Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stress Awareness Day 2014

April 16 (the day after Tax Day, April 15) has become a special day to set aside for Americans to become aware of just how stressed they may have become! Everyone feels stressed from time to time and if left unchecked, it tends to be a real happiness killer as well as a threat to your health. This makes it harder for us to live joy-filled lives. Stress has also been reported to lead to a number of major health problems, ranging anywhere from anxiety or severe depression to physical symptoms such as a mild case of acne to life-threatening heart attacks. It is easy to see why it is so vitally important to keep life’s major stressors in check.

Scientists report that psychological stress may exact its toll, at least in part, by affecting molecules believed to play a key role in cellular aging and possibly, disease development.  Anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence has have suggested that chronic stress can take years off your life. Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking. It is easy to see why it is so vitally important to keep life’s major stressors in check.

Enough of the dire news and warnings, I don’t need to stress you out more.
Instead, here are some quick tips for changing into a stress free zone for the day and at the end a link  to 3 free audios I have available for you to reduce your stress!

  1. Focus On The Now
So many people live their entire lives in yesterday or tomorrow. The truth is, however, that there is only the Now. Focusing on this moment, right now, provides a wonderful escape from the disappointment of what once was and the fear of what might be, leaving stress stuck in a time warp. (You do remember the Time Warp, right?)

2   Give Yourself A Pep Talk
Sometimes a good talking to is all you need to keep stress at bay. Maybe it is about time you gave yourself a pep talk, reminding yourself what is right with your life instead of dwelling on what’s wrong. Ask yourself how you got so lucky to have a roof over your head, food on the table and the opportunity to experience so much each day.

3.     Get the Giggles
Laughter really is the best medicine. Watch a comedy, share a funny joke, or go to a card shop and read funny cards. I always told my sons to find a reason to smile and laugh as they walked out the door. Maybe you can do the same, then share whatever it is, give yourself time for laughter each and every day.

4.     Use Self-Hypnosis
A still mind is a stress-free mind, so take a deep breath, quiet your thoughts and let the stress melt away. Even ten minutes done daily for the next 30 days will do wonders for releasing stress in your life.

5.     Keep a Happiness Journal
Starting today, spend a few minutes reflecting on the day you just experienced and list five things about the day that delighted you. Review that list when tempted to return to the old stinking thinking track.

6.     Lend  A Helping Hand
Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is by providing relief to someone else. Placing your focus on others needs takes the focus off your own challenges. This will lead to less rumination and therefore less stress. So look around you, see who needs a hand up and offer yours.

7.     Listen To A Hypnosis Audio
I have three audios I have created that are free for you. Just stop by anytime to listen. Share them with your friends, let’s get this stress-less party started! Stress Free Audios

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life Lessons Learned From Superheroes

There seems to be a tremendous increase in the number of movies and shows about Superheroes. The idea of having extraordinary powers captivates the young and the old alike. If you think about it, the concept is as old as man. Consider Greek mythology or the Journey of the Fool that is portrayed in the Tarot. We love a good story of triumph over struggles. We see many of the superheroes as modern day Greek gods, (of secular life – otherworldly figures able to tackle the problems of this human world).

Like the gods of Greek mythology, superheroes are often flawed. (Some may argue that we need them to be flawed.) A part of their appeal is that we can relate to them, despite their powers. I personally have enjoyed many of the Marvel characters (no offence to DC comic fans) beginning with the X-Men and it’s metaphor for prejudices, Thor’s having to leave behind a life of privilege until he becomes humble, Captain America who’s strength is his compassion before he has physical strength and the soon to be explored in cinema Scarlet Witch (Yea for a female hero!).

We are drawn to their backstories, the apparent lessons they must learn or hardships overcome in order to become the superhero. At their best, superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose. (Wearing a cape or tights is optional.) There is something about the vulnerabilities they display that help us accept our own.

There is a growing trend amongst therapists to begin to use the Superheroes as part of their therapy. I have found the rich visuals of the transformations and adventures useful in some of my hypnosis sessions. It has certainly been an opportunity for me to get to better know some of my younger or geekier clients. (I do love me some geeks!) All of this leads me to think about some of the lessons I have learned through the stories of these characters. So here are 9 lessons I have learned from Superheroes.

