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!

 

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Written by Bianca Peralta

Women have always been associated as flowers due to their apparent feminine and delicate nature. However, flowers are essential to our ecosystem and much like women, we couldn’t survive without either. Also flowers range from different shapes, sizes, and colors just like the wonderful Hispanic Women we honor during Hispanic Heritage month. I want to take the time to reclaim the feminine association of a flower by demonstrating how each unique flower represents a different Hispanic female icon. Though individually these flowers are stunning and serve a various array of different functions out in nature, when you put all the flowers together, the bouquet makes up a uniquely stunning masterpiece.

As a twenty one year old, Mexican-American women it’s hard to stay positive about a month dedicated to celebrating the amazing feats of my culture because Hispanic Heritage month tends to highlight the men like Cesar Chavez, Juan Calamera, Diego Rivera, featuring one woman which is normally Frida Kahlo. So what about all the amazing feats of other Hispanic women that is overshadowed by males?

To highlight the amazing, Hispanic women, I have compared a diverse range of icons ranging from painters to supreme court justices to the unique and beautiful flower that best embodies them. As a Sorority woman in Alpha Omicron Pi, we follow the motto of “individually unique, all together complete.” So let’s celebrate the complexity of the individual woman and while also understanding how her unique contributions contribute to the Hispanic culture like diverse flowers making up a stunning bouquet. Dolores Huerta, the flowers of Kurunj.

The flowers of a Kurinji plant take forever to fully bloom, yet when they do, provide a beautiful spectacle that is worth the wait. The fearless leader we know today as Dolores Huerta was once a social outcast because she was a single mother, an immigrant, a farmhand, and female. Little did she know, that she would take on the world despite being a female of color, older, or unmarried. She empowered a generation of women like my Abuela, the immigrant farmhand who sold tortillas in the migrant camps, to chant “Si Se Puede” alongside the men. Her leadership bloomed because she empowered the women around her to change the gender dynamic of a civil rights movement. So ladies, next time you think you are too old or too unworthy to make a change, think again. Like Dolores and the Kurinji Plant’s flowers, your time to bloom will come, it just might take a while.

Sonia Sotomayor, Purple Iris Hollywood may have the fictional Elle Woods to inspire women to pursue law, but Hispanics have Sonia Sotomayor to look up to. Think of it, the first Hispanic to be on SCOTUS isn’t a male! As an eleven year old who dreamed of being a lawyer when this historical feat happened, I couldn’t help but think of hope. The judicial system doesn’t favor women, let alone brown women like me. Even today, despite the new surge in toxic masculinity and xenophobia, I remain determined to go to law school because I know women like me can do it! The Iris has many meanings and many places use it as the official flower, but I was told growing up that the Iris means hope. Sotomayor stands out amongst her fellow justices on the supreme court like a bright purple iris amongst a field of white daisies. However, that bold purple iris is essentially paving a way for the other purple irises to mix in and grow alongside the white daisies.

I remember watching West Side Story and being completely enamored with Rita Moreno as she successfully managed to dance, sing, and act equally amazing. It was years later I would find out that most of the cast wasn’t even Puerto Rican, except for Moreno. I mean if we thought Hollywood was predominantly white now, imagine it years ago. However, her magnificent on screen presence was due to her talent, not her race. Like the birds of paradise flower, Moreno was bold and magnificent. Don’t believe me? Well I challenge you to go look up her prestigious awards Diane Guerrero, Gladiolus.

The Gladiolus flower symbolizes strength, a characteristic Diane Guerrero has proven to possess as she continues to speak out against modern day immigration reform. Her family was deported back to Columbia while she remained in the United States as a young child. Nevertheless, she pursued acting and used her fame as a platform to speak out for those who have no voice. Her strength has motivated my generation of young women to use our voice for those who can’t. She isn’t in our history books yet, allowing girls to find their voice and be a part of a movement.

There are so many iconic Hispanic women that have done some pretty remarkable things. Lastly I want to dedicate the Marigold flower to all the amazing Hispanic women, like my Abuela who marched alongside Dolores Huerta, who have now been laid to rest. In my culture, these flowers honor the dead.

