Poor Monday. Monday gets such a bad rap. I have been guilty of spreading "the Mondays". Sometimes because making a joke is just too funny and too easy and sometimes because I have been in jobs I didn't like and dreaded going into work on Monday....except when I had jobs that weren't Monday through Friday. Of course, our "the Mondays" culture is so pervasive that even when we don't work a traditional Monday through Friday work week- which is increasingly rare- we often say "It's my Monday". From Grumpy Cat to pop music, we have decided as a culture to hate Mondays!!!
I decided to browse around the internet to see where this Monday thing started. One interesting tidbit was our tendency to "crush" Mondays or "hate on" Mondays.
This was right on target with my Facebook feed on any given Monday! Memes ranged from snarky someecards to annoyingly chirpy Monday motivation memes. Very few people were saying anything about Monday being- just Monday- a day of the week.
The next group I clicked through were of the school / young adulthood set which attributed the Monday blues to having to wake up early (ok, this one I'm on board with. I am NOT a morning person.), lingering hangovers, not having homework done- etc. Then there were the job satisfaction ones including a startling and sad statistic (which, take it with a grain of salt because I did NOT confirm this stat!), approximately 70% of people are unhappy with or simply disengaged from their jobs. Having been part of this crew at one time in my life, yes, this made Mondays especially frustrating and bleechy (bleechy is a technical term). Then the super motivational, "change your thinking" folks- I didn't disagree with their take that we have to alter our thinking and not be influenced by cultural perceptions or let our jobs define us, particularly when we don't like them. Yes, that is true but the "mind over matter" group...I don't buy it. If mind over matter and "putting your mind too it" or "if you can't change things you don't really WANT too" ignores a WHOLE lot of other stressors, biological history, simply the realities of life. Otherwise, we'd all be content, healthy, a good weight, nutritionally sound, and doing soulful activities like writing poignant lyrics, cooking gourmet meals, and writing blogs in our spare time. (This one is for business so I exempt myself...okay I DO like it too but believe me, I am not being nutritionally sound right now unless diet soda and pretzel rods is a good lunch)
Next up, the scientific articles. For this blog, I tend to focus on scientific and researched information because I am hoping that what I find might be helpful for others. Here are some of the top reasons we (scientifically) hate Mondays.
So next Monday when you turn on the radio, TV, or check your social media, remember....
Sleep Hygiene 101
Hey, thanks for sticking around for the post-post, kind of like the hidden scene during the credits at a movie. As promised, here is some sleep hygiene 101. Nothing here is new or amazing- any magazine or website will have similar information but repetition does help us to incorporate things in our lives so without further ado....
Has anyone noticed yet that these are the things we do to help babies and children sleep? Yup! The same holds true for adults so set up a routine for yourself just as you have for children, nieces, nephews, and so on. There is a reason we teach this to babies- it works! We just forget it along the way. I am one of those people who will let myself get carried away on the wave of anxiety around holidays or having "too much to do" and sacrifice sleep. I learn EVERY time that this is a bad idea for me and that the best thing we can do is take care of ourselves. Don't we all know that though? And forget it? Make exceptions? That is the human bit of equation. Try- in your own time and when you are ready.Sleep well and wake up happy!
Lately I have been thinking about identity.
"Who am I?"
Eventually we all ask ourselves this question, whether we know it or not. Striving to figure out who we are and how we fit in this crazy world. Some of the struggles are with things that many consider clear-cut: gender, sexuality- complicated by societal pressures, cultural beliefs- most of all, fear.
Today, my thoughts are on the smaller pieces that we use to build a picture of ourselves. Some of the pieces are pushed or placed on us: perceptions of "the funny one" or "the athletic one", the cliques that pair off in schools and communities, joining in some activity. I think of the ways that we do define ourselves, as mothers, fathers, musicians, athletes, smart, beautiful, patriotic, left handed, blue eyed...the list is endless of the things we incorporate into our sense of identity. The things we choose are often sources of pride, that thing that is just a little bit better than most of the others around us. Those things are reinforced when others give us positive praise:
"Your hair is so nice! I could never have it that short and look good but you have the perfect face for it."
