Less Than Happy Mother’s Day

less than happy mother's day

Less Than Happy Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day, and maybe even the many before it, may not be happy for you or someone you know. Today’s post is to honor and recognize those who are going into this Mother’s Day with a heavy heart.

If you are a bereaved mother who is missing a phone call, visit, or hug from a child, have an angel baby, or empty arms – this Mother’s Day will be less than happy, and my heart goes out to you. And, perhaps it’s not a child you are grieving. Additionally, it must also be recognized that there are those, too, young and old, who may have their mother in their life, and it’s still a less than happy Mother’s Day. For many reasons, children with living mothers may find this Mother’s Day difficult, too. Whether due to incarceration, abuse, not knowing their biological mother, or simply a less than loving, healthy mother-child relationship – there’s grief that exists in those situations, too.

Mother wounds go both ways. We can feel like a wounded mother and can also be carrying a mother-wound inside of our hearts, too. One never knows by looking at another which it may be. And, it could be one or all of these scenarios, too, that are making this a less than happy Mother’s Day.

So this Mother’s Day weekend, no matter where you find your heart, whether in joy or sorrow, know you’re not alone. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad. And, it’s okay to be grieving what’s been lost or what you’ve never had.

Here’s a little ditty I wrote off the cuff just for you…

There’s a wound I carry, so deep and so true.

No one can see it, but it’s ever-present, feeling raw and new.

What you see on the outside is deceiving, my heart knows this, too.

But, it’s hard to show the hurt and the pain that one word stirs within; a sigh of relief when the day comes to an end.

What’s in a word – so much weight, feeling too heavy to carry, pressing and pressing until I bend.

Love and loss, what might have been, too many questions creeping in.

Mother. To have and to be – such a blessing and a heartache that is ever-present within me.

Mother. It will break your heart a hundred times over. But, if you’re lucky, will fill you with love a thousand times more.

If you find yourself feeling less than happy, please give yourself some love this weekend. Buy yourself some roses, breathe in the life of nature, and exhale what is no longer serving you.

With Love + Light.đź’›

much love, victoria

Where Healing Is Found

Where Healing Is Found

Photo by @mayurgala via Unsplash

Where Healing Is Found

Just today, I listened to this thought-provoking, self-reflective podcast episode with Krista Tippett of On Being. So much of what her guest, Resmaa Menakem, shared about trauma, energy, the energy of trauma in our bodies, healing and, the responsibility we have to ourselves, and society to do the inner-work spoke to me. Also, his words had me reflecting on what I believe to be true about myself. Like it or not, I’m a white woman living in rural America. I didn’t ask for my “whiteness,” or the generational trauma white people have inflicted on others and, too, experienced in the dark ages as Resmaa shares. Just like I didn’t ask for the personal trauma I’ve experienced. You didn’t ask for your generational and personal trauma either.

I’m including the episode here because I feel it’s important to give it a permanent space here on my website. I’m wanting to learn and, I feel it’s so important to always, always consider the perspective of others. There is a lot of learning lost when we get so wrapped around one point of view and don’t open ourselves up to hearing the stories of others. I LOVE hearing other human’s stories; it’s what I love most about podcasting. And, I would love to include the voices of others whose life experiences have been starkly different from mine. It’s in contrast where we have the opportunity to find the golden nuggets of sameness of what it means to be human.

Our humanness doesn’t request adversity. Our humanness is born into it, as much as it is a byproduct of the environment in which the human body and human spirit will either struggle or thrive. – Victoria Volk

What do we do with the trauma and the grief that’s left? Listen to Resmaa’s interview for some science behind the body’s response to trauma, suggestions for addressing it, and how he beautifully articulates what is plaguing our society today.

I share my perspective below, in the context of interpersonal relationships, which echoes some of what Resmaa speaks to in terms of the energy of trauma.

Traumatic events such as military deployment in a war zone, being victim to any type of assault, childhood trauma, and depression, can affect our relationships in various ways, even many years after the event. When our mind is under attack, many are left with scars that they carry on their psyche for years.

Some questions I’ve asked myself have been:

How does trauma affect our minds?

How does trauma affect our relationships?

Why is dealing with trauma alone the worst thing for our mental health? 

The Energy of Trauma

I think to understand trauma, we must understand the energy of it. Pay attention to what happens within your body in response to a personally experienced traumatic event. Pay attention to the response signals your body puts out in response to reliving an experienced (or generational trauma) felt within the body.

