hard work

Tender Loving Care for a Marriage
anarchy | beauty | eros | errors | gratitude | happiness | hard work | healing | hope | kindness | life and death | life model | marriage | maturity | missing people | real friends | redemption | Sabin Howard | vulnerability | wholeness

Tender Loving Care for a Marriage

Tender Loving Care for a Marriage

Sabin and I came to a dark and stormy place in our marriage.

That diction belies the fresh and cutting pain of such a place and time.

When we both returned to the marriage, we sought help in putting things back together. There are books, websites, and videos that have helped us, and that continue to do so. I write this blog for people like us who are working to strengthen their marriage.

It’s a deeply heartfelt journey to restore a marriage to love and harmony.

One resource for us is Dr. Dana Fillmore’s Strong Marriage Now site, www.strongmarriagenow.com. Her videos and blog posts tell it like it is, spell out effective strategies for working through marital issues, and offer hope to a bewildered spouse floundering with the despair of a marriage on the rocks. There’s not a moment of fluff. She talks about personal responsibility and strategies for effective communication. Of particular note are the videos on “How to Get Your Partner Checked Back In,” “Get Over Past Pain – Forgive,” and “7 Steps to an Effective Apology.” I also liked her “Surviving an Affair” series.

Dr. Fillmore emphasizes time spent together in her valuable “StrongMarriageNow System.” At least 8 hours per week, she insists. Eight hours per week, every week. I think back over the past few years with Sabin and I realize, if he and I had been spending 8 hours a week together, we never would have come to the treacherous shoals of near divorce. Her “StrongMarriageNow System” is important. It’s worth the investment of time and money for anyone who cares about their marriage. Buy it now.

Note: I’m not an affiliate! I used her program and found it helpful. Her program became a springboard for me to explore the wealth of published wisdom on strengthening a marriage.

Somewhere in Dr. Fillmore’s website or blog, she recommended “The 5 Languages of Love,” and I bought this book by Gary Chapman. Sabin and I both took the quiz, and we discovered that his primary love language is Physical Touch, and mine is Quality Time. Neither of us had our love language spoken to us when we were separated by vast distances. It was a recipe for disaster.

I liked this book “The 5 Languages of Love: The Secret to Love that Lasts” and I recommend it for couples. It’s worth exploring how you and your mate each feel and receive love.

Isn’t that ultimately the point of the sacred union of marriage? To share joy and communion and to make each other feel safe and profoundly connected to each other? To be the one person who is the bulwark against the vagaries of fate, the one person who’s always there for your mate.

Googling online one morning over my coffee–coconut sugar and heavy whipping cream, please–I discovered a YouTube Video of Dr. John Gottman speaking. He was giving a lecture at a Rotary Club on “Making Relationships Work.”

I was electrified!

Dr. Gottman is an MIT-trained researcher with more than four decades of experience in carefully studying marriages, what makes them work and how they fail. His “4 Horseman of the Apocalypse“: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling shocked me with their truthfulness. I saw immediately that Sabin stonewalls, and that I, yes, alas, I am critical.

It was evident that I needed to work on myself so I wasn’t critical.

In a general way, our pattern is mirrored by men and women at large. Dr. Gottman says that 85% of stonewallers in a heterosexual marriage are men.

Defensiveness is when we don’t take responsibility for our part, or any part, of the problem.

Worst of all is contempt. “Contempt is sulfuric acid for love,” says Dr. Gottman, and it actually erodes the immune system.

It hit me like a lightning bolt across the steppes to have these 4 toxic styles of relating articulated so clearly. I don’t enjoy having my failings pointed out to me, but I want my marriage to work. I don’t want to be a critical wife. I want to be a loving and respectful wife. Not a doormat–a loving and respectful wife. In fact, I intend to be a loving and respectful person.

Dr. Gottman also discusses what makes a marriage work, the strategies employed by “the Masters” who have happy, successful marriages. He talks about creating an atmosphere of fondness and admiration; about turning towards each other, especially when one spouse makes a bid for connection; about exploring each other’s love maps; and about accepting influence from each other. Especially, he notes, a husband accepting influence from his wife will strengthen the marriage.

I watched all the Dr. Gottman videos I could find, and then I bought some of his books. “The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work” is wonderful. The sections on ‘Solving solvable conflicts’ and ‘Coping with conflicts you can’t resolve’ are useful in the loveliest ways. Every marriage endures conflict, even the happiest marriage. What matters is how conflict is handled.