"You sing like an angel"
"I could never draw like that"
"You are soooo funny. You always make me laugh"
There is nothing wrong with this either! It feels good to be noticed for the things we do well and the things we love doing. The struggle comes when our identity is fused to that "thing". Nothing in life is certain. And yes, I know that we all know that. And I know that we still invest in these "things".
By now, either you are saying, "Totally, I feel this..." or "I am DONE reading this, this makes no sense."
We have to put on this role and make our children a priority. I would not argue that but I would and do often say that the parent needs to have their own interests. "I don't have time for that." Yes- that may be true. Between school and homework and making lunch and bathtime and dance classes and karate, grocery shopping, housekeeping, and work.....and and and....there isn't a lot of time left. AND- you have to make time. Children grow up. "I know that. That is why I want to spend as much time with them now while they still want to spend time with me." Okay, then make sure you have a plan for when they need you less. What are you going to do? Coaching Little League is awesome. What else? Do you like coaching? Do you like baseball? Can you play in an adult league or keep coaching after your child has moved up in the ranks or moved on?
The transition from parent to "empty nester" is tough, no matter how many things you do for yourself. "I don't know what to do with myself." and "I don't know who I am anymore" are two of the questions I hear most often.
Parenthood is a sacred thing. We are teaching and witnessing a person figuring out life and doing so knowing they are safe and loved by you. This is the way they can be the healthiest they can be! And it is a cliche and true that they will honor their own sense of identity if they see you honoring yours. Or they will assume that everyone is here to address their needs. That second one doesn't feel to good to me.
Imagine though that you do honor yourself and enjoy something such as art (art, art therapist, come on, you knew this was going to be an example). Imagine that you have spent most of your life creating. 40, 50, 60 years or more. That is a long time. That becomes a part of your identity almost by default because the majority of your life has been spent creating. Now imagine that arthritis is crippling your hands, your eyesight is nearly gone. You can't hold any tools to create. You can't see what you create. Aging is hard enough but if the spirit is crushed by "losing" this part of yourself....frankly, people die from this, sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically.
Imagine a life spent hearing how good you look (FINE I'll say it- think reality TV / celebrity image level), how young, how clear your skin, how beautiful your hair color, how nice your figure. No amount of hair dye will keep your hair looking natural- eventually, you are THAT person who is CLEARLY dying your hair ("shes 90. there is NO WAY that is her natural haircolor). Your skin will take on folds and wrinkles and spots. You won't be young and the pursuit to stay young will eventually make you seem a foolish figure to others. Now imagine embracing that your face and body and hair will change over time. Imagine looking at smile lines and smiling more- knowing these smile lines are the medals won of a good life.
Don't get me wrong, I have stared into the mirror searching for grey hair, pulling back the skin around my eyes to "unwrinkle" them. I have relished hearing how artistic I am and enjoyed my identity as the "cool auntie". This is human, just as all of the other scenarios above are human. There is no perfect treatment. The best we can do is prepare. See how beautifully multi-layered we are and see how the hallmark of being human is our ability to adapt. We adapt as the sun rises and sets. We adapt to the seasons. We adapt to holidays and post holiday malaise. We adapt. How we do that is up to each of us- what we do to adapt- or choosing to give up and mourn the loss of our identity forever. Do you know that person? The one who is so busy lamenting life gone by or the unfairness of something that they forget each day and each day to come. The one that you don't really want to be around because they are SUCH a downer. They almost enjoy their identity as someone to be pitied. Someone who is victim to outside circumstances.
I think I would rather add "survivor" to my identity, not victim.
If you are still reading, now you may be saying, "Okay how do I do this?"
The answers aren't here. They are in exploring. Self exploration and social exploration. Trying things, seeing people, digging into the other layers that make you who you are or finding something brand new to do! I recently heard someone on the radio saying it is never too late to learn a new language. It may take longer but its not too late. So maybe you learn a language. Who knows? Don't do it because someone says you should- do it because it sparks your interest and seems fun, seems like it will add to the beautiful pattern of you.
We all age and all things must end. Jobs, day to day parenting, perfect hair, the ability to stay up all night and still function the next day (I'm not sure I ever had that to be honest but definately not after about 28!). You choose what is next.
Ah ha! Good for you! You are the person who stays for the post credits scene aren't you?
One way to help figure out some of those layers is an identity exercise sort of like the picture above. Grab a piece of paper. Any kind of paper- it can be a Post-it pad. Now, represent yourself.
