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Living Authentically

I've been thinking a lot lately about living authentically. As you all know oh-so-well, with yoga I've really started to dive deeper into my being and developed more of an understanding of who I am, what my needs are, my dislikes, my goals, and so on... I'll be taking another trip around the sun in about a month and therefore I've been reflecting more on my life. Facebook also forces me to do this on a daily basis, with those "memories" that pop up...I have so many thoughts on this but will refrain.

Turning another year older is a privilege; each year we learn from our experiences and cultivate more awareness about ourselves and the world around us. It's beautiful, but can also be heartbreaking, if we're gunna get real with it. 

I remember being 15 and thinking, this is the person I am and will be forever. I remember being 18 and thinking the same thing; I remember being 20 living in Paris thinking the same thing; I remember getting married at 27 and thinking the same thing. 

However, the reality is that we are ever-changing and not fixed. We are constantly molded by our experiences, whether they be day-to-day events or rock-you-senseless-to-your-core moments. Feelings and goals and passions and thoughts can change on a daily basis...

Thus, living authentically is living in the present moment. It's honoring your being, your soul, in each present moment, without judgment. It's allowing yourself (with respect to others) to be yourself. 

It cannot be influenced by others; I'm a romantic existentialist, and I believe we are inevitably alone - as they say, we are born alone and we die alone. Our experience is only our own, therefore our authentic selves can only be shaped by ourselves and our perceived experience, not by anyone or anything else. 

Make the time to take a moment to be present, to breathe deeply and engage your five senses and come into that sweet present moment. Immerse yourself in the "this is it," without expectation or searching for meaning. 

Immerse yourself in ‘this is it,’
without expectation or
searching for meaning.

...in this moment is where you'll find your authentic self.

- S

On Procreation

I've been wanting to write this post for a while now but have teetered on my confidence in posting it.

So...

I don't want to have children.

(did the pretty flowers soften the blow?)

(did the pretty flowers soften the blow?)

I said it. Now, before you start freaking out, let me first say, I don't want to have children at this point in my life.

But I absolutely love kids - I'm always the one to hang out with my friend's kids and entertain them for a bit at social gatherings. I also love playing with babies, seeing them grow and learn, their little babbles and coos and chunky buttery baby thighs - so precious!

I respect my friends and other women who have children ('sup, mom!), and I truly think they are beautiful, strong, selfless human beings. I'm so proud of my friends who have had kids or are currently pregnant, and I love that I get to be a part of their lives and their child's lives. It's an exciting time for their growing families. I think pregnancy, childbirth, and raising a child is an amazing thing and it takes such strength and grace. How empowering - I mean, men can't grow another human!

Currently, though, I personally don't feel an urge to have a child of my own, or to share that experience with my husband. Sometimes I think about how amazing my brother would be with my child, how great my father-in-law would be and how happy it would make him, how happy it would make my parents and my in-laws, and so on and on and on... But that's not a reason for me to procreate.

My husband and I have had several conversations about whether or not to have kids, and we go back and forth. Some days we think how great it would be to have a mini us, how we know we'd be great role models and [the cool] parents and we could offer a lot to the little babe. But other days we are selfish - yup, I said it. We prefer to spend time with each other devoted to each other, to travel when we want, to go out and have fun and not worry about rushing to get to anywhere. We also (for the sake of transparency) worry about how the dynamic would change between us after having a child; that happens, it's no secret. While most people are able to keep it together and things are utterly blissful, sometimes it pushes people apart. 

Let me be clear - this isn't a rant on me telling anyone how to live their life.  I'm not offering any advice or telling someone whether or not they should have kids. This is my personal opinion on the matter, for myself. Whether or not I have a child or children is only my decision (well, and the hubs's decision); no one can decide for me. It is my right. As much as I would want to make others happy (total people-pleaser, here!), and as much as I would unconditionally love and devote my life to my child, I also recognize that right now in my life it is not something I plan to make happen. 

And I can change my mind if I want - I remember years ago reading an interview Zooey Deschanel did in her 20s (I believe) where she mentioned not wanting to have children; well, she's got one and another on the way! The beauty and freedom of changing your mind...mm.

