Women’s Health Week Challenge

Did you know that May 10th – May 16th is National Women’s Health week? We all either know them or are them; women who take so much time and energy caring for others, whether its a spouse, child, or parent who needs the help, often its a sister, daughter or wife who provides it.Coinciding well with Mother’s Day, May 10th is the beginning of National Women’s Health week. I challenge all women to do something to take care of themselves, and I challenge all men, and others who don’t identify their gender traditionally, to support them.

So here is the challenge for the week, select at least one of the following to do:

1) Take time to prepare a healthy and balanced meal for yourself, don’t rush through it, enjoy it, and hold onto each moment that you are taking care of yourself by doing this, then do the same as you enjoy the meal.

2) Schedule that appointment you have been skipping out on, whether its a medical appt for your doctor or gynecologist, dental appt, or an appt to see a therapist or counselor.

3) Schedule that other appt you have missed out on for either a pedicure, a manicure, or to get your hair washed and done.

4) Buy yourself flowers and place them where you will be able to enjoy the site and scent, mine are by my bed so I can fall asleep and wake up to fresh flowers.

5) Get some exercise, if you have a regular workout schedule stick with it, if not, go for a long walk or a hike where you can enjoy nature.

6) Buy some seeds and plant them, tend to your seeds and watch them bloom and grow over the next several weeks.

Whatever you decide to do, get started by or before the week of May 10th. Good emotional and physical health depends on taking time to truly care for your emotional, physical, spiritual and social needs. Take stock and take the challenge!

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Catching up

The last several months have been somewhat of a whirlwind for me. I haven’t put focus or effort into my blog. This past May, I married the guy who had the biggest crush on me in middle school (I only frame his introduction this way to tease him as he reads my blog 😉 ). I was the guest speaker at an undergraduate event hosted by the Social Work Department at Lehman College , where I was once an undergraduate. I had the honor of talking about my professional and personal accomplishments and struggles since finishing school. I aimed to give a realistic but also motivational speech and I am hopeful that it turned out that way. I covered a couple of classes for an NYU professor over her vacation time. I am excited about an upcoming event with Mary Pender Greene and Company where I will facilitate group and individual therapy with mothers impacted by loss this coming August. I am also planning to facilitate a group workshop and relaxation and visualization exercises with another group of parents through work with Mrs. Kat Harrison and The Tommy Foundation NYC Chapter. The Tommy Foundation NYC (https://www.facebook.com/TheTommyFoundationNycChapter/info)  works to help individuals and families impacted by autism. And I have fully re-committed to making the strongest and most positive professional impact I possibly can through my day to day work in the non profit world. All of that while continuing to navigate the brave new land of parenting an 18 year old and managing my private practice. It’s been an extremely busy spring and summer! On an even more positive note, I feel like I am coming down from all of these changes, and able to get back into the day to day work that I do with a renewed focus and sense of strength and optimism. I am looking forward to sharing more of my professional endeavors routinely through my blog. Happy Summer everyone!!!  

Light skin

About a week or so ago, actress Lupita Nyong’o openly discussed her challenges with being a dark skin woman. She talked about praying nightly for lighter skin as a child, and how being darker felt like an obstacle for her to overcome. I thought this was very brave and very honest of her. I think most women of color deal with some form of colorism. And the racism that exists in our society often effects us causing us to internalize those feelings (resulting in internalized racial inferiority) and acting them out in our own lives. For Lupita it meant wishing she was lighter and struggling with her own self worth in part, because of her color.

For some of the people I work with internalized racial inferiority plays out differently. I have worked with clients that use skin lightening creams and skin bleaches (which are loaded with toxic chemicals) to be lighter. Women who use a straightening perm in their hair until it falls out and wear weaves that rip at the roots of their scalps until they have bald patches. I don’t say this to make light of it or make fun of this issue. I mention it because its a real daily struggle for many. When a woman as beautiful and intelligent as Lupita struggles with self worth over her color, it speaks to a much larger problem in our society.

While there are the occasional models and actresses of darker skin that reach success, the majority do not. Skin color still acts as a barrier to success in many forms.

Fighting fair

Many couples come in seeking therapy with a laundry list of the others faults and mistakes. Issues small and large alike come up, everything from adultery to who mails the bills out after the checks are written. But there is one thing that makes a big difference in the likelihood and ability for a couple to last. And that’s fair fighting. No matter what the issue is its important to fight fair.

To be sure you’re on track:

1) Stick to the issue at hand, discuss it. Don’t use the argument as an opportunity to get rid of excess stress or stick it to your life partner. Remember that this person is the one that you decided you wanted to spend your life with. If you want to maintain partnership everyone’s dignity and self-respect has to stay in tact. If this idea isn’t easy to digest ask yourself if you would want to spend the rest of your life with someone who attacks you below the belt every time frustration builds up.

2) Stay focused on exactly what you are discussing and don’t bring up things from the past.Be present in the discussion and stay on current topics. If another matter is coming up for you discuss it outside of this argument.

3) Use “I” statements instead of starting off with “You” statements of blame or ridicule. Starting off with “You” will almost always feel like a personal attack to your mate.

4) Have your discussions and arguments privately. Not in the presence of friends or family. This helps each of you be able to walk away with more of your self-respect in tact and keeps others opinions out of the matter.

5) Remain authentic in all of your communication. True intimacy and lasting relationships that feel good are built on honesty and intimacy. It’s also the only way to truly solve a conflict.