Author Archives: Cindi Rivera MFT

About Cindi Rivera MFT

Psychotherapist for over 25 years, working with adult individuals, couples and teens. Bilingual Woman of color therapist using mindfulness to work with anxiety, depression, loss, parenting, relationships. Also offering online Mindfulness courses. Listening with heart, warmth and compassion.

Heart-Full Moments – March 2019

Be Inspired

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A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause, or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world. 

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to this is life, sitting together in the dark, keeping your cool, breaking the cycle, acts of kindness. I’ve also included a link to a cool and creative 100-day project you can participate in that would be a great way to try something simple each day in the direction of doing something that’s really important to you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • Activist Faith Spotted Eagle on the importance of discussing America’s history of colonialism: “For Native people, talking about these things is important to a process of healing. For me, I think it’s not just healing. I would add to that a sense of justice, being heard. And then, on the other hand, for non-Native people, hearing and listening to these narratives, these histories, and engaging in a conversation — it is not about guilt, and it’s not about shame. It is about…freedom from denial. It allows a liberation.” – Layli Long Soldier, Oglala Lakota Poet
  • “Life is amazing.
    And then it’s awful.
    And then it’s amazing again.
    And in between the amazing and awful
    It’s ordinary and mundane and routine.
    Breathe in the amazing, hold on through awful, and relax & exhale during the ordinary.
    That’s just living heartbreaking, soul healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life.
    And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.“ – L.R. Knost
  • Wherever human beings are sort of gathered and with great seriousness trying to think through the predicament of being human, wisdom emerges…
    “One thing I know for sure is that we all need a great deal of help.”
    “We live in an age of opinion and people always have an opinion – especially about things they know nothing about…”
    “To be relatively conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage, or confusion, or quiet sorrow, knowing there are so many things we cannot solve…”
    “If everyone is so woke, why are things so terrible? (It’s about everyone knowing the right thing to say so you don’t get attacked)…”
    “There’s an Inuit word ‘cartseluni‘ which means sitting together in the dark waiting for something to happen- I’m happy to have that be my new bio…”
    “I’m attracted in all the arts to those places that show concentration has been established…it’s all about how do you help other people to concentrate in the moment? Pause, Attend, Listen…” – Teju Cole
  • “Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure
    you are. Let me learn from you, love you,
    savor you, bless you before you depart.
    Let me not pass you by in quest of some
    rare and perfect tomorrow.” – Mary Jean Irion
  • Before the interview even aired, there were photos floating around of you barely flinching while an angry R. Kelly towered over you yelling. The Internet has agreed that they can’t believe how poised you were. What was going through your head?
    “I was not scared. I never thought he was going to hit me. After, Oprah and my kids Kirby and Will called me to ask if I was okay because it looked scary. But I was never worried he was going to hurt me. I was more worried that he was going to get up and leave.
    So what I was really thinking to myself was: I’m not done with this interview, so I’m going to let him have his moment. If I stood up even to comfort him, that could have been his invitation to say ‘This is over.’ So I didn’t interrupt his anger and let him have that.” – Gayle King on remaining calm during interview with R Kelly when he exploded (*example of keeping your cool when others lose their mind!)
  • “Life is what you bake it.” – Batch Pastries
  • “Rejection is never the end of the story. It is an opportunity to try something new.” – Team Teachable
  • “Peace agreements last 35% longer when women are involved in the negotiating process.” – Daily Upworthiest
  • “ I come from a long line of generations of women who have been denied the right to their dreams. They have been passed on the baton of poverty, illiteracy, early marriage, lack of education, abuse, etc. There is also wisdom that is passed on from one generation to the next. My grandmother always said, “You have the power to decide whether you keep on running with that baton of poverty, passing it on,  or whether you run with the baton and re-define it and reshape it into the baton of wisdom, so you can be the one to break that cycle.“ – Dr. Tererai Trent
  • “Your dreams in this life will have greater meaning when they are tied to your community.” – Dr. Tererai Trent’s mother
  • “We can never underestimate this truth:
    No matter who you are, the biggest thing you do in any day is most often going to be a small act of kindness, decency, or love.” – Cory Booker
  • “When we can sit in the face of insanity or dislike and be free from the need to make it different, then we are free.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “#The100DayProject is a *free*, global art project. The idea is simple: commit to 100 days of making and sharing your progress on Instagram.
    We start April 2nd, 2019. And anyone can participate (that means you!). https://www.the100dayproject.org/

So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with peace, pause, and creativity.  And that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what consoles you and replenishes your soul.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

More Beautiful for Being Broken

Healing through times of loss

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I’ve had an Idea Explosion this week; (like fireworks where each brilliant display sparks the next, bursting in the sky with sparkle and surprise), thanks to some deep involvement with a mastermind group I recently participated in. I’m not sure what’s given me more energy and creativity – that cohesion and support with my peers reminding me of who I am, or the fact that the sun has burst through the relentless clouds and has spectacularly framed the days.

