Monthly Archives: September 2015

It’s Not A Dirty Little Secret

It’s not a dirty little secret, because I’m not into AA anonymity. Hiding the ugly parts of our lives may keep everything looking good, but in the long run, it’s neither practical nor helpful. We all suffer. We all have baggage. Try as we might to maintain the façade, it’s not going to last. And what’s the point anyway? To show everyone else you’ve got it all together or to convince yourself that everything’s okay when it’s not? That’s more work than it’s worth.

It’s not a dirty little secret. I just hadn’t told everyone (meaning all 479 of my FB friends). I told my closest friends, my family members, and my writer friends. I told 50 or so people. Then, in the last 2 weeks, 2 people I know from my professional world asked me about it. Out of the blue. Just making conversation.

 

“Are you still writing your blog?” one asked me.

“I saw you have a blog,” the other emailed me.

Deer in headlights. Wait. Say what? How do you know I have a blog?

 

Although my name is not on my blog, I wrote a guest post for MindBodyGreen a few months ago, and it got re-posted on various sites, and the bio has my name and blog URL. Google search. There are no secrets on the World Wide Web.

My name’s Silke, and I write a blog.

MyTruth

My blog is about my life – the shitty stuff, like my struggles with alcohol and depression and my issues with my father, but also the good stuff, like my work toward health and happiness. It’s a mixed bag, but that’s life in general, ups, downs, and in-betweens. And if you know me, then you know I will tell you my life story because that’s the kind of person I am – no filter, heart on sleeve.

But…not everyone knows my story. Not everyone has seen my mental and physical stretch marks.

Until now.

This blog is my space to say what I’m thinking and process what I’m going through. It’s a very public diary. I write it, because it’s therapeutic for me. I write it, because I love to write. I write it, because I believe sharing our collective story connects and grounds us. It’s breaks down the walls we put up and forces us to see who we really are – fragile humans muddling through life, trying to do the best we can.

Am I afraid of risking my professional life by writing the blog, afraid that my colleagues will take me less seriously? Am I worried that people will talk about me behind my back?

No, because it’s not a dirty little secret. It’s out in the open, and it’s my truth, my life story.

Weekly Musings

I know it’s only Thursday, so the week’s not over yet, but I’ve been such a slacker wrt to posting  in August and September. Well, that’s what 4 weeks of vacation can do to you. Or that’s what it did to me. Luckily, I’ve been inspired by my friend Leah who posts on her blog very frequently (even on vacation!). Check out Leah’s blog about the fit life and hear her talk at the 2015 Listen To Your Mother Austin show. Leah is funny, smart, and fit. We should all be so blessed.

 

This week’s musings – A summary of the week’s highs, lows, and in betweens…

Mantras I spoke this week:

  • May peace begin with me, in my heart.
  • May I redeem myself and reclaim what is inherently good, those life values I want to make manifest.
  • May I be fully present in this moment, pausing to make sure I am giving my full attention to it.
  • May I greet each day as an opportunity to be my best self, a platform for beginning anew.

This week, I was focused on changing the things inside me that hold me back from being who I want to be. I know that all positive (or negative) change begins with me, and I need to use each moment of each day to remember that and act on it, to continually improve and grow myself.

 

Shindig on the Green in Asheville, these are some of my fab friends who visited.

Shindig on the Green in Asheville. These are some of my fab friends who visited. I LOVE girlfriend time!

 

Best podcasts I listened to this week:

  • On Being interview with Mike Rose, an education researcher at UCLA. He discusses school systems, vocational tracking, and meaningful work. Wow. I can’t say enough about how important it is to have school reform that helps every child reach his or her full potential, whatever that might be.
  • Ted Radio Hour show on Transformation. First of all, I just discovered that this was a podcast. I love it because it combines similar Ted Talks into 1 show and clips from the talks are interspersed with interviews with the speakers. Given all my mantras this week about using each moment to best your best, this show was particularly inspiring.

 

Best blog I just discovered:

Okay, I’m late to the game, but because I subscribe to Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits, I read about Scott Dinsmore (unfortunately what I read was that Scott died this week) and his blog Live Your Legend. So, I checked out the blog, and it’s awesome, all about discovering what you’re really passionate about turning that passion into your every day reality, in work and life.

 

From my hike to Skinny Dip Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Leaving Skinny Dip Falls, Pisgah National Forest. The Blue Ridge Mountains are purty.

