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mindful moment

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.

-Elizabeth Edwards

 

melissa: musing on resilience

Keep Going – Edgar Guest

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must—but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

mindful moment

Dance, when you’re broken open.

Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of the fighting.

Dance when you’re perfectly free.

…Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.

-Rumi

melissa: kintsugi + wabi sabi

During times that feel (and are) particularly challenging, as has often been the case in the past couple of years, we may be left wondering how to continue to find hope and healing.  One thought that comes to mind is the Japanese concept of kintsugi. “Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.”

In the West, the concept of kintsugi is often paired with the phrase wabi sabiLoosely translated, “wabi” is simplicity, whether elegant or rustic; “sabi” means the beauty of age and wear. While academics have varying definitions of this phrase, they all come back to a generalized concept of embracing that which is flawed, asymmetrical, unfinished, and imperfect. The etiology of these concepts traces back prior to the 14th century, when the phrases began to take a more “positive” feeling of noting the beauty in the imperfect and unfinished.  For Richard Powell, “Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”[6]

One can do a very deep research dive on kintsugi and wabi sabi and find some beautiful ceramics, theories, research, books, quotes, and more. As many of us tend to do, you can easily start your reading on Wikipedia, and take off from there, should you be so inclined. If you desire no further research or reading, then simply imagine yourself as a ceramic pot with a few cracks and breaks, assembled back together with gold, with light shining through. That unfinished, asymmetrical, lopsided, beautiful piece of art work is you, and it can always be repaired when, inevitably, it has a tiny (or large) crack. That, surely, is an endless source of hope.

Copyright © 2022 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW. All rights reserved.

 

mindful moment

spring is like a perhaps hand

spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window, into which people look (while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here) and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things, while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there) and

without breaking anything.

-e.e. cummings

melissa: free mindful apps

One of the questions we are often asked is regarding where to find useful mindfulness resources and apps for meditation and/or anxiety, sleep and mood. Look no further, mindful.org has compiled a list of free apps to consider and their descriptions. A list of those free mindful and meditation apps can be found here. Interested in books or journals? We’ve got our list here. If you’re looking for additional resources that are not listed here, let us know!

“Don’t search for anything except peace. Try to calm the mind. Everything else will come on its own.”

Baba Hari Das

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

 

melissa: joyscrolling

Amidst the ongoing stressful, often very sad news, and overall state of the world, it can be very challenging to find joy in the news. While it can be critically important not to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the world around us, it’s also crucial to find some small semblance of balance in our worlds. One writer describes the concept of joy scrolling versus doom scrolling. Want to know more? You can read the article here. One of my personal favorites is UpWorthy, which finds and shares “the best of humanity daily” via their website and social media.

“Life is a series of painful or joyful moments, which follow each other in an endless cycle. Whenever pain comes near us, our only salvation is to seek places of beauty, joy, and peace. Wherever there is joy, our souls can heal.” -unknown

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

 

mindful moment

Sorrow prepares you for joy.
It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter.

It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place.

It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.
Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their
place.

…Moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon;
How much it can fill your room depends on its windows.

-Rumi

melissa: changes

Change, it seems, is in the air. And while there’s, as it also seems, a lot of feelings on all sides of these changes- one thing remains true: change is inevitable. Learning to let go of things we cannot change and the strength to advocate for the things we can change is a lifelong evaluation process and balancing act. No matter where you stand in the face of the constant change we are in, know that you will find a path that works for you. Decision fatigue is as real as physical fatigue, and we are in the thick of it. With these changes, I hope we can shortly say goodbye to winter, and hello to some sunshine- both metaphorical and literal.

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.” C. JoyBell C.

We’ve made it this far and we will continue on forever forward.

Copyright © Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

melissa: breathing, meditation, and mindfulness

Lately, we’ve gotten quite a few requests for a better understanding on how to begin mindfulness exercises (mindful movement, generally quieting the mind, journaling, meditation, etc). Mindfulness is one of the most accessible tools we can easily access for managing the stressors or daily life, as well as the bigger obstacles and problems we face.

To get you started, I’ve listed some resources below. Top tip: even taking a minute to mindfully breathe can make big differences in our lives. Science has told us this many times over! If you’re intimated by taking on a new task, know that this one can truly take just minutes. Take a deep breath, and give it a go!

Here are some basics about meditation and mindfulness from Mindful.org.

From Berkeley University Great Good Science Center, try a five minute exercise (you can read it or listen to the recording). There are also additional guided exercises from the Berkeley Center here.

