Bedroom Escape Day: A list of Bedroom Activities for When the World is Sucking too Badly

My bedroom has always been my safe haven, my Cubbie Hole of Bliss you could say. And not just because for the obvious reasons *wink *wink, but there is something to be said about the calming effect it has on my spirit when I just need a break. Over the years I’ve mastered the art of soft lighting and luxurious textiles that caress my weathered skin, hungry for some solitude and kindness. Now that the snow has fallen my desire to batten down the hatches has grown even more so, drawing my blinds closed until the Spring.

As I mentioned before, by no means do I associate time to my bedroom as a place where I skulk and withdraw from Joy. In fact its where I come to recharge, free myself from the distractions and negativity in a space I can control. Every now and again I use it specifically for a day when I need to filter out the world a bit and get some reprieve from the ugly; Calgary weather included. When I’m in my fortress of solitude I don’t just lay in my bed with my covers pulled over my head like you may have imagined. In fact it may be some of the most productive time that I spend with myself. Some may wonder how is it possible to stay so busy and entertained within such a small space let alone by oneself. Well let me put you on to some simple ideas that you may want to consider next time you want a break from the world.

This idea came to me almost 10 years ago and has stuck ever since. It was rooted in nostalgia originally from my days in high school and university where we’d rotate stacks of fashion magazines. It seems like when social media took over and magazines/gossip could be accessed more readily online that the fascination with print died. In a genius move, I brought it back for days like this. I’d buy the Cosmopolitan, People, Vogue, and Rolling Stone to name a few. I’d read them from back to front like I had 20 years ago because we all know the juicy stuff was in the back. I love coming across the perfume tester pages so that I could rub its papery fragrance all over me like I was headed to a 7th grade dance hoping to score my first French kiss. But what is a stack of magazines without a bag of Twizzlers- its not so grab two!

Run yourself a professional bath- my bathroom is open concept so technically its still in my room. The decorative candles bordering your soaker tub that may have a layer of dust on them-Light those Puppies! For gods sake candles are meant to burn, and they aren’t an ambient accent unless they are lit sis. Next, throw on some kick ass jazz or whatever tunes get you singing along sorrowfully. For me its Nina Simone, Lana Del Ray, Tash Sultana, or my ultimate fave; 80’s Hair Band Ballads. Those you can really murder the best with your angelic voice as loudly as unnecessarily possible. I love a good ol’ sing along to some Guns and Roses Don’t Cry. I imagine you’ll remember lyrics that you hadn’t sang since you were backcombing your bangs and getting spiral perms. When your done, make sure you moisturize the hell out of your body with every miracle cream that’s under your sink and lay there butt ass naked until every fragrant globule of magical serum is absorbed. You may look like a buttered biscuit, but guess what, buttered biscuits are delicious.

Make yourself a snack platter you can graze on all day. It needs to be complete with all the cheeses, meats, dips, olives, bits and bites. Include some fruits to cut the salt intake, it will make you feel like you are indulging in a healthy way. Hell, even make yourself a jug of spa water and finish that up to ensure you are adequately hydrated as the goal here is to rejuvenate and recharge.

Do something creative whether its writing a blog, sketching, brainstorming interior design ideas, or coming up with small business ideas. These often can manifest themselves into bigger goals in the future that could materialize into new passions. Perhaps write a poem, or get out an old cute note book and jot down some free thought words. Let your mind go a bit and do something maybe out of the ordinary. Maybe you like nail art, try doing something different with your nails by watching a you tube tutorial on it. Or learn a new braid and practice it in the mirror. These are all little things that we often too busy for in our lives to consider as being alternatively mindless but pleasant ways to spend time with yourself.

Play dress up. Get into that closet of yours and drag out the items you don’t wear often. Try to put new outfits together with these items that you can get excited about when you emerge from your Cubbie of Bliss. In fact while your in there, organize a weeks worth of outfits ahead of time. If your up for it you can take it up a notch and do a full runway show, documenting how freaking amazing your style is and celebrating your ability to repurpose that sequined blazer you wore once at a new years party 5 years ago. Sequins never die queens.

Put on an old 80’s movie and fall asleep to it. Go sweetly into a wonderland of REM sleep that’s influenced by the movies white noise guiding your Adventures in Babysitting, or perhaps a day off with Bueller. For some reason I feel like these naps are best had in jeans…odd suggestion I know, but how often do we get to sleep in our day clothes? I find denim warm and all encompassing, holding me together like a hug I consented too. There is an underlying feeling of unfamiliarity napping in the daytime with my clothes on…it’s laziness coming to fruition, not something I personally can always enjoy without guilt. But in the Cubbie of Bliss, there are no rules and there is no guilt because here you can spend the day however you wish.

So as you can see I have some unique ideas tailored to my own personal comforts and quirks. They are merely a guide to ignite your own exploration around finding ways to be with yourself if you struggle to sit in isolation but feel weary from the world around you. In fact I came across an article in Forbes stating that there are 7 Science Based Reasons Why Should Spend More Time Alone.

According to Amy Moren, a psychotherapist and the international bestselling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do there are a multitude of studies that tout the benefits of solitude.

1. Alone time increases empathy. 

When you spend time with a certain circle of friends or your co-workers, you develop a “we vs. them” mentality. Spending time alone helps you develop more compassion for people who may not fit into your ‘inner circle.’

2. Solitude increases productivity.

Although so many offices have started creating open floor plans so everyone can communicate more easily, studies show being surrounded by people kills productivity. People perform better when they have a little privacy.

3. Solitude sparks creativity.

There’s a reason a lot of authors or artists want to go to a cabin in the woods or a private studio to work. Being alone with your thoughts gives your brain a chance to wander, which can help you become more creative.

