to look outside and see how nature understands the transience of time, and events, and reconnects us to our ephemeral existence. None of us are here for more than a flash of time. 

So why not live fully?

Let’s bring out our best in the face of fear. 
Let’s be open and vulnerable. 
Bold and kind. 
Daring, yet safe. 

Let’s Dare to mend relationships during this unexpected gift of free time. 

Let's Dare to have the courage to let go of relationships that are dead.

Let’s Dare to say ‘I Love You’ to those 
whom we have overlooked, or taken for granted. 

Let’s dare to find meaning in this pandemic. 

Let’s Dare to put all of this in perspective. 

Lets Dare to self assess and self correct.

Let's Dare to embrace possibility.

Let's Dare to live our Truth.

Let's Dare to Live a Chosen Way of Life.

Let's Dare to choose Hope. 
Let's Dare to Shine.

Wishing you a week of contemplation, reflection and hope,
With my love,


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Why "Rephrasing" Our Self Talk is a Core Practice of Self Love Self Care First, and Why You Should Try It

It's Sunita here.

Self talk.

This is a conversation we participate in around the clock. Sometimes, we are aware of our engagement in it, and at other times, it goes on without our conscious involvement. Even during our sleep, we are constantly talking, imagining, problem solving, healing and creating.

Freud was not the first to be mystified with the role of sleep in our emotional life and what our dreams meant. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud to this day remains a vital and important work in this field, despite being written more than 100 years ago. More recently, Rosalind Cartwright's work on sleep at the University of Chicago illuminates the connection between the REM cycle of sleep and healing.The Twenty Four Hour Mind is an excellent read on how she got into the field of sleep as a psychologist and a narrative of her role as a pioneering sleep researcher.

The content and tone of our self talk comes from a complex system of many contributing sources. Our childhood is the major contributor of this conversation. As is our inherent personality and ability to self reflect and edit what we hear.

How we grew up remains a big part of how we talk to ourselves. Did we grow up in an environment that was nurturing, caring, empowering and encouraging? Were our parents able to give us the confidence to overcome adversity? What were their response to our failures and their own?

For example, here are two different responses to a child getting a failing grade.

Parent 1- "I knew you would fail! You're stupid and lazy. You're never going to get this because you're a loser".

Parent 2- "Let's sit and look at this together. Maybe you need to understand the concepts better. And if you failed because you didn't put in the work, then this is a good opportunity to examine your study habits. I know you're smart and can do this. Better results next time. It's ok to fail at something as long as you learn something and progress from there. That's the important part."

What kind of self- talk do you think will develop in the mind of the child of Parent 1? How does it compare to that of Parent 2's child? 

Just imagine the  variations of these conversations that the children get over years of their life from their parents. As children, we mirror the feedback and responses of our parents, teachers and caregivers. We absorb the messages that they are sending us through their voice, tone, words, body language and even their unconscious ramblings. That is the foundation of our self talk.

Adverse Childhood Experiences  negatively impact the development of a healthy sense of self.

That results in the development of a pattern of negative self talk. It gives rise to, or perpetuates a history of trauma that is transgenerational in nature.

How we communicate with ourselves is a huge part of how we take action in our lives. The words we use for ourselves, and to ourselves, are indicative of the level of regard, love and compassion we have for ourselves.

Do your words reflect judgement, criticism, impatience, hatred, contempt, disregard, helplessness, hopelessness or despair?

In Trauma leads to Treason, I discuss how  "Attachment Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experience's, ACE's affect every cell in our bodies. The impact of such trauma destroys our sense of self that must be developed, nurtured, encouraged and be present in healthy amounts in order to be motivated to practice Self Love. When we are struggling with depression, anxiety and the many other mental and physical manifestations of  trauma, we are unable to develop the necessary Self Care skills. Not only are we unable to practice Self Love Self Care First, but we engage in treason against our being."

A dominant portion of that treason is in the warfare we wage against our being through how we talk to ourselves. The conversations we have inside our head in response to our experience of others and the world as it relates to us personally may go like this,

"He is ignoring me because he hates me. Of course, he does. Just like everybody else."

"I can't do this."

"I know I'm not going to get this job. I never get anything I really want."

"What's the point of exercising? We're all going to die as it is. And I never lose weight anyway."

"I trusted her with my secret, but she betrayed me. I'm such a loser."

'Rephrasing' may not be enough to change how you talk to yourself. You may need to work with a mental health professional to address core issues and effects of your trauma, but it could certainly start a process of becoming aware of what you are saying to yourself. 

For those of you who are just not conscious of your self talk, rephrasing is an excellent tool of changing how you think. It is a game changer, because your thoughts are the driver of the actions you take. Those actions add up to create the life that you live. So essentially, you control how you live by choosing your thoughts. 

How can we practice Self Love Self Care First through Self Talk?