You can use a photograph, print out or draw an outline of a person or profile like the one above, or pick some kind of symbol that has meaning for you. One person used their address labels! Whatever you use, make it meaningful and purposeful. Dipping into the deeper parts of ourselves is UN-COM-FORT-ABLE. No way around it though it may be enjoyable too.
Now, we go into a stream of consciousness or instinct mode. Don't think to much about it but choose words or pictures that somehow jump out at you. You can write, draw, cut out from magazines, type and print from a computer. IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW YOU DO IT as long as you do it.
Once you have a good pile of words, images, phrases or all of the above, take another moment to go through the pile. Again not thinking too much but giving yourself the opportunity to take out anything that doesn't feel right. Not something that doesn't "fit" because you might have unearthed that long ago desire to be a weight lifter or something! But something that feels wrong for you. If that doesn't resonate with you, keep 'em all!
Now grab a glue stick and glue away on your image or symbol. Some people put them inside the image (like above), some around. Notice if you end up covering the representation of yourself. You don't have to do anything with that, just notice. When you are done, simply look at what you created. Put it away for awhile if you would like and periodically look at it again. Try not to force anything. Self-discovery is a long journey.
Beware though that anything where you are focusing on yourself can be difficult and bring up strong emotions. If you are currently in therapy, you may want to bring in your identity piece to talk over with them. You may just want to clear out some time so if you need to be angry, you can be angry. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to be super happy joyous, you are super happy joyous.
"Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from
within when one has the courage to let go."
- Doug Cooper
I have somewhat recently discovered the website upliftconnect.com. The organization has been around since December 2012. From their website:
"UPLIFT is actually an acronym…. for Unity, Peace and Love In a Field of Transcendence."
They have a wonderful description of their mission, a small part of which I have put below with a link to their website.
"Anchored in the fundamental belief that together we are far greater than the sum of our parts, UPLIFT is an opportunity to dream huge… and together to ignite a powerful, positive wave of unified action in the world."
Originally, this website came to my attention when I was working in an intensive program for dual diagnosis clients (mental health & addiction). The article was published in 2015 by author Jonathan Davis and is titled, "The opposite of addiction is connection". The article referenced the "rat park study", which has been long used as a foundation of a more modern understanding of addiction. The rat park study essentially claimed that the pull of addiction was based on environmental factors. Years later, Johann Hari performed research that he states demonstrates that the "rat park study" was flawed in that when rats in his revamped experience had social connections, the pull of addiction was lessened.
Now, this is a VERY simplified explanation. I think there is a desire to find "the cause" of addiction, or any issues really, but life isn't that simple is it? How many times have you thought, if there was only a magic pill for this, that, or the other thing? But, usually its a combination of things that both cause issues and cure issues. It would be nice if we could point to something and say, "That- work on that one thing and everything else will fall in place." Alas, when talking about addiction, often people do say that to the person struggling, "Just stop using/drinking/doing that, and everything will fall into place".
This well-meaning and hopelessly optimistic statement simplifies the disease of addiction and in simplifying it, lessens our ability to battle the disease. Think of a purely medical diagnosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, the doctor will say to change diet, exercise, sleep patterns, manage stress better, and take 2 of these a day. That's 5 things! FIVE treatments essentially. Five things to change. I swear that doctors have "lose weight and exercise" on auto script. And we nod and say yes yes yes- because yes, we know we have to exercise and eat better...but life....right?
So getting back to the addiction connection, how can we say, STOP DRINKING, as if it is that easy.
Really, we need to look at a lot of things, from the thing that drew the person to using a substance or addictive action, to the things that have been impacted by the addiction, to creating or re-creating identity and self-esteem.
One element is connection. I disagree with those who say that is the "root cause" of addiction. I don't know that I will know the root cause of addiction in my life time but I believe that would be down to our DNA, genetics. If there is an "addiction gene" then turning that off might be the root cause. I do know that when we look at the multi-layered things that our lives are built on and around, connection is one of those things.
Connection can be social, friends, families, romance, but we also have spiritual connections, connections to our inner selves, connection to nature, connection to art, and so forth. So connection, as an aspect impacting addiction, means finding a connection to something.
