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Playing to our strengths

I love this article about finding your strengths. The Myer-Briggs personality test is a very helpful tool. Don’t forget to go beyond your comfort zone once in a while, to grow and develop. Return to your talents and center whenever you feel stressed.

Recognise. Prevent. Recover.

I don’t really like rules.

It struck me in my time off from clinical practice that perhaps this was yet another reason that I have found general practice more challenging over recent years.

Ever-changing guidelines playing catchup to the pace of evidence base, complex treatment algorithms such as diabetes that defies the comprehension and retention abilities of pressed clinicians , and the numerous referral pathways to services that often no longer exist.  All add to the ever increasing sense of boxing patient care, of forcing grey into black or white.

All these systems are  a worthwhile attempt  to standardise care nationally, to reduce devastating clinical errors, to rationalise stretched services and to make sense of the increasing complexity of clinical practice today, but are yet another set of rules. To deviate from them – entirely justifiable clinically at times – requires confidence and emotional robustness. And as clinicians come under…

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Full Moon in Capricorn – 9th July 2017

On Sunday July 9th 2017 the Moon will be opposite the Sun (a.k.a. Full Moon) at 6:08 CEST. I’m going to warn you, this one will be intense….

The astrological sign of this Full Moon is CAPRICORN or the Mountain Goat. Capricorn is all about structure, order, responsibility, perseverance and ambition. Don’t say to a Capricorn it can’t be done, they will show you. Never think a task is too boring, they will complete it. Nothing can stop a Capricorn from climbing up the mountain, step after step, rock by rock, it gets there.

But let’s not forget we are humans. And going to far, for too long, or too high, will cause imbalance and thus we may slip. Like me. I’m a Capricorn Rising (which means that Capricorn was the sign on the horizon at my time of birth) and I am very familiar with the Cappy energy of pushing through and completing seemingly impossible tasks and navigating extremely difficult life situations through discipline and structure. But when losing balance, we slip…. in my case leading to burnout. I wrote a blogpost on how to recognise burnout because it’s something that happens to so many of us nowadays and it’s my mission to raise awareness.

So, how will the energy play out during the coming Full Moon in Capricorn? Well, the Full Moon is always bringing emotions to the surface and there is a need for expressing and releasing them. And that’s not really a thing that Capricorn is at ease with. Capricorn is controlling and repressing emotions because it considers feelings a nuisance, a blocking factor on the road to results, and messing up plans and ambitions. With the Sun in Cancer (related to our inner Mother, need for nurturing care and expressing emotions) opposing the Capricorn Moon this can create great inner conflict and polarity. This Moon is also called Thunder Moon, and that says it all…

Two weeks ago during the New Moon in Cancer we set intentions around the theme of nurturing, compassion and self-care. We are going to need this over the coming days.

It is important to process and release the intense emotions that are coming up during this Full Moon weekend. You might feel blocked, it may help to take some time on your own to meditate and feel.
Due to the controlling mode of Capricorn, and the repression of emotions that comes along with it, be careful when connecting to others. It’s not unlikely that repressed emotions and inner conflict will try to find a way out. Protect yourself and the people you love by creating some Sacred Alone time. This enables you to navigate and release your emotions rather than acting out and hurting others. It will also protect you from people who are not honouring your personal boundaries. Remember, you are not alone in this, everyone is probably going through the same thing and polarity is never the answer.

Keep an eye on the well-being of children in your life. They are often an easy projection screen for the adults around them who are going through conflict and focussed on boundary setting. Children should not be the victim of these interpersonal dynamics, they deserve our nurturing, unconditional love and care, always.

Journaling might be a good way to unblock your feelings and to tune in to forgiveness. Some journaling prompts that could be helpful are:

  • Where have I been too hard on myself or others?
  • Where am I over controlling the outcome?
  • Do I feel controlled by others? Where do I need to set boundaries in a loving way?
  • In what areas are rules or ambition blocking connection to others?
  • Where can I be more forgiving towards myself and others?