1.     Life has ups and downs. You can overcome one obstacle only to discover another one. Enjoy your victories, but understand you must always keep up the fight!
2.     Not everyone will see you for who you are. Clark Kent is not recognized as Superman, nor is Peter Parker as Spider-Man or Bruce Banner as the Hulk.
3.     Be proud of who you are. The X-men were misunderstood in spite of the good they did for mankind and not seen as human. How many groups can claim the same prejudice whether it is about their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, culture, religion or any other reason?
4.     With great power comes great responsibility. Peter Parker chose to use his ability to scale any height to work for the good of all, rather than make a personal profit.
5.     We can all make a difference. The lesson of Batman is this: you don't have to be born with super powers to be a hero. Bruce Wayne can't fly, he's not part god, he doesn't transform when he's angry. He just fights bad guys. "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me," Batman says in 2005's "Batman Begins." Even fractured people can make a difference.
6.     Don’t be paralyzed by self-pity. Disabled? I don’t think so. Professor Charles Francis Xavier is a paraplegic, but he possesses one of the most powerful mutant minds of all time.
7.     Don’t focus on your weaknesses.  Superman let his secret out to the world regarding Kryptonite. It became the most effective tool used against him. Focus on your strengths instead of your “kryptonite”.
8.     Everyone has a dark side.  We all have our past or our “secrets” that we fear will someday be exposed and ruin us. The Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff) went through many changes in character before she eventually became a positive force in the Avengers.
9.     Capes are cool.  I loved them as a kid and I still wouldn’t mind running around with a cape flying behind me.

I’d love to know what your thoughts are on the Superheroes and maybe even some lessons you have learned that I left out here. Please, next time you have a little spare time, imagine which Superhero you might be, close your eyes and imagine putting that ability or talent to good use. Then breathe in the thrill of adventure in your life or, just don a cape and fly!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lena's Story

In January 2013, Lena Redding walked into my life. It was a slow and courageous walk. In the year that followed, her steps became lighter, quicker and more determined. I have had the great joy and privilege to be a part of that journey. Allow me to digress in order that I may explain.
Lena was recently featured in an article in the Personal Best section of the Tampa Bay Times. Writer Irene Maher shared Lena’s new found love of Zumba and how she has made the decision to inspire and motivate others to becoming fit and healthy no matter how large they are. (Lena began her own journey at 324 pounds.) However, that is only part of the story. Lena’s journey merged with mine when she decided to undergo the Virtual Lap Band™ program.

Lena said, “I always knew I needed to lose weight, no doubt, ‘cause I had tried many times, but my chiropractor had a very stern, but loving talk with me.” Dr. Scott Coletti spoke about the serious issues she would be facing in a 5’2” frame that was carrying 324 pounds.  Although she had been a patient of the practice, it was not the doctor she would normally have visited with, which allowed this talk to stand out even more in her mind.  Lena made the decision to turn this weight around for good.

Lena has tried numerous diets and programs throughout her life, and says that she, like most heavy people, knows all the tricks and tips to weight loss.  She had tried the appetite suppressants in the past and knew they didn’t work for her. She decided to embark on a journey that included hypnosis. Earlier in her life she had ‘fallen” into using a trance state and discovered that it really worked for her. It helped her transition from knowing what to do into actually doing it.

Lena chose to go through a program known as the VirtualGastric Band™ (VGB). This is a procedure of hypnotherapy developed to train the brain to sense that the stomach has been reduced. The sensation is similar to the actual Gastric Band (Lap Band) surgical procedure where a band is placed around the top portion of the stomach creating a small pouch. This creates a feeling of being fuller with less food consumed and significant weight reduction is achieved. The VGB procedure is natural, safe and non-invasive.
Lena was from day one an exemplary client. One of the agreements in the program is that a client will purchase an item of clothing in their desired size. This is to be placed where it will be seen daily. I am insistent that it is something new, past purchases represent past failure.  She not only bought the dress she wanted, she named it. She has kept the outfit wherever she was around her home and even put a picture of it on her cellphone wallpaper to view when away from home. Lena and her outfit have had some serious conversations when she has been tempted to cheat.

Beyond the weight, she says that her biggest change has been that she is now a person who likes to move, she would rather walk and talk then sit and talk. She prefers to be active over going out to snack with friends. Shopping is easier (she no longer needs her friend along to tie shoes when she tries them on), she can check her calendar when invited to go to an event instead of checking on the distance she would have to walk and the size of the seats available. She also believes she is more relaxed with the help of hypnosis, she states, “things aren’t as serious as they used to be”. Even when things are bad her attitude has become “can we solve it and how? If not, it is what it is.”

Although Lena has had tremendous support from Margo, the same friend who used to tie her shoes and she knows she can call her if feeling tempted to get the reminders of why she is doing this. However, not all friends are the same and so Lena believes that you have to be able to walk this journey on your own, because at the end of the day, it is only you who will step on that scale. With as much weight as she needed to shed, there were some moments of temptation and self-doubt. That is when she would listen to her hypnosis audios from the sessions we shared.    