4. Being alone can help you build mental strength.

We’re social creatures and it’s important for us to have strong connections with other people. But, solitude may be just as important. Studies show the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression.

5. Solitude may reduce behavior problems in kids.

When you carve some solitude in your schedule you show your children that being along is a healthy thing to do. And research shows kids who learn to by themselves are better behaved than other children. Be a good role model and teach solitary skills early.

6. Being alone gives you an opportunity to plan your life.

Most people spend a lot of time planning weddings and vacations but never plan how to get the most out of life. Spending time alone can give you a chance to ensure there’s a purpose to all of your hustling and bustling. Quiet space provides an opportunity think about your goals, your progress, and changes you want to make in your life.

7. Solitude helps you know yourself.

Being alone helps you become more comfortable in your own skin. When you’re by yourself, you can make choices without outside influences. And that will help you develop more insight into who you are as a person.

Thank you for continuing to read, follow and comment on my unique brand of crazy tales and thoughts! Lett me know in the comment section what you love to do in solitude!

Relinquishing Independence and Inviting Interdependence: Understanding When its Safe to Let Go of Control.

Solo Vacation-Its a thing “Independent Women” Do.

This is a tough post to write because simply put, I’m pissed off. I never like to write when I’m upset because often my emotions at the best of times can be fleeting and reactive. And I am glad that I took the time to take a few days to cool off before publishing this post and took time the time to reflect upon what ignited my temper tantrum. You see, I feel more and more these days that my affinity for independence, has impeded on my ability to engage and trust in the idea of Interdependence- A term that up until recently seemed like a swear word.

To provide further insight to my inner workings, I am a deeply sensitive person, who has a history of being taken advantage of in previous romantic relationships, by friends, and family. Over the years I have become far more assertive in protecting my best interests, as these experiences have not only hurt but been a reminder that I often get tired of. These experiences have served only to reinforce the idea that the only person I can count on at the end of the day to protect my achievements, growth, and my value quite frankly is me. But what if this isn’t the case all the time?

Let me also just say before my loved ones read on and feel hurt by my unhinged thought processes, allow me to shine light on you first before I go any further. I do not want to minimize the people in my life that are amazing and loving supports who have been unwavering with their loyalty to me. Without them I would not be the reasonably sane person I am today. I feel like I belong and am important to those who show me love, kindness and thoughtfulness. They aspire me to continue being who I am in my most authentic form, and also why I’m writing this today. I believe it is my responsibility to address that no negative experiences from the past is going to discourage me from being who I love to be. They allow me the safety to love fearlessly- I’m in gratitude of that.

But as mentioned above sometimes I just get tired. You see, I have been indepedent for a very long time, long before I actually had developed the skills to actually carry that out sucessfully. I was a boarding school kid who’s parents lived on the other side of the world. For the longest time I had very little need for them and relied mostly on the company and guidance of my peers and teachers at the time. So when I ventured into the cold world of hard knocks, I was simply a lamb to the slaughter, naive to the dangers and cruelty that lay beyond the borders of my prestigious boarding school campus.

It would be through a series of really crappy life lessons learned that I’d finally figure out it that is was do or die if I did not do what was necessary in terms of creating some stability. Having a daughter at the age of 22 and being a single parent had a lot to do with motivating me to be my best ally in life. I had learned through some traumatic and life altering experiences that counting on people or believing in people was never a safe option- which in hindsight is really sad, and I don’t believe this to be true for everyone. I strongly believe that my mistrust is rooted in my own trauma, and am able to see examples of people who truly can be counted on. Read Here to Learn More.

When I consider examples of the term interdependence what comes to my mind is a few of my friends who are married/common-law. I would say “happily married,” but there are days I’m sure they’d disagree with that statement. I most certainly am not the one to make any judgements on marital bliss given my own track history. So I will stick with the topic and zero in on part of their marriages that is heavily rooted in their commitment to the partnership aspect of it. I percieve this like perhaps a running contract whereby they have developed some level dependability on the other person. As in, to know that if they fall, the other will catch them. If they loose their job, they will clothe and feed them. If they want to pursue their dreams, they will carry them until they succeed, or again…catch them if they fall. The freedom to raise their children as a stay at home mom or dad and know everything will be taken care of. And if I could be perfectly honest…the freedom to be a kept Woman/Man/preferred Pronouns* le sigh….one could always wish right? My dream would also include a nanny, a cook, a personal trainer and an on call therapist that also feeds me grapes while draped in fancy loungewear.

I digressed.

But as much as brood over this idea, I don’t actually believe I could ever be that woman. My experiences have defined me, and to be honest ruined me to ever accept a life of leisure. Underneath all that layered scar tissue lives a little twinkling light of wonder that glimmers with the thought of one day letting myself kick up my feet and letting Jesus take the wheel- but with Jesus being a man, I have my doubts even with the almighty…enough said.

As I dive deeper into my own self awareness on the subject, it is not independence that I’m flouting, it is Mistrust. The kind whereby I imagine I could make someone feel “not good enough” to take on the role of being my partner. Or perhaps giving the impression that the care I require from another could ever live up to the expectations I have set for myself. I also worry about my ability to live through another disappointment that at times in my life has almost annihilated me. Yet here I stand like a bronzed statue, weathered by the storms, blessed by the luck of the seagulls excrement; my placard almost illegible. Nobody knows what to think when they see a spectacle as grand and calamitous as this but maybe admire from a distance, maybe occasionally taking a photo with it. That pretty much sums up the bulk of why few have been brave enough to tackle exploring a partnership with me. They just don’t know where to start.

