Tag Archives: Mental Wellness

Looking Out For Beautiful Minds

10 Oct

Before Russell Crowe, we had never talked about it.


It was a big part of his past,  and maybe it contributed to his depression. Maybe he felt like we wouldn’t understand, or maybe he did talk to people and they didn’t hear him. Maybe he thought he could do it himself. Maybe he didn’t know how.

But it wasn’t until Russell Crowe that my Dad started talking about how he felt and what he went through as a young father.

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

He was glued to the screen, completely engaged in the story and rooting for Nash to come out all right in the end. He bought the book and watched the movie again and again. When it came out on DVD, he bought that too. He wanted to soak up as much information and experiences as he could.

We must have watched it at least fifty times when it aired on HBO. Russell Crowe, let everyone in on the struggle and we became aware of how difficult this could be on anyone and their family.

My Dad found pieces of himself in Russell Crowe that day and was brave enough to share, and granted their stories were different, and their journeys were different, but for the first time in a long time, he saw something out there dealing with mental health, dealing with the realness of it. Consequences and successes.

I rediscovered of bits and pieces of my childhood and moments of my dad’s journey through adulthood and parenthood. I understood why there were times my dad had been so afraid, why he might have drank, and perhaps why he had been dealing with depression for a large part of his life. We didn’t get all our answers that day, but what we were able to do was talk … talk about how he felt, he realized he wasn’t the only one, and that gave him the confidence to speak up. He wasn’t alone in this. Here’s this guy …this genius mathematician that’s living through mental health issues as well.

It wasn’t the same, but at least Russell Crowe gave him an opening and mental health became something he could talk about freely.

And I was grateful for that, because he did get help, and that seemed to help with the depression, for a while.

So seeing how someone informed me that it was World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d spread awareness the only way I knew how … through story.

Spread the word … Mental Health Matters. Talk about it.




Happiness Project Update 24: Stopping the Autopilot

15 Apr

I thought that multitasking was a good thing. I’m a chick, we need to multitask. There’s only 24 hours in the day and we need at least 30 to get everything done. I know I do. But I realized that sometimes multitasking can suck the life out of you. Suck it!

No, it’s not the stress of  not finishing. No, not the anxiety that comes with failing to cross off items from your to-do list. No, it sucks the life out of you because sometimes you stay on autopilot and miss out on life. I found myself trying to pay bills online, wash the dishes, get distracted by to-do list thoughts, and have breakfast with my kids all at the same time. Then it sort of hit me while I was doing my 21-day Meditation Challenge last month.  I thought … what a jackass. If someone was doing all those things while I was trying to have a meal with them I’d be pretty burned out. I realized … multitasking kills my mindfulness.

I needed to start being in the now, being present. Now in my defense, when I’m out on adventures, exercising, or hanging out I am fully present. But sometimes I have technical difficulties, usually when I’m at home. Usually when multitasking arises. My mom ambition takes over and the mission to accomplish everything on the to-do list gets a kung-fu grip on me. It’s a mission and I need to finish it.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

But that whole 21-Day Meditation Challenge really honed in my focus and my appreciation of “the moment,” it forced me to stay still, and it also reinforced what I read in Gretchen Rubin‘s mindfulness chapter.

Now I understand that I have to get things done and that life moves pretty quickly, especially if you’ve got two kids and you’re the CEO, CFO, Managing Partner and custodian of the household. Things sort of move at the speed of light sometimes and you’re doing whatever you can to catch up. So you go on autopilot, but I realized that sometimes autopilot draws out the jackass in me and I miss moments, stuff like breakfast with my kids. Now mind you sometimes breakfast may include syrup in someone’s hair, pancakes on the floor, spilled milk, battles for the last sip of the orange juice or toasting up bagels only to realize that there’s no cream cheese. Yes morning chaos may ensue, but sometimes you have a moment — the kind of moment that you remember at the end of the day — the kind that makes it to the what-am-I-grateful-for-today answer list. Mindfulness helps you remember that you’re probably going to have very few meals in the future where the kids won’t be multitasking, texting, and ignoring you as they are dashing out the door.

So what did I do when the universe sent me the mindfulness message twice?

Well … I paid attention. I shut down the autopilot and paid attention. I closed the computer, left the dishes alone and joined in at the Frosted Mini-Wheats and Silver Dollar Pancake extravaganza.

The most important was mindfulness — the cultivation of conscious, non-judgmental awareness … it gives clarity and vividness to present experience … Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project.

