Cissy Brady-Rogers
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Tag: speaking your truth

This morning I sat down with my word for the year seeking inspiration to share. To be honest, I am not in the most self-reflective or “deep” season of my life.  I look back at past blogs in wonder. I feel so distant from the wise, reflective writer that I’ve been in the past. And that is okay! It’s just the way it is.

undivided word map

undivided word map

Two writing tools I fall back on when “nothing” seems to want to be said are word mapping and acrostics. This morning I tried both. No prizing winning essay emerged, but that’s not the point of reflective writing. It’s more about the journey than the product. It’s more about listening to my life than “landing” somewhere.

With a word map, you place your main word or idea in the middle of the page and listen for other words or phrases that arise in connection with it. Sometimes great insights come and a poem or essay emerges. Other times, like today, interesting ideas or themes unfold, but nothing more materializes.

After my word map, I turned to the acrostic method.

United with myself and all living beings.

Near to the heart of God.

Devoted to serving Love.

Integrity of body, mind and spirit.

Viewing myself and all human beings through the eyes of Love.

Intentional as to where I invest my time, energy and resources.

Dedicated to alleviating suffering.

Enduring expected frustrations, disappointments and obstacles.

Delighting always in my status as Beloved Daughter of God.

I’m grateful that there’s no one “right” way to share my life with others. And that every blog I post doesn’t need to be polished and perfect. Sometimes it’s just showing up and sharing what comes. 

If you have a “word” for year, make time to listen for wants to be known and expressed, if only to yourself. I highly recommend these two methods and would love to hear what comes as you listen to your life.

For more reflections on “words for the year” from my blogging friends, check out our blogroll. I love the way each of us does it our own way. A great example of how there is no one “right” way to share our lives with others!

http://www.growingplaces.us/prospero-ano/

 

Today hasn’t gone according to schedule. At only 9:30 this morning it was already “one of those days…”

I’m grateful the wise reminders from Eveyln Underhill and my friend Stephanie that came to me before the day started going sideways.

In her Lent devotional, Evelyn reminded me that Saint Paul did not say that the Spirit of God would bring forth qualities of productivity, organization, effectiveness or success. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. These hallmarks of spiritual maturity may at times manifest in productivity, efficiency, etc., but can’t take primacy over love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The energy of the fruit of the Spirit may fuel my capacity for effectiveness and successful completion of my tasks for the day. But sacrificing peace and patience in order to “get things done” isn’t worth it!

Soul School with Stephanie

Soul School with Stephanie

My friend Stephanie Jenkin’s blog about her journey with infertility in today’s Monk in the World guest post reminds me of what I most value. She writes:

As a monk in the world, I am called to live authentically into who I am at the core. Infertility stripped off the false pretense of perfectionism and control and made me see that Love is bigger.  And I am called to choose Love each day. I am called to strip off the demands, the deadlines, the pressure to perform and conform. I am called to live in to and out of my heart.

My sacred symbols have become the feather and the leaf. Whether I am flying like the feather or falling like the leaf, I am surrendered to God who is greater than I.

I am loved. I am Beloved. That is more than enough. It is in this great Love that I am naked and unashamed.

For the rest of her story, please visit the Abbey of the Arts.

Thanks for taking me to soul school this morning Stephanie. I am loved. I am Beloved. That is enough!

Amen!

Your capacity to remind me of who I am and what is most important is a precious gift. You are a blessing to me and all who know you.

 

Our guest blogger today is Vivian Mabuni. She is the author of Warrior in Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts. October also marks five years since she finished active treatment for breast cancer. Thanks be to God! I’m delighted to be part of the ever growing fellowship of women (and a few men) living vibrant and purposeful lives post-breast cancer. Though not a club any of us would have signed up for, I must say we are a very remarkable group and I’m delighted to share a bit of her story today.

Warrior In Pink

From Warrior in Pink by Vivian Mubani

When I finally made it home, I headed straight to our bedroom. I lay on the bed, pulled the covers over me, and closed my eyes. I tried to rest, but my mind couldn’t settle. My prayer in the food court about letting people in came to mind. I found myself at the same crossroads of deciding whether to muster up self-sufficient strength and go all Christian Rambo—just me and Jesus—or take the braver route to open my heart and let people into my fear. My Asian heritage and cultural value of “don’t rock the boat” or “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down” amplified my struggle of not wanting to bother people with my problems. I saw this dynamic played out over and over with my family and my Asian friends. One friend tweaked her back so badly she could barely walk. We had planned to have people over for a luncheon. I suggested we order out for pizza so she could rest.

“Oh no, it’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

“No, seriously, we can cancel the whole thing or have someone bring the food. You can barely move!”