I worked with two other tremendously talented clinicians in the intensive dual diagnosis program and we agreed that you don't have to do AA or NA but you do have to do something. AA and NA are great programs, built in sober networks, something to do, someplace to go other than a bar or your dealer or the casino, people who understand but I can't claim it is right for everyone. What I do see is that the need for a connection, a relationship, to something other than the addictive substance or behavior. The need to fill the space left by taking away the addiction.
A lot of people with addiction issues that I work with describe their interactions with the substance or behavior as a relationship. I agree. It is a relationship. It is a connection. Is it a healthy one? No, but at one point it did work, otherwise we wouldn't do it.
Is connection the magic pill? No, but we as humans need connections. A pet, a person, a place....something. Addiction is a relationship that is strong and will try to "win you back". Addiction will sense weakness or stressful times and poke you, whispering, "C'mon, I'll help you deal with this". Its an insidious and evil relationship. Other relationships and other connections are a good way to combat the evil.
To those out there struggling with alcohol, drugs, gambling, gaming, food, sex, adrenaline....and so on, hang on, you can do this and you can find connections. You can find a new relationship that will make you turn away from the addiction relationship because someone or something will be there for you, just as your addiction was always there for you, this connection will be there for you.
Be well and remember to live, breathe, love, create your life and yourself!
There is an on-going battle within many of us on personal responsibility. When do we take responsibility for our actions, when are we shouldering the blame for others', taking on their responsibility as our own.
In the world of intimate partner violence, this "blame game" is a common control mechanism. Questioning your own actions and decisions and feeling as if you are somehow faulty, causing others frustration and pain takes its toll on self-esteem, hope, and belief in your power and control. Conversely, we have to take responsibility for our own actions and NOT give up our power and control in order to heal and to achieve what we want in life. It is a difficult balance.
In my experience, "blame" isn't something that people do purposefully. Blaming others is a defense mechanism, like many others. Who wants to feel bad? Who wants to hurt? No one so if we can shift the blame to someone else, make our decisions belong to someone else, we can (temporarily) feel better.
Repeatedly, people are encouraged to take responsibility for their own actions, regain control but fostering too much personal responsibility is just as dangerous. A person who takes on too much personal responsibility is shouldering the weight of the world and taking blame for decisions that others make. This "blame game" can be the result of of another placing the blame on you, as in the case of intimate partner violence, but also can be more insidious. It can be from the anxiety one carries into relationships, it can be guilt at the possibility of hurting another person, it can be fear....the underlying emotion differs. Consider the following story, a compilation of a number of stories
"We generally have a great relationship, we really don't fight often, have a lot of fun together. They're pretty unflappable really, pretty much calm and "roll with it" kind of thing. But once in awhile, they get really angry. Pissed off when something happens that seems like not too much of a big deal. Like hanging out with my family. For the most part, they're fine with it but once in awhile if I get caught up- helping with something or in a conversation or just losing track of time...or TRYING to get out of a conversation but not being able to break away, that anger comes up. Like I said, not often. And its not like they SAY its my fault per say but they will make comments like, "you said we were going" or "I'm pissed that you took off and stayed with [this person] so long- you said you were coming right back". I used to feel guilty beyond belief that I had committed some unforgivable sin. In the uncomfortable silence that follows, for hours or a day or more, I used to sit wracked with guilt, blaming myself for not following through, for not being a good partner, for being thoughtless....selfish...rude. And it always felt kind of....weird....unreal. When I started my own therapy, I realized that I have to trust that instinct that says something is unreal or weird because it means something is not right. When I started to pay attention to that, I was able to look past the angry stuff. I started to realize that there were things that they could have done but they choose not too. Sure they can say its because they think its rude to interrupt or they weren't comfortable because they didn't know anyone but how are those things my responsibility? In a couple, don't you do things together? Make decisions together? Even if it is something like when to go somewhere and when to leave somewhere. I realized that they could have come to me and said, "hey we were going to do this or that" or "can I talk to you for a minute?". As I thought more, I also started to think about the times I was sort of trapped by that family member who goes on and on and you can't seem to find a way out. Back in the day, when I was with my girlfriends and a guy did that, they rallied around. We'd go "rescue" each other you know? If I wanted to talk to the guy, they were ok with leaving us alone but when I wanted to get away, it was such a relief to link arms with my girlfriends and head off! And I don't remember it being a big deal either. Them doing it for me or me doing it for them. Isn't that kind of connection something to have a relationship too?