It’s no easy thing to rectify and restore a marriage. It’s no easy thing to keep a marriage strong. Besides the internal relating styles that can complicate matters, there are external forces working to dissolve a marriage.

There are predatory women who want to scoop up other women’s husbands; there are low class women who come for a job interview and drop their knickers. There are selfish men who, if they want her, don’t care whether or not a woman is married or if there is a child involved. These sorts will manipulate to achieve their own ends. Their manipulations can be devastating for a marriage.

There are other negative outside influences that can derail a marriage. There are nasty in-laws. There are so-called “friends” who want to break up the marriage for their own spiteful or self-interested purposes. In my opinion, those types should be avoided as soon as they’re identified.

It’s easy enough to get married but hard to stay married. It’s the hardest thing we do, perhaps. It requires constant self-monitoring and constant accommodation and regular sacrifice.

Marriage requires sacrifice because it is sacred. Sanctity requires hard work and sacrifice. It’s the most poignant endeavor of all. It’s the hardest road to walk–and the most important, the most human.

To anyone out there who reads this blog post hoping for help for their painfully unsettled marriage: Welcome, and God Speed. I pray that these suggestions help you. I offer you my blessing.

Sabin Howard and Traci Slatton

Returning to Source and Writing Again
anarchy | apocalyptic | authors | beauty | dystopian | eros | errors | friends | gratitude | happiness | hard work | healing | hope | horror | I am | kindness | life and death | life model | love | marriage | maturity | missing people | passings | real friends | redemption | sex | spiritual teachings | vulnerability | wholeness | writing

Returning to Source and Writing Again

Write again, they are telling me. You must write, Traci. 

It’s the new theme: writing again.

The past twelve months have been excruciating. I am struggling.

It’s been a year of comings and goings from my life; intermittency like a suddenly thrown grenade blew up my peace of mind. It has been a year of travel, loss, loneliness, bad advice, uncertainty, sadness, emptiness, tough choices, betrayal, humiliation.

It has also been a year of joy: the birth of my beautiful grandson, deepening friendships, richer closeness with my sweet middle daughter. A lot of yoga! Books newly cherished. A beautiful place that has come into my consciousness as a home.

Change is afoot.

Write again, my husband says, as if that will erase everything that has passed between us. His eyes are soft and his voice is loving as he counsels me. Write again. He holds me often throughout the day.

His hands on my shoulders, my arms, my breasts, my belly help me. He is kind. And I am still struggling.

In every moment brims the fullness of the spiritual imperative: We are here to love, to learn, to work, and to play. We are here to choose love over fear.

Why then this heart ache?

For what reason did I come here? I’ve asked myself a thousand times over the last span of time.

What is the imperative that I am mindful of it?

How have I betrayed myself?

I suspect it’s the effort to answer these questions that will heal me. It’s the journey itself that will return me to Source–whatever the destination may be.

 

 

From HuffPo: Review of ADDicted, A Sensitive Film About Adderall Abuse
5 star review | anarchy | errors | hard work | healing | maturity | mind-body connection | movies

From HuffPo: Review of ADDicted, A Sensitive Film About Adderall Abuse

This is my review of ADDicted, first posted on the Huffington Post.

In the way that synchronicity happens, I received an email about the film ADDicted one week after my middle daughter and I had discussed “performance enhancing drugs.”

My beautiful daughter, who is now a straight A student at college, was diagnosed with a Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (LDNOS) in 8th grade. Her grades had dropped precipitously; her behavior was execrable. She was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin.

It was a long, twisty, agonizing road before my daughter’s journey led her to double-majoring at a well-regarded university. I’m fascinated with her study choices, which are highly intellectual. I’m proud of the responsible, mature young woman she’s become. But we had some moments of despair and heartache along the way.

I wondered what she thought of the medications she had been prescribed as a teen. She doesn’t take them now.

“So many college kids go around asking for Adderall,” she said. “I’m so glad I developed strategies for studying that don’t depend on performance enhancing drugs.”

She commented on the prevalence of Adderall use at college. “Kids who are not ADD take them to get through exams and papers,” she stated, in a matter-of-fact tone, as if everyone knew about Adderall use. She went on to tell me that part of the problem, for her, had been that she wasn’t interested in the classes she was assigned in high school. “Now I love my courses. I love what I’m studying.”

It made me smile. I’m not sure Latin is everyone’s cup of tea. I’m pretty sure she would have thrown a Latin book at me in 9th grade if I’d tried to get her to take it then. But now she’s acing it. She came to it authentically, through her own choices.

