“Remember, US?” Wake Up, Your Relationship Needs You! 5 Tools to Help…

Hey, the world is changing (newsflash, it always is) and it is hard to feel grounded in times of so much uncertainty. I get that you are stressed…and confused. I know you are battling with your own challenges, and work is probably CRAZY right now, that’s if you are lucky enough to be working right now. Right now? Let’s be honest, it has probably been crazy. If it is not one stressor, it is another, and another, most definitely another. One thing I have learned personally is that, there will always be ANOTHER FREAKIN’ STRESSOR! We can not help all that happens in this world, but we can learn how to manage how we deal with it and how we treat the people we care about in the process. So you need “me” time, “self-care” time, “alone” time. You need time to decompress, relax, connect with others, and of course connect with self. When you are doing those things, when you are deep in thought and giving yourself permission to be selfish, do you think about how that impacts the person you decided to be in a relationship with? While it is crucial that you take time to connect with/understand self, I have a question for you…

What about your relationship?

The world is indeed in flux right now. We have all been impacted in one way or another. Whether we have been directly impacted or we have been impacted in relation to others, we have been impacted because our world has been impacted. What does that mean? It means you have been impacted. What else does this mean? It means your relationships have inevitably been impacted. It is tough, it is different, why not turn to your partner and team up. Turn towards your partner and get through it together.

Whether you categorize the impact as “good” or “bad” I am not here to support you with putting a value on the perceived current state of your relationship. Perhaps you found this blog because you are looking to save your relationship, fall back in love, or simply feel more connected. The purpose of this post is to remind you that if you have a partner, someone you care about, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or a spouse, etc. Your relationship has been impacted by life events (baby, marriage, death, infidelity) and world events(politics, racism, pandemics, unemployment). As you change, your relationship shifts, and in order to move through those ebbs and flows together, you have to talk.

While I highlight the need to take care of yourself quite frequently in my blog posts and affirmations, I have an internal obligation which compels me to share (just in case it has been off your radar) your relationship with your romantic partner needs attention and relationship-care as well.

In December of 2019, I wrote a blog called, “Remember, “ME,” in which I talked about getting to know yourself fully, intimately, and unconditionally. The message of the blog is important and is always relevant. Self-love is necessary to fully love another person free of co-dependency and wounds. Today I right a blog entitled, “Remember, US.” Us, being your chosen romantic partner. The person you decided to be in some kind of relationship with, spend time with, share life with, marry, be entangled with, have children with, live with…

Your relationship needs you. We are all quick to point the finger at our partner when we are unhappy. We blame them, we resent them, we vilify them. My question to you is, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CURRENT STATE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

Whether it is smooth sailing right now or the two of you are contemplating separation, you share in the present state as well as the outcome. You contributed to the current state of your relationship. What is your vision for tomorrow? What do you want for your relationship?

Begin to envision the relationship you want. Do not try to make it how it was. Think about what you want to create for your relationship moving forward. If you want a more loving, warm, and supportive relationship then envision yourself being warmer, being supportive, and being loving. Ask your partner to join you on this quest for a happier and healthier relationship. Are you both invested? Again, IF YOU ARE BOTH INVESTED, you can create the amazing relationship you both deserve.

Even if there has been hurt, infidelity, and/or breach of trust, you can work towards creating a deeper level of understanding and connectedness moving forward. Sometimes, that is not possible. Sometimes, relationships end. If you do not want your relationship to end AND your partner shares the same goal, you still may have a chance to not only save your relationship but also be happy within your relationship! I encourage you to seek couples and/or individual therapy if one or both partners have emotionally checked out and are struggling to engage in the tools section of this post.

