#EverydayEmpathy


Wow! I’ve been a bad blogger. It’s been three months since my last post. Oops. My only excuse – all the fun I’m having in my fictional worlds and with the new job.

Speaking of the new job, one of the things I love about it is my chance to create new content. In particular, I’ve been part of a group that has created a campaign to teach and promote the development of empathy on school campuses. This campaign, fittingly called #EverydayEmpathy, builds on the work from the Start Empathy organization  and brings daily activities that promote the development of empathy.

I invite you to checkout the website for this campaign on the Collaborative Learning Solutions website. Maybe there are a few activities you’d like to try.

Tell the Truth Tuesday: Wherein I Get Real About Drowning


Well, here I am again, talking about drowning (or being in the weeds, etc). It is a well-known fact that I take on too much. There, I’ve admitted it. I have a hard time saying “no” to things. It isn’t that I don’t want to offend people; or that, like so many other bright individuals, I feel like I have to say yes all the time. No, for me it is a different set of issues all together. Two of them to be exact:

  1. I feel like I need to prove myself over and over – and saying “yes” somehow does that (I already know the fault in my thinking, trust me)
  2. I generally under-estimate my fatigue with some projects and resultant time delay on others.

It’s a never-ending cycle…

And one I hate.

There is nothing worse than feeling like I’ve let others down – or worse, let myself down over and over and over again.

So, I am getting real with myself and adjusting my expectations and goals.

For example – my original writing goal for 2014 was as follows:

  • NONFICTION – complete two nonfiction manuscripts and a nonfiction proposal
  • FICTION – complete and release three books and one short story

What the heck was I thinking??? Even looking at this all typed out is enough to give me a mini panic attack!

The revised goal is a tad more reasonable:

  • NONFICTION – Complete manuscript on contract (by July) and research for second NF manuscript under contract
  • FICTION – complete Collide for a summer release and complete a draft (minimum) of the first book in the Tempting Fate series
  • Additional writing – Update social media presence (over summer); blog schedule for fall 2014-summer 2015; release schedule for same time frame

See – much more reasonable. So much so, that I swear I feel a TON better.

I’ve revamped my other goals as well, putting an emphasis on both realistic  expectations for myself and giving myself permission to NOT be everything to everyone. It’s a small start on regain the balance since my mom died – but an important one!

What do you do when you get overwhelmed?

 

 

Got Inspiration?


Hi all –

It has been a crazy week. Short work weeks always are! I wanted to stop by to give a quick shout out to my new favorite YouTube channels, Mindvalley  and Awesomenessfest. If you are in need of inspiration, motivation, or just some awesomeness, check out there many videos – especially those from awesomenessfest. To show you what I mean, check out this great one from Lisa Nichols:

See – amazing! Subscribe to their channel to get even more great vids.

Confessions of a Teenage Beauty Queen


dreamstime_6634032I was hanging out on FB yesterday and stumbled across a great article from a father to his young daughter. In it, he redefines our cultural ideas of beauty. If you haven’t read it – CLICK HERE and read it. That post was so touching to me. Sure, it had a great message – one sorely needed at a time when so many girls are at risk, partially due to what our culture teaches them.

But that isn’t the only reason. This topic is highly personal to me.

I grew up without a father figure until I was in my early teens. By then, I had already developed body dsymorphia – I saw myself as an obese girl even though I was a normal weight for my size. There are a ton of reasons why the body image problems developed (and that’s for another post), but suffice it to say it was a huge issue for me. For years I facilitated between periods of anorexia and bouts of bulimia. I was a mess.

And no one knew.

I kept all of that hidden away from the rest of the world. My weight stayed somewhat constant. I was in beauty pageants, even won a few. I modeled and even went to NYC. My weird quirks were normal with models and beauty queens. We were all suffering body image problems. I never told anyone about my secret rituals around food. Never admitted how ill I was.

In college, my first time away, my gifted introverted self hit crisis mode. I saw a counselor for the first time. It was terrifying. And like any bright, scared, soon-to-be-adult, I ended counseling as soon as I felt “ok”.

For the next several years, I hit the depth of my body image issues until finally I couldn’t ignore the pain any longer, and I again sought help. I had a great therapist. I stopped  and purging. Stopped the anorexia.

At least for a while.