But like most good parties, pity parties too must come to an end. Just as I love to take care of the loved ones in my life, I need to allow others to take the opportunity to take care of me, even if I feel that they fall short at times. Not every man or woman is meant to be kept, just as every man or women is not meant to be keeper of others. Nor should I assume that the value behind the “keeping of each other” should be measured by the means that we often run too when we think of freedom, namely financial freedom. Although if I never had to work again, that it would sit okay with me!

According to Terry Gaspard, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, “Reliance on others can be healthy and affirming. The problem is that as children we weren’t always taught how to balance self-reliance with healthy interdependence.” Terry explains “On the surface, it’s wonderful to be independent, self-sufficient and resilient. But when you believe you must do everything for yourself, you create your own demise. It’s hard to let your partner in. It’s hard to give him/her room to come through for you. But if you are ever to enjoy the full nature of intimacy, you must. In small doses, self-reliance is positive. But when it pervades your approach to the world it can deprive you of true love, commitment and trust. To avoid this fate you must learn to reign in your self-reliance, to recognize when it prevents you from trusting in your partner, and to acknowledge when it denies your partner of everything you have to give.”

Dr. Willard Harley, a marriage counselor, defines interdependent behavior as activities of a spouse that are conceived and executed with the interests of both spouses in mind. He maintains that certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be beneficial and promote emotional closeness.

6 Steps to Achieving Interdependence

1. Take ownership if you are too self-reliant. If it’s extreme, pinpoint the source of it and examine your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.

2. Challenge your beliefs and attitudes about accepting nurturing and support from your partner. Resist the urge to be self-reliant around hot-button issues such as money, work, or family matters — like how you celebrate holidays or vacations.

3. Visualize yourself in an honest and open relationship and work toward allowing yourself to be more vulnerable with your partner — a critical aspect of intimacy.

4. Remind yourself daily that it’s healthy to accept help from others and a sign of strength rather than weakness. This might also apply to your work setting.

5. Develop a policy of joint agreement if you are in a relationship. This term, coined by Dr. Harley, describes an agreement couples make to resist making decisions without an enthusiastic agreement between them and their partner — especially important ones that impact both people.

6. Adopt a mindset that it’s good to count on your partner. Believe that you can share your deepest feelings with him/her and it will promote healthy attachment, trust and intimacy. You must let them in and embrace the idea that you don’t have to go through life alone.

Dependence is often seen as a dirty word in our culture. It conjures up images of weakness and insecurity. But certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be helpful and sustaining. Intimacy serves to help illuminate parts of oneself never truly realized. Healthy partnerships bring out the best in people, because when they feel safe and loved, they are free to grow and explore who they are as human beings. Instead of depending on a partner, we need to seek interdependence. We must believe that we do not have to go through life alone.

“Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”

― Erik H. Erikson

As I suspected, in being overly self-reliant, I must remember that by allowing myself to depend on others, I can help develop autonomy and strength. Revealing vulnerability with my partner, has never been the issue, its the “what’s next part” that has always scared me. What if they think I’m crazy, or what will they do with this info? Will they use this to hurt me or use against me? Will they magnify my weknesses and silence my strengths? Or alternatively will Letting go of control, fear and other intense emotions help to make my relationships more solid.

Only time can tell as I grow more secure in the idea that others love me,. To accept that independence and love do not need to exist on separate planes.

When you depend on others, you are at your strongest. I will take this forward with me as I relinquish some control and communicate faith in others ability to “Take Care of Me.”

You Gotta Know When To Fold’Em: Breaking Free, and Finding Happiness after Divorce

I’m not one to talk about the past too often unless it brings fond memories, which for the most part I have many. The topic is not that far in the past that it doesn’t still give me residual pangs of hurt that feel as recent as yesterday at times. But I wouldn’t be willing to discuss it openly if it didn’t offer some level of experiential wisdom for anyone who may be facing similar circumstances.

You see it would be approximately 5 years ago that I made the decision to leave my marriage. The marriage was a result of a very long relationship in which it seemed just natural and right to transition to the next step. There is no real love story behind it, rather quite the opposite. In fact if you were to have only had the experience of knowing me more recently, the idea that I would have consorted with the mundane would seem absurd. However, let us return to the Cece of Christmas’s past. Proposals, marriage and the filling of new homes with children is what everyone was doing at that time. It’s what everyone was doing around us. I’m unclear why my mother’s voice wasn’t piping in at this time saying “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?” But in the case of marriage and settling down, the world around you is giving you a life jacket and pushing you off the ledge. I admit its easy to blame societal pressures to conform; I don’t deny that at that time I was all in. And when I say “all in,” I mean I wasn’t able to foresee my life being anything different than what it was. My vision was exceptionally narrow and reinforced by the baggage I had brought with me from my previous abusive relationship.

Often when marriages and relationships dissolve its only natural in many instances to look at the other person and place the blame on them and their shortcomings. That’s not to say that many partners are 100% to blame and do terribly selfish and hurtful things in which the other played no role other than love someone who didn’t deserve them. And in my case, it went both ways, however its never fair to dive into the details without the other’s ability to share their perspective. And I’d be open to that but he hasn’t answered my calls in three years.

I’m sorry to disappoint you and advise this post is not about my shitty marriage that didn’t work out. In all likelihood, I may devote a whole wine fuelled podcast on the subject, but until then I’ll uphold some integrity. I’m grateful that I am alive and well today living my life in the most authentic and honest way. What a difference 5 years can do for you when you make the best decision of your life.

