Advice for a Chrysalis

Datura Bud
You have to melt first.

You have to become
Weak
And strange
And vulnerable
And in between.

But look,
You’ve got a foothold
And some shelter,
And there’s really no going back
To a too-tight skin,
As well as it served you
For a time.

And I know
Your tender and creative dissolution
Can feel
Like your undoing.

But hey,
You’ve got this,
You Queen becoming.
Already your shimmering cloak of jade appears,
Your crown of golden stars.

©2016 Suzannah Ferron, MA, LMFT. All rights reserved.

You Are Beautiful

I’ve heard people say the cruelest things about their own bodies and themselves because they don’t fit into some homogenous and often tyrannical societal or familial ideal of attractiveness. They say things like:

I hate my (name of body part).
I look like a (species of non-human animal, sometimes preceded by an unflattering or expletive adjective).
I’m disgusting.

For times when your inner voice sounds like an online troll, I offer you this as a reminder that beauty is wildly and wonderfully varied. I invite you to embrace your own.

You Are Beautiful

Datura Bud

Like the first bird to sing out into the dawn,
You are beautiful.
Like a dome of dew glistening on a yellow Oxalis petal,
You are beautiful.
Like a tender white eggshell from the birth of a mourning dove.
You are beautiful.
Like pale and tawny earth strata telling stories and time,
You are beautiful.
Like water gently rippling under the tiny feet of striders,
You are beautiful.
Like wrinkled velvet flesh of a budding Datura,
You are beautiful.
Like a dry, gray evergreen branch fallen onto orange dirt,
You are beautiful.
Like a hummingbird darting from white jade flower to blue manzanita,
You are beautiful.
Like a newly awakened lilac unfolding in lavender and perfume,
You are beautiful.
Like bent grass that reveals a coyote’s path,
You are beautiful.
Like the hot desert breeze that burns the throat,
You are beautiful.
Like whispering gray-green eucalyptus leaves,
You are beautiful.

You are beautiful in who you are.
You are beautiful in your very essence.
Know this, and know it deep into your marrow–
You
Are
Beautiful.

©2015 Suzannah Ferron, MA, LMFT. All rights reserved.

From Black & White to Full-Color Thinking

Black & White to Full Color Thinking

Things never turn out right.
I screw up everything.
Always.
Never.
Totally.
Inevitably.
Every time.
Only.

It’s called black-and-white thinking. It has us thinking in absolutes, and it slams the door on the full-color range of possibilities. If you find yourself stuck in black and white thinking…

1. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now?” Sad? Disappointed? Angry? Overwhelmed? Just feel your feelings. Name them. “I am feeling really angry right now.” Or “I feel so disappointed.” Don’t let overwhelming feelings do your thinking for you. Take care of yourself. Go for a walk.

2. Check to see if you’re falling into negative explanatory styles, e.g. seeing problems as all-encompassing, permanent, and all about you. See if you can frame the problem/issue as a) very specific, b) temporary, and c) existing, at least in part, outside of yourself.

3. Ask yourself, “What constructive steps can I take to fix this particular problem?” Rather than focus on the problem, focus on the solution.

4. If you find yourself engaged in black-and white thinking, try opening up your negative mantra by looking at the words you’re using. Here’s an example. “Things never turn out right.” What things? This one thing? Two or three things? Be very specific about the exact things are you talking about in this moment “Never.” Really? As in, not once, not ever, not even a little? Or just a few times? Or just one time? “Turn out right.” What does that mean? If you mean “to my liking,” is there something that can be done about that? Are your expectations too high? Too low?

Start paying closer attention to the things that do go right–even the seemingly little things like getting out of bed, taking a shower, enjoying a meal or having a conversation.

If black-and-white thinking has become a habit, it may take a good bit of self-monitoring, time and effort to start changing the pattern. But don’t be discouraged! The more you notice it, the more you’ll be able to turn it around and open yourself to full-color thinking.

©2015 Suzannah Ferron, MA, LMFT. All rights reserved.

Nature Nurture

Too much stress doesn’t just feel bad. It is bad.

Stepping outdoors has long been considered a panacea for life’s stressors. Now research agrees. One of the best ways to reduce stress and enhance your sense of wellbeing is to be nurtured by nature.

Being in nature is associated with lower levels of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland that kicks into high gear under times of stress. Too much cortisol can negatively affect your memory, learning, immune functioning, bone density, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart health and mental wellbeing.

It turns out that connecting with nature is a great antidote. Time in nature can help you relax and focus, and improve your mood.

hawaiiPath In Japan, taking brief, leisurely strolls in the forest is called “Shinrin-Yoku” or “Forest Bathing”, and it has long been a popular way to deeply de-stress, relax and reconnect with the slower-paced, more oxygen-saturated natural world. Forest Bathing, which combines the exercise of walking with the therapeutic effects of being out of doors and inhaling the essential oils released by the trees, can help build immunity and positively affect mood.

Organic gardening is another way to connect with nature and replenish your mind-body- spirit. Tending a vegetable garden, growing herbs or plants on your porch, and native xeriscaping are all ways to get your hands in the dirt. Organic is essential, as it invites a deeper, healthier relationship between yourself, plants, the soil and the interconnected ecosystem.

Time spent bonding with animal companions is being increasingly recognized as having a positive physiological effect on humans, and it’s good for the animal companion as well. Even a few minutes spent with an animal companion can be a positive experience for all creatures involved.

When was the last time you spent some time outdoors or with a companion animal?

What are some ways you can spend time in nature or with an animal companion this week? Even today? Perhaps this very moment?