Tag Archive | Cindy Barton LCSW (Ret.)

Wings~

Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world. Anna’s weigh about .14 ounce, but they can fly at speeds of up to 60 mph.

Unlike other birds they can fly backwards and upside down, and they are among the 1% of birds who can hover.

Hummers fly upright, not flat like other birds.

Their wings rotate 180 degrees, on their shoulder ball and socket joints,

and can beat up to 200 times per minute!

Despite their petite size, hummingbirds have mega-brains. Their brains constitute 4.2% of their body weight, greater than any other bird, and greater than human beings whose brains are about 2% of their body mass. Hummers remember how to fly thousands of miles, they know and remember which humans can be counted on to feed them, and they remember which flowers have the best nectar.

Cheers to you from the small but mighty hummer~

Seconds~

The most,

hummers get,

to rest,

all day.

Their daylight hours are spent packing on calories,

to survive their torporous nights.

Cheers to you from the resting hummers~

(Click the photos to enlarge if you would like to see more detail.)

Mockers~

I’ve respected mockingbirds since I was a kid when I watched one pick up a snake that was threatening it’s nest and repeatedly dash it on the pavement from high in the sky.

My childhood friend rescued a baby mockingbird and it became her pet. It flew freely about the house and held it’s own with her family’s five cats.

They are feisty and assertive birds and they are talented musicians.

They don’t just mimic the sounds they hear, they also compose, morphing the timber,

and tune, to make their songs more melodic.

Mockingbirds are night singers in the spring and summertime at The Holler.

Juvenile and adult males without mates sing at night to attract females.

I love falling to sleep at night listening to their vocal repertoires.

Cheers to you from The Holler musicians~

Requa California~

The Klamath River Estuary is where the 257 mile Klamath River empties into the sea in the community of Requa California.

Requa is located,

on Yurok Native Land.

Portions of Redwood National Park lie within these Yurok lands.

Jim provides perspective.

This is Northern California wilderness,

centered around the wild Klamath River.

The Yurok’s are California’s largest Native American tribe with a population of nearly 5000.

Their territory extends about 40 miles up river. Click to enlarge and you can see the small community of Requa on the left bank of the river.

Cheers to you from Klamath River and Requa California, in Yurok Country~

For more on Yurok lands & The Klamath River, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klamath_River

https://www.yuroktribe.org/our-history

Black Beauties~

This gorgeous pair of red tailed black cockatoos was photographed at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary in the Yarra Valley in Victoria Australia during our February trip.

There are five sub-species of red tailed black cockatoos in Australia, with two sub-species under serious threat.

Healesville Sanctuary is dedicated to the recovery of 27 threatened native Australian species.

It’s animal hospital treats over 1500 sick or injured native animals each year, and it has an active breeding program for threatened species.

Although I was able to photograph other black cockatoos in the wild during our February trip, these were the only red tails I was lucky enough to see.

Cheers to you from Australia’s iconic red tailed black cockatoos~

For more on Healesville’s important work see:

https://www.zoo.org.au/healesville/habitats/main-track/australian-wildlife-health-centre/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-07/five-endangered-species-released-back-into-the-wild-in-12-months/5725428

Pandemic Anxiety Busters~

In the last two posts we started filling our anxiety busting toolbox and we are now down to our final three tools.*

Thank you to all the bloggers who added their own personal tools that work. They are most helpful and are incorporated into our toolbox. Choose any tool(s) that might work for you, and discard any/all that are not a good fit. Add more of your own resources that work. Adapt your toolbox to suit yourself. The most important thing, regardless of the specific tools, is to have tools in your awareness, to improve your mood, and ease your anxiety, when bad things happen.

Here is our toolbox:

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

Guided Imagination/Visualization

Exposure Management

Progressive Relaxation

Distraction in Action

Self Soothing

Second Voice

Spiritual Meditation/Prayer

Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices

SECOND VOICE

Carl Jung emphasized the importance of paying attention to our inward self and inner voice and felt that, “engagement with the inner voice is pursued not as a form of inner housekeeping, but rather in the humble service of the development of a relationship with an intelligence present within us but greater than our own. Committing to that service means relating more deeply to our inner nature; its only end-goal is the whole-bodied, whole-hearted, full blossoming of who we really are.”

https://themindunleashed.com/2015/12/five-ways-carl-jung-led-us-to-the-inner-life.html

I wait for, seek out, and listen to my ‘second’ voice, which is often corrective, more helpful, and more calming to me, than my first immediate thought. If this makes any sense to you, try it. When an event occurs, and you have an immediate thought about it, pause, ask yourself, “is this right?” Your second voice may well chime in giving you a more helpful and accurate option. The more you practice listening for your second, more rational thought, rather than accepting your first immediate impulsive thought, the better you get at doing it. Jung felt that our inner voice was direct communication with the collective unconscious, hence the Divine.