Which leads me to the topic of how I reclaimed my life when it began to gain momentum in a direction that wasn’t a genuine path for who I am as a person. I believe for many people there are “tells” just like in a game of poker. You see just like the game of poker we often bluff when we aren’t holding a good hand; getting caught up in the risk taking and potentially losing it all. Often when the momentum has us pulled in, there is no consideration for the long game. The more we begin to lose, the more our “tells” come out as the anxiety and desperation begins to build. You see, when you keep seeking the rush of winning and ignore the consequences of losing, we’re left in the emotional poor house. At the tail end of my losing streak, I admittedly had lots of tells, but I also gave the illusion that I had lots of chips in my pocket.

Poker-playing AI threatens to unseat a raft of Texas Hold'em champions -  ExtremeTech

So its no surprise that when I landed on my ass, my emotional poor house was located on the corner of Despair avenue and Hopeless Street. I found myself in a deep, destructive depression that I could not for the life of me dig myself out of. I was erratic in my choices and behavior, and admittedly had considered running my car into bridge barrier one evening as I was screaming at the top of my lungs at the universe in anger. That event haunts me until this day because while it was over 5 years ago, the emotions, my surroundings, what I was wearing, the car indicator lights are as clear as if I was there right now in this moment.

Bridge Underpass Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

You ask what could have brought me to such a place of despair?

I can trace it all the way to the beginning when I first met my ex-husband. I was a single mother at that time with a one and a half year old. I was fresh out of an extremely horrifically abusive relationship with her biological father that left me in ruins emotionally, physically and psychologically. I was 22 years old and I was not equipped with the self awareness and emotional maturity to tackle the damage- in fact I was oblivious to it. I ended up settling after a year with the first real boyfriend I had since leaving my abusive relationship. When I say anyone that was nice to me and wasn’t physically abusive towards me was my standard at that time. The relationship brought many good things regardless of my basic standards whereby I returned to University and got my Social Work Degree from the University of Victoria. My daughter grew a close and loving relationship with a man who accepted her as his daughter whereby they remain very close. I couldn’t have asked for a better father for her and for that I will be forever grateful. He provided us with an extended family and sense of belonging that I had not experienced coming from such a small family myself. He remained committed to our little family and moved to where I got my first Social Work Job in Northern Alberta, leaving his family behind and beginning a life as a unit in a strange small town. Life was looking up as it was during the Alberta Oil Boom and Fort McMurray promised wealth and stability for us as a family. The momentum of my life appeared to be moving in the right direction. I was adequately distracted by my own ambitions and self actualizing a life that was ultimately the way it’s supposed to be in the naively idealistic sense.

Then one day his vision began to blur which quickly turned into vertigo, precipitating what we thought was a stomach flu. We went weeks attending the hospital and trying to treat his stomach flu. I knew something was terribly wrong, and finally demanded he be admitted to hospital otherwise I was approaching the media. Through further testing he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 25. He left Fort McMurray to recover with his family thousands of miles away, where I ultimately decided that I would help him get through this and we would make it work.

It was a devastating blow in every aspect.

This wasn’t part of the plan. In fact it shattered all our plans, and dreams which were left in pieces at our feet. Despite my rage and the unfairness of it all, I quickly resorted back to what I knew best. I had been here before and did what I thought was best in crisis; which was to ignore the emotional impact and take care of those who weren’t as seemingly strong as I.

And there you have it. Mistake #1-Believing others don’t possess strength without you.

Poor Self-Esteem and Confidence can make the human spirit rely on others to validate importance and purpose where others who are in pain can fulfill these voids for us. The experiences/traumas responsible for planting those weeds of doubt in ourselves can be vast and complex. In my circumstances, it would be the trauma from domestic violence, the psychological and verbal abuse. I strongly believe that there is a strong sense of co-dependency created within these dynamics, whereby one enables the other. When done improperly, assuming the role as the “rock” can also perpetuate maladaptive inferiority roles for those who feel powerless with their diagnosis. And in regards to my marriage- I take accountability for succumbing to depending on being needed then feeling stifled years later by creating the culture of dependency.

How do we remedy this? Well I can’t say I was successful in doing it in my marriage otherwise I wouldn’t be speaking about a husband that is now an ex. But over the last 5 years since starting over, I have successfully committed to putting my physical and emotional health ahead of others. This often means, setting firm boundaries and expectations with loved ones and communicating my bottom line. At times it can appear intolerant, or lack empathy, however when our reasonings are given context it can be the most admirable lesson ever. Not everyone will understand this- but know it is for us as individuals to actualize our strengths, and I see no better way than to demonstrate it by walking the walk.

So this leads me to my second mistake.

Mistake #2- Using others crisis as a distraction to avoid my own shit.

I feel like I take the cake with this one, because I could have picked a more appropriate career as a social worker to enable me in doing this. Nonetheless, do you ever find yourself immersed in others lives, being over involved in problems that aren’t your own, and coming to the rescue of some damsel in distress. I was this person, and counted on filling my world with a plethora of noise to avoid the loneliness and pain I was feeling. My bucket continued to run empty as the fruits of my perceived “strength” went unacknowledged or appreciated by my partner, and overutilized by others. I had created the norm and the illusion that I was the “Rock,” someone who had their shit in a pile. That was my doing, because if I eluded to otherwise people would stop running to me with their noise and I’d really be alone. You see, he was increasingly declining in health and struggling with the neurological complications of Multiple Sclerosis. He was angrier, moodier, and more depressed. Intimacy or signs of romantic connection were not reciprocated and I found other ways to appease my needs to feel a connection and needed.

