Leading in Crisis Talk

In 2023, I gave a talk to Texas State Healthcare workers about trauma and its impact on us as a society. I shared my story as a doctor, incurable cancer patient and therapist. The takeaway resources include bilateral music, and two demos: Gazespotting and Vergence, for those who are new to Brainspotting or want to try it on their own. Brainspotting is also newly explained in this Forbes article.

This does not replace therapy. If your distress increases, stop and call 988 (the 911 mental health number in Texas) or your local mental health number. I can usually see clients quickly, however I am not an acute mental health care provider 24/7.

Brainspotting & Norway

A beautiful interview with Nicole Bryant, doctoral student and Brainspotting consultant introducing Brainspotting to a Norway therapist. Take 14 minutes to enjoy! The more we see, the more we feel seen…which also can help us see a way forward.

How are you? A Loaded question

It’s happening. A text invitation to dinner. Vacation planning. Are we doing this? Venturing out in a vaccinated world. It’s normal to feel a little hesitant after being in “lock down” mode for so long. Like the band aid approach, do you slowly pull back your guarded feelings or rip that sucker off?!

Two resources have appealed to me on the “how to” do these next steps. An article on how to make small talk (or more authentic talk) in upcoming weeks and months. The second is a beautiful love/music letter from Texas and early pandemic that stands the test of time.

It’s ok to take your time, be kind to yourself and take baby steps, finding your sea legs in social, emotional and mental invitations. Remember we dropped into the pandemic in an abrupt and surreal way. The antidote is to crawl out in an intentional and real way that feels right for you. It’s ok to push pause and curl into your favorite pajamas again for an evening. The world will wait.

late stage of pandemic impact

I am in awe of how our perceptions give way to such raw and exhausted feelings in the tail of this pandemic. It has been post-traumatic stress to the nth degree. We can not even call it “post”, in the uncertainty of when we will be able to truly exhale (and not inhale what we just ate…mask mania!).

I found the below visual illusion to be particularly fitting to the feeling that we are floating along, above the horizon, like the boat in this article. Our eyes like when what we see fits what we expect. A year ago, I may have seen this image differently. Now, I kinda like it.

I do want to validate and empathize with how this late stage of pandemic muck messes with our functioning and quality of life. We are not alone in it, yet it feels like we are. Little things are so very important to buoy our moods, yet they are fleeting. It is easy to forget where we are in the rhythm of things. We miss the mundane, the exciting and the hope to have this difficult time in our rearview mirrors.

The incidence of anxiety, depression and PTSD has quadrupled. May this post elevate your mood since we are more than statistics and walking zombies. We are pan-durable.

Be you. Be Kind. Be Better…and Icing

For these endless/too fast weeks, I am remembering the words of Gloria Estefan about her daughter, Emily: Be you. Be kind. Be better. Be open, be careful if you feel unsafe, be LOVE. Anything else is icing.

Here are three things that have caught my eye and made me smile…neuroscience & art “icing”.

How Anxiety has changed in 2020

UT YouTube: 2020 Stresses on the Brain (It’s a long one, but read the chat for fast tips from nutrition to ideas to lower your anxiety)

An affordable Australian Artist teaches how to paint your stress away! I signed up for her $27 class and have enjoyed unplugging my brain once a week. Just listening to her voice is therapeutic.

Finally, Icing as an “ice” technique is an old trick to calm anxiety fast. I prefer my headache hat over a bowl of ice, but you do you!

73 Questions answered by Couples Therapist Extraordinaire

I see mostly adult individuals who have faced big things in their lives: loss of loved ones, taking care of children and elderly parents, being adopted, chronic health issues and, of course, Covid-19. I have noticed that the ones in relationship with a partner have a unique way of feeling grounded or ungrounded during times of stress. When we can securely attach to another (hint: a great therapist counts!) you can better weather the storms of your life.

Our brains are wired to heal through relationships which are especially hard right now. Dr. Esther Perel offers answers from years of experience helping individuals who want answers and concrete solutions. In this short video, you even get a glance of her husband and his art in this one. She is a specialist in relationship (Pleasure) and he specializes in trauma (Pain). The perfect union to ponder on a hazy Friday afternoon. 🙂

Uncertainty Soup

6/23/20  Originally, this article from local University of Texas caught my eye, as so many of us are working from home and maybe seeing diminished returns: working harder to get less done.

And then, a dear person sent me this article/poem how it really feels as a human right now (working, not working, this working-at-home-is-sometimes-not-working) and I just had to share. Scroll to the end of her piece and listen to her read. It’s like auditory vitamin B-12!

Remember to collaborate and find community in this uncertain time. Remember that soup is good on sunny or cloudy days. Remember that “where you look affects how you feel”.  Enjoy!

Unending Uncertainty

5/13/20   The amount of upheaval and adaptation you have experienced in the last couple months is hard to see, let alone wrap your mind around. You may not realize how well or poorly you are doing now. This is normal. We are all anxious to feel safe and grounded in the “here and now”.

Dr. Grand’s talk has been very helpful for me to normalize a very abnormal time. He mentions that sight is usually our main tool to process information or distract ourselves which is why and how Brainspotting works so fast. It can be harder to process Covid-19 since it is invisible; we are hyper-hypervigilant about the unending uncertainty. It is a chance to deal with a double negative and be open to clarity in so much fuzziness.

These are the highlights/mantras below. I do better seeing in print, however auditory is here too.

Mantra #1:  Time distortion takes place in the subcortex of the brain.

Mantra #2:  During this period of existential trauma, we may experience states such as dissociation, shut down, denial, and hyper-hyper vigilance.

Mantra #3: This existential trauma presses on the underlying traumas we are still processing from our childhoods.

Mantra #4: This is not the time to make big decisions.

Mantra #5: This is, however, a time to set your priorities. We are being forced to evaluate what is important and what is not important.

Mantra #6: We must slow down, be curious, and observe.

Mantra #7: We are safe in the present moment; we must bring ourselves back from ruminations about the past and worries about the future and focus on the here and now.

Mantra #8: In the present moment, allow uncertainty, be curious, and mindfully pay attention.

Mantra #9: If not now, when?

Mantra #10: A karmic “pause button” has been hit.

Mantra #11: In adversity, there is opportunity.

Mantra #12: Distractions are a good thing. Embrace hobbies, movies, cleaning, cooking, any other activity that focuses your attention. I will be out in the garden with my hubby this weekend.

Mantra #13: Stop and observe the majesty of nature

Mantra #14: Be generous to yourself

Mantra #15: Be generous to others

Mantra #16: We are in a major “reset” period as a paradigm shift occurs in the world. A foundational principle of Brainspotting, the Uncertainty principle, offers guidance on how we can move as gracefully as possible through this challenging period