Finding Your Tribe: The Struggle and Significance of Seeking Connection

I find understanding the body’s reaction to stress, depression, anxiety, intimacy, etc. fascinating but, also, necessary. I am of the opinion that if we wrap our minds around the nuts and bolts of our thoughts and behaviors then we might have the opportunity to feel more in control as we experience certain thoughts and behaviors. What if I told you that there is a physical reaction to friendship? Genuine connection and the ability to share, vent, and connect with authenticity can promote oxytocin production. Building connections with other people helps us to achieve a higher level of happiness and relaxation.

First, let’s briefly discuss the depressed brain. Serotonin, oxytocin, and cortisol are vital to our emotional regulation. Serotonin is the “feel good” neurochemical, oxytocin could be called the connection or bonding neurotransmitter, and cortisol is directly related to stress.  A depressed brain has increased levels of cortisol, decreased serotonin and oxytocin, and demonstrates dysfunction in the hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus is responsible for holding memories and controls cortisol, the amygdala facilitates emotional responses. The depressed brain releases cortisol at higher levels which can increase the size of the amygdala and, in turn, disrupts our ability to regulate our emotional responses and also hightens anxiety and fear. Due to the level of anxiety, irrational fears, sleep disturbances, etc. isolation becomes a natural reaction to depression. You can feel increasingly insecure and anxious about interactions, you are lacking in bonding chemicals, and you probably lack the energy to pursue social interaction. Unfortunately, isolation simply promotes the cycle of depression.  Creating opportunities for human connection can serve as a meaningful coping skill to manage feelings of depression.  Oxytocin is released when you feel bonded or connected. Interaction with a good friend, hugging someone you love, breastfeeding your baby, intimacy with your partner…these are all great ways to promote oxytocin production in your brain. Oxytocin supports serotonin and helps to calm hyperactivity of the amygdala.  Oxytocin can help to deter feelings of depression.

So back to friendship…I have found that as I transitioned into career, marriage, and family mode I have struggled to achieve a healthy balance when considering human connection. I find myself in ruts where my priorities seem to be centered on my to-do lists. Task oriented and productivity focused, I miss out on opportunities for connection.  Rather than snuggling my babies for 10 extra minutes, I get up and do the dishes. Trying to find intimate moments with my hubby becomes increasingly difficult as we achieve new milestones with our growing and involved children.  But the area that I found myself neglecting in the most severe manner was friendship.

I think about my college years when my friends made my world go round. I had multiple dear and precious souls who were seemingly attached at my hip. These relationships were formative, defining, and memorable. When I think back on moments from these years, there are consistent human connections that drive how these memories flood back into my brain. The food we ate, the perfume my friend wore, the bars we went to, the apartments and homes we lived in…I remember the people in these memories far more vividly than the places and details. And sensory encounters with familiar smells or sounds help me go back to these moments of vulnerability and connection often.

The struggle that I (and I am sure many of you) face in the midst of juggling career/marriage/parenting is finding this level of connection in my friendships today. Nothing can replace those defining years of transitioning from a child to an adult…but how can we achieve oxytocin promoting connection and vulnerability as adults?

Prioritize Friendship

Make a point to foster your current relationships and build new friendships. Who would you call for an impromptu coffee date, a concert, a trip to the local winery, or just to chat about life? If you cannot think of someone, perhaps finding your people is something you could make time for. Trust me, I have allowed insecurity and fear keep me from building relationships with people in my adult years. I tell myself all the reasons why someone would not want to hang out with me:  they already have found their circle, they will judge my worldview or parenting style, I will judge their worldview and parenting style, they might think I am not __(choose your insecurity of the day)__ enough. However, I have found that often times the people I fear reaching out to happen to be just as hungry for connection and if they are not and reject you …they are not right for your life anyhow.  The morale of the story is you must promote your own social life. Make a point to set aside time to connect with adults who remind you of your identity outside of the many hats you juggle.

Call your friend. Schedule lunch, dinner, drinks, coffee, or a phone date. And if you have a difficult time justifying adding these times to your calendar…remember that it is literally good for your brain. These connections and this time building your relationships promote oxytocin and helps deter or fight depression and anxiety. Consider it part of your self-care regimen.