It wasn’t until I left my marriage that I truly felt what it was like to be alone as my home was loaded up and squished into a small 2 bedroom condo. You see at that time I had nothing available to give therefore the noise stopped and the distractions saw no value in what I had to offer during this period. There were few calls or invitations to reach out and help me move or keep me company. It was then that I saw the value in standing alone in the deafening silence and appreciating the space required in order to redirect all my focus inwards. Often we look at isolation or being seemingly forgotten as a reflection of not being worthy or loved- when in fact its Solitude that is being given to us. So the next time you are feeling lonely or overlooked, take the silence as an opportunity to give your soul some good advice and leave the unnecessary distractions at the door.

Mistake #3-Believing that others opinions mattered

I was completely debilitated by what I thought people would think if I made the decision to leave. Never mind that the circumstance were making me suicidal, but with no success in reaching out for extended family support, I was still left with an enormous amount of guilt. What kind of wife was I leaving her husband when he had MS. The only thing worse than me was the husband who left his dying wife with cancer for the cute blonde nurse that was hired to do the home care. I was worried about what they would say about me and how I would be perceived by choosing a chance at life again. What would my daughter think of me, who couldn’t even begin to understand what I was feeling. And why would she, I had managed to shield her from the majority of my unravelling. I was terrified by all the hurt that I would be placing on everyone around me.

Do you see Mistake #1 weaseling its way in here again?

What I realized in this process is that not one person who’s opinion I was worried about ever took the time to listen or ask if I needed support. I can’t believe I was worried about what this would mean for them and concerned that they would have to take over the responsibility of his care. I was actually worried that this would burden them and they would be angry with me that I had not tried hard enough or just endured longer. In the end it all worked itself out, which is a testament that when we walk away people have the ability to find a solution with or without us.

In hindsight, I wish I had been more kind to myself during this time. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the challenges we were facing could be tackled in isolation yet we were left with no other option. The marriage counseling along with the long list of personal coping strategies and personal sacrifice at the expense of my mental health had fallen flat. The fact that I’m explaining this further is my lingering “tell” that perhaps I still have some feelings of guilt to work through.

What awaited me on the other side of it all was the overwhelming support from my own family and close friends who knew there was a life out there for me. You see they had boundaries with regards to where they were willing to rejoin me again and even my daughter stood by my decision and me throughout it all.

Mistake #4- Not Doing it Sooner

I wish I had conjured the courage and wisdom it took to commence the decision to move ahead quicker that had been overdue. My days of bluffing no longer held a strategic purpose in my life and with a sense of relief, happily folded the cards I was dealt. Perhaps that ominous bridge barrier that originally symbolized an end for me, alternatively was the beacon of hope that life was worth living if I just changed the direction of my wheel.

Amen to that.

And while I don’t intend on stewing to much more on the mistakes of the past, I hope that in sharing them provoked some fruitful “What if’s” for you if you are facing a need for change. Whether you are facing a decision to get sober, ending a toxic friendship or leaving an abusive relationship-know that you always have choice to change the direction.

Begin to free yourself at once by doing all that is possible with the means you have, and as you proceed in this spirit the way will open for you to do more.
~ Robert Collier

Please go follow my Instagram @cece_a_broadtalez

A New Culture of Maladaptive Parenting: Nurturing Fear, Anxiety and Mistrust in time of Chaos.

Protect children from radicalisation - Internet Matters

There is often not one day that goes by during my work week that I’m not left thinking about some profound lesson. Today was no different, as I carried out my role as a social worker within the child welfare system. I’m sure 50% of you are either rolling their eyes with disdain towards me, and the other wondering what horror stories I have for them today. But for the most part, my days are much like today where I get immersed in learning and listening about peoples lives. Conversations can vary drastically from feeling like I’m pulling teeth, or the latter, where I get more information than I bargained for. Both often leave me at times feeling impatient as I’m not always afforded the opportunity to get down to the meat and potatoes of the presenting concerns that initiated our introduction to one another.

Today was as good as it gets, as I felt privileged that this one Kiddo really opened up and let me into their world, and as a result opened my mind to some new learning. We had made some initial small talk about the Inauguration that morning, and touched upon the pandemic- it was a carefully placed Segway that set the remainder of my interview up. You see I was looking to explore the impact of Emotional Injury or psychological effect as it pertained to the Radical Anti-Masker/Trumpism/Patriot belief systems by the guardian. Due to obvious confidentiality issues I can’t discuss where this particular conversation went, but it posed a question in the back of my head when I was done.

Where is my Skill Level at in Reference to Understanding How the Adolescent Mind Processes Harmful, Fear Based Propaganda and Extremist/Radical Belief Systems? And How does my own Bias and belief system play a role within my capacity to fairly assess?

I’m sure by now You all have heard about one of the Domestic Terrorist Rioters – Guy Reffit, who was arrested by FBI who had threatened to kill his children if they told the FBI he had taken part in the riot. Find the Story Here. Believe it or not, this is not an isolated incident.

Texas man at Capitol riot allegedly threatened to kill his kids if they turned him in: ‘Traitors get shot’

Capitol Rioter Threatened To Shoot His Children If They Turned Him In To The  FBI - Small Joys

While this case is not only a form of Domestic Violence/Abuse- there is a sub-category that us folks in the Western World are just getting a taste of. Over the years in my practice of social work I’ve counted on cultural brokers and religious leaders to help navigate and bridge a level of understanding between my own cultural beliefs and biases and others unlike me. As a result, I’m cognizant that in the world there are countries that remain in warfare level conflict as a result of their differing beliefs, and have done so for thousands of years. I’m aware of the complex trauma that follows these families for generations as they settle in Canada and struggle to adapt as a result of us not being equipped to address it as soon as re-settlement begins. I can’t imagine that some of us would have ever imagined this level of divide within the Western World, let alone believe that violence could be the answer to our problems. Yet here we are.

