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Dr. MC's Self-Care Cabaret
47 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Infinite Need; Finite Resources
Today’s episode is a conversation with Jeffrey Benson. As internally known author (and having worked over forty years as a teacher, mentor, and administrator) he’s had the good fortune of working with wonderful people on school reform, conflict resolution, learning theory, trauma, addiction, advisory programs, math education, staff development, leadership training, and curriculum development. Together, he and Dr. MC discuss their self-care routines, the benefits of rest, the current climate of education in a post-Covid world and so much more! As always we love to hear from our listeners! Reach out to email@example.com with any questions or topics you’d like to hear about on future episodes. Additional Resources: Jeffrey Benson’s website ASCD website Personal Best Article by Atul Gawande You can learn more about Dr. MC and this podcast on her website: https://drmcselfcare.com/podcast-home/ EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Speaker 0 00:00:26 Welcome to another episode of Dr. MCs self care cabaret podcast. I’m Theresa Melito-Conners a PhD level self-care expert in the greater Boston area with a passion for helping others recognize the importance of caring for themselves. Today’s episode is a conversation with Jeffrey Benson. Jeffrey is an internationally known author and has worked for over 40 years as a teacher mentor and administrator. He’s had the good fortune of working with wonderful people on school reform, conflict resolution, learning theory, trauma addiction, advisory programs, math, education, staff development, leadership training, and curriculum development. He now coaches, principals and teachers writes about education, speaks at conferences, all in an effort to upload what he has learned in hopes others can make good use of it. His work focuses on schools being more successful to more students, always rooted in the understanding of how people learn, what should be the starting point for all we do in schools. Speaker 0 00:01:29 I first met Jeffrey back in 2011, fresh out of grad school round one, when I was hired to be the guidance coordinator at a therapeutic high school in Massachusetts folks who have attended my trainings on creating a trauma sensitive school have likely heard me reflect on this experience for many reasons. Jeffrey was the director of education at the school when I was hired. And I learned so much from working with him. Our paths crossed once again, in my next role, as I hired Jeffrey many times to present to a large conference of special education professionals that I used to put together for a statewide trade association in Massachusetts Jeffrey’s workshops, always received rave reviews from his attendees. Jeffrey has so much information to share, and I’m delighted. He’s here with us today. Speaker 0 00:02:21 Thank you so much, Jeffrey for joining us here today on the Dr. MC self care cabaret podcast. We’re going to jump right in here with, um, question one. I know you’ve written on the topic of self care in the past. I believe you’re actually cited in my dissertation as a fun, fun fact for our listeners. Um, so I’m wondering what self care looks like for you? Speaker 2 00:02:45 Well, I’ve, it’s been an important part of my career from the beginning because, um, as some people know, I, my first job was in the basement room next to the janitor’s closet with all the kids in a school, no one. And it was so important to realize that I needed to take care of myself. So I’ll tell you an interesting one. I did. Um, I found, I realized I always needed someone to talk to in my work. I mean, I think that’s the most, like I would start off with that. You have to have someone to talk to because there’s so many issues, so many things go through your head when you work in a school in a given day and you have to kind of sort through them, figure out what’s important, organize your priorities. So even though there might be a hundred things on your list, you know, the top 10 you have to do. Speaker 2 00:03:32 And so I went to the school psychologist at my school who seemed under work, or, you know, you want connection because oftentimes school psychologists are kind of not part of the school staff. You know, there’s kind of these extra people who are kind of trying to make their way in. And I said to him, Charlie, can I have time with you? Like, could we launch together on Fridays? He was like, oh, absolutely. That would be great. So every Friday tri and I met and we had lunch together and his little office and it was an escape island. I could talk to him about anything. He knew all the players involved. Um, so he could confirm some of my concerns about how the school was running. He could challenge me if I hadn’t had enough information. It just was also a place to just do a brain dump also to have him affirm that what I was doing well, because part of working in schools is you just don’t get enough affirmation to have someone just sit with you and listen to you on school, your thoughts and say, that’s really well said, or that was a good move you made, or, wow. Speaker 2 00:04:43 I would’ve never thought that in those small moments of affirmations from somebody else super critical to keep going. So that was one thing, always having someone to talk to. The other thing is that I’m teaching is a physical activity. Um, and one of the things, when you working, particularly with kids who are needy, which has been a lot of part of my career, kids who have particularly more needs than typical students, um, we’re like sponges for their athletes. We’re sponges for their needs. We take it all in. So having routines of exercising of meditating, um, taking care of one’s body, that way is so important. There’s a wonderful book by all my colleagues, Bessel van der Kolk on, uh, trauma called the body, keeps the score. One of my favorites. It’s such a great book. It’s a great book for educators, even if you don’t work with kids with trauma, because it’s just about how the brain works and how we work in concert with our brain. Speaker 2 00:05:41 And you just working all day in a school, you take on so much of the kids’ needs inside your body. You don’t even realize it. Sometimes I used to think why is my work so exhausting? I haven’t been cutting sugar cane. I haven’t been tarring a road in hot sun. It’s because of that physical inhalation of all of the issues in the school. And you have to have a healthy way to deal with it. And so exercise for me always been important. I know there were a couple years in my career where I was able to walk home from school. That was always wonderful. I would take a slow walk home from school. I would walk by a park. I walk to do some chores on the way home. Um, and there was a couple years where I rode my bike to school. That’s awesome. And that was also just, it was my time. I knew that I would get on the school feeling and thinking something. And 20 minutes later I’d be home and my body would have assimilated would have metabolized I feelings and they I’d be different. So those were two biggies for me talking to somebody and having something outlet for my body for all. I am so up from the day. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:06:48 That definitely aligns with what I promote in my workshops too. When we talk about the different domains of self-care, you are, you know, that connection with other people, that’s your relationship domain. And being able to have that connection, that support that respect, um, that sustainability through that relationship is very important. And of course, moving our bodies is so, so important. Um, you know, my mother always says, when you don’t move, that’s the kiss of death Speaker 2 00:07:15 And in slow kiss, you don’t even realize that’s, you know, death has been puckering up to you for a long time, but you get that smack Speaker 0 00:07:24 Important. And it’s, it’s kind of funny. I was just remembering the reason why I actually got into self care was when we worked together in the school and I won’t name the school that we worked at, but it was pretty intense. We had a pretty intense student population and fresh out of grad school, round one for myself, a young wide-eyed, um, you know, guidance counselor coming in actually guidance coordinator. It was my role. And, um, and she said to Speaker 2 00:07:50 The listener, she was terrific, right from the get-go that, that she didn’t have things to learn, but, um, she was ready to, she jumped in. She was great. Teresa was great. Speaker 0 00:07:58 Thank you. Um, definitely did jump right in and I loved it, but I realized very quickly that I was on a fast path to burnout. And I recognize that, you know, learning with the students and learning about their paths, it, it was a lot to take in and to process. And I remember kind of going to the program director at the time and making a comment like, you know, I’m having a hard time like with all of this. And she said, you’re going to need to learn to not take that home with you. And I didn’t a hundred percent understand what she meant. So I took it upon myself to do some research and kind of stumbled upon, um, the world of self care. And at the time, you know, leading voices, being Wayne Dyer, Dr. Dyer, uh, Dr. Deepak Chopra and among others, uh, Louise hay. And so that’s kind of why I gravitated towards their work and really started to just read and listen to anything. I could get my hands on by them. And at the time I thought that the, this was unique to me that I was just experiencing this and that this was not, you know, a much larger issue, um, till I didn’t realize that until a little bit later, but it definitely helped me to kind of start to put my health and wellbeing first. So I could better serve the students because you have to, Speaker 2 00:09:08 Right. I tell you a story. You may not know this from when our offices were just a few feet from each other at one point. So, um, I was one of the directors of the school. So I did have a slightly bigger office than some people, because I have a lot of people came into my office for meetings. I had a little couch and I realized that every teacher in some fashion has, um, prep time. And so I would actually close the door to my office and I get on that couch and I put my feet up and I’d set my timer and I take a 10 minute nap. And I realized that that was for me, prep time, that was not me be ready for the next set of stuff I had to do that I could still turn and look at all my other things that I had to do. Speaker 2 00:09:52 But, um, that was, uh, so I remember once going to one of my bosses and saying, I think other people should know they can do this. And that boss said, no, no, I don’t want anyone doing that. And I’ve felt like, you know, everyone has a different way of taking care of themselves and prep time. Isn’t just to prep your lesson plans, it’s to prep for all you need to do, um, going forward. Um, I have another thing I learned to do for self care. This was a hard one. Um, but really it was helpful. I, as many people do, I have a long to-do list and my job, um, I remember once going to my boss and saying, I want you to look at my to-do list. I have 56 things on it. And I’m worried that somebody is going to say, how come you’re not doing this one here? Speaker 2 00:10:40 And I’m like, well, that’s number 17. I didn’t really know. And that’d be like, maybe it shouldn’t be 17. So one thing I would do is I would go to my supervisor and I’d say, here’s my priorities for the week. Do you agree with, because I wanted someone else to help me support me in the sort of chaotic movement of a school when things shift quickly. So I could say, um, I think this should be number four on the list for this week. And my boss says to, okay, I think I’m going to leave, sit in at number four. Um, and I learned to do that. That was really helpful. And another was to have a very fluid to do lists. So it w it had a column for things to be done by the end of the year, then things to be done at the end of this semester, things to be done at the end of this week, things to be done at the end of today, and things would shift through them. Speaker 2 00:11:38 So I could also say, all right, I know what my priorities are today. If I have time, I feel confident in choosing the three or four things I’m going to put my time to, cause I know everything else is parked somewhere where it won’t get lost. Cause otherwise everything was swirling in my head trying to hold on to everything. So having a really well organized prioritize, do list to do list and having your boss confirm that you’ve got it right. It was really helpful for me focusing and being calm. I think that’s part of the stress of working in many institutions. And I know school the best is the endless number of things to do. They say, schools are at the crossroads. Here’s something for self care problem. Schools are at the crossroads of infinite need and finite resources right there. Isn’t that just a killer for those of us who care about the kids, care about this system, care about the parents to know every day you’re not doing as much as could be done. Speaker 2 00:12:43 You have to learn to live. That’s the part. It’s not that you can’t take that home, but you have to know over time how to pat yourself on the back and said, I did the best I could today with what I had to do. Can I tell you one more story? Yeah, of course. So one time when I was a director of school principal and, um, there was a big crisis that day at this school. And basically I had to abandon my well-prepared to do agenda for the day, took care of the crisis, everything went fine, you know, got through it, got the right people, got the police, got whoever had it to be there. So I remember all the details that ambulance or whatever. And I went to my boss at the end of the day and said, I want to let you know that I just did a hall of fame day as the director of this school. Speaker 2 00:13:32 I managed the school so well, but I have to let you know the person who’s number three on my to-do list that I didn’t get to talk to today thinks I’m a jerk because I never got to him first thing tomorrow. And that’s the other part. Um, okay. I’ll give you one more self care part. Obviously I’m going to keep kind of helping us. One thing leads to another. Um, I made a rule for myself, which I ultimately shared with a lot of people, which is if that you called me or send me an email on our texts on, let’s say Monday I had till the end of the day, Tuesday to get back to you, unless somebody said it was an emergency wise, I had to give myself permission to get through what I felt was the priority today and know that I would get to the person by the end of the next Workday. But I’m that person who’s writing to me calling me, texting me to get their needs met, have no idea what they’re dropping their need into, to the culture and I’m working away. Well, I always had that as I tried to put that out to people as sort of, this is how Jeffery operates. And as long as you know, that, I think that’s a good way to, um, protect yourself from being overwhelmed. Speaker 