The book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, is not an easy read if you have unaddressed trauma. Personally, I have yet to get through it; it’s a heavy read but informative all the same. If you wish to understand the trauma of someone close to you or wonder if it is trauma that is stuck within your body, this book will shed light. However, if you have experienced trauma, I need to share the disclaimer that it is a high likelihood that it will bring up buried grief within you.

For many years, I put my trauma in a little box and tucked it down deep. As much as I tried to avoid it, it showed up in my early 20s in a big way. I still did not connect what was happening to the grief that was residual to the childhood trauma. So, as grief does, it created this divide within me. I would have experiences in my life that did not deem the reaction and meaning I would assign to those experiences. I was out of touch with reality in a lot of ways. In a way, I walled myself off from my heart and was intellectualizing everything I experienced. In essence, I was disassociating myself from my physical body and outward reality. When something happens that isn’t normal, we think to ourselves, “this shouldn’t be happening.” Logically, we know it isn’t normal. However, when a sense of safety and security is stripped away, what is left but to go somewhere else in your mind? This is how I would describe my experience. Seeing your life as if it were a movie. Memories become scant or vague. But the feeling, the feeling is there. It’s buried so deep. Until one day, like a volcano, you erupt and everything seems to go to hell in a handbasket.

So, how does trauma play out in relationships?

Dissociation is a natural response to trauma. Any person facing an experience that involves too much pain and terror, and whose mental mechanisms are incapable of dealing with it, will develop a dissociation. Shock is a response to something that erupts at us sharply, and thus the disconnect allows the mind to adapt immediately and cut out the pain, horror, and belief in the impending physical or mental death. This saves the brain access to a dangerous state of mind that contains feelings, memories, and thoughts that are unprocessable. When you think about this in a relationship, it can make you feel afraid that the other person will leave, that you’re not capable, or that things are destined to go wrong. Sometimes it can send you the opposite; overly obsessed and perhaps have a love addiction.  

The Rise of Obsession & Fear

Because this process involves many mental conflicts, pain, grief, and touching the heart of the mental trauma, it can feel unbearable. Disconnection allows us to erase, anesthetize or cut out of ourselves the same aspects of ourselves associated with trauma so that we can live without worry again. Typically, people suffering from a severe dissociative disorder in adulthood experienced severe childhood trauma. In these difficult cases, a person can develop disorders. In a lot of cases, the person will simply isolate and distance themselves from those close to them, lower themselves in different ways, be detached from their emotions, and have difficulty developing true intimacy that is the result of attention, presence, and sharing in pain.   Anyone who feels that this is affecting their life should seek therapy in some way; because there is no need to feel this burden and let it affect your life for years on end. The solution starts with firstly being able to admit that there is an issue.

And my goodness did this play out in my relationships. Add resentment and betrayal to past trauma, and that’s a recipe for troubled relationships ahead. My solution? Don’t let people get too close. I became obsessed with working out at the gym, usually two hours at a time. I became obsessed with having a good time and abused alcohol. I lived in fear of being betrayed and would make mountains out of molehills. I often created issues where there were none.

Fortunately, my husband came along and was my first safe harbor, who I attempted to push away at first, mind you. His persistence of care is what I needed in my life. He provided the affirmation that I was worth the effort when I didn’t feel like it myself. 

Truly feeling cared for was only the start of healing for me. My husband wasn’t going to walk through the hard stuff for me. I needed to do that. And, as more and more stuff would rise to the surface over the years, he’s been there, every step of the way. Every moment I felt I was going crazy. Every moment where I felt like I was unworthy of his love, he persisted.

Seeking Emotional Security

My husband provided emotional security, something I had never experienced. And, this is something so many people don’t believe they have access to. That being said, it’s also important that the person you believe is that for you, is capable of being that person for you, too. Fortunately for me, I have someone in my life who did not bring the baggage of trauma into my environment. That would have been too much for me; I can’t even imagine. Bring two people who all they’ve known is grief and wowzas…is it any wonder the divorce rate, although has come down, is still 40-50% in the U.S.?

People who have experienced a lot of trauma and grief throughout their lives likely cannot, and probably should not, be helping others when that energy would be best put forth to themselves first. It’s that whole analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first. This is why I believe before people get married, it’s beneficial to go through The Grief Recovery Method. Do yourselves both the favor of dumping your past luggage or risk bringing it into your marriage. I have not stopped doing my personal work. I continue to utilize the tools and practices of grief recovery and reiki in my life. 