I feel like as this Pandemic continues to divide one another and sever friendships, families become further at risk as a result of the isolation and contentious attitudes that arise from the conflict. I’ve talked about this exact subject before Read Here.

Previously our networks could be counted on to provide us an authentic sense of reassuring safety and support, but has been rapidly replaced by a culture of mistrust, suspicion, and deepening conspiracy theories. This is the message that is being absorbed now within the confines of homes, where once children, youth and families felt safe- but have now come to believe they are not.

Extremism is “the quality or state of being extreme” or “the advocacy of extreme measures or views”. The term is primarily used in a political or religious sense, to refer to an ideology that is considered (by the speaker or by some implied shared social consensus) to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of society.

For most adults, we had the experience of growing up in varying different ways. For the majority of the luckier adults, they experienced a relatively well adapted, stable, and healthy childhood. The need for us 30/40 somethings to be “woke” back then was as simple as needing to count on our pre-historic alarm clocks to get us up for school. Nowadays, there is a level of pressure placed on children and youth to be fully informed on everything that occurs in the world. There is a significant difference between discussing world events and irrelevant anxiety inducing content all day long. Children and Youth are growing up in a world where they are fully exposed, non stop, to unfiltered, jarring and disturbing images and stories. For these youth and children, they then come home and find no reprieve- as the parents have become completely engrossed in the toxicity of it all. Free thinkers are not born in this climate, free thinkers are born in environments whereby they feel safe in questioning and challenging things they may not agree with, and not face the threat of being killed, rejected, or unheard. Here lies the “emotional injury” I was seeking to explore more.

I came across this helpful paper written by The Ran Center of Excellence titled ‘Vulnerable children who are brought up in an extremist environment’ which in summary states:

“Children growing up in a family with extremist influences are
particularly vulnerable to becoming radicalised themselves.
Despite the difficulties faced by practitioners to identify these
children, protecting them is essential. Effective interventions may
include offering alternative relationships and counselling, providing
(intercultural) education and using trauma and creative therapy for
the most severely traumatised children. Removal from the families
may also be necessary in cases in which transgenerational
extremism is causing significant distress to the child and is putting
them in danger. But separating children from their families is not
always the best solution. As such, it is crucial for practitioners to
carefully consider what is in the child’s best interest. This requires
finding the delicate balance between what it is good for the child
and what it means to force the child into a safer environment.”

Radical Voices | University of London

While many extremists/Radicals feel they are exercising their freedoms of free thought they are in fact imposing and stifling their children’s ability to develop and learn how to decipher what is their own opinion versus one that is enforced upon them. The interest of the child in extremist families may be trumped by the interest of the cause. For some extremist parents, their children are a means to reach a certain outcome and part of their ideological arsenal. They can be used to defend their ideas and give mass to their group. Despite what is sometimes believed, an extremist upbringing puts the child at a higher risk, not society.

In political science, the term radicalism is the belief that society needs to be changed, and that these changes are only possible through revolutionary means. Most people think of left-wing politics when they use the noun radicalism, although people on both ends of the spectrum can be described as radical.

I’ve seen adolescents act out as a result of reinforced negative attention they received over the years- I can’t help but feel at some point this may shift over the next while. I can confidently say I’ve witnessed children/youth now vying for their parents attention and being rewarded with it when aligning now with some extremist/radical belief systems. They verbatim regurgitate their parents rhetoric…this is exactly how racism, sexism, misogyny and every other “Ism” in the book gets reinforced through the generations. The more they agree, the more attention they get, and a bond/relationship begins to grow despite how maladaptive the context is. We often see these behaviors happen with child sexual abuse cases- where children are groomed to go along with the abuse, so as to minimize any harm or be denied affection.

Anyways I did not want to get too deep into this today as I just felt compelled to share my “Ah Ha” moment today. I was left with some significant food for thought, and a desire to start getting on this as soon as possible in terms of how will I approach working with families in an already polarizing climate.

Perhaps dialogue with families with these attitudes can explore a few of these concepts that move towards a more Freer Thinking Ideology that I came across in an article in Psychology Today by Marty Nemko Ph.D.

Beware of confirmation bias. Once we’ve developed a viewpoint, we tend to notice or accept only ideas that conform to those views. That’s called confirmation bias. So you’ll need to be strong to be open-minded to views that aren’t liberal and that don’t advocate for yet more redistribution.

Beware of commitment bias. Our biases get ossified further when we make a commitment. For example, if we volunteer for a Democratic candidate, to maximize our good feeling about that, we more strongly support Democratic party positions.

Argue for the opposing point of view. If you are, for example, as I am, strongly pro-choice, read a few pro-life articles and then try to make the best case you can for the pro-life position. If you’re in favor of gun control, read a few articles against it and then try to make the best case you can.

Be humble. As writer Frank A. Clark wrote, “We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don’t.” Beware of being too cocksure you’re right, even if the schools, media, colleges, and friends insist you are. On so many issues, especially that foundational one of increased redistribution versus meritocracy, there really are strong positions on both sides.

PLease Like, Share, and Comment!

Surviving Social Work in Pandemic: A Practice Model in Staying Well

I had created this presentation for my unit about 2 months into the Pandemic. Probably the only time ever in my long career to take on an ass kissing task like this. Admittedly, I was struggling to get my footing and I knew that this slow period needed to be spent in a meaningful type of way. So the social worker in me decided to social work myself and put this helpful guide together for others alike.

Approaching Wellness From a Canadian Indigenous Framework

The Medicine Wheel: Organizing our Wellness

How Can We Lead or Support Our Teams if We Are Struggling too?

