The Lily Program® ~ An Individualized Mental Health Program For Women

Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Sunday, 28 October 2012 04:00

Why Can’t I Just Get It Done?

Are you one of those people who are always waiting? Waiting for the weather to be better, waiting for the right partner, waiting for the right job opportunity, waiting for the children to grow up, waiting for the economy to grow, etc. When you live in this frozen inertia actually nothing happens except many missed opportunities, nagging regret and a sense of bitterness as life passes you by.

There is a lot to be said for seizing the moment and getting something done. It doesn't always matter if we are doing a lot or a little but we must be doing something. Big steps. Baby steps. As long as we're headed in the right direction, they're all good.

Living in procrastinator’s paradise is as paralyzing as living in a straight jacket. The anxiety really starts to build when you know you have to truly tackle something. All those letters and bills have to be responded to, the laundry needs an overhaul, the garage needs reorganization, the car needs cleaned. Somehow none of it can get done because you are waiting.

How many projects have to go left unfinished? How many things have you committed to but did not bother to see through to the end?

Lose the burden of living for your stuff and unnecessary responsibilities to get yourself mobile again. Waiting leads to hating.

To avoid low moods and depression setting in you may have to have a good purge around the home. Let go or donate what feels overwhelming to you. Make a list of all the things you have promised to do and cannot do. Call the people involved and let them know you are taking an emotional Sabbatical.

This all takes lots of courage and effort, but you will find you can breath again because you got things done. Whatever it takes, learn to love finishing what you start.

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Saturday, 27 October 2012 04:50

Sunny with a Chance of Happiness

Currently, I am looking out the window and all I can think is “this is the most beautiful day I’ve seen in months!” It is 79 degrees and partly cloudy, and the wind is at 14 mph and feels absolutely lovely. The humidity is at 54 percent, which is wonderful for this area. It’s the kind of day you could get lost in, the kind of day that erases any anxiety or sadness! 

The most beautiful part of it all is that I didn’t have to do anything to make myself feel better except get up and look out the window. Sometimes, it feels like we have to climb a mountain just to feel an ounce of happiness. Sometimes, it feels like melting away our depression is a monumental task, and that the grass that’s on the other side will never be ours to walk on.

This beautiful day reminds me that it’s not always that hard. It reminds me if you just water the grass on which you are standing, it will flourish just as much as any other grass, that anxiety and depression are as temporary as the beauty outside, and the choice is up to us which one we want to be present with.

So, much of the time, all it truly takes to have a good day is getting up and looking out the window.

 

 

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Friday, 26 October 2012 04:01

A Hike in the Woods

Three old friends meet at a country café. The conversation rolls easily between the past, present and future. Hot coffee and breakfast with people who had disconnected for so long you would think they have nothing in common, joke about the same social media sight that brought them together today. The hike they planned is waiting on them, but they are in no hurry. This is about the entire experience.

The smell of pine in the crisp autumn permeates the air. Colors of fall envelop the mountains like a bunch of balloons at a carnival. The wonders of the miracle that make the leaves suddenly change from a deep green to an endless variety of colors. This is just the beginning of the day.

The near silent sound of leaves slowly falling to the ground, whisper that the trees will soon be bare. The walk holds promise of more than just exercise but surprise and wonder at what treasures will been seen. Others may never experience this if they don’t reach beyond the normal day-to-day scenery. The secrets in front of them jump with surprises around every corner, enticing them to move onward and upward toward an adventure with no real beginning or end. They move while leaves are crunching under their feet. No stealth silence, no creeping around. Stories, origin of the trail, best reads, and life experiences blend with the oohs and ahhs of the panoramic views. The world is passing by in this moment at a snail’s pace.

Too soon the end is here. Hugs and goodbyes, secrets revealed as trust in the group grow. This is a way of trying to stretch the day out just a little further. Humbling love between old friends each of who has grown wiser but maintained their integrity and humor that brought them together in the first place. It was certainly a great day for a hike in the woods.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 23:21

Does It Really Build Your Character?