0 00:14:53 Sure. No, I love that. I think that you hit upon some really important points and I also, I really liked that. So let me make sure I get it right. Infinite need, but finite resources. I think that might be the episode title Speaker 1 00:15:08 And finite resources, because I think globally Speaker 0 00:15:12 People self-care anyway, like there’s, there’s an infinite need to take care of yourself, right? But sometimes people feel really like struggle with the resources in the how to do it. Speaker 2 00:15:20 Right. And also, you know, in schools and I think a lot, the most finite resources time, of course, you know, and that’s why teachers don’t take the time to go to the bathroom during the day or eat or eat or anything like that. Um, what I work in middle schools, one of the things I cause middle schools, they work as teams and it’s, it’s like built in, you know, and it’s a really great resource is to be able to ask your teammate, could you cover for me for five minutes? Cause I wanna, I have a bathroom. I want to let’s build in bathroom breaks and just cover for each other for just five minutes or to ask for help from your peers is another self-care thing. Now, when you’re on a team it’s sort of a mutually supportive situation, right? From the start, we can start scheduling in stuff to take care of each other. Otherwise it’s to find a partner or two in the school who you can say, Hey, on our free times, if you want to, if you want to get to the bathroom, if you want to do something, I’m willing to give up five minutes of my free time. If people aren’t going to take you up on it every day, but it’s nice to know that somebody’s there for you. Great. Speaker 0 00:16:33 I’m going to ask you another question. I know you have so much experience working with adolescents with various mental health needs. And we know as a result of COVID, many educators are concerned with the impact that it has had on, on students and children and their mental health. So I’m wondering what advice you can offer to help educators in dealing with this as we move forward, Speaker 2 00:16:54 That’s your job. So, you know, it’s an interesting thing about, um, living and learning through the pandemic when it first, um, hit. And I was, uh, I coach and consult to principals and school leadership teams and teachers all around and with zoom sort of geographically, even farther reach at this point. And I was feeling a little intimidated at first because I said to people, I actually have no experience of running a school in a pandemic. I can’t tell you, we have to three weeks in the pandemic, you should be at this stage. And looking back, we can see there were some stages, but what I realized was human beings. We’re still a human beings in whatever conditions we’re put in. And so I actually leaned heavily into some of the resiliency research and looking at three protective factors and that’s going to be for kids coming back into school. Speaker 2 00:17:43 So one is relationship building, absolutely critical. Very, very second is opportunities for students and staff to have voice in autonomy because you know what I always say, I’m not a good mind reader. And I don’t want people to count on me reading their minds to ask for what they need. So part of the relationship building is so people feel safe saying to me, Mr. Benson, can I do this? This would help me. Can I do that? I’m wondering about this. They have to feel safe to be vulnerable. So relationship building is primary. Cause then it allows kids and adults have autonomy and voice so they can organize their own worlds a little bit because it’s very scary if the system is so set in stone, that you can’t take care of yourself, even though you might have a good idea. I always love my students who would say Mr. Speaker 2 00:18:40 Baker, can I sit by the window? Mr. B, can I have graph paper? Mr. B, can I use a mocker instead of a pencil? Mr. B, can I sit with Theresa because I would work better with her. Oh, that’s yay. That’s what you want from kids to do. So they need to feel safe. They need to know that to ask. And then you want to praise kids, autonomy and voice. And initially you’re going to have to ask kids, you give them menus of things. What would help you? So I’m going to come to the third thing, but first I want to say this one second one, um, in the school that Theresa and I worked in, and I don’t know if this happens when you were there, but there were a couple of times when we had, there was a crisis either with a kid at the school or in the world, the big event. Speaker 2 00:19:22 And we knew everyone was coming into school with a little more on their emotional ledger. And we realized that what some kids wanted was to just do school. It was the most soothing thing they could possibly do. It was better than all the chaos in their mind, give them a math sheet. That was what they wanted. Some kids wanted to sit one-on-one with a trusted adult. Some kids would like to be in a small group to talk. And so we realized that autonomy and voice was to give kids choice about how to take care of themselves and to, and that’s a really important thing to have a menu of options that they can choose from that they won’t always choose perfectly well, but they’ll learn to. And some of them really do know what’s better because I realized when we decided one time to cancel class and just had groups that made a lot of kids really anxious, not a good idea to give people zero choice when they’re emotionally in turmoil and say, this is the one solution for you. Speaker 2 00:20:24 So autonomy and voice means there’s choice that kids can operate within adults as well. And the third thing is predictable systems of support. So if you need something, how do you get it? What’s their fee in one of the schools I worked in, we had a long list of, if you are feeling anxious, a friend go to, you can go to this person in the school. And it was like a list. If you want to change a class, go talk to Teresa. Did that person, um, if you’re aware, if you’re having concerns with a medication, here’s when you can go see the nurse, but it was a long list of things. If you would like to find a job, if you would like to get ride a ride home regularly, whatever it was that we had a list of places, kids could go where they had, didn’t have to ask because asking the wrong person makes you vulnerable. Speaker 2 00:21:19 I want to know. So we listed out as much as we could. And it was in the student handbook. It was posted in like a lobby area. And it served the purpose also of saying it was okay to have meetings that we all had them. And I remember once in an assembly, we had some of the veterans students talk about who they went to one time when they had a need like that. So you also want to model self-care. It was okay. I went to talk to Teresa when I wanted to change a class and it was great talking to her and, you know, I recommend going to see her. And so hearing it from their peers. So I want to repeat, so it’s relationship building, reaching out to him, that extra stuff, opportunities for autonomy and voice, which means you have to give a choice whenever you can have activities and things. Speaker 2 00:22:07 And the third thing is predictable places to get the support you need. So you don’t have to ask for it, but it’s set up ahead of time for you. All of these things are doable in schools. And I want to say the last one in particular, I wish we did more regularly. We do know what the resources are in the school. How do we make it? That’s how we roll around here. We put resources out, kids use them. We celebrate kids using the resources. Yeah. I that’s why I think coming back from COVID we still lean into those three protective factors. Speaker 0 00:22:37 Yeah. And I think that resilience piece is going to be huge as we move forward and the idea of choice and autonomy also, because we have to remember that these kiddos are coming back from a variety of different experiences over the last 15 years. I mean, not everybody’s 15 months, 50, sorry, 15 months, 15 years. Oh my gosh. Well, Speaker 2 00:23:00 Let’s say 15 years. Definitely. And then the last 15 months it’s sort of exponentially idiosyncratic. Yeah, absolutely. Speaker 0 00:23:06 And um, when we think about that, I mean, not everybody’s COVID experience from one person to the next has certainly been the same. And so we have to be mindful of that and for the staff also coming back and getting going, and, and from a lot of different places. So I love that. That’s that’s great. And I’m wondering, so that, oh, go ahead. Speaker 2 00:23:25 Let me just say one more thing about that. For instance, for some staff, having time set up like a place to go and talk to peers, super-important other staff want nothing more than getting their classroom and just get an organized and set up. And that’s their soothing self care thing. Like, you know, cleaning up an organized, I w I have to, even though I’m not anal, I’m not disorganized either. I love times in my classroom to go in. Like sometimes, you know, as teachers do this, we come in early, really early sometimes, and we just putter around our classroom and we just set things up and we organize it. And there’s something incredibly soothing about having time to do that. So I think Fred administrator to be aware that if you can carve out some time for people to just have optional time and not feel like how can I say this, that the staff will be professional in their decision-making about how to take care of themselves when given optional time. Speaker 2 00:24:23 That’s one of the things we tend to do in schools about kids and staff. If there were a hundred staff, there might be four who use that badly, and we tend to not let the other 96 have that option, because we’re worried about the force. Same with kids. Schools tend to be that we worry so much about the kid who’s going to screw up, that we don’t let all the rest of the kids who are developmentally ready to have autonomy, have their autonomy. And it’s sort of like, we would never say to a class, well, you know, we’re not going to teach algebra, but, or this group cause five kids aren’t going to do it well, but we do a lot of that around behavioral stuff, as opposed to 15 of these kids, I know we’re going to really use this time. Well, I will protect the other five from themselves and from damaging everyone else’s opportunity. So I think there’s a part of giving people time and space to take care of their own needs with some options again, how they want to do that. Yeah, Speaker 0 00:25:20 Well, really important to think about. And so we talked about, you know, kind of the staff and students coming back, and I have been seeing this too in my work, and I’m sure you have as well, you know, the parents are also quite anxious about learning loss and, and lots of, and rightfully so that they have concerns. I’m wondering any tips for parents that we can, um, maybe try to help them ease some of that anxiety as we’re picking up the pieces from COVID. Speaker 2 00:25:47 Well, this is what I’ve heard. Something really interesting the other day about this. And it’s, it’s a complicating factor. What we’re hearing in schools is what the teachers and the kids most want. And again, there’s variation is time to be with each other, that the relationship part in this rebuilding the school culture, which you can do through your academics is really important. And what we’re hearing from parents is lost learning. It’s, it’s like a disconnect because you know what parents see more than anything else out of school is you sort of the academic outcomes, what the kids are doing for homework. And what they don’t see is the primacy of the relationship and the social cauldron of school and how important that is to, um, everyone’s functioning. So there’s a little disconnect there. I think best thing to do with this goes back to a little, um, a structural part is to give parents the roadmap a little. Speaker 2 00:26:50 So they’re not guessing how the school is going to do it, I think is, you know, professionals in the schools where we are, we’re ultimately responsible for what happens in the walls of the school. But I think to say to parents, here’s how we’re going to roll stuff out. We are going to spend the first three days doing more relationship, building culture, building norms, getting to know you, helping kids set up than we usually do. And then here’s how we’re going to roll stuff out after. It’s not like just going to be an endless time on the mats with Graham cracks, you know, to suit their fears around that as well. But I think they need to hear a plan. It’s always good to know what the people who are taking care of your kids have plans and a little information can go a long way. Yeah, Speaker 0 00:27:35 I think so too. And I’m actually reminded, I just had a flashback of when we work together and used to always call it and rightfully identified it as the secondary curriculum. Cause that’s not necessarily the, you know, the academics, which is sometimes easier to see and easier to, to, um, to measure. But that whole, that secondary curriculum piece is really hard, right? Speaker 2 00:27:57 So I do need to make a small plug for my new book, which I don’t know if you did in the opening, um, which is, um, improved every lesson, the way I have to look the real time, improve every lesson plan with SEL, because it’s the notion of that is that you can do the relationship building and the autonomy and choice and the structure part and developing kids’ social and emotional skills and competencies in lesson plans. It’s not like it’s a separate curriculum, so you can do the we’re going to spend two or three days more than we usually do on rebuilding the culture. But we’re going to integrate that as well into how would you lessons? Um, it’s not one or the other and, uh, as you, and I know most good teachers, which are going to say most teachers have always implicitly and somewhat randomly built relationships and social, emotional skills into their lessons, Speaker 0 00:28:49 Even knowing the fancy terminology for it, it just happened. Speaker 2 00:28:53 Right. And so my, in the sense is let’s just make it explicit and planned. So I know when kids come in the room, I know how I’m going to praise them. I know I’m going to prompt them. I know I’m going to model for them as they’re sitting together to do group work. I know I’m going to model for them. I know I’ve got to prompt them as we’re closing up the lesson. I know I’m going to have kids talking to each other about what they experienced during that lesson. We do that, like I said, randomly, we start doing that stuff integrated into the lesson. I think we’re going to be more successful academically and the kids are going to build their resilience. Absolutely. Speaker 0 00:29:31 And I love that kind of shifting that thinking. So we’re, they’re not separate things, but sometimes we tend to think of it as separate, right? Like social emotional, Speaker 2 00:29:41 Right. I’ve done this work. I’ve always been scared. It’s going to be another curriculum imposed on teachers already have too much to do or a book from the shelf. And okay, now lesson one Tuesday, then lesson two, as opposed to, that’s a part of a