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

Lets Begin

Spirituality

“Solitude is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Spirituality as a Support to Mourning and Grieving; Identify those losses in your life and all that you are missing. Create idea pin boards, lists of restaurants, places you want to travel, bucket list plans, or even festivals you want to attend. These will all contribute to a sense of hope by changing your lens that some of these losses are just temporary and better times are ahead.

Connect with others who are passionate about the same issues.  Whether it’s your self-care buddies, community of care, or a local organization or campaign you are volunteering for, surround yourself with people who can understand how you feel. Venting alone doesn’t help, combine complaining with action! Get into the practice of walking away during your Venting/Complaining Sessions with action items of how to constructively do something about the things we want to see changed.

Put good deeds back into the universe—directly. Focus on creating that human connection, on giving back and showing others that there is still kindness in the world. Balance your self-care with a healthy dose of kindness activism.

Curate your methods of staying informed. Truly evaluate how much news you are absorbing and be mindful of how the news affects you—physically, mentally and emotionally. Almost two years ago, I decided to stop getting my news from television. Turn off all but one of the push notifications on my phone in order to limit interruptions during the day.

Give myself permission to cry. Anticipate the ebb and flow of emotions that go along with the adaptation processes.  Feeling sad, disheartened, or downright hopeless at times is a commonality among us all.

Incorporate Prayer/Meditation/Breathing Exercise’s in the morning and at night if you are struggling to manage the anxiety, worries and restlessness.

Consider What’s in Front of You. Pay attention to what is simply visibly present around us that blesses us each day

Examples:
Did you tackle a recipe that you’ve been meaning to try, or bake a cake from scratch that actually turned out?
Did you hit the lottery and able to find Lysol Wipes or toilet paper at the store?
Were you able to finally transition from your day pajamas to wearing pants for your zoom/skype meetings?
Is your family safe with you at home?
Is the isolation and social distancing giving you more time to make room for other things that never had time for before?

Don’t minimize your accomplishments as small as they may seemingly be.

Try some for yourself!

And Most Importantly…Don’t Forget to Laugh

Physically:

“Did my FitBit  really only count 932 steps today?”

•Create a space in your home to work in(outside of your bedroom), and make it your own by filling it with things that bring you joy. Ensure your set up properly so you have all the items you need from forms, technology, and equipment.

•Ensure you are taking wellness breaks by getting up, walking, cycling, gardening or spending time in your drive-way chatting to the neighbor across the street. Included in this may also look like trips to the fridge for a snack. These steps count!

•Schedule time for Fitness in your day: Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, now is the time to get moving. Not only will it improve your energy, but boost your immune system in times we need to stay healthy.

•Now is the time to take your vitamins and eat as much nutrient rich foods as you can. Sun is also a great source of Vitamin D- Take your computer and sit in the sun when you can, to avoid an unnecessary trip to the pharmacy.

You’re Hella Canadian if you grew up with these two!

Free Fitness Resources/Apps

´1. RUNTASTIC

Running, jogging, biking – it doesn’t matter how you train, keeping track of your workouts is essential. Runtastic allows you to set goals, uses a built-in GPS to record routes in real-time, and even lets you share your successes with your friends.

PERKS OF RUNTASTIC

The app syncs with Apple Music to offer high tempo playlists for true musical motivation

By tracking your mileage, Runtastic guages what wear and tear your trainers are enduring

´2. ASANA REBEL: YOGA AND FITNESS

You don’t have to be a full-blown ‘yogi’ to use Asana Rebel. This handy little fitness app offers the perfect introduction to the regime. Rather than bombarding you with annoying notifications, you get a green dot on the built-in calendar when you train. You also get two new workouts every day so you’ll never get stuck doing the same old routine.

PERKS OF ASANA REBEL

When you first login to the app – using Facebook or an email – you’ll see a screen that asks you to ‘unlock’ the premium version. Don’t be fooled. You can still use the free option by simply clicking the exit button at the top of the screen.

´3. MYTRAINING WORKOUT TRACKER LOG

MyTraining packs a selection of helpful training videos, a routine log, and a handy calendar feature, but that’s not all. Technology may have come a long way, but you just can’t beat support from world class coaches. That’s exactly what this tracking app offers.

PERKS OF MYTRAINING

Got a burning question about your workout? Simply open the chat feature and speak to a certified coach in minutes.

´4. MY VIRTUAL MISSION

Are you in need of some workout motivation? If your current exercise is less-than-inspiring, My Virtual Mission may be the app for you. Use it to create the virtual fitness route of your dreams – literally. If you can imagine a route, the app can create it.

PERKS OF MY VIRTUAL MISSION

If you have a desired route in mind, the app will tell you how many miles that is and set a goal for you.

When you’ve completed the route, you can even send a virtual postcard to your contacts to show off.

5. COUCH TO 5K RUNNER

The hardest part of any run is taking that first step. Couch to 5K offers running novices all the advice, support, and help they could possibly need. The NHS program claims to get people off the couch and running in just nine weeks.

PERKS OF COUCH TO 5K RUNNER

Great for easing you into your new regime, so you can realistically work your way from a 15-minute route to a 5K run

Each workout is guided by a voice over from the likes of Olympian Michael Johnson to BBC presenter Jo Whiley

6. DAILY WORKOUTS FITNESS TRAINER

Ideally, staying fit and healthy means hitting the gym or track regularly. However, sometimes, you may not have the chance to get out nor the time to dedicate to it. The Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer app means you can exercise well in the comfort of your own home.