Find People Who Promote Your Vibration

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
C.S. Lewis

I recently shared a quote on my Facebook page from Lalah Delia that says: “The way you consistently treat, think, and talk about others is your vibration.” I think there is so much truth to this, what energy are we emitting? Are we spending our days talking negatively about people or are we nourishing our minds with conversations of dreams and ideas? Are you lifting ourselves with positive self-talk and sending out good vibes and thoughts to those around us or are we sinking into over-analyzation, insecurity, anger, or resentment? Do you vibrate with positive energy and light for others to breathe in or do you suck the life out of the room?

Evaluating our own vibration and choosing to surround ourselves with people who help us achieve a level of authenticity is life-changing. Choose to surround yourself with people who encourage you to be a better version of you! Choose those who demonstrate compassion, empathy, vulnerability and allow you to do the same. Choose to spend time with people that allow you to feel light and shiny when you leave their presence rather than wondering what you could have done better to improve that connection. I hope you have experienced the moments where genuine connection reminds you that you are not alone…there are people out there who dance to the same rhythm as you; you just need to find them.

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Authenticity and Trust are Musts

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”  Brene Brown

I have absolutely been in situations where I try (with everything in me) to force friendship. I laugh at things that are not particularly funny, I keep quiet about reactions that might ruffle feathers, and I find myself walking away from these encounters wondering what is wrong with me. I over-analyze why it did not go well and why I do not feel connected to them. Sure, you have off days and tough interactions sometimes…but I genuinely believe that finding people who you naturally connect with is necessary. It is so affirming. I love having those friendships that allow me to settle in, react honestly, and be the truest version of myself.

Vulnerability requires a level of trust.  If I have been hurt or betrayed by someone, I am less likely to reveal my inner most thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Forgiveness is beautiful and possible…it may just take time. Simple tokens of consistency and concern prove that I can trust people in my life. I continue to work on my ability to demonstrate intentionality and consistency in my relationships, because I know the value of what Brene Brown would call “Marble Jar Friends.” (Check out the video embedded at the end for the perfect anecdote to understand the meaning of Marble Jar friends.)

I am lucky to have these relationships in my life. These authentic friendships also benefit the hopeless people pleaser in me…I do not have to work hard to please these people, because they are MY people. They are such shining and refreshing lights in my life.  I will choose to continue to foster the friendships that I have found and be open to new people who could come along and impact change in my heart, mind, soul, and life. Thank you to my tribe for being MY people…I hope that I am worthy of the love and light I receive from you and that I am sending the good vibrations back to you!  xoxoxoxoxo

 

Peace, love, and laughter,

Megan

 

 

 

Surrendering and Resilience

Surrender and resilience are both words that come up frequently in my line of work. As a social worker, mental health professional, and employee assistance provider the meaning of resilience and the art of fostering resilience is woven into so many of my days. At first thought, resilience is about strength, hardiness, steadiness, ability to withstand pressure. During an exquisite Yin Yoga session, the concept of surrendering flooded my mind as the instructor urged us to settle into the pose, surrender to gravity, and allow your body to go where it needs to be.

Breathe. Surrender. Breathe. Let go. Breathe. Surrender.

The concept of elasticity is important to the definition of resilience. Elasticity is the ability to return to previous form, the ability to bounce back.  Elasticity allows you to bend without breaking.

Have you ever seen the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall?” It makes for a great laugh. The goal of the protagonist, Peter, is to travel to Hawaii to get his mind off of his adulterous ex-girlfriend. In one scene, he takes a surfing lesson. Chuck, his surfing instructor, keeps encouraging him to “do less.” “The more you do, the less you do.”  This guy is hilarious and has all the chill. While his methods are questionable, I think what he is aiming to get Peter to accomplish is the art of release. Peter needs to surrender to the flow of the waves. He needs to release his grip on his heartbreak, fears, failure, regrets, questions, and whatever else holds him back from being in sync with the ocean and, more importantly, with himself.

I think we can all relate to the moments of life where we insist on holding on with white knuckles to control, expertise, success, being right, being seen as we wish, and the other traps that comparison and the need for power can lead to. Right? Have you been there? Holding so hard to something? Being too rigid in your thought process? Building a wall between you and moving forward in life and relationships because of your need for control or perfection or avoidance of vulnerability?

When we white knuckle life, we can miss out on the moments or perspectives that help us bounce back after heartbreak, failure, or trauma.  In Yin Yoga, the more you are able to surrender to the pose, the more your body benefits from the stretch. This practice not only begs for physical surrender, but emotional and spiritual as well. In this case, the less you do…the more you do. Surrendering your thoughts and preoccupations creates a meditative experience that is truly rejuvenating. Letting gravity and breath carry you through the extended posture hold creates a necessary release of toxins and emotions.  When you face resistance, breathe through the discomfort and allow time for your body to release into the position you are seeking.

