Thankful Stress

esther-adler-19November is upon us and with it comes the stream of holidays. I’ve already seen Christmas decorations up and Thanksgiving hasn’t even come and passed. The holidays swings everyone into a rush of conflicting emotions,  joy, love and for many stress and depression. The holiday season is a reminder of what we have to be thankful for, connection to our family and for those in grief a reminder of what and whom we’ve lost. It’s no coincidence that this time of year has the highest suicide rate. It’s not so much the cold, gray weather but more so the loneliness and grief so many feel during the festivities all around them. It’s a time that so many feel even lonelier amongst the chaos and bustling surrounding them.

The holidays also tend to create more stress in relationships. With the pressure of family get togethers, added cooking, and buying gifts, couples that otherwise have healthy relationships can find themselves at each others throats. Many separations take place during this time. The cracks in the relationship cause small stresses to spiral out of control.

What can you do to ensure you and your loved ones enjoy a truly happy and Thankful season?

I once saw a talk that Tony Robbins gave on the day of the September 11th attacks. It was during a conference he was leading in Hawaii and he first thought of cancelling the seminar, but then decided to use the trauma as a learning experience for all.

One of the first things he began with was making the audience aware that whatever emotions they were feeling were their “go to” emotions. If they were angry because of the attacks they got angry at every chance in other areas of their life as well. If they were grief stricken and sad then those same people found reasons to be sad before any other emotions emerged. The people who felt guilty also felt guilty before the attacks and so on. In other words the attacks were just another reason to get sad, angry, afraid and so on. Your primary emotion is something you feel whenever something happens in life. There’s a reason this happens. It’s to fill a need, whether it’s significance, certainty, or love and connection.

Understanding your “go to” emotions will help you see how you deal with stress. It will also tell you which need is your primary need and what vehicles you use to acquire it. If you experience anger before sadness. You seek out significance and certainty in life above all else. If you get sad first then love and connection is your primary need. This does not mean the needs you choose to experience are your chore needs. They are just the ones you are acting on at the moment.

IMG_1812When stressful events happens in life, the desire to get your primary needs met becomes more intense. If you’re highest need is certainty and you’re going through a divorce you might work harder, eat out less, and fight tooth and nail with your ex to ensure the same style of life you lived when together.

If your highest need is love and connection and you are going through a divorce you might seek out peaceful resolution or start a war with your ex. You might seek out old friends or create new ones.

We all have productive and destructive ways of meeting our needs, but when going through stress many of us turn to a more destructive way of getting the job done. Our emotions take over and we will do anything we can to ensure our needs are met.

During the talk I saw with Tony Robbins he brought two men together, one an Arab from Pakistan and one a Jew from Brooklyn. They both hated each other at first, especially given the circumstances of 9/11. During a process Tony put them through he helped them to realize how alike they were and that they both had the same needs and desires. They ended the day as friends and even created a foundation together to help teach peace amongst Arabs and Jews.

When you find yourself fighting with your spouse, feeling alone and overwhelmed with grief take a moment to understand what are the benefits you are gaining from those intense emotions. Make a list to see the benefits that anger, grief, sadness is giving you. Understand what arguing with your spouse provides.

Maybe you are seeking connection and the only way you know how is by starting an argument. Perhaps you lost someone close to you and the only way to keep them alive in your mind is to go over and over how much you miss them. Maybe you’re dealing with a separation and the only way to feel significant is by making the process painful for your ex.

When we become aware of what needs we are acting on we can begin to choose vehicles that will better serve us and help us get to our chore needs, which for most of us is love and connection.

If you’ve lost someone this year, the holidays can be especially difficult. It’s important to surround yourself with friends, family who support you and a guide, counselor or coach who can help you deal with your conflicting emotions that come up. It’s normal to at first feel like you’re dealing with things well and then a surge of emotions seem to come out of nowhere. It’s during these times that support is essential. Not everyone has the “Sex And The City” group of friends or a sister or mother to talk to. If you don’t have it you need to create it.

