Sunday, December 30, 2012

Is Your Communication Style Insulting or Inspiring?

Is Your Communication Style Insulting or Inspiring?

by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

Is your communication style insulting, belittling, or inspiring?  When writing comments in the first person, it guarantees me not to exclude myself from what is being discussed.  Thus, I take on the responsibility to what I write or say.  I don't direct the comment to someone else.  Rather I try to influence.  For instance, "when I am not expressing my own creative potential, I focus on blame in a relationship instead of focusing on creativity."  I take on the responsibility personally.

On the other hand, if I write in third person, I direct the comment to others so that now I am more of a judge and juror than someone trying to support and uplift.  For example, "when people aren't expressing their own potential, they focus blame on the relationship instead of focusing on their creativity."  Do you see the difference?  Do you feel the difference?

Many of us say and believe we are inspiring others into awareness; but when it really comes down to it, we are judging others; we are not inspiring others.  I do this myself probably more often than I should.  Here's another example; but this one is in second person: "As you waste your breath complaining about life, someone out there is breathing their last."  How do you feel when you read this?  To me, this one sounds as though the person writing is belittling me and pointing fingers; rather than inspiring me.

Of course, there is a time and place to write and talk in second and third person for sure.  And, to get a point across, sometimes people need a wake up call with the second person - kind of in your face direct wake up call.  Third person may be a little more gentle.  Nonetheless, it is still talking about you and me rather than about the writer.

Why did I write about first, second, and third person pronouns?  For sometime now, I have been scanning through posts from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  For a while, I couldn't understand why I would get agitated and then "hide" certain posts.  Me, the curious cat, needed to uncover why this subtle physiological arousal was happening.  Always interested in communication and relationships especially after reading Marshall B. Rosenberg's books, Speak Peace in a World of Conflict and Nonviolent Communication, I started to figure out that it is not what is being said but how it is being said.  Thus, some posts would inspire me and others would agitate me.

To sum up, is your communication style insulting, pointing fingers, or inspiring?  Just remember that you, me, and they must remember the importance of communication - tone of voice, pronouns and words used, and physiology expressed.  Additionally, how we communicate things may be more important than what we communicate depending on the purpose of the communication.

A note: This is quite a simplified explanation in regards to communication; but it brings out the basics.  Using the various pronouns can also be very inspiring.  So give your words some thought before you verbally express them.  Or, rather, have your purpose in mind about the conversation you desire.  Setting an intention, ultimately, will set the tone of the conversation.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Injustice Anywhere . . .

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Justice for Peace

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Justice for Peace

"Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere"
[Martin Luther King]

Friday, December 28, 2012

As Women, We Must . . .

As Women, We Must . . .

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Clarity and Enlightenment are Within You

Clarity and Enlightenment are Within You

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Many of us seem to believe that we need to move or travel to the far East or elsewhere to regain clarity and enlightenment.  Although the experience is grand, we gain clarity and enlightenment where we are now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Meanings of Christmas

The Meanings of Christmas

"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." 
[Calvin Coolidge]

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."
[Hamilton Wright Mabi] 

"The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others' burdens, easing other's loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas."
[W. C. Jones] 

"My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?"
[Bob Hope]

"Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display--so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn't the holly, it isn't the snow. It isn't the tree not the firelight's glow. It's the warmth that comes to the hearts of men when the Christmas spirit returns again."

Wishing You All A Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, too!

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Training With Uncertainty

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Training With Uncertainty

"Many of us prefer practices that will not cause discomfort, yet at the same time we want to be healed. But bodhichitta (awakened heart and mind) training doesn't work that way. A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s also what makes us afraid." 

Excerpted from: The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron. 

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Friday, December 7, 2012

Can Capitalism Coexist With the Environment?

