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

Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Thursday, 26 April 2012 00:40

Menopause, Transition & Change

A child's departure from a family often unleashes seriously depressed feelings where the sadness may feel paralyzing. Tears and crying become part of the daily ritual, perhaps with many hours spent sitting in the child's bedroom. The transition to an empty nest family is not welcome and somehow was never prepared for. The notion of purposeless nobodyness is a new, very depressing phenomena of the identity you may now own.

As if this is not heartbreaking enough, the end of an era, a life, as you have known it, the only career you wanted; the body decides to transition to menopause. Hot flashes, sleeplessness, anger, discomfort, your own body has become unpredictable with moods up then down. Happily long-term married couples suddenly find themselves in the throws of divorce because they cannot cope with the health issues or too much togetherness.

Developing a flexible mindset that is open to positive change is like enjoying a new and beautiful garden you have never been to before. Our lives are like gardens and it can be very wonderful to have new plantings, pruning back some of the old and experimenting with some of the new.

The soil I have now is not the same as some I have gardened in the past, so I cannot grow some of the things I once did. I have learned to grow some wonderful new things like okra. At first, I thought I wouldn't like the flavor, but then one day I decided to be open-minded and cooked it as I would zucchini. I found l loved okra when stewed with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. I never knew the variety of gourds, squashes, and pumpkins. They make my favorite soups and maple roasts. These new finds have become as soothing to me as beautiful poetry.

Longing for the past and prejudging the future leaves you blinkered, limited, and emotionally disabled. Embrace the mood of change as you would a new baby. Care for it, nurture it, and grow it. A positive open mind leads to a positive heart that can give and receive love. The last third of your life will be spent post-menopause. Make that third as good as the first third.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 21:01

Being Found or Staying Lost Causes Women Stress

Often we really do not have many choices when everything is completely paired down. Sometimes all the noise, fanfare, chaos, and brouhaha disguises and distracts us from what actually might turn out to be a simple choice. It is stressful when we cannot see the wood for the trees. Yet both stress and anxiety can be greatly diminished, if we can take a step back and ask ourselves what is it we really have to do to move forward.

The feeling of ongoing lostness stimulates low moods that allow us to put off. How often to move forward we have to do the very thing we least want to do. There ultimately is no escape or denial. You either stay lost and self-isolate from the human race or you choose to try to move forward positively and intentionally.

Each woman had her own interior beauty and can learn to shine. There is no benefit in being made to feel physically gorgeous yet mentally pathetic. True beauty is not feeling lost inside. Good emotional health is not a Shangri-La somewhere on the elusive horizon but is using the right tools within your reach. It does take effort to feel self-comfort and be found. It also relieves much anxiety and stress that comes with not being comfortable in your own skin. Life can be a bowl of cherries.

Cherry Crumble Cake

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits and we will be coming into cherry season soon.
Make a simple choice to make a cherry crumble cake.

This can be served hot or cold. I like it with ice cream.

Cherry Cake

  • 200g butter, at room temperature
  • 325g castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
  • 3 large eggs
  • 325g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 300g pitted cherries (any cherries)
  • Sugar for sprinkling


  • 100g cold butter
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 150g plain flour
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 C (347 F). Grease a 30cm (12”) x 22cm (9") tray and line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Whisk the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs, one by one, and mix well until fully incorporated.
  4. Combine the flour and baking powder and gently fold into mixture. Do not over mix.
  5. Add the milk and stir until combined.
  6. Pour into the prepared tray, layer the cherries on top, and sprinkle with sugar until evenly covered.
  7. For the crumble: Combine the butter, sugar, and flour in a bowl; crumbling together with your hands. Sprinkle on top of the cherries.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 20 April 2012 04:54

To Inspire A Generation

The 18th of April marked the 100-day countdown to the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games.

The mood in London was confidently buoyant. I have to say when I saw some of the images of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, I felt a bit of a longing to be there to see all the glorious spring blooms. Those magnificent greenhouse conservatories are the keepers of many rare species of plants. That in itself is a place of moods and visions that make you want more.

The theme that has been chosen for this year’s Olympics is 'to inspire a generation.' Seeing anybody perform at his or her best is an inspiration for the rest of the world. The 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic contenders are people of perseverance, determination, and focus. They all had a goal of being ready to enter the games. Their effort, sacrifice, and discipline are worthy of respect. Even with extensive preparation, diligent training, and groomed anticipation, there will be intense anxiety.

To complete many things it takes endurance. You have to keep working at things and practicing them to become good. Time and tide can sometimes feel against you, but keeping the mood buoyant is part of the mindset to be positive. Sometimes it is not to always win, but to finish what you started. To complete the race or fulfill what you start. To follow through to the end.

Those completing an event are often given garlands to wear on their heads at the end of the race. The wreaths are weaved from different plants. Many like to have a conservation message in their garland. I like to think what my conservation message would be to myself. What are your native qualities and how would you assist them to survive and thrive?