On the other side of a stressful fall and winter holiday season is the peace and solace that holiday magic can bring. Getting to a place where you can enjoy the gifts around you is possible no matter what your story is. It’s a matter of setting yourself up to enjoy it.

Guest Post: 6 Ways To Regain Your Self-Esteem and Self-Worth After Divorce by: Amy C. Fountain

Parting ways is always difficult. It can be a huge emotional blow to the people concerned, especially when they are already experiencing the aftermath of a failed marriage. Aside from sadness and regret, divorce also damages the person’s self-esteem because of the feeling of being unwanted or undeserving.
Inspite of all the negative effects of divorce, the people affected by it have the obligation to move on and recover from the slump in order to regain control of their lives and start over. To help out, here are some helpful tools on how one can bring back the lost confidence and self-worth after getting divorced.

1. Work out. Aside from making you look better physically, working out also helps a person focus less on the bad aftertaste of separation. Also, being fit allows you to do more things; thus, boosting your self-esteem and opening yourself to possibilities again.

2. Seek the company of friends. Having a good support group at this point of your life can help you move forward by giving you the opportunity to share and discuss your feelings. Aside from this, your friends will also provide you with a lot of encouragement to take chances.

3. Reconnect with your family. What better way is there to be reminded that you are loved than being with people who love you unconditionally? Get in touch with your siblings for some quality time together, or take a visit to your parents and you’ll do yourself and your family a great favor.

4. Pursue an old passion. Sometimes, people give up on certain things that they used to be passionate about in exchange for married life. Be it an old hobby, an advocacy, or craft – take the chance to chase after them again. Not only will this provide some distraction, but it will also allow you to feel how it’s like to do something you love and be good at it.

5. Learn or do something new. Challenging yourself is always a good way to regain self-esteem. Do something you haven’t done before, go to an unfamiliar place, or learn a new skill – these things will restore your passion for life and bolster your confidence.

6. Treat yourself. Appreciation should start with oneself. Take the time to rejuvenate and pamper yourself as a reward for having gone through some rough times. Take a trip to the spa, get a new wardrobe or travel – remind yourself that you deserve to feel good.

Amy C. Fountain is a blogger and a working mom who likes to help people build better relationships with their families and themselves through her writing contributions. She also assists people in decorating their homes with accent pieces like Glass Vases and Desk Fountains

If I Wanted To Leave, Then Why Do I Feel So Horrible?

Divorce is one of the greatest stressors experienced today. What many people don’t realize is even though it’s something they wanted, grief is a natural response. The simple reason that it’s new, different and maybe putting the divorcee in many unknown beginnings. This alone will create sheer terror. Fear is a result of walking into the unknown. Knowledge is the most powerful conqueror of fear. If we understand what’s in front of us, we are better prepared for it.

Mark Twain said it best,
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

When going through a divorce our life is thrown upside down, inside out and backwards. It’s hard for us to see the floor, let alone take a step forward, but understanding that fear is a normal emotional response to what is happening is a beginning step to moving through it. The first thing to understand is that what you might be feeling is anticipation or excitement. In fact there is a similar chemical reaction produced by the body when experiencing excitement and fear. Divorce can be an exciting time, a chance for a new beginning. Although there are unknowns, the possibilities are endless. Embracing the possibilities can help you find your footing and take the steps necessary to better your life.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

Think of a time that you were scared to do something, perhaps when you were a child, maybe it was getting on that two wheeler for the first time, or letting go of floating devices in a pool. Think about how it felt when you moved through that fear. What lies on the other side of fear is excitement and celebration. If we can take steps to move through our fears, knowing that on the other side is a big splashy celebration, it will be easier to arrive at our destination. The definition of fear, is the anticipation of pain. If we think we will experience pain before it actually happens, then we are either living in a past experiencing, where we felt pain, or living in an unrealized future. By knowing this, we can gently bring ourselves back to the present moment and know that there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. Know that you can create a better life, a happier you and a healthier environment for yourself and your children, if you have any. By understanding fear as a natural response to divorce, facing it and moving through it, you will begin to discover your true power and unlimited possibilities for your future.