Everything is brighter and more bearable somehow.

Spring has sprung, and with that many ideas. I’ve had a wonderful optimistic, energized, I-can-do-anything kind of mood and spirit.

One of the many gems of ideas I’ve had, came in the form of a poem that I wrote this morning for someone who is suffering profoundly. I was trying to offer solace and comfort on this anniversary of terrible trauma she’s so courageously faced.

I’d like to share it with you and offer some support to you, in the event you are struggling with loss, and not felt spring’s sprung for you, or haven’t had the delightful experience of a community that believes in you and your ideas:

Oh Beautiful Woman with Heart
Broken into a million pieces.
Slowly picking up the shards of life,
Rich with memory, and full of grace.
Sometimes cherishing; sometimes raging
At the ever-present and bittersweet heartbreak.
Tears of sorrow healing what has been shattered…
And like Kintsugi, mending with care of gold,
Becoming more beautiful for having been broken…

(Isn’t that beautiful? : Kintsugi, known as golden joinery or golden repair, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. It’s treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object rather than something to disguise or throw away. It’s an embracing of the flawed or imperfect or broken. The scars and cracks are as important as the whole. Once it’s repaired, and even in the repair process itself, it’s a new work of art, not blemished in any way.)

…And ready to be present in this next part of life, however, that might be.

May your own breakage and repair, your hurts and healing, your wounds and mending, be graced with the dusting of golden care, the warmth of community, and the gentle kisses of spring.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s the gold dust in your life that helps to smooth life’s jagged edges? Just hit reply and share your thoughts.

If you or someone you love is having a hard time picking up all the pieces from loss, grief, devastation, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart Full Moments – February 2019

Finding happiness when you show up

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These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause, or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to choosing how to deal with fear, acceptance of self and experience, finding happiness, showing up – with you. I’ve even included a five second practice you can do when you’re super busy and are trying to find some calm in this fast paced world. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” – Charlotte Bronté
  • “When my 1000 lb. horse under me does something skittish or dangerous, I realize I don’t have to scream. I can choose to not scream, even if I feel scared, and then I don’t make it worse.” – Sarah Fisher
  • Our ideal should be to create something beautiful that did not exist before us. – Zapotec saying
  • “Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.” – Elizabeth Bibesco
  • “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”   ~Carl Rogers
  • “Could a greater miracle take place,
    than for us to look through
    each others’ eyes for an instant?”
    – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Our relationships are a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves.”  – Iyanla Vanzant
  • If you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.” – Byron Katie
  • Acceptance is not defeat. It is an acknowledgment of the truth. Once we accept where we are we can move forward with greater clarity, courage, and strength. It’s an opportunity to become unstuck, to experience well-being in the midst of our symptoms and beyond our symptoms.” – Claire Mardsen
  • “Happiness is, after all, an inside job. It’s not about having perfect circumstances; it’s about making peace with what is and making the best of the hand we were dealt.” – Claire Mardsen
  • “When you make the choice to be in your relationship, you get a whole lot of other choices, too. For example, instead of complaining that your partner isn’t romantic or sexy enough, consider how romantic or sexy you can make yourself. Actually taking that responsibility not only empowers you, it makes a space for your partner to move toward you in ways you might find surprising. When you choose your partner and take responsibility for your sexuality, you recognize that, ultimately, only you can make yourself happy.” – Alexandra Katehakis
  • “The mind is a powerful tool for love and happiness. Just don’t use it as a judge’s gavel. If you look for evidence that your mate isn’t perfect, you will find it. The good news is that if you look for evidence that they are kind, funny, and take good care of you some of the time, you will find that too.” – Cheryl Fraser
  • “Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”  – W. Somerset Maugham
  • ”I once heard from a kapuna (elder) that its through our wounds that we heal, we transcend.” – Shane Akoni Nelson
  • “Being deeply loved by someone
    gives you strength,
    while loving someone deeply
    gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu
  • “The key for me this past year has been emotional sobriety,” says Mike, who sees a psychiatrist monthly and a therapist weekly, and is part of a weekly mental health support group. “It’s about learning to be able to show up for my emotions regardless of how I feel. It doesn’t necessarily take away the shame or the guilt, but the level of awareness I have now has made it easier for me to manage things in life around the depression.”
  • “Native American parable called “Two Wolves,” in which a grandfather tells his grandson about a great fight going on inside him. The fight is between two wolves, the grandfather says. One is evil and the other is good. It is a fight that goes on inside everyone. The grandson asks which wolf will win. The grandfather’s reply: “The one you feed.”
  • “He who is most attached to a particular outcome has the least amount of power.”
  • “Whoever believes in the good in people,
    draws forth the good in people.” – Jean Paul
  • “The trick, it seems, is to be able to hold
    both things very close – the gratitude
    and the misery – and then,
    with a semblance of faith,
    to let them fly.” – Elizabeth Aquino
  • “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”- Maya Angelou
  • How to Adapt Mindfulness for Fast- Paced Companies: “My suggestion to clients is to do a short practice, take five seconds – to uplift their posture, open up and then settle, relaxing their shoulders. Instead of noticing the breath the way it is, I suggest they inhale as they lengthen their spine and as they exhale, they soften their chest and think of something that makes them smile. Thinking of something that makes you smile releases oxytocin, the connector chemical. You can try it now inhale and lengthen your spine, as you exhale, think of something that makes you smile. Notice the feeling in your chest – you are activating a feeling of warmth. Clients can build up from five seconds to ten and then to twenty seconds. The idea is that they can do this in a meeting, on a conference call or before sending an email. They don’t have to close their eyes or find a quiet place.” – Wendy Palmer

