Tools For Healthier Lives

You absolutely must go to the Mayo Clinic website.
To use a popular cliché, it's a gold mine of information that will most certainly push you to take some kind of action, big or small.

Start by watching this 15-minute video (give or take a minute) on Art therapy for stress management. If you've never practiced art therapy before, you can't imagine how beneficial it can be to your mental and physical being. I took nine months of art therapy for sexual abuse a few years ago, and I can honestly say it was miraculous. And FUN, too.

So get your crayons and paper are about to doodle your way to total relaxation.

Once you've finished creating your masterpiece, check out the rest of the site. My other favourites are:

Coping with stress


* Keep a stress journal. For one week, note which events and situations cause a negative physical, mental or emotional response. Record the day and time. Give a brief description of the situation. Where were you? Who was involved? What seemed to cause the stress? Also, describe your reaction. What were your physical symptoms? How did you feel? What did you say or do? Finally, on a scale of 1 (not very intense) to 5 (very intense), rate the intensity of your stress.

* Make a list of all the demands on your time and energy for one week. Some examples may include your job, volunteer work, driving kids to after-school activities or caring for an elderly parent. Then, on a scale of 1 (not very intense) to 5 (very intense), rate the intensity of stress that each demand causes.

Sit down and look at your stress recordings. Look closely at the events that you ranked as very stressful. Select one of them to work on using problem-solving techniques.

Overcoming denial


So how can you make sure denial over something upsetting in your life isn't hurting you? It may be hard to see that you're in denial, especially if it's become extreme or long-term. If you feel stuck or if someone you trust suggests that you're in denial, try these strategies:

* Honestly ask yourself what you fear.
* Think about the potential negative consequences of not taking action.
* Allow yourself to express your fears and emotions.
* Try to identify the irrational beliefs about your situation.
* Journal about your experience.
* Open up to a trusted confidante.
* Find a support group.

Diseases and conditions

In this section, you'll find an elaborate list of conditions, from A to Z, with a sympton checker as well as a first-aid guide.

I bookmarked this site for future references.
It's a keeper!

Be happy!

Anxiety Attack -- How To Manage

This is an absolutely beautiful video. Please take the time to listen past the introduction, because the meditation-relaxation audio that follows is so worth it. I wish I would have had something like this to listen to way back when...

A Safe Place To Feel Terrible

I just finished reading Come Here, by Richard Berendzen and Laura Palmer.

And I'm totally shaken by the experience.

Richard Berendzen graduated from Harvard in 1969 with a master's degree in astronomy and an interdisciplinary PhD, and became an assistant professor in physics and astronomy at Boston University. After seven years of teaching in Boston, he moved to Washington where he was offered the job of professor of physics and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the American University. This was in 1974. By 1979, at age forty-one, he was elected university president, to take office in January of 1980.

Dr. Richard Berendzen had it all.
Including a loving wife, and two darling daughters.

But Richard also had a dark secret, one that decades of intense studying and workaholism had repressed to the farthest corner of his mind. Not until he was in his early fifties did the secret return to haunt him. Overwhelmed by a flood of forbidden memories, Dr. Berendzen -- the eminent astronomer and academician who had transformed American University from a party school into a first-rate university -- suddenly began making suggestive phone calls, which were traced to his office. Forced to resign his post, he entered the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

What was Richard's dark secret?

He had been sexually abused by his mother.

The first time it happened, he was eight years old. On a Sunday afternoon, he ran inside to get a drink of water and was summoned by his mother to enter her room -- the "middle room," as he always refers to it. "Come here," she said. By these two simple words, the terror was unleashed.

Reading about Richard's slow and tortuous recovery process made me relive some of the feelings I had experienced following my own abuse and voyage back to a happy life. Here are chosen passages that particularly struck home:

The next few days became a blur, as I slid into clinical depression. No horror, no hell can equal it. Beyond any physical pain I'd ever known, this agony permeated all of me. I wanted only to stay in my room with the lights off, drapes drawn, and door shut. I wanted to close in on myself, just as a dying star becomes a black hole.
And what should I do with my recurring thought of suicide? The alternative to suicide is the will to live. That requires a purpose.

They also gave me a booklet on depressive illnesses. I checked off every symptom: loss of appetite, feeling irritable, trouble coping, lack of interest in personal appearance, poor sleep, inability to concentrate, nausea, headaches, feeling hopeless, self-blame, uncontrollable crying, apathy. If it had been a lottery ticket, I would have won with a clean sweep.

Rage briefly cut through my depression, which then closed over me as a trap door seals in darkness. There was no escape. I felt frustrated that something existed inside me that I couldn't see and wouldn't show on a CAT scan or X ray. There wasn't a pill to cure it or a shot to ameliorate its effects. It was with me wherever I went; talking in group didn't help, and speaking privately with my doctors still left me in the same place -- depressed and scared by my utter absence of a will to live. My insides felt rotted. My Spartan room was lonely beyond belief. I cared about no one and no one cared about me. Did I feel sorry for myself? You bet. My misery was exacerbated by the inescapable fact that I had brought this on myself. It was all my fault.

This is the frustrating aspect of the illness. You can neither control nor escape it. No one can tell you how long it will last or what makes it end. Once it settles over you, it's like smog. The wind may move it, sometimes the Sun pops through, but then, without sound or warning, the depression closes back again.
The totality of my circumstance overwhelmed me. Everything I had been, I wasn't any longer. I used to think I had value as a teacher, educator, astronomer, and administrator. Now that was over. When life had no value, it felt hopeless, and hopelessness is kindling for suicide. I hadn't picked a day or a time, but suicide still haunted me. The metaphor that kept coming back was of free-fall. I could see myself falling, falling, falling to the center of the Earth. I thought I had found hell. But would the fall ever end? I kept waiting to hit bottom. How far down could I fall? Each time I thought I was there, I found another level lower. If I could just hit bottom, I might be able to begin the long climb out of the hole.

I didn't understand it then and wouldn't for many more months, but ultimately the difference between depression and nondepression, the difference between giving up and going on, is hope. Love is not enough. You have to have hope. I knew my family loved me. Still I had no hope.