Can Capitalism Coexist With the Environment
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

Industrial capitalism stimulated economic growth by way of trade and a global mass market based on mass production.  With the rise of the industrial revolution, slavery and serfdom were uprooted and the lower social class could now earn wages and own property.  Fluidity between classes became apparent.  Thus, capitalism brought benefits such as freedom of choice, a competitive market, private ownership, and economic and political independence.  Nonetheless, can a capitalist system coexist with the environment?  Capitalism brought “domination and exploitation” (Parkinson & Drislane, 2011, p.163) over the working class, conglomerate control of industry, and destruction to the ecological system.  The major concerns of a capitalist system in relationship with the environment is the attitude of maximizing corporate capital at all costs, even at the expense of abolishing the environment by way of industrial pollution, such as toxic chemicals, sacrificing public health, and the free trade agreement.   

With the growth and expansion of technology and production by way of a capitalist system, an abundance of toxic waste products began to accumulate from various corporate industries; and, in order to maintain a profit, the industrial corporations needed to dispose the toxic materials with minimal expenses.  Oil, gas, uranium ore mining, and steelmaking industries created massive levels of toxic chemical wastes.  Thus, toxic dump sites were established in many rural Northern communities across Canada, as well as other areas, with negligence to the occupants, lake water, soil absorption, and air quality.  For example, the Inuit communities of the Northwest Territories were “exposed to excessive radiation from uranium ore” from the nearly “two million tons of radioactive [material] dumped into the Great Bear Lake” without the federal Crown corporation warning individuals about the dangers of being exposed to the toxic chemicals (Brym, 2008, p.286). As Barlow and May stated, it was not only careless, it was a criminal act (p.286).  Individuals living in toxic waste dump sites suffered with health problems and many died from tuberculosis and cancer (p.286).  Human lives, animals, fisheries, and the ecological system were destroyed in doing what was ‘right’ for the corporation: maximizing corporate profits at all costs by minimizing expenses and allowing the Inuits the suffer from the Crown corporations consequences!   

Because there is great pressure placed on the government by corporate lobbyists to do what is right for the corporation, and so that the corporation does not suffer from any financial ramifications, the government submits to the pressure.  The lax government authority for the safety of the environment and human welfare seems to imply that Canada takes a backseat “treat[ing] toxic chemicals as though they have constitutional rights – innocent until proven guilty” (p.290).  Even when the government took action to ban a toxic chemical called MMT, they found themselves in a predicament when a U.S. based corporation lost profits and held Canada accountable.  The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signifies a capitalist system to its fullest rank that maximizes profits for the sacrifice of human health and the environment. 

“[U]nder provisions of Chapter II of NAFTA, companies from one of the three NAFTA countries [Canada, USA, Mexico] who lose profits based on a regulatory decision in one of the other countries can sue the government for damages” (p.291).  

A case in point was Ethyl Corp, which sued Canada for “damages in the amount of $350 million” (p.291) when the Canadian government took action to ban MMT.  To add, in the court proceedings Ethyl Corp.'s Canadian lawyer Barry Appleton said, "it wouldn't matter if a substance was liquid plutonium destined for a child's breakfast cereal.  If the government bans a product and a U.S.-based company loses profits, the company can claim damages under NAFTA" (p.291).
In summary, for a healthy relationship to coexist between capitalism and the environment, reform must take place to regulate pollution and implement laws, which neither government nor corporations can overpass, that protect the environment and mankind.  Awareness of the present danger of toxic chemicals needs to be a united and global issue.  Nonetheless, once the capitalist clutches the taste of wealth, power, exploitation, and control, how do they slow down the ravenous?  Whether it is the capitalist system itself or the lax in governmental laws in free trade and pollution regulations, our environmental health is in danger. 

Brym, R. J. (2008). Industrial Pollution in Canada. Society in Question (5th ed.). (pp. 285-292). Toronto, Ontario: Nelson Education Limited.

Parkinson and Drislane. (2011). The Canadian Economy and New Forms of Work. Exploring Society: Pathways in sociology (2nd ed.). (pp. 181-189). Toronto, Ontario: Nelson Education Limited.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Constipation of Emotions - Let it Go!

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Why do so many of us have to justify why we feel a certain way; and why do we have to explain why we feel the way we do?  I have heard sayings like: I had a good cry today.  We all need it once in a while.  I got angry because I was upset, and I know I shouldn't do that so I am sorry everyone.  What the hell!

