Saturday, January 30, 2010


The more I do this work that I love, namely psychotherapy and helping people find meaning and purpose in their lives, the more I discover just how very, very connected the mind, body, and spirit are. Not that this is a newsflash to me: I've been interested in the mind-body connection, spiritual issues, hypnosis, herbalism, vitamins, Chinese medicine, and wellness since I was a teen. It should come as no surprise to my patients that I frequently attend seminars and earn continuing education units in subjects involving non-pharmacological (aka drugs) treatments for all that ails a person: depression, anxiety, mood swings, ADHD, health issues, degenerative diseases, and more. Still, that didn't prepare me for the little gem I learned at a seminar this week: inflammation is at the root of cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and frequent mood swings.

Wellness researchers and doctors do not use the word inflammation in the same way that you and I use it: it is NOT swelling or mild irritation of a body part. Inflammation in the naturopathic, wellness jargon is systemic and far more complicated than I can get into in this blog. Let it suffice to say that the treatments for systemic inflammation include eating certain foods, taking vitamins and herbs, and the reduction of stress. Lifestyle issues, such as meaning and purpose, definitely factor into the wellness equation. As I tell my clients, I can make a big difference in your depression with therapy and hypnosis, but if your problem is bio-chemical (and whose isn't after years of depression?), then all of our efforts are akin to pushing back the ocean with a dixie cup. We need to approach this from all directions...and, then, your life can be your own.

If you'd like to understand a little more about the biological causes of depression and anxiety disorders, send me an email at.... ....and I will send you the educational hand-out I give to clients who suffer from depression or anxiety. If you'd like to attend free presentations on wellness by an American-university-trained M.D. (turned wellness practitioner after 30 years of practicing western medicine), contact Dr. Susan Sklar at the Sklar Center in Long Beach, Ca. at or 888 635-well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Unlived Life

I worked in hospice for many years, during which time I frequently heard, "Oh, my God, that must have been depressing." Not so. It was truly inspiring and taught me a few important lessons about living one's own life.

In the 1930's, Jung wrote about the concept of the unlived life: in a nutshell, for every choice that we make, there are choices that we didn't choose, and those choices accumulate in our unlived life. Think about it: if you chose to get a BA in business, what didn't you choose? A BA in art? Sports psychology? Chinese literature? And what were/are the implications of each of those choices? And what about the Dream Crushers, the people who told you who you were supposed to be, and maybe even made your choices for you? What will be, or have been, the consequences of those imposed choices? In hospice I saw, firsthand, the consequences of choices past and how they translated into regrets.

To tell you the truth, there's nothin' pretty about regrets and the last days of a person's life. So, I'm thinking that it's important to live one's own life. Not the life that your parents insisted on, or that your spouse needs you to live, or that your children seem to require of you. Maybe, just maybe, if you live your own life, they will be empowered to live their own lives, too. And then what might happen to the world, or at least your family lineage? The result could be inner peace, joy, contentment, a life filled with meaning and purpose, many persons' potentials fully manifested. And, then, as the final days of your life unfold, maybe, just maybe, you'll be glad that you lived your own life, not someone else's. Just a thought.

Aging gracefully

I was driving to my office the other morning: maybe it was 7:30, cool, not much traffic on the route, and not too many people. I saw a scene, in my opinion, that captured the essence of living life with grace and style.

As I sat at the stoplight, two women, each in very different stages in their lives, crossed in front of me. One, a young woman in her early 20's, wearing tight running shorts and a hoodie, brunette hair in a ponytail, was jogging across the street. Actually, it was more like prancing: her knees high on each step, but not a lot of speed in her gallop. In the parallel crosswalk, on the opposite side of the street, was an older woman in her late 60-somethings. Wearing a full sweatsuit, her silver-grey hair styled short, she was walking comfortably; a gentle saunter, at most. As each woman reached the corner, she stopped and waited for the light to change: the younger one checking her pulse, the older one enjoying the sights on the street. After the light changed, they both, in their very separate styles, passed each other in the same crosswalk. The young woman raised her hand in a high-five and the older woman smiled. I wondered if they met each other this way every morning. Each continued on her way. The light had changed to green and I accelerated through the intersection, thinking about the contrasts between the women and the lessons of the scene.

We all have choices to make as we grow older: will our lives, indeed our worlds, become smaller--or larger? Will we adjust to the changes, bringing our own personal style to each stage of life--or will we resist? Will our spirit soar with each new time in our life--or will we allow our spirit to be crushed by our need to hold on feverishly to what was, to who we once were, or to who we thought we would be? Maybe, just maybe, choosing to do what we can to stay healthy, alert, connected, and truly alive might be the key to living life gracefully? Just a thought.

Blog #1

Okay, so, everyone says I should have a blog. I'm not sure exactly why, but EVERYONE says I should have a blog.

I've never been one of those folks who does what everyone else does, but EVERYONE says it is the new way to communicate, to reach out and touch someone, to make a difference--one reader at a time. That last one sounds pretty good to me. I'm all about making a difference. My entire life has been about making a difference. Alright, I'll give this blogging-thing a chance. Truth be told, I'm not a techy kind of person. I just discovered the wonderful world of having a website, but I don't Twitter and I don't do a lot of things that others can do with their eyes closed. But, I can, and do, observe.

By nature, I'm an observer...I love to watch people doing what they do in the simplest and most ordinary moments. The best part of going to Disneyland was always about watching the people. And, I'm an observer by training. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, which, by definition, means a whole lotta observing and a whole lotta listening. My Ph.D. is in pastoral ministry and I'm an ordained inter-faith minister, ditto the previous sentence. And, I'm a woman, which the new brain research tells us, is pretty synonymous with listening and observing. So, here are my observations, maybe a musing or two, and probably a short rant every once in a while.