There are amazing women everywhere and here at Women Empowering Women, we make sure to include all women from all walks of life in our empowerment narrative. I hope you take the flower analogy with you, and take the time to celebrate how unique we all are. But when we come together we are beautiful, unstoppable forces of nature.

WHY DO WE COMPARE OURSELVES TO OTHER WOMEN?

Natasha Burke, Women Empower Each Other
June 21, 2018

“COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY”, Theodore Roosevelt

I am going to be authentic and share with you where my struggles with comparison have been. I invite you to ponder the questions of when did comparison start for you? In what areas do you compare yourself with other women, and how does it make you feel? My thought is by being mindful when comparison shows up in your life, you can name it, claim it, and most important, release it. It comes down to being ENOUGH! I AM ENOUGH! YOU ARE ENOUGH!

For me body image has been huge for most of my life. I have felt jealous. I have felt fat. I wanted my body to look like someone else’s body. If only….. It started with being a young girl. I have a sister; her body type is very thin. My body type is stocky. I wanted to be thinner.

It’s been exhausting feeling inadequate, NOT ENOUGH. It’s exhausting to go on diets; and I realize I don’t do well with diets. I don’t know about you but I have probably been on most diet fads throughout my years. It never worked for me. The psychological component of feeling like I couldn’t eat something was more powerful then the actual act of dieting. It’s such a yo-yo effect. Up and down, up and down.

Recently, something clicked about how I compare my body with other women’s bodies.In April, I started thinking about how I need to loose 20 pounds before I go on a trip to Hawaii in July. The thought of me being in a bathing suit prompted me to loose weight. I joined Weight Watchers. Oh my gosh, once again the dieting regime. I had a realization that realistically I wouldn’t loose that much weight in two months. The second realization was all the negative talk I do with myself isn’t working anymore. I don’t like how thinking this way makes me feel.

I pondered why do I do this to myself? Why can’t I accept my body for what it looks like? I explored this deeper. What I discovered is that comparing will never make me feel good about me. I discovered that my body is perfect the way it is, 20 pounds more than what I would like, but it’s perfect. It’s my unique body. It houses my soul. All parts of my body are a miracle. Each part of my body needs the other part to LIVE. The bigger question was, what if I stopped comparing my body to other women’s bodies? What would that look like? I realized that I have never owned my body, I mean truly own it. This work is a process, but instead of seeing myself as a fat woman, I see myself as an amazon woman! Strong, curvy, voluptuous. No one has the body that I have! Owning my body is empowering! Wow, what a huge discovery!

What I do now, is every time I see a woman through the lens of her heart and spirit. I say to myself, “she is beautiful”. With this mindset, I compare less. I appreciate other women and their bodies more. I can smile and say, thank goodness we all have different shapes, sizes, color, flaws, and each body is unique! What would the world look like if we all looked the same? Boring!

Another comparison is, “she is more together than me.” She has a degree, her business is successful, she has a bigger house, nicer car etc. Does this sound familiar??

I was a stay-at-home mom, working from home while I was raising my three children. I earned several certificates in my chosen areas of work. However, once my last child left, I had to figure out what to do next. I didn’t value the path I chose. I started comparing once again and had the feeling that I was not enough. Today it’s less but every now and then I go into that “I am not enough” mode. When I go there, I pull myself out of it and remind myself, what I do is not what gives me value, I am enough!

Many years ago I was living next to a woman who was very materialistic. I always wanted more and more and never felt satisfied.Then came the day when I realized that this wasn’t making me feel good about myself. I could not keep up, and all the material stuff, well it didn’t make me feel whole. It was like an addiction, I wanted more.

 

Today I appreciate all women for who they are and what they do. We are all doing amazing things in the world. WE don’t have to be like others. We need to be okay with WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO!

Comparison destroys confidence and self-belief. It steals joy and much more. It takes up a lot of negative energy. It takes away from what we have achieved and continue to achieve.

Comparison does not give happiness or pleasure. What positive emotions can come from comparing? If you feel other women are ahead, you feel down. If you feel they are behind you, you’ll feel pity and sorry for them. Comparison is a losing game. Comparison is based on FEELING AND NOT TRUTH.

What is a better feeling than comparing? Knowing who you are and appreciate all that you do! We all need different things in life. If you know who you are and what you want, that will keep the focus on YOU!