I think modern society is so plugged up, it can't see straight!  We are so constipated, we forgot how to let go of our emotions.  Back in the past, and in many communal lifestyles today, it is natural to express - to release emotions; not to feel embarrassed or guilty about them.  In these communities, nobody justifies why they cry or why they get sad or down one day.  They just feel it and move on.  That's it.  Western societies make such a huge parade around emotions like "I did it; but I won't do it again.  I promise."  Or "something is wrong with me."

Justifying and explaining why you feel a certain way is putting way to much meaning on something as natural as a bowel movement.  The modern society believes so strongly that we shouldn't express; instead we would rather pop pills and go for some specialized treatment to fix ourselves.  Emotions are like the gut.  If they are stuck, the messy matter will rot and cause further damage to the system.

The obstruction of emotions in our body, just like the obstruction of stool matter in our intestines, is virtually the same thing.  Obstruction or constipation causes health, mental, and emotional problems.  Let GO of your emotions with pride.  They are as natural as your skin, teeth, hair, freckles, liver, and heart.  Learn to appreciate them.  Perhaps releasing our emotions regularly and with love would bring out the best in all of us.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We Come from This World

We Come from This World
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

We do not come into this world, we come from this world.  We must realize this connection between us and life - you and nature.  When we come to realize the intimate connection we have with this living world and celestial skies, our thoughts, feelings, and actions change; and in an instant, we begin to respect and love all things including ourselves.  We also begin to let go of what does not serve us, such as particular thoughts, emotions, and people; and we begin to live with purpose and meaning.

If only we could learn to live in this world knowing that we come from this world, we would know our stay is brief; and, thus, should be intentional.  Just as the planet and all living things on and within the planet recycles itself, so do we.  In various 'forms,' life itself will last forever; but nothing will ever stay the same. Everything keeps moving, recycling, and re-birthing including our planet and the universe.  Ultimately, we cannot "save" the planet just as we cannot save the leaves on a tree that need to fall; and neither can we save ourselves.  What we can do, however, is be naturally connected and intentional, live on purpose, make meaning, and realize we all come from this world.  We are not separate from the world.  We are the world; we are the galaxies; we are the universe.  We are both very small and very big at the same time.

Know that life comes to an end, sooner rather than later.  Whether you like change or not, the recycle process will continue.  You cannot stop this movement.  So in the end, be connected to who you are today, listen carefully to the voice within and the whisperings around you, and live intentionally.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Earth Has a Breaking Point

Earth Has a Breaking-Point

by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

“Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations.” -Karl Marx, Ecologist

After reading Marx's statement, are we too late in changing our behavior or the laws when it comes to saving the planet?  I believe humans are resilient, but just as we humans have a tolerance level, the earth also has a tolerance level as well as a breaking point when we endure too much stress or too many toxins. 

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beneath the Appearance of Capitalism

Beneath the Appearance of Capitalism
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

"Competitive capitalism, allied with a culturally sanctioned acquisitiveness and driven by calculated pursuit of profit, is only at surface a rational form of society.  Beneath the appearance of dispassionate practicality is a deep and suppressed conflict between the mechanical regulation of daily life on the one hand, and human imagination, creativity, and emotion on the other" (Parkinson & Drislane, 2011, p. 129).

How, then, can capitalism provide for a peaceful, stable, and ordered social life offering a rich social life of shared values and activities?  Is it even possible?

Capitalist societies are one's of individualism, self-reliance, self-service, individual freedom, and achievement for one's own personal goals.  Now this may sound great to some, and I can understand that, too.  However, capitalism seems to have also created a world of alienation, disconnect, and depersonalization, a world that lacks social values and bonds, mutual obligation, family, and community.  A life without these things can seem meaningless, less fulfilling, and even self-destructive.  Emile Durkheim, a sociologist, stated that there was a definite link between the rate in suicides and the surrounding society.  He expressed that "individuals were far less likely to commit suicide where the surrounding society upheld strong traditional norms and values . . . [and] where they were strongly integrated into family, group and community" (Parkinson & Drisdale, 2011, p. 133).