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

 

mindful moment

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low but the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit…
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many failures turn about
When we might have won had we stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow…
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out…
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Edgar A. Guest

all of us: gratitude

As we approach the closing of this year, and the opening of a new year, we are reflecting on 2021. So much has changed, and yet so much has also stayed the same. While we are facing uncertainty at the closure of this year, we are also welcoming in hope and peace. We are endlessly grateful for the hours we’ve spent alongside our clients this year- as we have felt in every year that goes by. We have had so many moments of laughter, knowing and understanding, holding of space, and peace, along with the difficult moments we shared together as well. It is our honor to welcome in another year of changes and connection with our clients; knowing, in so many ways, that we face this next horizon together.

from all of us at frey & associates with gratitude: cheers to another year

 

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

mindful moment

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.

-Maya Angelou

 

melissa: holidaze

The holiday season is upon us, and as a new year comes within reach, many people find themselves in a holidaze. If you, too, are in a holidaze, there are some wonderful coping strategies and words of wisdom here. Particularly this year, I think we all recognize the importance of setting boundaries and holding empathy for those around us, which is well put and outlined in the article. If you find yourself slogging through the month a bit, I highly recommend reading that article, as well as finding some comforting rituals to get you through the days. While this holiday season and new year may again look different than those of the past, there are, undoubtedly, many bright days ahead.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson

Copyright © Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved.

melissa: welcome december

December has arrived and with it, the last days of the year. I particularly like to spend time in December reflecting on the year that is nearly behind us, even amidst the ever-growing to-do list and holiday bustling. In my reflections today, I came across the poem below that summed up some of those reflection thoughts well. Welcome December and all of our musings; may we find some moments of peace and joy in the mix of the busy-ness that is our daily life.

“I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December.

A magical thing

And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring

Than we were in September,’

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December.”

— Oliver Herford

 

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

mindful moment

You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.

Deep down in the human spirit, there is a reservoir of courage.

It is always available, always waiting to be discovered.

Just where you are; that’s the place to start.

-Pema Chödrön

melissa: diaphragmatic breathing

These days it seems we can all use as many healthy relaxation techniques as we can get. One of the easiest and most accessible techniques is breathing, specifically diaphragmatic breathing.  According to Arlin Cunic, MA, of Very Well Mind, “deep breathing helps you to avoid the “fight-or-flight” response to stressful situations. In these situations, your body’s automatic systems are on high alert and signal your heart to beat faster and breathing rate to increase. By consciously becoming aware of your breathing and regulating its depth and rate, the likelihood of spiraling into a panic or anxiety attack is lowered.”

Sounds wonderful, right? If you want to give it a try, I recommend doing the breathing exercises at least once per day, usually before bed or in the morning, though you can access this breathing exercise any time you want to lower your anxiety and/or stress levels.

To try a round of diaphragmatic breathing, you can follow Harvard’s instructions:

  • Lie on your back on a flat surface (or in bed) with your knees bent. You can use a pillow under your head and your knees for support, if that’s more comfortable.
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should remain still, while the one on your belly should rise.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position.

Additionally, visuals of how the breathing is done are here. Want to learn more about diaphragmatic breathing? You can find more information here and here. Let the deep breathing begin!

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

mindful moment

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it.

Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.

-Barbara Kingsolver

melissa: organize it

Ever since becoming a therapist over a decade ago, I’ve found that concrete tasks are some of the most rewarding tasks one can do for instant gratification. Life, with all its complex twists and turns, often leaves a lot of things undone, slow to unfold, or in limbo. All these twists and turns and ups and downs can create and contribute to a sense of unease and anxiety.

What’s the anecdote to managing life’s complications and stressors? I’m not fully sure. But I know therapy helps, as does fostering connection to others, sleeping enough, moving our bodies…and the process of organizing, fixing, and completing tasks. Organizing a drawer? Very soothing.  Cleaning out a fridge? Unpleasant but gratifying. Getting your boxes from Amazon all broken down an actually into the recycle bin? Massive accomplishment. Shredding your shred pile? Also very rewarding. Power washing your sidewalk? Proud feelings ensue. You get the theme here, I’m sure, and likely also relate.

When you take a moment and pause, I’m sure you, too, can think of tasks that foster a sense of wellbeing, even if for a brief moment.  Psychologically, our brains like tasks that we can start and finish within a short time frame. It helps feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as a sense of control. There’s a wonderful article here about the benefits of concrete tasks and the fix it mindset for helping to support our mental health during difficult times. There’s also a book Things Come Apart that discusses, in part, this same concept. What will your fix it or organize task be today? Mine is taking all of my mugs from my desk to the dishwasher. What task will you conquer next? The world is your oyster.

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

mindful moment

There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.

-Orison Swett Marden