Making choices can feel overwhelming. Diane Tegmeyer, professional travel and food writer and new resident of Santa Fe, has been through a lot of changes in the last few years.
She and Melanie get personal as they talk about what it means to leave one life for another, making choices, taking risks, and choosing new beginnings.
In her professional life as a travel writer, Diane was constantly faced with making choices. And in her personal life, she was living in New York City during the pandemic year, facing challenging medical issues on her own.
And she's now living in a brand-new city, navigating a multitude of decisions every day (not to mention moving to Santa Fe from New York City, and before that from Aspen to New York City).
The truth is that, in the larger collective conversation, each of us is now being called to adapt, to innovate, to make better choices. It's part of the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the tremendous changes we're facing, whether or not we want to.
It is what we're facing as we hurtle into ramifications of the climate crisis.
Each of us has the choice to step into healthy adaptive solutions, whether that's on a very personal level as Diane talks about or on the larger systemic levels of family, community, culture, even humanity.
When the yucky stuff hits the fan, there's always a choice: to either step forward, toward growth, or backward, where it only feels safe.
These are not times to sit on the couch watching TV. In this era of accelerating demands for innovative adaptation, we must pay a new sort-of attention to the choices we're making. For growth, adaptation, and transformation begin with one person at a time, moving outward to collective tipping points and game-changing social movements.
We can ride this wave together if we choose to do so. You ready? Let's go!
"Big T trauma" and "little t trauma" are two phrases often used to describe different psychological/emotional trauma levels. Big T can result from either one specific experience or recurring sexual or physical abuse.
Little t, on the other end of the trauma spectrum, can result from a series of smaller yet still challenging events.
We can be traumatized by a single event like being involved in a bad accident or experiencing an act of violence such as assault or recurring abuse. That's a Big T trauma -- a big event or a series of significant repetitive events.
We can also be traumatized by a series of smaller, not-so-big things like being bullied (as a child or an adult), family conflict, infidelity, divorce, a sudden geographical move, or medical issues.
Big T traumas are generally considered more dramatic than those of little t.
How individuals respond to the event, though, is what matters. One person may be deeply traumatized by something to which another person barely reacts.
And those emotional/behavioral reactions are what psychotherapists such as Paige Pierson are trained to work with.
Paige is a psychotherapist, licensed both in Texas and New Mexico. She's a credentialed supervisor for LMHC’s.
Based in Los Alamos, Paige has previously worked in corrections, behavioral health hospitals, private practice, and community agencies.
In this episode, Melanie and Paige offer a fascinating insider glimpse into the world of trauma-sensitive therapy.
Paige is also a working artist, sharing insights about how her creative life nurtures her life as a psychotherapist.
Last but not least, Paige is the author of a YA dystopian fiction novel set in 2088. She wrote it for young people who are struggling with bullying, anxiety, self-esteem, and resilience.
Her commitment to living a rich life, no matter what we've experienced, can be a model for all of us.
The psychology of self-esteem and style is the focus of this show. Stylist Kitty Ault, photographer Gabriella Marks, and hair and make-up artist Jess Evans -- the KA Style team -- all share ideas about the importance of how we present ourselves to the world.
This is a lively show with a terrific team of women who work well together. And Melanie discovered academic research on the psychology of fashion, sharing it with listeners and asking for feedback from the KA Style team.
In doing research for this show, Melanie found the following from psychologist Carolyn Mair, Ph.D.:
" ... it's stressful for us if we don't feel comfortable in what we're wearing. If we're really worrying that it's appropriate or it's suitable or we don't feel confident in what we're wearing, it stresses us and this means that we don't have the cognitive capacity to deal with the problem at hand. This is why lots of very successful people tend to wear a work uniform ... [people] who wear the same items every day to allow this freeing up of cognitive capacity for more important issues." [https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/fashion]
How we show up in the world can have a significant impact on our psychological/mental/emotional health. Because how we show up in the world can be both a reflection of how we're feeling or how we want to feel, as well as signaling to others how we expect to be treated.
"Your fashion style can determine if you ace that interview and get that dream job. Once you are on the job, your wardrobe can determine if you get more responsibility and get promoted. Your clothing choices can make or break your career, your ability to make friends, and develop the romantic relationships that you seek.