Community, social bonds, social values, and social norms create connection and social solidarity. They give individuals guidance and direction. They give a sense of belonging and responsibility to a mutual group that has mutual goals.  Strength and meaning is found through community, culture, and traditions, all of which are rewarding and internally rich.

By studying various statistics in psychology and sociology, you would be amazed to see the spike in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.  Why?  Disconnection, perhaps.  Are all of our personalized self-serving goals actually giving us mental and emotional health issues?  We become so self-absorbed in what we are doing, making every human transaction a potential profit or a self-serving need, that we forget to sincerely connect with others.  I strongly believe that good physical health begins with good mental and emotional health.  Here is a couple of example: I was suffering with intense IBS for about 3 weeks this past month.  It was awful!   The moment I left my office for a couple of days leaving work and studies behind, and connecting with my family: my sons and the in-laws, miraculously, the IBS disappeared.  Another was when I was feeling stressed, fatigued, and in pain.  I was exhausted from exams and continued studies.  I watched a comedy show with a friend for about an hour.  The show was hilarious (I wish I could remember what it was).  Anyways, together we laughed our socks off .  Miraculously, once again, my energy and spirits were lifted.  Coincidence or getting connected?

In the end, whatever the dominant economy is, today it is capitalism, social solidarity and togetherness - feeling really connected with others - is important and vital to your mental, emotional, and physical health.  Be well, and make choices to connect with others that are healthy for you.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Invitation by Oriah

by Oriah

It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn't interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Excerpted from The Invitation, by Oriah
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Microcosm to Penn State Child Sex Abuse

The Microcosm to Penn State Child Sex Abuse
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

Wolverton writes in The Chronicles of Higher Education stating that according to the 267-page independent report released on July 12th 2012,

“A reverence for football was largely to blame for a series of missteps by to Pennsylvania State University administrators in failing to report repeated allegations of child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky” (2012).

In addition to this,

“Two Penn State officials—Graham B. Spanier, the university's former president, and Joe Paterno, the revered coach—took the brunt of criticism in the report. They and other top leaders displayed a "total disregard for the safety and welfare" of children, the report says, and hid critical facts from authorities about the alleged abuses.”[. . . ]“The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized,” Mr. Freeh said (2012).

The report further concluded that said officials and other top leaders refrained from coming forward to “avoid the consequences of bad publicity.”

In addition to the revealed material, a comment was made in regards to why sex abused children respond the way they do. 

“I wonder how much of the "pay[ing] dearly throughout their lives through issues of trust, self-esteem, etc." is a result of the activity itself and how much is a result of a societal "abuse infrastructure" with a vested interest in making sure that the child knows that they are supposed have such issues and through the whole massive majesty of the Child Services bureaucracy and the judicial system making it clear that the only acceptable response on the child's part is self-loathing and hatred toward the others. Carefully cultivating the child's "victimhood" by those with a vested interest in perpetuating such a culture of victimhood is as unfortunate as any other aspect of this whole situation” (Eveland, 2012).

Not only were these children being ignored during the heinous crime of sexual abuse for 14 long years, we now have Eveland, an organizational and clinical psychologist, stating that society is conditioning children to be victims of these heinous sex crimes and to respond with self-loathing and hatred toward others.  Where is the understanding?  Is Eveland saying that children that undergo sexual abuse surface unscathed, and that it is only social conditioning causing their feeling to turn them into a “culture of victimhood?”  Penn states victims as well as many other abused children don’t get heard the first, second, or even third and fourth time; and, when (or if) the crime is finally exposed, the children don’t get heard once again because apparently society has conditioned this cognitive process into their minds.  A view like this shuts the abused child down.  Rather than the abused child express his/her inner pain, he/she is taught that what she/he feels is wrong, and that it has been socially conditioned into her/him to feel or think this way.  Where is the justice for the child with a statement such as this?  First, a child is ignored of his/her complaints of sex abuse.  Second, a child is ignored of his/her complaints of self-loathing and hatred.