Sometimes I wonder if suffering in silence is all some women know. Having to always please and be pleasing is a character sequestration, quietly agreeing to things you do not agree with, slowly corroding and eroding. In the end you stand for nothing because you have allowed all your beliefs to be subtly removed from you. Maybe you find yourself becoming that chameleon that becomes any color that you need to be to remain hidden from the anger of others.

Maybe the effort it takes to fight for what you feel strongly about is just too much and becoming the martyr somehow makes abdicating from life okay. The mistress of depression is very powerful, suffocating while firmly extracting every thought of joy a woman might have thought to have had. Co-dependency is an incubator for depression, fear, and hopeless anxiety.

Each woman's life is a mosaic of experiences. Each piece of the mosaic on its own is small but its power is in the collection of all the pieces being placed together to form a picture.

We choose to learn from our experiences both good and less good or push them aside.

By taking the time to reflect on our experiences we can use them to shape who we want to become. Sometimes if we had thought things through a bit more maybe you might have made a different decision about something so now you have another choice. You can spend the time thinking about what you wished you had done or you can think about what you have learned from what you did do and how you will plan going forward.

One choice builds your character and one browbeats your character. It is not possible to please all of the people all of the time. Each day as you make decisions you add another piece to your mosaic. If you can make decisions that will empower you, you will in turn empower others.

The best mosaic builders are those that make the most of the resources they have, matching and mixing. A strong and joyful character is built the same way. Not constantly wanting something different but making the most of what you already have.

Make a list of the ten things that you like about yourself and make decisions that keep those in the mosaic for a characterful end result.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 06:33

Two Delicious Pomegranate Recipes

Pomegranate Orange Muffins

These muffins are not only tasty, they’re healthy, too! Pomegranates are an antioxidant powerhouse, and orange juice adds a dose of vitamin C to the mix. Flax seeds, named one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet, are not only high in fiber but Omega-3 essential fatty acids, meaning they decrease inflammatory reactions, lower risk of heart disease and fight depression.

Pomegranate Orange Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (1 cup of millet flour also works well, or you can use a cup of white unbleached wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup soymilk (add more if you need, also, I used almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers.
  3. Combine the ground flax and water in a measuring cup, and whisk vigorously for about 2 minutes. Let this stand while you assemble the other ingredients. It will become quite thick and gooey. This is probably the very best egg substitute I know for vegan baked goods.
  4. Sift together the flours, sugar, baking power and soda in a large bowl.
  5. Add the wet ingredients (all but pomegranate seeds), and mix till just moistened; as usual, over-mixing will lead to heavy muffins.
  6. Finally, fold in the pomegranate seeds, reserving a few for the muffin tops.
  7. Divide the batter equally in the prepared cups.
  8. Sprinkle five or six seeds on the top of each muffin, and pop 'em in the oven. 20-25 minutes should do it.
  9. Remove, toothpick-test, let cool on a rack, and enjoy warm with tea!

Pear and Pomegranate Salad

This delicious salad packs a nutritional wallop by including pears as well as both pomegranate juice and pomegranate seeds. Pears add beneficial fiber to the salad, while pomegranates are high in vitamin C and several B vitamins. In addition, pomegranates are packed with anti-oxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease and possibly cancer by scavenging harmful free-radicals in the body.

Pear and Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups green leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 Bartlett or Anjou pear
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 1⁄3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon honey
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Divide the lettuce between two bowls.
  2. Halve and core the pear, then cut each half in slices.
  3. Divide the pear slices and pomegranate seeds among the two bowls and mix gently.
  4. Combine the vegetable oil, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, mustard, honey, and pepper in a saucepan.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the dressing thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
  6. Pour the warm dressing over the salads and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 06:20

The Emotional Ocean

The mind is a mysterious thing, as complex and mystifying as the deep oceans. Just as there are hidden depths of the ocean, there are hidden depths within us. And as we’ve seen of the oceans, even if we can’t see something for ourselves, we still need to take care of it.

Often in life we face setbacks and adversities that damage our physical and emotional wellness. It is then that we find ourselves needing to do cleanup, to nurture and restore what has been damaged.