Without giving away the punch, let's just say that Richard finally got an "Ah Ha" moment where he decided to "let go." He figured that he had already hit bottom. And that maybe there was no bottom after all. He felt a rush of tranquility. Having relinquished control, he felt more centered and stable. He began to cherish life, to focus not on what he had lost, but on what he still had.

According to some estimates, 60 percent of child abuse victims don't remember the abuse until years later. The trauma resurfaces when many of them are married or in relationships. The trauma can overwhelm the survivor and the partner. It's important to seek professional help at once. Because healing requires words. There is no way around a tragedy or trauma. The only way over is through, and the way you get through is by talking. Friends and family may help, but therapists are essential for anyone who has been profoundly traumatized.

Here are more excerpts...all about hope and healing.

Out of the rotten bleakness of the past year, I finally, tentatively, and hesitantly let myself hope. Healing, which at first seemed like a maze with quick turns and countless barriers, now became a long uphill road.
I began to understand how much work is involved in healing -- conscious, deliberate, and demanding work. And its path is not a straight line. It's more like connected dots -- some forward, some not.

Healing is a gift, undoubtedly so. Through healing we mend a broken heart, a shattered spirit, a crushed soul. Although time is the ultimate balm, healing takes more than just time. It takes determination, effort, and support. It takes willingness to fail and to try again. It takes personal resolve and other people's help. It can be frustrating and infuriating. In the end, it can bring satisfaction and peace.
I now believe that ways exist to transform almost any pain. Pain is part of life. The great metaphor still holds: Through the pain of childbirth comes life. And throughout life, we all will encounter pain again. Our challenge, then, is not to dread it, but to deal with it, to learn from it. Do we succumb? Turn bitter? Give up? Or do we find ways to overcome it and learn from it? "The mind is seldom quickened to very vigorous operations," Samuel Johnson noted, "except by pain."

I did not set out to transform my pain; I first had to deal with survival. Then, as I realized that I could survive, I knew that living would be worthwhile only if it had meaning and purpose. All this was incremental, but now I see that ultimately healing is about transformation and redemption.

Following his therapy and recovery, Dr. Richard Berendzen faced many more challenges before he resumed his career. To read more about this man's victory over adversity, you can purchase Come Here -- A Man Overcomes the Tragic Aftermath of Childhood Sexual Abuse at

"My strength lies solely
in my tenacity."
- Louis Pasteur

The Practice Of Mindfulness...Your Path To True Happiness

In his book -- Why Is The Buddha Smiling? -- Mark Magill explains how you can eliminate sources of distraction in order to tune in to only that which is truly meaningful.

Through a series of practical exercises, guided meditations, ancient parables, and everyday scenarios, he helps you to face down the daily meanderings of your mind -- not by ignoring the distractions, but by observing them from a place of stillness...the Buddhist place of peace.

If you follow his plan to achieve mindfulness, you will increase your "center of gravity" and discover a life that is much more fulfilling. And in the process, you will eventually understand why the Buddha is smiling.

Here now is an excerpt from Mark Magill's enlightening book, Why Is The Buddha Smiling? -- Mindfulness as a Means of Bringing Calm and Insight to Your Life:


We could benefit by a lesson from the bees. They make small but repeated efforts, day in and day out over the course of a summer. Drop by drop, they bring in the nectar of a season's worth of flowers and refine it to its essence. By working steadily, they gain a hive full of honey by the fall.

Patient, steady effort, a little each day, will lead to results. The results we are after may vary from person to person. It depends on your application and your ultimate goal. But the practice of mindfulness will reduce the power of the negative emotions. It will bring greater attention. It will bring you closer to the truth.

If you are fortunate enough to have found a path and a teacher, then you probably have some form of practice. Mindfulness is only one of the tools we use along the way. Its aim is to help us train our minds and turn them toward a positive direction.

These are some suggestions for how you can use this practice in the course of each day.


Each day when you awake, you can appreciate the fact that you are alive, that you have one more day to work toward your benefit and that of others. You can remind yourself that this life is rare and precious and you'd like to make the best use of it while you have the opportunity.


Take a little time before you begin your day to find a quiet moment.

  • Sit quietly and steady your mind.
  • Come back to yourself.
  • Follow your breath.
  • Sense yourself in your body. Feel the weight of it.
  • Find the stillness you can return to during the day.

Ten minutes is fine, twenty is okay. If you're fortunate to have more time and the desire to use it in this manner, wonderful.


You can begin your day as you sit by setting your motivation. How to you want to live your life? What do you wish to accomplish? These are your motivations. You may have objectives in the world, to achieve success or provide for your family. You can also have inner goals, to help yourself and others, to become more compassionate, to become more mindful.


You can look ahead to the outer events of your day and set your intention for your inner work. What do you want to pay attention to? What do you wish to consider?

  • If you want to develop your attention, you can decide that you will pause each half hour to come back to your self and remember your breath or the sensation of your feet on the floor.
  • If you are subject to anger, you can decide you want to try to see the moments when it first arises.
  • If you are subject to pride, you might decide to catch those moments when you are advertising yourself again.


We drift all the time, startled to find our thoughts have carried us a million miles away. As you go through the day, you can use the day's activities as a reminder to bring your attention back to the moment. Any simple act will do. Each time you sit down or stand up; each time you hear a car door slam; each time you think about your next meal. As you start out your day, you can set these "alarm clocks" in your mind to bring you back to your intention.

The author goes on, explaining point by point -- from attention to medication and recognition --, and ends this part of his teachings with the following points:


As your day draws to a close, take a few quiet moments to reflect on how you spent it. If you can sit still and be silent for a few minutes, all the better.

  • Review your day. Did you make good use of your precious time? Did you honor the intentions you set for yourself in the morning?
  • Review your thoughts, your speech, and your actions during the day. Did you contribute something positive? If you did, then you can rejoice. Did you cause harm for yourself or others? If so, you can apply the four "Rs": Recognition, Regret, Resolution, and Reparation.
  • Take stock of yourself. In Tibetan monasteries, the monks place a handful of white and black pebbles before them. They review their day's actions. For each positive act, they select a white pebble. For each negative act, they choose a black one. At the end, they take a tally. Was this day an improvement over the last?