I believe, as healers, we can only be of service to others to the depths we’ve gone ourselves. 

Essentially, it’s unwavering love and support we all desire. However, with unaddressed trauma, one can give off the double message: “get closer but keep your distance”. Therefore, in a relationship with another who asks them for a deeper encounter, they will find, to their surprise, that their way of preserving themselves brings them the exact opposite. A partner may argue towards them that they are not present enough, burying their heads in the sand, being passive and imperceptible. This is why you must communicate and be open and honest. My husband could have rightfully felt I was being cold and distant more times than I can count in the nearly twenty years we’ve been together. In fact, I have been accused of such. But, what has been important for him to know is that I process my emotions privately first.

What has been the most beneficial to my marriage is me working through my shit. As a society, I believe that’s the responsibility we all have to ourselves and society – focus on healing ourselves. Healing is found within; you have to dig through the shit to get there, though. I don’t care what anyone tells you; no amount of wishing or surface-leveling talking is going to erase the past. Action is your friend. Add healthy support to that, and you will be well on your way to reinventing yourself – beyond the grief and trauma.

No matter what you’ve experienced, don’t lose hope. Hold onto the possibility that life will get better. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Surround yourself with people who have done their own work. Follow the nudges that are guiding you; keep moving your feet.

From My Heart To Yours

The worst has already happened. No matter if it happened two hours ago or two years ago, it’s already happened. What matters most is what you do next. It is possible to sit with the feelings as you work through the feelings. It feels a lot more empowering to be feeling the feelings and knowing you’re taking action than sitting with the feelings and not feeling even an ounce of relief or hope for tomorrow. It’s never too soon and, it’s never too late.

Be your own biggest fan.đź’›

much love, victoria

P.S. I’ve launched the YouMap® page. When combined with Grief Recovery, it’s seeing your pain and your potential in one program; offered and available only by me in this way in the entire world! 

You Are Not Crazy

you are not crazy

Despite how you may be feeling right now, at this moment, you are not crazy.

This post is dedicated to all of those who are feeling like they’re either going crazy or those who feel like, “Yup, already there yesterday.” 

What’s happened lately in your world?

What has happened directly to you?

 What’s been impacting you lately?

 What happened to you 2, 12, 20 years ago?

You Are Not Crazy

Grief is the crazy pot-stirrer. The ruffler of feathers. The sleeping giant that wakes up, sometimes after 30 years. 

And, in its wake, it’s also the great clarifier.

I felt like I was going crazy at my worst. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, disregarded basic self-care, doctored for unexplained symptoms, dropped weight, started losing my hair, sought knowledge everywhere else but within myself (out of fear of what I would discover), and was part of the wine-mom culture before it was a “thing” (which is doing more harm than good, btw) and quit before that was a “thing,” too, in Nov. 2019.

Do you know someone who seems to be struggling and find yourself judging that person? 

I bet you’ve struggled a time or two as well. Perhaps, you, too, secretly feel crazy, but ya know…sometimes there’s this persona we grip onto so strongly that no amount of staring in the mirror can even crack. We refuse to see what we don’t want to see.

We can drag a person to the mirror, but if they refuse to open their eyes, what do you do?

The only reflection that matters is the one you see when you open your eyes. And, if you’re living out of integrity, you won’t be so inclined to look at yourself very long, if at all.

I know a beautiful soul in the online, entrepreneurial world who recently sported a shirt that read: Make Empathy Great Again. I need a shirt like that in my life. That is a mission I firmly get behind. Empathy just so happens to be my number one strength, too. So, of course, it’s a mission I would get behind. #missionempathy Let’s get that trending, shall we?

What are you refusing to see?

 Your own pain and suffering? 

 The pain and suffering of someone else because of what it brings up for you?

 As you move through your life the next few days, think about how you can make empathy great again in your world. 

People don’t ask for grief; it finds us. Always. No one can escape it. Sometimes, yes, it is self-inflicted; however, I believe this is mostly because of shame, which creates a divide between where we are and where we desire to be (emotionally and spiritually). Empathy is a bridge. 

And, if you’re unsure how to build that bridge, you don’t have to try to build it alone. I’m a message away. 

In the meantime, please put your head on your pillow tonight, knowing that you are not crazy. What you are feeling is normal and natural. If only someone would have told me that way back then, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone for as long as I did. More importantly, had I known then what I know now about grief, I would have believed it for myself. 

