15 Reasons to (re) Define Hope and Despair

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Hope and Despair

hope verb \ˈhōp\:

to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.

There is no room for cynicism where there is hope. Hope is a brave stance that requires faith in the unseen.

At Potentia, I witness this kind of hope in action daily. I see people discover their agency to heal their relationship with God, their story, their body, their relationships with others.

I see despair, struggle, defeat and deep disappointment, too. In these times, hope is subversive and supports resilience to life’s pain.

My understanding of the relationship between hope and despair shifted after a workshop Potentia hosted last summer for all of the Southern California members of The Daring Way.

Robert Hilliker, LCSW, LCDC, CDWF-C led a rich presentation and discussion loaded with powerful insights on hope and despair.

Inspired by this week’s advent focus on hope along with Robert’s workshop, the following are 15 reasons to (re) define how you think about hope and despair:

1. Get clear on these hope myths:
  • Hope cannot exist with despair. (See #11)
  • Hope is wishful thinking. (See #4)
  • Hope is just a cognitive construct. (See #5)
  • You can do hope alone. (See #10)
2. Hope is sharing our story with those who have earned the right to hear it. Hope empowers us to own all of our story and not just the parts we deem worthy.
3. Hope is a key element in creating change. Without hope, change is unlikely.
4. Hope is not the same as wishing, which is a fantasy and an ideal. Hope is dealing with the practical aspects of living.
5. Optimism is purely a cognitive construct. Hope is a cognitive construct and a relational function. Hope is a mind and heart approach.
6. Hope is active, not passive.
7. Robert challenged us to think about offering people we work with reasonable hope. He defined reasonable hope:
  • as relational
  • as a life-long practice
  • as a way to maintain the future is open, uncertain and can be influenced
  • as having the ability to accommodate doubt and despair
  • as a means to seek goals and pathways to those goals
Additional considerations for practicing reasonable hope: believe that making small advances in service of a greater goal are not trivial.
 8. Robert reminded us we need to be brokers of hope. We lend hope with the hope that our clients will eventually internalize it on their own. I think anyone on the fronts lines with someone struggling can be a broker of hope.
 When we dare to show up with anyone hurting, we do not just talk about hope but we do hope. Hope becomes a verb instead of a noun.
9. Robert challenged us to not miss the here and now when we are with people who are struggling. Sometimes in our attempts to “make sense” of a client’s story we miss the hope in the now.
Anxiety has a way of trumping our ability to stay present with those hurting in our presence. Often our blind spots from our own untreated wounds impact our ability to stay in the moment, too. The super power of hope can simply be sharing space with the hurt – in the moment.
10. I love this one: When you are with someone who says they have lost hope, ask them, “Where did hope go?” Often a powerful and meaningful story will unfold. When you share story, the loneliness of despair is transformed by the collective power of the fact that we are in this life together.
11. Hope and despair can share the same space. In fact, it is important to recognize the importance of and respect both. Often, we just want to focus only on the possibilities hope offers but we do a disservice to the story of struggle if we do not honor despair, too.
12. Challenge the flawed narrative that in order to do great things we have to be perfect. To quote Glennon Melton, life is brutifal (a fusion of brutal and beautiful). This is not about letting go of healthy striving but choosing flexibility instead of rigidity. Finding good enough is indeed great and realizing the ordinary is indeed extraordinary.
13. The opposite of scarcity is not abundance but enough. We live in a scarcity culture that challenges our worthiness and relentlessly fuels shame. Part of a sustained shame resilience practice also incorporates a hope practice.
14. In order to grasp the concept of hope we have to trust that pain and despair hold the key to growth. Resilience is not about never feeling the pain of despair but responding in ways that do not harm self or others we do experience struggle. All stories have themes of resilience and hope. Sometimes, you may need some help cleaning the lens on your life to see this perspective.
15. Never underestimate the power of agape love – soul connection – and respecting your profoundly human story. Deep-soul work that addresses the distressing life events knocks down the barriers to leaning into agape love.

Along with the Potentia team, I am honored to be a broker of hope when life is brutifal.

I am curious how you desire to be a broker of hope this Christmas season?

What do you think about pain and despair being the key to growth?