I asked Lena what she liked best about the Virtual GastricBand™ program. This was her response: "What did I like best about the hypnosis sessions?

I imagined the session would focus on what I ate and how much exercise I did.  Boy was I wrong. The sessions were not just focused on what I ate and how much exercise I did or didn't do that week.  Of course we did discuss those things. However during the session you asked questions like what's going on?  With that being said, it was up to me to decide what I wanted/needed to talk about.  You were more like a facilitator or guide.  My answer would generate more questions on your part.  By you asking the probing questions we’d get to what the actual issue was. Then another question to help me think about how I could handle the issue/stress in the future.  

Stress eating was an issue for me so if I determined how to handle the stress better it was more likely I’d do it.  That was the key I determined ways to solve my own problems. The sessions worked so well because I was an active participant."

After Lena dropped some Zumba flyers by his office, Dr. Coletti called Lena to congratulate her on the changes she has made. She said it was a great 15–20 minutes with a “whole lotta love”. Lena has invited me to join in her Zumba classes and I can attest to her energy in those classes. 

When asking Lena if she had any final words for others who want to drop weight and have tried all the usual ways. Her response was, "Overweight people have tried so many things, so why not try stepping outside the box?" She says that feeling the band in her stomach and working on her reasons for overeating have changed her for life!

To attend one of Lena's Zumba classes, find her schedule here: Lena Reddings Zumba

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Losing Snakes on St. Patrick's Day

St Patrick’s Day is here and the celebrations are in full swing, from turning rivers green (famously in Chicago and even locally the Hillsborough River) to parades and parties. The reason for the celebration, according to tradition, is in honor of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. However, as there is little evidence that this island ever had many snakes. Apparently, as snakes in biblical terms represent evil and Pagans were considered the same by Christians, it was the Pagan folks that were driven away (or converted.)

I like to use the metaphor in my life in a bit different way. I am not in any rush to drive Pagans or any other group of people out of my life, but evil can leave. Now, I am not plagued by evil, don’t mean to imply that.  However, anything that stands in the way of my true inner peace can leave now.

Ironically, I once had a horrid fear of snakes. It took some self -hypnosis and contact with the creatures for me to change that.  So, what are the snakes that I and so many others I meet deal with? FEAR is a biggie! Fear can rob us of inner peace as quickly as it becomes a thought.

We have a continuous inner voice that seems to rage on and on when we are anxious or fearful. This self-talk hugely affects our emotions and behaviors. When we start telling ourselves things that don't line up with reality we get into trouble. We start thinking and believing thoughts that just aren't true and these false beliefs become a prime breeding ground for unhealthy fears.

Often our first impulse when we experience fear is to avoid the source. When the danger is real, avoidance is an appropriate tactic. When fear is irrational, avoidance is inappropriate and will only make the problem more intense. Many people are in the habit of seeing the negative side of any challenging situation. When we focus on the negatives, we resist taking action and continue to avoid, becoming stuck. The more we focus on the possibility of loss the more anxiety and fear we create.

Avoidance is a serious obstacle to dealing with fear because it works. We temporarily feel good through avoidance. The problem is we can condition ourselves to avoid something rather than face it. As a result, we give a portion of our lives over to the thing we fear, letting it control us. Avoidance will never make fear go away.

You may find it helpful to make a list of any specific fears you have and get them out in the open. In each situation that leaves you feeling hesitant or fearful, try to understand exactly what is holding you back. What is it that you are afraid will happen and why? Are those things really likely to occur, or is there only a slight chance? If you take your fear to the extreme that you are worried about, what are the odd of that extreme coming through?

Next, use a separate sheet of paper and create a list of the benefits you stand to gain by moving forward. Be as specific and optimistic as you can. Remember that dread and fear will amplify your perception of the negative possibilities, which can make the positive benefits seem significantly smaller or less important. So, you may need to work a little harder at emphasizing the positive.

Comparing the two lists, you can then make a balanced decision. You will have a better, more balanced view of your options.

Recently I spoke with a woman plagued with anxiety attacks. Apparently, the onset of these attacks coincided with her beginning a job search. The more we discussed her concerns about finding the right job, the more her fears were expressed. When we took these fears to their extreme, she decided she was not likely to end up a homeless bag lady or dead on the streets of Tampabay. As we discussed the possibilities of what could go right, her fears began to dissipate.

In her case, she decided to move forward with the job search. She is not going to let fear get in her way. So, her snakes have been driven away.