Try to bring as much balance as possible into your life, in order to prevent a rough nosedive from the cliff. This is especially important in work – career versus home – family related imbalances.

The nurturing Mother within

When I’m in my center, my innermost core,
Completely relaxed, needing no more,
I connect with the Mother who gave birth to it all,
As in the silence I hear her call
– Kaypacha Lescher
With the Sun and Moon in Cancer, the sign of the nurturing Mother (and the signs of communication, thoughts and perceptions – Mercury – and action, determination – Mars – as well), there can be experiences coming up from your own childhood. Neptune is also in a watery sign (Pisces) and asks us to go deep down into our emotions. Painful memories as seen from a child’s perspective could emerge from the depths. You may remember experiences connected to loneliness, emotional betrayal or neglect, not being cared for, not receiving the nurturing you needed so desperately as a child.
I was just watching Kaypacha’s video for this week and it made me think about my own experiences and how I try to navigate them.
Sometimes we know why we didn’t receive it and we understand. But usually we don’t, it’s simply not possible for a child to comprehend the struggles of adults, because children live from their Soul and are much more connected to the Source energy and most adults live their lives completely conditioned and conventional. It’s often hard to put it into words because of the timing of the experiences. A very young child isn’t verbal and therefore as an adult you have difficulties vocalising the memories. Sometimes it is just a strong emotion presenting itself and not so easy to understand with our rational, logical minds.
When you act out towards people who are in your adult life (Mercury and Mars will tempt you to!) when reliving your inner child’s perspective you will relive your childhood in the present moment and the pattern will never be broken. Instead of acting on it, acknowledge that it’s there and let go. You are able to choose to nurture and care for yourself now. You are able to decide to see someone to get the help you need or to vocalise your needs to your partner, friends, family, co-workers. When you are able to sit with whatever you are feeling, you can make a choice in what to do with it.
Remember that the Mother is always with and within you. When you are completely silent, you can hear your Soul’s calling, it will tell you what you really need and you will be able to make choices that truly nurture you.

Summer Solstice

June 21st marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. It’s the day in the wheel of the year that is known for its shortest night and longest day. I have always been attracted to Summer Solstice, or Litha as the pagan traditions call this day, because I was born on the Winter Solstice, Yule. Something always keeps me yearning for summer and warmth.

On the Summer Solstice we celebrate the highest point of the Sun, we can feel the energy rising of the masculine life force. After this day the days will be getting shorter so this is truly a time to celebrate life and abundance.

Some Summer Solstice celebration ideas

  • Go outside very early on the morning of the 21st (or a day before or after, what suits you better), and watch the light of the Sun return. It’s a magical scene, to see nature rise and awaken to the first rays of sunlight. Make sure you are outside at least an hour prior to sunrise, to see the light returning slowly. For most of us in the Northern hemisphere this can be quite early! I will be going to a nearby lake at 4.30 a.m., sunrise is at 5.20 a.m.
  • Light a fire at dusk to celebrate the longest day, invite some friends over. Write down the things you want to transform or the abundance you want to bring into your life on a piece of paper, decorate it with drawings and throw it into the fire. Dance around the fire together, sing along with a guitar if you’re lucky to have a friend who plays it, have fun and celebrate.
  • Jump over the smothering charcoal like my kids do in Waldorf school, see how daring you are! (Always make sure the flames are out and that you are wearing closed sturdy shoes and nonflammable clothing!! Be careful!)
  • Pick seasonal flowers and decorate your home and your sacred space (altar or corner where you keep treasures and pictures of loved ones) with it.
  • Gather herbs and flowers that you can dry to use as potpourri or smudging herbs later in the year.
  • Create a mandala with yellow and orange flower petals.

