Cultivating Calmness and Stillness

Cultivating calmness and stillness

I’m reading a good book suggested by one of my clients called The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown.

The book’s premise is about how to cultivate Wholeheated Living and in order to cultivate this you must also be cultivating calmness and stillness.  I wanted to briefly speak about this part of her book how a simple decision to incorporate these concepts helped me this week.  But first let me back up a bit and add a bit of context.

This year I am focusing more on being intentional and mindful, theses are my words for the year.  Part of this effort is to throw off our culture’s concept that busyness and exhaustion is good and valuable.  Our culture thinks this way because many of us gain our self-worth from our accomplishments.  I have been working for years to rid myself of this ingrained-from-childhood concept. I have been at work to firmly plant my identify in who God says I am and not what our culture tries to say about me.   I found that attempting to build my identity upon accomplishments or acquisitions felt like shifting sand under my feet; no stability was to be found.  I say that I have been working for years on this because this re-creating and replanting of my identify is not something that can be done just once and it’s accomplished for the rest of my life, it’s an ever-evolving process as I age and face new challenges.  Brown’s book goes right along with many things I have been personally working on.

In one chapter she addresses calmness and stillness.

Brown defines calm as “creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.” She went on to write that practicing calm means feeling your feelings without reacting to heightened emotions like fear and anger.

I would like to add that I think we can and sometimes should react to fear and anger but the key is not allow our outward actions be dominated by those emotions to the extent that we make rash decisions that hurt ourselves or others.

This is NOT an easy feat in the least!

I have realized in my upbringing I learned a bad habit that went something like this: when bad things happen I should take it seriously and thus my outward reaction should reflect that.  I’m sure you can imagine that way of reacting has not always worked in my favor.  When I became a parent and some crisis was occurring I leaned quickly if I reacted strongly so did my kids, which meant everyone was more freaked out that they needed to be. Medical emergencies could spell traumatic experiences if I did not change how I reacted to bad situations. So I have had to change that!

This week I realized I am doing much better at cultivating calmness in my life.   Here’s a short story for example: Our dog loves to sneak out of the yard and run crazy around the neighborhood whenever she can escape the back yard.   I have never been able to catch her without someone helping me coax her back to the house.   She runs fast and become so hyper she just doesn’t listen to anyone.   This week our dog got out of the yard after a nasty hailstorm dislodged the lock on our fence’s gate.   So as my kids and I were getting ready to leave the house, the kids went go to get in the car and I went to call the dog in from the back yard at our patio door, assuming she was still in the back yard.   My oldest child walks out into our driveway and sees our dog is across the street in the neighbors yard happily smelling the exotic “other yard” scents.  Frantically my oldest child yells “SHE’S ACROSS THE STREET!”  My usual response has been to run and yell the dog’s name, asking for her to come to me.  I knew walking out of the house that this was a crisis, we could lose our beloved dog if she kept running or she could get run over by a car (which almost happened a few months ago) but I also knew in that moment I must change my reaction to this crisis to manage it.   This time I coolly set my purse down, told my kids “stay calm” and I walked out to my drive way, scanned to ensure no cars were coming down the street and patted my knees, calling our dog. Our sweet and crazy mutt picked her head up and ran straight to me!  First time ever!    We were all more than a big shocked that it worked and our little crisis was diverted.

Over many years I have realized that being calm on the outside while still reacting to the crisis at hand gives me more time to make wise decisions.   I can still react to these serious situations without displaying to the world that I don’t care.  I think I initially rejected this reaction because I assumed calm people in a crisis didn’t really care that much.

I must to give credit where credit is due: a large part of my calmness comes from God.   I have an overriding peace from Him that helps me stay calmer in these situations.  I’m not saying I’m perfect at doing this 100% of the time.  If I don’t get enough rest and I’m under too much stress I have been known to revert to my old ways of reacting.  So I know sleep, managing my stress and having daily time with my creator is crucial to having calmness and stillness in my life.

So my question to you is: How can you create more calmness and stillness in your life?  It’s crucial to your health and well-being!


Sex: The New Trend In Women

Couple Intimacy

The ladies at my counseling office have noticed a new trend of women cheating just as much, if not more, than men. There are a few questions that run through my mind when I her this. Why is this happening? Is this really a new trend or are women just more open about it? As we all know there has been a women’s sexual liberation movement and women no longer have to have sensual appeal as long as they have sex appeal. There was once a time when women were admonished to always be a lady and leave something to the imagination. This is no longer the case I wonder is this the reason why more cheating from women is taking place. Some might argue that women have always cheated. If men were cheating, they had to be cheating with someone; women have just become more open with the admission of cheating… but why. Is this a liberal movement saying that women can be just as sexual as men or is it an excuse to be wild? According to the Huffpost, 8.8 years is the average length of an American marriage.