The problem having to do with the mind is that we can’t see or quantify it, which often leads to dismissal by those around us, or even by ourselves. When people feel too strongly, the strength of those emotions is often dismissed as overemotional. When people don’t heal quickly enough, their pain is dismissed as something that they choose to hold on to. And while sometimes our emotional responses can be detrimental to our happiness, ignoring our emotions entirely is just as harmful.

That is why validation is so important to mental health. In validating our feelings we take the first step towards working on them, which is far more beneficial than ignoring them. By validating our feelings, we begin noticing and paying attention to them, which paves the way for acceptance, healing and strength. It is through regulation rather than avoidance that we can tackle the obstacles before us and create happiness.

Every interaction should strengthen movement toward our goals. Simply ignoring our emotions without learning to regulate places roadblocks in our path. When we take care of our emotions and use them to move toward strength and happiness, we protect, restore and care for the oceans of our mind.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 05:58

A Legacy of Authenticity

“Dear Dad,

Being honest about your fears, your failures, and your doubts…teaches me to be authentic. Without this example, I may fantasize about a perfect way of being and develop unrealistic expectations for myself and others.”

   -
M.A. Brummette, Seeking My Father’s Love

In just a couple of sentences, the author astutely reveals the resulting legacy of an inauthentic father-daughter relationship. There’s no question that forging a genuine connection with your daughter can be a real challenge. Men in our culture are typically ill-equipped to deal with the emotional peaks and valleys of their maturing daughters. Men are much more comfortable providing their daughters with monetary security, physical protection, and occasional comic relief. Those things are important, too, but a father’s job doesn’t stop there.

Dads – let me set your minds at ease. A genuine father-daughter connection doesn’t require active involvement in every aspect of your daughter’s emotional life. It does, however, require a concerted effort to patiently listen, lovingly reflect your understanding, communicate your truth, and refrain from the dismissive “father knows best” spiel (have you noticed how that doesn’t work?).

For example, suppose your teenage daughter comes to you crying and says, “Dad, my best friend just stole my boyfriend away from me, and I’m so mad! How can I get revenge so they know I won’t let them get by with this?!” This is an emotionally charged situation, but the proper response from Dad can diffuse it. Don’t respond with, “Calm down! Don’t get so upset. This is not that big of a deal.” That response invalidates her feelings, teaches her not to trust her feelings, and causes her to distance herself from you emotionally. Rather, attempt to partially reflect her level of emotion and say something like, “Wow! That must have really hurt you! Help me understand exactly what happened.” Engaging her in this way will allow her to settle down, describe the details of what happened (we love doing this! ☺), and show her that you genuinely care because you took the time to listen and understand.

If she’s still upset and wants revenge, this would be the prime opportunity for an honest discussion. You might say, “Honey, my fear is that if you seek revenge, it may backfire on you and cause you to feel bad about yourself. And I doubt that it will be very easy to make new friends when others see how you treated these friends. May I tell you how an incident of revenge in my life failed to have the outcome I’d intended?” Then you can go on to describe what happened. That’s one small way of “being honest about your fears, your failures, and your doubts.” Believe it or not, this kind of honesty and sharing enhances your “tough guy” status in her eyes. There’s real power in the truth.

I’ll share one more example. Suppose your daughter is trying to tell you something, and your mind is on other things. Suddenly she blurts out, “Dad, you’re not listening!” Instead of getting defensive or angry by saying, “How dare you yell at me! Of course I’m listening. Don’t I always listen to you!?”, be truthful. You could say something like, “Honey, you’re absolutely right. I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about tomorrow’s meeting. I’m sorry. Please say it again – you have my full attention now.” You see, this is sincere and intimate.