For many years, children and women have been socialized to keep their voices quiet.  As a result, sex crimes were rarely reported.  If they were reported, the children and women were questioned in courts to the point of twisting evidence so that they were to blame for the cause of the crime.  As a result, children and women did not come forward because they could not endure a second blast of shame.  With courage and persistence, women and their children finally overcame this archaic and male dominating social system.  Finally, sex abused children and women were able to begin the process of healing because they came forward and expressed the psychological damage these crimes cause.

Penn State’s child sex abuse is a microcosm to many families around the world experiencing sex crimes but go unnoticed.  The Joe Paterno’s and the Graham B. Spanier’s are also some of the parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers, and sisters that turn a blind eye to the sex crimes that occur under their noses.  To demonstrate, many sex abused children around the world don’t belong to a high profile university. Neither do they live with big-named officials, presidents, or leaders.  What Penn State’s officials and leaders have in common with many average families that experience sex crimes is that they refrain from coming forward to avoid the consequences of bad publicity whether it be with mass media for Pen State or the local community for the family.  What they don’t have in common is that the individuals from Penn State that committed perjury and failed to report suspected abuse were at minimum brought to court.  The individuals that had a total disregard for the safety and welfare of the children came under “scathing public criticism,” resigned, discredited, and/or fired.  Additionally, Penn State’s victims were acknowledged for what had happened.  The people that chose to turn a blind eye to the sex crimes had minor penalties but at least some.  There was no question; there had to be consequences for such a huge organization prominent in the public eye.  On the other hand, it’s very different for the small families with children of sex crimes.  Many aren’t noticed, acknowledged, or understood at all.   

The shame of this tragedy is that children continue to remain in the dark unnoticed and forgotten when it comes to these atrocious sex crimes.  Then we have educated professionals that state an unambiguously clear-cut  point-of-view that could radically push back these children to their shaded lives.

When I birthed my children I received a Canadian Health Passport from the Ministry of Health for each child.  Within the cover, the United Nations Declares 10 Rights of the Child, the first one being the right to affection, love, and understanding.

Penn State’s Culture of Reverence Led to ‘Total Disregard’ for Children’s Safety. (2012,
July 12). The Chronicles of Higher Education. Retrieved September 16, 2012, from

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

What One Can Feel When Excluded from a Game

What One Can Feel When Excluded from a Game
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Persons who were excluded from participating in a game showed a similar pattern of brain activation (in the right ventral prefrontal cortex) as participants experiencing physical pain measured by fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).  Something to think about.

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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Most Powerful Tool to Support Others


Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

When was the last time you acknowledged or validated others? Or, acknowledged or validated you? To acknowledge something or someone means to recognize as being valid or true.  For example: when your son rides his bicycle without falling, you acknowledge this truth to him; when your employee arrives on time for one week, you recognize this and let him/her know; and, when your client is courageous in an action, you confirm this with her/him.  The odd fact is, though, many of us seem to implicitly believe that acknowledging is not important; thus, it is taken for granted that others already know what they do well or where their strengths lie.  Nonetheless, even if others know their truths, doesn’t it feel better to have someone recognize and validate it?  Of course it does.
With my experiences in coaching women clients, I believe many individuals have not experienced a huge amount of encouragement or acknowledgment growing up, and, in the end, it doesn't come natural to do it for others or ourselves.  As a result, this leaves us neither knowing how to give nor receive a simple yet powerful tool that will support others and ourselves for miles of trials.

A few examples to show how acknowledging can support others:
  • Having someone endorse you when you are afraid to forge ahead; 
  • Focusing on your strengths when all you see are your weaknesses; 
  • Wanting a better way for you when you find it hopeless; 
  • Holding your vision high when you are down; 
  • Recognizing your talents and accomplishments when you are blind to see them.
Acknowledgement is one of the most powerful tools to begin gaining trust within one’s self and to move someone into action.  It is a way to solidify what you know but haven’t really confirmed with yourself.  A simple acknowledgement is a way to bring out the best in others. It is a way to shed the light so they can see their true and unlimited potential.  Acknowledging is a powerful technique to give someone strength and courage through their, sometimes very fearful, endeavours.

