What's the F***ing Point episode 04: Annie Diomedes on "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

You guys. Last weekend, I watched a movie that left my jaw on. the. FLOOR. Afterwards I said that watching it felt like someone had reached into my chest, ripped out my heart, and gave it a giant hug. So many tears, but not necessarily sad ones.

My friend Annie watched the same film over the weekend, and we both felt so passionate about it that we got together and had a juicy conversation about feelings, unconditional worth, education, mindfulness, yoga, and more. 

The movie was the recently released documentary about Mr. Rogers, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" directed by Morgan Neville. I urge you to listen to this episode whether you have seen the film yet or not (it's a documentary y'all, spoilers are not a thing), because the topics we get into (and a few clips we listen to) transcend the film itself or even Fred Rogers himself. (Though I do absolutely recommend that you go watch it as soon as you possibly can — and catch trailer embedded at the bottom of this post.) 

"Won't You Be My Neighbor?" is especially poignant right now, because our country really needs to ask ourselves what Fred Rogers (or Ghandi, or Jesus, or Mother Teresa) would do. And I guaran-damn-tee you, right now he'd be doing a LOT to put a stop to the insane separation and detention of immigrant families and children.. And each of us can afford a little time and or cash to do our part, too. 

So let this serve as yet another reminder of the need for your voice and your support right now.

"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” -- Fred Rogers

To listen to today's episode, you can stream or download from the embedded player below, or find and subscribe in your fave podcast listening app. (And just a note, Apple is being slow AF with getting my new podcast art updated in iTunes, so if you're finding the pod that way, you'll still see art for WholeYou, a former mini podcast venture I did.)

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes

About Annie Diomedes (according to yours truly)

My guest for this episode, Annie Diomedes, is a fellow Nashvillian hailing from the midwest who teaches yoga and piano to kids. She is also an all-around Renaissance woman who can make you a killer playlist, bake you a fluffy loaf of homemade bread, and crochet you a blanket to keep you warm. Annie is also a featured teacher at 2018 Music City International Day of Yoga happening later this week! And she likes Buffy, which gives her instant credibility. You can keep up with her on the gram at @anniediomedes

Mentioned on Today's Show:

What's the F***ing Point episode 03: Laura Long on Radical Authenticity & Not Being an Asshole

If you enjoy that feeling of vacillating between laughing out loud (LOLing? maybe even LOLLERSKATING?** Maybe?) and sinking into profound thoughts like 20 times within a single hour, episode 3 with Laura Long is for you. 

Laura is a therapist for women and couples in the Greenville, SC area, and chief badass (my words, not hers) at Your Badass Therapy Practice, where she helps other therapists shine their lights even brighter. 

On the episode, Laura and I talk about:

  • how she developed a sense of radical authenticity
  • the lens through which she interprets her faith / spirituality
  • why things like tarot and astrology kiiind of frighten her
  • the 'x factor' of what makes feeling tiny/insignificant a positive experience rather than a nihilistic, depressing one
  • her fascination with relationships
  • ...and how we're all still figuring this shit out as we go along
  • why we're both obsessed with the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
  • how she cultivated the culture and space to step back and watch her tribe thrive 

To listen to today's episode, you can stream or download from the embedded player below, or find and subscribe in your fave podcast listening app. (And just a note, Apple is being slow AF with getting my new podcast art updated in iTunes, so if you're finding the pod that way, you'll still see art for WholeYou, a former mini podcast venture I did.)

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes

About Laura Long (LMFT-S)

Laura Long is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based near Greenville, South Carolina. She specialize in helping couples work through communication issues, sex and intimacy concerns, and those who are dealing with the aftermath of an affair. As the creator of Your Badass Therapy Practice, Laura helps therapists in private practice organize their business systems, streamline their marketing strategies, and fill their practices with the kind of clients they love working with. Laura is best known for her straight-up, no holds barred approach that often includes humor and…colorful language. You can connect with her through her mailing list (sign up at yourbadasstherapypractice.com), where she distills the secrets of successful entrepreneurs in a way that makes practice-building fun.

Mentioned on Today's Show:

**I CAN'T HELP MYSELF OKAY

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the power of just being there {mindfulness + presence}

mindfulness-being-there

As a therapist, I keep learning the lesson that my biggest job is to Just Be There.

