Cissy Brady-Rogers
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Today I’m saying YES to continuing my Lenten practice of staying in my own lane–especially with social media.

Emerging research indicates that the sense of connection afforded by social media may not be worth the price: fear of missing out, depression and social media compulsions that cause reasonable, moral people to act in ways that go against their deepest values.

My recent 10 day fast from social media confirms the finding that happier people check social media less often. I also spent more time reading and engaged with my work and relationships. No wonder I was happier. I had more mental energy to give to the people, projects and passions that are important to me.

Every time I engage social media I invite hundreds of other people’s worlds into my consciousness. Every Facebook post I scroll past registers in my mind, whether I acknowledge it or not. My brain must process and decide to by-pass ads and ignore posts that I might stop and view if I had all the time in the world…but I don’t.

Mental energy is limited. The brain uses more energy than any other organ–up to 20% of total expenditure in a given day. The seemingly small task of scrolling through posts for a few minutes, deciding which to engage and which to pass, depletes mental resources needed for more important and meaningful engagements.

Yes is a mindset, an attitude, a way of being in my life that feels the fear of missing out if I don’t check out Facebook or Instagram, then chooses to keep focused on the here-and-now of my own life.

Yes to being faithful to the present moment.

Yes to being here now.

Yes to staying in my own lane.

The sacred space of my mind needs clear boundaries around engagement with social media. I’ve known this forever. I want to stay connected with loved ones, see their kids grow and watch their pets do stupid tricks. I want to use social media for good. I don’t want to be used by or used up by social media.

What about you? What do you notice about the impact of engagement with social media on your life?

Are you using it?

Or is it using up precious energy and time that you’d prefer to invest elsewhere?





I recently gave a young woman I deeply love a copy of The PlantPlus Diet Solution. Initially she was excited about the recipes and information. But when I talked with her last week, she told me that she’d put the book away for now. “She’s mean! She takes all the fun out of eating.” Ouch!

It’s true! PlantPlus calls it like it is: most “fun” food (like those store bought cookies I ate last night…) contain highly processed ingredients, like white sugar, flour, artificial fats and other ingredients that don’t feed our bodies what we really need. Increasing the amount of plant based foods we eat and eliminating or cutting way back on many of the “fun” foods of the Standard American Diet will give our bodies optimal energy, decrease inflammation associated with disease onset, and make our eyes and skin sparkle. Continuing to eat the so-called “foods” manufactured by major corporations with profit motives and no concern for our health (the foods that live on the inner aisles of the grocery store) may save time in the kitchen, but they don’t satisfy our real needs and ultimately deplete us of vitality.

The PlantPlus program isn’t for everyone. I don’t recommend it to people in early recovery from eating disorders or anyone who hasn’t mastered the basic capacity to listen to cues about hunger and fullness. But for most of America, it’s an excellent resource to help us take responsibility for our own health and quit wasting billions of dollars a year on health problems that will be largely reduced when we eat a more plant-based diet!


Senior High Girls Support Group


Moira Deidre Ford & Moira-Cecily Brady 1983

Today is the 94th anniversary of my mother’s birth. Moira Deirdre Ford was a remarkable woman. An attorney, she did her undergraduate degree at Stanford and was one of three woman graduating with her class from UC Berkley’s school of law in the late 1940’s.

I grew up in an unusual world with a female pediatrician, spending time with my great aunt Eileen who graduated medical school in the 1920’s, and being delivered as a baby by my mom’s female obstetrician Sakaye Shigekawa (another very remarkable woman who was interned during WWII).

It wasn’t until elementary school that I realized most women weren’t professionals. In my world women were educated, vocal, and powerful agents of healing and justice.

In honor of my mom, I commit myself to creating a world where women and girls are the authorities of their own bodies and lives, where a woman’s perspective and voice is as important in governing as a man’s, and where girls and women are treated with respect and honor. I love you Mother Moira.

What is love?

My mentor Joan says that love is what remains when all the stress is removed.

For me, love is a calm, relaxed, easeful sense of being at home with myself wherever I am, whatever my circumstances, alongside whomever I’m with.