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Picture from Pinterest
  • Meditate on the Summer Solstice and make it your own special celebration of Life. Feel the warmth of the Sun on your skin, be grateful for the Light that is there every morning when we wake up. Let this Light move into every cell of your body and feel how it invigorates and energises you.

How to recognise burnout?

After having lived for 9 months with burnout syndrome I have learned a great deal about it.

As a Medical Doctor I had obviously heard about burnout, but I never knew that burnout was so physical and so scary. I always thought it was ‘just being stressed and overworked and you will have to take a break’. Now that I’m 9 months in and still have concentration issues, more bad days of exhaustion and physical pain than good days, you won’t ever hear me say that again. Burnout is a serious condition, with serious implications for the patient and his/her surroundings and has to be taken seriously to prevent life-long damage to the body, brain, coping abilities and career.

I’m on a mission now. I consider it my duty to share my story and some facts about burnout to educate people and to make them aware about it, so they can seek help and prevent hitting a brick wall.

Burnout is defined as a stress related disorder by the World Health Organisation and is considered one of the most prevalent stress-related disorders at this moment. It is especially prevalent in people within caring or serving professions (medical personnel, social workers, teachers), stressful positions or a combination of stressful situations, both at work and at home.

What is burnout?

The “burnout syndrome” has been defined as a combination of emotional exhaustion, cynicism or depersonalisation, and reduced personal accomplishment caused by chronic stress – World Health Organisation

Emotional exhaustion represents the basic individual stress dimensions of burnout and refers to feelings of being depleted of one’s emotional and physical resources. The cynicism or depersonalisation/detachment component represents the interpersonal context dimension of burnout and relates to difficulties in social relationships with self and others. Reduced accomplishment represents the self-evaluation dimension of burnout and refers to feelings of incompetence and a lack of achievement and productivity.

Usually, burnout is mentioned in the context of a job situation, but it can occur in other situations as well, for example due to severe interpersonal stress (conflict) or chronic stress in personal life (e.g. taking care of family members, life events). Contributing factors are high amounts of stress, high work load, heavy job demands, low supervisor or co-worker support (or family/friends), inconclusive communication and uncertainty about demands, conflict of responsibility (e.g. between expectations of the organisation and the employee, or conflict between work demands and personal needs), low control, low empowerment. Usually people with a coping strategy of striving, pushing through difficulties and persevering (the people you definitely want on board!!), are the ones who crash themselves into burnout. I can now absolutely see how my masculine energy that made me accomplish a lot in my life, finishing medical school in under 6 years for example, completely wiped out the balance and drove my head into the ground after 5 major life events and never taking a break to integrate and recuperate.

What struck me when I was confronted with burnout, were the prominent physical symptoms. It started with chest pains that I ignored for months, and I ended up suffering from palpitations, tachycardia (fast heartbeat while resting) of 170 bpm, sleeplessness, weight loss and severe problems in filtering light and sound. The latter made a visit to the grocery store between all the products and choices a true nightmare. Taking the kids to school or going to a classical music concert was also stepping into a hell of sound which I had to escape as soon as possible. What also struck me where the severe cognitive symptoms, like executive brain function disorders (I couldn’t cook a meal or label a package anymore, I just didn’t know how to perform small tasks). There is evidence that burnout changes neural circuits in the brain. It can lead to impaired memory and cognitive performance. It can also lead to impaired ability to modulate emotion, which means that it is harder to deal with strong emotions caused by stressful situations. The chronic stress that caused burnout, also created a vicious cycle of being less able to cope with stress.

How to recognise burnout?

Burnout is never something that happens overnight. The symptoms come and go and increase until a threshold is crossed. The symptoms that can tell you that burnout is imminent or happening, are listed below (source: www.psychologytoday.com).

