December 5, 2012

The power of friendship.

Life is mysterious in how it brings me what I need when I need it.  I don't ask, sometimes I certainly don't know what I need, but there it is, something to quench my thirst or heal a wound or get me ready for an upcoming difficulty.  Such was another Wow meeting, as usual a yummy potluck, girlish giggles around the table, and then the speaker with a message I so needed to hear, right then.

We had the pleasure of meeting Jodi Behn, a licensed marriage and family therapist on whose brochure is written, "Explore, heal, grow, and enjoy your life fully."  (You can reach Jodi at Mending Hearts Family Counseling, 805-581-6161, on the internet at, or via email at After she agreed to speak to our group, she thought about a topic and decided upon friendship.  Of course, the Wow group is just that, a place for women to be friends, to have a safe place to share and realize we all go through struggles and triumphs in life, and a place to grow and learn.  So I was quite interested in the idea of learning about the actual physiological benefits of friendship.

Jodi shared that, when we shake hands and hug, as we so often do at our meetings, a chemical Oxytocin is created in our bodies, which promotes our desire to tend to one another.  Human touch actually disarms, promotes bonding, and helps reduce social fears.  It makes women want to care and makes us feel better, acts like an antidepressant, and increases generosity and empathy. Friendships shape us, fill emotional gaps, counteract stress, and help us to know ourselves. Friendships keep us socially engaged, make us happier, help us live longer, and boost our immune systems. Friendships lower our rates of disease, promote longer lives and give us a sense of belonging and purpose.

I did create this group seven years ago so that I could make more women friends.  The women in Wow are eclectic and represent a broad range of personalities and interests, yet our meetings find us laughing and sharing and leaving feeling enriched.  Even though many of us only see each other once a month, I now realize what a profound affect such an evening together has on our health and happiness.  Many thanks to the lovely Jodi, smart and kind and delightful company, to help us understand ourselves in such a meaningful way. 

November 14, 2012

Letting go.

I’ve been told that we write so that the world will know us.  I agree, and I also think we write so that we will know ourselves.   I’ve recently been through a tragic loss, a recurrence of past cruelty, and an awakening of hurt feelings that I thought I long ago released.  I still find it shocking that people can purposely hurt others, even though I read and hear stories everyday of man’s inhumanity to man.  I’m more amazed than hurt, surprised at the very idea that someone can choose to do things that they know will cause harm to others.  Why not love, nurture, encourage, and do whatever we can possibly do to make life better and easier for others?  

I don’t want to feel bitter or angry.  I want to forgive. And I want to understand, so I thought I’d look up some famous quotes about what happened.  Here's what I found:

On Cruelty: 

“Man is the cruelest animal.”

“People speak sometimes about the "bestial" cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”

There must have been a moment, at the beginning, were we could have said -- no. But somehow we missed it. ”

On Forgiveness:

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Keep in mind, hurting people often hurt other people as a result of their own pain. If somebody is rude and inconsiderate, you can almost be certain that they have some unresolved issues inside. They have some major problems, anger, resentment, or some heartache they are trying to cope with or overcome. The last thing they need is for you to make matters worse by responding angrily.”
Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential

“We don't forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it--because we need it.”
Bree Despain, The Dark Divine

To the person who has caused me to suffer, I want you to know I can live without what you deprived me of, now and for the past many decades.  My life’s riches, the love of friends and my children and grandchildren, are immeasurable.  I am blessed daily by precious and unforgettable moments and the ability to recognize them and hold them in my heart.  My riches are priceless…..and I am truly blessed.

I want you to be happy, too.  But in the end, I wonder if you’ve been so cruel to me all my life so you won’t have to believe that you were capable of doing something so terrible to me as a child?  I forgive you.  I forgive you every dayMaybe it’s time to forgive yourself. 

November 5, 2012

Being "mojolicious"

Another last Thursday of the month, another Wow meeting!  Yummy food, beautiful ladies, silly stories of recent adventures, and a delightful speaker.  We were honored to meet Deborah Kagan ( who is as beautiful outside as she is inside, we were quick to learn.  Just hear the title of her book, "Find Your Me Spot....52 ways to reclaim your confidence, feel good in your own skin, and live a turned-on Life."  Just who wouldn't want to meet someone who believes in that and can teach you how to achieve it!

