January 21, 2015

Finding freedom in brokenness : One woman's story of recovery

One of the reasons I think people find counseling so helpful is that they find acceptance even when revealing the parts of themselves they may feel ashamed of. Most of us are not very honest about our struggles because we don't want to be rejected or judged. It is a brave and difficult thing to open up, so most people choose to just keep their problems to themselves as long as they can.

But, struggle and brokenness are a basic part of being human. When we keep our struggles to ourselves, our problems feel like a secret, or even a defining character flaw. The result is often isolation and shame. If you never have the courage to share your struggles with someone you trust, you will never have closeness. True intimacy comes through honesty. One of the wonderful things about my job is being able to see the lightness people feel when they share their struggles, at first with me and then with someone one else in their lives. 

This type of courage about personal struggle was exhibited by one of my friends and colleagues, Caryn Honig. Caryn is a dietitian, and an eating disorder professional. She has devoted much of her career to helping other people who struggle with eating disorders, but she speaks in the video below about her personal struggle with anorexia and bulimia. I know it was very emotional for Caryn to get up and speak about herself, but her courage became an inspiration for many other women in the audience to share their stories. After she gave the talk, people came up and told her, "Your story is my story." They found a voice in her, and it allowed them to accept themselves just a little bit more. It gave them a point of hope.

You may not be dealing with an eating disorder, but I bet there are things that weigh on your heart and mind. This could be anything from problems in your marriage, to an addiction, to depression or anxiety. I encourage you to find someone you trust, and share your struggles. You don't have to carry your burdens alone. If you are not sure who you can talk to, I recommend you start by talking to a therapist. Find your point of hope today!

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January 3, 2015

Be Yourself to the Happy End

image:laweekly.com

Sometimes I like to pass along things that I find inspiring. If you have spent time with me, you know I encourage people to learn to live authentically and to embrace and celebrate the person they were created to be. Researchers who study happiness consistently have found that people who live authentically are more likely to experience happiness and feel a general sense of wellbeing. When I talk about living authentically, I am talking about living in line with your values, ideals, sensibilities, creative instincts, etc.



image:advancedstyle.blogspot.com

I recently watched a documentary entitled Advanced Style. "Advanced style" It is a term used by photographer/blogger Ari Seth Cohen about the stylish older women whom he photographs. The pictures on this post are from the women in the documentary or from the blog of the same title. These are women in their late 50's to 90's. 

In our society, we have so few images of beautiful older women that come through the media. Reading fashion magazines, you might get the impression that fashion and beauty are things relegated only to 20-somethings with a thigh gap. And that is what makes the voice in Advanced Style so fresh and inspiring. These are creative, beautiful, fun women who are being authentic to themselves right through to the end of their lives.

image:advancedstyle.blogspot.com

There is a particularly colorful 91-year-old in the documentary. She has a shock of red hair and homemade false red mega eyelashes to match. She talks about how at her age she no longer has anything to prove to anybody else. She is really enjoying this stage of her life because she can live it fully, authentically, one moment at a time because every day is a gift. It may have taken her a lifetime to figure this out, but I hope we can learn from her wisdom and start to live that way today.

image:advancedstyle.blogspot.com

I realize that some people might dismiss the outfits or even these women as being silly or frivolous, but I am thankful for the courage it takes for them to be themselves. I am thankful for images that remind us that you can still be creative, beautiful, fabulous, outrageous, and even edgy well into your 90's. I am thankful that beauty comes in so many different ages, sizes, colors and packages!