Once again, I feel myself being consumed my bad news… an out-of-control weekend of violence in my old home, Baltimore, with twenty-five or more shootings and nine deaths over the Memorial Day weekend. And unfortunately, it’s not just happening in one city. If you look at the annual lists of highest and lowest crime rates in various size cities compiled by CQ Press, you’ll see Detroit, Philadelphia, D.C., Flint, Oakland, Birmingham, Cleveland, Camden, Gary and more on the list.
If you search for the causes… there will be many – things that cannot be changed overnight or with a quick policy change. If the powers that be and the citizens living there try to make changes, it will be frustrating and feel like an uphill battle. Inevitably, politics and self-interest will get in the way, too. We do know that over the long haul with much determination and fortitude, things can change when people come together with that intention for change.
But, let’s get back to you. Suppose you live in one of those high crime cities? How does it affect your psyche? Serious crime can wear all sorts of faces from breaking and entering to sexual assault to murder. Turning on the news in your community and hearing what’s going on… what do you feel and how does it change your life?
Does it keep you from going to that cute restaurant because you have to park two blocks away and you wouldn’t feel safe doing that in that neighborhood? Does it keep you from opening your windows in the evening to let the cool breeze in because that could be a “Welcome” sign to some people?
Those things add up and feeling “safe” is one of the top priorities people list when checking out a neighborhood they might live in or even visit. Many people don’t have the luxury of making a choice based on safety – their choice is based on affordability and where their job is located. Just imagine how their lives are affected on a daily basis and what “fear” can do to them.
The overall anxiety is there whether the real threat of something happening that would make them a victim may be small. Each day, somewhere in the forefront or the back of their mind, they are processing what they hear on the news or read in the newspaper. And, we all know what that’s like. As a survivor of a serious, brutal crime, I know what it’s like to live in that fear even without the media constantly telling me about it.
When Bob and I made a decision to relocate, there were all sorts of criteria on the list – beautiful surroundings, no rush-hour traffic, fun things to do and places to go, expert medical facilities nearby, and safety. I more than realize how very lucky we are to be able to make that list and find the place that works for us. One year later, we are still pinching ourselves to have found the place that feels like home for us and creates a “life is good” warm feeling.
All of this hit me full force when I read the crime report in last week’s local newspaper and the headline was Stray Cat Strikes Again on Mountain Avenue. The week before that alleged same cat went through someone’s cat door uninvited. He helped himself to some cat food he found in a bowl and then got in a loud argument with the resident cat. It caused quite a fracas. And, here he was again the following week, stirring up trouble by tearing up window screens and making a fuss. Thank goodness the experts have been called in to determine the best way to handle this troublemaker.
May that be the worst we face up here… an unruly, prowling cat. Yet, I still feel the angst when I hear the news from other areas and wonder what I can do to make a difference in a community or for others, and how can I take care of myself so I don’t let the toxic effects of worry and anxiety consume me. Time for some inner guidance and soul searching here.
Would love to hear from you… how does the fear of crime affect your psyche and physical self? What do you do for self-care to love up on yourself to counter those effects?
How can we spread our good vibrations and will that really make a difference over time? Let’s do it and find out.
You know when you read something and you wonder how the author crawled under your skin, deep inside, hitting every nerve along the way until your soul was found? Well, that’s what happened to me earlier this week when my friend, Kat, who always senses what I may be needing, shared an article from the Elephant Journal blog called She Was Done.
In the posting, the author Adrienne Pieroth lists all of the things she is done with starting with, “She was done not fully being herself.” That caught my attention because over the past few years, I had felt that gnawing deep inside myself. There had to be more than just meeting the expectations of others or just busting a gut 24/7 to “make” things happen.
There had to be things inside of me that hadn’t been unleashed. There had to be days when playing or doing whatever I wanted to do would be just fine and I wouldn’t have to explain it to anyone. There would have to be a time when someone asks, “But what do you do all day?” and I wouldn’t cringe because I wasn’t doing stuff that “looked” productive or made a statement. There would be a time that it would be okay to slow down and switch directions after forty-plus years of working and do away with those damn flying monkeys that try to convince me that “with it”, savvy women always work and go ninety miles an hour as if that’s a badge of honor.
It is possible for me to be myself fully but first, I have to allow it and make the space for it to happen.
As I read Adrienne’s article, I saw some other of her “done with” items where I said, “Me, too,” like:
She was done striving, forcing, pushing through and staying on the hard path. She realized toughing things out might be a sign to pick another path.
She was done not following the desires that yelled out in her soul every day. She realized if she did nothing about them, they died a quiet death that took a piece of her soul with them.
She was done apologizing and playing small to make others feel comfortable and fit in. She realized fitting in was overrated and shining her light made others brave enough to do the same.
She was done being tired. She realized it came from spending her time doing things that didn’t bring her joy or feed her soul.
