PERFECTIONIST

Written by Natasha Burke  November 13, 2O20

Are you one of those people who has to be perfect? Who has to do everything perfectly? Who has to look perfect? I am one of those who is recovering from being a perfectionist. It’s no easy task but I constantly remind myself, I don’t have look or be  perfect at everything I do. 

No one is perfect which makes us human. Being imperfect is what makes us different than anyone else. Brene Brown’s definition on perfectionism from her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, “perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Let go of who you think you’re suppose to be and embrace who you are.” I invite you to ponder this powerful message from Brene. 

Perfection is more about perception. For me, being perfect means don’t screw up, don’t say anything wrong., look a certain way, the list goes on and on.  In thinking this way, it led to judgement, fear, low self-esteem and not being content with me nor my life. This was always a stressor for me. 

We put so much stress on ourselves by attaining perfectionism. I invite you to closely observe your behavior around having to be perfect. Does this make you feel good? It’s important to have an understanding of why you think you need to be perfect. I think it stems from our childhood where we felt bad or wrong. Trying to be perfect all of the time burdens a lot of people and causes unhappiness. We can always strive for perfection on tasks that can be achievable such as a student aiming for a good grade or giving 100% at our job. Healthy perfection examples are being highly organized, paying close attention to detail, striving to master a task or perform better, being optimistic and have high levels of motivation. This is what I strive for. 

When we judge ourselves when we are not doing things perfectly or look perfectly it causes pain and suffering. This is not a way to live life. The reality is that being in a state of perfectionism is really a disguise of our insecurity.  

Perfectionism can make you feel unhappy with your life. It can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-harm. It could lead you to stop trying to succeed. 

Perfectionism leads to regret and dissatisfaction. Think about all the things you regret. How does this make you feel? It leads to setting unrealistically high expectations for ourselves and others. When we are in this state of mind, we are quick to find fault and overly critical of mistakes made. 

So how can we overcome perfectionism? Reevaluate your standards. Be a healthy perfectionist not a neurotic one which means being extreme. 

It’s important to stop the all or nothing thinking, like black and white and success or failure. This is self-defeating and not realistic. There isn’t a person who achieves success smoothly without failure. Allow yourself to fail. Pick yourself back up if you fail. Don’t judge yourself for doing something wrong, instead learn from it. Most importantly, have compassion with yourself while you work on not being perfect. You are human! 

WHEN WOMEN SUPPORT EACH OTHER INCREDIBLE THINGS HAPPEN

Written By Natasha Burke

September 16, 2020

This morning I was pondering what life would look like if all of us women supported one another in what we are doing. 

I know for me, working alone and not having much contact with others has been lonely at times. As a writer I am at the computer almost daily. There are times I questioned why am I doing this work and why am I doing it alone? There have been times when I wasn’t motivated to keep moving forward, but I did. It’s taking me a long time to realized that I was never meant to do the work I do alone. I love collaborating with others. I love bouncing ideas with another. It energizes me. It feeds my soul. 

So, what stopped me from reaching out and collaborating all these years.  Fear that I wasn’t good enough. Fear that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. Fear that she was better at things than me. The list goes on. Ladies, have you felt like this? This competition and lack of respect for myself has caused me endless suffering. 

This year, I decided to do something different, I collaborated with a dear friend of mine. We are working on a new project, You’ve Got This Girlfriend. We both have our special talents and together we are a great team. When we get together and share ideas, it’s accelerating. We both feel like we are on Fire. This is what I have been missing working solo.  

When we support other women, we empower them. We honor what they are doing.  We encourage them to follow their dreams. We support them when they need it. We listen with an open heart and create a safe place for them to open up and share. We can provide resources for each other. We can share our experiences with another on what worked and what didn’t in our business.  We can all share our journey of how we got to where we are today. 

When a woman is starting a new business or following her dreams, it can be daunting. This is where supporting her lets her know that she is not alone and that we have her back. That support may just be enough for her to get through the challenging time and trust me there will be some. The journey to success can be messy but it’s the journey that is beautiful. 

Let’s not compare ourselves with each other. This is catty. Let’s not tear each other down but build a community with your sisters. We are all here doing the best we can. Some of us need more support then others. When you see a woman who needs support, reach out to her and support as best as you can as this will create an impact and a ripple effect of positive change. We all need it. 

We all have our personal gifts. We all have something to offer the world, so there is no reason to compete with other women.   

Think about it, how many women do you know do the same work as you? In my field of empowering women, there are thousands of women doing this work.  This is okay because we each offer a unique component to our work. I bring something different than the other woman does. She brings something different than I do.  What a beautiful thing to know we all can bring something different to our work, yet we have a common thread. 

What ways do you need support? Are you able to reach out to someone who can support you? Please reach out to someone even if it’s uncomfortable. You never know who you connect with until you reach out. 

Ladies, let’s hold a world vision to lift women up. Let’s create a network where women can discuss what her needs are. Start a Facebook page for women in your community. Let’s network with one another. Let’s celebrate our talents and ideas. Together we are unstoppable. 

I am here to support you dear ones. I’ve got your back!

Are You Living Your Life To Its Fullest?

Written by Natasha Burke

August 28, 2020 

Are you living your life to the fullest? Are you fulfilled in your relationships, work or career? I invite you to look at parts of your life that are not fulfilling to you. We are in this world to live Big, Bold, and Powerful. Life is too short to not be the best version of you. 