Before you turn in, you can dedicate your good work. You have had yet one more day of this precious life. You would like your positive efforts to be of some help and use, both for yourself and others.

You can buy Why Is The Buddha Smiling? at

Women And Childhood Sexual Abuse

Having experienced sexual abuse when I was a child, I'm always drawn to whatever deals with the subject. Here's a book that recently made its way to my attention, "Stolen Tomorrows -- Understanding And Treating Women's Childhood Sexual Abuse."

The author, Steven Levenkron, is a psychotherapist whose works include "Cutting" and "The Anatomy of Anorexia." Together with his wife, cotherapist, and coauthor, Abby Levenkron, he continues to gather facts and inspiration from the many patients he sees in his New York office.

Here's a summary of the case histories Steven Levenkron writes about in his book:


Then: Cassie was a seven-year-old compliant daughter. Her mother was a full-time housewife, and her father, a general surgeon, was a pillar of the community. From ages seven to eleven, Cassie was raped at night in her bed by her father.

Now: Cassie is a fifty-two-year-old mother and wife who spent dozens of years cheating on her husband while raising their daughter. She came to me for help dealing with her behavioral problems, which had led to neglecting her daughter. Cassie always has a terrified look on her face.


Then: Olivia was a shy, five-year-old girl learning penmanship in the first grade, living with her mother and stepfather, a wealthy businessman. He nightly molested her while telling her it was good for her. This went on for five years.

Now: She is married, thirty-two, and incapable of being sexually aroused. Her husband is divorcing her. They have no children.


Then: Adrienne was a happy five-year-old until her uncle began molesting her, under water, while swimming at the southern beach where both families lived. In all her childhood photos she is frowning.

Now: Adrienne, at twenty, dates boys who exploit her, drinks to excess, and uses combinations of drugs to attempt to sleep at night. She was raped as a teen, has had anorexia for two years, dropped out of college, and is generally depressed. (Anorexia nervosa, often simply called anorexia, is an eating disorder in which the person drastically restricts her food intake, becoming dangerously thin out of a distorted fear of becoming fat. Untreated, the person may die of starvation.)


Then: Audrey remembers first being molested on a changing table when she was an infant and later, as a child aged five to eight, by her father. She remembers being aroused and experiencing what she later learned was an orgasm. She felt a peculiar attachment to her father that she did not understand.

Now: Audrey dropped out of high school when she was sixteen. She had no girl friends and turned to boys for friendship and sex. She went through a period of anorexia nervosa. She came to treatment at age twenty-four. She uses cocaine and marijuana, and drinks alcohol to excess, sometimes in combination. She cannot keep a regular job and frequently becomes verbally and physically enraged at others.


Then: Jen represents an unusual case in that what she experienced was not intentionally perpetrated abuse. She was diagnosed as suffering from urinary reflux, which causes urine to back up to the kidneys, leading to frequent kidney infections. Unchecked this would eventually damage her kidneys, requiring surgery. In an attempt to avoid surgery, the urologist catheterized Jen from ages seven to eleven, on a monthly basis for several hours. She found this treatment embarrassing, terrifying, and painful -- in short, she experienced it as sexual assault. At eleven, Jen had to undergo the deferred surgery anyway.

Now: At nineteen, Jen cuts herself and dresses seductively. In her relationships with men, she is dependent and they treat her sadistically. She is a compulsive shopper, and despite the unlimited financial resources of her family, she also shoplifts, for which she has been arrested once. She dissociates (losing conscious awareness of her surroundings) for hours at a time, suffers from derealization (feeling unable to be present in the moment or current situation), and blacks out. She crashed the family car during one such episode. Her feelings about people change mercurially from liking them to disliking them.


Then: From five to twelve years of age, June was molested by her brother. In addition, he drilled holes in her bathroom wall to spy on her. The molestation was done in a seductive manner, and she experienced arousal during these episodes. At other times he would physically abuse her, tie her up, and hit her. Her brother's treatment of her was inconsistent: he would praise her when she brought home good grades.

Now: June came to treatment for anorexia at age twenty-seven. She explained she is only attracted to abusive men, some of whom exploit her financially. She is in the process of divorcing her husband. Kind men do not arouse her sexually. At our second session she tells me she fears I will become bored with her, will dislike her, will decide not to treat her, and will abuse her. (Despite her fears, she stays in treatment continuously for seven years.)

It boggles my mind how many of the different reactions to abuse listed above I've lived through and was plagued with over the years. Though I haven't been in a relationship since I've undergone therapies and finally healed my soul, one thing I know for sure is that I won't go back to anything less than a comfortable, loving, tender, full of fun and laughs, spiritual connection with a mate. And if the Universe has other plans...if I should remain single for the rest of my least I LOVE MYSELF and have regained the self-esteem I was born with.

AMEN to that, Sisters!

P.S.: You'll find "Stolen Tomorrows" at

Managing Panic Attacks -- You Can Do It!

Rate Your Anxiety Level

According to the McKinley Health Center, you can manage your panic attacks by rating your anxiety level. Doing this exercise regularly will help you understand and manage your symptoms.

Here are the common signs and symptoms:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness, unsteadiness, or faintness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • A feeling of choking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and abdominal distress
  • Blurry vision
  • Depersonalization, or a feeling of unreality - as if you are "not all there"
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Fears of losing control or even death

Coping techniques include deep breathing:
  • Practice slow, gentle breathing on a regular basis, even when you are not feeling anxious. This will help you when you really do need to implement this practice.
  • Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, expanding your diaphragm. A good tip is your stomach should rise and then fall as you exhale through your mouth.
  • When you exhale, use positive self-talk. Tell yourself, "I am relaxed and calm."
  • After a few moments, your symptoms may not be as severe as they originally were. This is because you have lowered your anxiety level and are beginning to relax.
  • Practice this style of breathing two or three times per day.
  • Breathing properly can be one of the most important factors in managing the symptoms of anxiety.
For more information on how to rate your anxiety, consult Anxiety and Panic: What You Need to Know

Also, check out the Self-rating Anxiety Scale and answer 20 questions related to the frequency of various symptoms.

Manage Your Stress

Elisabeth Scott's take on breathing and how it can help you overcome anxiety is another site to visit if you are willing to take the time and make the necessary efforts to free yourself from panic attacks.

