Gratitude, Health, love, Meditation, Self-Care

Hurry Up, To Slow Down

I had a nagging thought today as I sat and did my meditation.

I am no paragon of virtue, I do not often sit and do an actual meditation, I prefer moving meditations–walking or bicycling, or writing meditation.

I do a writing meditation just about every morning with very few exceptions.

It is based off the Julia Cameron book, The Artists Way, a way to explore creativity and connect with your creative aspirations.

I have been doing this for years now, over a decade actually.

The writing informs me.  I find that through the simple act of putting pen to paper, my attitudes about my life, my circumstances, and who I am (or think I am) change.

I also am a creature of habit and routine, I find comfort in routine and the knowledge of how that secure frame helps me to actually achieve and do many things.

Yet.

I often find myself ruminating, and I am sure I am not alone in this, about what more I could be doing.

We are such a culture of more.

MORE!

MORE!

MORE!

A wise person once asked me if I wasn’t happy with what I had, why would more make me happy?

I was floored.

And I began to find gratitude for what I had versus what I did not have, or how I compared myself to others around me, who I thought, at the time, had what I wanted.

So.

It’s Sunday.

A day of rest.

A day for contemplation.

A day for meeting with my best friend early for coffee and taking a long walk.

I like to sleep in on Sundays.

It’s not very late, but it is the only day I do, 8a.m. feels like a tremendous luxury.

Yet.

Today I got up early and got ready to meet my friend for coffee.

Realizing the importance of connecting and being with people I love is very important to me.

Especially as I age and find the grey hairs sprouting from my forehead and gently waving me on from one stage of life to another.

The importance of making time to see people and connect.

I felt more fueled and invigorated by coffee and a walk with my best friend than if I had slept in that extra hour and a half.

Then again, it might have just been the coffee.

But the rejuvenation of company that I adore and a walk through a park I had not hitherto explored in the city was the best tonic.

That and the exceptional weather.

San Francisco’s June gloom (fog season is upon the city) was no where to be seen and it demanded acknowledgement and appreciation.

I did my best to appreciate.

Making sure I took a break from the work projects I had to sit outside for lunch and really be in the moment.

To feel the sun on my skin, hear the birds–identifying crows, seagulls, sparrows, and robins, in the song saturated blue sky, to feel the air warm soft on my face.

Glorious.

It was perhaps the al fresco lunch that set my brain tumbling.

I wasn’t doing enough with my time!

So.

I connected with a friend, decided to do a group meditation in the late afternoon and also, yes!  I’ll go to yoga.

Driving across town, the windows rolled down, my music loud, summer time frolicking all through the city, happy to gather for an hour with community.

Except that when I sat.

My brain attacked me.

It got bogged down in the details of getting back across town, getting my yoga mat out, what should I wear (really, brain, really?) to class, and all the tiny details that my mind thought it needed to figure out while I was meditating.

Gratefully I have learned enough to not judge that part of me and when I could just breathe and let it go.

It’s taken me a long time to breathe and let go.

Perhaps all my life, with all my life yet to practice, I have with valiant effort, tried to do this.

Some days.

Success!

Some days mindless iterations of what needs to be done.

Certainly not sitting still.

When the meditation was up and I said goodbye to the group and some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, the meditation actually made itself quite clear as to what I had to do next.

Hurry up and slow down.

What was more important?

Driving like a lunatic, (safely of course, I drive safely in the city!) perhaps I should rephrase that, drive anxiously, across town to make the yoga class.

Or.

Stop.

Stay awhile.

Hug that friend I don’t see that often, catch up with another, breathe and realize that I have done enough today.

I am a human being.

Not a human doing.

I am allowed to slow down.

To become like molasses, warm and and soft, slow and relaxed, gently moving from one place to another.

So I did not rush across town, I did not beat myself up for not doing more on my day off, hello, that’s what days off are for, slowing down.

Breathing.

Listening to the birds.

Sitting still.

Appreciating what I have and grateful for the chance to skip a yoga class to just be a person having a day off.

Yoga will be there when I need it.

My days off may not be.

Today.

I choose to slow down.

I took the day off.

It was a good choice.

I cannot recommend it enough.

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Finances, Health, Self-Care, Therapy

Super Bills

I am often asked by prospective clients if I take insurance.

I always feel a little let down when I say no, I want very much to provide the best possible care to my clients and I know that many out there rely on insurance to help cover the costs of therapy.

What I do provide, however, is something called a “super bill.”

A super bill is an itemized receipt that has my agency’s name and information, Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy Center, the clients name, birthday, a spot to input their insurance information (their insurance policy number) and a diagnosis.

Now.

Some clients don’t want a diagnosis.

They don’t want a paper trail or something saying “this is what’s wrong with me.”

There’s nothing wrong with you,  you are not broken.

You may have one or many areas that you will find succor by doing therapy.

Grief work.

Boundary setting.

Recovery from trauma.

Drug addiction, alcoholism, panic attacks, anxiety, depression.

This does not mean that you need to be “fixed” and often a diagnosis or a label leaves a client feeling like they are broken or need to take medications.