Deborah talks about leading a "luscious life," ....being "mojolicious."  She says that we all have mojo, our own magnetic power, that we are born with it but then things in life deform us, shrink us, take away our mojo, teach us that we are not valuable. If abused, we are not even safe in our own body.  Our mind, our neural pathways, get imbedded with what makes us feel small and unworthy.

So how do we regain our "mojo," our life force?  Deborah taught us that our thoughts become our words and then our actions.  There are three dangerous mindsets, starting with jealousy.  When we feel that something is missing in us, we project our insides by their outsides.  The cure is to get excited about what has made us jealous and then our excitement brings us energy that others feel as good vibes.  Another unhealthy mindset is judgment, which comes when we don't have the whole story.  In reality, we are all one, connected to each other through energy.  Looking into another's eyes makes us realize we are all one and causes our unwarranted judgement to dissipate.  The third unhealthy mindset is gossip, which depletes our mojo, our energy. The cure?  Turn it around, give compliments....and receive them graciously when given back.

There's a lot more to the lovely Deborah. She gave us exercises to ignite our feminine energy, exercises designed to allow us to feel our bodies again and regain our power which lies therein.  We powerful independent women have the problem of turning off our "working" self, our masculine energy that allows us women to run a business, a home, or a family. She suggested ways to turn off our masculine energy, return to our feminine self by coming home after a day at work and dancing to music by ourselves, changing our clothes, and taking a luxurious bath or shower.  She suggested that, to change the messages that robbed us our of mojo, our energy, our self, we need to change our subconscious, do something different, be brave, feel free, live fully as we were meant to live.  

Ah, Deborah, you provided us with an unforgettable evening, a time to stop and feel and get in touch with the beauty within us.  To the beautiful Deborah, a heart-felt thank-you for helping us find our own beauty once again...or maybe for the first time.

June 29, 2012

The job of doing nothing.

I'm on vacation this week.  I have no plans for a fancy cruise or even a plane trip back to visit my best friend across the States, but just a week to relax, help care for my grandkids while my daughter gets away with a few girlfriends, and to shake off the recent escalating burn-out from working six months without time off, except weekends.  No real plans, just the normal stuff like a hair cut, getting my nails done, see a few friends, and maybe getting a few repairs done around the house, but I especially didn't want to over-program my free time.

What's most surprising is how hard it is for me to have nothing really to do, no absolute plans, no need to "get things done."  I have a job where I am overloaded with my own tasks, on top of managing a staff of other women and keeping two doctors happy and functioning efficiently.  There's never a minute to breathe easily, I'm always rushing to catch up, and then sometimes I have to throw out what I needed to accomplish in a day while I tend to medical emergencies that are complicated and time-consuming.  Add to that the emotions of my staff, the growing discontent of my employers with their profession, and the angst of my sick patients, my job is often overwhelming.

So here I am at home with really nothing I "have" to do and it's taken me four to five days to relax and not feel like something is missing, that there's something I "should" be doing, that it's perfectly fine and natural to read or watch TV or sit outside and listen to the birds, that no one is expecting anything from me at all.  I think about a friend who lives in a small town in Minnesota where everyone speaks and moves slowly, where fun is getting together for dinner and cards at a friend's house, and where there are no high-pressure jobs to wear them out physically and emotionally.  And it's easy for them to do nothing, no problem.

At the end of this week, I finally feel the pressure lift and finally have accepted the idea that there's no one checking on what I've accomplished, there's no one judging my productivity, and there's no list that I was required to finish.  The reality is that there is no one judging me but me.  I'm the one who learned as a child that my worth is judged by my productivity, that "slacking off" is bad, and that just doing nothing is wrong.  I hereby change that concept and now accept that the garage is a mess but it doesn't matter, the household chores can wait, and that there is really no one who notices.  Kinda makes me think about what's important, which of course is the happiness of my daughter and her family, my health, and that I am able to take care of my self.  I'm not rich, I'm not famous, and I haven't climbed any memorable mountains or jumped out of any airplanes, but really, who cares!