I am going to share with you a couple of areas in my life where I wasn’t living my life to it’s fullest. I want you to know that this is an ongoing process, and as we are continually growing, learn, let go of things that no longer serve us, we can then let in new possibilities. Be compassionate with yourself as you embark on your journey. Have an open mind and an open heart. Most important, trust you and your process. 

A few years ago, I found out that I had cancer. Having cancer shook my world upside down.  It was also the catalyst, which prompt me to evaluate every aspect of my life. Was this easy? No, but it was overdue and it was time. I knew that I had to make changes in my life. I dug deep. I looked at my relationships, my work, my mind, body and spirit. I asked myself what was my purpose here on this planet? The bigger question was, am I living my life to the fullest? 

Most of my life, I lived through the lens of others. I was insecure, a victim, I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted.  I did not trust me. I was numb. There was a period of time when I turned to alcohol, which kept my pain from surfacing, but it was still there brewing. I didn’t believe I was worthy, good enough nor deserved a better in life. I lived my life fragmented. I was disassociated from my body as a way of protection. I remembered my therapist asked me, ”Where did I feel my feelings in my body?” For months I couldn’t make this connection. It was a painful process but I eventually connected with my mind, body and spirit. Pandora’s box was finally opened. 

I had this ongoing feeling of there was something wrong with me, but the truth is, there was nothing wrong with me. There were situations outside of myself that caused pain and suffering and it was up to me to heal those wounds so that I could become the empowered woman I was meant to be. It was time to heal those wounds and leave them behind. I was ready to receive all the good in my life and the opportunities ahead. 

I did EMDR and Somatic therapy to release the stored trauma in my body. Both types of therapy were powerful and painful but it was the greatest gift and I gave myself. I did talk therapy on and off for years but I still felt a hole in my being. 

When a person experiences trauma, it gets stored into the body and if you don’t get to the root of your trauma, work through it, not just in your mind but your body it remains hidden deep down. My nervous system was always on flight or fight mode, which led to having physical issues. This is process that can help you become whole, and integrate your mind, body and spirit. It’s no fun living life half fulfilled as I did. Life is too short to not be the best version of me.

Slowly, I had a deeper understanding of myself. I was becoming whole for the first time in my life.  I felt alive like I have never felt before.  I was on the path of living my life to it’s fullest. 

I believe that my experiences and all of the healing work I did, led me on the path to do the work I was meant to do.For over forty years, it’s been my calling to work with women from all walks of life. In my twenties I entertained being a nurse but didn’t go that route and decided to work with women in childbirth. I became a Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Lactation Specialist. My role was to support women and their partners by creating a nurturing environment filled with love and compassion throughout their childbirth experience. I was honored to be apart of their miracle in life. After years of working with pregnant women I changed my career and I wanted to work with women in Domestic Violence.

Coming from a background of abuse, I know how it affected my whole life. I didn’t feel enough or worthy, and I certainly wasn’t an empowered woman.  I carried around my childhood and adult wounds that prevented me from living my life to its fullest. 

Five years ago, I decided that I wanted to volunteer in my community and came across the YWCA. After I read their website and what their mission was, everything resonated with me. I knew this is where I wanted to volunteer. I wanted to make a difference in a woman’s life. I was ready to do the work I had long to do.

I took the state mandated 40-hour course and decided to facilitate women’s groups. Once a week for three years, I was committed to empower women. I had empathy and compassion for each of them, as I was once in that same situation. 

I shared my experiences with them to let them know they were not alone, and there was help for them. Most important I had their back. I created a safety net for each woman. I listened to them. I heard their pain. I supported these women who had been beaten down by their abuser. 

I witnessed women not knowing who they were to picking themselves up and slowly become empowered.  It was important that they felt worthy, enough, and powerful so they could leave their abusive relationship. I had the honor to witness women owned their power just like I had done. This was my calling, to serve women!

After working with women for three years I realized that these women needed more tools to empower themselves. 

As an author, this led me to write Women Empower Each Other, A Training Manual for organizations that work with women.  My intention was to educate women around the world and this was the way I could reach millions of women.

It was a long three years of writing but I completed it. 

I shared the manual with a friend of mine and she said that I should put this material into a book so that women around the world could read it.  That same week, a psychic told me I will write a book and it will be successful. 

I ponder and resisted this idea because I was burnt out on writing the training manual.  I meditated on it. After a few days, I was clear; this is something I had to do. 

My whole life, I always wanted to write a book. So here was the perfect opportunity.  A year later, I Am Enough, Becoming Empowered and Celebrating Your True Self was born. I am a published author. It was a dream comes true. My book can be found in bookstores around the country, and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. 

I remember when I sold my first book. I had self-doubt of not being good enough or not worthy to share my gift with others. I exposed myself to the world through my work.  However, this was short lived.  I allowed excitement to overrule the fear because I was selling my book. Even though I felt the fear, I did it anyways. I took a risk and gave it my all. Today, I have laid down a solid foundation to continue my work, empowering women.  This work feeds my soul. 

I invite you to be curious to look at your life and dive deep in the areas you are not living life to the fullest. I invite you to look at what is not working. Are you feeling feel stuck? Why are you feeling stuck? Are you afraid to make a change? 