These lessons must carry over into our day to day lives to be optimally beneficial. We must learn to release our expectations, judgement, resentment, and fears. We must learn to breathe through the uncomfortable and trying times. We must grow comfortable with the idea of letting go of control when we know we do not truly have any real control from the start. We cannot continue to white knuckle time, money, and power and also hope to experience true joy, gratitude, and love.

In pursuit of resilience in the face of critical stress, trauma, grief, loss, and work/life balance we must aim for elasticity. It is possible to hold on to values and convictions while also taking pause to see the world through the lenses of others. It is possible to be ambitious and motivated while also making self-care a priority and releasing the binds of perfectionism. It is possible to speak your truth, but walk in grace and empathy to allow others to find and proclaim their truth. It is possible to be vulnerable, and brave, and steadfast, and flexible all at once.

I encourage you to take a moment to surrender the thoughts, fears, regrets, shame, etc. that hold you back. What creates tension in your body, mind, and soul? Close your eyes imagine the heavy weight taking form, floating to the sky, and leaving your sight. Surrender the parts of your life that make you feel powerless; holding tighter will only make you grow tired. Practice the art of surrender. I hope that letting releasing whatever binds you today help you to bounce back to your intended path.

Find a Yin Yoga class near you to help you manifest the practice of surrendering in your life.

 

Peace, Love, and Laughter,

Megan

 

 

Bloody Noses, Broken Bones, & Bodily Functions

Motherhood is full of excitement. My journey as a mother has been particularly eventful over the last few months. If you have been plugged into my blog for some time, you might know that my youngest has had a couple of extended hospitalizations lately. She is well now, but kept us on our toes for her first year of life. Last week was wild and crazy in the life and times of the Adams Family. Let me tell you about it and explain the radio silence over the last nine days.

On Friday the 13th, we traveled to Cook Children’s for the THIRD time in 4 months. Now if you have any superstitious bones in your body you might believe tough times come in 3’s and, well, no explanation is required for Friday the 13th. I am not even a superstitious person and those circumstances had me feeling pretty extra that morning.  This trip was for our Rad Man. Our 3 year old boy had a trampoline accident, and I was convinced before arriving at the Emergency Room that his tibia was fractured. This notion was confirmed and we left the hospital a few hours later with a hard splint and firm non-weight bearing instructions. Imagine any 3 year old boy’s ability to be compliant with these marching orders for an extended period of time.  Yikes…we figured we were in for it.

Let’s take a step back to earlier in the week. Our first born, sweet, and serious Lennon fell off the monkey bars and bloodied her nose. I got a call from the nurse, all was well, no need to panic. When I see her after school, she (Lennon not the nurse) informs me that she will probably have a black eye from the fall. She was bummed to wake up with NO battle scars. She also has developed an obsession with a walking boot I have from a minor surgery years ago…she loves putting it on and walking with crutches. It is the same kind of fascination with wanting glasses, braces, or wanting any distinguishing mark that sets you apart from the pack. Lennon is the oldest of 3, she feels every emotion intensely, and her intelligence and focus make her a really low maintenance child. For all of these reasons…there are times when she has to scream (literally or figuratively) for attention. When I am present enough in the moment to realize that this sweet 6 year old (who most of the time behaves more like a 12 year old) needs some tender loving care…the attention seeking moments are easy to deter.

It is also relevant to add that I had a fever for the first time that I can remember in years on Friday and Saturday. It takes a lot for me to claim that I am not feeling well, but I was NOT feeling well, certainly subpar.  Productive coughing always makes me feel like I am on my “A” game too, optimally attractive and classy.  I try to be grateful for the spring weather as my allergies cause me to hack up whatever is filling my chest and head with congestion. I find obstructed breathing to be extremely irritating.  I like to believe that I can handle stress well, but agitation and febrility upped the ante.

So welcome back to Friday the 13th. Boy-child with a hip to toe splint is lying flat on his back for all the hours.  Sweet six year old is crying out for TLC and to be set apart from her brother and sister who tend to generate a lot of excitement.  The joyful one year old is actually the easiest and breeziest one in the mix…just loving life and eating all the food. Oh wait…she did have one projectile vomiting episode but that was while she was at the babysitter’s house and (PRAISE JESUS) that did not continue at our already wild house.  Cody was present and helpful for all of these moments, but there is certainly something about Momma in these situations.