5 TOOLS TO BEGIN RELATIONSHIP-CARE:

  1. Identify your strengths as a couple. Question: What do I consider our relationship strengths? (Examples: we are both family oriented, we are supportive of one another, we have shared goals, we have great sex and are satisfied with our current sex life, we have stimulating conversations, we are both neat, we value friendships, we are both independent, we share the same spiritual/religious/political beliefs, we both like to exercise, we are both vegans, we are in a similar/same profession, we love pets, we both respect one another’s alone time, we both take on problems head on, etc…). When you know your strengths, you can use them in other areas of your relationship. It helps when you can remind yourselves that there are ways in which the two of you navigate that are unique strengths that you can build upon.
  2. Ask yourself, what type of relationship do I want? (examples are, how much time you spend together, what do you want to do when you are together, how you show compassion to one another, how you listen to one another, activities you want to try together, how you appreciate being supported, how you enjoy supporting your partner). Schedule time to SHARE your answers with one another, explore what your partner shares, gather information to learn how your partner feels, validate and listen to understand. Remember, in order to create the relationship you both want, you each have to be willing to do your part!
  3. Assess: Are there things you may need to let go of in order to create a relationship you are both happy with? Are there negative narratives about yourself/your partner’s habits, personality, and/or activities they enjoy? Identify what those narratives/stories are, the stories about your partner and the stories about your couple dynamic (examples are: she is closed off and cold, he never listens, we are just not that type of couple, we are a couple that likes to argue, we don’t need all that time together, he/she/they will never change, etc.) Are you willing to let go of past stories? What about your own self limiting beliefs about who you are? You have to be willing to create a new story for yourself as well. You have to be willing to let the old viewpoints go. It doesn’t mean being ignorant of past behavior. It means giving each of you and your relationship room to grow and see things differently.
  4. What are some new things you would like to practice/embrace? The two of you can check in with one another around any ideas you have for new, concrete practices. (Examples: the use of terms of endearment, date night/sacred time, more tender/adventurous/playful/spontaneous/scheduled sex, cooking together, more communication throughout the day, a spiritual practice, an exercise regimen, going for a walk holding hands, taking a class together, more time with other couples, etc…). Step #2 talks about sharing what you want to create, this step puts those ideas into tangible and concrete practices you can take action to achieve. Once you create a plan together, step 5 will support you both with staying consistent and continuing to have connecting conversations.
  5. Action: Create a plan and designate a day to check in with one another. It can be a weekly check in over coffee/tea/wine or a monthly check in. Figure out the time and activity together, considering each of your individual schedules. Holding yourself accountable is crucial. You want to come together as a team and see how each of you are feeling about the relationship. Go into the conversation with a positive/proactive approach, one in which you are taking accountability and are giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. You both get to create an emotionally safe environment for one another. No blaming. No shaming. No name calling. Remember to validate before you share, and navigate from a place of love. If you need additional support, it may be time to get the support of a relationship counselor/therapist.

The above questions and outline can support getting you started and beginning important conversations that can lead to relationship transformation. Relationships take work, they require time, and commitment. Oftentimes, we take our relationships for granted, we do not take the time to support them with growth and expansion and then we get frustrated when they are not thriving. Your relationship is not separate from you. You are part of your relationship. Do you want to feel differently about the relationship? Show up differently and build on the strengths your relationship already has. As a couples therapist it has been my experience that in order for healing and rebuilding to take place, BOTH partners have to be willing to challenge themselves to grow and be fully invested in the process.

I have two other blogs, “Validation Do’s and Don’ts for Couples” and “Talk to Me, 6 Ways to Create Emotional Safety in your Relationship,” that can support each of you with additional tools for tough conversations.

Wishing you the very best and hoping that you find the courage and inner strength to identify what it is that you want, and then do your part to create it!

As always, with love, Tamara

If you are or believe you may be a victim of Domestic Abuse, please see the following links for support:

In New York City: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/domestic-violence-support.page

In New York State: https://opdv.ny.gov/help/dvhotlines.html

National Hotlines: https://victimconnect.org/resources/national-hotlines/

Mixed Race in 2020: The Conversations Among Us! Perspectives of Six…

When you look in my eyes, when you stare at my face, when you hear me speak, can you tell I’m mixed race? Alone in a crowd, treated like I don’t fit in. Aren’t we in this together? Since we are all human.