Additionally, toddler hears the word no an astonishing 400 times a day.  Besides the no word, many children and teens, right up until adulthood and beyond, are scolded, belittled, and even mocked.  As an Acknowledger, you strengthen someone’s inner-worth.  Acknowledging is a precious and invaluable gift to acquire and give freely to others. There is not enough gold or diamonds on this planet that will bring that sense of empowerment, warmth, and love to someone's heart as they grow into acceptance towards this gift and their own strengths.

Don't wait.  Begin acknowledging someone you love today for their strengths, talents, emotions, attributes, skills, and everything else in-between.  Be genuine in your acknowledgements and they will go far.

"You get the best effort from others 
not by lighting a fire beneath them, 
but by building a fire within" 
[Bob Nelson].

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Your Voice Matters


Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Self-expression keeps us healthy.  The fact is, though, some women have not been given justice to live with self-expression, and, in the end, they have lost their individuality as a powerful woman.  Living in an oppressive environment, children and women are forcefully pushed down and silenced.  This behavior, then, becomes them.  They continue to protect themselves by keeping quiet, and, of course, in extreme situations, this is important.  As a result of not expressing their needs and desires, though, their vibrancy for life dies. Their messages get diluted and distorted by not conveying them at all, or eventually over-reacting, or resolving to self-destructive or passive behaviors.

The expression of one's individuality is a human right.  When you express your individuality fully, you are actually treating yourself with self-respect, self-love, and self-acceptance.  This is extreme self-care.

Further, I've come to realize that moving through the difficulties of life is about how much elasticity you are willing to give yourself. Making it through the extremes of life is not about ignoring the emotional or mental challenges. It is about having the ability and strength to return to integrity by fully expressing your individuality, and, at the same time, cultivating your inner-richness and beauty of being a powerful and free woman.

Holistic healing is about reclaiming your integrity to let self-love spontaneously arise. You don't need a plan of action to start. To move through life's chaos, you need to dig deep and grab onto every ounce of determination and perseverance and know that life can be better. As difficult as it may feel to express yourself fully, you can decide to take action to heal your life today.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Uncover True Happiness for the Deeply Hurt

Uncover True Happiness for the Deeply Hurt

By Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

There are so many wonderful shares on the social media networks. It's great to see various positive quotes about healing to support our community, family, friends, or neighbors.  Reminding others to be optimistic and positive can raise them from a place of despair to, at least, a glimpse of light or hope; and, that is a good thing!  Frankly speaking, though, this is not a form of deep healing to uncover true happiness for the deeply hurt.

After a while, you get this bottleneck of meaningful messages that lose their potency. For sure, positive psychology has its place.  I am a supporter of this field.  Nonetheless, let us consider the individuals that have suffered deeply and need more intense healing.  What I see happening is that this field is creating various personas filled with masked hurts, anger, pain, and deep despair. Is the positive thinking holding these individuals back from really healing what is harboring deep inside?

There is a huge wave going on in this world today making it almost impossible not to believe anything different.  When we get caught up in these social waves, we lose our critical thinking cap.  The mentality is, because everyone else is doing it, it must be right.  Is positive psychology just another wave to conform to a way of living that others keep promoting but, in the end, the results are still the same?  Meaning, there is no deep internal change because of the avoidance to the source of the problem.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approx. 1 in 4 Americans are diagnosed each year with low self-esteem (lack of self-worth) as an underlying issue.  Consumption of antidepressants is soaring not declining.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that there has been an increase of 400% in antidepressant prescriptions in the last two decades.  Is this wave of positive psychology really working? Thinking positively works wonders especially after the deep hurts have been resolved.  Nevertheless, let us not forget about the many victims of odious crimes that cannot quickly turn on the positive attitude.  So then, how do we uncover true happiness for the deeply hurt?