Ladies, what would your life look like if you took the steps to make changes? Sit with that for a while and see what comes up for you. Journal it. Are your fears preventing you from living life to the fullest? Try to get to the root of your fear. This transformational work will pay off but I warn you, it won’t be easy. Be compassionate with yourself as you do this work and begin the healing process.  It’s time to release what no longer serves your highest good. 

What would your life look like if you were living your life to the fullest? Visualize this. Feel it. Breathe it in. See your life the way you want it to be. Think of endless possibilities. You have control over creating the life you want. Only you can do this work. Don’t let you fear hold you back from the life you so deserve. Give yourself the gift of living life to the fullest. You are worth it! 

I hope you took some tips away from this blog. Shine bright dear ones! Be heard. Be seen. Be the best version of you. Spread your sparkle everywhere you go. The world needs you!

POSITIVE BODY IMAGE

June 18, 2020

Stop comparing your body to someone else’s body. We are girls and women of all shapes and sizes.  There is not one body that looks like the other because each body is unique. We are all beautiful. Honor your beautiful body. 

So exactly was in WHAT IS BODY IMAGE?

 “Body Image” is the way you view yourself and how you look. Having a positive body image means that most of the timeyou see yourself accurately; you feel comfortable in your body and you feel good about the way you look. It’s also how you imagine other people see you.

Our body image is a collection of thoughts, beliefs and feelings that we have about our own body and how we compare these ideas about body image to others.

Here are some facts that I found interesting and at the same time made me sad by the statistics of girls and women and how they view their bodies. 

Research suggests that 80% of adult women are dissatisfied with their bodies, and this problem starts at a very early age. In 1st-3rd grade, 42% of girls want to lose weight and 80% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat. This is very sad to me that these young girls feel this way. The problem is magazines and social media. 

A friend told me that her grandchild was with her and she grabbed her stomach and said, “I want to cut this fat off.” This precious little girl was six years old. It breaks my heart that our body image starts so young.   

So you may ask, what shapes our body image? How you feel about all of the parts of your body make up your own unique body!

Your body image develops early in life. When you are born, the first thing the nurse or doctor will do is measure your length and weight to determine if you are in the “normal range.” This is the first time your will be compared to with others, and it will continue for the rest of your life. 

You will already have been labeled “overweight” or “underweight.” This label is stamped into the consciousness of your mother. Every time you were brought to the pediatrician for a routine checkup, you were compared to the statistical data and national charts. Your mother was indirectly taught how to feel about the size of your body.

We receive strong messages about body image from television, magazines, films, and other social media. Most of the false beliefs we have about the way women “should” look like come from models and celebrities we see in the media. Models and celebrities do not look like most people. 

Here is a FACT:Models weigh 23% less than women who are not models. 

Look around you and notice women’s bodies. We are all different. In the real world women are much more diverse and unique than those we see in the media. My body is unique! Your body is unique!

Your body image can be very positive or very negative. You may feel good about certain parts of your body or the way you look, and not as good about other parts. This is normal!  

A lot of girls and women struggle with body image body. It’s common to struggle with body image, no matter who you are.

What is important is how can we turn the negative body image to a positive body image? 

When you accept the way you look, and feel good about your body most of the time, you have a positive body image. Your appearance might not match your family’s ideal or ideal in the media. This doesn’t matter. It’s not the outside that matters, but having a positive body image is about how YOU feel about the way you look.

Part of having a positive body image is thinking about the way you feel and what your body can physically do, not just the way you look. If you have a positive body image, you see yourself as you really are. 

Most girls and women who have positive body image know that certain parts of their body may not be the same as someone else’s, but they accept, appreciate and love the differences. They don’t compare themselves to others. We all have a unique body. It’s ours!  Our body is a miracle! 

Our bodies are amazing. They are what make us alive! We can do amazing things with our bodies! Let’s honor each part of our body and what it does!!!

If you don’t have a positive body image, I invite you to create a positive body image. Here are some suggestions on creating a positive body image. 

Your body image is not about how you look, but how you feel about the way you look, and there are many ways you can create a more positive body image without changing your body. 

You can begin to think differently about your body by paying attention when you feel bad about your body. Did you weigh yourself? Did you look at a magazine? Did you talk to someone who is negative about their body? Did you watch a TV show, go online, look at another form of media? How did this make you feel? 

Check in with yourself when you are not feeling positive about your body image. Most importantly, treat your body with respect and kindness. Love your body, it’s the only one you have. 

Stop comparing your body to someone else’s body. This is how you can honor yourself and all girls and women of all shapes and sizes. Together, we can create a shift in how we think about our bodies. Together, we can love our bodies for their own, special uniqueness. Most important be compassionate with yourself if you want to make changes. Not for others, but for yourself. 

I invite you to ponder these questions:

  1. How do you feel when you look in the mirror?
  2. How do you feel when you see pictures of attractive people in magazines, on TV, or online or social media?
  3. What do you think other people think about how you look? Does this matter to you?
  4. Do you ever avoid activities, such as exercising or having sex because you feel uncomfortable showing your body?
  5. How do you usually reply when people compliment how you look?
  6. What are five favorite things you like about your body? I challenge you to name more if you would like to.
  7. Do you often feel jealous of other people for the way they look?
  8. Do you compare myself to others? How does this make you feel?