We are not cookie cutter humanoids. There is no mold, no perfect, idyllic life, no one-size-fits-all. As a woman, I am whole and beautiful as I am, even without having a child. I'm fortunate to have a partner who agrees, and who is as flexible as I am in this major life choice. I continue to learn and grow in various forms in my life, and I have many passions and interests and pursuits (as does my partner). I'm grateful that we have the health and stability to be and do and live. For right now, having a child is on the back-burner, and that's ok.

This does not make me selfish. This does not make me stupid. This does not make me a lousy person. This does not make me have FOMO when I see sweet family photos on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. This does not make me less of a woman or a human or a wife or a daughter or a sister or a friend. It is what it is and it's mine.

So if you're reading this and this resonates with you, I'm grateful. Know that this is your choice and your right, and do whatever makes you happy. You are whole and strong and beautiful and enough.

- S

S: Here's an article I found that mentions how Ina Garten and Jeffrey decided not to have kids - respect. And, for an even different POV, here's another article a friend had posted to Facebook which I found powerful and thought-provoking.

- S

On being a therapist...

One of the more difficult conversations I have with my clients is about discussing possible diagnoses. This is directly linked to the perpetuated stigma in society on mental health; people have such a negative connotation with diagnoses and are often misinformed. But to also be perfectly transparent, it can be pretty scary when your doctor tells you that you have a diagnoses, even if it's treatable. Most people immediately go to the reaction of  "something is wrong with me," when in reality that is truly not the case.

Mental health issues (I mostly prefer this term over 'mental illnesses') are so much more common than people realize. As a therapist, I'm privy to working with people that may (or may not) have a mental health issue with which they are struggling; I'm also trained to detect when someone may have a diagnosis. That is not to say that I run around diagnosing people - I don't! It takes time and a lot of information gathering in order to make a diagnosis, although sometimes there are hallmark traits that I can spot more quickly due to my years of training.

But back to my point: many people may be struggling with a behavioral health issue and they choose to keep it private or they seem quite functional, or appropriately so they seek active treatment to help manage their symptoms. Bottom line is that it is something many people deal with. We've seen celebrities come out over the years stating they have struggled with mental health issues like Bipolar Disorder, Depression, self-injurious behaviors, etc. For some, this is seen as empowering and comforting; it helps people feel less alone with something that can perhaps make them feel ostracized and isolated.

So where am I going with this?

I wish to be a voice that normalizes mental health issues and struggles.

We are all human. Our bodies and brains are very complex and individualized. We do the best we can, but sometimes things are out of our control.

For some people, having the label of a diagnosis offers concrete evidence for their struggles; it's a name for the chemical imbalance/stress/sadness/anger etc. It also offers hope that there is a way to manage it through treatment.

For others, it can feel devastating. They may go to the place of feeling helpless, as if they are broken, as if they have done something wrong and thus earned a negative label. It feels terminal.

It's not!! Remember, so many people battle mental health issues every day and we don't even know about it. There are so many supports and studies and treatments (and meditation and wellness and yoga!!!) for the many diagnoses that exist, and researchers are working daily to find new ways of assisting those in need of more support. 

To be diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder is not a death sentence; it is not bad, YOU are not bad. It can be an answer; a sign of hope. 

To be diagnosed with a behavioral health issue is not a death sentence; it is not bad, YOU are not bad. It's an answer; it's a sign of hope..png

(And, to be more transparent/concrete/honest, it's also a way for providers to bill insurance companies. Just sayin'!)

You are still you; the only difference is that now you have an increased awareness of how your brain functions.

I hope this is helpful for even one of you reading. Take care and be well!

- S

[Women's] Wellness Wednesday

Today is International Women's Day (the reason you're seeing the hashtag #DayWithoutAWoman everywhere), and also Wellness Wednesday. I'm going to keep it relatively simple for this WW post: all I ask is that for today we all together practice kindness and patience.

Be kind to yourself and.png

When you want to react to someone or something today, pause and reflect. Breathe deeply in and out. If you feel yourself becoming annoyed or angry or someone pushes your buttons, pause and reflect. Breathe deeply in and out. If you make a mistake at your work or at home, you spill something or drop something, pause and reflect. Breathe deeply in and out. If you find yourself mad about the weather or something else which is temporary, pause and reflect. Breathe deeply in and out.

Today is not the day to be negative.

Today I will be kind.
Today I will be patient.
Today I will offer compassion to myself and others.
Today I will love and accept all.

Pause and reflect. Breathe deeply in and out.

Love.

- S