lifeblood of how we are as a community. We just need to adjust as a big word. That’s why writing the book was give people permission to do it, give people some models to do it and support them in doing it. Speaker 0 00:30:09 Yeah. And since you mentioned the book, I was going to ask you about it, but, um, so where can folks purchase it? Do you want to let us know? Speaker 2 00:30:16 Um, so the best place to go, uh, is afcg.org, a S C g.org, which is the publisher. It is on Amazon. I’d like to go through ASC D that order because they’re the publisher. They get a little more of the bucks. Um, when it goes through that organization to write organization, um, you can also go to my website, Jeffrey benson.org, and there’s links to the ASC D sites, either way into the book. If you go to my site, you can also see other things I’ve written in my articles and write to me and be in touch. And I keep in touch with a lot of educators all over the country because it’s fun. It’s interesting. We need each other. I mean, going back to self care, um, you need people to talk to about the work and I love, you know, it’s for me when people write to me and want to talk about education, I don’t feel like I am being, um, drained. I’m actually, that’s my self-care too talking to other people. I have the same questions that are working on the same area that I’m working at that Speaker 0 00:31:18 Starts to get into actually the spiritual domain of self care, where we can see a larger purpose in our work, and we enjoy helping others giving back. And that we, you know, educators tend to do really well in that domain, just in general, because we can see the impact that our work has on the students. Speaker 2 00:31:35 And that’s been a big part of my work in various ways and it’s sort of implicit and sometimes I, ain’t never gonna make it explicit is, um, I want people to remember why they became teachers and what they love about kids, because really none of us, or almost none of us became teachers because we wanted to give a test on Friday afternoon. It wasn’t for the money either, and we didn’t want it to, because we want it to be taking attendance. That’s not why we, we became teacher for this wonderful it’s spiritual, it’s ethical, it’s existential, it’s life affirming. Um, it’s such a privilege to be able to sit with kids and being asked to and responsible for helping them grow into this world. What a one, that’s why we got into this and the, you know, there’s learning and then there’s schooling and schooling gets in the way of learning. Speaker 2 00:32:30 Schooling is all the institutional bureaucratic stuff that happens when you shove a thousand people into a building and expect everybody to do things at the same time. And we learn how to manage that. But really, you know, the time we spend talking to kids and talking to each other, that’s, that’s that spiritual deep stuff. Um, it’s why, like I love doing my work as well. I love going meeting people while I love my consulting work. I love having people write to me because it does, it connects me to why I do this and why, you know, I have limited time on earth and yet he has, so he has a deep one for me. Um, I’ve been blessed. I’m not religious. I say that by, um, having a handful of amazing mentors in my life. It’s my one super power finding and keeping really good mentors. Speaker 2 00:33:21 And one of my mentors, um, he was traveling and, uh, he, he started having chest pain. He thought he was having a heart attack and he was in like a hotel room and he called and they were going to get medics to, and he looked out the window of his hotel and it looked out over a school yard and there were kids playing in the school yard. And he said, well, this is so deep to me. He said, well, if I die now, I’m really glad I work with kids. Wow. Yeah, really? Right. Well that realization, I mean, it, it Speaker 3 00:33:53 Is it’s can be really powerful. Speaker 2 00:33:58 Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, you know, it’s, it’s what we have to, um, those of us who work in education reform, it’s the head and the heart, you know, you combat this because in the head, I know we can do better, but in the heart, I know how much people want to do more. And the pain we feel, and this goes back to self care because we can’t do as much as we’d like to do. And that goes back to, that’s why you have to exercise. That’s why I have to talk. Right. Because it’s that criss cross of resources and need, um, that impacts the heart as much as, uh, what I want to say is if you’re feeling that those of you listening to this, it means you’re still working at it. And that’s good. It’s when you stop caring, um, are more worried if you’re feeling the pain, I’m sorry, we’re feel the pain, but at least that means we’re in it. You know, that means where we want to do more. We want to do better. And it’s when we start feeling our frustration with the system that I’m most worried about. Absolutely. Speaker 0 00:35:09 I’m going to ask you one last question. Um, so as you know, we’ve talked about this before and my listeners know, but my dissertation study was centered around self care for leaders and teachers. And more specifically that leaders need to practice self care and promote it for themselves, you know, promote, practice it, but promoted also for their staff, you know, to help avoid burnout demoralization and help increase retention rates. And so when your work, where you’re training leaders and principals, and how do you try to instill this idea that self-care is other care and that you must put your oxygen mask on first? Speaker 2 00:35:45 Oh, absolutely. Well, I want to say it just takes me a couple of questions talking to most school administrators, central office and principals for them to admit how isolated they feel. Now, some of them have some support systems, but you know, if you’re a teacher in a school you’re surrounded by many other people who are in your job when you’re an administrator, you might have one or two, three or four, and maybe you get along with them, whatever. Um, so they will know it on some level. So one of the things that I work with administrators on is setting up seminars with administrators to get to talk to each other, but all it’s sort of like, I don’t have to do much. I just have to put them in a room together, give them a little, like a reading to do or something. And it’s like, and they’re telling each other stories and they’re giving each other sort of not advice in like a, um, talking down more. Speaker 2 00:36:41 But yeah, I tried that too. Have you ever tried this? It’s not that even they need solutions, they just need to talk it out. So that’s one part of it. Um, I know one of the, um, and then also is not a group to have a mentor to have a consultant. I always had someone I talked to when I was a principal. I always paid for it through the school, or even on my own time or found a colleague like that guy, Charlie, I found early on, I always had someone to talk to. Um, when I was a principal, I partly felt like I had to role model working harder than everyone and longer because I felt like I was paid more sure, socialists backgrounds, you’re going to pay me more than to work more. I was always a sucker. You know, anyone paid me more. I was going to have to work more, you know, boundlessly more. And, um, I also needed to model for the staff that, you know what, let’s all try to leave early this Friday, me too. Like I’m going to, going to be able to take time off and I want you to take it to, um, it’s really important. Um, when I could, I could tell my staff, yes, I actually take a nap in my office during my prep time. Speaker 2 00:37:58 I want you to do what you need to do. And these are the things you see me do. Um, as you know, I used to take lots of walks with staff, um, when they were going to meet, when they we’d all go, Hey, let’s go take a walk together because I need to get out of the building too. Um, so you want to be transparent about your own process. Um, you don’t have to be a martyr. You don’t have, you’re going to end up working more as an administrator. You just do. Um, but don’t be a mater about it. You know, take your vacation, talk about them. Um, let people know how you’re taking care of yourself. Um, here’s another interesting one. Let people know, and this is a tough one that you have a consultant. There’s a wonderful article by a tool Gawande. He was a wonderful writer, G U w a N D E is his name. Speaker 2 00:38:52 And he wrote an article called personal best. He’s a scholar. I mean a surgeon. And he decided he could be a better surgeon if he got a mentor and he looked around and he found sort of a retired surgeon who he would talk to about his work, excuse me, who would come to his surgery and observe a minute afterwards. Talk about technique. Talk about what he talked about with the other people on the surgical team. So you would just be kind of observing. And the first thing that a tool had to bump up against was all those peers saying, why do you have somebody? Because the assumption was, I must not be very good. And he was like, wait. The greatest tennis players in the world have coaches. The greatest singers in the world have coaches, masterful people in the world continue to learn and have coaches. Speaker 2 00:39:44 And he was like, I realized I wanted to be better. And so he had to overcome his institutional bias against owning that you were still learning on the job. Um, the article ends with a very funny moment where, so he’s, he’s become comfortable with having the surgeon mentor to have a good relationship. And somebody’s getting wheeled into, I think it’s a woman getting reeled into surgery and he’s going through with her, what’s going to happen. And this person’s United sociologist, this person is going to help me is introducing them, which is a lovely thing to do. And she seized his mentor on the side and she says, who’s, who’s that? And he goes, oh, that’s my coach. And the less I article is she didn’t look happy. Speaker 0 00:40:34 I think that’s great though. I mean, I think sometimes there’s, you know, like that stigma, um, as you were talking was reminding me even how people sometimes feel about therapy that like, you know, you shouldn’t need that support or that help, like there’s that, that kind of, you know, feeling from certain people. I mean, I, I work with a therapist. I don’t see a problem with that with anybody where I think it’s, um, really beneficial for people to have that. And it’s almost, you know, think of it similar to like a coach. So somebody, a mentor, like you need those people to kind of help you make sense of the world and help you on this journey. Speaker 2 00:41:06 Correct. And in schools, there’s a little bit of a part of the stigma and I can’t speak to other organizations and institutions. I don’t know them that well is most people who are school, administrators rose up from the ranks. Sure. And so there’s this little bit of, I have to prove that I’m actually smarter, wiser, better, more accomplished than the people who are my peers, because otherwise, why do I have this job? And so being vulnerable, talking about that, you were still on the job feels somehow like I will be diminished in the eyes of my peers, as opposed to your peers would be going. That’s great that you’re trying to get better at your job, but you have to overcome the sort of ego thing, you know, but I highly recommend the article personal best a tool go on date. Cause it talks through all of his internal stuff and institutional stuff that decided he wanted a coach. So he could be better at his work. I Speaker 0 00:42:02 Love that. I’ll definitely look that article up. Maybe we can link it also in the episode notes as well as your contact information. And you’ve already shared your website with folks, um, which is excellent. And, um, that was all the questions I had for today. I think you gave us a lot, which was excellent. Thank you so much for your time. I very much appreciate it. And I consider you one of my mentors, um, as you have definitely, um, helped me throughout the years as we’ve worked together. But then I still recall on lots of the things that I learned during that time period, very fondly. And so I very much appreciate that. Thank you. Good. Speaker 2 00:42:38 Nice talking with you, Teresa. You too. Speaker 0 00:42:47 Jeffrey had so much to share with us and there are many key takeaways from this conversation, even though we were mostly chatting about the education arena, there’s a lot of information and tip shared that a transferable to any industry and to life in general, first relationships, they’re really, really important. We want to ensure that we make time for and spend time with people who are good to us, encourage us, respect us, support us and believe in us. This includes building a trust that you will be respected when you need to advocate for your needs or even say no at times, these are also the people who should listen to you when you become upset, whether it requires an empathetic or sympathetic listening on their part, the bonds you share with family, friends, and colleagues contribute to this domain. If you are listening to this and feel that you do not have people in your life like this, I strongly encourage you to seek the support of a therapist, counselor, or group of like-minded individuals to help foster this domain. Speaker 0 00:43:49 This is a critical aspect of self-care and can be the hardest to come by and sustain. And we absolutely absorb the energy of those around us. So we must be mindful of this and make sure we are setting boundaries and taking care of ourselves in the process. And while I have never taken a nap at my desk, I don’t see the problem with it. Anytime you can take a brain break, a movement break or another self-care practice for just a few minutes, you will actually make yourself more productive. As a result, people tend to think that someone who takes a nap is obviously a slacker or lazy, but that is simply not true and be sure check out Jeffrey’s books, including his latest improve every lesson with SEL or social, emotional learning this book and his previous publications can be purchased by visiting Jeffrey benson.org. Speaker 0 00:44:44 Along with the relationship domain of self care, Jeffrey highlighted the spiritual domain. I think it is important to remember your why and reconnect. Why did you become a teacher or why do you do what you do? And I love the idea of hiring a coach from the a tool Gawande article. Jeffrey mentioned it is so true that there is a stigma around this, but there really shouldn’t be. Thanks for listening to this episode. Remember to subscribe and rate this podcast on your preferred player, the ratings help us grow and share the message of self-care. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, reach out directly by emailing podcast at Dr. MC self care.com that’s D R M C self care and come join the cast party of Dr. MCs self care cabaret on Facebook and Instagram at Dr. MC self care or on my website, Dr. MC self care.com. Be sure to like subscribe and love me across all my social media platforms for the most up-to-date information on self care. See you next time. Stay well and do good.