Sending you love + light this Friday and beyond. đź’›

much love, victoria

P.S. In the context of using the word “crazy,” it’s not a response of fear, meanness, disregard toward, or a belief that I have about mental illness. Quite the contrary, it is how I described myself as I was going through postpartum depression and a mid-life unraveling in grief, which was something I was in total denial about, therefore, did not talk about at the time. I did what a good portion of people do – grieve alone. And, that’s the problem. When we’re deep in the weeds of feeling “crazy,” we don’t speak up out of fear of actually having that affirmed to be true. It’s a paradox, and until we can freely and openly talk about our suffering without criticism, analysis, or judgment, all of the political correctness in the world won’t change a darn thing, in my opinion. Be the empathy you wish to see in the world. 

Intention versus Impact and Grief

intention Impact Grief

Today, I want to share my thoughts that have been swirling around intention, impact, and grief and how they’re intertwined.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a phrase that came up during training I recently participated in. It was “Understand the difference between intention and impact.” I knew I wanted to write about it but wasn’t sure how I would approach it, given the context in which the phrase was used in the class and that I’ve since seen online. If you haven’t heard this, it’s a phrase typically shared when conversations involve QBIPOC (Queer, Black, Indigenous, People of Color).

As a white woman in the midwest, “Who gives a rip what I think?” could’ve been my stance, and said the heck with it, and completely decide not to address it. However, I will present this with my thoughts (and opinions) while wearing my Adv. Cert. Grief Recovery Specialist hat on, offering my thoughts on what I see happening from my empathetic perspective.

Intention

According to the dictionary, intention is a thing intended, an aim or plan. Interestingly, it’s also the healing process of a wound (which makes me think about Reiki, which is all about intentional healing).

Wikipedia says intention is a mental state representing a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought.

Impact

The dictionary defines impact as the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another. As a verb, it is to have a strong effect on someone or something.

The importance of understanding the difference between intention and impact is an idea that could apply to all sorts of scenarios, including grief. And, when it comes to the situations and issues QBIPOC faces, which I won’t even pretend I know, I imagine that grief has a strong presence in their lives.

Grief doesn’t care about how you identify yourself, the color of your skin, where you grew up, or about your ancestry.

GRIEF DOES NOT CARE

Let’s strip down the many issues in society today down to one word – GRIEF, and address that – with compassion and individual action.

Regardless of where, when, or how it originated, your grief is important because it is yours. But, your grief is not like my grief, just as your grief is going to be different than every other person, regardless of how similar the experience.

Collectively, there is a lot of grief. However, again, it’s important to reiterate that grief is individual.

And, no matter where, why, or how it originated, there is only one person who can do the inner-work – you.

How we raise the collective vibration of this world, elevate our lives, and harness our pain is for each person to sweep their own doorstep individually.

No amount of rallying around me, no amount of pat on the backs, or offers of help or understanding was going to change my situation without me doing my part. The cyclical patterns and behaviors I repeated for over thirty years did not change until I DECIDED to do something about what was happening and what I was feeling.

Do I understand that there is a privilege in writing this as a white woman living in the midwest? Absolutely. If you’re reading this on your smartphone or computer, you, too, have privilege. Privilege exists across all races, social classes, and even between males and females.

Intention versus Impact and Grief

So, let’s get back to this idea of intention versus impact as it relates to grief (which is individual, remember) and all of the issues we face in society today.

I do not intend to offend with this blog post today. However, I may not know the impact it will have on someone reading it unless I hear from someone that specifically shares the impact it had on them. I am not a mind reader; no one is. But, there’s a level of sensitivity that I wish to honor and express. Will I get it perfect? No. Will you get it perfect? No. I intend to speak from a place of empathy, love, and compassion. Despite my beliefs or thoughts around any number of issues, I can choose to show empathy, love, and compassion, despite what I believe to be true for me.

Just as people who have never experienced grief to the extent of someone else may not know what to say, how to say it, or how to show up for that person, I can’t begin to claim to understand the personal experience of the QBIPOC community. So, there may be things I say or do that may be offensive without me realizing it because I don’t have that same personal experience. I have heard so many stories repeatedly about the absurd, hurtful, and harmful things people (of all walks of life and ethnicities and backgrounds) have said to grievers – simply not knowing any better, which is why I am so passionate about educating about grief. Again, grief does not care who you are, where you’re from, or what you look like.