So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with beauty and sweet relationships.  And that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what consoles you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…What are some ways misery and gratitude show up in your life? Just reply to this email.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

5 Tips to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage and Searching for Your Soulmate

What’s love got to do with it?

IMG_1655It’s not easy to get the love we want. And often, when we don’t get that love that we want, we get angry or resentful and then it can be quite hard to even give the love we want to share.

Generally, though, our relationships fare better when we can be proactive about that love that we want. Make sure we’re giving it as much as we hope to get it. Really listening. Prioritizing our partner. Taking responsibility for our feelings and actions.

Here are five simple but at the same time, difficult things to do that will help give a boost to the level of love felt in your relationship…

Five tips to divorce-proofing your marriage:

  • Be curious rather than furious (ie: “Help me understand more what got to you?” rather than “You jerk – you always overreact!”)
  • Try an empathetic statement before disagreeing (ie: “I see how upsetting this is to you.”, rather than “You shouldn’t be angry.”)
  • Choose what you focus on – give more appreciations and recognitions for what they do that’s right, rather than criticisms for all they do that’s wrong. (Did you know that excess criticism can be a predictor of divorce?)
  • Listen in a way that invites talking (i.e.: learn to breathe and hold steady when you hear something that makes you uncomfortable). And talk in a way that invites listening (own your own feelings; don’t blame, lecture, over-analyze, shut down, etc.)
  • Consider honestly what you might be doing to bring tension or unhappiness into your relationship, and spend more time focusing on changing that rather than trying to change your partner.

Plus, a gem of a perspective to keep in mind:

It’s perfectly OK that you each have different desires, interests, feelings, wishes, viewpoints, rhythms, mindsets. Managing those differences with kindness is what allows for greater intimacy and happier marriages. 

***And if you’d like to learn more about how to have more love in your relationships, please read this prior blog post: Your Soulmate is Closer than You Think.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with finding or keeping the love in your life, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Blessings of Being Sick

This is not what I ordered…

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So how have you started off this new year?

Did you review last year and evaluate how things went, so you could make good progress this year?

Did you set lofty goals/resolutions indicating all the ways that you were going to change your life and therefore be happier?

Did you start off slowly and let yourself rest more and focus more on hibernating rather than hyper-acting?

Did you do some spiritual practice to get rest and renewal, time for meditation, connecting deeply with your intentions for living your best life?

Did you create a master plan so you can be more organized and productive with your time and energy?

One mentor of mine suggested as part of the year’s review process, to note all the wins and triumphs, even if very small; and then to list all of the obstacles or disappointments of the last year and to put a heart next to each one as a way of having compassion for one’s struggle (which is a huge component of any success that we have).

Did you vow to make changes in difficult mindset issues that always come up and get in your way?

Did you prioritize what is most important to you and resolve to focus primarily on those things?…

And NOW… How are you doing with all of that, a month or so into this new year?

Have you given up?

Are you feeling inspired?

Are you already exhausted?

Are you doing the same things you always do?

Are you being super critical with how hard it is to make and sustain meaningful changes?

Are you offering more compassion to yourself and those around you, as you work hard and still encounter frustrations?

Are you pleased with how much you’ve been able to sustain your resolutions?

I continue to be curious about how people enter the new year – with hopes, dreams, buckling down, intentions or resolutions, lists; and how they manage whatever feelings come up related to their experiences. I am interested in what works, or doesn’t work. What helps us to move forward or causes us to stall out.