The pitch for the movie arrived in my inbox and I was intrigued because of our recent conversation.
The movie ADDicted, written and directed by Dan Jenski, dramatizes what my daughter had told me: college kids who aren’t diagnosed with ADD/ADHD try to score the drug in order to cope with the overwhelming stresses of exams, papers, and extracurricular obligations.

The protagonist is a young man negotiating personal and academic stressors. Drew is likable, relatable, engaging. He’s barely hanging on in the face of an overly full life and the demands of classwork, football, his girlfriend, and his ambitious and widowed mother.

A tough but fair-minded professor fails Drew’s paper on the basis of plagiarism, that most heinous of academic crimes. Drew pleads for a second chance and is granted one. Unfortunately, he entrusts this crucial paper to the girlfriend with whom he recently broke up. She’s desperate to win him back after betraying him. She snags some Adderall from him to get her through his paper and three others, though she is not diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Even with the enhancement, she fails to give him the paper on time. Drew is suspended and barred from playing football.

Drew faces his team and admits to his mistakes. His speech is a fine moment of taking ownership. There’s not a whiff of self-pity in this character, just an acknowledgment that he’d made poor choices and now the whole team must suffer the consequences. It’s a poignant moment that makes Drew even more sympathetic.

Drew’s ex-girlfriend isn’t the only person hitting him up for “Addies.” A teammate on the path to pro football begs some off him, as well. Drew the good and empathic friend, wanting his buddy to succeed, obliges.

Drew’s teammate fares well but the former girlfriend ultimately pays a steep price for using Adderall without a prescription. Note that the girlfriend did not suffer from ADD/ADHD, nor was there a doctor overseeing her use of Adderall. She prescribed herself by way of a stolen bottle.

Some viewers might take from this film a cautionary tale that warns against the use of ADD/ADHD medication altogether. However, that’s not the point of this sensitive, well-constructed story.
The point is that abuse of Adderall is common. It’s also dangerous. People who aren’t diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and who aren’t under the care of a physician should beware. These drugs are addictive, they have strong side effects, and they are very, very dangerous.

In the way it goes when you’ve raised a bunch of children in a city, I know kids who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, who are under the care of a physician, and who greatly benefit from Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs can truly help people who struggle with ADD/ADHD. Not every person with a learning disorder can do as my daughter has done and develop non-pharmaceutical strategies for succeeding at academic work.

In the end, Drew’s way out of his predicaments mirrored my daughter’s way out. He had to still himself, to turn within and to listen to his heart. Once he did that, he started making good choices.
I sent a draft of this piece to Dan Jenski, asking if he had any comments. He sent back a quote and it’s perspicacious enough that I’ll give it pride of place, punctuating my review of ADDicted at the end.

“I was almost put on Ritalin as a kid and was able to find my true calling without taking pills. If every child received a customized education where he/she got to choose their own path, at a point earlier than college, based on their individual wants and desires, there wouldn’t be an ADD/ADHD epidemic or the need for Adderall. These disorders exist because less and less people are fitting into an archaic, underfunded, one-size-fits-all education system. We need to let children lead the way with their education.”

review of ADDicted movie

Yoga Teacher Training
art | beauty | excellence | freedom | friends | gratitude | hard work | healing | vulnerability | wholeness | writing | yoga

Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga Teacher Training

A few months ago, a long time friend came for dinner. She’s an American living elsewhere. She’s brilliant and amazing and full of knowledge, an expert in her field.

But she has forgotten how to listen.

She talked over my husband and me and couldn’t hear any of our ideas or opinions. Now, this lovely lady is a wonderful person in a thousand ways. She’s a repository of information about the fascinating field of the esoteric, because she has studied metaphysics for decades. Her whole life, really. But there was this thing missing from the way she related to us and it was receptiveness. Her vast knowledge has become a bulwark through which no one else’s thoughts and experiences could penetrate.

That dinner made a big impression on me. I don’t want to be like that: ossified behind my own learning. I want to be open and flexible and receptive. I want to hear other modes of thought, other people, even when I have education and experience that contradicts what they think. Even when it’s hard to listen, which it can be, because I’m an opinionated person with a great deal of education.

I thought of this dinner when I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training at Three Sisters Yoga; as the body goes, so goes the mind. A flexible, open body will yield a flexible, open mind. I was also thinking of the next three decades of my life. I don’t want to teach yoga but I do want to invest in the training to nourish my body and to create flexibility, strength, and stamina for the next thirty years.