36 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Ridin' the Wave of Life
Today’s episode is a conversation with Amber McMahon, a Reiki Master, intuitive energy healer, spiritual guidance Coach, spiritual medium, and licensed therapist. Together she and Dr. MC discuss their self-care routines, the benefits of Reiki, therapy, setting boundaries, and much more! As always we love to hear from our listeners! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or topics you’d like to hear about on future episodes. Additional Resources: Dr. MC blog post on Reiki Amber’s Website You can learn more about Dr. MC and this podcast on her website: https://drmcselfcare.com/podcast-home/ EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Speaker 1 00:00:37 Welcome to another episode of Dr. MCs self care cabaret podcast. I’m your host Theresa Melito-Conners a PhD level self-care expert in the greater Boston area with a passion for helping others recognize the importance. . Speaker 1 00:00:59 Amber is a Reiki master Reiki, master teacher, spiritual energy healer, spiritual, medium intuitive spiritual coach, and licensed therapist in Arlington, Massachusetts. We met about 10 years ago when I was the guidance coordinator at a therapeutic high school. And Amber worked in a similar setting. I set out to create a job alike group for counselors working with similar populations of students. And Amber was part of this endeavor. We clicked immediately. However, we lost touch for a bit after Amber left that position until I was choreographing a production of the musical legally blonde. I was chatting one day with a woman who owned the dog who was cast to play bruiser. She asked me what I did for work, and I told her she remarked that it sounded like the work her niece did. She then told me that I reminded her of her niece. Out of curiosity, I asked, what is your niece’s name? Speaker 1 00:02:01 Never in a million years? Did I think I would know her niece, but guess what I did and it was Amber, I nearly fell over. That was the spark we needed to reconnect, cut to present day where I have been seeing Amber for regular Reiki appointments for about five years. And I love it. I often credit never sacrificing sleep and never skipping my Reiki appointments as one of the ways I got through the doctoral program that, and the support of my husband and mom. But back to Amber, she is such a remarkable woman and someone I am grateful to have in my life, Amber, his passion is supporting, guiding and empowering others to ignite that bright light within their journey of self-awareness self-mastery self discovery and healing. Amber has found that combining all of her healing modalities using Reiki as her foundation has been the most effective approach to healing and wellness. I am so excited for you to hear my conversation with you. Cross that bridge when we’re not recording, but yeah, no, that makes sense. And we can just dive right in. Speaker 2 00:03:21 All right, go. Let’s go. Speaker 1 00:03:24 All right. Welcome Amber to the Dr. MC self care cabaret podcast. Thank you so much for joining me here today. For this episode, I want to get started the first question that I want to ask you and that I’m sure our listeners are wondering about is can you describe for us what Reiki is? Speaker 2 00:03:44 So thanks for having me, um, it’s an honor to be on your podcast. So what is Reiki? Reiki is a holistic ancient form of healing as a holistic wellness modality. And it’s hands-on. So Reiki uses universal life force energy, which is the energy all around us. And that energy works through my hands as the facilitator and it to the individual. Uh, and it ignites the cells within the body to awaken the body’s own natural healing. Uh, it puts the mind in the Delta state where healing happens, the Delta state, the meditative state, where healing takes place. So Reiki eases any symptoms, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and it’s a, um, form of healing that if there’s any dis-ease in the body, it creates ease. So it’s something that can’t hurt and only help. And this is also a modality that can be used at a distance as well. Um, as a Reiki master, there’s three levels. So there’s Reiki, one Reiki, two Reiki, master Reiki, master teacher, and as a Reiki practitioner, Reiki master you’re attuned to different symbols, which then help you connect in the physical form. And then in the, when the person is not right in front of you. So that is how I’m able to send healing to an individual who’s in my office and not in my office at a distance. Speaker 1 00:05:48 Yeah, I love it. I think I’ve been seeing you for regular Reiki appointments now for like five years. It’s been a while and I love it. And I always try to, to folks when I’m giving presentations or people ask me about Reiki, because it is one of the aspects that I credit, you know, being able to get through the doctoral program anyway, through my regular Reiki appointments. And I’m not never sacrificing sleep, but, um, try to explain a little bit like what it was like for an in-person appointment with you, um, you know, similar to you lie down on like a massage type table, and then you would kind of work your body, work your hands, kind of over, um, various body parts, um, with the Reiki energy. And you could really feel it. It’s very cool. And even now, you know, with COVID you and I have still managed to continue doing our Reiki appointments through distance. We haven’t done them in person in over a year, but we’ve still been doing that the distance, which is awesome. So can you tell me a little bit about how you got interested in Reiki and energy healing and all the wonderful things you do? Speaker 2 00:06:51 Oh, geez. So in let’s see. So I was always interested in energy. I could always sense the energy in a room. I mean, as a kid growing up, um, and then through the years, I could always sense the energy in a room, or I was always attuned to individuals and their energy. So it was always interested in energy and that in, um, college, one of our family, friends, Dr. Judy Spross, um, was getting her doctorate in nursing and education. And she, her part of her doctorate was doing, um, a part of the paper was doing pain drains on individuals, on patients, essentially using energy from one person to another, to drain out pain. That’s what got me really interested in this. And then, you know, went through college, went through masters, went through life, always, you know, wanted to do Reiki and, or get certified and just never did. Speaker 2 00:08:11 And in 2014, I had a huge spiritual awakening, a profound moment when my father passed away. So seeing him take his last breath and then having the experience of my daughter’s birth. So seeing life and death, I had this huge aha moment and awakening, and it was in 2015. I decided to do my rookie one and Reiki two. And even before I got certified, I already signed the lease for my first office to do that. So that’s how the energy work in the Reiki, um, got started. I knew I had these gifts, intuitive gifts, and Reiki was just a part of this journey. So I always wanted to use my gifts in a way to facilitate and help others on their journey and healing. Speaker 1 00:09:28 That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know, timeline wise, kind of where it, where it fits. So I just learned a little bit more about you also, which is like, Speaker 2 00:09:36 I know there’s like a big timeline because I never, in a million years thought I would be having my own healing practice and private practice for therapy. That was never the therapy piece. Yeah. The healing piece never in a million years. Speaker 1 00:09:56 Did I think goes hand in hand though. Really? Well. It makes sense that you would do both. Speaker 2 00:10:03 Absolutely. And then you failure. It was like, oh, this does go together. This does work together. Um, and now I can’t imagine any other way. And there’s a huge benefit to wearing both those hats. Speaker 1 00:10:21 Yeah. So we’ll, then I’m going to ask you a little bit about your therapist hat right now, but you know, so many folks with the COVID crisis continuing have really been struggling with their mental health. What is maybe a little piece of advice you can offer to folks that may be struggling during this time period? Speaker 2 00:10:41 This is, you know, it’s certainly a chaotic time. We are theirs and they’re still we’re through, we’ve made it through this time and we’re getting there, but it’s, it’s a chaotic time. And, you know, with mental health and mental health piece, I look at mental health as my body spirit, I have a holistic approach to treatment. My number one thing is if you feel you need support and guidance to get that now, you know, to go and do it find the therapist. I know it can be difficult right now because a lot of people have that wait list or their book, because it, it has been such a chaotic time, but it’s a reach out for the help. And then B look at this as everyone needs support. Even me as the therapist is the healer. I need support. I have my support teams, but looking at it as having, uh, the mind body spirit approach and to, um, not wait to get the help. Speaker 2 00:12:08 And when people are reaching out to therapists, it’s usually on psychology today, you know, ask the individual, if they don’t have a spot for you, can you refer me? I always have a referral list. I don’t want to leave anyone hanging. So I’ll give them my referral list. But I think, you know, now more than ever is the time to get the support needed, to be able to just ride the waves better, to manage each day, to manage each moment better. You know, there’s no magic wand, there’s no magic wand in any of this, in the Reiki part and the mental health part. So getting the tools that you need to be able to manage each moment better so that you can be successful in whatever it is that wants to do or whatever your goals are. Speaker 1 00:13:06 Yeah. I think that’s really important and really good advice. Thank you. And a lot of folks, we feel like we don’t want to ask for help. We want to be the super hero superwoman, Superman, and we don’t want to ask for help. And there’s no, there’s no shame in asking for help. I work with a therapist. There’s no reason why folks should feel shame around that. Like sometimes you need help, you need support and get it. Um, and, and, you know, take the steps to set yourself up. So you are successful. And I really like that to help us ride the wave of life that may end up being the episode title, right. Speaker 2 00:13:45 There is no magic wand. Speaker 1 00:13:48 No, when there is any, even when it comes to self care, like you have to be willing to do the work, to put yourself, as I like to say on center stage to find your spotlight because you’re worth it. But sometimes we feel like we’re not, we’re too afraid. We’re ashamed. We don’t want to be a week, so we don’t ask for help. So that’s very, very important. Thank you for that, Amber and speaking of self care, tell me a little bit about what you like to do for your own self-care practices. Speaker 2 00:14:15 Oh my gosh. I have my go-to shoes. My month is scheduled and set up through the year for my self-care practices. Um, so, and I have to do it that way because I’m so busy with family, with my businesses that if it’s not scheduled in, it’s one of those things that can be easily looked over. So my self-care practices is, you know, I’m always a big fan of having your support team around you. I have my therapist that I’ve been seeing since, oh my gosh, 2009 before my daughter was born, my first daughter was born. So since 2009, 2010, then I have the energy healer that I see who I’ve been seeing since 2006. And she’s been mentor along the way on my journey. And I see once I got into my, the healing work that I do, and also as a psychotherapist, I started seeing her monthly. So I’ve been seeing her monthly for years now. And that’s something I just, I don’t miss. It keeps me grounded and anchored. Then I have an acupuncturist that I see monthly. And I also have a trainer in Arlington that I see by weekly for a half hour, at a time Speaker 1 00:15:59 Physical that’s for like exercise, like a personal trainer. Speaker 2 00:16:02 And I’ve, I mean, I’ve seen him since 2015. That’s something that’s non-negotiable. So I see him twice a week and then have just recently started moving more and cardio more, which is non-negotiable and that’s probably at least four times four or five times a week. Speaker 1 00:16:30 Wow. Where are you? Is that like a, like a group class you go to, or how are you doing that? Speaker 2 00:16:34 So the training I do is one-on-one and then in the gym outside, but at least like 20 minutes, 20 to 30 minutes. Cause that’s awesome. Each time, because moving helps. It’s a, it’s like a meditation, you know, there’s all forms of meditation. So that keeps me grounded and anchored so that I can be the best I can be. And also having that time with colleagues or friends carved out at least once, if not twice a month. So having that non-negotiable things carved out that I go to each month, each week is huge. I would not be able to do what I do for others or myself, my family, if I didn’t do those things Speaker 1 00:17:30 Right. To maintain your own kind of wellbeing so that you can make those connections and, and hold space for other people would be very important. I love that. Yeah. And it sounds like, you know, you really focus on that relationship domain of self care and the exercise domain, which are both very important. We have to move our body and it’s important to have our support systems and the people that make us feel good, who encourage us, support us and believe in us and make sure that we make time for those people as well. That’s excellent. And I love that. You’re not afraid to ask for help and that you get help. You have your personal trainer and other people that you work with too, to kind of help you. Cause I’m like that also, we just can’t do it all ourselves. We Speaker 2 00:18:13 Tried, I’ve tried try doesn’t work, you know, but you on your journey realize that you need to ask for