A life coach, writer, wife, mother, pianist, and Mensa member, Elisabeth is also a karate enthusiast. She says that all it takes are a few minutes, a quiet place, and a willing mind to get yourself on the road to freedom. Here's her simple karate breathing meditation:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. While most martial artists use the ‘seiza’ (“say zah”) position, with legs beneath the buttocks with knees directly in front, many people find this position to be uncomfortable. If this is the case, you may also sit cross-legged ('anza') or in another position that’s more comfortable for you.
  2. Close your eyes, but keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, head up, your eyes (behind your lids) focused ahead.
  3. Take a deep, cleansing breath, expanding your belly and keeping your shoulders relaxed, and hold it in for the count of six. Exhale, and repeat twice more. Then breathe normally, and focus your attention on your breathing. As you breathe, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, still expanding your belly rathern than moving your shoulders up and down.
  4. If your thoughts drift toward the stresses of the day ahead or of the day behind you, gently refocus on your breathing and remain in the present moment. Feel the air move in, and feel the air move out. That’s it.
  5. Continue this for as little or as long as you like, and you should notice that your body is more relaxed and your mind is more centered. Enjoy the rest of your day!
Be sure to read her tips concerning the karate meditation.

Nap! Nap!

"Imagine yourself in a perfect world. Your mood is positive. Your brain is operating at maximum efficiency. Your body feels healthy, energetic and agile. You have enough time to complete all the tasks at hand and still enjoy the company of family and friends. Every one of your goals is attainable."

These are the opening words to "Take a Nap! Change Your Life" written by Sara C. Mednick. Don't they make you drool? Don't you wish you could beam yourself up and live in this perfect world?

Well, according to Ms. Mednick, Ph.D., Utopia is but a nap away from becoming reality.

After conducting a series of studies at Harvard (2002-2003), the author and her colleagues proved that certain kinds of naps can produce improvements previously observed only after a full night of sleep. In other words, they could create "designer naps" that would allow students, mothers, the elderly and nine-to-fivers to tailor their own regimens to suit their individual needs.

If you're thinking, "Give me one good reason why I should nap," here's an excerpt from the book that is sure to answer your question.

Napping will allow you to:

1. Increase your alertness. This is, for many, the most important benefit. Whether you're on the road, observing market trends, diagnosing patients or interacting with clients, staying alert is the most important determinant of your efficiency. NASA studies have conclusively demonstrated that alertness increases by as much as 100 percent after a brief nap, even in well-rested subjects.

2. Speed up your motor performance. While most people think of motor learning in terms of an ability to play guitar chords, improve a swim stroke or perform a plié, you don't have to be a musician, athlete or dancer to benefit from faster motor performance. All of us engage in tasks that involve coordination, whether we're typing at a keyboard, operating machinery, changing a tire or bagging groceries. A Harvard study demonstrated that the speed of a learned motor performance is the same in nappers as in those who have had a full night of sleep.

3. Improve your accuracy. Making mistakes costs time, money, energy and sometimes even people's lives. While greater speed usually involves sacrificing accuracy, napping offers a valuable exemption from this general rule. So whether you shoot baskets or firearms, play sonatas or golf, cut diamonds or hair, a nap helps you get it right.

4. Make better decisions. What are you going to eat for lunch? Should you ask for a raise or wait awhile? What stock should you buy? Or should you sell? Every day, all day, we make decisions -- both trivial and huge. Of course, some decisions are so significant that lives can hang in the balance. Airplane takeoffs and landings require high-precision timing and the ability to read, monitor and react to a wide variety of controls. Pilots who are allowed to nap in the cockpit commit fewer judgment errors on takeoff and landings than those who aren't.

5. Improve your perception. Think how much you depend on your eyes, your ears and, to a lesser extent, your taste, touch and smell. Without the ability to fine-tune your sensory/perceptual systems, you wouldn't be able to hone in on the important environmental messages and filter out the mass of distracting sensory information that bombards all of us on a regular basis. Research shows that a nap can be as effective as a night of sleep in improvement of perceptual skills. Driving, cooking, appreciating music or art, reading, proofreading, quality control and even bird-watching are all enhanced after a nap.

6. Fatten your bottom line. Fatigue-related accidents cost U.S. industry over $150 million a year. Businesses that allow their employees to nap have shown decreases in errors and increases in productivity. According to the Shiftwork Practices survey issued in 2004 by Circadian Technologies, workmen's comp costs are highest where employees report the most fatigue, and claims at facilities that ban napping are four times higher than those that allow it. Judged by this standard, naps are a bargain.

7. Preserve your youthful looks. Nothing ages you like fatigue. Adding a nap to your regimen will improve skin and tissue regeneration and keeps you looking younger longer. Napping is truly beauty sleep.

8. Improve your sex life. Sleep deprivation dampens sex drive and sexual function. Napping reverses those effects. So nap now and your partner will love you more later.

9. Lose weight. Studies show that sleepy people reach for high-fat, sugar-rich foods more than people who are rested. Take a nap and not only can you resist those potato chips and cheesecake, but you'll be producing more growth hormone that reduces body fat.

The author goes on, listing eleven other reasons why we should nap -- from reducing heart attacks and strokes to reducing stress, boosting creativity, helping your memory, and alleviating migraines, ulcers, and other problems with psychological components.

If you want to learn more about designing your personal nap regimen, you can find Sara C. Mednick's excellent book, "Take a Nap! Change Your Life -- The Scientific Plan to Make You Smarter, Healthier, More Productive, " at

Deal With Stress...Before it Deals You Out!

Finding ways to relax - any time, any place - is finding the Holy Grail of Happiness. That's why applying relaxation techniques in the workplace can be just what the doctor ordered. We all know how easily we can be sucked into Job Hell, so make it a habit to stop at least every other hour...and BREATHE.

I took a quick look around and found a site that offers a step by step guide to relax at your desk.

The article is - amazingly - titled How To Relax at Your Desk,
and if you can get your sweaty, trembling hand to click HERE,
you'll instantly find relief.

Now see how much better you feel...


Eating Disorder? Get Help!