Cheering you on –

Rebecca

 

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How is Your Sleep Hygiene?

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Note from Rebecca: Just days before Day Light Savings ends, we thought it would be good to address one of the most important tenants of health: our sleep hygiene. We are a tired nation with a high threshold for pushing through our exhaustion. But not meeting our sleep needs while trying to maintain a high level of function in all areas of our life is unsustainable over the long term. Making a commitment to change or start a new sleep hygiene habit can shift your trajectory of health and wellness for the better. Thank you, Megan, for sharing your wisdom!

———–

Humans sleep approximately 1/3 of their lives away, which equates to 27 years of life for an 82 year old.

Proper sleep has been proven to enhance mood and immune function, IQ, concentration and memory.

It also reduces risk of a long list of ailments and accidents: Heart disease, depression, obesity, diabetes, substance abuse, suicide and car accidents.

But 80% of people will have some sleep disorder during their lifetime, and persons with lower socioeconomic status are particularly disadvantaged. This makes sense as nutrition, exercise and stress all effect quality of sleep (all of which are compromised in individuals of lower SES).

So how much sleep do we need?

Everyone differs in terms of their ideal range, but 7-8 hours is a good general range. Individuals sleeping less than 5 hours/night carry a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and all-cause mortality (death).

Among the 5 stages of sleep, adequate time in REM (dream) stage is most crucial for mental tasks and memory function.

What can you do to protect your sleep?

Actions that are helpful include:

  • Having exposure to daylight/sunlight during waking hours
  • Regular exercise (promotes REM sleep)
  • Keeping room temperature cooler
  • Using the bed only for sleep and sex
  • Having a ‘wind down’ routine that may include caffeine free teas, a warm bath or a TV show

On the other hand, the following tend to interrupt sleep:

  • Nicotine
  • Caffeine
  • Sharing the bed with partners that toss, turn or snore
  • Stimulating the brain prior to bed (with reading material, work, intense/mysterious or thought provoking TV shows)
  • Alcohol (even one drink before bed for some individuals will do it, and this is especially true for females, who lose more sleep from drinking alcohol than men)
  • Perspiring/overheating
  • Having large meals within 2-3 hours of bed time (a small snack is fine)
  • Excess weight can also be associated with sleep deprivation. Not only are cortisol levels typically higher in obese persons, but the extra weight can result in snoring and sleep apnea.

For those of you more concerned about the cosmetic consequences of sleep deprivation, here are a few additional reasons to prioritize your beauty rest and improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Puffiness under the eyes, due to fluid and sodium retention
  • Skin wrinkling, as the balance between cortisol (promotes wrinkles/aging of skin) and growth hormone (protective/regenerative) is disrupted
  • Acne, also due to the increase in cortisol production
  • Reddening of eyes and dark under eye circles due to dilation of the blood vessels

How is your sleep hygiene practice?

What one change are you going to focus on to improve your sleep hygiene?

In good health –

Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD

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Stretch + Breathe Workshop Series

Kelly Schauermann is kicking of the first workshop series in Potentia’s new space on Saturday, November 1, 2014.

Register soon and save your space for this affordable workshop series – only $60 for all four weeks!

Contact Kelly at kelly@potentiatherapy.com with any questions.

Make a commitment to yourself and carve out some time to care for your mind, body and soul this holiday season.

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Are you in? Fat Talk Free Week 2014

Your voice is powerful.
I really appreciate the leadership of Delta Delta Delta and their vision for Fat Talk Free Week.

This year’s Fat Talk Free Week kicks off tomorrow and runs through Friday, October 20th.

I value taking a week – with the hope it will extend longer – to intentionally redirect fat talk in our heads, with our friends or about others to more honest, life-giving, respectful dialogue.

We all need a break from the “I am so___”, “If only I were___”, “I hate my _____”, “I am not ______ enough” conversation.

Scarcity culture is exhausting. (Click to Tweet)

Bullying others or ourselves with fat talk only fuels deeper pain and fat talk represents attempts to manage the parts of our story triggered by pain, fear, loneliness, anxiety and more.

Which is why taking a break from the fat talk is important. Even more important is to get to the heart of the meaning of our fat talk by talking about our hurts in a constructive manner – with the right person at the right time.

