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Harriet Ling, LMBT

919.215.2116

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205 Lloyd St., Suite 203
Carrboro, NC  27510

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Sunday
Oct162016

To Your Health

“Natural” and “organic” are what God gave us. Why do so many people reject the simple ways God provides for us to be healthy and comfortable, and then pray to that same God to fix their health and discomfort? I can only imagine how frustrating that must be to God.

 

How often do people drop off their sugar-laden pesticide-treated butter-infused goodies for their sick friends, with the comment, “I’m praying for you”? It’s about as ironic as the smoke-filled concert hall filled to capacity for a friend’s cancer treatment fundraiser.

 

When an athlete is preparing for his most challenging competition, when a warrior is preparing for a life-or-death battle, part of that preparation, I would think, is getting fit, well-nourished, and rested. Wouldn’t fighting disease be easier and more successful if we took the same measures?  Hydrate.  There’s water for that.  Boost your immune system.  There’s food for that.  Digest.  There’s food for that too.  Do whatever it takes to get good quality sleep.  There’s effective pain relief growing on trees. (And massage therapy!)  Breathe. Often and deeply. There’s air for that. (While you’re at it, exhale!) Get grounded. There’s soft grass for walking barefoot on for that. 

 

Why are suggestions of healthier living and herbal (created by God) remedies met with rolling eyes or a pat on the hand and a “that’s a nice idea, honey” look, as if nobody has time for such frivolous endeavors when they have to get ready for chemotherapy?

 

I once chaperoned a third-grade field trip to an apple orchard, which involved a long uphill hike. Many of the kids were running into the woods and finding walking sticks to help them with their climb. One little girl came crying to me, complaining that nobody would get her a walking stick. When I asked her why she didn’t get her own walking stick, her look said very clearly that she’d never thought of that. A few minutes later, she came running back to me, face beaming, to show me the stick she had found all by herself.  

 

The tools are here, people. Stop praying for God to do it for you, and pick up your own damn sticks!  Either you believe in God or you don’t. If you do, then why do you think man-made medicine is better than God-made? 

 

I’m not rejecting Western medicine; I’m just suggesting that we do our parts too.  Maybe the man-made stuff could be more effective and efficient if we took charge of our own starting points via what God/Nature has provided. And even if you don’t believe in God, I bet you believe in food and water and air, and use it every day. There’s room for improvement for all of us, and it’s a matter of life or death. The middle road, the one too well-traveled, seems to be survival, or death resistance. BFA*

 

*Barely Adequate

 

Monday
Feb102014

Lessons from an Ancient Gray Cat

This morning I opened my eyes to a spectacular red sunrise. I had the day off and was in no hurry to jump into my day, opting instead to savor the view and the stillness until I’d had enough of it.

Nimbus, the ancient grey cat, had other plans. Animals somehow know when we’re awake, even before we move or speak, and Nimbus wasted no time demanding that I serve him. Nimbus is at least eighteen years old, and a wise old soul with very few demands. He wants fresh water. If he didn’t see you pour it, it’s not fresh enough. He wants dry cat food. And he wants a foot to rub his head on. I had freshened his water last night and was pretty sure he still had food in his bowl, and all my animals know that I don’t offer massages at the crack of dawn. Still, his persistent meowing sounded very much like nagging, and I finally said, “Nimbus, why can’t you be happy with what I’ve already given you?” Like a clap of thunder, those words bounced back to me in an echo from the Universe. It was my own voice, but enhanced as if I’d shouted from a mountaintop. Nimbus was quiet, and I was stopped cold, my resentment derailed.

Lately I’d fallen into the habit of thinking that I’d be happy as soon as (fill in the blank). Well, bullshit. If that’s my mindset, then there’s always going to be another something to fill that blank. I need to remember that happiness is an inside job, and it’s a daily choice.

Choosing to be happy in the here and now doesn’t mean not having goals and plans and dreams; it just means appreciating the journey. If the destination is the only thing of value, I’ll never get there. If I’m always frantically seeking a specific treasure, I’ll miss the unexpected gifts along my path. Sometimes the treasure is the silence, the nothingness, the emptiness, the absence of distraction. Sometimes the treasure is simply the place I get to call Home, and the view I wake up to.

Thank you, Wise Nimbus Kitty, for the reminder. I love you, old man.

Wednesday
Sep112013

Nine Eleven

Sept. 11, 2001:  I was glued to the TV, watching the horror unfold along with the rest of the country.  I was so grateful to be home-schooling both my boys that year, so I could hug them close immediately.  I was even grateful that their father, my soon-to-be ex-husband, was nearby, and safe. 

After hours of trying, and failing, to process the day’s events, I managed to tear myself away from the constant stream of updates and replays, and headed out to feed the horses.  They were patiently waiting, completely oblivious to the fact that in just a few hours the whole world as we knew it had changed.  I was struck by the contrast between the energy in my living room and the energy in my barn.

In their quiet steadfast way, the horses were able to bring me back to center, back to feeling the ground beneath my boots, back to the here and now.  My panic, my horror, my despair, my loss of what I thought I could count on... none of it had convinced them that any reaction was needed from them.  Their world was the same that day as it had been the day before, and for many days before that.

And as they tend to do any time I’ll listen, they brought to me a major Life Lesson.  Here is what they said to me that day:  Love bigger, love now, because now is all we can really count on.  Don’t waste time worrying about what just happened, or what might happen.  Use the time you have to show those who are in your world that you care, that you are paying attention, that you love them.  