"Just as dress radiates outward to your surroundings, it also moves inward. How you dress affects your mood. Your wardrobe choices have a psychological impact. Karen Pine demonstrates in her book Mind What You Wear that there is a science behind fashion and that psychology and fashion are indeed linked.
"The next time you choose what to wear, think about why you chose that outfit. Allow more understanding for others when considering why they dress the way they do. And most of all, use the opportunity to have fun and bring pleasure into your life. Self-care is an important aspect of mental health. Looking and feeling good is not just an advertising slogan, it is a viable aspect to your wellbeing." [https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-psychology-of-fashion#4]
Dressing "up," meaning dressing for how you want to feel and how you want to be seen by others -- with healthy self-confidence and strong self-esteem -- is a simple technique to change your cognition and emotions.
The holy space of singing on stage is just one of the very cool things Melanie and Susanne Mentzer talk about in this episode.
Susanne is a mezzo-soprano who’s performed all over the world, singing in operatic productions, as well as concerts, chamber music performances, and recitals. She's been a guest artist at the Metropolitan Opera since 1989, and made many recordings. She's a Full-time Professor of Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Official Voice Teacher at the San Francisco Opera.
Finally, Susanne is singing this summer at the Santa Fe Opera.
This episode is full of light-hearted energy, lots of laughter, some personal revelations of overcoming hardships ... lots of life.
Susanne talks about the ways in which being on stage for her is therapeutic, perhaps even sacred at times.
Being passionate about her work in the world, which has now spanned several decades, continues to bring much meaning for Susanne.
Not incidentally, feeling a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives is one of the major contributors to our overall health, wellbeing, and happiness.
As an article in Scientific American says, "A wealth of research in positive psychology suggests that happiness and meaning are, in fact, essential elements of well-being. Happiness and meaning are strongly correlated with each other, and often feed off each other. The more meaning we find in life, the more happy we typically feel, and the more happy we feel, the more we often feel encouraged to pursue even greater meaning and purpose."
Another major key to wellbeing is having healthy social connections, which Susanne talks about. That same Scientific American article says " ... feeling connected to others, feeling productive, and not being alone or bored contributed to both happiness and meaning. However, they also found some important differences ... ." [https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-differences-between-happiness-and-meaning-in-life/]*
Her life has taken some unexpected turns, she's lived some tragedy and experienced great triumphs, and is incredibly transparent in sharing insights, and hope, and inspiration.
*Happiness and meaning and purpose can quickly become a very nuanced conversation, at least according to some research findings. This statement may help shed a bit more light on it: "It seems that happiness has more to do with having your needs satisfied, getting what you want, and feeling good, whereas meaning is more related to uniquely human activities such as developing a personal identity, expressing the self, and consciously integrating one’s past, present, and future experiences." [https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-differences-between-happiness-and-meaning-in-life/]
Dr. Michelle Schwab is a clinical psychologist based in Portland, Maine. She specializes in health psychology and working with high-achieving professionals who are struggling with burnout.
And these days, who isn't feeling at least a little burned out?!
Michelle shares some of the red flags for burnout, which includes cynicism and a lack of empathy.
From the APA (American Psychological Association) comes this:
"Burnout is more than just feeling worn out. According to psychologist Christina Maslach, PhD—a pioneering burnout researcher who developed what has become the gold standard for measuring burnout—the condition has three components: overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment (Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual, fourth edition, 2016).
"People kind of switch to doing the bare minimum instead of doing their very best," says Maslach, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Burnout Research." https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/02/ce-corner
For health care workers and all caregivers, it's important to remember that burnout is associated with compassion fatigue or secondary trauma, which can contribute to even more burnout.
The good news is that there are things that can be helpful to prevent or lessen burnout, including making self-care a priority.
Having a trusted social support network, even if that's one other person, can make a big difference.
Mindfulness is another practice that's proven to be helpful. In order to deal with what's happening, we need to be aware of how we're feeling, right?
In the 2nd half of this episode, Michelle shares a lovely personal story of her work with a cancer patient 30 years ago, and how that helped her cope with 2020's pandemic year.