If you’ve already faced the fact that you have an eating disorder, or if you find you might be falling into an eating pattern that just might be detrimental to your health, then maybe it’s time for you to seek help.

Caringonline could be the place to start.

Right off the bat, you’ll find a short video
on anorexia.

And if you want to delve even deeper into the complex world of anorexia, bulimia,
binge and compulsive overeating, there's a Questionnaires link that will connect you to several health tests, surveys, and evaluations.

Here are a few of the other topics you’ll find on Caringonline:

  • Body Image - How you see yourself
  • Cutting, Self-Mutilation - And eating disorders
  • Osteoporosis - Eating Disorders and Osteoporosis
  • Physiology - How eating disorders affect the body

So please, stop kidding yourself.
Because you're hurting yourself.

Get help NOW!

Big hugs,

I'm Back!

Hello Dear Friends,

Well, it's been a long time, hasn't it?

Oh yeah...

But you know what, it's good to take a break
now and then. Personally, the last months away from this little cyberhome have made me realize how much I really want and need to share my views and experiences here.

So let's get the ball rolling!

Lots of love and a very special reunion hug,




Hello Sweet People!

Last summer, I spoke of Shakti Gawain's superb book Living in The Light, A Guide to Personal and Planetary Transformation (re: August 26 and 27, 2006). While working through Walking in this World in my Diarrhea of Love blog, and ever since doing the collage called for in Week Three, I've been thinking about Shakti's Treasure Maps.

In Creative Visualization, Use The Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life, Shakti teaches the art of using mental imagery and affirmations to produce positive changes in your life. It's filled with meditations, exercises, and techniques that can help you use the power of your imagination in order to

  • change negative habit patterns
  • improve self-esteem
  • reach career goals
  • increase prosperity
  • develop creativity
  • increase vitality
  • improve your health
  • experience deep relaxation
  • and much more

The mind's the limit...not the sky. And this book shows you how to expand your mind and reach way beyond what you thought your limits were.

Creative Visualization

TREASURE MAPS are one of the fun ways of doing this. Here's an excerpt taken from Shakti's book that explains this very powerful technique:

A treasure map is an actual, physical picture of your desired reality. It is valuable because it forms an especially clear, sharp image which can then attract and focus energy into your goal. It works along the same lines as a blueprint for a building.

You can make a treasure map by drawing or painting it, or by making a collage using pictures and words cut from magazines, books or cards, photographs, drawings, and so on. Don't worry if you're not artistically accomplished. Simple, childlike treasure maps are just as effective as great works of art!

Basically the treasure map should show you in your ideal scene, with your goal fully realized.

Here are some guidelines that will help you make the most effective treasure maps:

1. Create a treasure map for a single goal or area of your life, so that you can be sure to include all the elements without getting too complicated. This enables the mind to focus on it more clearly and easily than if you include all your goals on one treasure map. You might want to do one treasure map for your relationships, one for your job, one for your spiritual growth, and so on.

2. You can make it any size that's convenient for you. You may want to keep it in your notebook, hang it on your wall, or carry it in your pocket or purse. I usually make mine on light cardboard, which holds up better than paper.

3. Be sure to put yourself in the picture. For a very realistic effect, use a photograph of yourself. Otherwise draw yourself in. Show yourself being, doing, or having your desired objective -- traveling around the world, wearing your new clothes, or being the proud author of your new book.

4. Show the situation in its ideal, complete form, as if it already exists. You don't need to indicate how it's going to come about. This is the finished product. Don't show anything negative or undesirable.

5. Use lots of colour in your treasure map to increase the power on your consciousness.

6. Show yourself in a real setting: make it look believable to yourself.

7. Include some symbol of the infinite which has meaning and power for you. It could be an "om" sign, a cross, Christ, Buddha, a sun radiating light, or anything that represents universal intelligence or God. This is an acknowledgment and a reminder that everything comes from the infinite source.

8. Put affirmations on your treasure map. "Here I am driving my new hybrid gas and electric car."

Be sure to also include the cosmic affirmation:

This, or something better, now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned.

The process of creating your treasure map is a powerful step toward manifesting your goal. Now just spend a few minutes each day quietly looking at it, and every once in a while throughout the day give it a thought. That is all that's necessary.

taken from Shakti Gawain's book, CREATIVE VISUALIZATION


Show yourself radiantly healthy, active, beautiful, participating in whatever activities would indicate perfect health.

Weight or Physical Condition

Show yourself with your perfect body, feeling wonderful about yourself (cut a picture from a magazine that looks like you would look in your perfect condition, and paste a photo of your head on the body!). You can make statements with balloons around them coming out of your mouth like in cartoons, to indicate how you are feeling, such as, "I feel wonderful and look fantastic now that I weigh 125 pounds, and am in great physical condition."

Self-Image and Beauty

Show yourself as you want to feel about yourself...beautiful, relaxed, enjoying life, warm and loving. Include words and symbols that represent these qualities to you.


Put photos of yourself and your friend, lover, husband, wife, family member, or co-worker in your treasure map, with pictures, symbols, and affirmations showing that you are happy, loving, communicating, enjoying a deep, wonderful sexual relationship, or whatever is appropriate and desirable for that relationship. If you are looking for a new relationship, find pictures and words that represent qualities you desire in the person and the relationship; show yourself with the ideal person for you.

Job or Career

Show yourself doing what you really want to do, with interesting, agreeable co-workers, earning plenty of money (be specific about how much you want), in the location you desire, and any other pertinent details.


Use symbols, colours, and pictures that indicate your creativity is really opening up. Show yourself doing and manifesting creative, beautiful, interesting things and feeling great about them.

Family and Friends

Show members of your family or friends in totally harmonious, loving relationships with you and each other.


Show yourself wherever you want to be, with plenty of time and money to enjoy your location.

And so on.
You get the idea.

A reminder that you can purchase Shakti's books at
or buy them directly on her website.

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Clarissa Pinkola Estés is a Jungian analyst and cantadora,
a collector and teller of stories.

In her bestselling book, Women Who Run With The Wolves, Estés uses nineteen folk tales to empower and enlighten women. She attempts to reconnect us with the Wild Woman hidden somewhere deep within each of us.