Taking a break from fat talk does not mean stuffing your pain.

Early in my training in the treatment of eating disorders and trauma, I was told “fat” is not a feeling. Over a decade of treating men and women taught me differently – that it is often a fight to have a positive relationship with their body and their reflection in the mirror. They also taught me how the quick fix pressure to “just love their body” often backfired because they felt so ashamed for not loving, let alone liking, the body they have been given.

So, yes, stopping the fat talk is needed. Desperately. But we cannot stop there.

We still need to talk about how we are feeling and develop a better way to tolerate struggle and negative emotion. Distressing life events, brain chemistry imbalances, family of origin, temperament all can alter our trust in ourselves, our bodies and others.

When we are feeling out of control – focusing on our bodies or comparing ourselves to others is a common default. Turning on ourselves or others with biting, judgy, harsh words only fuels more biting, judgey, harsh words.

At the heart of fat talk is a lot of hurt and insecurity which needs to be voiced and given some air time. Our struggle feeling comfortable in our skin along with our desire to feel connected is real. Fat talk is an attempt way to hot wire connection or appease our inner critic.

What we really are searching for is to know if we are ok, we are loved, we belong. When there is doubt about our worthiness, we often look to others to approve or disapprove of our worth. We all struggle with this dance. Belonging and connection are innate desires.

And for those with faith, I see this matter of worthiness dig even deeper as they feel like they are the exceptions to God’s wild and radical love and grace.

It is a constant recalibration to stop externalizing our worth to others and redirect our worth to the One and those who truly matter.

Fat Talk Free Week is not just about semantics or becoming the word police. It is a chance to listen to your heart and see where you are feeling convicted for operating outside of your authenticity.

When fat talk surfaces, it is an opportunity – and a risk – to change the conversation.

Words are powerful. Your voice matters. Choose wisely.

Cheering you on –

Rebecca

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You are invited! Potentia Celebration + Open House

I know there is never a lack of events, meetings, parties and kid activities to add to your calender but I am hoping those of you in the San Diego area can squeeze in some time to drop by our Celebration and Open House next Friday, October 24th between 4-8PM.

It will be a great time to not only see the new workshop/play therapy space and meet the new Potentia therapists but also to connect with other friends and colleagues from the community.

Great food – including a pumpkin “everything” spread – and  a chance to win some fun raffle prizes are added bonuses for stopping by our gathering.

Please register if you can attend so we can plan accordingly.

With gratitude –

Rebecca

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5 Surprising Ways to Love Your Partner

Note from Rebecca: I am thrilled to introduce you to Brian Reiswig, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. I first met Brian when he was a graduate student of mine last spring. His big heart, sharp mind, wisdom and calming presence inspired me to invite him to join the Potentia clinical team and I am so grateful he agreed to join us! He is digging deep in his training and supervision as he develops his clinical expertise to support couples, men with compulsive behaviors, trauma/EMDR and those struggling with food and body issues. I am excited so many will have a chance to learn from him via this blog in addition to his clinical work at Potentia. Welcome, Brian!
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I recently attended a training event for couples therapists from one of the true masters in the field, John Gottman. Known for his straight-forward and practical insight about why marriages suffer and tools for making your marriage great, he’s been a pioneer in the field for more than 40 years. I showed up expecting to learn some new and powerful ways of helping couples get past pain and disconnection and nurture a loving bond. What I didn’t expect was how much his 40 years of research has revealed some insights that are counter-intuitive to what I intuitively thought what made a good marriage. Here are 5 insights from the training that will probably surprise you and will definitely help you foster a deeper, happier connection with your spouse.
 
1. The heart wants connection but the brain gets in the way.

One thing that Gottman did in his research, that most researchers don’t, is he studied what was going on inside the body during conflict not just what was going on between the couple. What he discovered was that the physiology of the brain changes drastically during high stress conflict. When we get into a fight with our loved one, our heart rate speeds up. When it crosses the 100 beats per minute line, we go into a “diffuse physiological state” and our whole body changes gears. To make things worse, our bodies start secreting adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) which send the message to our brains that we are in imminent danger. So, when a conversation about dirty dishes with our partner starts to get tense, the fight or flight response is triggered. The part of our brain where we listen and problem solve shuts down – right when we need it most.