Could it be that easy? Could the beginning be the start of just making a list of all those things you are done with regardless of what phase the moon is in, how the stars are lined up, or what you have to do to make a living? Could making the list alone – not when you’re angry, feeling vindictive or totally depressed – set the intention that there are things in your life that can really fall by the wayside and perhaps give you a new sense of freedom, a new door to open, a new place to explore, or permission to be YOU? Sounds good, doesn’t it?
I’m making my list and adding to it until I feel the last drop of “done with” is out. I am thinking that reviewing it several times a week will keep it in my consciousness in the event I backslide a bit. Pretty soon, the empty spaces will be filled with “want to” stuff because it feeds my soul.
What about you? Need to make a list and encourage yourself to be “done with” some things? Care to share some of them?
And, be sure to check out the full posting by Adrienne Pieroth on ElephantJournal.com – She Was Done
Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet Tonya Parker
Tonya Parker blends experiences as a psychotherapist, prevention specialist, professor, corporate trainer, and conscious caterer with certifications in massage, natural wellness, aromatherapy, and metaphysics to create Mind, Body & Spiritworks—a harmony of flavors featuring divinely inspired and assisted holistic wellness workshops, sacred retreats and events, meditation and healing circles, massage and Reiki energy healing, conscious communication coaching, radio show (Mind Body & Soul Food), monthly blog (Mind Body & Soul Food Meanderings), and meditation CD (Meditative Morsels). She has contributed to various magazines and anthologies, and recently completed recording a New Thought young adult novel, Diary of a Witch’s Daughter. Tonya is always in gratitude for her gifts of healing, teaching, and writing to help feed the mind, body, and spirit.
People would be surprised to know that: Upon receiving the name “Throat Chakra Shaman” from Spirit, I realized that this expressive, creative energy has shown up for decades in my various career paths, and it colors much more of who I am and what I do. I LOVE language–writing and word games have been a favorite pastime since childhood, I often sing to my students in the classroom, I make up words and puzzles and reinvent songs. I create with words.
The WTL 5:
What’s the conversation that changed your life?
I’ve had many life-changing conversations. One of the most profound occurred in 2009. I was in crisis and seeking support from my friend, mentor, and spiritual teacher, bemoaning about feeling pigeon-holed as a massage therapist, not knowing what my next step was as a healer. He told me that it didn’t matter what healing modality I chose—I was the healing. All I had to do was show up and be my authentic self. This insight has brought me such freedom, as well as the knowledge that all that I do, and all that I Am, is sacred, and enough.
What are you most conscious of today?
Today I am most conscious of my inner Divinity and how it shows up. I check in with myself and ask various questions. Am I speaking, healing, teaching, and responding from a place of love vs. fear? Am I seeing myself reflected in others vs. finding separation from them? Am I remembering that as the physical essence of Mother-Father God, I am enough? Am I remembering to breathe? Am I taking myself too seriously? Am I connecting to Source to guide my steps? Am I honoring Earth Mother? Am I feeling gratitude for everything, no matter how it shows up?
What part of you have you yet to give voice to?
There’s a question mark about what I still have yet to give voice to. I plan, Spirit laughs. In my twenties I thought I was going to be a counselor for the rest of my life. When I went to massage school I thought I would have something fun to do in retirement. When I quit a great job as a trainer, I knew after a short hiatus, I would be back working in corporate America, or at least another non-profit. Ha! My path has been rich and meandering, and I AM open to where I have yet to go!
What’s the conversation women need to be having collectively?
I’ve been blessed to attract into my life amazing women with whom I’ve had amazing conversations, where we get caught up in the vortex and look up, incredulous, hours later. I believe women need to have conversations that are loving, empowering, encouraging, uplifting, humorous, releasing, tearful—you name it. Sometimes it’s not about the content, but the delivery. Do we feel heard? Do we feel loved unconditionally? Do we feel that we can let down our hair (if we choose to have hair) and be authentic, and real with our sisters without being judged?
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
I invite anyone to join me in a continuous big, loud, strong voice—THERE IS NO SEPARATION AMONG US! The outer illusions have held us all back in our soul evolution for far too long. Peering through the Divine lens, I see no barriers such as race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veganism etc. Rev Taylor Thompson said, “When one of us is hurt, we all hurt. When one is oppressed, we all are oppressed. When one of us is healed, we all are healed.” I am here on this planet as an instrument of love and healing.
Thank you, Tonya, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live
I don’t think I’ve ever been bored in my life with the exception of a few classes in college with uninspiring professors. Restless? Yes. Tired? Yes. But bored? Not even when I was little and had “nothing” to do. There was always something to do.
And during this period of my life in transition when so many people worried about me getting bored with “nothing” to do, I can promise you I am not getting bored. There is always something to do.
In fact, when I would have thought I may have more free hours to fritter away, that’s not happening. Between the chores I want to do to get the house and yard in order, all of a sudden a whole day has gone by and I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t have time to update my website, make phone calls, or set up files in my office.
No boredom here, and in fact, one can stay just as busy not working a traditional job as they do when they had business and career responsibilities. And, it’s just as important to make time for relaxation, self-care and fun with this lifestyle, too.