The Wild Woman is not wild in the sense of being crazy, angry or out-of-control, she is wild because she has not lost her connection to life, death and rebirth--or, to put it more simply, nature.

Estes' book will show you where you have lost touch with your heart, your guts, your creativity, your wildness--your life! The stories she presents, and her insightful analysis of those stories, will gently lead you back to yourself.

Here, now, is an excerpt from Women Who Run With The Wolves:

Women Who Run with the Wolves

I would like to introduce you to the concept of Descansos. If you ever traveled in Old Mexico, New Mexico, southern Colorado, Arizona, or parts of the South, you've seen little white crosses by the roadway. These are descansos, resting places. You'll also find them on the edges of cliffs along particularly scenic but dangerous roads in Greece, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries. Sometimes crosses are clustered in twos or threes or fives. People's names are inscribed upon them -- Jesus Mendez, Arturo Beunofuentes, Jeannie Abeyta. Sometimes the names are spelled out in nails, sometimes they are painted on or carved into the wood.

Descansos are symbols that mark a death. Right there, right on that spot, someone's journey in life halted unexpectedly. There has been a car accident, or someone was walking along the road and died of heat exhaustion, or a fight took place there. Something happened there that altered that person's life and the lives of other persons forever.

Women have died a thousand deaths before they are twenty years old. They've gone in this direction or that, and have been cut off. They have hopes and dreams that have been cut off also. Anyone who says otherwise is still asleep. All that is grist for the mill of descansos.

While all these things deepen individuation, differentiation, growing up and growing out, blossoming, becoming awake and aware and conscious, they are also profound tragedies and have to be grieved as such.

To make descansos means taking a look at your life and marking where the small deaths, las muertes chicitas, and the big deaths, las muertes grandotas, have taken place. I like to make a time-line of a woman's life on a big long sheet of white butcher paper, and to mark with a cross the places along the graph, starting with her infancy all the way to the present where parts and pieces of her self and her life have died.

We mark where there were roads not taken, paths that were cut off, ambushes, betrayals and deaths. I put a little cross along the time-line at the places that should have been mourned, or still need to be mourned. And then I write in the backgroung "forgotten" for those things that the woman senses but have not yet surfaced. I also write "forgiven" over those things the woman has for the most part released.

I encourage you to make descansos, to sit down with a time-line of your life and say "Where are the crosses? Where are the places that must be remembered, must be blessed?" In all are meanings that you've brought forward into your life today. They must be remembered, but they must be forgotten at the same time. It takes time. And patience.

Descansos is a conscious practice that takes pity on and gives honour to the orphaned dead of your psyche, laying them to rest at last.

Be gentle with yourself and make the descansos, the resting places for the aspects of yourself that were on their way to somewhere, but never arrived. Descansos mark the death sites, the dark times, but they are also love notes to your suffering. They are transformative. There is a lot to be said for pinning things to the earth so they don't follow us around. There is a lot to be said for laying them to rest.

You can buy Women Who Run With The Wolves at


Rummaging through my boxes of documents yesterday, I was surprised and delighted to find this book, which I call a classic: HOMECOMING - Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child.

The author, John Bradshaw, was my very first Personal Development Guru. Back when HOMECOMING came out -- in 1990 -- he was already referred to as "America's Leading Personal Growth Expert." The creator and host of four nationally broadcast PBS television series based on his best-selling books, Mr. Bradshaw introduced the concept of the "Wounded Inner Child", and familiarized us with the term "dysfunctional family."

His works include, among others, Family Secrets: The Path to Self-Acceptance and Reunion, The Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem, Creating Love: The Next Great Stage of Growth, and Healing the Shame that Binds You: Recovery Classics Edition.

You can view a wide selection of his books at

For John Bradshaw's schedule of lectures and workshops, visit the Center for Creative Growth.

Here now is what I find a very touching excerpt from HOMECOMING. It ends a chapter dealing with the spiritual wound caused by sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. I hope it resonates with you also.


I was there at your conception
In the epinephrine of your mother's shame
You felt me in the fluid of your mother's womb
I came upon you before you could speak
Before you understood
Before you had any way of knowing
I came upon you when you were learning to walk
When you were unprotected and exposed
When you were vulnerable and needy
Before you had any bounderies

I came upon you when you were magical
Before you could know I was there
I severed your soul
I pierced you to the core
I brought you feelings of being flawed and defective
I brought you feelings of distrust, ugliness, stupidity, doubt,
worhtlessness, inferiority, and unworthiness
I made you feel different
I told you there was something wrong with you
I soiled your Godlikeness

I existed before conscience
Before guilt
Before morality
I am the master emotion
I am the internal voice that whispers words of condemnation
I am the internal shudder that courses through you without any mental preparation

I live in secrecy
In the deep moist banks of darkness, depression, and despair
Always I sneak up on you I catch you off guard I come through the back door
Uninvited unwanted
The first to arrive
I was there at the beginning of time
With Father Adam, Mother Eve
Brother Cain
I was at the Tower of Babel the Slaughter of the Innocents

I come from "shameless" caretakers, abandonment, ridicule, abuse, neglect -- perfectionistic systems
I am empowered by the shocking intensity of a parent's rage
The cruel remarks of siblings
The jeering humiliation of other children
The awkward reflection of the mirrors
The touch that feels icky and frightening
The slap, the pinch, the jerk that ruptures trust
I am intensified by
A racist, sexist culture
The righteous condemnation of religious bigots
The fears and pressures of schooling
The hypocrisy of politicians
The multigenerational shame of dysfunctional family systems

I bring a pain that is chronic
A pain that will not go away
I am the hunter that stalks you night and day
Every day everywhere
I have no boundaries
You try to hide from me
But you cannot
Because I live inside of you
I make you feel hopeless
Like there is no way out

My pain is so unbearable that you must pass me on to others
through control, perfectionism, contempt, criticism, blame,
envy, judgment, power, and rage
My pain is so intense
You must cover me up with addictions, rigid roles, reenactment,
and unconscious ego defenses
My pain is so intense
That you must numb out and no longer feel me
I convinced you that I am gone -- that I do not exist -- you
experience absence and emptiness

I am the core of co-dependency
I am spiritual bankruptcy
The logic of absurdity
The repetition compulsion
I am crime, violence, incest, rape
I am the voracious hole that fuels all addictions
I am insatiability and lust
I am Ahaverus the Wandering Jew, Wagner's Flying Dutchman,
Dostoyevski's underground man, Kierkegaard's seducer,
Goethe's Faust
I twist who you are into what you do and have
I murder your soul and you pass me on for generations

Winter Blues

They call it SAD.