First, metaphorically speaking let me give an example about what happens to the congestion of messes that never get resolved or cleaned up. A cow Pasteur has many piles of dung (unresolved issues). You tip toe around the piles to get where you need to go (avoidance). You are always on guard and anxious because you are never sure if you're going to step in a pile of mess and make a bigger mess (fear that words, thoughts, and emotions may arise and you won’t know what to do with them).  Sooner or later, you would think that the best thing to do is to take a shovel and begin cleaning this mess up (confronting your pain).  For many, though, this may seem like too much work, so, instead, you throw sweet smelling flowers (positive thinking) on the dung and continue to ignore it. In the end, though, the dung is still covering much of the Pasteur, and, its presence still smells bad (negative thoughts not resolved are still harbouring within your mind and body causing physical, mental, and emotional discomfort). To add, the pile up (congestion) starts to get onto other things that pass through the Pasteur (other relationships). As a result, you become hypersensitive (reactive) to every situation because you have to be extremely cautious to where you walk and how you place yourself (and what you say).  You have to make sure you keep balance; otherwise, if you fall down, it will be a disaster (life will fall apart as you know it).

For this reason, placing a blanket of positive thinking will not change a thing, internally; thus, this reflects externally. In the end, the heavy dark pit in the bowels of your belly will remain.  Here is a Sufi Parable that is so fitting in this moment.

An old man was walking home late one night when he saw a friend on his knees under a street light, searching for something.
"What are you doing?" he asked his friend.
"I dropped the key to my house."
"I'll help you look."
After a few minutes of frustrated searching, the old man asked,
"Where exactly were you when you dropped this key?"
His friend pointed toward the darkness, "Over there."
"Then why are you looking for it here?"
"Because this is where the light is."

To conclude, healing takes deep soulful work.  By clearing up the mess at its source, you uncover true happiness.  A huge hollow empty space becomes you.  The lotus flower rises to the surface and you gain crystal clarity.  You finally begin to see your own beauty.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Connecting to Joy After Trauma

Connecting to Joy After Trauma

by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

Not everyone has the ease of connecting to the emotion called joy.  Many of us ‘assume’ that this emotion comes natural for all of us.  I have done a bit of research into why a few of us have to work at this connection.  For instance, many individuals who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from war or have experienced other traumatic events which have ignited PTSD, such as rape, sexual abuse, natural disasters, physical injury, bullying, domestic violence, etc., have to make a concerted effort to work at feeling joy.

The emotion of joy does not arise within trauma victims when we have lost trust and confidence in life (or in others); and, the greater the loss, the deeper the scar.  It’s not to say that this emotion, called joy, cannot happen.  It can occur; but, it takes conscious effort to feel it.

I watched a great interview, in Thompson Rivers University library, on an individual that had PTSD.  It was a beautiful interview of a vulnerable Vietnam veteran that talked about his experience at war, and how he had to work through this stress disorder when he came back home to live with his wife and two children.  What stood out the most for me was when he said that his greatest loss was the loss of his innocence.  He can never get that back; and, it still brings tears to his eyes.  Additionally, working at being happy or joyful was another.  He said that many individuals take happiness for granted – moving in and out of the emotion with ease and believing that everyone else should be able to do the same.  He said that it didn’t work that way with someone that had PTSD, and that he had to, without a doubt, work at connecting with joy every day.  When so many individuals have let him down, it’s difficult to overcome this loss of trust.

In the end, this Vietnam veteran was able to pull through, and, at the same time, learn to experience joy; however, he continues to work at it.  Some of his soldier friends could not pull through.  This was something extremely difficult for him to talk about.  He, now,  has his Masters in Social Work and works with other post-traumatic stress disorder clients, not only war veterans but other trauma victims of rape and abuse.

My intention to writing this article is for the readers not to take the ease of experiencing joy with such simplicity and naivete.  Connecting to joy is not always easy for the many who have experienced trauma.  Although, it can be possible for most, it takes much work.  We find our ways.      

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh        

Friday, June 29, 2012

What One Fears, One Destroys

What one fears, one will reject, abuse, ignore, deny, discriminate, judge, condemn, belittle . . . you got it.  It is the unknown that one fears.  In the end, get to know whatever you fear to move beyond these feelings that will hinder you and others.
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Thursday, June 21, 2012