But instead of letting others help, I watched her push through the pain, and she hosted a small army in her house with a smile on her face. It was dishonorable and shameful to put people out or bring attention to themselves. I imagined the Asian Martha Stewart had similar thoughts. She ended up deciding against burdening others with her emotional struggles. I did not want my story to end like hers.

Transparency is the willingness to share about difficulties one has undergone after the fact. Vulnerability is sharing difficulties raw, in real-time, without the lesson-learned end of the story. I was comfort- able with transparency. Mostly.

Vulnerability? Not so much.

–Excerpt from chapter 1: we, us (x5) Warrior In Pink

The excerpt I (Vivian) share here reveals a common struggle among people—the idea of not wanting to inconvenience others, our tendency to isolate when faced with difficulties, the myth that “Just me and Jesus is enough.” For Christian women, and Asian American women leaders in particular, the tendency to be the strong one is underscored because of learned faith and cultural values.

My strong encouragement for all of us is YES, lean into God, but also let others in.

After my cancer battle I read the Bible with new lenses. Verses I thought were familiar became more meaningful after experiencing true community.

“Therefore, since WE have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding US, let US also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles US, and let US run with endurance the race that is set before US.” (Hebrews 12:1 NASB)

God designed you and me to live in close intimate connection with Him and with others. Learning to trust Him and to trust others is a worthwhile lifelong endeavor.

How are you doing in the area of vulnerability?

Vivian Mabuni

Thank you Vivian for sharing your life and words of encouragement with us today. May God continue to use you to empower and support others in deepening intimacy with God and each other.

Vivian and her husband Darrin work with Epic Movement, the Asian American ministry of Cru. Vivian is a mom of three kids and a cancer survivor. She is part of a group of women writers called the Redbud Writers Guild. She blogs regularly. Warrior in Pink was published in April and is her first book. If you like what you read here, please pick up a Kindle or paper copy of your own. I just downloaded mine!

Subscribe to Vivian’s blog for regular words of wisdom and encouragement.

I loved this book by Helen LaKelly Hunt when I first read it 10 years ago. I appreciated it even more the second time round after meeting the author and picking it up again a few weeks ago.

Book Review

As a psychotherapist specializing in treatment of eating and body related disturbances among women, I’m regularly reminded of the need for women of faith to reclaim the beauty and goodness of our bodies — something the feminist movement attempted to do in advocating for reproductive rights for women. But, our need for embodiment and for honoring our female bodies goes much deeper than freedom to choose how we control our bodies capacity to reproduce. Issues of body and soul must be addressed in unison. The church has historically neglected (and sometimes denigrated and demonized) the spiritual aspects of embodiment. And the feminist movement, while gaining great ground on other fronts, follow suit by neglecting the spiritual aspects of a woman’s right to control reproduction.

My work with eating disorder patients has taught me that control unmitigated by compassion and other spiritually resourced qualities typically leads to chaos and destruction. Freedom to choose how to respond to our reproductive capacities and  all other physical needs and capacities must be grounded in a solid center of knowing who we are, knowing our own values, listening deeply to our own lives, and taking full responsibility for the choices we make — qualities that reflect the life of the psyche (soul) and spirit. Sadly, I don’t see the culture, the feminist movement or the church doing enough to effectively equip women (or men) with the necessary skills for making wise choices with the reproductive rights we fought so hard to earn.

As LaKelly Hunt points out, the most recent wave of feminism left out issues of soul and spirit, especially those related to Christian faith. She does a beautiful service telling the stories of five early feminists whose faith fueled their advocacy for the rights of women and other disenfranchised members of our human family. Their stories reveal the journey every woman must take as we find our own place in the great story of freedom and justice for all.

Thoughtful questions for reflection on each chapter offer a wonderful resource for individual or group processing. I’m looking forward to gathering a few soul sisters to explore them together. If you’re interested, let me know.

On Wednesday, April 30th at 7:30 p.m. I’ll be at the Laurie Hendricks Gallery in South Pasadena for a screening  and panel discussion of Long Live L.A. - a series of artists’ videos addressing the public health crisis. If you’re interested in the intersections of health and art, how media can change lives for the good, or looking for ways to engage, educate and inspire health in yourself and your community, I’d love to have you join me!

Long Live L.A. was originally commissioned by Freewaves and broadcast on L.A. Metro  County buses during February and March 2014. With 70% of health care spending going towards diseases that are preventable through lifestyle changes, finding new and culturally relevant ways to educate people and inspire good health is an important part of the solution. Art is a fabulous way to access our “WHY” for taking care of ourselves in ways the written word alone cannot.

Six of the original videos will be screened followed by a panel discussion about how artists can contribute to public dialogue about health while educating people who might not be reached through traditional formats. Maybe I’ll see you there!