This show is rich with personal insights, and current research data about burnout, stress, and anxiety as we all continue to learn how to navigate the uncharted waters of this era.
Women and power and style are part of this show with Kitty Ault.
Kitty's back in the studio talking about how we present ourselves to the world. 'Cause, the truth is, clothes and hair and make-up all enhance or hide our identities.
It's always fascinating to dive deep into something that's often misunderstood, trivialized, and/or exploited.
And Kitty's an expert. She's a stylist with a degree in Art History/ Fine Arts. She worked in New York in public relations, design, marketing, event management, and fashion for innovative companies such as Perrier, L’Oreal, Cacharel, The Hearst Corporation, and financial institutions. She then ventured into the world of modeling, magazine location/styling, and photoshoots. She had the opportunity to work with top photographers, Conde Nast, Hearst publications, Time Inc., and associated magazines.
In 2005, Kitty and her family moved to Santa Fe, NM.
She shares thoughts on how the pandemic changed the ways we see ourselves, and how we choose to show up in the world.
How we’re shifting identities, roles, and priorities.
The ways in which it’s a re-set for women in the workplace.
Kitty and Melanie also get into women and power (yep, she's an expert), and women and vulnerability (yes, there's a connection).
Psychological studies show the impact of clothing in the workplace. Including, no surprise, that women can be judged harshly for their attire. Especially if their position is "higher status."
In one study, "we found that the clothing did matter. People rated the [female] senior manager less favourably when her dress style was more ‘provocative’, and more favourably when dressed more conservatively (longer skirt, buttoned-up blouse). I reiterate that the clothing in the ‘provocative’ condition was still very conservative in style and look—it was not a short skirt and a revealing blouse, but a skirt slightly above the knee and one button on the blouse undone.
"The rating of the receptionist role was not affected by these clothing manipulations, suggesting that there may be more leeway for some jobs than others.
"So even subtle changes to clothing style can contribute toward negative impressions of the competence of women who hold higher status positions." https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-something-different/201304/what-your-clothes-might-be-saying-about-you
In that same article, the author writes "it is important to choose our dress style carefully because people will make all sorts of assumptions and decisions about us without proper evidence. We are unlikely to know what these assessments are, so it is quite possible that our clothes reveal more than we thought.
"Sartorial laziness is an easy habit to slip into. We may think that fashion is just profligate indulgence and our sunny personality will eclipse our dull attire or detract from the soup stains on our anorak. Untrue. What we wear speaks volumes in just a few seconds. Dressing to impress really is worthwhile and could even be key to success."
Stuart Ashman, CEO of the International Folk Art Market, one of the largest social entrepreneurship organizations in the world, shares insights and updates in this episode.
Stuart has a long and impressive background as a cultural ambassador. He was the Executive Director & Chief Curator of CCA in Santa Fe; President and CEO of the Museum of Latin American Art; Director of the New Mexico Museum of Art; Executive Director of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art; and was the Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. He's also served as Expert Consultant for the United States Peace Corps and serves as Vice-Chair of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement.
Stuart and Melanie talk about the innovative adaptations and creative solutions that had to be instituted at the Market in this pandemic era.
The truth is that, for many of the artists, the Market is their only source of income for the year. And many of the artists support their communities through their art.
As the website states, “artist earnings have exceeded $34 million and impacted more than one million lives in the communities they represent.”
Further, “each of our artists has a story to tell about craft tradition, and a family, village and culture to support.”
Stuart Ashman's response to the importance of art and beauty for a life of happiness and wellbeing may surprise you ... be sure and listen for this in the second half.
The artists of the International Folk Art Market have long held a special place in Melanie's heart. Their enduring dedication to their respective cultures' traditional arts and crafts, the pervasive sense of community support, and the sheer beauty and joy of the myriad offerings shared with the world year after year continue to be a wellspring of inspiration and hope for a better world.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion was an international bestseller when it was first published 25 years ago.
Dr. Robert Cialdini, social psychologist, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, president of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and the recipient of a number of scientific research awards, has updated and revised the book and just published a brand-new edition.
Bob is a charming guest and the definitive expert on the psychology of persuasion and why it behooves us to understand how the mind works.