I hope that by exploring how you feel about your body will provide you some ways to love your body. It’s perfect. You are perfect. 

Create affirmation cards you can put somewhere and read them everyday as a reminder that your body is perfect just the way it is. 

Look at yourself naked in the mirror, tell yourself that your body is perfect just the way it is. Really look at parts of your body and remember that each part does something to keep you alive. Each part does something that serves a purpose and function. Just that alone is a miracle. Thank each part of your body for keeping you alive and able to do the functions that they do. 

SELF-COMPASSION Natasha Burke, May 13, 2020

Self-compassion, how many of you have self-compassion?

Have you been compassionate with others but when it comes to being compassionate with yourself you are not? Does this resonate with you? 

I am one of those people. I have so much compassion for my friends, even strangers. I have recently realized how hard I have been on myself. I have negative chit-chat going on in my head. When I’m faced with challenges, I criticize myself. I certainly haven’t felt self- compassion when I have felt short of something that didn’t work out. I was afraid to make a mistake. I was afraid to say the wrong thing because I would be judged. I wanted things to be perfect and if I fell short of perfection, I would beat myself up. As I speak about this topic, it makes me sad that I have lived most of my life thinking and feeling this way. I am so grateful today I do have more compassion for myself. It’s an ongoing process. 

I think sometimes it’s hard for us to remember to have the compassion that we know so well and share so freely with others. Taking a moment to allow ourselves to be the vulnerable ones can leave us room to share that compassion inward. 

Have you ever felt like you had to do things perfectly or be perfect? Perfectionism is something I constantly work on. You see, we are all human, and humans make mistakes. I gave myself the gift of exploring how I would be more compassionate with myself. I explored the idea that if I make a mistake, so what. Acknowledge it and move on. 

What if things are not perfect? So what, things are not perfect. I continue to learn that there will always be obstacles in life. I accept them, learn from them and move on. Is this simple? For me it is not. I have to continually be mindful when situations come up. It takes practice. Daily practice.

Self-compassion is the extension of kindness, care, warmth, and understanding (instead of criticism) toward oneself when faced with shortcomings, inadequacies, or failures. When you have self-compassion you care and nurture yourself. When you make mistakes, humiliate yourself, or don’t achieve a goal you were hoping to achieve don’t beat yourself up. It’s acknowledging that it’s okay to mess up. We are all human. We make mistakes. We don’t always achieve our goal. We just have to re-shift our thinking. The truth is we will make mistakes. We will humiliate ourselves. It’s okay. 

Sometimes when we make mistakes its easy to feel guilt, shame, or even fear for not being good enough. These emotions are not servving our best intentions. It’s more useful to just accept it for what it is. When you have been unsuccessful at something, get back on that horse and keep moving forward. Don’t let it paralyze you. When you are going through pain and suffering, acknowledge when you are hurting and allow yourself to feel your emotions without pretending like that is wrong or that your feelings don’t matter. It’s okay to acknowledge what is going on with you and be gentle with yourself through the process. 

When you have self-compassion, you honor and accept your own humanness and accept that you will encounter unfortunate circumstances. Self-compassion is having grace with yourself. Self-compassion is loving yourself. 

I invite you to ask yourself how can you have self-compassion? Take the time to sit with this question and go deep to see if you do have self-compassion, and if you don’t try to figure out what you don’t. Journal what comes up for you.  

How can we take steps to have self-compassion? 

The first step is to treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. You would be kind, loving: you would have a soft and loving tone. Accept your thoughts and feelings, inadequacies, shortcomings, and failures. They are yours.

I invite you to ponder these questions:

Have you made negative comments about your looks, your weight, or how smart you are? 

Do you criticize yourself for making a mistake? 

Do you judge yourself for being angry, overwhelmed, and anxious?

Do you beat yourself up when you don’t do things well? 

If your answers are yes to any of these questions, most likely you don’t have self-compassion. I invite you to give yourself the gift to have more self-compassion.

When you don’t have self-compassion you are not fully in your heart to comfort yourself when you are facing failure, pain, or personal shortcomings. Instead of criticizing yourself, try to accept the situation with empathy and kindness. Recognize that shortcomings, failures, or painful times are the stepping stones that can lead us to clarity and awareness. Being aware is the key to make a change. This takes lots of practice but you are worth it.

I invite you to think about a close friend, and a situation when they felt bad about themselves. Your friend was struggling in some way. How would you respond to your friend in this situation? What would you say to them? What was your tone when you spoke to your friend? Was your tone soft? Loving? Harsh?

Now think about a time when you felt bad about yourself or when you were struggling with something. What was your response in this situation? What did you say to yourself? Was your tone loving, soft or harsh? Did you have a lot of negative chit-chat going on? Did you soothe yourself?

When it comes to self-compassion I would say that I too have that negative chatter. An example of not having self-compassion is when we were putting on a retreat and it didn’t happen. I immediately went into what is wrong with me? Was my retreat not good enough for women to attend?  I felt less then. I felt like a failure. I had so much negative chatter going on that it didn’t make me feel good. I was in a funk for a few days. This was not having self-compassion. 

Being aware can help you improve and understand the situation you are experiencing. Think about the situation that is causing your stress or pain or when you feel inadequate. Notice how it feels in your body. 