Create your own path and follow it. We all are on a different path, one that we must take the journey down our own road. I have created the road that I want to follow in my life. This road is mine. I have milestones and challenges but it’s my path. I would like to say that I have travelled the road less traveled! Is it easy? Absolutely not.

Life is a process of CREATION not a destination. Life is not about getting to the end but it’s about learning and experiences, and most of all GROWTH! You don’t need to compare to create.

Compare only with you! You can strive to be better a little bit each day. Commit to growing a little each day and celebrate the small steps forwards into what you want. What a great reminder for me.

If a woman inspires you, let her know. We need to celebrate each other and our accomplishments! Sisterhood is important! Together we rise!

I AM ENOUGH

Written by Natasha Burke
April 9, 2018

How many times have you felt you are not enough? Where does this come from? How does it make you feel?

I am here to remind you that YOU ARE ENOUGH JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. WE ARE ENOUGH JUST THE WAY WE ARE. 

SELF-LOVE- The instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being.

SELF-LOVE: What Does It Mean To Love One’s Self?

“When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do.”—– John O’Donohue.

SELF-LOVE- I am enough!! I Matter!

When you feel you are not enough, you are not loving yourself. When you compare yourself to someone else, you are not loving yourself. When you are in your head and your inner critic is saying you are not beautiful, worthy of love, fat, something is wrong with you, etc. you are not loving yourself. Does this sound familiar?

FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH

ATELOPHOBIA (A-TEL-O-PHO-BIA)– The fear of imperfection. The fear of never being good enough.

When you were born, you felt unconditionally loved by your parents. You felt safe because you were being taken care of. That unconditional love doesn’t last forever and perhaps at an early age there were events where you didn’t feel that love.

Maybe it was when you were yelled at. It is at that very moment that you identify with the thought “I am not good enough. The fear of not being good enough was then born.

The fear of not being enough affects your sense of self-power, self-esteem and self-image. Everything you attempt to do is controlled by your self imagine and how much you believe in yourself.

The fear of not being good enough destroys your confidence.

Go deep, explore where this belief system stems from. When you discover the root of this belief, you can then heal what makes you not feel enough. Be compassionate while you do this work. This will take practice. You are worth it!

 

THINGS THAT CAN HELP YOU TO REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE ENOUGH! THIS WILL TAKE PRACTICE! YOU ARE WORTH IT!

We all compare ourselves to other people, but if you could look at another person through the eyes of compassion, understanding, and see a person for who they truly are, that will take away from judgment and jealousy. Look at a person as imperfect as you are and going through their own challenges. Look at a person with love. This takes practice. You are worth it!

Don’t believe everything you think! Thoughts are thoughts, and it’s not healthy and is very exhausting to give power to those negative thoughts. If you catch yourself, try to replace the negative thought with a positive one. This takes practice. You are worth it!

Quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Until you stop breathing, there’s more right with you than wrong with you.” We can always find flaws. However, there are so many more things that you can like about yourself. This takes practice. You are worth it!

You can’t feel acceptance, love and compassion from others if you are in in a state of anger, anxiety, depression or shame. We all have those moments in life. Practice saying during those times, “ love is the greatest gift that I can receive during this challenging time. This takes practice. You are worth it!

Fully accept NOW. This will help you feel satisfied with the later.
Embrace and make peace with where you are right now. Your journey toward something new will feel more peaceful, rewarding and satisfying. If you are always looking for the next…. you will not ever feel satisfied or content. This takes practice. You are worth it!

Focus on your progress rather than perfection. Focus on how far you have gone rather than how far you have left to go. When you strive for perfection and success, and when you feel that you fall short, you feel less than and worthless. Realize that you are striving for success no matter how many times you fail. Don’t beat yourself up but give yourself a pat on the back for trying, making progress, and coming as far as you have. This takes practice. You are worth it!

If you tell yourself you are worthless and unlovable it won’t make you feel worthy and loveable. Love yourself! No matter where you are in life or even if you want to make changes, LOVE YOURSELF! YOU ARE ENOUGH!

Everyday, as often as you can say, I AM ENOUGH! This takes practice. You are worth it!