Empathy plays a major role in societal issues today, too. Because not everyone has the strength of empathy, which, yes, is a strength, some people have it more than others. Because of mental illness, some people may not have it at all or little of it. It’s not an excuse for behavior, but it is a reality for many people. It’s also a reality you cannot see just by looking at someone. When it comes to sharing the message (or argument) of understanding the difference between intention and impact, it’s also important to realize that all of us are a product of our upbringing. We don’t ask for the families, beliefs, or indoctrination we’re born into. We don’t ask for our skin color either. Every human goes about this world trying to find where each fits, all the while fighting individual internal demons and internal struggles. Not to mention ancestral grief passed down, stacked on top of all of the grief we accumulate over our lifetime as well.

Considering that in a study conducted in 2017 that states 792 million people worldwide (or slightly more than one in ten) live with a mental health disorder, screaming to the masses about intention versus impact isn’t ever going to solve anything. Also, there’s fascinating research on the brain that describes how, as newborns, our brains develop based on our environment. I recently listened to this podcast episode where Lisa Feldman Barrett, who is in the top one percent of most-cited scientists globally for her revolutionary research in psychology and neuroscience, shares more facts and fiction about the brain. I couldn’t help but think about how misunderstood so many people probably feel in our world due to our own internal wiring.

All of this being said, every one of us can treat everyone we meet with compassion. I can write from a place of compassion in my heart. You could look at someone and see them as a child, asking yourself how you would speak to that person if they were a child standing before you?

What if, instead of seeing how we’re different, we’d instead see each other as grievers and children who are products of our upbringing. And show and give compassion. Be open to hearing the stories of each other. Be open to learning and teaching from personal experiences rather than those of a group. And be open to connection.

Grief Is a Catalyst For Disconnection

The crux of connection? It’s tough to develop a connection to others as long as we’re disconnected from ourselves.

Do you feel like you’re going crazy?

Do you feel like a foreigner in your own body?

Do you feel uncomfortable in your own skin?

If you answered yes to these questions, you’re likely experiencing grief.

How, then, can you ever see others with compassion and be fully present in your own life if your own pain consumes you?

Many issues in our society today could be solved if each of us put the intention of healing into our own hearts and worried less about whatever everyone else is doing or saying.

When you have a broken bone, you don’t hesitate to go to the doctor. Regardless of the cost, you see a doctor who can help you heal your broken bone. When you have a tooth that is causing you so much pain you can’t sleep at night, you go to the dentist to rid yourself of the relentless pain. Why, then, would you not honor the pain in your heart the same way? A pill is not going to rid your heart of its emotional pain any more than if I gave you a Tylenol when you should have a root canal. The Tylenol may numb some of the pain, but it’s only a band-aid solution.

And, this is where grief recovery is different. It’s not a band-aid solution. Grief recovery gets to the root of the emotional pain. Grief recovery ends the daily suffering. Does it end the sadness when you think of the person? No. But, sadness, because you loved and lost, is a much different life experience than feeling the physical and psychological torture and suffering because of the loss. See the difference? This is also no different if the relationship was less than loving and whether they are dead or still living. We experience grief at 100%, too, when it was a toxic, harmful relationship. As a result, a griever can feel a loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations and things they wish would’ve been different, better, or more for the relationship.

You’re already suffering; you may as well suffer while moving your feet and taking action toward healing. 

If you believe that “we are one,” then look in the mirror, friend. What impacts one impacts all.

Grief Is a Ripple Creator, So Is Healing

Rising tides lift all boats.

Focus on raising your tide and watch the ripples of that in your life.

Find a way. It’s up to you.

And find support. It’s your individual choice to ask for help.

But, this notion that people need to understand the difference between intention and impact, “get woke,” or any other buzzphrase catching fire these days, is somewhat of a moot point if, all the while, people aren’t sweeping their own doorstep. In fact, I would argue that all of the outward screamings to the masses is an outcry of inner turmoil, a projecting of inner pain, and a whole lot of generational, ancestral, and personal grief imploding and exploding.

And, addressing all of that? Well, that’s an inside job.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: GRIEF IS OUR PANDEMIC. It always has been and forever will be until we become “woke” to that fact as individuals.

What is the impact of this post on your heart today? Did it stir up some emotions? I imagine it likely did.