But, although I stopped behaving like an anorexic, I hadn’t fully healed the core of my body issues. And so I became an emotional eater, and a new issue with food (or maybe the same issue reborn) blossomed.

It has taken more years than I care to admit to become more comfortable with my body. I have only just started to allow pictures of me, only now refused to inhibit my speaking career related to my body issues. I am finally in a place of healing, acceptance. I’ve done the work on the core issues, replaced emotional eating with healthy eating and no longer engage in the rituals.

In short, I am finally happy with “who” I am now. I’ve learned that diminishing myself serves no one, least of all me. I’m not willing to hate myself in order to be liked by others, something I thought I had to do in my youth. I’m better. Stronger.

It has been a long and difficult road. I wish someone had noticed the turmoil I was in, wish a trusted adult had said the words the father in the above article said to his daughter. But I am grateful that I DID figure things out. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for being.

I am proud to say I have two amazingly strong daughters. They are healthy, fit, and not focused on cultural norms for beauty. They are self-confident and feel quite comfortable forging their own path. I would like to think I had something to do with it – who knows. Most of the time I am fairly certain they just came onto the planet with an amazing amount of resiliency and emotional intelligence. There are my example, my ideal.

Strong. Resilient. Intelligent.

I stand here now humbled and grateful – for the strength I’ve found, the life I have, and ability to give to our children the strength I once needed.

Whew – okay. There you go. Confessions of this victim of our cultural definition of beauty…

What confessions do you have to share?

The Art of Breathing


I find it both interesting and completely appropriate that the health difficulties I’ve had this year all relate to breathing. We all know breathing is essential to life. But it plays an even bigger role than we may realize. When we are scared or frustrated, our breathing style changes. Some of us may even hold our breath all together. When we are in awe or in love, our breathing changes yet again. For most of us, paying attention to our breath is a window to our emotions.

For me, I discovered with this rash of colds that I breathe too shallow most of the time. Since my colds all attached the upper respiratory areas, I decided to do a couple of things – one, look at what that region of the body could represent for me spiritually, and two, pay close attention to breathing from my diaphragm.

Let’s take the first one of these – the possible “meaning” of my breathing problems beyond the physical realities of my cold. Now, don’t take me wrong – I know my colds are rooted in my physical being, and I’ve taken measures to heal myself (Nothing like GREAT meds!). But I also believe strongly in mind-body-soul connections. And it was that aspect of this I wanted to explore.

Breathing has often been associated with fear – fear of life, feelings of being overwhelmed, etc. For me, this didn’t ring 100% true, at least not initially. But as I reflected on 2013 and what, if anything, had held me back, I had to admit that there were fears and blockages. Once I acknowledged these blockages, I got to work clearing them; letting them go and focusing on “being”. It has been a good journey thus far, and something I know I must continue to work on.

The second part of what I decided to look at is HOW I am actually breathing: am I taking little puffs of air most of the time, barely utilizing my lung capacity, or am I taking deep relaxed breaths from my diaphragm. As I looked at it, the short breaths (also consistent with “fear” responses) made up the majority of my breathing of late. Sure, the cold was part of the reason, but if i am being honest, I must admit it isn’t the only thing going on. Once I came clean on this fact, the coughing fits and moments of breathlessness I’ve been dealing with changed. No longer did I get more frustrated every time I had them, but I used them as warning signs that I was breathing too shallow. For the past week or so I’ve been making it a point to breathe deeper, slower; to focus on my relaxation. It is helping, along with my meds, and between them both, my breathing issues are improving very quickly.

Our breath – it is important in every way imaginable. Guess it’s time to really pay attention to it!

How is your breathing?

Going Green – Literally


Those of you who follow my Intense Life Facebook page know that part of my goals this year center around my health. As I mentioned on Monday, my passions involve around my post too! There are several reasons for this! First, both my grandmother and my mother died relatively young – my grandmother at 85 (cancer related), and my mom at 70 (also cancer related). My grandmother never practiced a healthy lifestyle. She was of the era that believed that women did not exercise. Furthermore, she drank and smoked to excess. My mother came to a healthy lifestyle later in life (around my age, actually). She smoked from her twenties until she was in her fifties and she hated to exercise. Otherwise, she was pretty healthy. She always ate a balanced diet, maintained a healthy weight, meditated daily or more, and regularly saw her health care providers. In the end, the smoking lead to her cancer (oral) and took her life prematurely.