They tell you this in grad school, and it’s written in so many of the psychology and therapy books… but sometimes when I experience it in the moment with a client, I am still amazed — and relieved — at how powerful and true it is.

Because also out there are thousands of books, articles, research papers, and courses dedicated to teaching you specific protocols and interventions and techniques and theories. Psychology as a field is still, in many ways, trying to prove itself as a science (when it is in fact a beautiful dance between science and art.)

I geek out about that stuff. It’s interesting and it’s valuable. But the volume of information and rigidity that can come with it are overwhelming (do it this way, not that way), and at times I have looked to books to give me a “recipe” for working with a client when I was struggling with self-doubt and feeling like a fraud. "Who am I to be helping people to get sober, to heal from trauma? If I can remember the specific interventions and questions from this protocol (verbatim!), I can do it. I can follow directions.”

And that’s BS. That’s what leads people to feel like they’re sitting across from a robot, and why many people try therapy once and don’t go back.The clinician is more concerned with “doing it right” than they are with really, truly being there.

I will say that in terms of education, it’s certainly for very good reason that anyone training for any type of counseling work receives boatloads of do’s and don’ts from an ethics standpoint. (Boundaries! Boundaries! And of course, there are clinicians out there who still overstep clear boundaries.) So in that sense, there are some specific conditions and ways of Being There and NOT Being There that have to exist for safety and trust to develop, especially in a clinical setting. But on the whole, the “therapeutic relationship” is touted as being the single most important factor of success in therapy, not which model was used or how well a therapist remembered and executed specific interventions in a specific order. Even then, I have stressed myself out at times, feeling like I have to know the specific recipe for building the Perfect Therapeutic Relationship.

And that’s where Just Being There comes in.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned hundreds of times already in my professional life, and that’s always a work in progress in my personal life, too:

The only thing that really, really matters at the end of the day is that you were there

One time, a client approached me after a group saying she was overwhelmed with anger and needed help so she didn't take it out on herself or someone else. She wasn't my individual client, but I'd done groups with her. When she asked me for help, the self-doubt crept in : “Why did my co-therapist have to borrow my anger block TODAY? They took all my plastic baseball bats, too? I don't think I have enough of a relationship with this client to be of much help. I wish her therapist were here today. What am I supposed to do?”

So after my brief internal freak-out, I improvised.

I didn’t use any special techniques or fancy interventions. I didn't say any magic insightful words.

I was just THERE, and walked through her pain with her. And what do you know — she felt that, and it helped her. She even mentioned in when she left a month later in the thank-you card she wrote me.

Another important thing to remember: It’s really easy to be physically present without being emotionally present, so we need to define what the latter means. In our culture that is increasingly oriented toward multitasking and suffering from — SQUIRREL! — digital overload, we are forgetting what it really means to be present with another person. I am talking to myself, too. So I want to offer a couple examples of definitions of mindfulness, which can equate with presence and “being there” with someone.

Mindfulness is: 

"Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

"Paying attention with openness, curiosity and flexibility.” (Russ Harris)

So your challenge is this: It’s back to basics. Whether you are in a helping profession or not, let your focus today be simply on the quality of your presence. Set the intention to bring curiosity, openness, and non-judgment into your interactions — whether in your work life or your personal relationships. 

I can promise that if you’re doing your best each day to align (and re-align) yourself with that kind of presence, you’re gonna be more than alright. And you’ll genuinely enrich the lives of others.

So get out there and be.

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let's get real about money: common sense is *not* common practice

Money In this era of "BIGGER! EXTREME! UPGRADE! MORE MORE MORE!", I feel a serious need right now to simplify and declutter. I'm not exactly hopping on the minimalist bandwagon yet, but this December has felt like the perfect time to purge. (Sidebar, I always feel kinda weird using that word given its very specific meaning in the eating disorder treatment world I live in. I digress; it's the word I need.)

I've been cleaning out my pantry, freezer, bookshelves, and home office over the past few days. Last week, I cleaned out my work office and rearranged my desk. I started working on my 2015 "Create Your Shining Year" goals workbook, and was slightly annoyed when I got to the section about financial goals.