The impact I hope to have and share is this: You have so much power within you to change the trajectory of your life, regardless of your circumstances and upbringing. People do not rise above their circumstances by accepting what was and what is. I have interviewed people from all walks of life and backgrounds for my podcast who have created a life of joy and are thriving, despite their upbringing, gender, geographic location, sexual preference, skin color, or grief they’ve experienced in their lives. Incredible humans have crossed my path, which took their life experience in their hands and took action in some way – to heal themselves – not their neighbor, best friend, spouse/significant other, brother, sister, parent, etc. – they addressed their own heart. And, if you need more examples (and does of inspiration) of people doing this from the direst of circumstances, head to a library to read books written by countless more who have done the same.

The impact you choose to have in your life is in your hands—no one else’s. Likewise, the grief you have in your life is yours alone to heal. And, when you’re ready to do that, I’m here for you.

I continue to do my own inner work, too. We are meant to evolve and grow. As one of my guests shared on the podcast recently: “When you lay, you decay.”

How about we work to, individually, create impact, with intentional healing, in our own lives. That’s when, I believe, we’ll start to see ripples of change. 

Sending you love and light today.

much love, victoria

P.S. Are you interested in hearing more on the topic of the ripples of grief and healing? I released a solo podcast episode on this topic in early March. And, if you want to hear grief described and defined in a way you’ve never heard it before (if you’re new here), then check out the other episode below, too.

One Question To Ask When You’re Suffering

one question to ask yourself when suffering

March was a chaotic and somewhat emotionally heavy month for me. I know I wasn’t alone, as several others I had spoken to throughout the month expressed their own version of chaos and emotional heaviness. Although we often create our own suffering, don’t we?

We procrastinate on having the tough conversations we know we need to have. All the while; stewing, brewing, and ruminating.

We don’t share our needs and then get upset when our unknown needs aren’t being met.

We don’t have boundaries but then get angry when we’re taken advantage of or taken for granted.

One of the best quotes I’ve heard in a long time was this:

The more you know yourself, the less likely you’ll look to others to tell you who you are. – Kristin Sherry

A part of knowing ourselves is having an awareness of our strengths, values, and how we’re wired. When we know these things about ourselves, and out of respect for ourselves, communicate from this inner-knowing, we can look at others and consider that they, too, have differing strengths, values, and are wired differently.

This week was another death-versary of my dad being gone, and this one felt a little heavier than usual. Perhaps it was the End-of-Life Doula training I recently finished or, the conversations I’ve been having for the podcast. Either way, “stuff” came up for me this week that I didn’t expect.

I journaled about what I was feeling and here is an excerpt:

…The past two years have been the most incredible period of growth for me. Had I not sought to sweep my own doorstep, I would have never realized my potential of being a healer and lightworker that is here to serve and be a beacon of hope. I would have continued to blame, point fingers, or be a victim. None of these behaviors woud have moved me forward. It is as if I had been driving my car of life while looking in the rearview mirror. What is done is done. I can’t change it. I can’t changed all that I’ve experienced since my dad died. It is what it is. But, I’m so glad I got tired of telling myself the lie that suffering was my destiny.

We live into the stories we tell ourselves. We fulfill our own prophecies if we believe them. If you come from a poor family and believe your life is one of being poor, you will live into that self-proclaimed prophecy of living a poor life. And, I don’t just mean monetarily. We fulfill our own prophecies of being poor in health, physical appearance, qualify (and quantity) of relationships, etc..

And, grief is the one thing we can rightfully blame. There is a lot of loss represented by the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations, and anything we wish would’ve been (or could be) different, better, or more. Add in and end of, or change, in familiar patterns of behavior and, that’s grief, too!

Grief makes us feel like we don’t have a choice. But, we do.

So this week, I looked at my sadness, wrote about it, listened to some inspiring podcasts, and realized something…

the compassion I so readily give to others, I needed to give to myself. 

And, after asking myself what would I say to a friend, I decided to take the day to do some things that bring me joy or lift my mood. I went on the treadmill, while listening to an inspiring podcast episode, took an extra-long shower, enjoyed a cup of tea and looked out the window (just BE-ing present), played with my pooch, Gizmo, and made a heartfelt, end of the first quarter donation, to the Fisher House for ND veterans and their families. My dad, a Vietnam vet, received his healthcare at the Fargo, ND VA Hospital after his colon cancer diagnosis. We could not be there as a family, as a place like the Fisher House did not exist. I’m so glad to see there will be a place for a family to be together.