  • Signs of physical and emotional exhaustion:
  1. Chronic fatigue. In the early stages, you may feel a lack energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day. I wasn’t able to sit upright for most of the day.
  2. Insomnia. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly ordeal; as exhausted as you are, you can’t sleep.
  3. Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. Lack of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can’t get your work done and everything begins to pile up. Like I was having problems planning and organising simple tasks like cooking, schoolrun, packing bags, choosing groceries, making lists. Impossible. Talking on the phone or finishing a sentence took all my energy.
  4. Physical symptoms. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed). I was assessed for arrthythmia attacks.
  5. Increased illness. Because your body is depleted, your immune system becomes weakened, making you more vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems. It’s better I don’t go into this… the list is endless.
  6. Loss of appetite. In the early stages, you may not feel hungry and may skip a few meals. In the latter stages, you may lose your appetite all together and begin to lose a significant amount of weight.
  7. Anxiety. Early on, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes in your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life. I wasn’t able to drive or use public transportation because of my anxiety, something I’ve never had before.
  8. Depression. In the early stages, you may feel mildly sad, occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped, severely depressed, and think the world would be better off without you. (If your depression is to this point, you should seek professional help immediately.)
  9. Anger. At first, this may present as interpersonal tension and irritability. In the latter stages, this may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and in the workplace. (If anger gets to the point where it turns to thoughts or acts of violence toward family or coworkers, seek immediate professional assistance.) 
  • Signs of Cynicism and Detachment
  1. Loss of enjoyment. At first, loss of enjoyment may seem very mild, such as not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave. Without intervention, loss of enjoyment may extend to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family and friends. At work, you may try to avoid projects and figure out ways to escape work all together. This was very hard as I didn’t want to slip into depression. Luckily I was always able to see the beauty in nature. 
  2. Pessimism. At first, this may present itself as negative self-talk and/or moving from a glass half-full to a glass half-empty attitude. At its worst, this may move beyond how you feel about yourself and extend to trust issues with coworkers and family members and a feeling that you can’t count on anyone.
  3. Isolation. In the early stages, this may seem like mild resistance to socializing (i.e., not wanting to go out to lunch; closing your door occasionally to keep others out). In the latter stages, you may become angry when someone speaks to you, or you may come in early or leave late to avoid interactions. I have been stuck to my home for 6 months. I have never felt so alone in my entire life. I even felt disconnected from the Source.
  4. Detachment. Detachment is a general sense of feeling disconnected from others or from your environment. It can take the form of the isolative behaviors described above, and result in removing yourself emotionally and physically from your job and other responsibilities. You may call in sick often, stop returning calls and emails, or regularly come in late.
  • Signs of Ineffectiveness and Lack of Accomplishment
  1. Feelings of apathy and hopelessness. This is similar to what is described in the depression and pessimism sections of this article. It presents as a general sense that nothing is going right or nothing matters. As the symptoms worsen, these feelings may become immobilizing, making it seems like “what’s the point?” My kids were the reason I pulled through, I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have them to be around for. 
  2. Increased irritability. Irritability often stems from feeling ineffective, unimportant, useless, and an increasing sense that you’re not able to do things as efficiently or effectively as you once did. In the early stages, this can interfere in personal and professional relationships. At its worst, it can destroy relationships and careers. I remember being so angry with my sweet neighbours across the street for slamming the doors of their cars which I could hear through the wall (no filter….). 
  3. Lack of productivity and poor performance. Despite long hours, chronic stress prevents you from being as productive as you once were, which often results in incomplete projects and an ever-growing to-do list. At times, it seems that as hard as you try, you can’t climb out from under the pile. Well, I’m so happy to have found my husband, he did EVERYTHING for months without complaining. I wasn’t worth a dime in the home and he took care of the laundry, the kids, the dishes, the groceries…

Whenever you recognise a few of the symptoms from the lists, even mild ones, or when you think you are suffering from burnout or heading towards it with increasing speed, seek help. Stopping the train from derailing and taking a step back is more effective than having to remove the wreck from the track, like I had to do. Don’t wait, take action towards self care, self compassion and talk to somebody who can help you in taking action if you can’t.