This is a horrible statistic. This means that marriages are barely making it past the ‘7-year itch’. Could this be because of infidelity? This could be a valid argument if the cheating/infidelity was only happening in marriages, but it is not. The reality though, is that women in general are having more sex and more likely to cheat. This is whether they are single and have multiple partners, whether they are in a committed relationship, or whether they are married. Honestly women are naturally sexual beings. We have been conditioned to suppress it a let the man pursue us. This may be a reason as well. Maybe women are just more able to be themselves in this day and time and as a result are more open with their sexuality. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that women are liberated and more in tune with their sexuality

Cooking is Good For the Soul!!!

As a counselors we are asked to find self care methods to avoid burnout. For me, my self care is cooking. I do enjoy cooking and oddly enough, I find it quite relaxing. Baking relaxes me even more. This past holiday I was in the kitchen with my grandmother and we had a blast cooking. I like to experiment with recipes to try and make them better. I also come up with my own recipes. Now of course, my grandmother has her old schools ways, (which in most cases is the best way) and my shortcuts couldn’t possible deliver the same results…..until they do….lol.  The time we spend is absolutely amazing and then we get to share the magic with family and friends when we have our Thanksgiving dinner.  The enjoyment and laughter shared over food is the best. I suggest that both the cooking and the eating and the sharing are all good for the soul. Not only is it good for the souls but it is also therapeutic at least for me. While surfing the web, I found a few sites that agree with cooking being good for the soul.  The following is an article written by Tameka Dorsey

 15 Reasons Why Cooking is Good for My Soul!!

I am Creative
I usually experiment with foods that you would never think to put together, and it tastes magical!
I Get to Eat Great Food
One of the benefits of cooking in the kitchen is enjoying some tasty foods. Sampling my dishes is the thing I look forward to the most!
I love cooking for my family and friends. When they want me to cook for them, it’s a great feeling knowing that they love my food.
I Relieve Stress
I Share Food with Loved Ones
If I’ve had a bad day, I release my stress into whipping up a good meal, and the good food absorbs my worries.
I Increase My Skills
My loved ones give me feedback on my food, and this improves my skills for the next time around.
I Am More Confident
Not only does their feedback improve my skills, but it also increases my confidence when serving others, and they compliment me on my dishes.
I Am Happy
Whenever I am in the kitchen, I am HAPPY! It always puts me in a good mood, and is my favorite place to be.
I Am Doing Something I Love
Cooking is my passion, and I would love to make a career out of it. What better way to spend my days practicing something that I love.
I Try Out New Recipes
Experimenting with new recipes adds on to my creativity in the kitchen. Once I master a dish, I add a little twist to it to make it my own.
I Know Exactly What I’m Eating!
When I cook my own food, I know where the food comes from, what it is, and exactly what goes into my meals.
I Am Eating Healthy
Cooking on my own keeps me away from fast food and eating out all the time, and allows me to choose a healthier option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I Am Saving Money!!!
One of the benefits of cooking is the amount of money I save. The food lasts longer, and I am getting more for my money.
I Feel Special
I love to dress up in my apron and chef hat. I feel like superwoman when I’m making magic happen in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a woman who can cook?
This is what I wear underneath my coat!
I want this apron!
I Feel Rewarded
Being in the kitchen is very rewarding. The best feeling is knowing that I’m a good cook, and that other people enjoy my food so much.
This is how I feel when others love my food!
I Bring People Together
Food brings everyone together no matter what. The thing I enjoy the most about cooking is sharing precious moments with the ones I care about over a meal. FOOD IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL!!


Happy Cooking!!!


Personal Boundaries

personal boundaries


Personal Boundaries allow you to be in the driver seat of your own life. The dictionary defines a boundary as “a line that marks the limits of an area.”  Personal Boundaries is an invisible line that expresses to others the parameters for you how you expect them to treat you and also how you will treat them. These boundaries create safety and security for yourself and in your relationships. Below are some personal boundaries to consider. Remember, it’s never too late to establish or re-establish healthy boundaries.

  • Physical boundaries – Personal Space & Physical Touch

What types of physical touch (hug, kiss, handshake) are you most comfortable giving and receiving? With whom do you feel most comfortable displaying physical touch?  What settings are most appropriate for you to display different types of touch? Are others allowed to enter certain settings (office, bedroom, etc) without your permission?

  • Intellectual Boundaries – Thoughts and Ideas

What do you believe? Are you easily influenced to change your mind? Are you able to listen to others without becoming argumentative or defensive? Do you dismiss others’ ideas?

  • Emotional boundaries – Feelings and Emotions

Do you know when to share, when not to share, what to share, and whom to share with? Do you blame others for your feelings? Do you accept blame for other’s feelings?