What is the one question to ask yourself when you’re suffering? 

What would I say to my friend?

More often than not, the helpers of this world have the hardest time giving to themselves what is given to others so readily – compassion.

Give yourself compassion; speak to and treat yourself kindly.

As an empathic, compassionate person (compassion is also one of my top ten values), I need to remain mindful of when the compassion scale is tipping too heavily in one direction. This is so often why those in the helper, service-based roles (therapists, doctors, nurses, counselors, healers, etc.) often burnout. We want to serve and help, but the person we often forget to serve first is ourselves. There is a reason why, during my grief recovery training, there is specific education around what is known as “compassion fatigue.”

March was my lesson in compassion fatigue. I really had to assess my schedule and look at where I needed to step on the breaks. So, I created more breathing room at the end of March, and then the death-versary came, and so did fatigue out of seemingly nowhere. The body is always speaking to us, my friend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new month, a new quarter, and I’m looking forward to implementing some of the things the first quarter taught me this year. I’m also looking forward to sharing what I learned about end-of-life and through YouMap®.

I will be incorporating YouMap® into my grief recovery one-on-one program. This will entail an increase in pricing to reflect additional sessions and knowledge/information that will be added, however, it will only make the grief recovery experience that much richer. You will know why you’re grieving the way you grieve, recognize trouble areas, and gain a greater understanding of how others in the same household are grieving differently (which doesn’t make them wrong). Knowing your YouMap® will also help you to see exactly where your pain points are, and together, we’ll work toward a solution after grief recovery in an additional session. It’s one thing to receive an assessment of your strengths, values, skills, and how you’re wired, but what I love most is, you learn what to do with the information; something every other assessment out there doesn’t address. And believe, me, I’ve taken a lot of them.

I’d like to close with a journal entry from this week:

If we’re traumatized in childhood, we grow to be traumatized (reactive) adults who often become people-pleasers. We become adults who lack self-confidence, self-worth, and inner-peace.

The past two years have been learning how to navigate these things and find inner-peace about what cannot be changed. And rather, bless the past, and continue to evolve and grow – use it for good in my life. Because, the only constant is change.

I want to share with others what I’ve learned and walk with them in their suffering. However, always with the intention of lighting the path forward when all feels lost. Taking the last bit of hope that a hurting heart has been white-knuckling and using it to UNLEASH their heart of the darkness of their pain and into the light of what’s possible.

And, to never forget – when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. 

much love, victoria

Support Your Mental Health With These 7 Home Tips

7 Home Tips to Support Mental Health

When you’re struggling with your mental health, you understandably want to do everything in your power to help heal your mind. You may be practicing meditation, you might be looking for a new job, and you may have even cut out alcohol to help minimize the effects on your mind. But did you know that your home can help your mental health? By making a few small changes to your home, you can live harmoniously and help battle through your mental health. Want to know more? Check out these easy yet very effective ways of turning your home into a sanctuary for your mental health.

Open the Blinds More

The sun is a great way of improving your mood, but when you’re inside for long periods of the day (especially during the pandemic), it’s very easy for your mood to slip. Opening the curtains and blinds every day will help let in natural sunlight and contribute to your mood. Not only that, encouraging yourself to do this each day will help you stay in routine and keep your mental health on track. Living in the northern hemisphere, winter is long and (often) harsh. Several years ago, I purchased a sunbox. Over the years, I have found it highly beneficial in supporting my overall well-being, as they also help regulate your sleep cycle and help your body create the feel-good chemicals that are greatly reduced during winter months. I had also realized why I was so attracted to tanning beds during the winter in my 20’s. (P.S.A. Take care of your skin; you only get one! I was lucky, and my dermatologist found a pre-cancerous mole early.) 

Set the Temperature

Being too hot or too cold can add to agitation, even for those not struggling with their mental health. When you’re not at a comfortable temperature, it’s easy to become irritated or feel sleepy and lethargic. Consider getting a regulating control with a timer to lower the temp during sleeping hours. It’s thought that sleeping at a cooler temp aids the body in getting more restful sleep. You can always keep a 24-hour AC Service company on hand to come and look at your AC unit should you run into any problems.