Being mixed race/bi-racial/dual heritage and having one black parent at a time when people are more openly discussing diversity and inclusion, microaggressions in the workplace, unfair treatment in the justice system, systemic inequality, and an overall imbalance due to the color of one’s skin can be complicated. People of all races are coming together in society via peaceful protests, marches, and workplace town halls to fight back against current day injustice towards Black people from the Government, the police, the school systems, and places of employment. Yes, although being mixed raced in this climate can be complicated, it has also presented an opportunity for conversations to take place within the mixed race family unit that can shed years of ignorance, subtle/covert racism, and feelings of otherness.

If you are a mixed race human (I apologize if you find the term “mixed” to be offensive) with one Black parent and have a parent that presents as non-Black or White and has a different ethnicity, there are unique challenges that you may be facing at this time.

Currently, many who are mixed race with one Black parent are not getting as much support from their non-Black family (and sometimes their Black family) members who may not necessarily see them as “Black.”

In many mixed families conversations around race were avoided. Usually because parents did not realize it was a conversation that needed to happen. Family members will say that they do not “see race,” while others struggled with how to talk to their children about how having one Black parent might impact them. This is a time where more Black people and POC are speaking out and actively using their voices to create tangible and concrete change. Our history provides evidence that since the mid 1800’s, Black people have been fighting for freedom, just treatment, and equality. Although slavery ended in the 1800’s, the battle for just treatment and equality exists today. It has been a very long journey. Acknowledgment of the history and current day challenges via open and honest conversation with family members can be validating, affirming, and connecting.

Challenges of being mixed race: Some of the challenges clients share most often are, having family members who are racist (especially the ones that think they aren’t). The feeling of not being enough of either race to feel as though they belong. Rejection by one and sometimes both of their races. Feeling confused around how to show up in the world and/or feeling forced to pick a side. There are times when filling out a demographic questionnaire can be consumed with guilt ridden thoughts around having to check one box. One box? So which one do I chose today? Which parent do I side with today? Oftentimes people will alternate between races to keep themselves balanced internally and not experience the guilt of having sided with one part of themselves, which in turn feels as if you are rejecting the other part(s) of who you are.

Advantages of being mixed race: Where there are challenges, you can usually find some advantages. Some of the advantages (that may be considered privileges) of being mixed race that my clients share most often are; Being accepted in more places and spaces. Being considered neutral and safe. There is also the exposure to different races, the window in to different worlds and a comfort level that is not always available to non-mixed race individuals. One of the biggest advantages is being able to know from an early age that people can look different, speak different languages, and have entirely different cultural backgrounds and still get along and actually love one another.

Many children of mixed race parents grow up never feeling enough of one race to fully fit in. There can be what feels like a constant tug of war between what feels like two parts of who you are and for some, it can be easier to pick a side. What happens when the side you “pick” does not accept you? and does picking a side mean that you deny a part of who you are? What are the consequences? How do you reconcile this and find a way to embrace all of who you are, especially when there are people in the world and maybe in your home (maybe even you) that reject a part of who you are.

Growing up with a born and raised Puerto Rican mother, who presents white and a Black American father from Virginia seemed normal as a child. I did notice that my mother and I did not look alike. Why was my skin so much darker? Why was my hair so different? As a child you think your mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, but if you don’t look like her, what does that mean about you? Are you not as beautiful? Not to mention all of the people who made comments in ignorance that I did not understand as a child.

My parents met in NYC, have been married for 51 years, and have been incredibly supportive throughout my life. Growing up they told stories casually about how they experienced discrimination and racism while dating and made jokes about how people thought my mother was my nanny. My mother made comments about how we did not look alike and how my cousin looked like she should be her daughter because she had lighter skin (colorism absolutely exists in the Puerto Rican community) and long, straight hair. All things said in innocence, and all things that impacted the way I felt about myself and my place within my family unit. My mother also called me beautiful and smart however, the mixed messages led to inner conflict. Luckily, the constant has always been my father, who thought (and still believes) that I am absolutely creative, intelligent, and beautiful from head to toe. It is my father who taught me and my brother to embrace and love all parts of who we are every moment of every day.