1504 Mission Street, South Pasadena, 91030

Demi at Boston Marathon

Demi at Boston Marathon

The following personal story was written by my beautiful friend Demi Clark who crossed the finish line for the Boston Marathon seconds after the first bomb exploded. I met Demi in my Health Coach training at Duke Integrative Medicine last fall. From our first encounter, I loved Demi’s strong voice, engaged, passionate way of being in her life. When she shared that she’d had a long history with an eating disorder, I wasn’t surprised.

Demi embodies the powerful potential that I see in my eating disorder clients. Many have similar big, bright and radiant spirits. Uniquely blessed with an expansive consciousness and exceptional capacities for empathy,  intuition, creativity, sensory awareness and intelligence, the eating disordered thoughts, feelings and behaviors temporarily help them contain and regulate the vast spiritual consciousness that their families, schools, and faith communities haven’t even a clue exists.  And often leaves those same loved ones feeling powerless to support these girls in their healthy development.

Demi’s life testifies to the powerful lives of loving service that are possible when we listen to our hearts, allow ourselves to be as big and bright as we are, and follow our dreams. Here’s her story:

It’s Sunday night. I just tucked my kids into bed, almost identically to the way I have every night of their short first- and third-grade lives. Kisses, plus a hug, and an “I love you.” The only addition — which has been part of the routine since Monday, April 15 — “Do you all feel safe tonight? Mommy and Daddy are here if you need us.”

My husband and I not only consider ourselves lucky to ask that question every night, we are downright grateful and blessed to do so. The parents of precious 8-year-old Martin Richard can’t do that anymore. The parents of Krystle Campbell and Lü Lingzi can no longer call their children and ask, “Do you feel safe tonight?” And countless families are still in the hospital, supporting loved who are in critical condition, or without limbs, who face long, long roads ahead. That’s thanks to two terrorists, who have changed the world as all of us know it.

I happened to be “that girl with the pigtails” who was 10 feet from the finish line of the Boston Marathon as the first bomb exploded and we found ourselves in a war. I say “war,” because I’m also a health coach. I have clients who are soldiers currently downrange in Afghanistan; they called me later, saying we all earned our “combat stress” badge that day. The sights, sounds, smells, and horror are all still very fresh in my memory. Yet I NEVER want to forget. If we forget, we can’t change the future for the better.

I also coach Girls on the Run, and nothing is more rewarding than seeing those 9- to 11-year-olds happy, healthy, active. Their actions and their attitudes inspire others to get off their iPads and move. They help make the world a happier, healthier place.

Happy, healthy people don’t place handmade bombs next to 8-year-old children, knowing the immense destruction that will follow. Happy, healthy people do things like participate in the Boston Marathon; happy, healthy people have raised $127.9 million since the Boston Marathon Charity Program started in 1989.

So, today is not the day to scream at the guy who cuts you off in traffic. It’s not the day to eat a can of frosting because you can start eating healthy tomorrow. (I had an eating disorder for two decades — trust me, it won’t make you feel better.) It’s not the day to ignore your mom. Or your children. It’s not the day to work late — for the 100th day in a row.

It IS the day to pay it forward. Take your dog for an extra-long walk. Buy your neighbor a Starbucks. Lace up your shoes for the first (or one-thousand and fifty-first) time. Our lives have a true purpose. Honor yours by being good to yourself, taking care of your body, and being HAPPY and HEALTHY. Runners have a “runner’s high” for a reason — those endorphins are scientifically proven to make us happier. Runners truly love what they do. I haven’t met too many angry ones. Runners wanting to be faster? Yes. Angry? No.

In coaching, we have a saying: “So what? Now what?” I’ve asked myself that a million times in the past week. What are the odds of me being right there at that horrific moment (with my family right there in the finish-line bleachers), with 26,999 other runners ahead of or behind me? Why was I spared, without so much as a scratch on my body? I will never know the answer. But what I do know is that I’m still here — and now, I feel this overwhelming need to inspire people.

Demi's Girls Maize & Willa at Finish Line

My goal then, from here on out, is to motivate as many people as possible to get off the couch. I want to urge everyone to draw up a vision board, to decide on a goal, then to make it happen. I have a quote from Homer on my home-office desk that says, “Go forth confidently in the direction of your dreams!” It has served as my internal compass for  years. Find yours. Faith over fear, life worth not net worth — whatever your quote, pick something that puts the fire in your belly to be better, and go do it. Let’s get each other off the couch. It’s OUR time to win.

You can hear more of her story at CBS News and The New York Times.

Thanks to Théoden Janes who first published this story on his blog covering the Charlotte, North Carolina running scene.