I did not handle the entirety of this weekend well. I threatened more punishment than I followed up on. I was strung too thin. I did not make presence a priority and I was reactive rather than preventative in my parenting style. I was experiencing stress and handling it poorly. I was not using my body’s reaction to stress for good…I was letting everything pile up. And then I was frustrated with myself. Overanalyzing Lennon’s need for attention, feeling terrible for and owning Radly’s pain, griping at Cody to take my stress away as if he could read my mind, and feeling guilty for allowing Maya to eat way too many rice puff snackies.

I am so thankful for my profession and the work I get to do daily, because it helped me quickly recognize the shame storm that I voluntarily entered into. The fact that I was sick and sleep deprived definitely allowed me to get to a place of shame, stress, and reactivity but the beauty in recognizing it was that I could turn it all around. I could slow the pace, adjust my expectations, and prioritize mindfulness and self-care.

I told Cody that I was going to take a bath, one of my favorite things to do but something that rarely happens. I turned on a Chopra Center guided meditation and soaked in a bath with essential oils for about 30 minutes. Then the kiddos came in the bathroom, but that was great. I welcomed their interaction with me. The ability to hit reset on my mindset changed the game!  The rest of the day was more productive and went smoothly.  I did not get everything that needed to be done completed. But I was much more capable of being in the moment with my family. I also felt proud and excited to not only recognize the need for change, but to be able to draw on the right tools to create change.

I cannot promise much about raising children because each tiny human is unique and the rapid evolution of their preferences and personalities make each journey exciting and unpredictable. I can promise that you will not always get it all done! I can also promise that you are going to be way too hard on yourself. Perfection should not be the goal in parenthood.  The ability to tune in to your children is priceless. Take moments to hear their hearts and fill their souls. And give yourself some grace and space when you need to hit reset!

These precious babes are building their self-image, world view, and learning how to treat others based heavily on their interactions at home. Yes…this feels like pressure, BUT choose to feel empowered by this.  If nothing else gives you motivation to remove distractions and make mindfulness a priority…think about the impact that these moments of awareness could have on your family. Mother Theresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”  Even if the moments filled with bloody noses, broken bones, and bodily functions; when we feel like we have lost all control over the situation…take pause, bring your focus to the present moment, and move forward in love and grace!

 

Peace, Love, and Laughter,
Megan

Monday, Monday…

Let’s chat about this morning for a moment shall we? I have been up since 4:00 AM because that is when Maya decided she wanted to greet this Monday morning! Happy and hungry (she continues to nurse at night, but is a sucker for routine and seeks a warm bottle within moments of opening her sweet, blue eyes,) her feet hit the floor early this morning! I woke up pretty easily, I prefer laughing and happy to whining and resistant any day…so out of bed I hopped.

Bottle. Check.

Dry diaper. Check.

Back to bed we go? Not so much!

Here comes Rad Man with Kion in his arms, “Mommy will you watch a movie and ‘nuggle me.” Of course, I am happy to oblige. Precious boy. So we watch a little “Boss Baby” and snuggle in the living room. I am not giving in and making my coffee yet, because it is only 4:40…there is still the opportunity for maybe a few moments of closing my eyes. After some extended snuggle time, I get up take my vitamins, drink my coffee, and get ready for the day. Maya is snoozing again at this point but Rad is going strong.

Then I realize…we are out of formula and I did not turn in my defensive driving when it was due Friday. YIKES. Ok, I am still ok. Both of these things are manageable. I will make a quick run to the store and make a phone call when I get to the office. We are still going to conquer this week.

Finish getting ready for the day. Tell Cody I need to run to the store. He is doubtful of my generously packed list of to do’s this morning but bids me safe travels as I load up Rad in his adorable CatBoy “kajamas” (that is what he calls them) and off to the store we go.

I advise him on the way that this is a fast trip. No toy section. Just formula and out. As we approach the only – open – register behind a lady (no judgement, all LOVE) with 57 cans of cat food…I realize that I am not making the impossible happen. Rad ends up with a sponge bob ice cream and we are 7 minutes behind schedule as we walk out.

Call Cody. “Sorry I am making you late babes. Tell them it is my fault.” This is when the box breathing comes in. I can feel the physical reaction to the stress of this morning building up. My heart rate is a bit increased, my cheeks are a little flushed, and I feel the jitters in my stomach as I get onto the highway headed back home.

Inahle. 1…2…3…4.