I paid particular attention this year to my own New Year’s entry. My main intention was to do it with love and a little bit of grace. I had high hopes for a year of business filled with progress and growth. And getting my projects to actually come about.

I ended up however being super focused on planning holidays, gatherings and milestone parties for family members. I had a lovely experience of being able to hug and hold a cousin of mine, just a few weeks before she died from cancer – and tell her face-to-face, in person what she meant to me. I have been able to travel and spend time with faraway family members. I was a part of several significant celebrations.

All the while I was neglecting my online work or at least putting it aside and not really doing any work on it (that’s partly why you haven’t heard for me in all of January). The energy and ideas I had to hit the ground running at the start of the year, actually got pushed to the back burner. I was able to be trusting that I would get to it all eventually and I had the thought that in the new year I would be better – more focused, more productive.

Ultimately I got sick in the middle of January and was pretty ill for the last half of the month. I got slammed, could hardly breathe, had a void of energy or anything resembling life as I wanted it. I had to miss several days of work (which I think I’ve done only a couple of times in my nearly 30 years of being a therapist).

It hurt to breathe; it hurt to cough; my body ached from head to toe. It hurt to BE.

I put gobs of Vicks vapor rub on; tried to breathe in warm steam; sucked on lozenges 24-7. I slept 20 out of 24 hours in a day. One day I thought I could work but I really couldn’t pay attention and I had this terrible underbelly feeling of ‘I don’t really care’. My clients told me to go home – wanting to be safe from whatever I had I’m sure, but also caring about my well-being.

I went from chills (and feeling so raw and vulnerable) to fiery night sweats. I thought it might be pneumonia. My doctor said no, my lungs were clear, but my asthma had gotten totally flared up, and I suffered relapse after relapse.

I had no appetite, no strength, no will to carry on. I felt like a puddle of liquid and that could only move myself from one spot to another, drop by drop, with a teeny spoon.

I wanted to be connecting with my people, encouraging a meaningful start to the new year, providing compassionate and mindful attention and support to those who count on me. But I had nuthin’. No thoughts; no expression of anything I could muster; no energy to communicate in any way.

I tried to at least be mindful of my experience – simply note or name my experience. That required a huge effort. I had no energy in my batteries to just observe. Mostly I did not care…

Then, I miraculously started to feel better and I was flooded with what felt like blessings of being sick.

Let me explain…

  • Knowing clearly what my limits were and being able to articulate them.
  • Sleeping with abandon – not trying to do just one more thing before I went to bed.
  • Easily saying no to people without feeling guilty or that I had let them down.
  • So acutely aware of my body and energy that I could pinpoint the moment I turned the corner and started to feel better.
  • Hearing peoples’ urgings to take care of myself because they cared about my well-being, and was grateful for how I had encouraged them before to take care of themselves.
  • Being so present in each moment that I was not distracted by anything else going on. No worries about the future, no regrets or sorrows about the past, no negative dialogue about myself.
  • Losing six pounds of sweat and shivers without even trying.
  • Having clear boundaries that were not offensive or capitulating to others.
  • Being ok with not taking care of anyone else.
  • Feeling very uncritical of myself.
  • Feeling fully what it felt like to be helpless, lifeless, a puddle, and then living through that.
  • Feeling deep acceptance about the state of my world, knowing I couldn’t rush things along, or try to force fix things in any way.
  • Feeling complete liberation and full of life, as I began to feel better. And such gratitude and appreciation for coming through the depths of it.

I wanted to imprint these experiences on my body and soul, so I wouldn’t forget what it felt like to be so present and so clear even about an uncomfortable time.

I feel as if these blessings of being sick have been integrated and internalized and now are a part of me, creating templates to rely upon when the next struggle – physical or emotional- finds me and alters my path.

How have you been? What helps to make your way a little gentler? What blessings have you experienced in the midst of illness or set back? I’d love to hear from you…

If you or someone you love is struggling to notice the blessings of life and hardship, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart-Full Moments – January 2019

Wishing you possibility and freedom

A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause, or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