It’s a felt sense of fullness, complete in myself without a need to “do” anything or “have” anything, coupled with an openness to being a conduit of love, giving fully of myself with whatever I have and whatever I do.

My face softens, my shoulders relax, my heart, stomach and inner body open up, let go of tension.

Julian of Norwich described  this when she wrote of her sense of God’s love amidst the necessary sufferings of life.  She said that love is the deep sense that “..all shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

And so it is, when you know that you are loved.

Knowing you are loved is the foundation for a new way of being in your body and your life.

May you know how deeply, fully and immeasurable loved and lovable you already are, just as you are right now.

In the latter decades of the 20th Century, building positive self-esteem in children became a widely accepted and influential concept in psychotherapy, parenting, and education.  Years later, with decades of implementing esteem building interventions, it turns out self-esteem isn’t as effective a standard of psychological health as it was originally thought to be.

Educators, coaches, parents, youth workers and psychotherapists have spent decades trying to help kids “feel good about themselves.”  Yet it turns out that self-esteem is highly resistant to change, may cause self-distortions, and is associated with narcissism and bullying.  On top of the evidence that it isn’t the most helpful construct for supporting identity development , the notion that we should always feel good about ourselves and our lives doesn’t leave room for what Judith Viorst termed the “necessary losses” of real life.

Dynamic Duo Working Out at Dynamic Advantage

This week I participated in my first group strength training class at Dynamic Advantage in Eagle Rock.  I was a good ten or fifteen years younger than my classmates.  But some of those gals were surprisingly strong!  One of the two “Pats” in the class was doing tricep pushdowns with several times the amount of resistance I was using.

Dynamic Strength for Everyone!

In an earlier season of my life I might have experienced a drop in self-esteem, feel “bad” about myself and judge myself for being such a slouch.  I prided myself on my strength and fitness.  My body identity was largely built on comparing myself to you, being superior, and allowing the good feelings of being “better than” you enhance my sense of self.  I don’t like admitting it.  Yet, it’s the precise dynamic that years of academic evaluation, athletic competition, and cultural tutelage in building my esteem by being at the top of the class  or having my dog win the “best in show” have taught me.

Yesterday I noticed a small dark line beneath my eye.  Thinking it was an eyelash, I used my pinky to brush it away.  No such luck!  Turns out,  it’s a permanent documentation of my recent life experience.  Dehydrated, un-moisturized, and fifty years old—I’ve got the wrinkles to prove it!

This week I discussed loss and grief with my marital and family therapy students.  Several students spoke of experiencing a loss of physical strength and fortitude.  One said in his younger years he felt invincible as he ran for miles, feeling more energized the further he ran.  “I can’t do that anymore.  It doesn’t feel good.  After a few miles I start to hurt.”

Even though we know these physical changes are normal, as another student put it, we still don’t  like them.   And we often don’t “like” ourselves during the moments they preoccupy our minds. It’s difficult to extend loving care to someone we have a negative attitude toward.  In a similar way, not “liking” ourselves often becomes a barrier to the very work we need to do to feel better.   Somewhere along the line we’ve come to value “liking” ourselves in a way that inhibits truly “loving” ourselves, just as we are, on any given day, in whatever state of health and success or illness and failure we might be.

Disappointment, frustration, sadness and anger are expect responses to loss.    Just as we must grieve the death of a loved one or loss of a job so that we can move forward into new life possibilities, physical changes bring real losses that must be acknowledged and integrated. And grief doesn’t necessarily feel good!

I wonder if the ladies I work out with feel “good” about how they look?  Do they “like” their wrinkles, sags, thinning hair, and widening mid-sections?  Do they feel affection for the necessary losses of their once youthful bodies and faces? Or are they too busy living their lives to the fullest, enjoying themselves and making the most of each moment to bother with such antiquated notions as self-esteem?