Hold. 1…2…3…4.

Exhale 1…2…3…4.

Hold 1…2…3…4.

Repeat multiple times on the drive home.

Rad is tickled with his ice cream, I am rationalizing the fact that he is eating ice cream at 7:10 in the morning by telling myself that he has been up for almost 3 hours and already ate 2 bites of a somewhat nutritional breakfast so we are good. It is all good.

On our way home we acknowledge the stunning sunrise. The sky is full of bright orange and yellow greetings on this crisp morning.

Get home. Wake Lennon up. She not only looks like me, she sleeps like me. (Anywhere and for as long as you will let her.)  She gets up and ready with little resistance in comparison to other Monday mornings. Hallelujah!!!

Out the door.

Drop Maya off.

En route to school, we say our daily mantra “I am brave. I am strong. I am kind. I am important.” Hugs, kisses…Lennon is off to have a great Monday, kindergarten style. Her pony tail is appropriate for Monday. Held together by a string…ba dum tss. #cheesyjoke #laugh #youknowyouwantto

Take Rad to Mimi and PaPa’s. Where he spends his days calling the shots and being covered in love.

Finally, after what feels like a full day’s work I am off to my other full time job.  I have the pleasure of serving as the Employee Assistance Provider for a hospital system. I get to serve the many employees of our organization and help them through crisis, struggle, or just simply helping them be the best and truest version of themselves. Each day is an honor and a refining challenge. I can genuinely say, I love my job.

I walk into work and make the trek to my office from employee parking. Part of me thinks it’s laughable to be the girl who didn’t remember to turn in her defensive driving for a ticket that she got in February and made a 6:45AM run to the store for formula because I forgot it on each of my 3 shopping trips over the weekend AND ALSO be the one who people come to for guidance, advice, and therapy. But a much larger and kinder part of me thinks that crazy mornings like today and the mishaps that come along with life in general are strengthening my ability AND willingness to demonstrate empathy.

Practicing mindfulness has not changed the reality that my life jam-packed to the brim with hilarity, excitement, chaos, and messes…but it has transformed how I experience these moments.

Breathing in Maya’s 4:00 AM joy for life.

Squeezing in the ‘nuggle time with my little man.

Appreciating the patience and kindness of my husband.

Extending kindness to the woman with cat food and the cashier despite my realization of being late.

Being truly present and Lennon and I say our mantra for the day.

And practicing SELF-KINDNESS.  Laughing rather than taking myself too seriously, and rolling with the flow of what this day happens to bring.

Sure, I still have moments of stress but breathing through them and checking the tone of my self-talk has been a game changer.  I have also learned to redirect the thought processes that lead to unrealistic expectations about me and those I live and work alongside. In Rising Strong, Brene Brown talks about the unfortunate reality of expectations and the resentment they lead to.  She says, “Disappointment is unmet expectations and the more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointment.” I am choosing to not set myself up for repeated disappointment. That does not remove the potential I see in myself and those I live and work alongside…it is simply a manner of reframing that promotes increased emotional health.

On most Monday mornings, the wisdom or absence of grace is defining. Should I choose to walk in unmet expectations rather than grace, my ability to receive moments of mishap with ease will falter. Should I choose recognize the humanity and humor in the hurdles as they pass (in the countless forms that they are revealed) I can survive and hold tight to my enthusiasm for life. Life has never been a gentle breeze, but that does not mean that I cannot appreciate the gentle breezes as they pass…and they will.

 

 

I know I have said it before, but thank you for visiting and honoring my moments of reflection. This continues to be a refreshing journey for me. Taking the break from my daily routine to share these thoughts with you is helping to fill my cup.

Peace, Love, and Laughter,

 

Megan Adams

The Influence of Attitude

Have you ever stopped to acknowledge the energy you bring into a room? When you think about the meetings you attend, your group of friends, the people you work with, or your family can you identify the “influencers?” Who sets the tone for interaction? What attitudes and behaviors impact the ability to effectively communicate and sustain enthusiasm for whatever interaction you might be in the midst of? I am sure these questions have you thinking of the people who either inspire or snuff out excitement. Do you have someone in your life that can immediately impact your state of mind or opinion? Perhaps you are an influencer. What I find so interesting is that the power of influence can create positive and sustaining impacts or it can drag now productivity and contentment. How do you begin to assess your capacity for influence and create opportunity to be more inspiring, guiding, and swaying in your approach to relationships and teamwork?