SPIRITUAL MEDITATION/PRAYER

Taking time each day to clear your mind of worries and concerns by focusing your attention on the bigger picture is immensely helpful. There are many ways to do this. Prayer and spiritual meditation are methods for connecting ourselves to the greater whole which is profoundly comforting. This spiritual connection can be reached through independent or group prayer, formal or informal meditation, religious or spiritual practice and study. Immersing oneself in nature helps us feel comforted, part of a grander design. Exercising creative pursuits and talents help us feel spiritually connected. The idea is to take time daily for spiritual retreat and connection, eliminating all the noise, chaos, and negativity of the temporal world.

These practices encourage us to fully live in the moment and feel gratitude for being alive. In times of serious stress like a pandemic, turning inward spiritually, connects us outward, bringing calm and comfort. And now that most of us are isolated, finding a way, remotely to be of service and help to others, could never be more important.

EXERCISE, DIET & GOOD HEALTH PRACTICES

We all know the importance of exercise, a healthy diet, hydration, plenty of sleep and rest, in maintaining our physical health. These practices boost our immune system and improve our emotional and psychological health. This becomes more important when we are under sustained and serious stress. As part of your health plan don’t forget to have fun. Be creative about fun, include daily relaxing, distracting, and fun activities, that you have more time for now that you are home. Don’t forget to enjoy life, after all, it is passing, and you are living, now.

  • I tried to upload new photos specifically for this post but wasn’t able to. It seems my wifi is overwhelmed. So I reluctantly include prior posted photos.

Cheers & calm to you, from me, at The Holler~

Hope on the Horizon: Pandemic Anxiety Management II~

I think this koala is sending a message to you and I about anxiety!

In the midst of darkness,

there is light.

Check out: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8115879/COVID-19-Australian-researchers-CURE-coronavirus.html

Good people are working,

to help.

Countering,

pandemic anxiety,

with realistic hope,

is powerful medicine.

Hope floats,

and flies.

Let’s move on with building our toolbox to manage pandemic anxiety.

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

Guided Imagination/Visualization

Exposure Management

Progressive Relaxation

Distraction in Action

Self Soothing

Spiritual Meditation/Prayer

Second Voice

Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices

We covered the first three in the last post. Here are the next three.

I would love for you to add tools of your own that are, or have, worked for you. With your help we could build a truly awesome anxiety busting toolbox so people can pick and choose what is comfortable for them. If you have some tools that work let me know. It will be helpful to all of us.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation was developed in the 1930’s during The Great Depression which was a stressful time too. It is a systematic method for relaxing your body and mind. It emphasizes muscle tension and release, and is focused specifically on quelling the actions of anxiety on your body and mind. Google it if you want to learn more. Here is a simple example:

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-do-i-practice-progressive-muscle-relaxation-3024400

If you couple this with focus on your breathing similar to what is taught by yoga, and practice both together, you will have really powerful tools to bust anxiety. Here is how to breathe as you tense and release your muscles:

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-do-i-practice-deep-breathing-for-anxiety-3024389

Even if you try these techniques for the first time now, it will help to lessen the unconscious muscle tension and shallow breathing that is our reaction to anxiety. When we are anxious too much adrenaline and cortisol flood our body. This weakens our immune system. Conscious breathing combined with muscle relaxation help us stop stress hormone release and protect our body and our mind.

There are many different progressive relaxation options available online that will lead you through the program. Pick one you like and try it out.

Distraction in action is doing the things that make you, you.

Being true to yourself, engaging in your own interests, hobbies and passions, is possibly the most powerful tool of all. If you have passion and hobbies that bring you joy (you are all bloggers, you have these strengths) these passionate interests can pull you out of bad situations, keep you focused on what engages your best self, and keep you steady in the storm.

Lots of us are home now. This is the time to follow your passions fully, indulge your creativity, and let it help you escape from the noise.

A blogger pointed out to me how important humor is in managing anxiety and doomsday thinking. You can’t laugh and panic at the same time. Humor is a saving grace.

Self Soothing is basically devoting time to provide your own TLC. We normally neglect ourselves. When you are under increased stress, as we all are now, taking time everyday to soothe yourself is critically important. What is self soothing to you? Is it a warm bath, watching a game, playing an rpg, listening to music, cooking, gardening, working out, the possibilities are endless. Make a mental list of what is comforting to you. The more things you come up with the better for you. Make time for these things now, everyday, more than ever.

And remember, turn off the news after you have gotten the gist of it. The bad gets reported, and the good gets neglected. We need to remember to also focus on the good.

Cheers & calm to you, from me, at The Holler~

Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Many of us are experiencing emotional distress from the pandemic which can affect each of us in different ways, but often presents as increasing anxiety, worry, sleep disruption, feelings of helplessness, panic, and/or depression.

The shrieking headlines don’t help do they? So what can we do to manage these feelings and feel stronger emotionally and psychologically as we prepare ourselves to face the difficult days ahead?

As a psychotherapist who has practiced for many decades, I have some ideas that can help. So if you are interested, read on.

We are going to make a customized anxiety toolbox. One approach doesn’t work for everyone, pick and choose what feels right for you. Of course I’m including relaxing photos intermixed in this post because looking at positive images is an objective and powerful anxiety reducer. What you perceive influences how you think and feel.