Turns out that it's terribly easy to mislead people who don't know how to pay attention to it.
In this episode, Bob shares his insights on the seven principles of the psychology of persuasion, which are:
He also talks about the cost of mental shortcuts. Bob writes, "I have become impressed by evidence indicating that the form and pace of modern life is not allowing us to make fully thoughtful decisions, even on many personally relevant topics. Sometimes the issues may be so complicated, the time so tight, the distractions so intrusive, the emotional arousal so strong, or the mental fatigue so deep that we are in no cognitive condition to operate mindfully. Important topic or not, we have to take the shortcut."
Bob also uses this quote from Mother Teresa to describe one of his principles: "If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to one another."
The good news about our minds is that we can learn to manage them, as it were. To think with more conscious awareness, to feel with more empathy and compassion, and to act with more self-confidence.
It's a powerful message that's more timely than ever in these chronically fraught times.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion has been an international hit since it was first published 25 years ago. So much so that Dr. Robert Cialdini, social psychologist, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, president of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and the recipient of a number of scientific research awards, had to update and revise the book and publish a brand-new edition.
Bob provides a glimpse behind the scenes of our minds, helping us better understand cognitive biases and automatic behavior patterns.
As he puts it, "[not understanding our automatic patterns] makes us terribly vulnerable to anyone who does know how they work."
The psychology of getting people to say yes impacts every area of our lives, from how we spend and what we buy, to how we vote.
Bob shares fascinating research data about the power of psychological persuasion including that voting in a church sways Republican, and voting in a school sways Democratic … such a simple research finding that has profound implications.
Some other topics include:
The more we understand our own minds and how to manage the feedback loop of our thoughts, emotions, and actions, the better able we are to live consciously, making intentional choices for ourselves and our community.
We also become more adept at increasing our influence on those things that most matter to us.
This fascinating conversation takes place over two podcasts; be sure and download the 2nd show, as well.
How to be happy when the world seems to be falling apart? What's wellbeing? This episode shines a light on all things positive and good and hope-full.
These days it feels as though our well-being is assaulted from every direction. And it could be easy to argue that happiness doesn’t have much of a place in the world as it is these days.
There’s so much that’s breaking our hearts, both collectively, and individually … it can seem just too self-absorbed and narcissistically privileged to even bring up the topic of wellbeing.
Who has time to deal with wellbeing and happiness when the world is falling apart?!
There are millions of people in this country who are desperate to feel something positive and hopeful, something good, to be engaged in focusing their attention on living well, even in the midst of heartbreak and uncertainty.
It's more important than ever before to develop a practice of wellbeing. Yes, many things are falling apart. And yes, much is transforming.
What more effective tool do we have than to seed our future using the 12 keys of wellbeing?
Melanie discusses each of the 12 building blocks of individual and community wellbeing, from the researchers and experts at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Those building blocks, in alphabetical order, are:
In this episode, Melanie explores the connection between shame, anxiety, and depression, as well as the difference between guilt and shame.
Shame can wreak havoc with our mental health. And it's pretty sneaky, in that we often don't understand what shame feels like, and so it gets confused with guilt.
But it's a powerful emotional response that can become a lifelong companion living just underneath the surface of our awareness.
It's an important topic to unpack if you're feeling creatively blocked, unable to achieve reasonable goals, or can't quite put your finger on why you're stuck.
Chronic shame can be one of the major psychological blocks to achieving goals, realizing dreams, and manifesting intentions.
Melanie quotes Dr. Brene Brown, who says shame is an "unspoken epidemic," and mentions her incredibly popular TED Talks.
Research data have proven that guilt and shame are strongly correlated with depression, as well as with anxiety disorders including social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder.
Negative health consequences of anxiety and depression include digestive disorders, heart disease, obesity, chronic pain diagnoses such as migraines, arthritis, and fibromyalgia; sleep disruption — which is another pathway to all sorts of medical issues.
In fact, researchers now know that chronic physical pain shares some biological mechanisms with anxiety and depression.
The reality is that the world we’re living in isn’t becoming a more peaceful place. We’re not heading into a future, at the moment, that projects a less anxiety-ridden world.