Burnout is serious. I hope my story inspires you to take action TODAY.

 

 

Jungle gyms and re-defining success

For me, as an MD ‘in the process of redefining my identity’ as I now call it, this is an article that resonates a lot. It’s exactly how I feel.
Following a linear career in a very stressful environment primarily dictated by others isn’t sustainable. We have to follow our talents and do what we love to be of greater service.

Recognise. Prevent. Recover.

On qualifying as a GP, I followed a traditional route from trainee to salaried and locum doctor, to  partner,  trainer, and appraiser. A path that many doctors of my generation have taken.

Underneath, I  suspected that the anxiety which appeared in my 30’s, as the invincibility  of my 20’s faded, would limit my time in clinical practice. I planned to retire early around 55 years. Over the last few years as pressures for doctors have mountedand my circumstances at home and work changed, this retirement age got lower and lower. It somehow made me feel less trapped.

Having had to stop, I have had to re-consider what is important in my life and re-visit my values, goals and aspirations. As a result, like many others, I am carving out a kind of portfolio career.

Or perhaps, to be more current, a “slasher” career. Not to be…

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A fish on land

Fish on land do not live a healthy and prosperous life. When out of the water they desperately try to crawl back into the stream. That’s their nature, their reflex. A fish’s body knows what to do when placed on land, although it has little brain to think about it extensively.

We humans have a problem. It is called ‘the mind’. And we tend to overrate it immensely.

Humans consist of multiple energy layers, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual body. The mental body (mind) is only one of them. We are usually not aware of this, discerning the layers one by one takes time, practice and awareness of the way the layers communicate.

In our hectic, modern, day-to-day lives, we don’t have the time to be present and listen to the different layers. We only listen to our mind, our thoughts. Planning and orchestrating our daily activities, monthly plans and year-ahead-project schedules.

Being only one of the layers, the mind is trying to steal the show for the others layers. They don’t get enough air time (it’s funny that thoughts are associated with the element air…). Moreover, the layers are connected to each other. Our thoughts are connected to our emotions, we feel sad when we think sad thoughts and we think negative when we are feeling down. We decide to skip lunch because of a meeting we have and we completely ignore the signs of our physical layer that it needs to be nourished. The mind constantly tries to control our emotions and our bodies in order to survive and make rational decisions. This ability of the mind gives us tremendous power in structuring our lives and inspired humanity in achieving great technological advances. The downside is that we think our mind is superior. We let the fish think about its strategy to much. Continue reading “A fish on land”

To be aligned or not to be aligned… that’s the question

You have probably heard of the newest buzz word in town that seems to be the solution to every single problem, and the answer to every failure.

— ALIGNMENT—

The truth is, bad things don’t happen because we are not ‘aligned’. That’s a weird way of looking at life. We are trying to make the best of our lives and sometimes we fail, falter, meet roadblocks or life is getting in the way of your plans, because you get sick, or there is some major life event happening for you. It’s not that we can avoid all sources of pain. It teaches us what we need to know to evolve.

So when you hear something like “Oh, you didn’t succeed in your project? It must have been misaligned with your true calling.” please let it go immediately. Because this way of looking at alignment sounds ridiculous and remarks like above are not helpful at all.

However, there is a true part to being misaligned and the blockages in life. As I was living a severely misaligned life for a long time I experienced a lot of extremely hard situations, which I didn’t quite understand because I was constantly trying to work hard, do my best and make the best decisions I could possibly think of. However, things went awry and the last 3 years everything came down crashing down around me, relationship, work, everything at the same time. The only way to get through this mess (I thought) was to continue my old coping strategies of thinking things through, making lists, and fighting for a good outcome. Although I felt like I was doing the right things, and moving forward, the only thing that could make it all better was not holding on to striving and fighting the situations I was in, but letting go. I had to steer myself away from the things that were holding me back.