I have to be careful when I do think that way because when I started to do it, I got all angry and started to shift blame back again to them, doing the same thing as they did to me, just opposite. I think that's why I am glad I am still in therapy for myself because it helps me figure out that balance. I can't control what they do with it but now I kind of just stay calm and sit it out without agonizing about "could of"s and "should of"s. I don't replay the event in my head over and over, heaping blame on myself for my "selfishness". To be honest, it still doesn't feel great. Obviously I don't want my partner to be upset but its good to know where my responsibility ends. I feel better about myself."
The above story illustrates a fairly health relationship that faces a challenge at times. There are times and situations in which the conflict and blame is too great and tips into abuse, passive aggressive behavior, manipulation, or simply wears too much on the other person. Often though, in these situations, it is about giving your partner space. Let them figure out what they need to and stay strong in your own decisions and values. Stay true and aware to your own needs and the impact of your relationship dynamics on your well-being. Above all, do not sacrifice your power and control nor transfer your pain to others. A difficult balancing act as stated before but much of our lives is finding balance between the mosaic of pieces that make up our lives.
Wishing you wisdom, patience, joy, and balance today~
Kintsugi is a Japanese tradition in which broken pieces of pottery, bowls, etc. are repaired by using gold, silver, or other precious elements. Legend states that the kintsugi tradition started when a member of the Japanese royal family broke a favorite cup and wanted the cup repaired. At the time, repair work was done with less precious materials, whatever sticky resin type material was around. This was for royalty though! The craftspeople decided to use precious metals to repair the cup and so the tradition was born.
The philosophy is built on the idea that nothing is ever truly broken. I have always loved this idea. Nothing is truly broken. The seams and lines that we classify as "broken" or aging are the unique marks of our lives. When someone says they are "broken", it can be an expression of the amount of pain they feel. To say, "you're not broken" can be invalidating...somehow diminishing their pain or discounting it, often with the result that the person feels or acts "more broken" in an attempt to be noticed, to be understood. Don't we all want to be understood? Don't we want to feel connected? Appreciation is not always for the things we do well but also to appreciate that we have gone through something very difficult, and maybe we DO feel broken, and that is okay.
Looking at the art of kintsugi, we can see how the beauty of the seams of gold, or even repairing by taking pieces of two separate things to create a new whole, is a new beautiful thing. Not what it was before but with a different beauty. What might have formerly been a mass produced, carefully duplicated piece now is unique and special. Part of the old, but fresh and new, ready to be used. Kintsugi takes time, weeks or months, to carefully repair and renew. When the refreshed piece is done, it can be used again. I like to think we can apply this principle to aging too. Aging is inevitable and a known element in the lifespan and yet so difficult for many of us to accept. The wrinkles and grey hairs- sure, we can say they are the signs of a life well lived...and they are! But we still try to pluck, dye, smooth, and stretch away the signs. What if, like kintsugi, we looked at those lines as beautiful, the pieces of each adventure, good and not so good, that make up the map of our life?
There are a number of kintsugi articles out there so I encourage each of you to check it out if you are interested!
Live Breathe Love Create
In the past few days there have been two high profile suicides. As I read about the second one, I wondered if we are seeing more suicides or if we are just more transparent. Transparency often helps people feel more connected, "Oh these feelings I have aren't me being 'bad' but normal feelings that can be worked through." I did some research and sadly found this article:
Suicide rates are up 30 percent since 1999, CDC says: Only half of people who died by suicide had diagnosed mental health conditions.
by Maggie Fox
Looking further, I found this is not only a national issue but international. From the Independent:
Teenage suicides in London rise by 107% - more than four times national rate, new figures reveal: Huge increase described as 'a needless waste of young lives'
May Bulman Social Affairs Correspondent
The CDC reports that nearly 50% of people who die by suicide have not been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. This may speak to the mental health stigma which is still alive and well but may also indicate that suicide could be an entity of itself. This make sense when put in the context of those who support assisted suicide or cultures in which there is honor in suicide in the face of dishonor.