It’s becoming the norm to be anxious and depressed, even for people who aren’t genetically or environmentally prone to those two emotional and physiological states.
This information-packed episode is an important one to listen to and learn from.
How to be better with money is something almost everyone wants to know more about. And Doug Lynam is the guy to talk to about your money, your budget, finances, your blocks about money ... like that.
Doug is an industry thought leader in ethical and sustainable investing, founder of the non-profit ESG Fiduciary™ Institute, a partner at LongView Asset Management, LLC, in Santa Fe, and he's devoted his life to service.
He's also the author of the popular book From Monk to Money Manager and has been a guest on this show many times.
In this episode, Doug and Melanie talk about why money is such a tender spot for so many people, as well as money trauma, money wounds, and healing our money wounds.
Doug explains the basics of attachment theory from psychology, and how that's pertinent to our relationship with money. And he discusses the meaning of this quote: “the quality of [our] financial life has a bigger impact on [our] perceived wellbeing than the combined benefits of fitness, job satisfaction, and my overall relationship stability.”
Yep, there's a strong relationship between how we feel about money and our happiness.
Mental health during Covid 19 is a thing. And it's going to be an issue for a while.
We're all struggling with ongoing Covid-19 trauma. No matter how well we're doing, we're all feeling it.
In this episode, Melanie shares research data and coping suggestions from Dr. Diane E. Meier, the longtime director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Meier is also a 2008 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship.
About the Covid pandemic, Dr. Meier says, “The fear and anxiety is completely different. It’s not that getting a diagnosis of dementia or cancer or kidney failure is not frightening. It is, but it’s somewhat normalized. You know people it’s happened to. Whereas the Covid pandemic — there was so much interesting coverage marking the 500,000th death about how invisible all the grieving is and how the whole country is in a state of numbness and denial because it is all too much to take in. It is too much to process." https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/22/magazine/diane-e-meier-interview.html
As a result, Dr. Meier says, "people are trying desperately to make room for one's inner life."
We’ve got two feet in the Before Times. And one foot in the not-yet-here world. We’re betwixt and between. It’s a liminal time.
And that can make us feel unmoored, ungrounded.
The good news is that there is an almost infinite number of ways to make room for our inner lives. Natalie Goldberg, the writer, recently did two shows with Melanie in which she talks of haiku as a way, a path, a spiritual discipline.
Techniques for exploring beyond the bounds of performative “work” are as varied as there are people.
The reasons for doing exploring our inner lives are compelling, indeed.
For the truth is that we aren’t gonna take whatever money we’ve earned or jewelry we love or cars or houses with us when we die.
But we’re here now, breathing. Feeling. In community with others, whether we’re in person or not.
We’re still here. Might that be enough meaning and purpose?
Here’s a poem from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, titled Caminante, No Hay Camino, Traveler, There is no Road/There is no Way.
Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship's wake on the sea.
Finally, this, from e.e. cummings, entitled 53
may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know …
Can astrology help us ease fear and anxiety and learn how to be happy? Can Psychoastrology help us understand the subconscious patterns that hold us hostage? What is a "core wound"?
These questions, and many more, are answered in this engaging conversation with Lisa Tahir, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) for over 20 years, an inventor with a US patent, EMDR Level I, and Reiki Level II practitioner, and Certified Thought Coach.
Lisa's also the founder of Psychoastrology® and author of The Chiron Effect: Healing Our Core Wounds through Astrology, Empathy, and Self-Forgiveness, which has been endorsed by His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama.
Lisa talks about her own fears of publically sharing herself, as well as the challenges she faced in finding and articulating her own voice.
As she writes, "oftentimes, the greatest things we have to contribute to this world will only manifest if we are willing to live outside the box of what we think is possible.”
The book's dedication reads, in part:
" ... to those of you who are learning the value of being happy over being right, and those who view missteps and challenges as opportunities to become a more evolved and happier version of themselves, and those who have chosen to rise from the dark nights of their souls with a beautifully scarred yet open heart … ."
This is a fast-paced episode, rich with thought-provoking ideas for you to ponder.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” -Carl Jung
“The root causes of your wounding can become the source of your greatest healing and empowerment.” -Lisa Tahir
Everything mindfulness is the topic of this episode. The beloved mindful meditation / mindful working / mindful loving / mindful living teacher, Michelle DuVal, is in the virtual studio.