 

Gratitude this week:

  • Vacation. I spent the past 4 weeks at my mom’s 2nd home in Asheville, North Carolina. I did lots of sleeping in, lots of eating out, and the perfect amount of laughing and shopping with girlfriends. I read a lot of books. I wrote (a little). I got to hear Old Time music (my mom plays fiddle and bass) and Honky Tonk music (my stepdad plays pedal steel guitar and banjo). I went on beautiful hikes, and I spent some quality time with my amazing mom. My heart is full. Truly.
  • Vacation is great, but being back home after 4 weeks of being gone is even better. Sometimes all you need to make everything okay in the world is to sleep in your own bed and snuggle with a child.
  • Work. My job is pretty great. I work from home, the hours are flexible, and the pay is good. I get to meet amazing scientists and read (and edit) lots of scientific papers that challenge me.
  • My husband. I got 9 days by myself in the States because my  husband came back to Germany with our daughter for the sole purpose of allowing me a much needed break from everything. I’m glad I get to share my life with him. He’s pretty awesome.

 

Me and my Amazing Mom.

Me and mom. Photo courtesy of my talented cousin Mario who now lives (and photographs) in Asheville.

 

Those are my musings. What about you?

  • What did you tell yourself this week to inspire you, motivate you, or help you on your path?
  • What words of wisdom has someone else (through reading, a podcast, a talk) shared with you?
  • What are you grateful for in your life?

 

 

Recharge and Restore Yourself

As a working mother in the 21st century, my energy stores get drained quickly. I give myself to my family and household, to my job, to my daughter’s school, to my friends. In fact, it often seems that I give and give to everyone and everything but myself.

Many of you reading this are probably in the same boat. You give so much of yourself and when you actually get a moment to breathe, you realize that you’ve sacrificed your own wellbeing in the process. And, by that point, you’re probably tapped out with  nothing left to give yourself.

When I get to that point, I get sick. Or depressed. Or I fight with my husband or snap at my daughter. Or I fill-in-the-blank with something else that’s says I’m depleted and overwhelmed (because I don’t have any more energy and I still have so much to do!).

This is how I used to live all the time and how many of you may be living right now. But it’s time to stop. Stop trying to spread yourself so thin. Learn to say no. Take time to make yourself a priority in your own life. That’s not a suggestion. It’s an imperative. Your health – mental and physical – depends on self-care. You deserve your energy as much as, no – actually more than, everyone else around you.

So take time to recharge and restore yourself every single day. Do something that nourishes you. Even if it’s just stopping every 90 minutes during the day and allowing yourself a time out for 5 minutes to close your eyes and breathe in silence.. That small amount can make a world of difference.

What you do in that 5 minutes (or longer if you have it) is whatever feeds your soul and replenishes your spirit. For me, it’s meditation, running, reading, or writing. But, honestly, often these things are not 5 minute activities. So what’s the busy person to do to stay sane and have some “me” time that really improves your quality life?

Go outside.

That’s right. Just stop what you’re doing and go outside to recharge and restore yourself. (Hopefully before you’re completely fried.) Go for a walk, admire the scenery, stand with your eyes closed and absorb some sunlight, smell the flowers, breathe fresh air, feel the wind on your face, watch the sunset. Check out that garden spider making an egg sac on your front door (Laura!). Whatever it is, take the time to go outside and be in nature.

Skinny Dip Falls, Blue Ridge Mountains, Pisgah National Forest

Skinny Dip Falls, Blue Ridge Mountains,
Pisgah National Forest

It was in the forest that I found “the peace that passeth understanding”

Jane Goodall

Why should this be the one thing you do when you have 5 minutes to spare (and you would rather have a glass of wine, a cat nap or just get that load of laundry into the washing machine)? Go outside, because getting out in nature has proven positive effects – psychological, physiological, cognitive, and social. It makes you happier and it revitalizes you. It reduces stress and lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone levels. Being in the great outdoors improves directed attention, which is your ability to focus on something and regulate your emotions. It fosters a sense of connectedness and a sense of unity that makes you feel part of something greater than yourself. On so many levels, nature has the ability to recharge and restore you. It is free therapy. And you need it. I need it. Every single day.

Journalist Richard Louv actually coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe how our increasing lack of relationship with nature is negatively impacting our health. It’s a fact that children today spend less time outside than kids in any generation before. And as adults, we spend more and more time in front of screens, often in windowless offices with recycled air and fluorescent lighting. All of this is having an impact, and it’s not good.