I realized that mindfulness can help boost your happiness levels a bit, and I could always use a shot of that. Being in the present definitely helps you enjoy daily life a bit more, especially when you have something out of the ordinary take place. You’re there to witness it, all of it. Now that doesn’t mean I would stop multitasking, but it did mean that I would stop the autopilot when hanging out with my kids. I’d be in the moment and forget about the to-do list until my kids were actually engaged in something else. Play-Doh and Legos usually rock their world, so I would save the multitasking until then.

So here’s to mindfulness … for taking the jackass out of me.


Happiness Project Update 4: Listening to my GPS and Getting More Branches on the Tree

27 Jun

Mental wellness. This is a hard one. I’ve been searching for this my entire dysfunctional existence. Seeking spiritual and physical wellness seemed to come easy to me this month. But the mental aspect? That required work. And I didn’t have a shrink.

There’s just so much drama. I’m like the chick on a telenovela on Univision. However, I realized that during this phase of my happiness project, mental wellness was critical to being happier. It was critical to other wellness components (physical and spiritual) that I was working on this month.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Then it hit me. Physical wellness helps my mental state of being. They are sort of intertwined. Case in point: The TinMan Triathlon. Finishing my second triathlon, put my mental state in a great place among the chaos that surrounded me. I didn’t care that some guy cut me off on the freeway and nearly ran me off a mountain. I didn’t get that crazy road rage. I just brushed it off, turned up the volume on Maroon 5, and kept driving. I felt great the entire day, no setback, not even a writer rejection got me down that day.

But I can’t run a triathlon everyday. What happens when I don’t have exercise or sports as an outlet? Where’s my mental state of wellness then? Probably at some supermarket parking lot in the middle of the night, listening to Journey,  and drowning in rocky road ice cream or Claim Jumpers Chocolate Silk Pie with a plastic spoon I bought at the store, because I couldn’t wait until I got home. Besides, no one judges you at the supermarket parking lot.

But how did I avoid these moments of low this week? Because you know I had low moments. There’s never a week that goes by where I can say everything was spectacular for seven days. It may happen to other people, but not on my planet.

What tends to set it off?

The Usual Suspects: Family.

But whose family doesn’t make them crazy, right?

Blood is blood. You’ve got to learn to live with them. GPS makes this possible. I learned that you gotta have a Family Global Positioning System.  I’ve learned to work my own personal navigation system and listen to the alerts, flashing lights, and voice telling me to turn left or right and warning me of the dangers and drama up ahead.

Being able to navigate has been key to mental wellness this week. Whether it was my mother, sister, or dude flipping out for things that they really shouldn’t be flipping out about, I turned to my GPS and listened. It tells you when to pick your battles. Sometimes when you walk away things get better. Sometimes when you blow up, getting things off your chest helps you weigh less, mentally. You’re not carrying around all that negative crap and the “what ifs” don’t get you because you laid it all out.

But what about yourself? What happens when you’re the problem?

Sometimes you just wake up and feel like crap. Nothing is going your way. Nothing. And then you get in the shower and things get worse. The shower. A place where things are supposed to be predictable, right? You reach for the soap and realize there’s a measly wad of mush hanging out in some cloudy water. So you think I may not need soap today.

You reach for the shampoo and there’s none. Not a drop. Not even any residue inside the bottle you can use to mix with water to make fake shampoo. They just left the TRESamme bottle there … staring and laughing at your naked body. So you get out of the tub, get a new bottle from the cabinet, nearly slip and kill yourself coming back in the tub. You take a minute wash your head, and then take another minute to stand under the running water. You have so much going on in your head, you don’t even remember whether you washed your hair. You have to look down at the tub to see bubbles to confirm it. Yeah. If you can’t even remember shampooing your head a minute ago, you got issues.

So where’s my mental wellness kick? How do I get rid of this funk that just accosted me in the morning?

I found most of the stuff that was related to my lack of mental wellness had to do with where I was in life as opposed to where I wanted to be. Career. Family. Future. That was it. I was here at the bottom, and I wanted to be there at the top. Real simple.

This was my mental wellness speed bump.

But two things helped me out. My mantra and the new quote.

Mantra: “You’re so money and you don’t even know it.” — Trent from the movie Swingers.

Something I tell myself to set me straight mentally and emotionally, every now and then.

The new quote?

”  … Research shows that the more elements make up your identity the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.” — Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project.

I had to broaden my self-identity definition. My soul continues to be a writer. This was the trunk of my tree, but my trunk was currently getting festered by termites. I just needed more branches. More creative challenges. Not that I don’t have enough challenges with two kids. But challenges in way that help my mental wellness goals.

The fact that I figured that out this week helped me. It put me at ease among all the chaos. It helped me spring forward and smile, because I knew I had the ability to grow plenty of branches. If one branch got cut off, broken, or crapped on too many times by the birds … no worries. I was still a bad-ass tree because I had more branches coming, some even with flowers.