If fathers would focus less on demanding respect and more on nurturing openness and honesty in their communications with their daughters, respectful interactions would happen naturally. Sharing your truths in a non critical, loving way will not only model to your daughter the stark difference between being authentic and being faultless, it will also guarantee an endearing connection with her that is indescribably rewarding for you, her, and generations to come.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
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Sunday, 21 October 2012 02:26

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo

Recipe courtesy of EatingWell.com

Enjoy this nutritious meal in just 30 minutes without compromising flavor or your health. Lean chicken breasts atop warm orzo pasta tossed with sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Enjoy this dish with a side of fresh spinach or steamed broccolini. Your taste buds will certainly thank you for this delicious dish.

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. Orzo
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 3 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram, divided
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • ½ tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 9 oz. pkg frozen artichoke hearts
  • ½ cup finely shredded Romano cheese

Preparation:

  1. Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
  2. Meanwhile, place 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, plum tomato, garlic, 2 teaspoons marjoram, vinegar and 2 teaspoons oil in a blender. Blend until just a few chunks remain.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until golden outside and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
  4. Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Measure out 1/2 cup sauce to a small bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes to the pan along with the orzo, artichoke hearts and 6 tablespoons cheese. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among 4 plates.
  5. Slice the chicken. Top each portion of pasta with sliced chicken, 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining cheese.

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Saturday, 20 October 2012 06:30

Is Shopping Your Drug?

Some people love shopping and some people hate it. There is a certain kind of person that truly escapes from life by shopping. Acquiring and disposing of things is a part of daily life, but it is important to know when buying has become a self-injuring weapon.

When you focus more on material things than on life itself you might find yourself feeling empty and even depressed because material things are fickle friends. The pleasure of purchase is very short lived before you find yourself wanting more stuff. So much of society likes to message that your worth is wrapped up in what you have instead of what you are. Over providing for our children can develop distorted priorities with the line between needs and wants becoming very blurred.

Do you find yourself every time there is a family problem rushing out to buy something to smooth things over? Perhaps you use material things as a form of emotional blackmail to get your way. Maybe there are family issues that are in a cycle of being covered over by more 'stuff' when a good discussion would be far more valuable. The truth is shoes and purses do not resolve anxiety, fear or trauma.

For lots of women the lure of "I deserve this" or this is going to make me "better than" are magnetic in attraction. Impulsivity can be so strong that no thought to debt, need or logic can begin to compete.

For some shopping fixes a person can buy the same item over several times and not even be aware she has done that. Another must have the next present to send.

If you are not able to discuss money then you might have to take a monitor of your patterns. I have known some women who when they have tried to stop shopping for two weeks have had full blown withdrawals, panic attacks and numerous other physical illnesses as a result.

Struggles in life need to be addressed with thought and insight. It's a good idea to look at your own spending patterns. Keep a little notebook and everything you spend in a day note. Count how many transactions you make a day. Note if they were in person or online. You might be surprised that this might be your comforter.

If you measure yourself in 'stuff' you will start to feel like a bit of 'stuff'. Valueless and dispensable. Don't get caught in the vortex of unplanned shopping. It is very hard to get out.

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Friday, 19 October 2012 07:08

Take Time for Yourself

Oftentimes we look back to find that time simply escaped our notice when we should have taken the time to savor each moment. That is when we most need to draw our attention back to the present and focus on ourselves.

Extreme self-care is vital to our wellbeing. We can easily become so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget everything that we learned at Brookhaven. It is imperative that we take a moment, look at our lives and ask ourselves what we are doing to take care of ourselves.

There are only 24 hours in a day, but some of this time must be carved out to reconnect with our inner selves. We should take that time to take care of ourselves and ask ourselves how we are feeling. Ask yourself: are you happy? If your answer is no, figure out what changes you can make to change that. Perhaps a little extreme self-care is in order so that you can reconnect with yourself and your needs.

There is a saying that a happy mom makes for a happy house. That saying applies to everyone in every situation; if you are happy, you create happy surroundings.

So take a time-out to rediscover your needs. Find a place where you feel comfortable and safe, where you can reconnect with everything you have learned along the path to wellness. This can even be a place inside your home where you surround yourself with things that are precious to yourself and your recovery.

Perhaps you need a little extreme self-care. Take the time out for yourself, notice what you need and go for it.

Always remember that by taking care of your needs, you are taking care of those that you love.

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