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It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to starting something new, searching for how to be good, creativity, freedom, possibility, being good and being beautiful – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • “This time of year often brings out the best in people, but the unspoken shadow of Christmas is that much of the consuming prevalent at this time is unsatisfactory. It satiates at one level but completely misses at a deeper level. It’s care that matters, not things.” – Soren
  • “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace, and a soul generated by love.” – Coretta Scott King
  • “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” – Meister Eckhart
  • According to this inspirational footage that was released by Google earlier this month, the most popular internet searches of 2018 were about “good” things and how we can be better people. Heartwarming Data Reveals the Most Popular Google Searches Were About How We Can Be Good
  • “Thinking that other people are supposed to do or be anything other than what they are is like thinking that tree over there should be the sky. I investigated that and found freedom.“ – Byron Katie
  • “The same pain that can blemish our personality can act as a creative force, burnishing it into an object of delight.” – Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
  • “Let tomorrow find you better than today.” – Simone Biles’ Grandfather ~ “This is the time of year when we dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson ~ “Grow whole, not old.” – Chip Conley
  • We talked a lot about this thing called liminality, being in an in between space. The analogy was often about being a chrysalis, that form between a caterpillar and a butterfly, when you feel like you’re goo. Gradually, the chrysalis opens up and its wings dry and it’s a new being. But the point was to embrace this stage at midlife, when you’re in transition, and to say, ‘OK, I’m a mess right now. I’m goo.” – Kari Henley
  • “I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred, but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature, as a healer of misery, as a messenger of wonder, as an architect of peace.” – Diane Ackerman
  • “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel
  • “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” – Maya Angelou
  • “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” – Mary Oliver
  • “If we give happiness to others we will end up happy.” – lemon ginger yogi tea bag tag
  • “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others, you need to accept yourself.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “Music is the Anti-Wall” – DJ Spooky
  • “It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives.” – Thomas Merton
  • “When you’re sad, breathe.
    When you’re angry, breathe.
    When Joy swims through your veins like goldfish, Breathe.
    When your heart is cracking, splitting and breaking – breathe.
    Whatever is happening right now, no matter how painful – don’t run away. Face it. Stay. Breathe through it.“ – Sarah L. Harvey
  • “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
  • “Until we take the time to face the faulty thought patterns we may be holding onto, we cannot loosen their grip on us, and we will continue to act on what we assume to be true. The best way to undo our conditioning is to still the mind.” – Paul Singleton III
  • “And we can ask ourselves this: Knowing that death is inevitable, what is most precious today?” – Roshi Joan Halifax

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart-Full Moments – December 2018

I wish you courage, kindness and light

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A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to coping with darkness; honoring the light outdoors, and the light within; values and life codes; and a holiday wish – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • Although coming forward was terrifying, and caused disruption to our lives, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty. Having done so, I am in awe of the many women and men who have written me to share similar life experiences and now have bravely shared their experience with friends and family, many for the first time. I send you my heartfelt love and support. – Christine Blasey Ford
  • “What shall I do? How will I do it? I want to win but not at the expense of justice, not at the expense of the dignity of any man — not at the expense of hurting a friend nor teaching my children a prejudice which I do not feel.”- George H.W. Bush
  • “Words I like: family, loyalty, kids, freedom, grandkids, caring, love, heart, decency, faith, honor, service to country, pride, fair (fair play), strength, hope, healing, kindness, excellence.” – George H.W. Bush
  • “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield
  • “What I learned from Bernie Glassman was a willingness to stay in the room when the going got tough and to take loving action.” – Frank Ostaseski
  • “Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” – Dr. Albert Schweitzer
  • “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “His life code was: ‘Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course,’ ” – Jon Meacham
  • “We’re a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.” – Brene Brown
  • “I love golden white lights and seeing them in various locations has become my purposeful pause. They remind me to consider that what is called for now may be the commitment to and the choice of leading with light – each soft smile, or act of generosity, no matter how small, creating ripples of light to guide our way.” – Dawn MacDonald
  • “Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.” – Frida Kahlo
  • “I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports. For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them.” – Bill Gates
  • “The paradox is that living a full human life is not about getting it all together but embracing that not-together-ness in a loving awareness that is larger than it all.” – Melli O’Brien
  • If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again.” – Tara Brach
  • “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” – OG Mandino
  • “Practice gratitude for the balance of dark and light.
  • While standing outdoors, breathe in the cold winter air. Hold your left palm upward, look at it and say, ‘I give thanks for the cold, dark, and restful days of winter.’ Then hold your right palm upward and say, ‘I give thanks for the forthcoming summer and the person I am becoming.’ Then bring your palms together in prayer position. Raise them to your third eye saying, ‘I honor the varied rhythms of Mother Nature.’ Bring your pressed together palms to heart center saying, ‘I honor the dark and light inside of myself.’ Then bow in gratitude.” – Ashley Hitchcock
  • “This is my holiday wish for you: deep peace in your heart and soul, self-compassion, joy and laughter throughout the year, play!, optimal health for you and your loved ones, prosperity and abundance, energy to follow your heart to the corners of the world, and gratitude for all you have and for all you do!” – Alexandra Katehakis

So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with compassion and reflection and that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what inspires you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…How are you coping with darkness, and managing light in your life? What are your wishes for the new year? Just reply to this email.