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Thursday, 19 April 2012 01:34

Soo Sensitive

When someone says to you, "you're just too sensitive" to anything and everything, it sounds like such a judgmental verdict. Perhaps I am more sensitive, but to be sensitive is a great gift because it means you are very aware of things around you and your emotions become touched by many things. Sensitivity has a great effect on mood as it can make you full of passion or stubbornly depressed.

I have seen a few women become overwhelmed by their gut feelings, sixth sense, or butterflies in the tummy. Suddenly their anxiety causes overreactions to any type of negative feedback of what they are feeling or thinking.

There are many awarenesses a sensitive woman can have that can make her life very extraordinary. You cannot normally change a sensitive nature, as it is hardwired in you. You can learn not to be too reactive and laughing is one of the best medicines to bring about a mood shift. I usually go on YouTube and watch 'Charlie Bit My Finger' as it always makes me laugh. I am always glad I have never had to take the attack of Simon Cowell’s tongue.

If you have seen a change in yourself from a normally reasonably tough-skinned woman to a very thin-skinned person, there might be more than a sensitive reaction. Often a life change or trauma can cause a person to become very thin-skinned and tenderly sensitive to almost anything and everything. Take time to heal and practice self-kindness as things pass and your experiences may turn out to be your best friends.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 03:44

I Couldn’t Graduate

For many women, gaining a good education has been an important part of their career path. It is a wonderful thing to see a close group of childhood girlfriends play at the beach. To enjoy that innocent simplicity and plan their dreams together. What will you be when you grow up? The lighthearted happy moods so far unaffected by any drama, trauma, or tragedy.

It is so wonderful if you have high school friends that you are able to have fun with and feel that your life is just beginning. They actually say now that college is the new high school. There are so many women planning for a college education, not knowing where life will take them, but wanting to be equipped for many fun-filled opportunities. There may be some manic panic times throughout the years at college, but the goal is always to graduate.

Sometimes things do not work out quite as planned. A broken relationship, a forced sexual encounter, struggles with concentrations or moods can send a young woman into a total tailspin. The spinning can be so great that the chances of such a woman being able to complete all the tasks needed to graduate begin to evaporate. The very thought of not completing the tasks and graduating can feel like the worst thing that has ever happened or can happen. The ability to concentrate and cope feels like they are slipping away.

Emotional nakedness leaves you feeling exposed with no place to go. The thinking starts to race and becomes distorted until some women have to find a way to close down, as they cannot think about events anymore. The mood becomes depressed and often isolated.

Taking time for you is the greatest education of all. Damage can and will be repaired if you take the time to self-care. You have to learn to manage the mood or the mood will manage you. It is valuable to have good health is all four areas: mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Graduation might have to be for another day. Protecting your heart is for today.


Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 05:00

Gilding of The Lily

Lilies are my favorite flowers. The extraordinary water lily and its powerful journey to bloom. The daylily and its in the moment beauty. A lily cannot be painted to be more beautiful. It is a stand-alone prize.

The Lily of the Valley will be blooming soon. I look forward to this every year. All the little bells are so delicate and charming. They remind me that it is all the many blooms that make one sprig of this plant so endearing. The innocence is unmistakable and takes me back to a childhood time when everything was simple. As a child I saw things in simple ways and had simple needs.

Each year I order these lovely flowers towards the beginning of May so I can have a bouquet in a vase to look at each day. I call them my DBT flowers. Each of the flower-like bells represents one of the self-soothing tools a person learns from DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy). Practicing ringing those bells helps you to keep your life emotionally uncomplicated, the mood calm, and the vision hopeful.

I am told that Guerlain releases an annual limited edition perfume called Muguet (the French word for the bell-shaped bloom). This is available from May 1st until it sells out. Each year the notes vary just slightly and the bottles are redesigned. A very special treat I am sure (found at Bergdorf Goodman). This unique precious eau is very much sought after.

Emotional uniqueness is as beautiful and rare as Muguet. I believe our own emotional uniqueness has to be found to achieve a signature centered mood. No gilding necessary.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 04:15

Equine Therapy with Tennessee Walkers

Did you know that four beautiful, palomino Tennessee Walkers reside at Brookhaven Retreat? They are Candy, Izzy, Cairo & Honey Comb.

These wonderfully skilled mares are natural to the setting of Brookhaven Retreat and the ladies love to interrelate with them during equine therapy. It is quite an amazing experience to have a gentle Tennessee Walking horse come alongside you to share a stroll through the rolling green pastures and follow the signs taught during therapy. At first glance it is hard to tell the difference between them, but following a brief introduction you will quickly recognize the individuality of each horse.

By nature, all of the horses are curious and keep up with what the other is doing, but they all follow the leadership of Candy before investigating anything interesting and new. Candy is not recognized by markings and is not taller or bigger than the others. However, she is not afraid to lead and the other horses unanimously look to her first. Second in terms of leadership is Izzy, who has a knack for building confidence in the ladies during equine therapy. Izzy presents herself eager and happy when responding to signals and can be easily distinguished by the pink spot on the end of her nose. Number three in the chain is Cairo, having the longest shiny mane. She, also, is a confidence builder and will playfully recline when you point to her leg.