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

Guided Imagination/Visualization

Exposure Management

Progressive Relaxation

Distraction in Action

Self Soothing

Spiritual Meditation/Prayer

Second Voice

Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices

This topic will be broken up into separate posts, and start with Self Talk, Guided Imagination and Exposure Limitation. These are the tools I use most frequently to manage my anxiety. Yes, I have anxiety, and now pandemic anxiety, and I don’t like any of it, so I have learned over the years to better manage all of it.

Self Talk is one of your most powerful anxiety busting tools. It can be best understood through the ABC Model:

A: is an objective event that occurs (Covid 19 for example).

B: is what you immediately and silently say to yourself, sometimes many times a day, about this event, usually without conscious awareness (“Oh no, we’re in a high risk group, we’re gonna die, badly,” is my example). Insert your personal pandemic negative self talk here.

C: are the feelings that immediately arise in response to our self talk (Anxiety, pandemic preoccupation, worry and/or panic)

In this case my self talk was awfulizing , which is the tendency to assume the worst possible outcomes will happen to me or the people I love. I can challenge and change this self talk by making it more realistic. An example for me might be, “Stop thinking the worst. Most high risk people survive. You can take steps to improve your chances.”

I use self talk reframing in combination with guided imagination everyday. These are two of my most trusty tools and they work synergistically with each other to reduce anxiety, each making the other more effective. Like any learned skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.

Guided imagination is exactly what it says it is. When you are resting, napping, or going to sleep, don’t let your imagination run you. You run your imagination. Guide it to a place, a story, a visualization, that engages your mind, and is positive, happy and fun. Challenge yourself to come up with imaginative stories that involve you. This is wonderful for your mental and physical health. Make yourself a central character in your story. I have ongoing stories that I return to everynight before I fall asleep. I come up with new stories when the old ones start to lose interest.

This kind of guided imagination reduces stress hormone levels, aids sleep and reduces anxiety. It can even positively influence, or guide, our dreams which is beneficial to our mental and physical health. It is harnessing the creative power of your brain to control its own production. Long term prison inmates report using this technique to escape their cells and fly free. If they can do this, so can you and I.

And finally, reduce your exposure to news. Yes, it is important to stay well informed and safe, especially in a pandemic. But constant media onslaught can be psychologically overwhelming and add to an unhealthy level of anxiety. So take charge of the news in your own best interest. Consciously limit your exposure according to your best choice about how much you can absorb without becoming overwhelmed. This is truly important in managing your anxiety during pandemic times, and really at all times.

Switch from the news after you’ve had enough to stay informed, and read blogs or a book. Watch a movie. Look for positive imagery. Write blogs and stories. After all, you are bloggers! You have awesome creative imaginations. Use your imaginations in positive ways to help you, and your readers, stay on even keel during the coming stressful days.

Cheers & calm to you from me at The Holler~

Note: Australian birds in order, New Holland Honey Eater, Gouldian Finch, Superb Fairy Wren.

Baby Beluga in the Deep Blue Sea~

Hudson Bay in Manitoba is massive, pristine, and full of wildlife.

Approximately 50,000 beluga whales spend the summer here to feed and give birth.

The Hudson Bay beluga population comprises 35% of the world’s total wild beluga population.

Belugas are very vocal whales, hence their nickname, ‘canaries of the sea.’

They respond to human singing, so I have spent time singing, “Baby Beluga in the Deep Blue Sea,” which they seem to love. They come like puppies when I sing, and sing back under water, so I do not care how ridiculous I know I appear.

The reason these belugas are curious, friendly, and approach human beings, is because they are not hunted in this area.

They swim upside down under the zodiac checking us out. They bump your hand if you trail it in the water. You can see this one approaching the back of the zodiac for a visit.

My son went snorkeling in a dry suit with them and they came immediately to him and played all around him.

Here is the zodiac we explore the bay in and our guide, Deb, who is the best guide we have ever had.

Cheers to you from the glorious and unspoiled Hudson Bay~

Polar Play~

We are seeing polar bear everyday here in The Hudson Bay!

This series of shots are a mama and cub at play.

Polar Bear health is rated on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being too thin and starving, and 5 being overfed and obese.

I am happy to report that all the bears we are seeing are healthy fours!

The population of polar bears at Hudson Bay are thought to number between 900-1000.

Some estimates indicate Hudson Bay populations may have declined approximately 17%- 22% in recent years, but they have rebounded from all time population lows in the 1950’s-70’s.

All the bears we are seeing look really healthy.

During the end of August, polar bears are in a state of semi-stuporous, walking hibernation, waiting for the waters of the bay to freeze up, so they can head out and hunt seals.

They still do eat and hunt though, and I will show you some photos of this in my next post.

But, for the most part, these lazy August days are spent sleeping, playing and swimming.

This little cub though, seems quite intent on depriving mama of her nap!

The affection between them was beautiful to see.

Cheers to you from the happy, healthy bears of The Hudson Bay~