And indeed it can be...very sad.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is recognized today as a distinct form of depression. It is a proven fact that changes in the weather and the seasons alter our brain chemistry and can affect how we feel, how we sleep, what we eat, and how well we cope with the everyday demands of our careers and relationships.

Some people feel as though they have entered a period of hibernation: overeating, oversleeping, and withdrawing from the world. Others lose their appetites and find themselves restless and agitated.

In its milder forms, we call SAD the "winter blues."
In its most severe forms, it can render one
virtually dysfunctional.

Millions of people feel the effects of SAD, but four
times as many women than men are likely to be
afflicted by it. Adults between the ages of twenty
and forty are the most susceptible.

Are you SAD?

Take this test to find out.


1. Do you find you have less energy than usual?

2. Do you feel less productive or creative?

3. Do you feel sad, down, or depressed?

4. Do you feel less enthusiastic about the future
or enjoy your life less?

5. Do you need more sleep than usual?

6. Do you feel you have no control over your
appetite or your weight?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be one of the many men and women who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

But do not despair, there is hope in the air!

A pioneer in the field of seasonal studies, Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal has written Seasons of the Mind, Why You Get The Winter Blues & What You Can Do About It. Dr. Rosenthal describes his remarkable "light therapy" and offers inspiring case histories of its success with hundreds of SAD patients. He explains how to assess your own level of SAD, when to seek medical advice, and how to secure your own light therapy.

Also included are alternative treatments, a diet plan to curb cravings unique to SAD sufferers, advice for family and friends of SAD individuals, and practical tips and professional advice on living with SAD.

Here is an excerpt:


The benefit of increasing environmental light can be obtained not only from formal therapy in front of a light box, but whenever your environment is brighter. Some people have several light boxes in the house, which gives them more exposure without the feeling of being trapped in one location. It is not critical for the extra light to come from special boxes. Enhancing light levels at home or in the workplace may be helpful, even if this is accomplished by installing more lights on the ceiling or placing more lamps in the room.

Modifications of the home to increase indoor light levels may be as simple as trimming hedges around the windows or low-lying branches of trees near the house, or as elaborate as constructing skylights. Using bright colors and surfaces can also be effective. Dark wood paneling can be replaced with light-colored wallpaper. Splashes of yellow and orange on curtains and cushions seem to be popular with some people, while others choose white or off-white carpeting and furnishings. SAD patients buying new homes should pay attention to the size of the windows and the directions that the rooms face.

Exposure to natural light can be both enjoyable and therapeutic. This applies to lunchtime walks on sunny winter days or sunlight reflected from snow. Some people have chosen to work the evening shift, which allows them to enjoy as much outdoor sunshine as possible.

Once you pay attention to the amount and quality of your environmental light, you will come up with all kinds of ways to enhance it, which will help you feel more comfortable and cheerful.

Available at

Also from the same author, Winter Blues.

Revised and udated, available at

Mood Therapy

"In clear, simple language, FEELING GOOD, The New Mood Therapy, outlines a drug-free cure for anxiety, guilt, pessimism, procrastination, low self-esteem, and other "black holes" of depression."

Cover Image

What an introduction! After reading David D. Burns' book, I must say it does contain a treasure of information and tips to help you discover how to:

  • Recognize what causes your mood swings
  • Nip negative feelings in the bud
  • Deal with guilt
  • Handle hostility and criticism
  • Overcome love and approval addiction
  • Beat "do-nothingism" ( LOVE that term!)
  • Defuse anger
  • Overcome perfectionism
  • Cope with stress
  • Avoid downward spiral of depression
  • Build self-esteem
  • Feel good every day

Here's a good excerpt -- and food for thought...

Ten Things You Should Know About Your Anger

1. The events of this world don't make you angry. Your "hot thoughts" create your anger. Even when a genuinely negative event occurs, it is the meaning you attach to it that determines your emotional response.

The idea that you are responsible for your anger is ultimately to your advantage because it gives you the opportunity to achieve control and make a free choice about how you want to feel. If it weren't for this, you would be helpless to control your emotions; they would be irreversibly bound up with every external event of this world, most of which are ultimately out of your control.

2. Most of the time your anger will not help you. It will immobilize you, and you will become frozen in your hostility to no productive purpose. You will feel better if you place your emphasis on the active search for creative solutions. What can you do to correct the difficulty or at least reduce the chance that you'll get burned in the same way in the future? This attitude will eliminate to a certain extent the helplessness and frustration that eat you up when you feel you can't deal with a situation effectively.

If no solution is possible because the provocation is totally beyond your control, you will only make your self miserable with your resentment, so why not get rid of it? It's difficult if not impossible to feel anger and joy simultaneously. If you think your angry feelings are especially precious and important, then think about one of the happiest moments of your life. Now ask yourself, How many minutes of that period of peace or jubilation would I be willing to trade in for feeling frustration and irritation instead?

3. The thoughts that generate anger more often than not will contain distortions. Correcting these distortions will reduce your anger.

4. Ultimately your anger is caused by your belief that someone is acting unfairly or some event is unjust. The intensity of the anger will increase in proportion to the severity of the maliciousness perceived and if the act is seen as intentional.

5. If you learn to see the world through other people's eyes, you will often be surprised to realize their actions are not unfair from their point of view. The unfairness in these cases turns out to be an illusion that exists only in your mind! If you are willing to let go of the unrealistic notion that your concepts of truth, justice, and fairness are shared by everyone, much of your resentment and frustration will vanish.

6. Other people usually do not feel they deserve your punishment. Therefore, your retaliation is unlikely to help you achieve any positive goals in your interactions with them. Your rage will often just cause further deterioration and polarization, and will function as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if you temporarily get what you want, any short-term gains from such hostile manipulation will often be more than counterbalanced by a long-term resentment and retaliation from the people you are coercing. No one likes to be controlled or forced. This is why a positive reward system works better.