To find out whether you are in alignment click here. New subscribers to Elemental Life Lines will receive a download link to the e-book.

Letting go sounds so easy. “Just let go and everything will work out fine!”

Well, eh… letting go isn’t an easy thing to do, because it isn’t an active verb, let alone the fear that comes along with it. When your life isn’t working out while you are busy planning, deciding, organising and coping, the scariest step to take is to let it all go. That’s just not  something  your mind can do actively – ah, well today I’m just gonna let it all go – that’s just not how it works. The more you want to let go, the harder it gets, the more anxious you get. That’s because ego wants to protect you and gets in the way. It starts screaming in your ear that you can’t, shouldn’t, all will go down in flames, and so on. It’s makes it impossible to hear the whispers of your heart, or to understand your gut’s language of intuition. The only thing you listen to is the fear, the scary thoughts and disastrous scenarios playing out in your head.

For me this wheel of negative thoughts, fear, obstacles, conflicts led to illness. My body started to protest, I became very tired and hyper at the same time, I couldn’t cycle without chest pain, I couldn’t breathe properly. My body was signaling to me that I had to change but I didn’t hear what it was saying. My body stopped me in my tracks by creating a situation which forced me out of it all. Because clearly, my mind/heart wasn’t going to take the steps.

There had been severe misalignment between my body, my mind, my heart and my Soul. Those are all different layers of our being and in order to be happy, healthy and fully functional as a human being they need to be aligned as much as possible. When we are tired, we need to rest. When we are hungry, we need to eat. When we are not hungry, we shouldn’t eat. This also means that when you are coping with chronic illness or a stressful situation you will have to align your plans, expectations and activities because there is a limitation somewhere in one of the layers. It sounds very simple but we’re largely overriding the signals in our modern lives. When we do that for a long time, one or more of the layers of our being will be complaining and acting up. We call this ‘symptoms’. We then start looking for a physical cause, but maybe it’s just a misalignment between the layers.

During recovery, I learned how to take care of my body and how to listen to it again. I had to reset myself and start from zero, bed rest in my case. And not beating myself up for being in this situation I created myself by pushing and striving and fighting. That took me a while to be honest, to let go of the fighting mindset, towards myself. Self care and compassion is the most important thing to do, especially when you are healing.

Letting go just happened. I don’t know when exactly.

She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~ excerpt of ‘She let go’ by Rev. Safire Rose

When I gave up fighting, stopped trying, took plenty of rest and healed my body, I truly allowed alignment to happen. The only way to do this is to listen to the signs of your layers and stop doing things that make you feel misaligned and miserable. If you check in with yourself daily, you will begin to notice. And then, one morning, you wake up, and you let go. Slowly, I began to feel subtle differences in what was working and what was going against the flow. My intuition began to show me the way. I felt overcome with joy, because I could see the light again at the end of the tunnel. In learning a new way of living, by listening and acting upon it, I ditched the old ways of being misaligned.

It’s not always easy and I still get sucked in by daily life but I am capable of pulling myself out of it. I recognise I’m not aligned anymore. For me that shows up as fatigue, tiredness, tension in my chest, breathing uneasy or just generally feeling ‘meh’ or emotionally dull. Noting this enables me to consciously make better decisions and take care of myself. I know it’s time to stop what I’m doing because I’m in a mode of striving instead of allowing, and it’s killing the flow of energy. And sometimes it just means going to bed at 8 pm to get some rest.

Do you want to find out more about your own state of alignment?

Click here to learn more about an e-book & worksheet I created on this topic: ‘How to live in Alignment’. It’s free for newsletter subscribers.

 

Paradigm

Apart from some traumatic events that were quite raw or graphic in nature, there were a few other pivotal moments in my years of medical training that I remember vividly. One of those moments was a lecture on Ethics and Philosophy in my second year of MedSchool which was considered extremely boring by my peers, and to be honest, I thought it was pretty dull too. It was about the role of science in medicine.