Recently a young woman spoke about her vision of how she’d be in her life if she were really listening to and trusting herself. She said she’d feel more clear headed, confident, and decisive. She said she wouldn’t be afraid to speak her mind even when she anticipated significant others would disagree. She said that she’d be able to listen to others compassionately without feeling compelled to compromise her own values for the sake of pleasing them.

As she spoke she drew her hand to her heart and said, “I’d be making decisions from here and not getting lost in all the noise constantly playing different scenarios over and over again in my head.”

Amen! She’s invested a huge amount of time and energy learning to listen herself and live from her heart. At the end of our conversation she said “It’s a lot of work because it’s new. But I feel so much lighter and calmer that it’s worth the effort.”

Unbeknownst to many of us, even positive change is stressful. The necessary stress of change can be a major obstacle in moving forward in our lives. Just because you choose it and know it is in your best interest doesn’t mean you won’t feel stressed as you find more life-giving ways of living your life.

Conscious breathing is an excellent way to self-soothe when facing the stress of positive change. My friend and mentor Joan Borysenko offers a wonderful little two-minute video on how to use your breath to cope with the positive stress that comes when you’re making changes in alignment with your vision of a more abundant life.

An article on a $5-million grant to an academic atheist to study immortality and an advertisement for “Hope in a Jar” shared space in the L.A. Times this morning.  They stuck me as examples of how culture distorts and takes advantage of spiritual longings.

As someone who believes deeply in the eternal nature of life, I think that $5-million would be better used attending to the temporal needs of my 925 million hungry brothers and sisters around the planet. And, while it doesn’t surprise me that academics want to study this topic, it seems ironic that an avowed atheist who considers the afterlife unlikely is heading the project.

Spirituality for Sale Here

“Hope in a Jar” sells their moisturizer as a product that will help me “wake to limitless possibility” – capitalizing on my supposed fears of aging and death in order to sell products that I don’t need and probably contain chemicals that will do more harm than good.

The longing for hope in something beyond death is a shared human experience that needs to be treated with reverence, wonder and respect. I hope that academic integrity will guide the researchers to do that. I long gave up any hopes on the advertising industry doing their jobs with integrity.

Personally, instead of trying to change the culture, I am committed to critical ingestion of it–especially advertising that subtly play upon our vulnerabilities in order to convince us to buy stuff we don’t need. It’s also an integral part of my work with others.

For more on critiquing the culture see my colleague Michelle Lelwica’s blog in Psychology Today or the book I collaborated with her on: The Religion of Thinness. We need to educate ourselves and our children on being wise consumers of culture–to be in the world, but not blindly buying into all the distorted views of reality it offers.

Two articles in the LA Times caught my eye this morning.

The first presents research indicating that bariatric surgery isn’t the “near panacea” for the multidimensional problems–patient health/lifestyle/longevity as well as medical costs–associated with obesity after all.

The second is an opinion piece by a medical doctor who suggests “your annual mammogram may cause you more harm than good.” The author, H. Gilbert Welch, wrote Overdiagnosed: Making people sick in the pursuit of health based on years of work in public health and clinical practice.

I have clients as well as family and friends who’ve undergone bariatric surgeries.  Some have had the standard dramatic initial weight loss as well as long-term benefits.  Others have had disappointing results, life-threatening complications, or not changed their relationship with food in a way that sustained the initial weight loss.

My personal experience with 20 years of annual mammograms has been complicated.  A favorite mammogram cartoon depicts two ladies greeting each other.  One says to the other “Did you have your mammogram today?” The first lady, whose breasts stick out in the shape of two books attached to her chest, says “As a matter of fact I did.  What makes you ask?”

The anxiety associated with having breast checks, the frequency of false positives (between 25-45% according to Welch), and what he says are the one-quarter to one-half of all cancers detected that “meet the pathological definition of cancer but are not destined to cause problems” yet get treated anyway, all contributes to a “cycle of increasing intervention” that put an unnecessary emotional toil on patients.

Yep.  That sounds about right.

Bottomline: better health through better technology isn’t working.  It’s a story that isn’t truly promoting our overall health and well being–either as individuals or as a culture. We need a better story.

We need to create a culture of individual responsibility for compassionate self-care where children are taught from the beginning to honor, respect, and listen to their bodies.

We need to equip both our children and ourselves with tools for mindful living that enable us to pay attention to signals of hunger and fulness so we don’t overeat, gain weight, and end up in the severely compromised condition that bariatric surgery patients find themselves.

And we need to return to a whole foods diet that eliminates pesticides, genetically modified products, hormones, antibiotics and all the other crap giant food manufactures use to increase their bottomline.

Not that I have anything to say about that!