7. A great deal of your anger involves your defense against loss of self-esteem when people criticize you, disagree with you, or fail to behave as you want them to. Such anger is always inappropriate because only your own negative distorted thoughts can cause you to lose self-esteem. When you blame the other guy for your feelings of worthlessness, you are always fooling yourself.

8. Frustration results from unmet expectations. Since the event that disappointed you was a part of "reality," it was "realistic." Thus, your frustration always results from your unrealistic expectation. You have the right to try to influence reality to bring it more in line with your expectations, but this is not always practical, especially when these expectations represent ideals that don't correspond to everyone else's concept of human nature. The simplest solution would be to change your expectations.

For example, some unrealistic expectations that lead to frustration include:

a. If I want something (love, happiness, a promotion, etc.), I deserve it.

b. If I work hard at something, I should be successful.

c. Other people should try to measure up to my standards and believe in my concept of "fairness."

d. I should be able to solve any problems quickly and easily.

e. If I'm a good wife, my husband is bound to love me.

f. People should think and act the way I do.

g. If I'm nice to someone, they should reciprocate.

9. It is just childish pouting to insist you have the right to be angry. Of course you do! Anger is legally permitted in the United States. The crucial issue is -- is it to your advantage to feel angry? Will you or the world really benefit from your rage?

10. You rarely need your anger in order to be human. It is not true that you will be an unfeeling robot without it. In fact, when you rid yourself of that sour irritability, you will feel greater zest, joy, peace, and productivity. You will experience liberation and enlightenment.

You can buy the book at Barnes & Noble.

There's even a Feeling Good Handbook.

Cover Image

Here's how Barnes and Noble describes it: Filled with charts, quizzes, weekly self-assessment tests, and a daily mood log, The Feeling Good Handbook actively engages its readers in their own recovery. With a new section on the latest prescription drugs for treating depression and anxiety disorders, The Feeling Good Handbook is an indispensable guide to help change thinking, control mood swings, deal with disasters, and feel better about yourself and those around you.

So next time you feel anger coming on,
think about Feeling Good instead!

Love you,

Pity Parties

In her book -- I'D RATHER LAUGH, How to Be Happy Even When Life Has Other Plans for You -- Linda Richman teaches us that the human spirit is always capable of laughter, even after great sorrow.

Wayne W. Dyer: "Linda Richman's life proves what wise people have always known -- that every person can create and sustain joy. She also shows, beautifully and with a heart and soul filled with love, that the search for meaning starts and ends with you."

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 6:

How to Throw a Pity Party

"People think that because I have endured a lot of pain I will have a great deal to say on the subject, including a few words of magic healing.

They're out of luck.

Here's all I know about pain: Nobody wants any, and everybody gets some. That's all anybody knows about pain right there in one little sentence.

You sure don't want any, am I correct? And no wonder! Pain hurts.


People ask me, "When the pain gets too hard to bear, how do you fight it?"

"I don't," I say.

"You don't?"

"I give in," I tell them.

"You what?"

"I give in," I say.

If I wake up and feel down and sad and depressed, I explain, I cancel everything for the next day or so. I don't take a shower, and I don't wash my hair. I don't even leave my bed except when nature requires me to. I grab two bags of potato chips, I pull the covers over my head, and I lie there feeling sorry for myself. I weep. I curse. I suffer -- not just a little. A lot. I suffer as much as is humanly possible. I suffer more in two days than most people do in a year. I do everything I can to make myself feel as bad and sad as possible.

Nobody throws a pity party like I do.

"And then what happens?" they ask.

"On the third day," I tell them, "I get up."

"You get up?"

On the third day, I say, whether I want to or not, I get out of bed, I take a shower, I wash my hair, I put on makeup and get the hell out of the house. That's the key to the whole thing. That's my brilliant solution. You allow yourself to behave like an insane person for exactly two days. Two days is healthy. Two days is healing.

Three days is dangerous.

Two days is a beneficial method of dealing with your pain so you can get over it a little. Three days is a running start on the road to agoraphobia -- take it from someone who's been there and done that. So on the third day, like Jesus Christ, you get up, get dressed, get going.

"Huh!" they say. Sometimes their mouths hang open a little.

It sounds like the worst advice any sad person has ever gotten, doesn't it? It sounds like a good excuse to let your troubles turn you into a zombie. But it has the opposite effect. Rather than spend every day feeling halfway undone by sadness and depression, rather than go through life always feeling gloomy and preoccupied by loss, I pack most of my suffering into just a few days. Those pity parties have an amazingly positive influence on the rest of my life. I always leave those parties feeling great.

The idea for pity parties came to me from something I learned during the therapy that cured my agoraphobia. The shrinks told us that if we wanted to conquer our fears, we had to flood our emotions with them. Instead of protecting ourselves from anxiety -- which is a natural impulse, isn't it? -- we had to practically bathe in it. Because you can't live in extreme terror all the time. Your mind just can't operate that way.

I use the same general principle at my pity parties. There are certain days of the year when I really feel the sadness and pain of losing Jordan (1) most sharply. On those days, I don't try to fight it. I don't tell myself to be brave and strong and responsible. I just give in. I bathe my brain in pity.

But you really have to do it right. You have to suffer like nobody ever suffered. A few sniffles and some staring out the window won't do it. You've got to drop the bomb on yourself. You've got to scorch the earth."

(1) Jordon is Linda's son who was killed in an auto accident at age 29.

Want to read some more? Go to Excerpts.

To buy the book, go to

It's even out in DVD, as a 60-minute program.

Linda Richman: I'd Rather Laugh DVD

Buy it from Video Universe -- here's what they say about it:

Linda Richman, Summa cum Laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks, and inspiration for the SNL sketch "Coffee Talk" (she's Mike Myer's mother-in-law), hosts this program designed to help those experiencing personal harships. Ms. Richman shares her own experiences, and in doing so, she offers valuable advice on how to weather stress, life altering transitions, and loss, aided by her distinct and empowering sense of humor. Originally a PBS special, this version included footage that never aired with the original program.

Lots of love and laughs,

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