Many blessings and an abundance of peace and joy to you and your community, as you wind down this year.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Life is like a block of Swiss cheese

What do you do when you fall into a hole?

swiss-cheese.jpg

It started when I checked in, with my consultation group – stated my feeling of frustration and lamented about how hard it is to change my brain and live free of self-defeating thoughts. The same unkind thoughts that come up and replay over and over. I tried to change them but couldn’t. I had been feeling not good enough/unloved yet again – after a (minor transgression, really) hurt that I had experienced from someone I care about.

When I spoke it in the group I felt like I was just checking in honestly – acknowledging an awareness I had had about how stuck and pathetic I was feeling, and felt some relief just to articulate, say it. Having an awareness about a feeling is a little better than simply being overrun by that feeling. I also felt a little stupid and not as effective as my colleagues who always seem to have it all together. I thought I was speaking about something unique to just me.

But I was further uplifted to hear everyone else acknowledge in their check-ins that they too had self-defeating thoughts at times and they too struggled with how to deal with those.

We began talking about how life is like Swiss cheese… And I felt immediately understood – gotten. And oh yeah – not alone.

So often my clients tell me about some slip or dip they’ve had in their lives that brings them down. Ruminating about how they were feeling so good, but suddenly got caught off guard when their partner said something unkind; or when too many challenges piled up (being sick, tired, having a misunderstanding with their teen; not having enough time to have a conversation with a loved one, worrying about a sick coworker; and hearing of one more anti-immigrant sentiment expressed in the news, or another person of color who has been mistreated… Etc.) and they felt overwhelmed or inadequate; or feeling a pervasive sadness or irritation for seemingly no reason at all.

Sometimes they’ve eaten too much, or not eaten well; or not slept or not taken good enough care of themselves. Sometimes they’ve been crying too much, or raging too much, or feel hopeless or unmotivated. Sometimes they’ve been impatient with their kids and snapped at them. Sometimes they can’t seem to ever like themselves even though they’ve tried, or they’ve just had a long period of feeling some unwanted feeling (self-judgement, sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, heartache…) that they couldn’t shake or don’t know where it came from or what to do with).

These experiences remind me of Swiss cheese and how life is like a block of Swiss cheese.

Don’t you also think of Swiss cheese automatically, whenever you’re struggling with one (or several) of life‘s hardships? Let me explain…

We go along, feeling more less secure, intact in our lives. We have some good relationships, housing, families and friends we can choose to be with or not; a job, activities we enjoy. We’ve grown to feel mostly OK about ourselves, even if we don’t always take the best care of ourselves. That’s when we’re living on the structure, ridges, solid parts of the Swiss cheese.

And then, usually quite by surprise, we fall into one of those holes. Some holes are small, tiny, almost unnoticeable. Some are bigger and deeper. Suddenly we’re in the empty space of the Swiss cheese; the holes of life. It’s not just that Swiss cheese (life) is full of holes that is bad enough, but it’s what happens to our mind when we fall into those holes that really wreak havoc.

Typically we’ll experience a different state of mind when we fall into the holes. And sometimes one of those holes in the Swiss cheese leads to the next hole, to the next empty space, or to the next series of holes just like that.

Our state of mind shifts (or crashes) into being hurt, insecure, feeling unloved or not good enough like always when we slip into a hole. We might become distant or shut down, or hyperactivated; pessimistic; angered or very anxious. We get down on ourselves and can feel like pitiful examples of human beings. We may fall into old negative self-talk or those repetitive messages that always come up when we feel bad. We think we’ll never get it right; we’ll always be stuck.

Now Swiss cheese is actually pretty yummy. And the essence of it is that it’s full of holes. In fact, Swiss cheese has the right balance of cheese and holes so it still has flavor. The holes are what make it Swiss cheese. When people eat Swiss cheese, they don’t lament that the holes are there or that one hole is bigger than another. And maybe it’s the holes that actually hold up the cheese part, giving it definition, character, surround. Sometimes the slices are all holes… Sometimes it’s more firm. Sometimes a slice is rather lacy in design.

The holes in Swiss cheese come from bacteria that creates carbon monoxide bubbles that pop or from particles that get that process in motion. The holes in Swiss cheese are actually also called eyes. The holes are the identifier of the cheese – not a source of imperfection in the cheese. Turns out that the larger the eyes in the Swiss cheese, the more pronounced is the flavor. Although of course, cheese that has too many large eyes does not slice well and comes apart, so the size of the holes in the Swiss cheese are actually regulated in order to have the best cheese possible.