I don't want to think about money! Money gives me anxiety that makes me want to crawl back in bed. That's not why I bought the workbook, after all! I just want to explore my goals in more fun and exciting parts of life, dammit.

Yep. Classic Ostrich Approach. So much happier with my head in the sand! ...until those days that I have to peek one eye open, and get anxious and frustrated about the state of affairs.

So what did I do? After some initial avoidance (just turn the page!), I made a decision to shift my annoyance about this particular interruption to my sparkly, fun goal-setting process. I realized that at this moment in my life, money IS the biggest obstacle to me feeling truly free. Stupid workbook knew exactly what it was doing.

2014 was a pretty kick-ass year for me, but I have just never been great with money, and this year was no exception. (Plus, even with help from parents, the wedding added on more-than-average expenses.) I have gotten better overall than I used to be, especially at not buying stupid crap (like $25 eyeshadows) or way more (low-quality) clothes than any reasonable person needs, but I have a ways to go.

I am a pro at creating budgets (noticed I said "creating," not following) and setting up accounts on things like Mint with the best of intentions (Momma always said the road to hell was paved with good intentions), but then tend to go back to Ostrich mode pretty quickly. I've also read and listened to a ton of material on personal finance, having followed Suze Orman and Ramit Sethi's work on and off for years now. But alas, as the adage goes... it's not what you know that matters; it's what you do. Common sense is not common practice.

What Scarcity & Gratitude Have To Do With It

Like most people, I don't like to feel restricted. Telling me I can't/shouldn't have a $4 latte just makes me really want a $4 latte. (That's one reason why Ramit's advice is so good -- he focuses a lot on the psychology and behavior change elements of personal finance.) It's all connected to our scarcity culture, fear of deprivation, and comparison/fear of not measuring up (gotta keep up with the Joneses, right?) As Brené Brown writes, "We wake up in the morning and we say, 'I didn't get enough sleep.' And we hit the pillow saying, 'I didn't get enough done.'" In one way or another, we believe that we never are enough, and that we never have enough. And of course, the opposite of scarcity is a mindset of abundance and gratitude.

Whenever I intentionally practice gratitude via  journaling or meditation, I usually (and understandably) focus on the most important things -- my family, my friends, a good job, a roof over my head, my health. And obviously it's important to be grateful for all of that. But I wonder... if I were to practice gratitude for the "stuff" in my life, perhaps I can develop more of an abundance mindset and be less threatened by the thought of scarcity or not measuring up that leads me to wanting more "stuff"?

It might sound silly, but go with me here: If I can practice gratitude for my breadth of education and my good collection of books (many of which I have yet to read!), perhaps I will feel less of an urgent need to educate myself further through expensive training courses and buying more and more books. (Ironically, Tara Mohr's new book, Playing Big, has helped me see how I use constant education-and-credential-seeking as a way to put off actions to play bigger NOW in my life.) After all, that is what most of my discretionary spending has been on in 2014.

The Power of Commitment + Action

For some reason, I feel more energized than ever right now to turn my knowledge about personal finance into real, life-changing action. The time is right, and I'm grabbing it. I've taken several actions already -- i.e. deleting all credit cards from my Amazon account and asking my husband to stow my cards away somewhere (most of them have $0 balance, but I want to put some serious obstacles in my way to overspending).  I made a commitment to myself that I'm not putting another dollar on a credit card for the foreseeable future -- maybe ever, but at least for a few years. And I'm now making that commitment here, too. The research is mixed on whether making a public commitment toward a goal helps or hinders it, but a great piece on this topic from Scientific American posits that, "The more you publicly commit to an attitude, the better able you are to resist any attempts to change it, and this is largely due to those increases in confidence and perceived importance/centrality."

So there it is. Some vulnerability and honesty that, while I have my shit together in a lot of ways, I also have some serious work to do in this area. And I'm guessing some of you reading this know what that's like. It's one of the topics we most want to avoid talking about, even with close friends and family, which means it's probably exactly what we need to talk about.

If any of this resonates with you, I invite you to join me! Take your head out of the sand, get clear and current with your finances, and talk to someone about it. Ain't nothin' to be ashamed of. And if you want to share your own questions, worries, or reflections in the comments, I'd love to engage on this topic.