The program at Three Sisters Yoga is meticulously thought out and the teachers are terrific: warm, engaged, present. But already I have encountered opposition to my own internalized systems of thought. Because Yoga considers itself a Science, and I studied and used a different system that also considers itself a science. I studied Healing Science for 4 years at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing (BBSH). I had a practice as a healer and saw clients for a decade.

The BBSH was a pivotal, seminal experience for me. It is integral to who I am as a human being and to my writing. Most of my characters are healers in one way or another.

This thing about wholeness haunts me.

I seldom speak of the BBSH now. When I was at the school and for years after I graduated, I went around talking about it a lot. It was amazing: there existed other people like me who were attuned to the subtle worlds! Who perceived the subtle worlds! I was newly out of the closet as an energy sensitive and exulting in the liberation.

But I got tired of head-blind non-healers projecting weirdness onto me–as if it isn’t our birthright as souls taking on flesh to see, hear, feel those other, primary realms.

Also, there’s a lot of acting out at the school. The BBSH doesn’t always act in integrity. Graduates and teachers of the BBSH don’t always act in integrity. It was upsetting to me that when someone questioned the school, the school’s response was to squash that person and to decree, “You’re in resistance.” Translation: you’re bad.

There was a point at which almost all of the teachers with open hearts were either fired or chased out of the school. I did not respect that.

The founder of the school Barbara Brennan sued people over her healing techniques, an action which lacked integrity. In the field of science, scientists throughout history have built upon one another–that’s what leads to progress, to the slow and meticulous accumulation of scientific knowledge. Newton didn’t try to own gravity. But Barbara wanted to own her healing techniques, some of which had been developed by other people. She had a paranoid streak which she never owned but which was clearly visible to anyone not submerged in the cult of her personality.

Nor has the BBSH been open and honest about what’s going on now with Barbara: she’s institutionalized with Alzheimer’s. Students and graduates deserve to know this. Barbara Brennan isn’t just a private figure; she’s also a public figure. She put herself on the world stage with schools in Europe and Japan. She has forfeited some of her right to secrecy.

I had a lot of problems with the conduct of Barbara and the BBSH. Nonetheless, I remain grateful to both. Barbara’s vision was extraordinary, both her high sense perception and her larger sense of the possibilities for healing techniques in the world. The BBSH was a left brain mystery school. It was a gift and a blessing for someone like me, who has a good working intellect as well as access to the subtle realms.

Barbara herself was extraordinary as a human being. Before enrolling in the school, I attended a lecture she gave. I walked up to her to have her sign my program, and as I approached her, my energy bumped up. She had that affect on me. She smiled at me and her eyes got dreamy as she gazed at me. She wrote, “Traci, Keep letting out your love, beauty, and sweetness.”

In my sophomore year at her school, Barbara read my field in front of the class. She said, “One day everyone will know that you have a secret, private inner world full of butterflies.”

As someone who has spent a lifetime with a secret, private inner world full of butterflies, I was shaken, startled, and freed to have her see me and validate me.

I owe Barbara a debt of gratitude. Also, I used BBSH healing techniques effectively in my practice.

This circles back to Yoga Teacher Training and my desire to remain open and flexible because already some of the Yoga precepts that are taken as “true science” butt up against my training and experience as a healer.

Can I stay open and flexible and allow divergent schools of thought to live in me simultaneously? It will be a challenge. Of course, it’s only fun if it’s a challenge–and I love to have fun.

Yoga Teacher Training

 

Announcing THE YEAR OF LOVING
art | authors | book promotion | gratitude | happiness | hard work | independent publishing | literature | love | marriage | parental alienation | real friends | redemption | writing

Announcing THE YEAR OF LOVING

Announcing THE YEAR OF LOVING

I am delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of THE YEAR OF LOVING.

The Year of Loving by Traci l. Slatton

Art gallerist Sarah Paige’s world is crumbling. One daughter barely speaks to her and the other is off the rails. Sarah is struggling to keep her gallery afloat in a tough market when she learns that her most beloved friend has cancer. In the midst of her second divorce, two men come into her life: an older man who offers companionship and stability and an exciting younger man whose life is as chaotic as hers.

Sarah’s courage, humor, and spirit strengthen her, but how much can she bear, and what sustains her when all else falls away?

THE YEAR OF LOVING is available on Amazon.com for pre-order. Publication date is October 10, 2016.

Look for a blog tour in November from Bewitching Book Tours!