Take a moment today to channel your inner St. Patrick and drive those snakes out of your life. Breathe in that inner peace, picture and imagine the beauty of those Irish hills and wonder what beauty might be waiting for you to enjoy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Power of Words

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”` Rudyard Kipling

This week, sponsored by the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, celebrates words and their importance.

We grew up believing the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Yet, at some point, you realized that was completely untrue and that words could hurt. Words can change our relationships, our demeanor, our entire system of beliefs, and even our businesses. Words have a dramatic effect on what we know, how we interact with people and the decisions we ultimately make. Words can influence us, inspire us or just as easily bring us to tears.

As we grow up, the words we hear from parents, coaches, teachers and authority figures help to shape our beliefs in ourselves. We begin an inner dialogue that can be incredibly supportive (I am smart enough to figure this out) or terribly discouraging (I always screw things up!).  Our self-talk can be terribly sabotaging when we are working towards a goal. For example, when you tell yourself that you will gain weight by even looking at a donut, the subconscious mind is a willing participant. It will begin the process of holding on to fat whenever you look at a donut.

When we begin to recognize this, we can shift our thinking and our words. “I have the strength to keep running until I reach my goal”. Think about the story of The Little Engine That Could. The opening sentence is, “She was a happy little train.” The familiar refrain from the story is “I think I can, I think I can” as she chugged up the steep hill. Indeed, she did! 

Are you replaying old tapes in your head of all the reasons, excuses you will fall short? Are your words setting you up for failure? What if you began to think you can? How might you be different? What would change in your attitude, in your behavior and in your words?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Could Hypnosis Do For You?

Just a little fun with the ways that hypnosis can help you. My clients create change as they set goals and earnestly desire to obtain those goals. 

If you knew you couldn't fail, what might you do? What changes would you create in your life? Why not start today?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Valentine

How loving are you with yourself? Not just today, Valentine’s Day, but every day? For many, Valentine’s is a wonderful, romantic celebration of their commitment to one another and to love. For others, it is a sad reminder of lost love. For some it is a poke in the heart as they feel they have never had real love. I teach a class called The Real Love Potion Number Nine, a love attraction class that is almost ready for print as a book/guide to finding your true love. (It is also how I managed to bring my amazing husband into my life.) One of the very first things we review is self-love, followed by unconditional love.

It is a very difficult thing for many of my clients to experience either of those. Modesty has taught us to negate a compliment. How I would cringe when my sons were young and I’d tell the parent of one of their friends how much I enjoyed their little one, only to have the parent tell me I didn’t know that child. Really? A chance for the kid to learn self-love now dashed. We really need to learn to just say thank you.

Often, my clients equate their value with their perception of just how “bad” the habits they have are. Unconditional self-love means loving all of you, despite your flaws.  So, before we can even begin to create a change in behavior we need to instill a new understanding of how unconditionally loved we deserve to be. In order to do that, we have to begin practicing some loving moments with ourselves.

Pay attention to how you treat yourself compared to how you treat your friends. I know that so much internal talk is harsher than we would ever talk to friends or loved ones. Yet, we think we will respond well to it. You have the power to hurt yourself or make yourself feel better. Which do you prefer? It’s not loving to postpone self-acceptance until you are as perfect as you imagine you should be.

Unless you choose a different direction, stress will beat you up! Allowing stress to go unchecked is VERY unloving to you! Doing something/anything to relieve stress, says, “I love me!” When you feel stressed, stop, take some deep breaths, even if only for a minute. It can calm you down Focus on things that make you happy instead of on problems. Enjoy just looking at the sunshine or watching the rain fall. Visualize a place that makes you happy. Find something that reduces your stress and do it regularly. I have a free audio for stress on my website. Serenity Give yourself the gift of a more relaxed you. It’s YOUR choice—let stress control you or YOU take control of the stress. Less stress leaves more room to be happy, and feel self-love.

Give yourself permission to love yourself. Put it in writing, affirm you are worthy of love and even ask yourself each day why you are so lovable. It is through constant practice that love becomes natural, like any learned behavior. Give yourself permission this Valentine's Day to be happy, now and 4-ever! 


1. I lovingly accept myself as I am right now. I appreciate all that makes me who I am.

2. I regularly give thanks for all of my blessings.

3. I appreciate and accept compliments. I generously give compliments.

4. I trust in my ability to take care of myself, I take responsibility for my life.

5. I now eliminate self-criticism and stop criticizing others.

6. I forgive myself and others when a mistake occurs.

7. I shall be kind to others, without sacrificing my own needs.

 I give myself permission to be happy!