help from others. And even as the professional, the healer, the therapist, the doc, you know, you it’s essential. So Speaker 1 00:18:31 Yeah, a hundred percent. So tell me a little bit more about this though. I mean, you’re a mom of two beautiful children, a wife, a small business owner, a healer, et cetera. So what do you have to do like special, like to make time for yourself care? So how do you kind of fit all these non-negotiables as you called them? Which I love that. How do you kind of fit all of this? Like what do you have to do? Speaker 2 00:18:53 It’s scheduled out? And my schedule is set as best it can be. And I’m proactive with making these appointments. For example, my training session, it’s the same. It’s been the same day and same time since 2015. And it’s, we don’t leave it up to chance. You know, every Tuesday, every Tuesday, every, or whatever, Monday and Wednesday, I’m in from nine 30 to 10. That’s awesome. Every, uh, month, the second Wednesday of the month I am in was conquered seeing my energy healer from 12 to one. And then acupuncture’s on that same day either before or after. And then they’re happy that’s at least once a month. And if other things are going on, maybe more, but at least once a month, and then they have other go-to supports in my spiritual realm who do the same things that I can go to that I usually do see once a month or more. And my Reiki master, who I forgot will be Barnett, always, you know, you can schedule session or consult with her and that I have done a lot. So that’s scheduled and as needed. It’s been a crazy year. So I’ve added more care. Speaker 1 00:20:29 Well, I love that. And I feel like a lot of people have, but this was definitely a giant wake up call on taking care of ourselves. Certainly. But you know, this is the stuff that goes out to out the window. Usually we get so wrapped up in our careers and our jobs and in our other roles, being a wife, being a mother, whatever it is we’re doing that we forget to care for ourselves and put our needs first. And that’s really important. And it’s, I love hearing that someone with your expertise and what you do for a business use still take care of yourself because you have to, you have Speaker 2 00:20:59 To, you have to, I mean, this is it’s crazy. And having, you know, my healing practices and therapy practice, that’s only one of my jobs. My other jobs is being a mom and then essentially running everyone’s lives to make sure that it goes smoothly and education and all that comes with it. So, yeah, it’s a lot, you know, as my daughters get older, I’ve been actually able to put more self-care, you know, I have to mention meditation. I love meditation. So, you know, I’ve been doing that since 2015, personally, professionally in my practice, but that is a non-negotiable every morning, every night, whether it is five minutes or whether it’s an hour and Speaker 1 00:21:56 I’ll do it times a day, or just either in the morning or at night or morning and night, Speaker 2 00:22:02 The non-negotiable is every morning and self Reiki every morning. But for Reiki master it’s hands-on Reiki on. So when your hands are on anywhere it’s on, but it’s a non-negotiable every morning, if not in the evening as well. So Speaker 1 00:22:24 I love it. And you’re you find that you even feel benefits even if you just meditate for a couple of minutes, maybe five minutes. Speaker 2 00:22:30 Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it’s not people have this misconception that you need to meditate for an hour or the mind has to be blank. And that the mind is actually like grand central station and it’s bringing these things up so that we can deal, release them and heal. So whether it’s five minutes, 10 minutes an hour, it’s not about a duration. It’s about frequency and consistency. Speaker 1 00:23:03 Right? A hundred percent. I always talk about that in my trainings that like you can start small people think they have to sit on the ground in the traditional meditation pose and think about nothing for 45 minutes. It’s like, no, that’s actually not what you’re doing at all. No, but there’s this there’s this, like you said, it misconception about it. That that’s what it has to be. We have these ideas of perfection. And if we can’t, if we don’t think we can achieve like the perfection of it, we don’t even want to try. We automatically shut it off. And it’s like, Nope, that’s not for me when really 2, 3, 5 minute meditations are awesome. And I prefer personally, I love guided meditations and I’ve done, I don’t know, hundreds of them with you at this point. I feel like some of my favorite meditations have been with you during some of your, um, events and Reiki stuff that we’ve done together have been awesome. But yeah, meditation is a very important practice. I’m glad that you find ways to include that into your routine. Speaker 2 00:23:59 It’s a must and I’m going to go shovel. So Speaker 1 00:24:03 Any other non-negotiables I’m liking these so far are the non-negotiables. Speaker 2 00:24:06 Yeah. So, you know, the non-negotiable spiritual practices, this is something I learned from Katy Boyd way back in the day and the meditation, the Reiki. I also have the practices in my office, which is my sacred space. So rose water insects using Palo Santo, just to clear the energy, making sure I get outside and get grounded either in between clients or after clients. But I try to, you know, if my client is in person, walk out the door with them, so there are just these non negotiables and the movement part has become a non-negotiable. Speaker 1 00:24:57 Yeah. Moving is very, very important. The movement Speaker 2 00:25:01 On my own without being in the training studio that is just trouble. Speaker 1 00:25:07 Yeah. I love that. Awesome. Speaker 2 00:25:10 So, oh my God, boundaries. That’s another non-negotiable for me. And, um, having those boundaries with others, you know, making sure that when you say yes to someone or something that you’re not saying no to your self, that’s a huge, yeah, that’s huge because you’re taking care of yourself. Um, energetically, and you know, in general, if you’re saying yes to everyone, then you are saying no to yourself. So just making sure that keeping up with those boundaries and time, because time is valuable, right. And our schedules are packed and there’s all these different priorities in life and in business. So, you know, just keeping to the boundaries, like I tend to not schedule things to go out or meet colleagues unless it’s the end of the week. And it’s usually, you know, once during the week, at the end of the week, that’s just one of my things. Speaker 2 00:26:28 Um, and again, the whole making sure you say yes to someone, you’re not saying no to yourself. Also, when we talk about boundaries and energetic boundaries, making sure, um, we’re clearing our aura, our energy and sealing it up and protecting it. Because when you go out there, you could be walking by someone and bump into them. Well, not much nowadays because of the six feet apart, but you pick up other people’s energy. So making sure that your maintaining your energy field and that your only allowing who you want into that field, that’s hugely important. When we talk about boundaries, Speaker 1 00:27:20 It is very important. And thank you for making that point. I usually talk a little bit about boundaries to them when I’m giving myself care presentations and stuff. Right. And how do you, so usually what I tell people, and I do this myself too, I’ve had to get much better at setting boundaries. I used to be terrible at this and I would just say yes to everything. Speaker 2 00:27:39 And then Speaker 1 00:27:40 I would be miserable. And my mom would say things to me like you’re burning the candle at both ends. And then I have to take a step back and probably want to do it all right. And other things would suffer as a result. And so I have to be really careful right now. And when I get asked, I get asked to do something and think about like, okay, is this really where I want to spend my energy? Is this really a priority for me right now? And if it is great, go for it. If it’s not. And unfortunately I have to say, no, I always try to do like a gut check to like, how does this feel in my gut making this decision? Yes or no. Like whichever one it is. Speaker 2 00:28:16 Absolutely. And when you check in with your gut, which I call the soul inner knowing, you know, we, I like to say base those decisions and actions off of what your core desired feelings are. So whether it’s, if you want to feel freedom or happiness, plus joy, whatever it is based what you do off of wind, feel that core desired feeling and you’ll know to when something is usually off or not. Right. Because it, it won’t align with that core desired feeling. Right. Speaker 1 00:28:57 So what is it, how do you want to feel, what is it that you want to feel? Right? And if something, you got asked to do X and that’s going to make you feel the things you want to feel, go for it, but chances are, we get asked to do these things and they take us away from our core desire and our core desired feelings and what it is that we really want. And then we get a little off track. So it is very important to set clear boundaries. Right. So that’s another, non-negotiable very important. Speaker 2 00:29:27 Sure. Yeah. We’ve I didn’t bring that one up right away, but Speaker 1 00:29:32 Yeah. Amber, thank you so much for joining us today. That was a lot of fun. You gave us a lot of great tips and things to think about, and I’m sure listeners are even more intrigued now about Reiki and energy healing and all the wonderful things you do. Can you tell us a little bit more about how we can find you and where we can find you? Yeah, sure. Speaker 2 00:29:51 So my business is karma queen raking guidance. Um, if you are looking for, um, therapy, you can find me on psychology today. I ask anyone who’s looking for the therapy piece to go through psychology today. Um, and that’s Amber D. McMahon, M C M a H O N for the energy piece. So I’m a Reiki master Reiki master teacher. I teach one and two. Um, I do the energy healing work. I’m also a spiritual medium, and I also do intuitive guidance coaching as well. Um, and you can find me at my website, which is Amber, the karma queen.com. Um, I’m also on Instagram, Facebook, and, uh, individuals can contact me via email, um, at Amber the karama email@example.com. Um, and the phone number, if you feel it’s like not a lot of people call nowadays, they either, Speaker 1 00:31:06 But we like, you never know we got old school listeners here, so, or Speaker 2 00:31:10 Chats, but it’s 3, 3 9 7 0 7 0 3 4 8 also. Yeah, you can look me up, find me, visit the website. I look forward to hearing from people. Awesome. Speaker 1 00:31:28 And I do highly recommend Ms. Amber and all of her services. So thanks again for joining us here today on Dr. MC self-care cabaret. Woo. I love riding the wave of life. Amber and Reiki have helped me so much on my journey. If you’re curious about Reiki, I will share a blog post in the episode notes. It is so amazing to experience it firsthand. Amber can always tell what is going on with my body, because she feels the energy when she’s performing this practice. For example, she may ask me, is your knee bothering you today? Or how is your stomach? It’s so wild that she can pick up on these things because she feels the energy is stagnant. And I love how Amber framed her self-care routine around her. Non-negotiables that’s how I like to think of it too. It’s so important that we make it work for our health and wellbeing. You must get in touch with your non-negotiables. There was nothing endearing about depriving yourself of your self-care and schedule your self-care. If you to don’t leave it up to chance. We all know what happens when you are not intentional about it. It’s the first thing to go out the window when a competing priority arises. I’m wondering if my listeners have any non-negotiables that they would like to share with me. I would love to hear them Speaker 3 00:32:56 Go for Speaker 1 00:32:58 The holistic approach to mental health. By connecting the mind, body and spirit is so true. You cannot address one without addressing all three. And I second ambers recommendation to seek support. She works with a therapist. I work with a therapist. It is important to have that person in your life. Oh, and boundaries so important. I know it stinks when we have to say no to things or people, we tend to feel bad or guilty about it, but it’s so crucial when it comes to my boundaries. I like to buy myself some time someone asks you something. Don’t just say yes. Immediately say something like, oh, I have to check on that and get back to you. Or I have to check with so-and-so and I’ll get back to you, then do a gut check. How does this decision make you feel? Are you excited on a scale of one to 10? Speaker 1 00:33:48 What do you feel if it’s a 10? Well, then go ahead and say yes. So the request, if it’s a one, well, you know what to do? Tell the person no with grace and love, but also clarity and firmness. Don’t leave an open door. When you need a brick wall, you can even practice running scenarios with a partner or a trusted, loved one. Remember you cannot control how someone else will react. Maybe even journal about the situation afterwards. And remember to check in with yourself. Once the anxiety has subsided, how do you feel? Are you relieved? Your body will always tell you if you’re willing to listen. Thanks for listening to this episode and remember to subscribe and rate the podcast on your preferred player. The ratings help us grow and share the message of self-care. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, please reach out directly by emailing podcast at Dr. MC self care.com that’s D R M C self care and come join the cast party on Facebook and Instagram for Dr. MCs self care cabaret at Dr. MC self care, or even on my website, Dr. MC self care.com. Be sure to like subscribe and love me across all my social media platforms for the most up-to-date information on self care. See you next time. Stay well and do good.