The more you can identify with what you say to yourself and how it makes you feel emotionally and physically, you can begin to notice this behavior easier. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes being aware. This is how you can improve being compassionate with yourself. 

For the next week, be aware if you are self-compassionate. Take steps in having more self-compassion. This is all about loving yourself. You are worth it!

INNER STRENGTH

By Natasha Burke

April 22, 2020

As we go through day to day living with the unknown, I ponder what is getting me through day after day of shelter in place. It’s going on six weeks now and it’s been a roller coaster for me. I have good days. I have bad days. Mostly good. 

One thing I know is, it’s my inner strength that keeps me going. Staying present, having hope, and have an optimistic attitude. I have had to reset my mind several times through shelter in place. Laugh out loud. 

What do I do to find my inner strength? I meditate so I can slow my mind down. It’s in silence when, I can see what I need and what is going on with me both emotionally and physically. I check in with myself daily.  What I have discovered is that when I don’t meditate,  I become irritated. At times I have little compassion. I complain. All of these things I do not like. I meditate. It changes my mindset. I am once again grounded in goodness. 

Inner strength is one of the most valuable tools for life. It is what keeps us hopeful and encourages us to move forward. It determines the quality of our life. Inner strength is an investment in our life. The more challenges we face, the more we can rely on our potential to get ahead, no matter what happens. We are equipped to deal with future challenges without falling apart. 

It’s our struggles that develop our inner strength. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender to the negative, this is inner strength.

We all go through changes in our life. When challenging times are upon us, it’s how we respond to them that matters. We have a choice on how we respond to our challenges. This is when inner strength comes in. 

Inner strength can be attained. You can always grow inner strength to overcome life’s challenges. Is it easy? No. However, we all can develop inner strength by being mindful. Listen to where your thoughts are. Challenges are essential to growth. If we fight the challenges or changes, we are not tapping into our inner strength. When we lean into our challenges, we can then access our inner strength. 

I have had to continually work on resilience. It pushes me through the challenging times. Each day provides a lesson on how to be flexible especially through the unknown. This has been a huge lesson for me. I go back to; taking one day at a time. Staying present. Yesterday is gone, and the future isn’t here. We can only be present if we live in the moment. 

Having resiliency pushes us towards survival even in the most challenging times and conditions. By being resilient, it builds our confidence in our capacities and resources to move forward. It’s the balance between perseverance and the flexibility to adapt our thinking and behavior through the challenging times. Resiliency allows us to bend without breaking, because we are survivors.

Achieving goals is a great way to gain inner strength. Taking one step at a time. Sometimes it takes patience. We need to be patient. We can learn inner strength through achieving our goals. It gives us confidence. We take one step to achieving our goals. This is a process. The progress is the key to building a stronger version of ourselves. 

Have meaning in life, whatever that shows up to be. We all have to have meaning and purpose in life. This is huge for me. When I wake up each day, I have to ask myself, “how can I be productive and have meaning?” Lately I have been writing a lot, meditating, creating art and making connection with people. I have learned the art of zooming. I love it. It’s a great way to see the person/s you are connecting with and have live conversations. 

Here are some things on cultivating inner strength. Know who you are. Your personality is the foundation of your power. Understand who you are and how you function best. Be comfortable in your own skin. The happier you are with yourself, the more you can incorporate inner peace.

Spend time in silence. If you haven’t tried meditation., check out u-tube. They have lots of different types of mediation.  Take the time for you to rejuvenate. Set aside some time daily without being plugged in to anything and just sit alone.  Sitting in silence or guided meditation is the way to calm your inner challenges by listening to what is going on. Pay attention to your body. Make a daily practice even if it’s five minutes to create a space of calm. Nourish your mind, body, and spirit. 

Create outer strength. When we develop our inner self, it’s important to have a solid foundation for taking care of ourselves. Ways to do this are, exercise, yoga, any type of physical activity to build upon and maintain this foundation. Make a conscious effort to eat healthy foods and get a good night sleep.  It’s tough to feel strong inside if you are unhealthy outside. Make an effort to be fit. Be proactive about your health. Find ways to make you feel good about yourself. Feel good about the amazing body you have. It’s perfect. It works to keep you alive. Cherish your body. Honor your body. Look at all they ways your body works without you even being conscious. Your body is truly a miracle. 

Try using affirmations. Saying affirmations first thing in the morning and at bedtime is an important way to remind ourselves that we’re valuable and each of us brings something unique in this world. Add some affirmations that include phrases on inner strength. Most important have gratitude. Make a list of what you are grateful for in the morning. Before you go to sleep think about all the ways you had the opportunity to be grateful. This is an amazing and necessary daily ritual I have in my life. When I don’t recognize, I go into lack of….

Taking responsibility for our life.  We can’t build inner strength by making excuses. If there is a situation that we are responsible for and if we fail, we must own it. This is not comfortable. It’s necessary to take responsibility for our actions. If we make a mistake, admit it, forgive, and move forward. 

Go within and tap into your inner strength. Be curious on what inner strength means to you.  Until I blog next month, remember you are enough. You are perfect just the way you are. Have a great day. Namaste. 