That deep line under my eye is part of the package of living long enough to get old!  A friend is grieving the death of his twenty-six year old nephew.  That young man will never have the privilege of developing wrinkles under his eyes. My classmate Pat is stronger than me–good for her!  And, good for me.  I want to be like Pat when I am sixty-something: wispy white hair, lots of life documented on ever surface of her face and body, and enjoying every second of cranking out those tricep pushdowns!

I have known the sixteen year old author of this letter since she was a toddler. She was barely walking and talking, but already bright eyed, engaged and able to hold her own with the adult small group I attended with her parents. Leora has blossomed into a wise young woman with something to say.  I will let her letter speak for itself.  If you support what Leora has to say, please share it elsewhere.  This is a message that needs to be heard.


I love your store. I love the scent when you walk in, the feel of the material, and the creative way everything is displayed. I love the candles, the sweaters, the doorknobs, the dresses, the high-heels, the many patterns, and the painted dishes. I love getting the catalog in the mail and dreaming about the day that I will be able to pitch my tent in the tide of the Bahamas, just because it would be a beautiful sight.

I've Got Something To Say

I am not complaining because I am one of those curvy, big-bosomed women who never see anyone their size in a magazine. I am a tall, petite young girl who usually fits in a size small, does not have to watch what she eats, and does not have to worry about finding clothes that minimize her waist. I am complaining because true BEAUTY is DIVERSE. True BEAUTY is tall, short, thin, curvy, fat. True BEAUTY is not limited to how thin your calves are. True BEAUTY does not care whether one’s stomach is as flat as a board and can flaunt a bikini. True BEAUTY does not say one must be size 2 in the waist of their jeans. True BEAUTY is synonymous with VOLUPTUOUS, MAGNANIMOUS, OVER-FLOWING, and BENEVOLENT.

I am complaining because one day after I have given birth, gained the weight that comes with raising a family, and gotten the wrinkles that come with living a laughter filled life, I do not want to pick up one of your catalogs and see that my beauty is behind me. Because BEAUTY is CONTINUOUS. BEAUTY does not end once you reach the age of 30. BEAUTY does not last only until you have gotten married and settled down.

I am sixteen and have not yet fallen into the trap of limiting beauty to a certain type. But I know people who have and I see people who will. I do not want my little sister growing up and wanting to have the shape of the women in your pictures. I want my mom, who has BEAUTIFUL curves that came from carrying 5 babies, to be HONORED by being proclaimed as beautiful. I do not want women and girls everywhere to hear only from their families that they are beautiful; I want them to be SURROUNDED by media supporting that truth.

With much encouragement,

Leora M.

I took a bike ride today around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena – a short 10 minute drive from my home.

On my last lap I met Saul, a maintenance worker at nearby Huntington Hospital.  He was plugging along at a steady 12 miles per hour up a slight incline as I pulled up alongside.  I nodded and said “Hi” as I began to pass him.

He gave me a huge grin, pulled his earphone out, and greeted me, “Great day for a ride, eh? Good to see you out here.”  His energy was magnetic. Probably in his late 50’s or 60’s, his eyes were hidden behind cycling glasses, but an endearing smile gleamed out from the life lines etched into his brown face.

I decided to drop my agenda for pushing myself through my last lap and slowed down to talk.  “Beautiful day, but my legs are killing me,” I told him, “I’m in the worst cycling shape of my life.”

He laughed and said, “Keep at it.  It gets better the more you do it.” And then he told me his story.

Make the Most of What You’ve Got

A year ago he was pre-diabetic and his blood pressure was high.  He was “tired of being old and fat” and decided to return to something he loved as a kid — riding his bike.  He works from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. then comes to the Rose Bowl to put in his miles.  He loves it.  And he has lost 45 pounds and his health is great!

“The best part is how good I feel after I ride. I love feeling healthy. It’s not just good for my body, it clears my mind, gives me peace…just riding my bike!  You know what I’m doing, I’m just living like I’m dying, that’s it! I make the most of each day, ’cause that’s all I got. You never know how much life you’ve got left.  Gotta make the most of what you’ve got.”