  • We all have self-defeating thoughts, criticisms, disappointments with ourselves and others. This is our default mode.
  • We all have some degree of difficulty when we fall into the holes of our Swiss cheese life. This usually takes place with a shift in our minds.
  • We all experience something in our bodies when our mind shifts (rapid breathing, heavy heart, tension in our necks or forehead, upset stomach, etc.). Our memories can even change.
  • We can soften the impact of falling into the holes of our Swiss cheese life: We can bring compassion to ourselves.
  • We can appreciate the “holes“ as what makes the Swiss cheese what it is. Maybe even see the holes as the foreground and not where something is missing. See the holes as what supports the structure of the cheese.
  • We can get out of the holes with kindness rather than making the holes bigger and losing the whole essence of the cheese.
  • We can see the holes as just another interesting hole, not a bottomless pit.
  • We might acknowledge the hole to someone who cares about us and feels instantly better by their sharing their Swiss cheese story also.
  • We might meditate our way out of a hole.
  • We might laugh at the absurdity of expecting we would never fall into another hole again.
  • We might notice that when caught in the middle of a hole in the Swiss cheese, that there is always some cheese nearby.
  • We might see the holes as what makes the Swiss cheese whole.

What happens when you fall into a hole in your Swiss cheese life? I’d love to hear from you about what you notice or how you get out (or stay in!) the hole. Just reply to this post.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with, in, or getting out of the (Swiss cheese) holes of life, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart Full Moments – November 2018

The fire inside you burns brighter than the fire around you

BLESSINGS.jpg

A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause, or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to Healing from sorrow, anger, gratitude and generosity, peace, and a way to make a difference in the world – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • “Just keep going.” – Marie Forleo
  • “I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair with a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere.” – Leonard Cohen
  • When the washing is done, they end with a phrase from the Song of Songs, a poem from the Jewish bible: “You are beautiful my beloved friend and there is no flaw in you.” – after preparing the Jewish shooting victim martyrs for burial.
  • “Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” – Rumi
  • “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – Interpretive Translation of Talmudic Texts
  • “The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving. In giving gifts, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks we give ourselves. “ – Br. David Steindl-Rast
  • “Waiting is an opportunity to turn inward, to find a moment’s silence, to meditate. Let’s be quiet and enjoy our wait.” – Paul Brunton
  • “Life is so painful, but I try to remember the beauty and miracles. “ – Elaine Mansfield
  • “It’s in that convergence of spiritual people becoming active and active people becoming spiritual that the hope of humanity now rests.” – Van Jones
  • “It is a powerful practice to be generous when you are the one feeling in need.” – Allan Lokos
  • “I have decided to stick to love… Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “In the new year, look for the good in people, instead of always looking for the bad.” – Jamie Foxx
  • “People who routinely express gratitude enjoy better health and greater happiness.” – Greater Good Science Center
  • “The vast majority of human acts each day are constructive: making meals, tending to children, saying hello, restraining anger, completing tasks, planting seeds, teaching, healing, nurturing, cooperating, smiling, and on and on it goes. Recognizing this truth is comforting and inspiring. There is still hope!” – Rick Hanson
  • ”For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” – L. R. Knost
  • Aristotle writes that “anyone can become angry. That is easy, but to be angry at the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and that is not easy.”
  • “We cannot escape the tragedies that arise in our lives. We can search for a reason and ask – why? Maybe we could hold others at fault or imagine what life would be had this not happened, but perhaps what defines our character is not our struggles but how well we meet them and rise up after getting knocked down. Faith will overcome fears, doubt and insecurities. Sometimes in life we don’t recognize how strong we actually are until we are faced with a great tragedy in our life. This calamity we face today will help develop the strength and fortitude we need for tomorrow. Losing everything we own is sad, but the things we own do not diminish who we are inside. Sometimes the worst situation brings out the best in us and others. When you put together a jigsaw puzzle made of hundreds of pieces, you put it together one piece at a time. No one can go back and change what has happened, but we can all start today and make a new tomorrow, one shovel at a time, one day at a time.” – GB (letter left to fire survivor)
  • Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
  • ”For each new morning with its light,
    For rest and shelter of the night,
    For health and food,
    For love and friends,
    For everything Thy goodness sends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Dear Creator,
    You, the borderless sea of substance,
    We ask You to give to all the world
    That which we need most — Peace.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
  • “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Adrienne Gusoff
  • “A person of good intelligence and sensitivity cannot exist in this society very long without having some anger about the inequality – And it’s not just a bleeding heart, knee-jerk, liberal kind of a thing – It is just a normal human reaction to a nonsensical set of values where we have cinnamon flavored dental floss and there are people sleeping in the street.” – George Carlin
  • Another way to give and make a difference on Giving Tuesday: Send a free beautiful e-card to someone you love or are grateful for in your life. Make their day (and your day) better with an expression of gratitude.  https://gratefulness.org/connect/send-an-e-card/