Helpful tip: When you notice yourself getting upset, don’t wait to take a time out. Tell your partner you need some time to calm down, you love him/her, you really want to hear their point of view and be able to take responsibility for yours. Then set a time limit on this break – less than 24 hours. This break isn’t a strategy for abandonment, but one for closeness. Then go practice a calming skill and take a break from thinking about the problem. If you keep thinking about the problem you actually keep your brain in an escalated state.

2. Solving all your problems won’t solve all your problems.

Another counter-intuitive discovery that Gottman made in his research is that conflicts are not resolved by solving problems. Gottman observed that over time, the majority of conflicts in a marriage (about 69%) are never “solved.” Ever. So, for example, the conversation you avoid every year about whose family to visit for Christmas probably isn’t going away. Most couples never finds a solution that puts their big issues to rest permanently. There can be ominous sense of impending doom that comes with unsolved problems between you and your beloved. The difference between the happy marriages and the unhappy ones is that the happier couples make peace with having some issues unresolved and continuing to work through them.

Helpful Tip: Remember that all marriages struggle with unresolved conflict. When you and your partner can’t find a comfortable middle ground to a longstanding conflict, the struggle can grow and grow until if feels like the relationship hangs in the balance. Unsolved problems have a way of feeling like a bad omen, foretelling the demise of your union… unless you remember that all couples have unanswered problems. Just knowing that this kind of struggle is normal takes the emotional charge out of the problem and allows couples to approach their problems from a not-so-catastrophic point of view.

3. Conflict isn
’t the problem.
The day after I proposed to my wife, Sarah, we took a 7 hour road trip to visit family and celebrate the engagement. On that road trip I had a very specific itinerary that we would take advantage of the face time and discuss our vision for our married life together. One of the goals that I had for our marriage, which I had gleamed from endless hours reading self-help books and listening to inspiring speakers, was to never fight. And yes, I was serious. I’ll never forget her face when I explained my expectations, like she was looking at a little boy who wanted to be superman when he grew up. She smiled and gently said, “That’s sweet, but I think we’re probably going to fight sometimes.”  If you just read my reflections on my engagement story and thought my marriage vision was a bit ridiculous – congratulations! You’re way ahead of where I was back then. But it illustrates a myth that I think many buy into and that the idea of conflict is inherently bad.

Helpful Tip:
At it’s core, conflict is healthy. Conflict means you’ve discovered a part of your partner that you don’t yet understand. Conflict is an opportunity for new depths of intimacy. Conflict is an opportunity to know your partner better. But you can get derailed when you bump into those opportunities and mistake them for threats. According to Gottman, conflict is all about listening. Instead of listening to understand, many often speak to be understood or to prove a point. Some just speak to shut down their partner. It is an absolute game-changer if  – in the moment  you realize have entered into the misunderstanding zone – you can remind yourself that all you have to do in this moment is listen. The understanding that comes with listening will ease the tension, even if you do not find a solution to the “problem.” 

4. Friendship is more important than love
As it turns out, the Beatles were wrong. Love is not all you need. If fact, its not even the most important thing you need. Many ask me what could be more important than love for a happy marriage. The answer is friendship. If love is the strength of your commitment to your spouse, than friendship is the strength of your connection. There are a whole lot of people that I love, who I have no interest in spending time with, no sense of safety in sharing my heart with and no special inside culture that is just our own. There are people in my family who I love but I am not really friends with. On the other hand, within my sacred group of people I consider my dear friends, there is no one I do not love. Friendship is the substance of healthy intimacy.

Helpful Tip:
Gottman has discovered that the average U.S. couple with school-age children spends about 35 minutes a week in actual conversation. And most of that time is spent discussing who is going to do what, when, etc. With that sobering statistic in mind, it is no mystery many struggling couples report they love their spouse but when asked about the status of their friendship, they are not as positive. Perhaps a more useful benchmark to the health of our marriages is not “how are we keeping the romance alive?” but instead “how are we keeping the friendship alive?”

5. The landscape is always changing
Building on this idea of friendship as core to marital health, Gottman urges couples to think of their partner as an ever-changing landscape. Just because you got to know them in a deep and personal way while you were dating, or before you started that new job, does not mean you your sense of knowing them is the same today.