During this current time of increased racial tension, there seems to continue to be a disconnect around the fact that I am intimately impacted by how the world sees humans with darker skin. Although there is not an expectation on my end that my mother will ever completely understand (how could she possibly), there is a responsibility I have to myself that compels me to share with her what my experience has been and continues to be. In sharing with both my parents I learned that they are eager to show up, they just did not know how to start the conversation and needed to be given the opportunity. So many of my clients are living similar experiences, able to discuss injustices in the world yet are struggling to discuss with family members how current events are impacting their sense of self and overall mental health.

Conversations are needed. Getting to know one another on a deeper level is the answer. Blame, anger, hurt and disappointment are feelings that deserve validation, however, in order to heal the wounds, accepting who you are and sharing how you feel by using your voice is the most empowering tool you have. Lead with your heart and the words will flow. The gift of your voice is a way to honor yourself and your unique experience.

THE INTIMATE PERSPECTIVES OF FIVE

Recently, my clients have been sharing how they are experiencing the current state of the world in regards to racism. I asked current and past clients who are mixed race with one Black parent to feel free to contribute to this article in hopes it might shed some light for others and five of them shared their perspectives. Each person, ranging in age from 22 years old to 45 years old used their voice vulnerably and courageously in support of themselves, mixed race individuals, and humanity as a whole. The intimate perspectives of five:

“Being with my white mother right now in the middle of a pandemic and now with the Black Lives Matter protests has been such a discombobulating experience for me. I have never been with my mom during a time of racial unrest (at least not that I can remember in my adult years), and I am finding it really hard to figure out how to talk to her about it. Reminding your white family members that you are black in this world, even as a mixed-race human, is hard at any time, but right now I am realizing that I don’t have the energy to educate. Between the pandemic and everything else happening in my life, I am having to prioritize self-care in order to stay sane, and self-care at this moment means not having hard, uncomfortable discussions with my white mom. I plan to talk about this time with her when I’m feeling more whole, but for now, I’m focusing on my mental health. When I need to talk about it, I reach out to my black community.” – NC

I was always unsure of how to identify growing up. I was unsure if I was black. How could I tell? Did my skin need to be darker? Did my Puerto Rican family mean that I wasn’t. But look at my cousins, they are “negro”. I was questioned often if I was really Puerto Rican. “Por que no hablas Español si eres puertorriqueña?” Somehow I felt like a fraud on both sides. Having these conversations today, in the midst of this movement, I’ve finally realized that I am 100% both, and so damn proud to be. My heritage, from every branch of my family tree is who I am, and my empathetic heart beats for each part. Right now, it’s beating in full support of all black lives. – KNV

I am Black and Japanese. I was born Brooklyn and I have spent the majority of my life here. My relationship with my Japanese culture is not as strong as I would like. From a young age I was very embarrassed of my Japanese mother because I looked nothing like her. I remember questioning her often about why we looked nothing alike. My mother was the type to just say things like “it doesn’t matter you are my daughter”. In hindsight I wish she was more supportive and put more effort into talking about our differences. Right now things are difficult because my mother has been turned a blind eye to the racial issues, and hasn’t been able to show up for me when there are racist acts against Black people in America. We recently had a talk and it was very difficult because of the language barrier. I know my mother truly believes in peace for all people, but it was important that she understood that it’s about Black people right now, and I am your Black daughter. But because of this language barrier it is difficult for me to say that without me catching all of the wrong and inappropriate things she might be saying in between. I often find myself reading between the lines with her, constantly filtering her words so that I don’t get attached to any words she may not even fully understand. I know that I have to keep trying with her because it is important that she is aware of the things her children are going through, and how she can show up for us in times like this. I do not expect her to know all the answers or be able to delete these feelings. But it is important for me to make sure that she knows about these things so that she can educate others too. Recently I have found a bunch of videos of people speaking on racial injustice and they have been translated in Japanese. This has been really helpful and my mother has been better at checking in on me when these things happenAB