Losing A Love & Combatting Loneliness

Are you frightened to be alone? I know many people are frightened to be alone. We are social creatures who thrive on the company and comfort of others. My transformation from married life to single life included learning to understand what it meant to be alone and to embrace it.

What does the word alone really mean?

I’ve felt alone my whole life even though I’ve been surrounded by people. Some of those people actually loved me, like my mom and my grandparents. Feeling lonely does not always mean that you’re alone in the true sense of the word, or even that you’re not loved. I know for a fact that my children love me and that I have friends that love me too. This feeling of being alone is the feeling that you are not part of something, someone, or a group. It’s the feeling that when you die, very few people will notice and you won’t be missed. It’s feeling like you have no true support during hard times; that there’s no one to hold you, comfort you, or talk you out of doing something stupid. I used to go into screaming-and-crying fits, especially during the end of my marriage. The fits used to last for hours and freaked the hell out of me because I truly thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The reason they happened was I sensed and saw I was losing my kids.

It’s like losing a part of your beingness. The thought of not being with my children or them not wanting to be with me was too painful to handle. The only comfort I had during my marriage was the illusion that my husband was there for me. He sometimes actually did come through. Sometimes, after two hours or more of me screaming, he came and held me and calmed me down. Sometimes I fell asleep in my drool on the cold hard floor of my basement. I needed to be okay with truly being alone. The illusion that I had someone at my side was shattered and it was terrifying to me. Even though I knew divorce was the best thing for everyone, that didn’t make it less painful. I had quickly learned that doing the right thing did not necessarily mean it wouldn’t be painful. In fact, sometimes it’s the most painful thing to do; but it’s what needs to be done and the result will eventually be rewarding, or so we hope. When we go in for surgery, it’s necessary but painful. The results are a healthier heart,liver, ankle, or whatever; but it does not mean the process wasn’t horribly disruptive to your life, physically, as well as emotionally devastating.

Grief and loss provide the same experience. We tend to not consider how normal and healthy it is to allow the process of healing, because most Americans are scared of emotions. They, right away, say that there is something “wrong” with the person if he or she is crying over a loss or change in their life. People are so quick to judge when it comes to an emotional event in another person’s life. Physical events you can see. It’s hard to not notice a bandage on someone’s head or someone in a wheelchair; but when it comes to emotional pain and healing, people tend to call it dysfunctional. “She needs medication” or “He’s not normal.”

Feeling alone is an emotional pain that is normal and very common. But in our society, we shun emotions and instead deal with pain by drinking or drugging ourselves in order for us to not feel it or deal with it. I had learned that drugs can be a very effective means to deal with physical pain when I was going through childbirth, and in 2008, from ankle surgery; but I never even considered using drugs for any emotional pain. There are people that flip that around and, for emotional pain, use drugs and/or alcohol, but say they would rather not use any medication for colds, injuries, or physical pain. It’s their way of fooling themselves into believing they are leading a healthy lifestyle. But I’ve learned that everything physical starts with our emotional life. If we numb our emotions, how will our physical life manifest itself eventually?

In truth, you are never alone. Feeling alone is feeling separate from who you really are. We are all connected to everything and everyone. We are Divine beings, spiritual, expressing ourselves in human form. When one experiences solitude, a true gift is formed, where one can deeply connect back to their divinity and hear their true voice.

A great exercise to do, when you find yourself feeling lonely is connect to nature in some way, either by taking a trip to the mountains or taking a walk in a park. Sit with nature. Listen to the water, the trees, the birds. Feel the breeze, the rain or snow on your face. Connect to nature with every sense. In this way you can turn your loneliness into a time of solitude. Reflect on yourself. Give yourself some time alone, some love and some space. This special time with yourself can be very healing, soothing yourself through nature.