Helpful Tip:
Gottman proposes thinking about your knowledge of your spouse as a “love map” that you must constantly update. Building a love map is not a task that you complete. Instead, It is a task that is an ongoing practice. Building a love map is the process of rediscovering who your partner is, what are their values, their beliefs, their preferences, what makes them laugh and what keeps them up at night. Ask open-ended questions and listen to the answers.  Asking questions every week about life, goals, dreams, fears and disappointments gives you and your partner a chance to be known and you can show each other that your love is not based on the bond you shared years ago but the one you share today.
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I would love to know which Gottman insight resonated with you the most? Which one surprised you?

Please share your thoughts, reflections and questions in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.
– Brian
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Potentia is 6!

Potentia is turning 6

Several years ago, I had this picture in my head of a beautiful space where people could receive collaborative and specialized care all under the same roof. Six years ago this month, Potentia’s incorporation papers were filed and the dream started to take fruition.

I can laugh now but looking back six years ago, things were a little nutty. My first born was just a little over 2 months and I was clumsily learning how to integrate all of my new loves and passions on very little sleep.

Today, I am a little more rested. And my family has grown along with Potentia.

I am in awe and filled with gratitude looking at how the seed of a vision planted in my heart + mind has turned into something so much more.

As we celebrate our six year milestone, we are in the process of expanding: more office space, new clinical team members – including two male therapists – and new service offerings such as individual and group consultations on EMDR and Eating Disorders (CEDS) along with Child Centered Play Therapy.

Even our website is in the process of getting freshened up.

Whew!

And I am pleased to introduce you to five therapists who are a part of this season of Potentia’s growth: Moe Perdomo, Hannah Branch, Brian Resiwg, Kayla Walker and Roxanne Strauss.

Look at them all spiffy here…

Interns formal 2014

And here they are showing their brave and getting a little silly. Silly is so good for the soul!

Interns silly 2014

These new interns are joining me and our veteran Potentia team members:

The Potentia team is equipped with an understanding of:

  • the brain
  • non-diet approaches to wellness
  • the power of your story (owning, respecting and telling it)
  • the influences of shame and vulnerability

so we can be the best support to people seeking meaning in their struggles and desiring sustained relief from their pain.

All of our psychotherapy clinicians are trained in EMDR, which is an approach that helps people who are stuck because of tough life events, anxiety, depression, compulsive behaviors, loss, blocking beliefs, perfectionism and more. We also have therapists who offer specialized support with:

  • Shame Resilience and The Daring Way TM method
  • Food and Body Issues
  • Couples Issues and Premarital Counseling
  • Teen and Family Issues
  • Transition
  • Pastors Kids and Missionary Kids

I am excited to see where this now collective dream takes all of us as we continue to trust, pray, learn, grow and serve.

And to those of you who have a dream on your heart, respect it. Sketch or write it out. Share it with someone who will not talk about all the barriers to your dream but instead be a support to it.

Be careful to not compare it, minimize it or let the desire for certainty squelch your hope. Your dream is precious and it is placed on your heart for a purpose. It may not be logical or make sense. It may be painful to be in the inbetween of it being unfulfilled.

I get it. I wrestled with all of this over the years. Still do. The waiting, the tests of faith, the investment of time and resources, the trust are the refining part of the dream. Pace yourself and stay the course.

Cheering you and your dream on –

Rebecca

PS – Please make sure you are on our email list so you can stay up to date on our offerings, events, blog posts and receive an invitation to our upcoming  fall open house.

 

 

 

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America’s Love/Hate Relationship with Saturated Fats By Dr. Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD


Let’s start off with an overview of saturated fatty acids, and how they differ from poly or monounsaturated fatty acids.

Saturated fatty acids (SFA’s) have the following characteristics distinguishing them from other fatty acids (trans, monounsaturated & polyunsaturated):

  • solid at room temperature
  • occur naturally in foods
  • referred to as ‘saturated’ due to their having no double bonds along the carbon chains that comprise these saturated fatty acids

Unsaturated oils, on the other hand, are liquid at room temperature, primarily found in higher concentrations in plant sources (with the exception of fatty fish) and have one (mono) or multiple (poly) double bonds along the carbon chain.