I am not opposed to medication either, there are certain things that really should be treated in conjunction with a psychiatrist, absolutely.

And.

If you don’t want to be labeled be aware that your insurance company will require your therapist to provide a diagnosis.

Now when I do a super bill for my client I explain what the diagnosis is that I have come up with and I do a thorough assessment and a few sessions before coming to anything definitive.  I do not give the diagnosis without consulting with my client.  I want to empower my client and help them understand the language of the diagnosis.  I leave the choice to them, always.

I let them know why I have come up with the diagnosis I have and then I go through the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) with them and clarify any questions they have.

I will also add, that for some clients, there is comfort in having a proper diagnosis.  Being able to name something that you are suffering through has distinct therapeutic benefits.

It all depends on you and what your needs are.

So if you have insurance that allows you to be reimbursed for your therapy sessions I will provide this super bill which you then turn over to your insurance company.

Some insurance providers won’t accept it, but many will.

I encourage you, I really do!  Should you be balking at therapy because you can’t find a therapist who takes insurance, and I’m not just saying myself, but any therapist that you make a connection with, find out if you can be provided a super bill.

It’s a kind of go around that many clients are not aware that they can have access to.

Yes.

You will still have to pay me up front, that’s the nature of the system, but you may often get some portion if not all of your session costs returned to you.

Talk to your insurance provider, find out if they will reimburse.

Get a super bill.

Get therapy.

It helps.

It really does.

It’s worth every penny.

And so are you.

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aging, Body Image, Food, Gratitude, Health, love, Self-Care, Spirituality

Embodied Gratitude

I recently had a birthday, another year older, another curly silver-grey hair sprouting from my temple.

I have been thinking a lot about my body and my relationship to my body as I age.

The only guarantee in life is that I will continue to get older, until that is I pass from this life and who can say what will happen then.

Although I do like to recall the lines from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself:

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
I like to think that I shall return as a blade of grass or the laugh of a child.
Yet.
I am here.
Now.
Still of this Earth and instead of despairing my body, which seems to be declining into a certain kind of age, I wish to celebrate it.
I wish to embrace my body, the skin that has started to sink around the knees and make a funny frown there.
I wish to see the curly silver sprout of hair springing from my head–although, yes, the first time I saw the dread intruders I did pluck them out.
No longer though, the salt in my pepper hair seems to be proper, alert, a flag gently waiving to the shore of wisdom.
I have perhaps not aged enough to be called “wise,” but I can see that shore, it is not as distant as before.
I also want to hold my belly in warm regard.
This soft creature that is my center–strong and soft–which is how I wish to be, strong for you, strong for me, but also tender, vulnerable, open to connection.
And.
It is also the place of deep intuition.
How often have I known I need to “trust my gut” in this situation, go with my instinct, feel that space and know that when it is perturbed there is a message being sent to the rest of my being.
Tread lightly, be cautious, be honest, integrity stems from my stomach.
And what a beautiful belly too.
For it holds that organ that processes all my food and feeds the rest of me, the brain that gets flush with deep thoughts, the mouth that wishes to talk, the heart that beats with or without me paying attention to it.
Let me embrace that part of my body and have appreciation for it rather than contempt.
I have too long-lived in contempt of my body.
Perhaps it is my age.
I am 46.
That is neither old nor young.
It is a resting place in between.
I cannot go back.
I cannot go but forward.
Which means that I must appreciate and love this body for the 46 years it has carried me, me, my mind, my soul, my psyche, my heart, through this world.
For without it I would not be here, typing away at my keyboard writing this.
An aside–how brilliant are fingers?
How nimble they dance across the QWERTY board.  How soothing they can be, a soft hand brushing hair off the forehead, a pat on the back, a warm squeeze between two friends, these appendages which pick apples, make coffee, wash dishes, write notes, light candles.  I am so grateful for my hands!
And please.
Do not start me on my feet and all the places they have allowed me to travel.
I used to bemoan my feet.
They are too big.
They are too flat.
I wished for something else.
I was young.
Now, again, I am perhaps not “old” but I am certainly more mature and with that maturity comes an appreciation of my feet for they have carried me over thresholds, walked me to school, ran through wet grass in July in a thunderstorm.
My feet get me to and fro and they certainly do not ask for much.
Well.
They do, of recent years, seem to get colder faster, so it seems they do ask to be kept warm and dry.
I am happy to provide them with cozy socks.
How grateful I am to have my limbs, all attached, accounted for, clothed?!
When I tell myself that my body isn’t enough, strong enough, fast enough, thin enough, I am disparaging this beautiful piece of art that was created just to carry me around in.
I am thankful every night for this beautiful body and deep in appreciation for what it does.
For what it still gets to do!
So.
I urge you.
Love up your body, give it some props, respect the journey it has taken you on.
Our bodies are miraculous.
Your body is.
My body is.
Grey hair, wrinkles, tender knees and all.
Every line an etching of laughter from a smile well smiled.
Every bit of me sings with gratitude for this body.
Even when it does not want to get out of bed in the morning.
Most assuredly then.
I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me 
is a miracle.
-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself
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