Michelle is the director of The Mindful Center in Albuquerque, the leading provider of mindfulness training in the Southwest.
She offers ongoing training in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), has online courses and meditations, and facilitates retreats at Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu, NM.
In this episode, Michelle and Melanie talk about the hunger for mindful awareness, how to meet what's happening with awareness, and much more.
Michelle shares her wisdom and experience in this fun, contemplative, light-hearted show.
"Stress is a form of holding on, peace is a form of letting go." Michelle DuVal
Cynthia Jurs is a remarkable woman. She's a Buddhist teacher, trained by the beloved Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. A practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism. A Lama, initiated in Nepal, in recognition of her many years of dharma practice and dedication to the work of global healing through the Earth Treasure Vases.
She founded Alliance for the Earth and is the Executive Director of the Earth Treasure Vase Global Healing Project.
Finally, Cynthia is the guiding teacher at the Gaia Mandala Sangha in Santa Fe, where she's been leading meditation groups, retreats, and pilgrimages offering a unique blend of engaged Buddhism and sacred activism.
In this episode, Cynthia shares insights about the goddess Tara, Gaia -- Mother Earth -- and how to recognize a sacred calling.
In the stunning New York Times bestselling book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katharine May writes that wintering is "the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can.”
In her acknowledgment of sadness and unhappiness, Katharine opens the door to the possibility of healing from those inevitable dark times when we don't think we can bear more suffering.
Yes, suffering is part of being alive. Yes, there is hope. And choice about how we respond to those inevitable times.
Part of what helps us get better at navigating metaphorical winter includes doing the "deeply unfashionable things [of] — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — [it's] a radical act now, but it is essential."
Melanie was thrilled to find out that not only is Katharine May a great writer, she's also a fantastic guest!
There's lots of laughter, lots of transparency, and lots of deep, well-lived experience in this episode.
We're beginning to wake up, to emerge from the darkness of the literal winter, as well as the “wintering” we’ve had to endure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Not quite ready, though. nature needs us to be mindful and intentional about how quickly we emerge.
Just this morning, I saw another reminder on Facebook about not clearing out old leaves and dead-looking plant stems from our gardens until the temperature is consistently over 50 degrees. ‘Cause, who knew? butterflies and bees and other pollinators overwinter in those places.
If I clear out the dead-looking stuff in the garden too soon, some very important members of our ecosystem get lost in the process.
The same with beginning to re-emerge from the past pandemic hell year. A small percentage of folks have gotten fully vaccinated; many more have received their first shot. And millions have yet to get any.
Those who've received vaccinations must hold onto their impatience for freedom, and continue wearing good masks and socially distancing so that the rest of the human ecosystem can catch up.
As the literal winter is ending in the northern hemisphere, so too the metaphorical wintering caused by pandemic lockdowns. This metaphorical wintering is an energetic, emotional, and psychological wintering.
The idea comes from a beautiful book written by Katherine May, called Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.
Here’s how she describes it:
"Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, side-lined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. Perhaps it results from an illness or a life event such as a bereavement or the birth of a child; perhaps it comes from a humiliation or failure. Perhaps you’re in a period of transition and have temporarily fallen between two worlds. … . However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful."
Don’t you think it’s true that we’ve all been wintering? And that, while some of us may be emerging, many others are not.
We haven’t really begun to tally our losses, or to grieve what’s been lost — a statement that may be true for both our lives, as well as this pandemic year.
One of the things that helps me so much is being reminded of the beauty that’s everywhere. It’s something that Katherine’s book is rich with, both in her writing, as well as the things she writes about, such as a sleeping dormouse.
If you can, please read or listen to her book.
In the meantime, you can listen to Part 1 of the interview we did together (Part 2 airs next week).