THIS is how I try to honor those whose lives were cut short so unfairly that day.  Not by keeping hatred or fear or sadness or grief alive forever, not by replaying the horrific scenes from twelve years ago endlessly, but by remembering to love those who I treasure most, who are still in the here and now with me.  If I occupy my heart and mind with more Love in my life, then there’s less room for hate.  If I can only extend that love a few feet, or to only one or two people, or just to animals or children or one tiny kitten, then that is still better than sending hate out anywhere.  That is still going to be a move toward peace.  If I love what I can, when I can, and let the rest go, I’m one less person perpetuating the cycle of violence.  I pay tribute by turning away from the TV, away from the world’s drama, and toward my own treasured little world.  I pause a little longer to tell my horses thank you.  In filling my moments with gratitude for what is, I hold at bay the hell that wants to resurface on this 9-11 anniversary.  

Yes, may I never forget.  But may I be mindful about how I remember.

 

Sunday
May192013

Reincarnation of a Family

College graduation.  A milestone not only for the graduate, but also for his family.  An immensely proud moment for a mom.  Sitting with my first-born and my ex-husband as my younger son received his diploma last Saturday, I wanted to shout to the world, “Do you have any idea how huge this is?!?!”  As I watched the other graduates file across the stage and back to their seats, I realized that my children were only two of many in that auditorium who knew first-hand the range of emotions that this moment brought. Each of these sons and daughters had their own stories of overcoming adversity, of rising to the challenges, of victory at this celebration of beginning their next chapters.

There have been so many times in the eleven years since my divorce that I’ve felt I’d fallen short with my kids.  The upheaval of that unforeseen turn of events, the bitterness and sadness and anger and hurt, the scrambling to make ends meet... all the fallout of a failed marriage and a broken home.  All the things from which I’d intended to protect my children.  

The first few years, the inevitable encounters with their father were far from civil.  We only spoke when absolutely necessary; an actual conversation was out of the question.  Then gradually, as the freshness of the pain faded, we were able to stand upon the common ground that our children provided.  He travelled to North Carolina for their high school graduations, then their college ones, and our families mingled and celebrated together.

This time, none of the aging grandparents or geographically distant aunts and uncles were able to make the trip, so the four of us found ourselves killing time together for several hours between the graduation ceremony and dinner time.  We laughed, we played, we shared stories and photos and memories, we got each others’ jokes and nuances. Most of all, we were a family.  It was palpable.  It continued through dinner and stayed with me even after we parted ways, and is with me still.  And I have come to realize that my children did not come from a broken home, and my marriage did not fail.  Rather, it evolved into something not reflected on a paper certificate or by traditional definition.  Yes, the evolution was immensely painful for all of us.  Big growth spurts always are, and nobody gets to live this life unscathed, no matter how hard we try.  But having had to struggle, having survived emotional hardships, having had to pitch in and take up the slack of their very human parents, my children are far better prepared for life on their own than if they’d had  perfectly comfortable childhoods.  This is the ever-present silver lining.

For all the things I haven’t been able to give my kids, I’m pretty sure they’ve known they have a safety net, that they are loved unconditionally, that I would move heaven and earth to show up for them when they need me.  And so would their dad.

Because our lives veered off their originally charted courses, my children know how to recreate themselves in a new place; they know that no matter what, their parents are there for them.  They didn’t come from a broken home, they came from an expanded one.  Their lives have been enriched by the opportunities that weren’t provided by the safe, predictable world they started out in.

After all the energy spent moving beyond hardships of divorce and its messy wake, this graduation day taught me that, together or not on a day-to-day basis, we remain a happy family.  We’re still a team.  The bond of love that connects us is the constant amid the inevitable changes.  What a blessing to discover such treasures in the long-cooled ashes of the fire. 

Sunday
Mar312013

The Easter Phoenix

 

Resurrection:  the revitalization of something.  Something that was dead, now again alive.

 

How many times have I been resurrected?  How many times have I started over?  Often just because of the natural flow of life - moving out on my own, beginning my married life, beginning motherhood, beginning divorced life, beginning new businesses, beginning life no longer defined by motherhood...  When part of my life has ended, and I must begin again, I am resurrected.  The alternative would be to die/remain dead.

 

Now, if God is Love, and Jesus is God, then Jesus is Love, yes?  So Easter celebrates the resurrection of Love.  Far too often, Love for ourselves dies.  We have a harder time loving ourselves than anyone else.  We’re not able to forgive ourselves for whatever we’re feeling guilty about; rather, we punish ourselves endlessly for the same crime.  We preach forgiveness, but forget to forgive ourselves.  We preach love, but forget to love ourselves.  Maybe Easter is about resurrecting Love in my personal life, wherever it has died, especially for my own Self.

 

And then there are the Easter eggs.  Bright festive colors.  The wonder of finding and collecting hidden treasures.  Fun and games.  Once you’ve put all your eggs in one basket, then what?  If you just leave them there and forget about them, they’ll rot.  They’ll become useless and stinky.  So you eat them, or  share them, or feed them to the dog.

 

So I’ve decided to go on an Easter egg hunt.  The “eggs” I collect will symbolize new life, awakening, new beginnings.  I’ll do things to show myself that I love me.  Often.  Not because I’ve earned it, or been good enough, or deserve it.  Just because it is the thing to do.  When I do this, when I take the time and make the effort to do the things that feed my soul, I feel happy.  I feel alive.  Really really alive.  For me, saying “Yes!” to being with horses, to listening to music, to getting massages, to uncontrollable laughter, to connections with my loved ones, to good food and good coffee...  This is how I say “Yes!” to Love.  These are the eggs I will seek, then consume, to make them a part of Who I Am.  Because if I just leave them in the basket, if I stop at dreaming about someday doing these things for myself, I’ve lost the treasures.

 

Love lives.  Love is risen.  Happy Easter!