Being a mixed-race (African American and Mexican American) man, makes me feel like I live in two different worlds. I was raised in a dual parent household, but only felt and experienced a connection to my mother’s side (African American). Due to pressures of social conformities, some individuals have felt overwhelmed by having to choose a particular side, however, such has not been the case for me. Growing up, I didn’t really feel accepted by my Mexican side therefore, I wholeheartedly and unapologetically connected and lived life through the lens of an African American. What has been difficult, is the awareness/knowledge of the plethora of  political, economical and social challenges that are faced by both African-Americans and Mexicans in this country.  As I grew older (which I feel is typical for some mixed race persons) I came to recognize and proudly felt the strength and honor of both my African and Mexican heritage. During these times of social unrest, I go through all of the emotional feels, voice my indignation, pause for moments of reflection but then I get back in the race because that’s what those before me have done...The work continues! Anthony G.

“I’m multiracial. My father is Black. My mother is mixed Indian and British, she was raised in India. The lineage of the oppressed and oppressor flow within my veins. At times it feels heavy, I am conflicted and feel lost. At other times, I feel so blessed to be part of such rich cultures and traditions. 
These last few weeks I have gone from heartbreak, to rage, back to
deep sadness & grief, returning to a rage that feels numb to feeling hopeful, for a moment. America and the whole world is reckoning with the legacy of systematic racism and murder of Black bodies and lives. 
What has given me hope and solace is my conversations with my mother. She is learning, understanding and finding ways to participate in this historical moment. She attended a vigil for Black lives, donated to many organizations; we’ve had conversations about racism within the South Asian community. Most importantly she has shown up for me as my mother, while also holding that she is limited in her experience of understanding, that she is not a Black woman and her daughter is. This has been healing. I feel my mother seeing me in my fullness and also protecting and supporting her daughter.
I am grateful.” – SE

I am hopeful that the contributions above are able to provide deeper insight, validation around a similar experience, and/or additional support. Each person alive has their own uniqueness based on their experiences. You get to embrace and honor yours!

TOOLS: JOURNAL PROMPTS, ACTION STEPS, RESOURCES AND AN AFFIRMATION

MIXED RACE INDIVIDUALS: Start with identifying what has come up for you around race throughout your life. Identify the messages you received from family, friends, and your community about who you are. If you ever felt like you had to pick a side, did you? Do you feel more connected to one race and if so, how come? Have you felt accepted and/or rejected by others? Have you accepted and embraced all parts of who you are? Have you identified the challenges you have encountered throughout your life because of being mixed race? Can you identify what privileges have been afforded to you? Are there still remnants of wounds that show up for you today and if so, what are they? what are you doing to heal? How are you impacted by the racial tension that currently exists and who do you turn to for support? Are there people in your family unit who have inadvertently or blatantly put down your other race? (which is putting down a part of you) and if so, are you ready for the conversation?

Some of the most hurtful and harmful comments come from family members and people who identify themselves as allies, understanding this and having an awareness that it happens can support you taking action by way of conversations to spread that awareness. The way you honor yourself most is by getting to know yourself and accepting all parts of who you are. Using your voice differently with family members can be scary and uncomfortable. You may be bought into the thought that it will not matter or make a difference or your fear may be that you will hurt a family members feelings. You get to validate family members AND show up for yourself. An unhealthy dynamic will not change if you reinforce it by continuing to show up as you always have. If you want it to change, use your voice, honor yourself, and make the decision to change it!

AFFIRMATION: I am enough because, I am. I am whole because I exist. I belong because I am living this human experience. I am a part of you, whether you accept me or not. I accept myself as whole, as beautiful, as enough, and in that acceptance, I am free.