Another way to spend your alone time is going out alone to a theater, a restaurant or cafe. Sit and observe what’s around you. Observe other people’s behavior. Two things can happen. 1. You’ll learn a lot about behavior and relate it to yourself;what works and what doesn’t. 2. You might also meet new people you’d otherwise never meet if you’d be with a group, a friend or a loved one. Being alone brings new opportunities that are not open to attached people. By changing the way you view loneliness or aloneness you will change your experience with it. Change your perception and your perception changes.

How To Get Through A Break Up

Welcome New Horizon

You’re in a marriage for 12 years. You feel miserable and know you want to break up. You finally do it and lo and behold you feel miserable. Why does this happen? I remember after I finally took the steps to end my marriage I felt worse then when I was in the marriage. This shocked me since it was something I’ve wanted for so many years.

According to The Grief Recovery Handbook they define grief as, “The end or change in a familiar pattern, causing conflicting feelings.”

Divorce, or a break up is the end of a familiar pattern. We can be happy that we are moving on from an unhealthy relationship but scared about all the unknowns that lie ahead. These unknowns can cause chaos to enter our lives. Our emotions can go haywire, leaving us feeling as if we just went through a tornado. It’s also the finality of any hopes we had toward the relationship. At times we are also dealing with feelings of rejection, even if we were the ones who wanted the break up.

I remember sitting in my apartment alone during my separation, for the first time in many years, unsure what lied ahead of me. I thought about how I would survive financially, how my children would get through the changes, if I would find my soulmate and contemplated all the unknowns I could not predict. It made me miserable and at times left me in such fear, I found myself gasping for air.

There were several things I did that helped me heal, move on and learn to thrive again but two in particular that made the real difference.

The first thing I did was surround myself with support and positive people who would help push me forward into my new life. I joined a spiritual group, led by a friend called Rising Heat, where we met every weekend and discussed ways to create peace and happiness, Choice Theory, The Five Love Languages and more conscious philosophy. This proved to be extremely helpful in my healing and allowed me to find my power again. The support I received from the group, combined with the philosophical discussions gave me the motivation and assurance to heal, move on and succeed.

The next thing I did was I began figure skating and mountain climbing. I grew up skating but never learned how to fly and dance on ice. I’ve always been attracted to mountains and dreamed of climbing in Colorado and beyond someday. Both of these dreams seemed inaccessible to me during my marriage.

When I got divorced I knew I needed to create myself anew, express myself and allow myself to live completely. Figure skating and climbing in the great outdoors taught me to not only love myself by providing me with hobbies I’ve always dreamed of but I learned to value myself. When I stepped out of my comfort zone onto the ice or packed a backpack to summit a mountain I reaffirmed my strengths, passion, talents and the gifts I have to share with the world. When I was on the ice I felt free. The mountains shared its stillness and power with me I couldn’t get anywhere else. Both of these activities helped me renew a part of me I thought died long ago.

I learned that healing from an end or change in a familiar pattern takes a tremendous amount of self acceptance and self love. Surrounding yourself with the supportive tools and people can help you let go of your past life and old patterns and help you recreate yourself in the way that you want.

The most important thing to remember is the only constant in life is change. Allow yourself to grieve and mourn the finality of your hopes toward this relationship. But know this is not the end, rather the beginning and you have the choice on how it will look. By choosing who you surround yourself with, the activities you do and the love you give yourself you are making a conscious decision to start off your new life with a spring in its step. This will cause a spiral effect of more of what you want to see, live and be.

Every moment we decide who and what we want to be, by the choices we make and the actions we do. Let’s choose them wisely.

Parents Worst Nightmare Turned Into Purpose

One of my goals is how can you take something most would look at as terrible, horrific, a tragedy and turn it into terrific, life changing, inspirational? My goal is to share how you can do it with anything, no matter how insane it looks, how impossible. Let me share with you what is deemed as a parent’s worst nightmare and how I turned it into my life’s purpose.

I recently came across two women who left the orthodox Jewish way of life, as well as abusive husbands and were alienated from their children. In both cases the community ganged up against them, making it near to impossible to get them back. Parent alienation happens to both fathers and mothers. The effects are equally damaging for the parent and children, but there seems to be a weird trend linking alienation from a mother using religion as a tool.