Invest In a Comfortable Mattress

Sleep is extremely vital. You may struggle to get enough sleep when you’re battling with your mental health. However, you may also struggle to sleep because you haven’t got the right kind of mattress to not only help you fall asleep comfortably but stay asleep. Getting more sleep will allow your mind to heal, give your body plenty of rest, and significantly improve your overall mood, so it might be worth investing in a more comfortable mattress. In next week’s Grieving Voices podcast episode, I interview Dr. Chris Kerr, and we briefly discuss the effects of interrupted sleep, especially on the older population. He spoke about delirium and how, with reduced sleep, one can become combative and hallucinate. There’s a reason it’s used as a torture tactic. 

Fill Your Home With Calming Scents

Many of your senses can affect your mood, and the scents in your home are one of those things. If you’re an anxious person, consider filling your home with the smells of lavender to help keep you calm when you’re at home. After all, your home is a place for relaxing, and the more relaxed you are, the better your mental health will be in the long run. Experiment with different scents to make your home smell beautiful and keep your mood high. My most favorite scent is palo santo. It grows in dry tropical forests and produces very fragrant resin. In Spanish, palo santo means “holy wood.” Its oil, resin, and wood itself have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. I’m very drawn to its scent, diffuse it regularly, burn palo santo sticks to clear negative energy, and often wear my palo santo bracelet. Find what you love that gives you a sense of peace and calm, and you’ll create an anchor of “scent-memory” with that scent. I could go on and on about how our olfactory nerve plays a role in our mood and emotions. But, it’s linked directly to the limbic system. The limbic system is a control center that monitors emotions and memories. Research has shown that odors can affect our mood, concentration, memory recall, and emotions. If you didn’t know, I’m a Young Living Distributor; I have been since 2014. I absolutely love what essential oils have brought to my life! 

Bring Nature Indoors

Adding some greenery to your home will not only improve the decor but your mental well-being too. Did you know that plants are known to improve your mood and reduce stress levels? Consider adding a few house plants to your home to help uplift your mood and home! I can’t believe it took me until maybe two years ago to bring plants into my home. If you don’t feel like you have a green thumb, that’s okay. Go to a local greenhouse and ask for easy-care plants. I’ve personally never had luck with succulents; they’re a bit more particular in care. So, if you’re new to plants, I wouldn’t start with those. 

De-Clutter

When our environment is cluttered and disorganized, and we’re already feeling cluttered and disorganized within our minds or bodies, our outer environment isn’t supporting a positive shift. Addressing our outer environment can help us shift our mood and mindset. Likewise, addressing what is troubling us in our hearts and minds might be where you want to start. You may be surprised by how you find a renewed motivation to address your home environment, too.

If you don’t believe that clutter impacts our mental health, check out this article from Psychology Today, learn the impact of clutter and how it does not support your mental health.

Create a Sacred Space That’s All Yours

I’m a huge advocate of creating a sacred space that is all yours. And, you may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t take a lot of financial means. It doesn’t require you to remodel your home. I have my office that I call my “Zen Den.” I have this beautiful natural light that fills the space, which once felt like a dungeon due to the tiny basement window. Bless my husband did all of the work himself, having never put in an egress window before. He did an amazing job, but that one thing transformed my love of my office. I feel more inspired and happier in my office than I ever did before. It has a wide window sill where I have a plant, a pretty lamp, a photo of my spouse and me, a yummy-smelling candle, and a small desk calendar with a daily quote.

My “Zen Den” (i.e., my office) serves several purposes. I hold my in-person reiki sessions in this space and have made it a point to make it a relaxing space for that as well, with a small water fountain, Himalayan salt lamp, essential oils, and of course, my “working” desk space.

If you don’t have an office or extra room in your home, you can easily create a corner of your home that is all yours. Put a comfy chair, ottoman, comfy blanket, small side table, a plant, and a lamp. You’ve then created a lovely space to read magazines or books, knit/crochet, connect with a friend/loved one over the phone, watch a movie on a tablet, write/journal, listen to soothing music or inspiring podcasts/books, etc.

I have kids, so I know having the time/quiet to do this may be difficult. However, sometimes getting up before the rest of the house rises for the day could be the most self-caring thing you can do for your mental health. And, if you’re not a morning person, perhaps looking at how sending the kids to bed even 20 minutes earlier can help create the quiet you need to give to yourself – even if it’s only twenty minutes to spend some time doing something you enjoy to decompress from the day. I could create a whole post about this topic alone, and perhaps I will. It’s so important to fill our cups, as we can’t give from an empty (or burned out) one, right?!

I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love to hear if you try any of these tips. Thank you for reading!

much love, victoria

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