Now, I’m not saying that going for a walk around the block is going to cure all your ills and give you the energy of an 18 year old. I’m saying that you should be a priority in your life. You need to make time to do whatever it is that you need to do to take care of yourself. But do some of that caretaking outside, because it’s free, easy, and really really good for you, mind, body, and spirit.

Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Mountains, Pisgah National Forest

Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Mountains,
Pisgah National Forest

Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir

These past few weeks I’ve been in Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve stood in my mom’s yard and watched the hummingbirds in the trees. I’ve examined the fairy garden she and Emmy made in a beautiful planter on the porch. I’ve hiked in the Pisgah National Forest with my family and with my girlfriends. I’ve studied hummingbirds on flowers, lichen on trees, mushrooms newly sprouted. I’ve dipped my toes into water pooling from the Blue Ridge waterfalls. Believe me, going from my inner city apartment in Munich, with no balcony, no courtyard, no place to see the sun or moon, to this kind of nature wonderland has been healing. It has invigorated me.

So recharge and restore yourself. Go outside. Take advantage of what nature can do for you. You so deserve it.

Emmy bear, my little tree hugger.

Emmy bear, my little tree hugger.

References

Capaldi CA, Dopko RL, Zelenski JM (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: a meta-analysis. Front Psychol 5:976.

Howell AJ, Dopko RL, Passmore H-A, Buro K (2011). Nature connectedness: Associations with well-being and mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences 51(2): 155-171.

James P, Banay RF, Hart JE, Laden F (2015). A Review of the Health Benefits of Greenness. Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2015 Jun;2(2):131-142.

Keniger LE, Gaston KJ, Irvine KN, Fuller RA (2013). What are the benefits of interacting with nature? Int J Environ Res Public Health. Mar 6;10(3):913-35.

Ryan RM, Weinstein N, Bernstein J, Brown KW, Mistretta L, Gagné M (2010). Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature
. Journal of Environmental Psychology 30: 159–168.

IMG_9244Skinny Dip Falls with Laura and Diana.

Becoming My Best Self

Each of us has the power to realize the kind of life we want to live, and each of us has the power be the person we truly want to be. This is what it means to be your best self, your authentic self.

I am becoming my best self not by having a fancy car or a bigger paycheck or any external factor. I am becoming my best self by consciously choosing my thoughts, words, and actions so that they align with my core values. I am becoming my best self by setting intentions and utilizing them to (slowly) transform old, unhealthy and unhelpful habits into nurturing, wholesome ones.

The word list below is something I created to make it easier to set a daily intention, which is what I try to do each morning. This list allows you to create a mantra, putting put positive words into a statement you can say out loud and repeat to yourself throughout the day. Doing this can spark transformation and assist you in becoming your best self.

May this list help you make meaningful change in your life and bring you greater fulfillment and happiness.

 

Speak it. Reflect on it. Live it.

“Today, may I (verb) (noun or modifier).”

Verbs

Accept, act, appreciate, be, believe, care, cultivate, develop, discern, embody, engage with, feel, foster, give, grow, have, help, imagine, increase, keep, know, laugh, learn, listen, live, maintain, manifest, note, nurture, offer, open, perceive, practice, question, radiate, realize, recognize, release, see, seek, share, speak, support, thank, trust, understand, value, visualize, welcome

Nouns

Abundance, acceptance, awareness, beauty, blessings, bliss, commitment, compassion, dedication, diligence, energy, engagement, equanimity, fellowship, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, happiness, health, hope, insight, integrity, joy, justice, kindness, laughter, lesson, love, maturity, memory, objectivity, opportunity, patience, peace, perspective, quiet, sanctuary, serenity, thanksgiving, tranquility, understanding, virtue, wisdom 

Modifiers

Abundant, aware, beautiful, brave, broad, consistent, courageous, diligent, discreet, eager, effective, flexible, forgiving, free, generous, gentle, gracious, happy, hopeful, illuminated, inclusive, joyful, judicious, kind, loving, lucid, mature, mindful, nonreactive, nurturing, objective, openhearted, open-minded, patient, peaceful, perseverant, purposeful, rational, resilient, responsive, satisfied, sensitive, thoughtful, tolerant, transformed, unbiased, unselfish, unwavering, vast, vibrant, whole, wise, wondrous