One of the two women, now an actress and model was recently on Dr. Phil, calling the Jewish religion a cult, while the other is an author, who published her very sought after book Unorthodox. She was fortunate to eventually getting her two year old son back. The age of the child plays a key role in the alienation process. The younger the child, the faster the process, but the less damage is done, therefore making it easier to retain custody of the child. The older the children the more time it takes, but the deeper the mark, therefore making it much more difficult to reclaim the children into their mother’s lives. I have met many others in passing who left the ultra orthodox way of life, losing their money, identity and children in the midst. There seems to be a pattern where if a woman in an ultra religious setting chooses to end the marriage, she is ostracized from the community and shunned from her children.

Because I came from an ultra Orthodox Jewish background myself, I was particularly interested in these stories and what the women took from it. I too was alienated by my children from my husband and his new community who were very much part of the process.

This scenario happens in every major religious organization. Women have fewer rights then men, are usually owned or subservient to the man’s wishes and when they try to make changes to their lives, take more control of their destiny, their husband, if abusive will continue his abuse in the form of alienation. This fear alone tends to keep many women stuck in a unhealthy pattern. Many develop severe depression even before the process happens. They feel imprisoned to their circumstance. They don’t see a way out.

For many years I felt chained as well. I felt damned if I left and damned if I didn’t. As long as I was in the marriage I would be with my kids. I didn’t really believe I would lose my children, but there was always something, a feeling, an intuition, a gnawing fear that a part of me would die.

It didn’t happen right away. My kids were older. We were all non observant Jews at the end of the marriage. In order to use the religion as a tool they had to be probed and taught to join the religion again. As soon as we began the separation process the alienation began. One by one my kids joined the ultra religious way of life, starting with my oldest, until finally reaching my youngest 3 years later. Almost as soon as they became religious they changed the way they interacted with me. They stopped communicating with me, found every excuse to stay away from my house, even when it was my week with them. They stopped eating the food in my house, claiming it wasn’t kosher, even though I kept a kosher home since I was born. I had no way of mothering them. Every attempt to connect, love or even discipline was met with hatred. They eventually shared how they wanted to just live with their dad.

After fighting with my ex, trying to convince my children how they need me, asking for advice from countless “experts” and answering countless motions my former husband brought against me I finally realized what needed to be done.

I gave my children what they wanted, one home with their dad, one way of life and true peace. I understood the power of surrender and acceptance. I knew that by me giving them what they clearly wanted everyone would be happier, including me. I knew I wasn’t abandoning them. I was loving them completely, as well as teaching them what self love is, putting a stop to the abuse going on in my house. I understood they were taught to hate me, but with me continuing the fighting it brought strain, pain and more hate rather than peace. The motions left penniless and I felt no control over my life and children. I knew for now this was the only way.

I looked at my situation as a new beginning. I knew if I reclaimed my life and worked on me, when or if my children wanted a relationship with me again I’d be in a secure financial situation to help them. I knew if I allowed myself to heal and constantly remained committed to loving my children and making sure they knew that, that perhaps one day they would know the truth and want more of a relationship with me. I began to trust, become really present and focus on how I can turn this into something good. There were months and months of agony, screaming, sheer pain from being away from my children, but I also knew, just as you heal from a broken bone it hurts, so too does healing a broken heart.

As soon as my children and I separated the relationship I had with most of my children began to heal.
The three youngest and I began skyping immediately. Every time we talk, even now all we experience is love. They are happier in their religious way of life for now and by me accepting them fully I show them the power of true love.

I now travel the country sharing my book Breaking The Chains To Freedom, and share my story of how I broke out of my own chains, how I took my pain and turned it into my purpose. I became a national speaker and life coach. My pain, which turned into purpose has helped many others heal from their pain.

When i recently visiting a domestic abuse shelter in NJ and shared with them my story of healing one of the women asked what the situation with my children are. When I explained to them they are still with their father and why. She looked at me and said,

“Perhaps your children are with their dad so you can do the work you’re doing. We need to hear your words of hope and inspiration.”