INTERRACIAL COUPLES WITH CHILDREN: Begin the conversation early. Start discussion with your partner about your different cultures, traditions, and how race and racial tensions have impacted you. Share with one another your concerns as well as the challenges you believe your child may face. Get on the same page around how you are going to expose your child to all parts of their culture. Teach your child to see their own beauty and appreciate the beauty in both of their races, as well as other races and people. I have attached two children’s books to this post, which I am not personally affiliated with, that may support beginning the conversation. There are also quite a few other books on the market that you may feel would be a better fit for your family:

Remember that although you may not see race and color, the world around you often does, and having those conversations with your children early can make all the difference.

Who are your people? Where is your home? We are all part of the Universe, it is impossible to truly be alone. Always searching for belonging, we should not have to fight to fit in, because true belonging is inherent in being human.

Remember, “Me?” A Question for the Most Important Person in Your Life!

Naked in the mirror, I see an image reflected back to me, familiar, yet unfamiliar, I seek clarity. I look intensely for understanding, as deep as my eyes can see but that vision is skewed by what I decipher mentally. The truth is my soul has the sight I seek, I look in the mirror, and speak out compassionately, Remember me?

How can we remember someone we do not know? Many of us know ourselves in the context of others and the roles we play in our lives.

Many moons ago, when you were a child, you were told and taught who you were and got cast in a role that supported you around creating a persona, “a mask.” You were shown how to show up in the world and you have probably been following suit ever since. You get to challenge what you have been told about who you are!

What was your role? Were you the smart one? The professional one? The Comedian/class clown? Maybe your caregivers told you that you would run the world, that you were a “heartbreaker,” that you would be “successful,” that you were “selfless,” or that you were “selfish.”

Whatever the narrative/script was in your family of origin, it absolutely impacted you…How can I make such a strong declaration? Because our family of origin/childhood impacts all of us!

We all come out of childhood with wounds and a role. Our wounds and roles get reinforced throughout our lives because we create filters and begin to only extract information that supports our belief around who we are and how others will treat us. How aware are you of your role? of your wounds? How is that showing up in your life today? Do you want to continue operating out of them or do you chose to heal them, find yourself, and live the fullest life possible?

(Disclosure: As most children, I loved to draw as a child, and one day after making a creation I thought was spectacular, I was told, “an artist you’ll never be” and that stayed with me for the rest of my life. It turned something I did for fun into something I was not good at. A comment made by a parent in innocence can be a wound that stays for a lifetime)

What if we no longer decided to play our role? What if the part you have been playing your entire life no longer works for you? What if you are tired of being the responsible one that everyone turns to for money? or the strong one that everyone dumps their emotional wounds on? or if you are the single one that gets to be the babysitter for everyone else’s children and should be readily available for anything? You may have been the one that people did not believe in and now lack self confidence because you learned not to believe in yourself. Are you the one that always takes care of everyone else and has been taught (and learned well) how to put your needs and feelings on the back burner to take care of everyone else’s needs first and now struggles to use your voice?

You can rewrite the script. How? Check in with yourself, get to know yourself, and then live in your truth. YOUR TRUTH, not someone else’s truth about who you are.

You can be taught new language and acquire new boundary setting tools that support you with creating and existing in a world that works for you. Not in a selfish, narcissistic way, but more so in a way that you are considering others while ALSO CONSIDERING YOURSELF! Self consideration sounds simple enough, yet so many of us struggle with it!

When we are getting to know someone new, what do we do?

  • Spend time with them
  • Create a space where they feel safe to share (non-judgmental and supportive)
  • Ask them a TON of questions
  • Watch how they interact with others
  • Watch how they take care of themselves

We get to know and learn about ourselves in the same way. Curiosity, empathy, openness, and honesty. Forget all you have been told about who you are and continue on your journey of self exploration….