  • Sexual Boundaries – Emotional, Intellectual, and Physical Aspects of Sexuality

Is there a mutual understanding and respect? Are you deciding what, where, when, and with whom? Are you giving or receiving unwanted touch and/or pressured to engage in sexual acts? Are you giving or receiving unwanted sexual comments?

  • Material Boundaries  – Money and Possessions

Are you setting limits on when you will lend and to whom you will lend?

  • Time Boundaries – Use of Time

Are you setting aside enough time for work, relationships, and hobbies? Are you demanding too much of someone’s time? Is someone demanding too much of your time?


Maslow's Hierarchy of Need: Love and Belonging

Relationships are hard work. Whether the relationship is platonic or romantic the work is equally as hard. An actual committed positive and healthy relationship takes a great deal of dedication and commitment. People often get fooled by the puppy love stage and the honeymoon stage but relationships. Not to mention marriages, are no walks in the park. I was reminded of this this weekend. With Valentine’s Day on the approach my Facebook was almost like a soap opera. I say the usually love in the air post with people celebrating however many amount of years together but I also saw the biter I would like everyone to be miserable posts as well. When people break up I always want to know why. The why fascinates me. What makes a person after so many months are years say’ I cannot do this any longer’. I knew infidelity is a main issue but is it really the main issue. Most people do not cheat just to be cheating there is a reason. Whether the reason is insecurities, lack of communication, the spouse was unfaithful first, or childhood issues, most people cheat for a reason. So does knowing that a person has a valid mental reason for being insecure doe that justify the infidelity. Does knowing that the lack of faithfulness a cause and not an effect make it easier to understand. I would personally say no. I am a strong believer in free will. People do things because they want to. Even with the underlying issues a person has a choice not to succumb to them. The fact still remains though that relationships are tough. We should not throw relationships away because of mishaps. We should stick them out if possible. Wedding vows of for better or for worse should be taken more seriously. My grandmother use to say ‘Baby if the relationship is easy it just might not be worth it’. Back then I had no idea as to what she meant but as time passed on knowledge and life made this revelation very apparent. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day know that your relationship is worth it and work on it all costs.

Are You Invested in Your Relationship!!!

gottman 5

After speaking with friends, I began to wonder how many of us are truly invested in our relationships? Sure we go through the motions, we say the magic words….I Love You!!! But what do you do to enhance your current relationship? There is this thing called the 80/20 rule.  Basically it states that you are only going to get 80% of what you need from your significant other. 80%…..those are pretty good odds. Problems occur when you begin to ponder what you are missing which is engulfed within the 20%. Instead of communicating with our significant others some of us tend to stray towards the 20%. It is only after we are there do we realize the grass was much greener with the 80%.  I read an article by Gina Singarighi on Project Eve. She notes that she used John Gottman’s research on emotional bank accounts. The title of the article is: 5 Ways to Invest in Your Relationship.

So how can you invest in your relationships?  Here are five simple tips:

1.  Have daily positive/warm contact.

It’s amazing how little time we actually spend with our partner each week.  Think about it, you’re at work over forty hours, plus commute time, you work out, or watch TV and then its time for bed.  Carve out 30 quality minutes to spend with your sweetheart each day (away from electronic devices) and I promise you will notice a difference.

2.  Share appreciation and gratitude often.

Over time we forget to say those sweet things to our loved ones.  This is a problem because we stop noticing all those wonderful things, and our partner stops hearing about them.  Make sure that once a day you are making an investment in your relationship bank account by sharing something you appreciate about your partner.  Think about it as a vitamin for your relationship’s health.

3.  Notice the attempts your partner makes for your attention and clearly state your attempts for theirs.

John Gottman (the most respected relationship researcher out there) talks A LOT about the importance of bids in relationships.  Bids are the times we ask for attention from our partner.  Successful couples notice bids, and more often than not, they respond warmly to their partner.  Missing bids can quickly get you into shaky territory.   You don’t have to go along with everything your partner says, but it helps to notice all the ways they reach out to you (eye contact, affection, requests for help, invitations etc) and respond with care.

4.  Give the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes when we are together for a while we start building resentments in relationships.  These can snowball if you don’t stop them quickly.  Trust your partner’s best intentions.  When in question, ask for clarification, “Honey, you’re just asking if I am wearing this so we don’t accidentally dress as twins- not because you think it looks bad, right?”

5.  State your shared mission/meaning/values regularly. 

It’s important to have a shared goal on the horizon and values guiding your decisions.  This doesn’t mean you always agree, but that you have a shared sense of meaning to help guide your collaborative process.  Set some dates for the future and talk openly about how much you look forward to them (not just a wedding, think about travel or shared celebrations).   Talk with your sweetheart about the things that add meaning to your life and shared time.

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