By hearing ourselves without judgement, and then rephrasing our words in order to  compassionately move towards self improvement and growth. To be clear, the purpose here is not to shirk responsibility by deflecting our accountability. It is actually the opposite. It is about increasing our capacity to bear our deficiencies and failures in a positive way, without allowing them to define us. And then building our capacity to make up for those failures by acknowledging them, apologizing for them and making amends for them.

here's a simple example of rephrasing. You can plug in any sentence that you want and follow the process as illustrated in this photo.

Keep going. Practice this process. Follow all the steps. 

The more you practice rephrasing, the easier it becomes. Until one day, you are aware of all your self talk. And are able to rephrase it.

And one day, you will not need to practice. Rephrasing will become a habit. I can promise you that.

What I can't promise is that there will come a time when you will never doubt yourself or feel down. That's part of the human journey. But no matter how desolate or discouraged you may feel, you will always have the choice to get up and try again. That's where rephrasing becomes an essential tool of our battle against despair.

I end with an incredible illustration in recent history of rephrasing an experience.
"Think of the beauty still left around you", said Anne Frank.

I leave you with this challenge. 
Go through one entire day rephrasing every negative thought that pops up. 

I did, and earned this cool certificate. It means alot to me. Because I had to work very hard to be able to let go of the manner in which I spoke to myself. And I didn't do it alone. I had professional help. 

You can track your progress by checking out the fantastically cool stuff at Emily McDowell & Friends and getting this certificate of everyday achievement for yourself. Start small. Be consistent. Track your results. And don't forget to pause to party!

Good luck!

With my best to you,
And of course,
With love,


Sunday, March 8, 2020

Maybe Finding True Freedom and Happiness is the Wrong Pursuit- Thich Nhat Hanh Illuminates Why

What are you feeding your mind?

It's Sunita here.

Finding happiness is a concept that gets the press. We are taught and expected to find our happiness in people, things, jobs, accomplishments, hobbies, places and everything that connects us to them. Then why can we still feel empty when we find them? Why are we unhappy when we lose them?

Because these are all transitory and variable experiences. They are sources of happiness for sure, but can also generate great pain and suffering in our lives.

So then, what gives?
How can we find true freedom and happiness?

"There is no happiness without freedom, 
and freedom is not given to us by anyone; 
we have to cultivate it ourselves." 

These words of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, affectionately known as Thay (teacher) are simple, yet encompass a truth that is powerful and not arbitrary. By freedom, he means, "freedom from afflictions, from anger, and from despair."

Cultivate, verb
(2c) to improve by labor, care or study: REFINE
Source of definition.

Cultivation of true freedom is a process. There is a starting point, a method and a direction to follow. Every step leads you to greater awareness and enlightenment within your mind. That awareness flows not only to your own body and self, but to others around you.

You make the choice of living free.

And in that choice, you control how happy you want to be.

Finding happiness is another name for a Sisyphean task of finding an illusion. It is a wild goose chase with many disappointments and suffering along the way. And it can take a lifetime to figure that out.

Just think back of a relationship that you were convinced was going to bring you happiness. It could be with anyone in your life. A parent, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a mentor, a religious leader? Let's take a spouse or partner as an example. With about 50% of partnerships ending in a divorce, how can that relationship be the model of the path to find happiness. Even the 50% of couples that stay together will tell you that freedom and happiness are not always the words they would use to describe their relationship all the time.

True freedom cannot come from any external source. You are the only one who can cultivate your freedom. 

Our history has shown us again and again how tides of good fortune for an individual, country, group of society, and even entire mankind can change in a split second. So what can one do to be free, despite one's circumstances and place in life?

"Freedom is what we practice every day" says Thay. He believes that everyone has the ability to cultivate freedom and true happiness, but it grows only when we practice mindfulness. To avoid being a victim of anger, despair and affliction, we must not feed them.

"...Without mindfulness in our daily lives, we feed our anger and despair by looking and listening to things around us that are highly toxic. We consume many toxins each day; what we see on television or read in magazines can nourish our anger and despair. But if we breathe in and out mindfully and realize that these are not the kinds of things we want to consume, then we will stop consuming them. To live mindfully means to stop ingesting these kinds of poisons. Instead, choose to be in touch with what is wonderful, refreshing, and healing within you and around you"

I challenge you to ask yourself these 3 questions today.
  1. What are my motivations and reasons for wanting to be free and happy? (hint-what's my discomfort/pain?)
  2. What poisons am I ingesting that are stopping me from cultivating true freedom? (hint-what am I doing/watching/reading/etc. to feed my anger, afflictions and despair?)
  3. What poison am I willing to stop ingesting to start to cultivate true freedom? (hint- what am I going to choose to do to take control of my life in a concrete way?)

Be Free Where You Are by Thich Nhat Hanh is a small, but solid companion

book full of profound wisdom, delivered in an easily understandable, encouraging and simple way. It will help make the process of finding your freedom a joyful one. You will feel Thay's encouraging presence every step of the way.

Wishing you freedom, lasting happiness and a joyful journey,