As I write this I am watching the television coverage of the killer tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma. It is beyond imagining what it is like to have your rock solid home, school, church or barn instantly disappear. The entire landscape as you knew it is gone, just gone. Right now the focus is on two schools where children sheltered from the storm. Seen from a helicopter hovering above them, swarms of rescue workers in their bright yellow jackets cover the rubble like bees.
When I was about twelve years old a category 5 tornado ripped through my hometown, Topeka, Kansas. That’s a photo of it above. The base of that tornado was a mile wide, which is considered enormous. The Moore, OK tornado is said to have been at least as wide. In Topeka we were incredibly fortunate. Seventeen people died that night, a few from heart attacks. No one could believe that so few people were killed by such a huge storm. Everyone said it was a miracle.
Moore was hit harder and will need much more help in terms of money and emotional support. Already they are saying 51 people are confirmed dead with over one hundred injured. They expect to find more. An Oklahoma emergency services director being interviewed said it isn’t over. There are still tornado warnings out across the region.
People wonder around in a daze. I know what that glassy eyed look is. It’s disbelief, shock, the beginnings of grief.
Do not think you are helpless to help. Every single person who makes the effort does make a difference. That’s what a community does, come together in celebration and in heart break. Today in this small global village, we are all part of that community. We offer our hands, dollars,prayers and hearts to lift up those who have been knocked down so hard they can’t get up by themselves.
When it comes to marriage, a mentor of mine said, there are no rules. As long as there are Two Consenting Adults, the possible types of marriage are infinite. You can have bi-cultural marriages, bi-racial, bi-coastal, marriages blending different religions, arranged marriages, open marriages, May-December couples, straight, gay and transgender. Traditional to not, all that matters is that the two adults involved agree on what defines their particular coupling.
Two. Consenting. Adults.
After that what are the elements of a good marriage? Everyone wants to know that, right? What my mentor said was a bit surprising. “After doing a meta-analysis of studies on happily married couples, researchers boiled down the corner stones of a good marriage to four:
Think of those four qualities as the legs of a table top representing the marriage. If any of the legs are shorter or weaker than the others, you don’t have a functional table any more.
Notice that none of these elements can be done alone. Each one needs at least two people to exist.
Also notice how Love is not one of the legs.
To be honest, I’ve never gone into the literature to see if this meta-study my mentor talked about actually exists. Maybe someday I’ll do that but for now what I do know is that for the over 25 years of my own marriage and the over 20 years as a couples counselor, this formula has never failed.
Photo courtesy of Jonas’ Design
Whether you gave birth to your children, adopted or married into them, just became a mom an hour ago or have great-grandchildren, whether you are a mommy to animals instead of humans– even if you are a single dad who operates as an all around parent extraordinaire, on this day and everyday, celebrate the great adventure of Motherhood.
Here is a bouquet of Mom articles from this blog and others to help the festivities along. Enjoy!
Has this ever happened to you?
It’s a perfectly good day but you are worried about something. That little worry sets off a chain reaction so it gets bigger and bigger until it becomes a huge, all encompassing giant monster of anxiety!
Here’s an example: “What am I going to make for dinner? Ugh, there’s not enough time to make anything good. I guess I’ll make mac and cheese again. I should be eating better. My kids should be eating better. I’m a horrible mother! What is wrong with me!?” Before you know it you have convinced yourself that your entire family is going to die an early death from too much mac and cheese and it’s all your fault!
A call from the boss can lead to anxiety about being fired on the spot. A low bank account becomes dread about eating cat food when we’re old and decrepit. A leaky faucet leads to the house crumbling to a pile of rubble. A mole on our hand is cancer.
This automatic crescendo of anxiety is no joke. It is at the core of what keeps us from taking healthy action against that debilitating, horrible feeling. From 0-100, from a wee bit concerned to overwhelmed in a flash, anxiety can mushroom that fast. Before you know it your feeling as helpless as a turtle flipped on its back.
So what can we do?
Victor Frankl famously said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
1. Create the space so that you can think again rather than react. How? By breathing deeply and evenly. Pay attention to where your body is, where is the tension? Just focus on that: stand up, stretch, take a break, wiggle, dance, touch your toes.
2. Use the space. Isolate the thought that drives the anxiety and label it. When anxiety had me by the throat recently I took the time to look at it closely. When I did that I discovered something really weird. The thing I was so anxious about was actually good news! All of a sudden I went from emotionally driving at 100 mph to a more reasonable 50. Not totally calm but much better!