REMEMBER, ME? 4 STEPS TO GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF

  • SPEND TIME ALONE (go off the grid aka no electronics!!!): I encourage you to spend time alone with yourself, not judging, just observing. Take a full day to spend time by yourself and engage in an activity that you enjoy. Being in nature greatly supports this process, however doing anything that brings you peace works (painting, writing, walking, singing, dancing, baking, people watching,) Let your loved ones know that you will be taking some “me” aka “self-care” time to relax and reflect so that you can give yourself permission to go off the grid comfortably.
  • ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS COMPASSIONATELY: (create a safe space for yourself by not engaging in negative self-talk and showing yourself compassion) ask yourself questions such as: When are you happiest? When are you most proud of yourself? (how come? who told you that was important?) What is your passion? What makes you, you? Who are you closest to in your family?(how come? since when?), What do you do when you need help? (do you ask for help or do you figure out a way to do it alone, and how come? when did you learn that behavior? for how long have you handled needing help in this way?), What are your fears? (how come they are your fears?, what have you tried to overcome your fears?) What are your strengths? (how do you know? what makes them your stengths) What do you like most about yourself? (how come?)
  • ASSESS RELATIONSHIPS (your role): Take a close look at your relationships, how are you showing up for and around the people closest to you? Are you holding yourself accountable for your role in interactions? (do you validate the other person, are you blaming someone else for your inability to self-soothe and/or for your unhappiness? are you name calling? are you being condescending?) Are you enjoying your relationships with others? (if not, what are you doing about it?), What type of relationships do you want? How are you showing those you care about that you care about them? Are your actions aligned with what you say you want? If not, start taking the actions needed to create the relationships you want. You are responsible for how you show up!
  • PRACTICE SELF-CARE and EMBRACE SELF LOVE: Observe how you take care of yourself, aka self-care. How do you speak to yourself?(do you beat yourself up with your words or do you speak to yourself with love and compassion? how come? how did the people you loved talk to you? how would you like to be spoken to?) How do you handle situations in which you feel you have been treated unfairly? (do you use your voice or do you retreat/hide and if so, why?) What do you do for yourself that fills your soul/tank? How do you decompress after a tough day? (long bath, write, exercise, help others, paint, spend time in nature, cook, etc). Create a plan to do at least one of the things you identified as filling your tank every week and label it self-care. You will be sending a message to self and to others that you matter!

I once lived life thinking I had to do what others expected of me based on limitations they imposed and that became my truth. I began to buy into the limits, reinforce the limits, and eventually unknowingly limit myself. BUT, then I woke up, I did “the work,” and realized that I can be free, and that most limits are self-imposed and rooted in fear and insecurity. You are your greatest love, I encourage you to make your life and relationship with self the most beautiful love story ever!

Yes, I was told, “an artist you will never be,” and one day I looked in the mirror and remembered myself and how peaceful I felt when I was creating art, and now I paint to paint and draw to draw. It may have taken some time but I could not be happier with the new narrative I have created for myself. Every piece I create would not exist had I continued to be bought into the narrative that someone else created for me.

EXERCISE: (BE PRESENT, no electronics) Take a 20 – 40 minute bath/shower, preferably with a calming scent/bath gel such as lavender or vanilla, allow yourself to be immersed in the experience as you observe the water touching and cascading over your body. Allow all thoughts to drift as you allow yourself to be in peace (visualize the ocean, or laying in the grass, or listen to calming music with no words just melodies or nature sounds that soothe your soul). After you dry off, look at yourself in the mirror and take 5 deep breathes, while looking deeply into your beautiful eyes, ask yourself out loud, Remember me? take one last deep breathe. Find a quiet place and create a three page journal entry about the experience.

This reflection and exercise are meant to support your process around self-actualization/awareness and living a fulfilling life that you feel connected to. If you need additional support, please reach out to a therapist, or other health care professional. You came to this blog for a reason, perhaps it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to know the most important person in your life! I am excited for you and the new narrative you will create around who you are and what you want. Wishing you the very best, with love.