*yawn*

Until an unfamiliar word was mentioned. Although I consider myself having a large vocabulary, I had never heard it before. As the Ethics professor spoke on the topic he used the word paradigm.

I believe the context was something like this: “Science as we know it has it’s rules, regulations and guidelines to ensure that what is discovered matches the idea of science itself, which is that the truth only exists when we can prove it, using those rules, regulations and guidelines. When we are not able to prove something, or when we can prove it but it doesn’t match the rules, it therefore can’t be proven. That is the paradigm of science. If we think about the fact that paradigms can change, it is foreseeable that science as we know it, will someday become obsolete, or at least challenged to a large extend.”

par·a·digm

(păr′ə-dīm′, -dĭm′)

n.

1. One that serves as a pattern or model.
2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregularverb.
3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

This woke me up in a second. What if everything we were taught could change when the rules changed? I couldn’t wrap my head around it but this concept of changing paradigms stayed with me over the years. Later, when I was working in science, doing research, reading and writing articles, and people around me were arguing the relevance of their research or trying to convince (or destroy) others with their point of view, it helped me to see the bigger picture. It gave me the perspective and the ability to see science (and ‘truth’ for a lot of colleagues) for what it was: a temporary set of rules we were working in agreement with, until it changed. It made life as a PhD researcher a whole lot easier.

At this moment in history we live in a world of environmental, economical, political and humanitarian crisis. We see old systems fail. Global warming due to the excessive and disproportionate use of fossil fuels requires investment in sustainable energy sources. The financial system is still trying to overcome the inflation of loans and credits leaving people and organisations bankrupt. Politics is heavily influenced by money and power and lost the connection with the people and core values entirely. While globalisation happened and planes can fly us everywhere, we face the largest refugee crisis on the planet. The call for a paradigm change is everywhere. The old systems are dying and we need new structures to be able to continue the evolution of humanity. Today I read about this word ‘paradigm’ every other day, it seems. We need a new paradigm and it’s already happening.

This is also the case in healthcare. People are getting older, but not always healthier or enjoying more quality of life. We have technology to ‘fix’ a lot of diseases but it doesn’t heal people. We are so disconnected from nature and from our own bodies that we do the wrong things, the things that make us sick, and we forgot how to heal ourselves. Healthcare professionals are trying the best they can, with limited resources, with ever more patients to treat, with less budget from the insurance companies or governments, and the ideological drive of ‘helping people’ or ‘healing others’ is worn out, leading to massive amounts of care providers with burnout, mental illness like depression, PTSD, anxiety, addictions and even suicide. We need to acknowledge that the current healthcare system is failing, in order to find other ways. The paradigm needs to shift.

There are many layers of human existence that we are just beginning to understand. Intuition, energy fields, energy systems in the body. Research in the field of quantum physics is showing us that the the concepts of energy and matter, consciousness and manifestation are connected. Concepts the ancient Eastern doctors, yogis and shamans of the world already knew about thousands of years ago. Ideas and techniques that were abandoned and destroyed, because the patriarchal societal structures of ancient Greece, and later the Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam, were threatened by the innate power these concepts provided to every human being. Submission was forced upon the people, in order to control them for the sake of money and power. And it made humanity ill. In lots of ways. We need the old ways of healing back desperately. Knowledge of herbs, energy healing, mediation, shamanic journeying, the body-mind connection, spiritual healing, the power of intention and manifestation (‘magic’). Not to go back in time, today it’s needed for progress and evolution. Western medicine has brought us so many technological and biological progress, if we are able to connect that to the field of energy, quantum physics and natural healing this will lead to a huge step in the evolution of medicine and healthcare.

I’m looking forward to it, I’m convinced it will come in the next 50 years. The paradigm is changing. And it’s changing fast.