We are in the midst of a collective transformation that affects each one of us. As Katherine writes:
“Transformation is the business of winter. In Gaelic mythology, the hag deity known as the Cailleach takes human form at Samhain to run the winter months, bring with her winds and wild weather. … . The Cailleach is thought to be the mother of the gods, the gruff, cold originator of all things. … . … The Cilleach offers us a cyclical metaphor for life, one in which the energies of spring arrive again and again, nurtured by the deep retreat of winter. We are no longer accustomed to thinking in this way. Instead we are in the habit of imagining our lives to be linear, a long march from birth to death in which we mass our powers, only to surrender them again, all the while slowly losing our youthful beauty. This is a brutal untruth.”
We can honor the cyclical nature of life — leave the garden looking scraggly until the hibernating pollinators are awake and getting on with it, wear a mask and social distance until everyone has gotten vaccines, and breathe into and be with our personal winterings.
In doing so, we're alive to the great wonder of being human.
sadness, depression, illness, happiness, nature, mindfulness
We know that grief, fear, and hardship are hitting millions of people, both at home and around the world. We know it’s not going to magically get better all of a sudden. No one has a cosmic magic wand with which to sprinkle glistening fairy dust over our crown chakras and clear the dark, heavy energy of all that’s accumulated as a species since humans have been walking upright.
So then … how do we deal? How do we get through the day?
Melanie takes a look at the evidence-based solutions for surviving a crisis through the lens of disaster and trauma psychology.
From a recent Scientific American article, "Megan Hosey, a rehabilitation psychologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, says that 'most of us … "will be able to adapt and recover." To do so, however, we will need to be flexible, open and honest with ourselves and learn how to take things one day at a time.'"*
It turns out that there are five top psychological needs common to everyone in a crisis. William Garmoe, a neuropsychologist, has researched important psychological needs people have in the midst of a disaster. Those “top five are to feel safe, calm, self-efficacious, socially connected and hopeful. When people engage in activities that benefit others, they may be able to check off three of those needs — feeling more useful, [being more] connected and hopeful about the future.”*
Listen in as Melanie shares research findings and how-to-cope ideas when dealing with a disaster such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Please don’t imagine that my decade of writing practice and Zen meditation have silenced or fully pacified the angry self-critics in my head. That’s not how things work. I’m just much better at managing those voices.” Natalie Goldbert, Three Simple Lines
Beloved New Mexico author, teacher, and Zen Buddhist practitioner Natalie Goldberg is back for the second of two episodes.
Natalie wrote the internationally renowned Writing Down the Bones, published in 1986, and has since published memoirs, essays, poetry, more writing books, a novel, and a notebook.
Her brand-new book, Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku, is the focus.
Natalie and Melanie riff on such things as beauty, staying calm in chaotic times, mindfulness, meditation, writing practice, life and death, spiritual connection ... and yes, so much more.
If you missed the first show with Natalie Goldberg, please download it from Melanie's site here.
This haiku was composed by Natalie:
your lips on mine
"Haiku is a refuge when the world seems chaotic, when you are lost, frightened, tangled, and nothing is clear." Natalie Goldberg, Three Simple Lines
Natalie Goldberg is an author, teacher, and Zen Buddhist practitioner. She wrote the internationally renowned Writing Down the Bones, published in 1986, and has since published memoirs, essays, poetry, more writing books, a novel, and a notebook.
This is the first of two parts, talking with Natalie about her brand-new book, called Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku.
Natalie is such a wonderful teacher that Melanie signed up for the Haiku writing virtual workshop through Upaya Zen Center as a result of this interview.
Melanie shares reflections from a variety of experts, including Winnie the Pooh. “Well,” said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”
Fantasy travel trips, the psychology of hope, neuroscience, Blue Zones -- all of this, plus Winnie the Pooh! Come listen.
"Millions of people have been traumatized by the political climate of the last few years.
"Millions of people have been traumatized by brutal bureaucracies created to perpetuate systemic poverty, racism, misogyny, ableism, and so much more.
"Millions have been traumatized as children in the families, schools, and/or cultures in which we've lived.
"Millions have been traumatized by the out-of-control Covid-19 pandemic." - Dr. Melanie Harth
Let's acknowledge the truth of the trauma. And then, let's learn to harness our minds to help regulate our emotions, which helps us feel safe.
Which helps us think more clearly, and move into solutions and possibilities.
As National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recited/performed during the Presidential Inauguration, “ … there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”