Being healthy is something I have always strived to achieve. But, if I;m being completely honest with everyone, it is not something that was at the top of my list of things to become passionate about. Yes, I grew up exercising and eating right. I meditate daily, believe strongly in being physically active, and understand the need to a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle.

That said, I’ve had my struggles – especially with my weight. When I was an adolescent, my weight defined my  value in my head and an eating disorder was born. In my adulthood, food became a panacea for other issues. Biological issues came into play as I aged, and now obesity defines my current weight struggles.

Until this year.

That’s right – I have absolutely committed to reclaiming my healthy lifestyle – the one that exists in my head and heart, but has not made it in my everyday world. There are a million reasons why I am finally ready to do this, starting with living a longer life. This is literally about living for me. I am lucky right now – my heart is good, there is no diabetes or other obesity related things I need to panic about. But my blood pressure is creeping in the wrong direction, I have some issues around anemia and vitamin D deficiencies to deal with and I know I am setting up a lot of potential problems with the weight.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Part of my commitment to making healthy lifestyle choices/changes is a commitment to going “green” with my diet. By this I mean including more vegetables, drinking green smoothies daily and taking the time to make sure that what I am putting into my body will serve my body well.

I started this journey the way I start many things – with a quick web search for recipes that included kale, spinach, and other greens. Now, I have an adventurous palette, and I am willing to try most things. But, I wanted to start off the whole green smoothie thing will something that didn’t really taste, well, green!

Enter my new fav website – Simple Green Smoothies. This site has recipes, testimonials and more. AND, the best part – I’ve tried several of the recipes and they are good. BEYOND good! My picky eaters at home even love them.

In addition to going green, I am meditating more, exercising more, and stressing out less! Yep, 2014 is all about LIVING GENTLY!

What are you doing this year?

An Article in Justine Magazine…and some other stuff.


I am so excited to tell you about a new article I’ve written for Justine Magazine, an amazing magazine for Teen girls. The article is about toxic relationships. Check out a little preview here:

JustMagDigital DJ 2014 p37

The article focuses on the typical toxic friendships that teen girls wind up in, as well as strategies for detangling yourself from these situations. The article layout GREAT and I am just thrilled!!!

Some additional content for teen girls that focuses on digital media and living healthy can be found on the BOP/Tiger Beat website. As a previous reader of Tiger Beat – this thrills me!

I have some new content coming out soon for the Johnson & Johnson Parents Blog related to giftedness (so excited to be returning to a focus on this population) and I will be sure to let you know. Also – HUGE book news coming…

Soon!

Until then, have a great weekend!

Taunting and Teasing – When Is It Bullying?


Teasing is common during childhood. Very common. But, at what point does teasing turn into taunting? Or as kids turn into adolescents, flirting turn into sexual bullying?

In this post, I will try to ferret out the differences and help you educate yourselves and your children on the differences.

Teasing, like I said, is a normal part of life. It is not meant to hurt, involves an even exchange between two or more people,and  is meant to generate laughter. It is a type of verbal sparing that is innocent in nature and typically discontinued when one of the people involved shows any amount of discomfort with the teasing.

More than anything else, it is playful, good-natured “ribbing”.

Taunting, however,  is something quite different.

Taunting is a typical way in which a bully “attacks” their victim. It has one purpose – to hurt the “victim”. It is one-sided, sinister, and meant to diminish the other person. Taunting typically increases when the “victim” becomes upset.

There is no playfulness in taunting – and no way to “misconstrue” the intent.

Taunting is something a bully does!

As children become adolescents, teasing between girls and boys can change to flirting. And sometimes, with a bully, so-called flirting is really sexual bullying. So how can you tell the difference?

Like teasing, flirting is normal. It is meant to be fun, playful and complimentary. Both parties should feel comfortable with the flirting, and when someone doesn’t, it is to be discontinued.

Sexual bullying takes flirting into the realm of harm and control. There is an imbalance of power in a sexual bullying exchange. This behavior violates boundaries, is degrading, and is intended to elicit fear. Like taunting, it makes the victim feel degraded and is typically continued and intensifies when the “victim” shows discomfort.