Some say suicide is 100% preventable. I would argue that it is not. No issue is black and white. No illness is that simple. As mentioned above, there are cultural, societal, and medical considerations. I worry as well about the message this sends to family and friends who are dealing with a death by suicide. Time and again I hear the guilt and pain and anger in these people. To have the stress of hearing "100% preventable" could be more than a person can bear. Some people do not want to be stopped. Horrifying for me to write. Likely horrifying and maybe angering to read. These folks may not show any signs at all. They may have decided on their path and are determined that no one will prevent them from doing what they believe they need to do.
I believe the majority of people contemplating suicide or attempting suicide do want to be helped. Suicide happens when our level of pain exceeds our capacity to manage our pain. Simply put, there is no answer at that level. Emotions do ebb and flow and "this to shall pass" but in those moments when our pain is beyond that threshold, there may seem to be only one answer. It may take someone else to reach out through the cloud of pain and chaos to take their hand and lead them to another place. A place where the pain is eased enough to start dealing with it and everything that swirls around it.
There are a number of good resources out there (here's where you can Google away!).
I was in an art class when I overheard a classmate saying their technique for inspiration was to Google a word or phrase, click on images, and see what comes up. I thought it was a very clever idea and have since used that many times myself.
When it comes to finding your passion, trusting your beliefs and desires, valuing yourself- that can't be Googled. We can take all the online quizzes and assessments we want and it won't (necessarily) tell us what we truly want.
Now I am pausing here so everyone who just opened a new tab to Google "what is my calling" can check it out. Maybe some interesting things came up. Maybe things to spark ideas and fan a flame. In the end, the ultimate choice is yours and means you have to trust yourself enough to follow that dream. That is the tricky part. Finding all the puzzle pieces that go into finding and pursuing your dreams. Trusting yourself, believing in your value and worth, figuring out what you need to do, talking to the people who can help you, having the confidence to keep going when the inevitable challenges arise. This is where the journey of therapy can help. I use the word "therapy" to encompass any relationship where you can explore issues and create a safe space. So why hippie dippy therapy (or art therapy)? What about friends or family?
You absolutely need friends and family, whether birth family, adoptive family, or the life family you gather around you. A therapist fills a different role though. In the relationship, you are connected to each other but there are important differences. The relationship will look different for each client and therapist so it is hard to say what will unfold for you. At times, the work may be practical or it may be emotional or spiritual. The direction is determined by your wants and needs.
"You have to listen because I am paying you." I have a strong personal connection with this one because it is what I believed for many years. I can give you a song and dance about it being a fear of letting anyone in or a history of betrayals and that might be part of it but I truly believed it was nearly impossible for a therapist to care about the client. It was a job, like any job. How wrong I was! My own desire to pursue this career was, in part, because of my good experience when I found the right providers. I wanted to give that opportunity to others. The other reason, unfolding throughout my training and internship, was a realization that as many times as I lived in negativity or felt hopeless, as many times as I felt hurt or betrayed by others, ultimately, I believe that we are all good worthy people who are changed by the world around us, what we learn, what we believe, and the mysterious workings of our brain. Some of you may have read the Diary of Anne Frank, the amazing words of an adolescent girl of the Jewish faith hiding in Nazi Germany. Anne says, "In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart." I believe that. I believe that we act in good faith, even if those decisions or thoughts in the moment are not the "best" choices or thoughts. It is this belief as well as my own fascination with our lives, emotions, and relationships, that drives my work. A calling, a passion, whatever you want to call it, it is not about the pay (though yes, reality of the world is we need money).
We all try to improve the world in our own way whether it is providing for our friends and family, helping our community, devoting ourselves to our spiritual beliefs, serving our country. A tall order and a guide and witness on the journey can help reflect back the things that you want to achieve or explore. Remember always that you deserve the best therapeutic relationship you can have. I, as a therapist, need to earn your trust and respect and vice versa. The diploma on my wall doesn't mean you have to trust me or respect me or even like me. Those things are earned. These things can be developed in the safe space created between you and your therapist.
So you can't Google your calling, that comes from within, but you can Google some ideas and pursue them in therapy. The journey isn't easy...but it can be worth it when we learn how to live, risk, fail, and rise again.
© Robin L. Shahverdian and livebreathelovecreate.org, 2018- ; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robin L. Shahverdian and livebreathelovecreate.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.