48 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
One Singular Hole
Today’s episode is a conversation with Tristyn Sepersky, a Boston-based performer and personal friend. Together she and Dr. MC discuss their self-care routines, the benefits of having various interests, Michael Sheen and much more! And as always we’d love to hear from you! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or topics you’d like to hear about on future episodes. Additional Resources: Dr. MC blog post on sleep Kate Winslet story on Calm Arnold Schwarzenegger photo You can learn more about Dr. MC and this podcast on her website: https://drmcselfcare.com/podcast-home/ EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Speaker 1 00:00:27 Welcome to the inaugural episode of Dr. self care cabaret podcast. I’m Theresa Melito-Conners a PhD level self care expert in the greater Boston area with a passion for helping others recognize the importance of caring for themselves. This is a brand new podcast where we will dive deep into the true meaning of self-care dismantling the stereotypes and the societal ideals that make us feel that self-care is selfish and a luxury reserved for those who can afford such things. The time is now to stop the cycle of deprivation. Let go of the idea of perfection and step into the world of genuine self care. I will teach you sustainable realistic cost accessible, effective, and efficient ways to attend to your mental, emotional, and physical needs. I am so excited to take this journey with you. Today’s episode is a conversation with Tristen. a Boston-based performer and personal trainer currently working as a patient coordinator for an orthodontics office, but more importantly, a dear friend, Tristan and I met 10 years ago when I was choreographing and award-winning production of the musical hair, where she was a member of the cast. Speaker 1 00:01:49 I immediately recognized her spirit and fearless attitude and asked her to be my dance captain for the show. Typically a dance captain is someone who is not only a skilled dancer, but is able to help others learn the choreography and run dance rehearsals in the choreographers absence, basically the choreographers right-hand man Tristan and I later went on to work on several shows together for both children and adults. I am delighted to chat with her today. She brings a unique perspective to talking about self-care great. So we’re going to go right in, so I’ll wait for you to finish your, putting your hair in a ponytail. She is now ready for her clothes for my voice up welcome Triston to Dr. MC self-care cabaret podcast. Speaker 2 00:02:47 Thank you. Thank you for having me. Speaker 1 00:02:49 So let’s just dive right in. So first question, can you tell me a little bit about your self-care routine? Speaker 2 00:02:57 My self-care can look like a lot of different things depending on my mood. Sometimes it’s like, I need to like flick off my brain and then I’ll play Sudoku for, you know, half an hour or like binge watch a show or something I don’t have to think about, but it engages my brain and just enough to kind of keep autopilot running. Sometimes it means working out. Sometimes it means cleaning my house. Sometimes it means doing laundry. I find repetitive actions to be helpful because I think somehow it like burns off excess energy that I, um, I tend to have an anxious brain. So doing repetitive actions that are also helpful to my environment, I find to be therapeutic. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:03:47 Excellent. It’s interesting that you described several activities that you like to do, and actually some of them, you hit upon the domains of self care because in my presentations and folks will hear me talk about this a lot, but the kind of the 10 different domains of self-care and you already mentioned moving your body. So this, the exercise domain, the environmental domain, making sure that we’re staying organized and our environment is not cluttered and chaotic because that’s hard for us to relax. And those types of spaces, you also mentioned a little bit about maybe some soothing strategies for yourself and having repetitive, um, things to kind of make sure you’re maintaining, um, calmness for yourself. So that’s great. Do, um, specifically, what are some ways that you like to manage your stress? Speaker 2 00:04:37 Um, I find making lists helpful. Hmm. I love a good, I love a list. Um, sometimes I’ll even, this is sort of a cheat, but I will, you know, on my to-do list I’ll do something and then write it on the list after it’s done and cross it out so you can cross it off. All right, cool. I’ve definitely done that. Yeah. It’s helpful to see it crossed out. I’ve gotten better over the years. Like in my time at therapy and in my time kind of figuring out different strategies for myself. Um, I’ve gotten much better than I used to be at recognizing what stressors are actually a problem and which ones aren’t like. For example, my cat is very loud lately because she’s growing up and she’s in heat now. So she’s, she yells a lot and I used to freak out about it a few months ago. Speaker 2 00:05:42 And then I learned that I could just get her out of my bedroom and shut the door and that’s fine. Perfect coping strategy. And I realized that it wasn’t worthwhile to, it was, it was not doing any good for anybody to have her just be in my room and keeping me awake. Sure. So once I realized, uh, I was much better off and, uh, time management I find is quite helpful because then the part of my brain that gets overwhelmed quite easily, um, doesn’t really have a chance to get purchased because I’ll think of all these things I have to do. And, but then I’ll, I’ll figure out when I’m going to do them and make a schedule for myself. And then I realized, oh, it’s just, this thing will take five minutes. Just get it done. Speaker 1 00:06:31 So when it comes to like your to-do lists and stuff, because this is how I like to actually conceptualize my self-care routine. I’m wondering like what types of things go on your to-do list? Do you ever put like any self-care practices or stuff like that on there, like maybe reminders to do stuff like that? Or does that come more naturally? Speaker 2 00:06:49 I don’t ever put self care as like a task, the things on my to-do list. If they, if they do end up being self care, like for example, cleaning, I find more are just executive functional tasks, but then I get them done and it is a therapeutic thing to have that be fit to have it be done. Right. One of my favorite things to do for self care is to read, um, a fan fiction. And like, I like to read good omens fan fiction lately that I find, oh, I would never put that on a to-do list. That’s something I would do. If I’m, if I’m waiting for my laundry to be done, then I’ll open my Kindle and like start reading that or I’ll, or I’ll start binge watching something. Or I don’t know, I’ll play with my cat. I suppose. That’s interesting that I don’t ever, I don’t really think of it as like an assignable verb. It just kind of happens like when it does and I don’t actually make time for it. It just occurs. Speaker 1 00:07:45 Well, that’s good. I mean, typically we don’t want to view our self care is like a chore, right. Or as like a task on our to-do list. But I find for myself, I like to see it like laid out on a calendar. So I will kind of put things in like, I’m going to meditate for 15 minutes today or I’m going to journal. Speaker 2 00:08:03 That’s the thing. I mean, there’s that side of the coin is that it can be viewed as, uh, you know, a task which perhaps might not be the best way to go about it. But then you’re also not assigning it the same weight and significance gravity or importance as the way that you go about it by actually seeing it being a part of your day and making sure it happens Speaker 1 00:08:26 Well, that’s the key, because of course those are the first things that we just brushed to the side. When other things we have competing priorities and other things that come up the self care is the first thing to go out the window. You mentioned a little bit about, um, your kitties interrupting your sleep time, and I’m glad to see that you have come up with a way, uh, a physical barrier. So that doesn’t, that doesn’t happen. So tell me a little bit more about how you ensure that you get adequate rest, because that is another important domain of self care. Speaker 2 00:08:57 I mean, I’d be lying if I said that I always got adequate rest. Well, I mean, not for nothing. She, she wakes me up every day at three in the morning and hopefully that will be curbed soon, but I’m not as diligent as I think I could be when it comes to responsible sleeping. I suppose I could say like, you know, making sure I, I could prioritize my sleep schedule much, much better. Okay. Um, like I could physically make the choice of, okay, it’s 10:00 PM go to go to the bedroom, get in the bed. But I, again, I guess that doesn’t come to the forefront of my brain, which is, I know that it’s so important to get adequate, consistent sleep. And somehow that’s, it’s not something that I ever put a ton of thought into because it, you know, it’s just going to happen. It’s not something that I, you know, put a whole lot of priority into managing as well as I could. Sure. Speaker 1 00:10:05 Do you find, I know for myself, I need a lot of sleep. Do you find that you can function? Like the recommended amount of sleep for adults is seven to nine hours? Do you find like you’re within that range or more or less? No, Speaker 2 00:10:19 I I’m. I’m lucky if I get six hours because I’ll go to bed probably like right. You know, uh, 1130, maybe midnight. I get up for work at seven 30. So if I slept that whole time, that would be great. But Maggie wakes me up, Maggie, my cat, perhaps you can hear her in the background. She’s mewling I Speaker 1 00:10:44 Think I just heard a little music. She’s new, she’s viewing right over there. Speaker 2 00:10:48 Um, Maggie, the banshee wakes me up at around 3:00 AM and then she’s such a pain that then I’m awake for a few hours and then I’ll go back to sleep and then I have to wake up. So if I slept that whole time, that would be great. But I’m probably functioning on whatever the sleep version of, of being dehydrated is. I’m like chronically sleep dehydrated. Oh no. Which interesting facts. Most adult humans are chronically dehydrated all the time and they just both water and sleep and they just live that way. Yeah, for sure. Speaker 1 00:11:35 Nutrition and hydration is a whole nother domain of self care that I don’t know if we’ll touch upon today, but certainly rest is, um, is very important. And I find, you know, even if I get like eight hours of sleep, sometimes I’m still not refreshed and restored. When I wake up in the morning, Speaker 2 00:11:52 The last time I’m a little grumpy. The last time I got a lot of sleep was when I got my, my second vaccine shot, I slept for 11 hours, three days in a row, which is absurd for me. I’d never do that ever. And it was fantastic. It was a, your body probably needed it. It was amazing. The third day I went into my room. I was so immensely tired and I went into my room and Maggie was just hanging out on the bed. And I went to go schmozzle my face into her bur and I fell asleep face down on the bed, but like the wrong way on the bed, like sideways. And then I woke up like four hours later. Oh my God. And then I got a snack and then I went to bed. Speaker 1 00:12:48 That was good though. You let your body rest. You let the VAX do its thing and let your immune system do what it was designed to do Speaker 2 00:12:56 It. And it was working overtime. For sure. Speaker 1 00:12:59 I wanna touch upon a little bit of, um, an area of expertise that I know you have as a personal trainer and as a performer. And I know that the exercise domain is very important of self care and we have to move our bodies. And a lot of people, you know, have some funny ideas and, and complicated relationships when it comes to movement and exercise. So I’m curious for you to share a little bit about your exercise routine and your thoughts on movement. Well, Speaker 2 00:13:28 First things first, all movement is good. Correct. And I, my exercise routines have changed a lot over the years, kind of a lot, depending on what hobby I was into at the time. Like I did rock climbing for awhile. I did archery. I did like, I forget what it’s called, but Boston like the Boston city softball league, there is one. Cool. Um, so I have, um, a smattering of random from like seven different sports in my house. And the other thing I have seen a lot in the gym is that if you don’t like the thing that you’re trying to do to move, you’re not going to do it. Right. You have to, you can’t view it as a chore because you’re not going to want to do it. So you have to find either find a way to like it or find something you like. Speaker 2 00:14:26 Like I knew someone, I trained, someone wants who he hated, hated lifting weights, but eventually he found this really profound satisfaction in lifting heavier and heavier weights. So he found something in it that he liked. And then he liked it. Well, that’s important, right? It’s extremely, it’s extremely empowering because through work, it’s just like, I have a lot of friends who, um, do obstacle course races and Spartan races and all, a lot of their social media, their Instagram stories and their Facebook profile, their statuses, whatnot. They’ll say like, I hate running sprints. The best reason to do them today. It’s like, no, no. What are you thinking? Do things you like, for example, one of these crazy people, I was talking to them and I hate taking culture. I hate cold water. I hate being cold. I hate being cold and wet. So I hate cold showers. I’m never going to willingly take whenever. And they were like, well, that’s the reason to do it. It’s like, oh no, I don’t think that’s true. I think that’s fake. And they’re like, no, like, no, it’s really good for your brain. And it’s like, actually it makes me, makes my brain want to stop braining. So that’s mine Speaker 1 00:15:50 Not good. I’m always stressing in my workshops, especially when we talk about exercise because people have complicated relationships with how they move their body. I’m always telling people it’s, it’s joyful movement. There’s no sense in doing it. If it doesn’t feel good. Speaker 2 00:16:06 Yeah, no. And it’s such, it can be such a social thing. There is such stigma about size. There’s such stigma about somehow there’s such stigma about, um, laziness and not, uh, hustling 24 7, like not, you know, living your best life. And one of my favorite comedians said once, you know, people are always comparing themselves to people and he says, okay, so you don’t have the body of a, of an Olympic athlete. You’re not an Olympic athlete. You’re Dawn from sales, you wear khakis. And I was just like, yeah, there’s no, whenever I would do a Spartan race, I was never ever, or a tough Mudder or whatever. There’s a million of them, but I’m not fast. I was never a winner. Like I never placed on the podium. I always finished, but I never something to write home about. I would never have a time that I would brag about. Speaker 2 00:17:04 And, um, I’m fine with that. I kind of wish I were a faster runner, but like, it’s fine. And I would always come, I would, I’d get to a point in, in each race