It is bullying.

Hopefully, this clears up the differences. It is really important that both kids and adults learn the differences in order to learn to speak out against some of the more subtle forms of bullying.

 

Balance Among the Extreme


As you all know, this blog is all about living with intensity. But what exactly does that mean? Well, for many of us creative or gifted types, being intense is second nature. We feel passionately about the world, interact with life with a level of intensity that is often misunderstood, and are often playing ping-pong with our intensities. In short, we paint the world in “bolds” while the rest of the world dabbles in pastels (thanks Nisa for that phrase – I still LOVE it).

I will talk more about the meaning of being intense in future posts. Today I thought I’d talk briefly about balance. When one lives intensely, one is prone to periods of emotional upheaval and unrest. This happens when there is a lack of balance in life. Maybe day-to-day expectations and demands begin to overwhelm you. Or maybe you’ve had too much on your plate so healthy practices of balanced food, exercise and sleep haven’t happen. Lack of balance can send intensities into high gear, so it’s important to make sure to regain balance as quickly as possible. Here are a few tips for maintaining your balance at the craziest of times:

  1. Set Priorities – Most intense people say “yes” to far too many things. Learn to set clear priorities and work on completing things one step at a time. When setting that priority list, make sure you are keeping your needs high on the list!
  2. Focus on healthy lifestyle practices – It is easy to let go of your healthy habits when you are overwhelmed. But this is the exact thing NOT to do. In fact, this is when those healthy practices are the MOST important. Make time to eat healthy and get quality sleep.
  3. Manage your Stress – Stress is a killer. Literally. Managing your stress response will help you maintain your balance and roll with life’s punches. Take time to learn the most basic aspects of your stress response. Learn also to manage your stress BEFORE it becomes a problem for you.
  4. When in Doubt, Take a Break – Nothing can get you into balance faster than taking a break from things. Take a day off and spend a few hours in silence. Walk on the beach, go to the mountains. Anything to quiet the noise in your thoughts and allow you to regain your equilibrium.

These simple tips can go a LONG way to balancing your intensities when they take on a life of their own! What do you think? What works for you when you need to achieve a little balance in the chaos?

Honesty Starts at Home


adventureSo Tuesday’s are “Healthy Habits” days around an Intense Life.  And what better way to start, then by being completely honest and open about my not-so-healthy habits.

I often teach families the value of adequate sleep, exercise, balanced living and healthy eating. It is the cornerstone of authenticity for me. And yet, when I examine my own life I have to admit that I am far from practicing what I preach.

Healthy habits are always the first thing that falls away when my stress levels get out of control.  And man, over the past few years the stress was nonstop and the balance, the commitment to healthy living was…well…absent.

This caused a lot of shame in me, if I’m being totally honest. I mean what right did I have to tell others to live a balanced life when I was allowing my weight to spiral into very unhealthy levels, or allowing my stress to dominate my moods and keep me from achieving the authenticity and purpose I was looking for.

In Feb, 2013, I started coming clean about the problem. I made changes that I hoped would help. And it did in, sort of. Making some important life changes and coming clean with myself about some unhealthy patterns set the scene for what will now be a true commitment to healthy living.

Starting with this post and the start of a new Facebook page, An Intense Life, dedicated to living authentically, I am in full commitment and action mode. I am using this platform to get myself back into shape physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

And I am hoping you will join me.

Step 1:  Follow this blog and “Like” my Facebook page, An Intense Life.

Step 2: Starting this Friday, I will be asking all of you to commit to ridding yourself of whatever it is that is holding you back from living your best life. For some, like me, that may be your physical lifestyle choices. For others it may involve ridding yourself of toxic relationships or increasing your faith. Whatever it is, I want you to take the time between now and Friday to figure out what you want to focus on and make a few goals.

On Friday, come back here or on Facebook, and take the pledge to be the authentic you. 

Through the power of community we can all help each other be the person we are destined to be – whatever that is. We can cheer each other on, support each other when it gets hard, and challenge each to do more.

For me, I am focusing on getting back into shape. Yes, this will involve a renewed commitment to healthy eating, exercise, and meditation – the three things that keep me in shape. I’ll share my progress, good or bad, and the things that are working for me.

My hope, is that you’ll join me and take the pledge on Friday.

Who’s ready?