RESILIENCY

Written by Natasha Burke

March 25, 2020

As we all are going through this challenging time with the Corona Virus, having to stay home, social distancing and not much human contact may cause people to feel fear or anxiety. More than ever, this is a time to practice resilience. I know that I had a couple of days of feeling off. What has helped me go get through the uncertainty is meditation. When I meditate I am present. I slow my thought process down. My breath slows down, and when I am done I feel good. I have taken walks in nature, which always makes me feel good. Having conversations with my family and friends also helps me get through this time. I also receive positive affirmations. I pick an angel or goddess card and have it near my monitor and when I write, I look at my card several times per day. It makes me feel good. I love my angel cards. When I pull one, I ponder if it’s something I need in my life now or already have in my life. These are a few things that are helping me as we continue to live my day in a positive manner.

Having resilience through challenging times is so important. It’s how we keep going or bounce back after going through difficult times in life. What is resilience? Resilience is when one goes through a difficult time and come back stronger then before. 

Do we learn resilience or do we naturally have it? Some people are inherently more resilient than others, however, we can all tap into what resilience looks like to us. A positive outlook is one of the keys to being resilient. Of course when you are in the middle of pain and suffering, it’s hard to tap into resilience. This is where using tools can help someone. 

Resilience relies on different skills that we have which include rational thinking skills, physical and mental health, and your relationships with those around you. When I ponder if I am resilient or not; I find that  I am.

2017 was the most challenging time in my life. My stepson killed himself, my daughter was in the Las Vegas shooting and then we had to evacuate because of the wildfires in Sonoma County. 

I was numb through all three situations. One trauma after another threw me over the edge. I lived life in the fog and detached for a long time. I had panic attacks, which I had never had until this last year. It was a slow two and a half year process to bounce back. 

What did I do to bounce back? I saw a therapist. I tapped into my resources I have built over the years. I held onto my faith, which is strong. I relied on my family and friends to talk when I needed to. I changed my mindset from fear and anxiety into hope, love, being present and not stay stuck in the past. I took baby steps. All of this was no simple task. It was a slow process. There were times I didn’t want to do the work but I had to in order to bounce back, because the truth is, it was one of the most challenging times in my life. When I look back, I am so grateful I did bounce back. I am so grateful I did what I had to do to get out of the dark murky waters and returned to the light. 

We all have difficult times in our life at some point. Sometimes we have trauma. What are ways we can build our resilience? We can stay positive. We can open our hearts. We can take care of ourselves. We can have humor. We can have compassion for ourselves and one another.

The big question is how do we build resiliency, adapting quickly in times of stress. The stresses of family, relationship problems, health problems, loss, problems in the workplace or even financial problems are a few stressors. 

How do we bounce back? Developing resilience can help you cope and bounce back after changes, challenges, setbacks, disappointments and failures.  There is always a silver lining in the worst times. At some point during your process, there will come a time when you can see the positivity in your situation. 

Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches. When you’re stressed, or trauma happens, you will experience all the emotions of anger, grief, and pain but the key to resilience is to be you are able to function both physically and psychologically. When we don’t have control over our situation, it’s really important to be in acceptance. 

It’s important to have a balanced emotional approach to dealing with challenges when we go through them. Staying present is key.

It’s important to pay attention to where our mind is. If we can be mindful when we are in negativity, pause for a moment, take deep breaths, and ask yourself what are five things you are grateful for. Being in gratitude is so important. Being in negative self-talk isn’t going to help nor change the situation. Ask yourself how can I turn my negativity into positivity. GRATITUDE IS HUGE! Look at all the things that are good in your life. We all have them. 

We all experience pain in life. One way we can become resilient is to look at the situation, try to find a solution to help you find a way to be resilient. It’s so helpful if you have someone you can talk to. Someone who will listen to you with an open heart. Someone who can give you some positive insight. There can be times if you don’t reach out that your mindset is stuck in negativity just like a hamster running in a continuous loop. It doesn’t stop. 

It’s so hard to stop that loop without the help of others. It’s important to open our hearts up and reach out. You don’t have to feel alone. Just talking about it gives the problem less power. It feels good to talk about things to a trusted person. It feels good to know that you are being heard. It feels good to be acknowledged. Strong social connection!

Another way you can become resilient through difficult times is be of service to others. Studies show that serotonin the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and well-being is used more efficiently by people who engage in an act of kindness. It’s getting yourself out of yourself. Acts of kindness have a cumulative effect. Volunteering can be a real good solution to get you out of your negativity and be more positive. Human connection is so important. 

I read that for every heart-wrenching negative experience that you go through, you should try to experience at least a few heartfelt experiences that will lift you up. I am a believer in affirmations. I read affirmations on a daily basis. It really does help to read something positive, which can shift your mindset from negativity into positivity. 

Most important is taking care of yourself. Having good regular healthy habits is the foundation for both mental and emotional resilience. Get enough rest. Eat healthy foods. Stay hydrated. This can help with being resilient. Take regular mental breaks.

Meditation can help with this as it slows down our thought process. It creates calm and peace. Create something. This is a great tool, which helps me be present, and takes my mind off the challenging time. When I create, it makes me feel good. When I create it keeps me focused on what I am actually creating. When I create, I am fully present.