I was discussing this dilemma with our new gardener who has turned into a good friend. She understands the deal and we often philosophize as we pull weeds or plant a section of Russian Sage or Bee Balm. At one time, she had a fancy shamancy shop in Greenwich where she sold interior and outdoor decorative items and furniture to the likes of Susan Sarandon and others. She traveled to Mexico to find old doors and painted furniture and clay pots that turned to magic in someone’s home or garden.
Talk about transitions… her life changed drastically after a divorce and the illness of both parents who were living in Vermont, who happened to be the caretakers of her younger brother with Down’s Syndrome. She ended up moving to Vermont to take care of everyone, and after her parents passed away several years ago, she settled here to take care of her brother whom she dearly loves.
Her business in Vermont turned to landscaping and gardening – which is perfect for her because she knows her stuff and has an artist’s eye. I say a “thank you” daily to the person who gave me her name last summer because she is helping me transform lots of neglected yard and garden beds into our oasis.
But back to getting so carried away in whatever you’re doing that you ignore your own nurturing needs… it’s easy for that to happen especially if you have the “do do do” syndrome that so many of us fell ill to.
This morning when she showed up to do some serious work in the garden beds, she brought me a book to help me get and stay on track with the self-nurturing. It’s a book she has for herself and one she’s been through several times. It’s called Self-Care for Life by Skye Alexander, Meera Lester and Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. The tagline for the book is “Find joy, peace, serenity, vitality, sensuality, abundance, and enlightenment – each and every day.” And, what’s not to like about that???
Each day, there is a quote, a focus for the day, and then three activities to bring this focus to your mind, body and spirit – not that you will do each of the activities listed every day, but some you will. And, some may become regular practices.
For instance, one day started with this quote:
“When we feel the urgency to speed up, that is typically the instant we need to slow down.” – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
The focus for the day is – Slow Down
The “Mind” exercise is about – Cease multitasking
The “Body” exercise is about – Stop rushing around
The “Spirit” exercise is about – Be aware of your environment
If I get up and read the daily page first thing in the morning before I get charged up to “do stuff”, I find my focus staying on the daily focus exercise. I practice some of the exercises during the day and voila… I’m loving up on me. Self-care at its finest.
The real test will be to keep it going on a daily basis.
And, you? Where do you fall in the self-care spectrum? How do you keep yourself on track for loving up on yourself? Or, is this something you need to be working on, too?
“The future ain’t what it used to be.” Yogi Berra
This time of year, my younger daughter plays in a basketball league on weekends. It is a small league consisting of girls between the ages of 9 and 12. A few weeks ago, I was watching a game and found myself getting uptight about a few plays that my daughter’s team made. I felt this strong wanting for them to win which was causing me to view every move as good or bad on the road to victory or defeat. When I realized the pattern of my thoughts, I was able to pull back for a moment with my breath and start to watch the game with no judgment. Sure I wanted my daughter’s team to win, but I was able to just watch the game with an open mind. I saw the excitement and determination in each girl’s face. I saw interesting moves on both sides and watched the coaches guide their teams. I took joy in the youth and vigor of each young player. It was so fascinating to go from being on a roller coaster of being slightly perturbed, frustrated and excited to an even ease of deeper enjoyment.
So what really happened when I was watching the game? I became mindful of the experience in front of me. One could argue that this was an easy exercise of mindfulness because it was a child’s basketball game with little consequence in the big scheme of my family’s life. Others could say they like the feeling of angst and wanting during a sporting event like a child’s game or a game with their favorite professional sports team. Yet for me it is an interesting exercise of being present and enjoying every moment even though I still preferred a certain outcome.
Wouldn’t it be a relief if we could apply this idea to more important situations such as when our children apply to college or we look for a new job, or hope to meet someone new? Wouldn’t it be great to want certain things and not give up the peace and enjoyment of the moment to stress and worry about the future? Although I was able to become present during the basketball game, when things are really important to me I often need a little more help. I have found this help with the mindset of Maybe. I realized that it was not my goals and hopes taking me out of the moment, but instead my attachment to what each event in my life meant for my future. I have no idea what it means if I don’t get a client or my child does not get into her first choice school. Maybe it is good, Maybe it will get better, Maybe there is something important to learn in front of me or Maybe EVERYTHING IS STILL OKAY. I can hold on to my goals with the realization that life can unfold in so many different ways. If I am so busy judging what this moment means for tomorrow, I will not enjoy my life and stay open to all that can happen from whatever I am experiencing.
So give it try. See if you can shift your perspective like I did at my daughter’s basketball game and enjoy the present without worrying about what it means for the future. Or, embrace some Maybe in your life and watch your stress and worry turn into hope and possibility. Either way, enjoy the best gift of life – the present.
Allison Carmen is the author of The Gift of Maybe Penguin/Perigee November 2014. She writes a blog for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Allison is a guest lecturer at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She holds a B.A. in accounting, a J.D. of Law, and a Master’s of Law in taxation.