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The shadows of Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I know it was EVERYwhere on social media. Hard to avoid, to be honest. Every page had a piece on mothers, motherly love, gratitude and so on. Although there is no love more profound than the love of a mother, it’s also the most painful when complications arise.

There are some who would have loved to (still) have a mother. There are many with a mother who wasn’t able of unconditional love for some reason, illness, addiction, work, survival. Or those with mothers who have hurt them unconsciously or on purpose. There are some women who would have loved to be a mother but didn’t have the chance to give birth and experience the love for a child of their own. Women who lost a child, which is an unimaginable burden. And some who had children but weren’t able to care for them as they would have wanted. All of these are sources of great pain and sorrow. The shadows of Mother’s Day.

Nothing ‘happy-merry-flowery’ like the ads we saw all over the internet yesterday.

With my own mother I have a complicated relationship, so to speak. She suffered from depression for the largest part of my childhood. I know she’s not to blame for that condition. However, it destroyed our connection. I remember her with headaches, or in bed. From a very young age, I didn’t dare to tell her when I fell or hurt myself, sensing that she wasn’t able to cope. I hid my sadness and fears. When I was older, I had no mother to discuss my teenager problems with. She would come home from work and go straight to bed. No mom to talk to, no support. I remember the house quiet and empty, no music was allowed in the house. No laughter, no friends, I didn’t dare to take them home with me, because I never knew what to expect. I see how she wasn’t able to help herself, but it made me taking care of both myself and a parent way too early. I became a doctor because I wanted to fix it, I studied psychiatry to be able to understand her depression. Of course I couldn’t. I felt the obligation as a child to take care of her emotional needs and forget my own, a role obviously doomed to fail, and for failing at it I felt guilty for most of my life. A dynamic evolved of her blaming me for not loving her and not being affectionate and me creating distance and feeling guilty about it. This pattern of blame and guilt kills the love a child feels for a mother. The things she so desperately needed from me and I needed from her, love and affection, just vanished into thin air.

Nothing ‘happy-merry-flowery’ here.

“The truth is that no child can save her mother.” – Bethany Webster

As I am a divorced mom with a co-parenting agreement I have to let go of my children every 3-4 days. I just have to trust they are taken care of, which in itself is hard enough because as a mother you think you are the only one who can do this right. It’s not easy nor normal to let go of your children when they are so young. The right time to let them go is puberty, not when they are toddlers or preschoolers. I remember vividly having to leave my 3-year old with my ex’s new partner. I had to, although my heart broke into a thousand pieces; she was crying so hard and wanted to cling on to me. I just wanted to take her with me but I wasn’t allowed. Which is a heartbreaking thing to experience as a mother, not being allowed to console your children ‘because of the agreement’. And yesterday, on Mother’s Day, they were not with me. Although that hurts, it also became a familiar thing I’m not really conscious of anymore. We are all used to the arrangement but the construct of Mother’s Day points it all out once again, we have to miss each other a lot.

Nothing happy-merry-flowery. 

What was very difficult for me over the last year was my inability to care for them whenever they were with me. Due to my health issues and exhaustion, I often couldn’t provide the care I wanted for them. It made me very sad and I was truly doubting my role in this world. What was it I had to give when I couldn’t even take care of my own children? Yesterday reminded me of those heavy emotions.

Nothing happy-merry-flowery.

Luckily I re-married a wonderful man who took on the tasks of caring and nurturing my daughters, without questioning, without complaining. Although his own children are in their twenties already, he just did it. He has been the extension of my motherly love for months. It made my love for him grow even more and it made the bond between him and my daughters much stronger. I am extremely grateful for his unconditional support and loving care. We celebrated that on Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day. It made my heart sing, we were together as a new, loving family, showing each other what love is.

It was a happy-merry-flowery day!

Let’s celebrate whenever we feel the occasion. Not because of some invented day that reminds us of our pain.

If you want to read more on the dynamics of the Mother Wound, you can find it here (Womb of Light – the work of Bethany Webster).