Contrary to popular belief, foods do not consist of one type of fatty acid. Rather, foods are composed of varying percentages of unsaturated and saturated fatty acids.

For example, SFA’s comprise roughly 13% of the fatty acids in olive oil, and 65% of the SFA’s in butter.

SFA’s are found in higher amounts in dairy products (ex: cream, butter, milk, cheese) as well as in meats (bacon, sausage, chicken fat, mutton), ghee, suet and lard.

Palm oil, palm kernal, coconut and cottonseed oils contain a larger percentage of SFA’s (relative to the other plant based fats), though they lack the cholesterol contained in animal sources.

Examples of SFA’s include:

  • lauric (palm kernal oil, coconut oil, vegetable shortening and is also used in )
  • palmitic (palm oil, tallow, processed foods to enhance texture)
  • myristic (palm kernal oil, coconut oil, butter)
  • stearic acids (cheese, sausage, bacon, ribs, beef/ground beef, candy, cocoa butter)

These fatty acids are also commonly used in conjunction with sodium hydroxide, creating a product commonly found in soaps, shampoos and cosmetics (ex: sodium laurate and sodium palmitate).

For several decades, foods high in SFA’s were demonized by public health and nutrition experts, citing numerous studies suggesting that SFA’s were disease promoting.

Saturated fats were linked to increased LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol), a primary risk factor for heart disease.

Current American Heart Association guidelines suggest limiting calories from saturated fat to less than 7% per day (or roughly 16g or 140 calories).

SFA’s were somewhat vindicated when evidence emerged several years ago suggesting that trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated oil) were more offensive, as they not only raise LDL, but decrease HDL (or ‘good’ cholesterol).

Recently, however, results of a meta-analysis of 72 studies (including both observational studies and randomized controlled trials) on saturated fat intake and heart disease published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found no association with SFA intake and risk of heart disease – basically stating saturated fats were found to have no influence, positively or negatively, on heart disease.

The results were highly publicized, and largely misconstrued by media.

Results of the published study actually read as follows:

“Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.”

Critics of the study, including nutrition experts from the Harvard School of Public Health (one of whom actually authored the study) are calling for a retraction or revision of the paper.

Critics have pointed to the limitations of meta-analyses as one potential problem, as numerous studies are combined and summarized, despite vast differences in methodologies (particularly across nutrition literature).

They also cite conflicting findings from numerous large scale population studies that link plant based/vegetarian diets (and lower intake of animal products) with health and longevity (Framingham, Adventist Health Study, China Study).

Another author (there were fourteen) has stood by the study’s findings, but insists that the conclusion of the meta analysis only suggested that we need further research to better understand the relationship between SFA’s and heart disease.

She has also supported continued adherence to American Heart Association’s parameters for SFA intake, stating that relaxing the guidelines would be premature at this point.

There are a number of studies in progress looking at the influence of particular saturated fatty acids on health outcomes, inspired by recent findings that suggest that all fatty acids are created equally.

The results of Annals of Internal Medicine study are intriguing indeed, and warrant further attention.

But until we have more evidence, the large majority of experts recommend continuing to keep SFA intake to a minimum and acquiring dietary fat from plant based sources (examples include olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds). We must also consider the steep environmental cost of meat consumption (10-15 pounds of grain is required to produce 1 pound of meat).

Bottom line: It’s a bit too soon to begin piling meat and cheese on your plate, but the results do suggest that more work needs to be done before we fully understand the relationship between SFA’s and heart disease.

And please be cautious when relying on media to interpret results of complex studies.

What can we conclude from the referenced study and other similar studies on SFA’s and health?

  • It seems that not all SFA’s are ‘equal’, and the way that they influence disease risk is not well understood and deserves further attention, so avoid dogmatic teachings around good food/bad food.
  • While we seek to better understand the SFA/health relationship and await further study results, please still proceed with caution when adding SFA’s to your intake.
  • Foods that are high in SFA’s (meats, dairy) are also often high in preservatives (and other artificial fillers) and sodium. Quality of meat/dairy DOES have a meaningful effect on the nutrient density, so going organic/grass fed IS worthwhile if you’re able.
  • Good nutrition is a complex picture with many shifting parts, and research is moving away from studying the influence of single nutrients on health outcomes, so be wary of these kinds of studies.
  • Lean on a plant based diet for necessary fats and proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains (budget friendly AND protective), and supplementing with high quality (organic/grass fed) meat and dairy products when you do want to include animal fats.