Honey Comb is the most golden and the tallest of the four horses. She is a bit of a loner, however, that does not mean she likes to be alone. No, she always wants the other horses in her sight. Many of the alumni identify with Honey Comb and learn a lot about themselves by watching her during their stay at Brookhaven Retreat. The relationship that naturally exists between these four golden Tennessee Walkers is a meaningful reflection of the lasting friendships built here at Brookhaven Retreat everyday.

All of the horses are cousins and were purchased at the same time from an excellent local breeder when they were very young. They were brought to Brookhaven Retreat in 2006. They have never been ridden but have been developed for on the ground therapy.

In therapy, the horse reflects the mood of the person they are working with and are able to mimic the feelings. For some women, the horses are able to help them to communicate by the way they react to the person’s body language and behavior. The interaction can speak louder than words and for some that are depressed the 'horse speak' allows their emotions to be touched in a way that creates trust for self.

Equine therapy is not just for horse lovers. It is provided for anybody that feels totally stuck. Some women with PTSD or those who suffer from anxiety find this type of therapy extremely helpful.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 15 April 2012 21:19

Do you have an emotional safety belt?

All of us want to have a kindred spirit and hear those words, "I love you forever." Having even one good friend who will cheer for you, fight for you and stand by you is one of the greatest relationships a person can possess. It makes your mood as bright and strong as the rising sun to just know you have someone.

I used to walk the early morning sunrise with my dear friend Elaine. Throughout the trauma of losing my daughter, my friend Elaine faithfully tried to do everything she could to help me. In the empty aftermath of feeling nothing, Elaine never gave up on me and willed that my depression would lift. I will never forget her unfailing support and loyalty and the value of a true friend.

I came to understand that I would have to learn how to take care of my own feathers, as I would not be able to fly in the skies of life unless these were in working order. I learned that coping tools were not something that you automatically knew about, but they could be acquired. Living skills have to be chiseled out to meet the new circumstances.

As I walked those shores I would see the starfish in the water. Starfish usually have arms that reach out. It gives beauty and balance. The five arms made me feel that I would need to try to find five kindred spirits. I knew I would not be able to manage another great life changing event without a good support system. A support system is like an emotional safety belt that you should never drive through life without. Your mood and confidence will be so much greater knowing you have support.

The popular "Embrace Life" commercial is a touching illustration of this concept. If you haven't seen it, you really should watch it. Click here to see it on YouTube.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Saturday, 14 April 2012 19:51

Recipe: Heirloom Watermelon Salad


  • 3 lb (small) sweet ripe seedless watermelon
  • 1 lb mixed colored heirloom tomatoes (yellow, purple, orange) cut in 8 chunks each or little grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced in ring halves
  • 1 lime
  • Black pepper
  • Balsamic drizzle (My favorite balsamic can be purchased from Fairways in Brooklyn NY)


  • Squeeze juice out of the lime and put into small bowl.
  • Peel and cut the red onion in half, then slice into very fine half moons and steep in the juice.
  • Cut up watermelon into bite sized chunks and place in a wide shallow serving dish.
  • Wash and cut up tomatoes and add to the watermelon.
  • Finely chop mint and cilantro, add to the salad.
  • Add onions and the lime juice to the salad, tossing gently.
  • Grind a little black pepper.
  • Drizzle over-aged balsamic vinegar.

Enjoy all summer long.


Published in Brookhaven Blog
Saturday, 14 April 2012 15:17

Secrets and Lies Keep Women Sick

Living authentically can feel elusive to so many women. It's not that we don’t want it; we somehow cannot find what our own true authenticity is.

This constant searching, but never finding, is often a generator of second-guessing. Over processing your thinking often bleeds the mood down to a depression that cannot be pointed to an event or PTSD. It is there, constantly gnawing away.

To become successful at living, find what you feel you need. To be settled and centered takes true self-introspection. Women who feel authentic have self-belief, confidence, and self-esteem. This is true empowerment.

There is a price for owning these authentic mood-stabilizing qualities. It is the ability to look at truth, your truth.

Where do all our stories begin? Usually very early on in life. Our stories often start with an event that feels either shameful or guilt generating and a 'little lie' has to be told to keep it hidden. These do not have to be major traumas or life changing events. The lie that was created to keep the first secret usually leads to another one covering the first. The creation of more shame, guilt, and misplaced loyalty has started and before you know it, as a child, you are living the 'lie cycle'.

When lies become more comfortable than truth, it is not possible to be content living in your own skin. Usually survival mode kicks in and you use escape tools to get away from the counterfeit woman you have become. You must commence the hunt for the authentic if you want to be free from emotional shackles. Explore your own labyrinth of secrets and lies. Find the first one from times long past and understand the secrets were not so bad, the lie is no longer needed and they are past.

Don't expect if you don't inspect.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
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