3. Respond. Laugh at it and yourself because whatever caused the anxiety was a gross exaggeration of the truth, a complete distortion or just a silly lie. Embrace the good feeling and choose to go there rather than that awful painful place.
Please realize that anxiety doesn’t give up that easily. It will try to talk you back into its web. Stay strong and like Mulan who discovers that the gigantic monster is really just a teeny, tiny mini-dragon, see through the illusion, accept the truth and brush it off.
You wouldn’t think there could be a positive message out of what happened in Boston would you? No way. It all just depresses us so much, filling us with anger and anxiety. It’s all too overwhelming leaving us numb. We wonder, “What’s wrong with us that we can’t feel anything when this horrible thing has happened?” Or “What? Again? Please God, not again!”
I have written so many posts for this blog so many times after tragic events it disturbs me to remember them all. The shooting at Fort Hood, the plane crash in Clarence, New York, the horror of Newtown. I wanted this one to be different for your sake and well as mine. Which takes me back to the original question: Was there any way we could get a positive message out of this?
“…But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people [who are responsible for this], that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out… This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
When tragedy strikes it is human to ask, “What can I do? I’m just one human being and the evil out there is so huge and powerful.” Patton Oswald reminds us that alone, yes, we are small but together we human beings make a whole lot of Powerful Good. There is a lot of suffering in the world but we put a big dent in it whenever we do a kindness, give generously and accept graciously.
Once again there are no words, just a heavy heart, love and hope for all affected by the Boston explosions. ~Dr. Aletta
*“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” ~Sigmund Freud
So here’s another dream.
Last night I dreamt I was walking to my apartment in Manhattan on the upper East side near Lex and 71st Street (which is a dream unto itself). In that weird dream time-bouncy way, I ended up in a gorgeous old pre-war building waiting for the elevator. Who should be there but Michael Jackson just like he looked in the ‘Beat It’ ’80s video, red jacket and all. He was very polite. Of course I was too cool to make a deal out of it so I rode the elevator with Michael Jackson like it was nothing while in my head I was jumping up and down going, “OMG!!! It’s Michael Jackson!!!!”. Then I woke up.
What does it MEAN?!
Who cares? It was fun and made me smile while I brushed my teeth, as I got ready for my real day. The opposite of an anxiety dream, I guess.
The other night I had an anxiety dream. You know the kind of dream I’m talking about, where you are in the wings of a big Broadway production clearly expected to go on and you don’t know the part or the lines or the cue or anything!!! Worse, you’re naked and haven’t shaved your legs since October!
That wasn’t my dream exactly although the feeling was the same. Pure fight or flight! My anxiety dream went like this:
I was applying to college! The same college my daughter got into a few months ago for real. I was trying to get into this same college putting in my application, touring the campus etc. I had this interview scheduled only I forgot it! I was going to miss this crucial interview and nothing I tried to do to fix it was working! I tried calling the admissions office but my phone fell apart in my hands! I tried running there but the building kept getting further away instead of closer!
The good news was I was fully clothed, but still it was a nightmare! When I woke up with a start and found myself a middle-aged woman with no college interviews scheduled for the day the relief was incredible!
Occasionally I have a client bring in a dream they want to talk about and it’s almost always a good discussion. I do not believe dreams hold any big mysterious power, like crystal balls or oracles. What’s important is what they mean to us; how the dreamer interprets the dream, not the therapist. Being open to what may be bubbling up from our subconscious is good. So what did my dream mean to me?
On this easy Sunday morning I’m reading Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns)” when I should be reading this month’s book club book, Canada. Please don’t tell anyone, but Mindy’s book is so much more fun!
Mindy’s advice to teenage girls in her chapter ‘Don’t Peak In High School’:
“Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life. What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also a big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.”Read More...
I didn’t know what to expect, I was afraid it would be something awful like that Mel Gibson movie “What Women Want” where a sexist man could read women’s minds. Ick.
But this video blew my mind in its direct simplicity. Not a word is spoken. The quote from Plato above was taken from the first comment to the video on YouTube. Among the gifts I feel my chronic illness gave me was the understanding that a person can look perfectly fine on the outside while dealing with incredible pain both physical and emotional on the inside.
This little film does that one better. It includes a complexity of conditions: from sadness and grief to elation and joy. What we think people should be burdened with can be very different from what is actually weighing on them or lifting them up. See it for yourself.
♥ All about women and heart disease – our #1 killer – from the unique perspective of Carolyn Thomas, a Mayo Clinic-trained heart attack survivor
♥ Information for the general public, heart patients or their family members, health professionals, and all students of the heart.