Spend time outdoors in nature or just walk and breathe in fresh air. Research suggests that 20 minutes being outside leads to more expansive and open thinking. It’s a pro-resilient mindset. It can help with anxiety and depression, improves your immunity and lowers levels of inflammatory chemicals in your body. Yoga is a great way to remain calm, and in the present moment. Taking deep breaths. It can calm you. If you can, do at least five deep breathes in one sitting. Breathe in and count to 10, pause for a couple of seconds and slowly breathe out for the count of 11. Feel what is going on with your body as you do this exercise. 

Do your best to remain hopeful. You can’t change the past but you can always look toward the future. It’s important to remember that when we experience a challenging time in our life, when we experience trauma, experience pain and suffering, it’s important to stay positive. I know this is no easy task. However staying in the negativity is not a good way to live your life. 

Humor is important too. I know it’s not what you are thinking when you are in the middle of challenging times. It’s a break from the negativity. Laughter is important. If you can, watch a movie that is funny. Laughing reduces tension. Resilience doesn’t make things go away but it can give you the ability to see past them. If you aren’t as resilient, you can develop skills on how to be more resilient.

Here are some ways to improve your resilience:

Find a sense of purpose in life.

Build positive beliefs in your abilities.

Develop a strong social network.

Embrace change.

Be optimistic.

Nurture yourself. 

Practice acts of kindness. 

Be present.

Develop your problem solving skills and take action. 

Take control of the things you can and try to accept those things you can’t.

Have self-compassion. Be compassionate with others.

This can all be done by taking one step at a time. 

I hope you found this topic insightful and I encourage you to do what you can during this challenging time to keep positive. Know that this too will pass. Know that we are all going through this together. Reach out to others via facebook, facetime, skype; any measure of vitural connection. Call a friend or family member. I am sending you all hugs. Love and light.

YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

Author, Natasha Burke I am Enough, Becoming empowered and celebrating your True self

Being your authentic self is the culmination of a lifetime of lessons in living, learning, growing and changing. It’s all the things that make you unique, and need to be expressed. It is not what you believe you are supposed to be and do.

Being your authentic self is the core of who you are. It’s the real, true, genuine substance of who you are. It’s all of the things that make you unique and authentic.

Being authentic means to be true to one’s own personality and spirit despite pressures from external forces and influences.  It’s hard not to be influenced by external forces, such as what we see on television, social media or experience from our family, friends or peers. It’s not defined as your job, your function or role in the world. When you are not living your authentic self, you can find yourself incomplete, as if there is a hole in your soul.

Let’s step back to when we were born. On the day we were born, we were pure, perfect, innocent, beautiful, precious, amazing, alert, joyful, loving, peaceful, happy, wondrous, trusting, and a divine presence. The list goes on. This was our authentic self! This was our true essence.

As we got older, we inherited belief systems from others. We became aware of what others thought about us, told us what we should be or shouldn’t be. We forgot the true essence of who we really are. We forgot our true authentic self. Living your life through the lens of others, you live your life as your “false” self. You live a life through the lens of how the world sees you. 

When you don’t live your life wholeheartedly, when you ignore your true gifts and talents, you are living your life as a false self. Living through the lens of your false self drains your life force. I believe it’s much easer to live life as your authentic self. 

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are! –Brene Brown

At the end of the day, you are the only one who can look in the mirror and decide if you like the person looking back at you. The more you practice being your true authentic self, the easier it gets. 

I invite you to ponder these questions: 

Are you living a life that is more in tune with your “authentic” self (who you were created to be) or your “false” self (who the world has told you to be)? 

Do you find it easier to fill the roles your family and friends expect of you? 

Do you long to become who you really want to be? Your authentic self. 

Do you want to be like everybody else or do you want to be your authentic self? 

Do I see myself through the lens of others? Am I afraid to show the world my authentic self? If yes, why? Do I have a mask that I want to remove? I invite you to remove your mask. It may be uncomfortable because you have had this mask on perhaps your whole life. Unveil your mask and discover your true essence. 

When someone asks you “Who are you?” What is your answer? Is it, “I am a student.” “I am an artist.” “I am an athlete.” The list goes on and on. Does this sound familiar?

Often the answer isn’t who you are but what you do, what your social place is or how you see yourself function in life. Our roles in life don’t make us who we are. We change our roles in different social situations and act out the character because we think we should. When you realize that you act this way, you are not being you at your deepest level. 

Perhaps you can’t answer who you are because you don’t know. It’s okay. I invite you to be curious and explore who you really are. Give yourself this amazing gift. You are worth it. 

As you take this journey, be compassionate with yourself. Allow your process to unfold. Don’t compare yourself to others or concern yourself with what people will think. What matters is living your life wholeheartedly! Being the authentic you!

The process can be uncomfortable but discovering 

your authentic self will be much more satisfying than being a false self to satisfy others.

The world needs you to show up as your true authentic self. Slowly shed the mask of who you think you are and dive into your real self. It’s time to be real. It’s vital to your happiness.

GRATITUDE

Written by Natasha Burke

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return to kindness.

Every morning when I wake up, I start my day by stating what I am grateful for. This just sets the tone for my day, being grateful. I am grateful for the abundance in my life. This is a wonderful ritual to start a brand new day.

Being more grateful in life means that you are also allowing yourself to be happier, more content, and more satisfied with everything that is going on around you. If you have negative thoughts, replace them with positive thoughts. It’s all about being mindful.  Gratitude changes the heart’s rhythm quicker than other positive reaction or feeling . We raise the vibration of this energy. 