May 1, 2012

Turning Disappointments into Intimate Connections

Another Thursday evening, another wonderful evening with the Wowettes.  Yummy food, delightful company, and a speaker who touched us all.  Julie Orlov is the author of "The Pathway To Love - Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery."  When we initially corresponded, she suggested the topic of "Turning Disappointments into Intimate Connections," a subject no other speaker has taught us, so I was intrigued and she seemed genuinely happy and enthusiastic to speak to our group. We were lucky enough to enjoy her company for the pre-speaker potluck and she seemed just like one of us, talkative, sharing, listening, and laughing while enjoying a healthy and hearty meal.

Julie taught us that relationships are all living and breathing life forces, never static, but growing and changing.  Every relationship has a predictable pathway, which if understood, allows us to grow through the challenges quickly and with less pain.  Finally, relationships give many gifts and provide a mirror to help us understand ourselves and grow.  Julie noted that there are three different types of disappointments, which she defined as not having our needs, wants, expectations being met. These three are value-based, with those in the relationship having different sets of values; integrity-based, with the one who disappoints not being reliable or keeping his or her word; and no-based, meaning simply that we don't like to be denied when we want something.

Facing disappointments, we are reminded, Julie says, that life is not fair.  Our reactions to these disappointments teach us who we are, and she told a personal story about how a cousin disappointed her by not planning to attend an important family function.  Julie allowed herself to fully realize what his "no" meant to her, and she choose to confront him in a way that talked about her, how she felt, how much it meant to her to have him attend.  Rather than lashing out and condemning his actions, her recognizing her own reactions and then being so vulnerable to him allowed them a very special moment of closeness that they had not experienced together. She showed us how she practiced her "stop, look, and listen" technique that allows us, when disappointed, to take the time to ask ourselves, "What's at stake for me?" and "What results do I want from this?" and finally seek to understand the other person by really listening, instead of reacting from a place of hurt and emotion.  She reminded us that we are responsible for our own feelings and actions, that we need to own our feelings, forgive the one who disappointed us, and re-open our heart, all of which can increase the depth of our intimacy in the relationship.  Disappointments can hurt and wound us, but we can heal by being compassionate, thinking about the other person's actions and reasons for them, and then understand and accept the other person.  

I was surprised to see how many of the ladies were affected by Julie's teachings, how many have held hurts inside of them and how Julie's words allowed the ladies to feel the pain and start to let it go. Julie's statement that "It's self-love to forgive" seemed to have a profound effect on many of us and I have a hunch those are words we may never forget.  So thanks to the most lovely and kind Julie for an evening of her good company, amazing wisdom, and words that changed our lives.  (You can reach Julie at

January 12, 2012

Holiday Hopes

Traditions are comforting, something to look forward to, things to cherish.  We in Wow have a tradition for our end-of-the-year Holiday Meeting.  One of our founding Wowettes invites us to meet at her home for a potluck, gift exchange, and a time to share what we want to nurture in our life in the coming year.  Instead of saying "I want to" exercise, lose weight, or whatever it is, we say, "I am," as if it is already becoming reality right now.  Instead of hoping and wishing, we are choosing to already become what we wish for.

Here are some of what the ladies shared.  They said "I am" healthy; glad to be alive after an almost tragic accident; recovering from hip replacement and bilateral mastectomies, but realizing that she is not her body, she is herself....and amazed at how she allowed those who love her to help her; having a relationship with formerly estranged children; finding a new career;  feeling happy with a relationship she had this year that, although it ended, showed her how much she had grown; seeking to strengthen her ties to her religion; welcoming a first great-grandchild; grateful to have become a Wowette and becoming better friends with us; appreciating even the roof over her head; enjoying a calm year; spending more time with family and friends; entertaining more; enjoying a son who just graduated from college and an improving relationship with her daughter; returning to past pleasures, such as art and singing; and after being widowed, finally connecting with friends and family and her true self....and a new puppy!

As I listened to the ladies sharing out loud to the group, I was awed by how similar we are and especially how much so many of the ladies expressed their appreciation for our group.  I realized we all need friends, who are our mirrors and our nurturers.  I realized how many challenges we still have, but how we all still want to live life fully.  For me, I shared that I wanted to be more open, more honest, more vulnerable.  And, amazingly, I just booked a speaker for our next meeting who suggested exactly that as her topic.  There are no coincidences in life, are there?  As eclectic as our group is, the love and care we share with each other is, yes, wonderful.  And here we are!