Dictionary.com defines influence as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.” Synonyms for influence include – inspiration, guidance, effect, sway.  There is no question that our attitudes, thoughts, decisions, behaviors, etc. create a ripple effect. I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) often when engaging with clients who struggle with negativity, poor self-image, lack of meaning in relationships, and for many other scenarios. Simply put, CBT helps people recognize the impact of their thoughts on their feelings, their feelings on their behavior, and their behaviors on their thoughts.  We discuss methods of Thought Stopping and breaking the cycle of destructive thought processes.  In my experience, adding the concepts of mindfulness into this conversation is helpful.

A mindful person is increasingly aware of their destructive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they are occurring. A distracted and disengaged person can get stuck in a cycle of negativity before they realize it. Mindfulness not only helps to increase awareness of where we are physically and emotionally from moment to moment, it strengthens your brain’s ability to create emotional control over situations. Your brain is better equipped to redirect your negative or destructive thoughts if you are engaged in the practice of mindfulness. The Betari Box method describes the manner in which – your attitude has the potential to impact your entire team, family, department, organization, etc.  We can affect or be affected by the people that surround us. My attitude impacts my behavior which impacts your attitude and then, in turn, your behavior which can either drive home my anxiety, negativity, or resentment OR it can redirect my thoughts. The beauty in both CBT and The Betari Box lies in the ability to end cycles and create a rebirth of positive, rational, and productive thoughts, feelings, and actions. Drawing in your awareness to your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to others increases your chances of redirecting these destructive cycles.

When we focus on our ability to impact and influence others, there are a number of things to consider. I believe that checking our intentions is always vital to the success of influence. Authenticity and good intentions carry us quite the distance in the art of building meaningful connections. Once we have established that we have good intentions as we move forward in effort to create change or influence people…we need to build rapport. In the Psychology Today article, “The Art of Influence,” the author states that “Divining someone else’s motivations requires empathy.” Understanding the motivations and desires  of the people we are connecting with (or even better sharing those motivations) creates connection and common ground. To accurately assess what drives someone, you often have to develop an understanding of where they have been and what they might be in pain from, in fear of, or grieving. Empathy provides affirmation and, again, connection.

In another article I came across while I was digging into the idea of influence, The Subtle Art of Influence, the author states “To elevate the relationship to that level [of influence], focus on three activities: listening, offering help, and building trust. Try to see things from their point of view, and look for common ground and opportunities to share each other’s expertise.”   The common thread in all of these articles and pieces of advice is connection. Human connection.  Relationship building. We stand to have a greater influence when we work on building genuine and meaningful relationships with people.  Sure we can temporarily motivate, “light a fire,” intimidate, or belittle people without connection but to create opportunity to inspire or have an effect on their character or development…a connection is necessary.

While I was writing this post, I had my Madeleine Peyroux station on Pandora playing. The Julie London song, Sway, began to play. At first, I giggled at the coincidence. But then I paused to listen to the words.

Like the lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more
Like a flower bending in the breeze
Bend with me, sway with ease
When we dance, you have a way with me
Stay with me, sway with me
Other dancers may be on the floor
Dear, but my eyes will see only you

It is natural to be influenced by and to influence others. Just like the flowers in the wind or the tides impact on the beach…we, as humans, naturally have an impact on each other.  The connections we build can change our worldview, impact our resiliency, harness our focus, or adjust our willingness to trust. I am sure you can recollect moments where you felt so connected to someone (romantically or otherwise) that time slipped away and background noise diminished. Connection is powerful. We can influence one another’s decisions and experiences. Imagine just changing the way someone feels about themselves in a given moment and how that feeling can stick with them and impact their self-image.

“Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. Your glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. Your every act can open hearts and minds.”  David Deida

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I believe that we have the capacity to not only decide HOW influential we can be, but we can choose to make this influence positive and uplifting. Acknowledging the responsibility that comes with influence challenges us to keep our attitudes, judgements, words, and behaviors in check.  I know that my responses to situations and people have been greatly impacted by my ability to experience these situations and people AS THEY HAPPEN. Being present and aware transforms my reactions and my ability to control my emotions.  HelpGuide.org has a great article on the Benefits of Mindfulness: Practices for Improving Emotional and Physical Well-Being that says:

By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

I encourage you to continue to work a mindfulness practice into your daily life. Deepening connections and building emotional resiliency are both vital to our ability to influence and decide how we are going to BE INFLUENCED. Decide to shine and inspire today.

Peace, love, and laughter,

Megan