Making the Most of Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl with My Beloved Dave and "Little" Ruth

Living Like I’m Dying

I’ve had a blessed nineteen years of life since my diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer in 1992.  In the early years of life post-breast cancer, I did what Saul is doing — made the most of each day, did things that brought me joy, spent time with people I loved and rode my bike a lot!

In those days of “living like I’m dying,” people and pursuing my passions were more important than productivity.

In recent years my agendas for productivity battle for space on my calendar.  Saul’s interruption of my agenda to push myself on this ride was a reminder that while productivity can be a very good thing; it can also completely screw up my priorities.

People are more important than products.  Loving and enjoying my productivity but being unattached to outcomes is essential. When the drive to produce turns me into Bitchy Cissy or Pissy Cissy, it’s time to stop and get my priorities straight.

Thanks be to God for Wise Men dressed in spandex!

I hope you are making time and space in your life for the people and passions that energize and give you joy this Fall.

The poet Kabir wrote “if a mirror ever makes you sad, you should know that it does not know you.” Wise words from a male Indian poet who lived over 500 years ago.

Remember what Aibilene says to Mae Moberly in “The Help”Don’t ever forget it:  You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important.

If the mirror tells you anything else, throw it out.  It ain’t worth it’s weight in gold.  (And gold is at an all time high right now).

Thanks Be to God for Grace!

My eight year old red Doberman fur-child Harvest’s Thanksgiving Grace (her official registration name) passed away on Sunday after a spirited nine months of living with oral cancer.

Grace - May 2011

My husband put it well in his Facebook obituary:  “Grace truly lived up to her name, not only in her style but even more in her unabashed and infectious zest for life. You couldn’t overlook Grace. Her presence lit up her surroundings and she always drew attention — whether frolicking at the beach dog park or strutting her stuff at a dog show in her younger days. She lived (and loved) life to its fullest and blessed us by her example RIP, girl.”

In honor of her passing, I’m re-posting an entry from my first blog on Yahoo Shine written in 2008.  It’s just one of many “graces” God gave me through our beloved Gracie Girl.

Training Grace

Smart, strong and sassy, her champion genes make her stunningly beautiful and intensely self-possessed.

Walking Grace is not a graceful experience!  I often feel more like I’m the one being taken for a ride rather than the one leading the way — especially if we’ve missed a few days of outings.  Her energy and enthusiasm for being on the road again is uncontainable.

It isn’t that Grace isn’t well trained.  She comes when called (most of the time), “sits” on command and “stays” as directed–except when she jumps up and dances around awaiting the next opportunity to please me.

The problem isn’t that Grace is insubordinate or rebellious.  Far from it.  She just obeys her own interpretations of the instructions.

One morning I let Grace run free in the hillside amphitheater at the local college. Skye, our blue Doberman, followed close behind.  After a few minutes I called Grace to “come” — where Grace leads, Skye will follow.  Grace turned on a dime, circling back toward me.  Within seconds she flew past with Skye on her heals and ran up the hillside at far end of the arena.  After much sniffing and ignoring my commands to “come”,  she pranced back, flopped at my feet, tongue flapping like a wet flag in a wind storm and stared up at me in delight.

I’m like that with God.  I obey…on my own terms. Grace did what I asked–she came when called.  But she had her own idea as to the follow thru.

I do that too.  I follow the initial directive, then take off in my own version of Doberman self-possession.

As I “train” Grace, I am also being trained. We  are learning together how to contain and direct her beautiful energy in productive ways. At the same time, God is training me to manage and regulate my own beautiful energy in more life-enhancing ways.

In my health coaching program I teach the things I need to learn–like energy regulation. Effective energy regulation makes for better walks and healthier lives. God is teaching me.  I am teaching Grace.  Grace is teaching me.  I teach my members.  My members teach me.  God teaches all of us.

Training Grace is both what I do each time I work with my dog and what brings me back to God each time I get too full of myself and run off in my own direction.  Grace softens the hard blows of training both dogs like Grace and women like me.

Grace is central to the programs and workshops I offer.  The rules and regulations offered by traditional diets and fitness centers are too harsh for many of us.  We need the structure, support and information they offer but in a softer, gentler version.