So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with compassion and reflection and that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what inspires you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…what’s inspiring you these days? What’s meaningful that touches you? How are you coping? Just reply to this email.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart Full Moments October 2018

We are twice armed if we fight with honor…

IMG_0628.jpgA monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to justice, sanctuary, emotional gardening, mindful pause, voting, and even girl power – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • Click here for everything you need to vote.
  • “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
  • “If you restore balance in your own self, you will be contributing immensely to the healing of the world.” – Deepak Chopra
  • “Start just here. Tune into your heart. That is where love, wisdom, grace, and compassion reside. With loving attention, feel into what matters most to you. Yes, there are anxious thoughts, and there is grief and trauma, but don’t let your heart be colonized by fear. Take time to quiet the mind and tend to the heart. Go out and look at the sky. Breathe in and open yourself to the vastness of space. Sense the seasons turning, the rise and fall of dynasties and eras. Breathe out and dwell in loving awareness. Practice equanimity and steadiness. Learn from the trees. Become the still point in the center of it all.” – Jack Kornfield
  • Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that in uncertain times, our own steadiness can become a sanctuary for others.
  • “In these days of shared difficulties, first make your heart a zone of peace. And then, with courage and calm, you can act, you can speak up, help those in need, dialogue with others, register voters, feed the hungry, care for the vulnerable, contribute to the whole.” – Jack Kornfield
  • Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching to mend the part that is within our reach.”
  • “I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, that once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin
  • “There are many fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is yours is the present.” – Grenville Kleiser
  • “Until then, I had never really thought of the emotional life as a garden. But that is much closer to reality than seeking the instant miracle. Experiences are akin to soil, the rich terroir of growth. Left untended, certain emotions choke out others, like the weeds that threaten my lettuces every spring. In my garden, I pay attention. I know the difference between seedlings and the invasive plants, cultivating the greens and pulling out the others. So it is with our emotional lives. The same soil allows both weeds and good seeds to grow, and it takes a watchful gardener — and more than a little practice — to ensure the health and productivity of the whole. Over decades, I learned to work the garden of my own soul, and discovered that it was the spiritual work of gratitude. The gardening image has been helpful to me in many ways, most significantly by reminding me that some things take patience and time. To think of the emotional life as a garden moves us away from notions of instantaneous change toward a spirituality that emphasizes learning, attentiveness, trial-and-error, and growth. More than once, I have felt like I have finally overcome anger or grief only to discover it was not really gone. I may not want to, but sometimes I have to rework old soil, replant seeds, and try again. Gardening is the oddest combination of accepting what is (including your own limits and failures) and developing persistence. Suffering is in the soil. From it grows both negative and positive emotions. The negative ones are like weeds in the high summer; the positive ones — including gratitude — too often the smallest of shoots. I have discovered that hard work on one’s knees is the surest way to tend the garden. Both in prayer and rooting around in the soul’s soil, recognizing the difference between what will inhibit the growth of goodness and that which is fruitful, and then plucking out the invasive species. If the work is done, the garden flourishes. And there: gratitude grows. It is a miracle of a sort. One that takes time. And patience.” – Diana Butler Bass
  • Watch this – Sure to make you smile…girl power! Watch Eight-Year-Old Drummer Cover Led Zeppelin – Rolling Stone
  • “The first step in learning to practice the informal pause is to be intentional, know you are stopping. Then, take three full breaths — very long in breath and very slow out breath. Right away, that starts to relax the sympathetic nervous system and help you to acclimate. And then, pay attention to waking up your senses, so you know you are here. To occupy the pause, know that you’re listening to sound right here; the forms you are seeing are right here; the sensations in your body right here. Three breaths, open up your senses, and then, with kindness, invite yourself to be here. That’s it. And if you practice pausing in many different situations, you will start getting the knack of homecoming.” – Tara Brach
  • “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
  • “Dear Survivor: you are not defined by the violence that happened to you. The earth is not defined by the asteroid that struck it, but by the million years of life that came after.”
  • “We are twice armed if we fight with honor.” – Plato
  • “And if this isn’t a day when your universe has tilted and something precious you take for granted has not been suddenly irrevocably lost, bow before the mystery and let gratitude wash over you for the miracle of life, health, and this brief walk on our fragile planet.” – Carolyn Moore
  • “I thank God no one’s been hurt, And I thank the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people who have protected us. There’s something more powerful than bombs, and that’s your vote. People MUST vote!” – Robert De Niro
  • “May I become free of all suffering so I may help others be free of all suffering.” – Pema Chodron
  • “The more I wonder, the more I love.” – Alice Walker

…So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with compassion and reflection and that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what inspires you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…what’s inspiring you these days? What’s meaningful that touches you? How are you coping? Just reply to this email.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445