 

The Doctor As Entrepreneur
5 star review | aging | business | hard work | life model | medical innovation | review | self-reliance

The Doctor As Entrepreneur

The Doctor As Entrepreneur

Medical technology is changing every day, advancing at an unprecedented rate. Inventions like contact lens that measure blood sugar, and other wearable technologies, are in the works. Within a decade, it’s likely that people will be able to assemble health information easily, without the need for finger pricks or trips to the doctor’s office.

Some weeks ago, author and medical technologist Robin Farmanfarmaian was a guest on my BlogTalkRadio show, Independent Artists & Thinkers. Farmanfarmaian, who works with silicon valley biotech and medical technology start-ups, talked about her book The Patient As CEO: How Technology Empowers the Healthcare Consumer. She commented on the speed of the medical technology revolution and how difficult it is for doctors to keep track of new developments. The patient, she advises, must see himself or herself as the head of a team of healthcare professionals who work together to help the patient achieve optimal health.

This revolution is occurring at the same time that managed health care is making it harder for physicians to make a good living at a profession for which they have studied and specialized for a decade or longer, while also undertaking huge student loans. Indeed, I worry about my stepdaughter in medical school. Will she be forced to see twenty-two patients per hour just to pay back her student loans? Will her options be limited by checklist medicine and by debt?

In the face of the medical technology revolution and ever more rigid and punitive insurance regulations, doctors do have their own ingenuity to fall back on. I was reminded of this recently when my friend dermatologist Debra Jaliman told me about new products that she herself developed, Sea Radiance skin care products.

Dr. Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has been a resource for me for more than twenty years. She’s always on the cutting edge of dermatological products and techniques. I reviewed her book Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist because I found it useful, informative, and well-written.

Cosmetic dermatology may not be in the same category as, say, paint-on ink that gauges blood pressure, but for women like me who care about looking their best, it matters. Life deals us all so many bad cards that when I can do something positive for myself, I seize the opportunity.

So I was intrigued when Dr. Jaliman announced her new cleanser that moisturizes as it cleanses and her new eye cream, both made from sea flora, organic flower essences, and advanced dermatological formulas. I wanted to know what the products could do for me. Thinking about my stepdaughter’s future in medicine, and about Farmanfarmaian’s appearance on my BlogTalkRadio show, I also wanted to know what had prompted Jaliman to develop them and how she had done so.

“I’ve been working with big companies for so many years, and I always had in mind that I’d create my own products,” Jaliman told me. She’s consulted with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, SKII, Lierac, and others, helping them develop products. “I don’t sign the standard non-compete clause, when I work with them.”

“But why these products, now?” I persisted.

“I listen to my patients. They want immediate results around their eyes,” Jaliman said. “And over the years in my practice, I hear the same complaints, especially from people with sensitive skin or adult acne. The usual cleansers dry them out or provoke redness; after many people wash their face, their skin feels tight and dry. My goal in developing gentle cleanser was to create a product that took off all the dirt and impurities but left the skin feeling hydrated.”

She also commented that patients would stand in her office and read labels, and some dismissed certain products because of their ingredients. So Jaliman sought out the purest ingredients–and a lab that would work with her to create the finest, most effective products.

“Not all labs wanted to do this because it’s incredibly difficult,” she admitted. “It was no easy goal. I made many different formulas.” She noted that her products have very low numbers on the Environmental Working Group‘s list. Her eye cream and cleanser are formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, gluten, and synthetic dyes and fragrances.

She explained that while the big corporations have the advantage of big budgets for research and development and marketing and promotion, she has an advantage in immediacy of feedback. “I have thousands of patients that I could give the product to. They tested it for me and gave me honest feedback. We then changed the product many times over the course of the year and a half of development.”

Jaliman was a stickler for maintaining her products’ efficacy. Air inactivates antioxidants, so she sought out a high tech tube that wouldn’t allow air in for dispensing the eye cream. Before launching Sea Radiance, she had a beautiful and informational website built. The consummate marketer, she included the new products in a gift bag for stars at the Academy Awards.

She handed me samples so I could try them for myself. I felt so good about the purity of the products that I shared the cleanser with my 11 year old daughter. She left for school saying, “My face feels so good, mommy!” It’s a sentiment I’m happy to echo: my skin feels softer since using Sea Radiance cleanser, and my crow’s feet are smoother with the eye cream.

I’m also happy to see such positive, utilitarian results from Dr. Jaliman’s entrepreneurial efforts. The medical technology revolution doesn’t just benefit consumers–it also, with some responsiveness and inventiveness on their part, potentially benefits doctors.

Eye-Lift-Transparent-No-Shadow