Questions, thoughts and reflections? Please post them below. I look forward to continuing this important discussion with you.

In good health –

Megan


Study Reference:
Rajiv Chowdhury, Samantha Warnakula, Setor Kunutsor, Francesca Crowe, Heather A. Ward, Laura Johnson, Oscar H. Franco, Adam S. Butterworth, Nita G. Forouhi, Simon G. Thompson, Kay-Tee Khaw, Dariush Mozaffarian, John Danesh, Emanuele Di Angelantonio; Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014 Mar; 160(6):398-406.

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How a Kindergarten Teacher Builds Community

IMG_2025Every day before my daughter’s school starts, she has 15 minutes to run laps with all of her K-4 classmates.

The idea of moving to the track was very daunting for all of the kindergartners and their parents.

We started off at the Kindergarten-Only playground for the first couple months of school.

It was like a little bubble with our Kindergarten tribe of kids, parents and teachers.

It was contained and known.

And having a daughter on the Autism Spectrum in a general education classroom was daunting enough. The little playground area was an even playing field – no blind spots and lots of supervision.

Moving down to the track with the “older kids” has been a smooth transition – for the most part.

I discovered my daughter’s gift for running – when she is in the mood – and how running/walking before her day really calms down her nervous system.

I have also discovered the angels, the saints, the cheerleaders, the mean girls and the “jokesters”.

When I would see my daughter being treated poorly, I would use all of my tools plus the power of breath and prayer to connect with each child to understand his or her choice of behavior.

And when I shared these interactions with her teacher, I was told I needed to go find a teacher to address the issue instead of me “handling” it on my own.

I was told this would foster better community.

My rule-follower default was a bit fritzed by my momma-bear instincts. But I listened to Teacher and continued to breathe and pray.

In the weeks to follow, I saw how this new system was wise to follow.

When older kids showed signs of bullying and disrespect, she addressed them as people with dignity and with authority in conversation. I saw her build relationships, listen, set boundaries, cultivate courage and bravery.

No punitive principal meetings, threatening, shaming or making a joke and saying “kids will be kids”.

Recently, I observed two fourth graders joking about my daughter going back and fourth about which one was going to be her boyfriend.

“And so it begins” I said to my Mommy Friend and went to check in with my sweet girl as she trotted by on her morning laps.

She was laughing and seemed to be rolling with it. I also did not get my mamma radar triggered with these two spitfires, so I stepped off the track with a deep breathe and a prayer.

A few minutes later, Teacher came up to me and with one of the boys I had just witnessed interacting with my daughter.

A beautiful exchange ensued where this busted teaser saw my daughter not as an object but as someone with a mom, who was celebrating her birthday that day with friends and interests.

As Teacher sent the youngster back to finish his time on the track, she looked back at me and said, “And this is how we will create community. Where everyone understands we are all people with feelings, struggle, interests and a life. Thank you.”

It goes both ways, too. The young man is not an object of my rage, my pain, my fear, my hurt. Because I connected with him, I know he is like all of us stumbling, testing, scared, curious, desiring to belong and to be seen.

He is human.

Does it excuse bad choices? No.

But that is not the point.

When we step into the space of vulnerability, there are so many ways to respond.

The shift in perspective  – seeing how we are all in it together – helps us create community instead of an “us vs. them” culture.

It is a challenge to push back on fear, blame and shame.

And I do not know about you, but some days I am swimming in the deep end of disconnection and everyone is an “other”.

In that space blame, shame and fear have a party in my head making fertile ground for some not so pretty responses.

I do know my shame resilience practice has drastically reduced my reactivity when my tender spots are triggered.

Indeed, it is hard to be human. Desiring to be loved and understood can result in some serious hurt.

Yet, I still truly believe it is worth it to feel the tough stuff so I can feel also feel love, joy, peace – even if I am in a season when the good emotions are fleeting.

A few days later, I was back at my post on the sidelines of the track.