where I’d get, you know, I’d be really hungry and I’m tired. And my brain’s not being my friend in that moment. And I would look at these people who were like physically, uh, kind of the body of an Olympic athlete. And I think like, what, why, what am I doing? And then I would, I would be like, they don’t do anything else. Those people do one thing. Right. They, instead of digging many holes where you have areas of interest, they’ve done that they’ve dug themselves one singular hole. Speaker 1 00:17:51 That’s it? That might be the title of this episode. Speaker 2 00:17:57 I think we just nailed it. No, it’s a great metaphor though. And if, even if we think we take that Speaker 1 00:18:02 One step further and think about like celebrities and we see celebrities that are able to morph their bodies for different roles, like Chris Hemsworth is Thor and, and people like that. And it’s like, yeah, that’s Speaker 2 00:18:13 Awesome. Yeah. He gets paid with that at every day. Speaker 1 00:18:17 Right. And there are the top trainers in the world working with him with unlimited resources to achieve that, Speaker 2 00:18:25 Placing his meals in front of him, dictating when to eat what Maggie’s going nuts. He has world-class trainers. Speaker 1 00:18:32 Cause we started talking about thoughts. Speaker 2 00:18:35 He has world-class trainers dictating every single movement that he makes. Like he still has to do it. He’s still doing hard work, but oh, absolutely. Also not working eight hours a day in an office. And then he’s not commuting 45 minutes, both ways. There’s not time enough in the day to be, you know, uh, not celebrity and to look like that. There’s not time in the day, especially if not, if you want to have any friends or like a social life or any hobby. Speaker 1 00:19:01 Absolutely. And for you, like, I know you have lots of, of interests and holes that you’ve dug for yourself, many forming and, um, w uh, you’re singing and dancing and working on shows and taking care of your kitties and working a full-time job and all these different areas that you do. So, yeah. Chances are, you’re not going to place on a podium in a Spartan Speaker 2 00:19:23 Race. And that’s fine. I used to really be upset by that once I made that realization that like these people don’t do anything else, then I started realizing like, oh no, I prefer my way of doing things like the phrase, Jack of all trades master of none people stop it there. And that indicates, oh man, I’m not a master of anything. Oh man. But that whole entire phrase is Jack of all trades master of none is better than being a master of one, which means it’s good to dig many holes. For example, Thomas Kail, who directed Hamilton, the musical, he, I believe has a degree in theater. And he also has a degree in American history. So Hamilton wouldn’t exist, at least not the way it is without him digging at least two holes. That’s very true because you have to, it’s not at all detrimental to have many interests. What if I had dug one big hole and been like the Spartan master and then something happens and then I can’t do it anymore. I break my knees off. What am I supposed to do that? Right. Speaker 1 00:20:42 I think it’s better that we have lots of interests and that we move our bodies in ways that are, that feel good. And we engage in things that feel good. And we abandoned those that don’t like, for me personally, I don’t like going to a gym, nothing personal against personal trainers and people that like going to the gym. But for me, that environment just doesn’t bring me joy. I would much rather either be outside doing something, even swimming, if it’s appropriate for the weather or the season, or just dancing and moving my body in a dance studio, or even a five minute dance party in my house. Like not, it doesn’t have to be for me to feel joy. And I’ve done that extreme aspect as, as you know, and some of my listeners may also know if they’ve been following along on the blog and whatnot that I’m in recovery for exercise bulemia and disordered eating as well as atypical anorexia. So I’ve definitely done the extreme exercise thing. Speaker 2 00:21:35 It’s called orthorexia. Speaker 1 00:21:38 No, orthorexia is, um, the obsession with clean eating. Speaker 2 00:21:43 Oh, you’re right. You’re right. You’re right. You’re right. Speaker 1 00:21:46 Yeah. No atypical anorexia is when you actually are in a larger body, but you still have a meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia, but you don’t meet the physical picture of what we think in a Rexy. It looks like, so it’s atypical anorexia, but around that, you know, I’ve definitely done the extreme thing and it was not Speaker 2 00:22:09 Joyful. No. Well, I remember it was very, it was very, it was very, very, uh, yeah. Like I remember that time it was quite stressful and I feel like there was like a brimming paranoid, like, uh, like an under, like a simmering paranoia of like, I can’t do anything wrong. Oh, Speaker 1 00:22:29 Absolutely. It was, it was an obsession. Like it was even like beyond, Speaker 2 00:22:36 We would spend Friday nights at the gym. Like we would do our like Friday friend group and go to the gym, which I, that wasn’t the worst kind of like, that was a bit fun. Speaker 1 00:22:49 No, I enjoyed that. The problem was all day. I restricted my intake for food. And then I would go to, um, the local boutique fitness studio. I was attending, take a couple of classes, then we would all be at the gym. So there was it wasn’t, it wasn’t that I was just going to the gym on a Friday night, like for, you know, an hour and a half or whatever, with my friends. Like that was probably the most healthy of the, um, activities I was doing. It was the fact that I jam packed a couple of classes, even I would have gotten up early and maybe gone before work worked a full day, did not feed my body from a place of love, but from a place of restriction, squeeze in as many classes as I could, and then went to the gym. Like that was the really, um, disordered piece of Speaker 2 00:23:35 That, that I’ve I tried it and try it and try it. And I just hate it. And I don’t want to do it ever again is yoga. I hate yoga. I hate it so much. I know. Speaker 1 00:23:49 I know. So tell me why, tell me about Speaker 2 00:23:50 That. I’ve ever, I’ve only ever found one yoga class that I enjoyed and it wasn’t even yoga. It was just like a relaxed class. It was like, we were like, we was, it was dark and it was kind of warm in the studio. It wasn’t like hot, but it was like nice and warm. And we all wrapped ourselves in blankets and this British guy led the class and he sounded like David Attenborough sounds great. It was, it was fantastic, but it wasn’t, no guy was just relaxed class. And that was lovely. And forms Speaker 1 00:24:22 Of yoga. Was it like a restorative class or was Speaker 2 00:24:25 It we’re really just in it? We just kind of laid on the floor. It was my breathing class, I guess. And that was nice because he was very soothing to listen to. It was like a sleep story, but every other yoga class I’ve ever been to a is not geared for beginners at all. No, they’re usually not. I find that counterintuitive a and B several of the yoga classes I’ve been to the teacher didn’t even do it. Like they didn’t demo the movement or the movement transitions. And I just had to look at the girl next to me and be like, I hope she’s doing it right. Cause I’m just going to try to do what she’s doing. I just, I’ve never been to a yoga class, like an actual yoga class with, you know, the sun cellular Taishan and et cetera, where I didn’t feel like I was just counting the minutes until it was over. And I don’t know that that was the, like, I, one time had a lovely instructor. That was very nice. And I just hated it. No. So I’ve tried it. Maybe. I don’t know. I think I just hate it. Speaker 1 00:25:38 Okay. I mean, not everybody has to love yoga. It is a tremendous and very helpful, um, practice to engage in, certainly to help us connect our movement to breath in that mind, body connection and increase our flexibility and our stamina and all that good stuff. But it sounds like, you know, a bit of a setup because here you are walking into a class and, and everyone’s Speaker 2 00:26:00 Got their spot in the thing, right. Speaker 1 00:26:03 Everybody understands the Sanskrit cues. And if the teacher wasn’t modeling the, um, the poses, like how are you expected to feel good in that environment and to really be successful? So that’s too bad. And I feel like a lot of folks will get themselves into situations like that unintentionally and to no fault of their own, but that’s not going to be a welcoming, comforting environment to really teach you about yoga and to really let you experience the benefits. So I usually tell folks, you know, especially now with so many online options for virtual classes, you don’t have to make a fool of yourself in a public class. You can do it right in the comfort Speaker 2 00:26:40 Of your own home. And Speaker 1 00:26:42 You know, but also people tend to put up a lot of barriers and feel like, you know, I’m not flexible enough or I’m too old or I’m too, this I’m too that. And we put up these barriers and we’re not even willing to try. And there’s no shame in doing modified poses, maybe even chair poses or just some standing poses or some gentle restorative poses and stuff like that. Or starting small and meeting yourself where you’re at. Well, before you try to advance, I Speaker 2 00:27:11 Saw I’m, I’m not a big fan of, of like inspirational sports posters that are like, I don’t know, it’ll have some dude drinking, a protein shake. And it’s like, you’re only as far as your mind will take you or whatever. Like it’ll say something dumb. But I saw one once that was the best thing I’ve ever seen. It was a picture of Bibi Arnold Schwartzenegger in Austria and he’s maybe 14, 13. He has arms like a noodle and he’s like a baby. He’s not got any facial hair. He’s adorable. But like, he’s a child. And it said, we all start somewhere. And I was like, oh my God, this is brilliant. Like, he’s the, I have a, I have a, I have a, a concept that I call trophy names. And it’s like, whatever. Like the concept is that you’re talking about, there’s a person that you assigned to that thing. Speaker 2 00:28:14 Like you’d call a smart person. Oh no. Okay. Einstein, like, that’s th that’s the trophy name for like smart person pop star for me, Brittany Spears. She’s the trophy. Like I would say, you know, oh, this person is like the Italian Brittany Spears. She’s what I assign is that thing in Arnold Schwartzenegger is, is most people’s trophy name for big strong guy. And I loved that. They were taking this worldwide famous person that is famous for being really huge and strong and heavy and tall and whatever. And it was like prepubescent, noodley, arm, Arnold. I thought that was a brilliant strategy. That’s the only one of those posters that I’ve ever seen that actually worked well. And I Speaker 1 00:29:06 Love that. That’s great because a lot of times, you know, we just want the trophy. You just want to be Brittany Spears or Arnold Schwartzenegger or whoever were idolizing or looking up to, or aspiring to be forgetting that there was a whole journey. And that there was a time when Arnold Schwartzenegger wasn’t the, the person Speaker 2 00:29:26 We know he was a kid, was that noodley kid Speaker 1 00:29:29 That wasn’t all jacked, um, out of his mind and same thing, you know, with other people. That’s a really interesting concept. I, I like that. You’re you’re true. What do you call it? The trophy trophy name, the trophy Speaker 2 00:29:41 Trophy trophy names. Uh, I’m going to see if I can find this picture for you, which will be very exciting for all your listeners. I put an Arnold Schwartzenegger young. Maybe I should put Arnold Schwartzenegger teen, but he has kids. So that might be confusing to the internet anyway, while I’m looking for this. So Speaker 1 00:29:59 When we find this image of Arnold, if we can, we will be sure to include that on the reference information on the podcast episode. I mean, Speaker 2 00:30:10 Albert Einstein didn’t graduate school, he was a weirdo in Germany, and then he just made the journey to be Albert Einstein. Speaker 1 00:30:19 Right. Which is certainly a trophy name. When we think about intelligence and smart people up. And there it is, we got it. I know, I know my listeners can, you’ll see, it can see it, but they will, it will be posted with this episode. Like he Speaker 2 00:30:35 Looks like he could be embraces. Speaker 1 00:30:38 Excellent. All right. So tell me about any particular self-soothing strategies. For example, I mentioned, I enjoy a five minute dance parties. That to me can change my mood in just a very short period of time, put on my favorite song, dance it out and, um, feel better and help soothe myself. So what do you like to do when it comes to that? Like Speaker 2 00:31:04 A, like a, like a quick thing or have to be a quick thing? Well, all right. Well, I like to, this is stupid. I don’t care. No, it works. Um, for me, I like to go on Twitter because Michael sheen is my favorite actor and I follow, um, I don’t know how many people I follow, but I would say 88% of the accounts are like Michael sheen fan accounts. So it’s just a bunch of pictures of him. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It works a treat. It’s so good. It’s instant. It’s an instant. Interesting. Speaker 1 00:31:42 A lot of times people will say another, you made me think of another one that I like to do, and this might seem silly to folks, but it works for me. Like you said, that works for you, but I’m looking at cat photos or watching cat videos. Like, I can’t own a cat because I have allergies and asthma and my mom’s significantly asthmatic, so that wouldn’t work, but I love looking. They just crack me up. They’re awesome. So cute. And Speaker 2 00:32:08 When cats are being dumb, like they’re so elegant and beautiful, and then they’ll like, miss the countertop or something. And it’s so funny. Speaker 1 00:32:21 Oh, it’s awesome. And so I’ll definitely like waste a few minutes here and there. So there’s some websites even have live cams, like nurseries and stuff. There’s a few of those out there that, um, that are awesome. And you can actually watch different animals. Doesn’t have to just be cats. There’s ones for dogs and, and other wildlife. Certainly the, you can watch as a great soothing technique. Speaker 2 00:32:44 What else I like to do? This is kind of, this is quite random, but I like to go on my iPad. So the, with the bigger screen, go on my Google earth and try to find like national landmarks without putting it in. I’ll bring up, uh, France and like in Paris I’ll find Paris. And then I’ll try to find the Eiffel tower. Oh fuck. It’s like a, it’s like a little game for myself that it’s just me playing, Speaker 1 00:33:18 Like, kind of like that in anything. I think that can kind of get us out of our head for a minute. And like, so for you, either scrolling on Twitter and looking at pictures of one of your favorite actors or having a quick dance party, like I like to do, or watching a silly cat video or scrolling through Google earth to look around the world and see what’s there and what we can find. I mean, that gets you out of your head for a few minutes and really just almost grounds you in a way and kind of can bring you back down into the present moment to practice some, some mindfulness. Speaker 2 00:33:52 Well, and in a, in a way it’s like I have adult ADHD. So I find that activities that can occupy like a white noise part of my brain do help executive function and my mood for the day, because otherwise I feel jittery. I feel like I have too much, I got to burn something off. And so things like that that are kind of weird and random and just for me, and like nothing fill that purpose. That’s great. Yeah. Good. Self-awareness well, I realized why I like to have, sorry, my cat Maggie is just running ragged around the house because she’s blooming currently. She’s yes. She’s being quite rambunctious. Um, I’m uncomfortable in like silent rooms and quiet places. I, I I’m very uncomfortable unless I have some kind of stimulus, unless I’m extremely focused in an activity. So if I’m doing something like puttering around the house or whatever, I’ll put on a movie that I’ve seen a million times and just the noise of it fills that fills that part of my brain that needs to on the static. And then I can go do whatever I need to be doing. And I realized that, oh, that’s why I have a, like a movie on all the time. That’s why the TV is always playing something and I’m not even paying attention to it. I just need it to be there. I needed to fill that gap and serve that purpose so I can actually be a functional person and do do my tasks. Sure. Speaker 1 00:35:36 I think that sometimes I’m like that. And sometimes I’m not, sometimes I do really need the silence and then other times I can be productive if there’s just like noise. Even if it’s music that I’m passively paying attention to, or maybe a YouTube movie or something like that, or even a podcast that I have on, in the background or something like that, that I’m, that I’m not trying to focus on. Um, I can do that too. That kind of multitasking, but just letting that, that like white noise, like you said, kind of happened in the background as a way to, Speaker 2 00:36:11 Well, and like, I like listening to stuff to go to sleep. I enjoy those sleep apps. Some of them play noises, some of them are like, one of them has Kate Winslet reading like a bedtime story. And it’s, that’s so good that one’s 10 out of 10 would recommend it’s called. Speaker 1 00:36:32 I think that’s the con that calm. Speaker 2 00:36:35 And they have a thing in calm called sleep stories. And she, Kate Winslet reads this really nice one about Thomas the tank engine at Christmas time. And it’s just so chef’s kiss for, for our listeners, but because I can never go to sleep. However, in grad school, I needed to take a class where we practiced it’s called Alexander technique and it focuses on, um, body alignment and connection to breath. And in this class we had to lay on the ground and practice breathing, just breathing in and then immediately breathing out and then immediately breathing in no vacuum, no stopping, just a continual movement of breath, which I learned at age 28 is the way people are supposed to breathe. The human body is supposed to constantly be either breathing in or breathing out. You’re never supposed to just be doing neither of those things, which is not, I would breathe out and then wait, not on purpose. Speaker 2 00:37:50 I wouldn’t like time myself, but like, I would not breathe in until then I needed to. But in this class it would be breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out slowly. You’re not hyperventilating, but he would constantly have to, the instructor would constantly have to like wake us up because some, we would start to doze. And I was like, why do I get tired in this class? Like, it’s a dark room. Yeah. And it’s, you know, he’s, he’s soothing to listen to, but like, why am I sleepy? And then I realized, that’s how sleeping people breathe. Sleeping. People breathe in out, contained out continuously. There’s no vacuum because you’re not awake. And you don’t have any in your awake breathing to bug you in your sleep. So then I did an experiment where I was like, okay, I’m gonna pretend I’m in class. And like set myself up aligned correctly and whatever. Speaker 2 00:38:52 And now I’m in class and I’m going to breathe like class, but I, you know, I’d be in bed and it worked like a charm. And I realized, you know, I don’t have to like trick my brain into being relaxed. If I breathe like a sleepy person breathes my brain’s going to get tricked into being like, oh, is it, are we sleeping? Oh, okay. My, my bad we’ll put him sleeping now. Okay. It honestly worked like a charm and I’d recommend it any day. Breathe like a sleeping person breathes slowly but continuously. It’s amazing. That’s Speaker 1 00:39:31 Awesome. That is a great tip for our listeners and gentle stretching, deep breathing practices or breathing like Tristan was sharing can definitely help promote better sleep. You should go back to doing that breathing, trusting. Speaker 2 00:39:45 I know I wasn’t breathing that entire time, Speaker 1 00:39:48 But go back to doing it before Ben. Speaker 2 00:39:50 I should just say the remind me of, do you remember in date night when Steve Carell was saying like, are you breathing? I needed to breathe. Are you breathing? And she goes, oh, Speaker 1 00:40:02 I don’t think we actually made it through that movie, which was unfortunate because I like Steve Carell and edit Tina Fey. I find I hold my breath a lot and I’ve been trying to get better at that. But as soon as I’m like, oh yeah, well lifestyle and stress and different things. We’re naturally born nose breathers where we breathe this in and out continuously. Like that’s how babies breathe through their nose. And then like lifestyle and stress and different things. We, we tend to then breathe through my mouth and that’s you, and that’s not as healthy for us. So that, that’s a whole thing we talked about in a later episode. But, um, I tend, I notice like even when I’m in yoga classes, I’ve been doing yoga virtual, um, with my cousin, who’s a yoga instructor all throughout this pandemic. And, um, my mom does it with me and cause sometimes she’ll, she’ll say like, she’ll comment on things. And I’m like, well, where are you breathing? And she’s like, well, no. And I’m like, well, no. And like when I have to constantly like remind myself to breathe, Speaker 2 00:40:59 Well, you know how the thing for if you’re, if you’re freaking out about something is, is okay, okay, breathe, breathe. And if that change in breath makes you calm down or, or you just, or suddenly you decide to like take some deep or you’re angry and you’re just like, I’m like that calms you down. That means that you were not doing that. And that’s everyone. Yep. I’d say probably from gym experience. I would say that I literally would about 85% of working adults do not breathe. You know, I don’t want to say correctly, but like they hold the breath and you can tell if you hold your breath in exercise because you’ll just do it and then your face will turn into the color red. And uh, I’m wondering Speaker 1 00:41:54 For our listeners that are listening to this episode, are you breathing right Speaker 2 00:41:58 Now? I literally wasn’t just then Speaker 1 00:42:02 I’ve been catching myself as we’re talking. Yeah. Am I still breathing? I am breathing. That’s good. No, make sure that you, um, you do that. It is really important. And I always say in my sessions when I’m, when I’m teaching a workshop on self care or something like that, that like a deep breath, two or three deep breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth cleansing, deep breaths, so quick, efficient, and effective and free way to just almost immediately come your nervous system and really promote that sense of calm. So that’s excellent. Thank you for sharing your experience with that. Speaker 2 00:42:36 I enjoy the app called Headspace. Well, that’s another good one. Yeah. The icon is a white square with an orange circle in it and it’s just, uh, it’ll, it’ll go to my watch and my watch will say a minute of deep breathing can, can help you for the rest of the day. And I, one time I was like, okay. And I clicked it. And it like has a thing that kind of goes in and out for when you’re supposed to breathe. It’s it’s right. It’s correct. Speaker 1 00:43:07 That’s a great app for folks to use even to learn to meditate because that one actually starts you off small with, I think like two minutes or three minutes. And then over time you can build up to longer meditation practices. So that’s an excellent one. And I know some of these apps even provide, um, free subscriptions if you are working in education or if you’re a teacher. So there’s any teachers listening, you may be able to score free subscriptions to Headspace and calm, which is pretty cool. Well, that’s awesome. Thank you so much, Tristan, for all of your insight and willingness to share about your experiences and your self care routine. I very, very much appreciate it. Of course. And I S I know that our listeners will appreciate it too, when we launched this episode. So thank you again for joining us. Of course. Thank you so much. Speaker 1 00:44:06 Tristan had so much to share with us and lots of takeaways. First, I enjoy how she described that self-care can look different depending upon your needs across the various domains. That is so true and important to remember. You must get in touch with what you need and want first before you can attend to it. And what works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. I tend to be type a, and I’m very visual. I need to see things for them to click in my brain or hand up losing focus, a typical Piscean dreamer through and through. So I find that really structuring myself care helps me to be successful. If you find yourself struggling with sleep, you may want to check out an article I was featured in that provides great tips for better sleep, which is linked in the episode notes, and also look into sleep stories on the calm app and the Alexander technique for breathing to promote more restful sleep. Speaker 1 00:45:01 And remember, it’s okay to move your body for fun. And please stop comparing yourself to others. I will say it was a little heartbreaking to hear my friend Tristan talk about my eating disorder days. We’ve really not discussed that too much previously, but she’s a hundred percent correct. It was an obsession. And I was so fearful of gaining weight for very real reasons that it was crippling. It was not until I sought help, that I realized just how sick I was. At some point I can share the gorier details as even those closest to me were not privy to the extent of my destructive behavior, but I also love the idea she talks about with digging multiple holes. Sometimes we get so focused on one thing. We forget that there’s a big world of opportunities out there. If I dug only one hole, I definitely would not be where I am today. Speaker 1 00:45:48 I have so many interests. I also love the concept of the trophy name. We all have these ideas of excellence in our minds, and we forget that there’s people with lives that existed before their fame and that there was an entire journey maybe that we did not see, Arnold did not wake up one day as the Terminator. There was a life and a journey that led to the man we know today. Tristan also highlights the benefits of quick short self-care practices. Like a minute of deep breathing. We tend to brush these off quickly as how could they possibly be helpful, but they are just a minute of deep breathing can make a world of difference. I mean, what have you got to lose? Give it a try. Thanks so much for listening to this episode and remember to subscribe and rate this podcast on your preferred player, the ratings help us grow and share the message of self-care. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, please reach out directly by emailing podcast at Dr. MC self care.com that’s D R M C self care.com and come join the cast party at Dr. MC self care cabaret on Facebook and Instagram at Dr. MC self care or on my website, Dr. MC self care.com. Be sure to like subscribe and love me across all my social media platforms for the most up-to-date information on self care. See you next time. Stay well and do good. Speaker 1 00:47:42 Wow.
3 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
Episode 00: Coming Soon!
A new self-care podcast has entered the scene and we’re so excited to share this with you! This will be a bi-weekly endeavor where Dr. MC will have conversations with guests ranging from the world of education, spiritual healing, nutrition & wellness, as well as friends she’s made along the way! The first 3 episodes will be available on Weds July 21st, and future episodes to be released every other week. When listening to this podcast on your preferred player, it is important to like, rate, and subscribe! Also, we’d love to hear from you! Reach out to email@example.com with any questions or topics you’d like to hear about on a future episode! You can learn more about Dr. MC and this podcast on her website: https://drmcselfcare.com/podcast-home/ EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Speaker 0 00:00:01 Let’s face it. We all Speaker 1 00:00:04 Experienced stress and challenges in our lives. There is no easy fix or miracle cure for this, but I can tell you that by taking care of ourselves and by that, I mean, true, authentic self care. You can manage this in productive ways to take your power back, putting your health and wellbeing on center stage. I’m Theresa Melito-Conners founder of Dr. MCs. Self-care cabaret. I’m a PhD level self-care expert in the greater Boston area with a passion for helping others recognize the importance of caring for themselves. It is time to find your spotlight. This is a brand new podcast. I am starting. That will be our space to talk about health well-being and how to manage what life throws at us. We will examine all aspects of self care and we’ll cover topics such as learning to love your body, making peace with food, exercising in ways that are joyful, fostering, fulfilling relationships, resting, developing more. Self-compassion how to Sue ourselves and be more mindful, attracting abundance intention setting, and so much Speaker 0 00:01:22 More. We will dive deep Speaker 1 00:01:25 Into the true meaning of self-care dismantling the stereotypes and the societal ideals that make us feel that self-care is selfish and a luxury reserved for those who can afford such things. The time is now to stop the cycle of deprivation. Let go of the idea of perfection and step into the world of genuine self care. I will teach you sustainable realistic cost, accessible, effective, and efficient ways to attend to your mental, emotional, and physical needs. We’ll have guests from all walks of life, joining us on this adventure. And of course I want to hear from my cabaret followers as well. What questions do you have pertaining to self care and wellbeing? Self-care is more than a bath bomb and a smile. It is the daily consistent, foundational way you take care of yourself so you can show up as the best you possible. And with that, welcome to Dr. MCs self care cabaret podcast. And we’ll see you soon for bi-weekly episodes with the doc Speaker 2 00:02:36 To help you on this journey. Make time for yourself. Now your future self will. Thank you. Thank you.
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