This was something I knew, but how wonderful to hear it from a stranger.

So how can one heal, move on and turn pain in purpose? It’s simple but one of the hardest things to do. If you simply change your perception and begin to look at all the possibilities rather than what you are missing, those possibilities turn into your purpose, your passion and your mission. Your pain can turn into you changing yourself, your community and even the world.

The other thing to always remember is

The Only Constant In Life Is Change!

My children in a day, a week, a year can call me up and tell me they want to stay with me now. They might or might not, but the important thing to remember is my constant love for them and acceptance to the present will not just help my own family but everyone I touch. It’s our perception that causes our suffering, never the event.

Young Mothers & Homelessness

Episode 16
Young Mothers & Homelessness

In this short podcast I interview a few young mothers as they share their fears, struggles and pains of escaping their own mothers, fighting the system, and positive changes they are making in their lives. Some of the mothers are fierce and hopeful, while others are in a lot of pain and fear. Can you listen, relate and even help some of these women?
Episode 15 Download
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From Abuse, Hopelessness to a New Life

Episode 9
From Abuse, Hopelessness to a New Life

A group of women discuss how they ended up in a shelter, what life is like in a shelter, their fears, hopes and pains. This podcasts has elements of laughter, playfulness as well as moments hearing the emotional plight of a victim of abuse.
Episode 12 Download
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Lonely Valentine

Valentine is a funny day. Don’t you think? It produces so many different emotions; ecstasy when you’re in love, anger or relief when you’ve ended a relationship, sadness and depression when you’re recovering from a break up and sometimes peace when you’re alone. The key to these emotions is how you deal with being alone.

When I first got divorced I was officially alone for the first time in my life. I didn’t realize how scary that was for me. I was unsure if I should throw a party and celebrate or cry from the emptiness I felt. Interestingly enough I had felt alone during my childhood and my whole marriage. I was surrounded by people but felt alone. As I later evolved I pondered that idea. How can one feel so alone surrounded by people and others experience no loneliness when there’s no one else around? I realized that the feeling of loneliness comes from within. As human beings we all need human contact and human connection, but some of us don’t seem to need as much. Does it come from self confidence, security or is it simply a characteristic? From what I’ve learned and experienced I believe it’s a bit of all of the above. Self confidence and security plays a role in how we feel and act around others and when we’re by ourselves. When healing from a divorce many of us experience a drop in our self esteem. This can cause us to act from grief, pain and desperation. We might be acting extremely friendly and warm but the energy that encompasses us is pain and grief. People feel that and we might not realize how our behavior can push people away. I was always flabbergasted with how many people seemed to like me, but very few seemed to want hang out with me. This left me feeling extraordinarily lonely. It wasn’t until I began to reflect on my own behavior that I was able to shift this phenomenon. I realized I was scared of being alone and until I learned to be ok with this the feeling of connection would continue to elude me.

I began to create special “Esther Time” events, whether it was taking myself out to see a play, going to a nice restaurant, taking a hot bath and listening to some music or simply giving myself the attention and love I deserved. When I opened myself up to being ok with being alone I inevitably always met someone amazing who either became a good friend or simply created an entertaining experience. The key to shifting from loneliness to peace in your alone time is enveloping yourself with what you need and want, without searching for it outside of yourself. When you enjoy yourself, just being with yourself and treat yourself how you want to be treated people will show up and help you along the way. It might not show up immediately the way you’d expect but if you keep enjoying yourself, letting go of needing it from the outside that energy alone will surround you with the connection we all want and thrive by.

Causes Of Homelessness Orange County Shelter

Episode 11
Causes Of Homelessness Orange County Shelter

It was like a scene from CSI. Helicopters overhead, a lockdown of the block as two Women share their extreme opposite stories of homelessness. Hear one women’s heartfelt story of abuse, corruption and recovery from grief and loss. The second woman shares her painful discovery of lack of responsibility and how she turned a bad thing good. These brave women open up, sharing their stories and shedding a light to some of the causes of homelessness.

Episode 11 Download
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