As he ran by, I waved at the young man who I had a chance to get to know the other day. In response, I received a half-cocked smile with a side glance and a casual wave back.

I called him by name and said good morning.

And the community building continues…

Cheering you on from the track field   –

Rebecca

PS – If you are ready to start your own life-long shame resilience practice, please join us at one of our upcoming (re) define Courage workshops.

 

 

 

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Scarcity and the Cracks in the Road

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On our walk to my daughter’s school this morning, we ran into a couple of power-walkers from the neighborhood.

One of the power-walkers stopped and asked us to weigh in on a bet between the of them.

“These newly paved roads – how long do you think it will take until they start showing cracks? One month or two months?”

The roads still had a pretty strong smell of tar emanating from them and they also seemed a bit delicate as the tar was still soft and settling. I shrugged, “I do not know… maybe even sooner?”

The woman did not like my reply and huffed off. The suggestion the perfectly paved roads were not going to last was simply. not. ok.

I hollered after my power-walking neighbor in all of my nerdy therapist glory:

“Hey! There is nothing wrong with a few cracks in the road.”

The woman stopped, turned around and took off her rather large sun hat, setting her stern eyes on me while placing her hands on her hips as she said,

“I once had a contractor tell me if you have a crack and you can fit a dime in it, you are in some deep trouble.”

Turning on her heels, off she went to finish her morning power walk.

Ugh.

I started getting all defensive for the poor cracks in the road. And the pressure the newly paved road had on it to stay…perfect.

And so began a conversation in my head with the power-walking neighbor telling her the cracks are just a reflection of:

  • how hard the road works
  • how much pressure the road tolerates day in and day out
  • how the road has been neglected and not cared for well. The road is just doing what it is made to do and cracks are inevitable.

Conversations in my head and feeling defensive for an inanimate object were good clues a nerve had been touched.

I took a deep breathe and checked the source of my vulnerability.

Walking home, I found myself looking at the cracks in the road that had not been repaved yet. Some were small and others could hold a roll of dimes.

And I could not shake the heaviness I was feeling about the neighborhood walking buddies already betting on when the newly paved road was going to “fail” to be “perfect”.

Wow.

The pressure to be perfect and meet all of the various standards of those who see us when we show up in life is truly intense at times.

We devote a lot of time, effort and resources to covering up or trying to get rid of our own imperfections.

Scarcity fuels critics like my two power walking neighbors.

Scarcity shows up ever where.

Bathing suit season, finals, tax time, finding a job or changing careers, relationships, parenting, creativity – you name it – there are a whole host of triggers these days that make chasing the perfection carrot a daily grind.

Seeing the messy, the cracked as beautiful is hard when your lens on life is in defend/perfect mode.

Cover Up. Protect. Do Not Be Seen. 

The critics are here to stay. As long as there are products to be sold and love to be desired, the critics will be present.

I do my best to push back on the power and influence of critics in the world and in my head.

But one of the most effective, sustaining and rewarding resources to managing the relentless critics has been developing my own life-long shame resilience practice.

Doing this work involved me getting clear on:

  • my personal shame triggers. Shame work is trauma work and trauma work is shame work.
  • how I respond when my shame is triggered.
  • what vulnerability is,  is not and how vulnerability is the pathway to living the life I am called to live.
  • who my go-to support team is in my life. And how sometimes my support team shifts depending on the season and the issue.
  • who I thought I was striving to be and who God is calling me to be
  • how best to care for, rest and feed my body and my soul
  • what values guide my decisions personally and professionally
  • the importance of maintaining good boundaries so I do not overextend, live in regret or resentment
  • how to move away from unhealthy perfection and towards healthy striving.

My shame resilience practice has helped me understand – in action, not just intellectually – the concept of wholehearted living:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left is undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” – The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown Ph.D. LMSW

Cracks and all, we need to dare to show up and be seen.

If you are ready to develop your own shame resilience practice, please join us at one of our upcoming (re) Define Courage workshops. This work is life-giving soul work that helps you take insight to sustained change so you can (re) define the cracks in your life.

How do you feel about the cracks in your story? Do they allow shame to drive your choices or do they inspire you?

Cheering you on and respecting the cracks in the road –

Rebecca

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