With all the stress, disappointments, and challenges life brings us, you might ask yourself how can I be more grateful with my life?

Live in the moment. Remember what you are grateful for. Just being alive is a huge start.  Read an inspirational quote for the day. Most important is to always appreciate what you have now. 

The happiest people are those who are content with what they currently have, not what they lack. 

Reasons why gratitude is important:

Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions.

Gratitude helps you savor your positive experiences. 

Be mindful and engage in the present moment.

Gratitude helps you cope with stress and life difficulties.

Gratitude boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

Gratitude fosters empathy.

Gratitude improves your physical health.

Gratitude fosters resilience.

Gratitude strengthens relationships.

Gratitude enhances mindfulness.

Every action begins with a thought. I love this quote by Gandhi:

Your beliefs become your thoughts

Your thoughts become your words

Your words become your actions

You habits become your values

Your values become your destiny

Make yourself gratitude cards, decorate them beautifully and look at them as a reminder of what you are grateful for. 

TRIGGERS

Triggers
Witten by Natasha Burke
November 9, 2018

Do you have triggers? What are your triggers? What do you do when you are triggered? Do you have coping skills to use when you are triggered?

You might ask, what is a trigger? A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashbacks bringing the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

Triggers are real. Different things trigger different people. A person may avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks may trigger a flashback.

Triggers are old painful feelings. Once you recognize your trigger, I invite you to look at that trigger. See where it originated so that when you do get triggered, you will be able to assess what is going on in your body and will be able to use your coping tools quicker.

I think about how many people in the world have trauma, PTSD and triggers. I am writing about this topic as I was triggered yesterday.

I was triggered from the shooting in Thousand Oaks. My grandson’s best friend’s sister died in that shooting. My heart goes out to their family. My heart goes out to our family. Once again a senseless act of violence that affects so many people. Family members of loved ones, here one day, gone the next.

This hits so close to home for me as it brought me back to the trauma of last year, my daughter being in the Las Vegas shooting. The shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg and now the shooting in Sherman Oaks triggered my daughter. She told me she feels like she is reliving the trauma of last year. Triggers are real.

Another trigger was the Camp fire in Butte County. I live in Santa Rosa and the smoke is so bad here. It reminds me of when the fires happened in my own city last year. I have family that live in Paradise; they are evacuated and not sure if they will have a home to return to. So many fires this year have affected so many people.

A year and a half ago I began the journey to go deep with PTSD and triggers. I really didn’t know what PTSD was until one day I looked at this flyer and it described symptoms. I thought to myself, wow, all these years I felt like something was wrong with me. I always felt there was a hole. I didn’t know what it was but it got worse and I knew that it was time to address my issues. This was the start of my deep work with EMDR and Somatic Therapy. I am learning where the triggers originated from. I pay attention to what triggers feel like in my body. This is very new for me. As a survivor of childhood and adult abuse, I wasn’t fully in my body. I was numb most of my life.

In the past when I was triggered, I have spiraled deep down a dark hole, which paralyzed me for days. At first I didn’t know what was going on, but at some point I realized that it was a trigger. What were my symptoms? Anger, I have been angry for many years. I didn’t know where that stemmed from, I just felt angry. I have anxiety, lots of it. I feel it in my chest (like I can’t breathe or I feel tightness), and stomach area (feeling nauseated). I have felt out of control, my head spinning. The external triggers are shootings; fire and certain movies can trigger me. It could be something someone said to me. It’s so interesting to me how something can trigger an old trauma.

I am grateful that I can finally pay attention to what triggers me. It’s now easier figuring out what is going on with me that caused me to be triggered. The big cue is paying attention to what is going on in my body. I don’t spiral for days and feel out of control. I look at what is triggering me, and I use some of my tools that I have learned to cope. This is a process but I am getting better at handling triggers. What I do to cope is to breathe, deep belly breathes, 3-5 at a time. I check in with my body and notice what I am feeling. I move, this really helps me get grounded.

I wonder if my triggers will every go away, or whether I will just handle them in a healthier way.

Here is a list of internal and external triggers.

Internal Triggers
Anger
Anxiety
Sadness
Memories
Feeling lonely
Feeling abandoned
Frustration
Feeling out of control
Feeling vulnerable
Racing heartbeat
Pain
Muscle tension

External Triggers
An argument
Seeing a news article that reminds you of your traumatic event
Watching a movie or television show that reminds you of your traumatic event
Seeing a car accident
Certain smells
The end of a relationship
An anniversary
Holidays
A specific place
Seeing someone who reminds you of a person connected to your traumatic event

It can be challenging to identify what your triggers are, but by knowing what they are, you can understand them and use tools that will help you cope better when you are triggered.

With practice, emotional triggers can subside, but they may never go away. Because we often cannot avoid triggers, it is important to learn ways of coping with triggers. Effective, healthy coping strategies for lessening the impact of triggers include:

Mindfulness
Relaxation
Self-Soothing
Grounding
Expressive writing
Social support
Deep breathing

Being more aware of your triggers can be beneficial. When you have awareness, your emotional reactions may begin to feel more understandable, valid, predictable, and less out of control. This can positively impact your mood and overall well-being. If you do have triggers, I hope you can recognize them as they are debilitating. It’s rough going through the process of healing, but you are worth it!