PERKS OF DAILY WORKOUTS FITNESS TRAINER

You can choose which area of your physique you’d like to target and the app offers a simple yet effective five to 30-minute workout that fits the bill

The uniquely genius thing about this app is it’s simplicity. Download it, pick a discipline, and get working

7. FITBOD WEIGHT LIFTING TRAINER

If the CrossFit phenomenon has inspired you, you’re not alone. More men and women are lifting weights than ever. When giving this regime a shot, Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer is the ideal app. The step-by-step nature of the program makes planning an effective strength training workout effortless.

PERKS OF FITBOD

The more you use the app, the more it understands your abilities and the challenges you face

You can tailor your workouts to suit your training style and the available equipment too

Free Dance Apps/Websites

Apps for IOS/Android 

 Top 20 Free Dancing Apps To Learn Dance On Android And iOS Device1.1 Crazy Flamenco Rumba Dance

´1.2 ElfYourself ´

1.3 Just Dance Now

´1.4 Step Dance ´

1.5 Hip Hop Dance

´1.6 Pole Dance Lessons

´1.7 Pocket Salsa

´1.8 Dancing elf

´1.9 Face Dance

´1.10 Animate Yourself 3D

´1.11 Belly Dance Fitness

´1.12 Animate Me

´1.13 NinjaMe

´1.14 Hip Hop Dance School

´1.15 STEEZY Studio

´1.16 DWM

´1.17 Learn Bhangra

´1.18 Santa’s Christmas Dance

´1.19 Baby Hazel Ballerina Dance

´1.20 Dance School Stories

Emotional:

“REMEMBER, IT’S HUMAN TO FEEL HOPELESS.”

The National Center for Emotional Wellness defines this term as an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.

Emotional Wellness is so important there is even a whole month dedicated to this, can anyone guess what month that is?

For the most part, being human means having challenges and problems; however, it’s all about how you deal or cope with those issues that determines your emotional wellness.

It’s about embracing all the goodness in your life and looking at your glass as half-full rather than half-empty

Lets do a test-
Are you maintaining a good sense of emotional wellness?

1)Living in the present, without excessive worry about the future or rumination about the past?

2)Do you feel connected to others?

3)Self compassion?

4)Have you been holding on to grudges and been unforgiving?

5)Do you feel that you have been thinking rationally?

6)Do you feel in control of your own feelings, thoughts and actions?

7)Can you laugh at life and yourself? 8)Have you felt grateful lately?

Intellectually:

How do we stay sharp when the World’s been flipped upside down on us?

Defining Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness encourages us to engage in creative and mentally-stimulating activities. These activities should expand your knowledge and skills while allowing you to share your knowledge and skills with others.

Intellectual wellness can be developed through academics, cultural involvement, community involvement and personal hobbies.

Why is Intellectual Wellness Important?

Intellectual wellness encourages learning. It is important to explore new ideas and understandings in order to become more mindful and better-rounded. Having an optimal level of intellectual wellness inspires exploration. Intellectual wellness also stimulates curiosity. Curiosity is important because it motivates you to try new things and develop an understanding of how you see the relationship between yourself, others and the environment.

The Route to Intellectual Wellness

Be open to new ideas, new cultures, new knowledge, new skills and new environments. When you have an open mind, the world is truly yours. This allows you to explore issues relating to problem solving, critical thinking, learning and creativity. Below is a list of suggestions for you to adopt in order to enhance your intellectual wellness.

Listen. When you participate in active listening you are able to fully comprehend the information that is being given to you.

Pick up a hobby. Hobbies are great ways to increase your skill set. They can also be fun!

Express your creative side by exploring different avenues of creativity and artistic expressions.

Sessions that support Intellectual Wellness

´Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction: Mindfulness is seeing things more clearly, and paying attention moment to moment to moment. When you are mindful, you notice what is happening—as it is happens. This creates a space, a pause in which you can respond considerately to situations, rather than react. Creative possibilities open up; new ways of being with life’s challenges can present themselves.

´Transformational Coaching: Together we will identify the specific steps to make your dreams a reality. In addition, we will overcome fear, self-doubt and find the clarity needed to make the changes you desire. And finally, we will co-create strategies and your plan to reach your goals so you can achieve and have a well balanced life.

Steps to Achieve or Maintain Intellectual Wellness

´Read. There are good books, newspaper articles, essays from the internet that can be read by anyone. Through reading, your comprehension skill is challenged and it widens vocabulary that would equip you with the new development around.

´Listen to good music and radio program. It is found therapeutic to listen to positive music because it calms the emotions and decreases the risk of stress.

´Watch positive TV programs and videos. Choose informative videos and not the ones that corrupt the mind or infuse negative ideas. This way, you will absorb positive energy that enhances the ability to think.

´Be creative. When there is an activity to do, challenge yourself to make something new and different, not the one you are accustomed to, to see how far your mental ability can go.

´Desire to continue learning. Always challenge yourself to learn something new to keep your brain active and be curious to what is unknown to you.

´Attend seminars or workshops. This will help you gain new ideas that are seldom included in the books you buy. You will also improve your social wellness by meeting people and gaining new friends.

´Eat a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition is significant for the brain to function well and avoid mental stresses that may cause additional health problems.

Questions to consider as we go forward into a continuum of change and time of uncertainty…

Reflect on some of the old habits that were no longer serving purpose to you. What were they? How did they impact your self-care and wellness. What will happen if you let go of them?

What Habits have you acquired during the pandemic that have been beneficial and what is your plan to continue it?

Identify times, actions, or accomplishments that demonstrated strength and resilience in yourself? Can you share this with your team?

How have you grown or changed in reference to the 4 quadrants of the medicine wheel in the last 2 months? Where do you see areas that need attention? How can your leadership support this?