Our precious Men

This week starts the beginning of Men’s Health Week. What does that mean for you?

In my life I have amazing men, husband, sons and grandsons. Each has their challenges and triumphs but mental health plays a part in their daily life as it does for a lot of us. Men are unique in their outlook, emotions and in what we as partners, parents and society place on them. As a wife, mother and grandmother, I consciously try to pause and remind myself that they are not me and nor do that respond like me. That’s a good thing, yes it is. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. We each have our own unique story. The past 2 years for me have been in equal parts, hell, joyful, filled with love, frustrating, confusing and overwhelming. I’ve learnt a lot about myself but more importantly a lot about them. Age really does give prospective. It not my job to fix everything or shield them from the world, rather love and support them to be in the world their way.

So, what do I try to do for my men? I practice patience and kindness. I breath in and pause, so I am responding and not reacting. That is not to say I always get it right. I, like them are human. Yesterday I had a human moment and throw a wobbly but it was short lived and my gracious hubby held space for me to step in and say, I’m feeling overwhelmed and acted badly. His silent hug and I love you, were magic.

What can we do to support the men in our lives?

Let them solve their own problems their way, without running interference for them. Unless its asked for, its not helpful.

Consider them in decision making. Does this decision support their way of being? Is it respectful of them, is it kind?

Hold space for them when they go silent. Its not, I don’t want to talk. It’s I need to think and work through it in my head and heart before I talk. (I know, I hear you. It can be hard to manage silence and it can feel like rejection, but often, its not).

See our men. Really see, who they are and what they love. Notice what upsets/ troubles them and make it known, “I am here for you if and when you need”.

Surround them with great role models of all ages so they have men to go too for support and encouragement. Men need other men, the same as we need our women friends.

Give them opportunities to lead and to support you. (Okay it may not be helpful or necessary for us, but its so needed by them).

Notice when they use their manners and are respectful to others. Encourage  and model this behaviour to them.

Give them SPACE to cry and ARMS to fall into, that offer unconditional love, silently.

Most of all, celebrate that they are in your life, for without them life would be a lot less exciting.

For all the J’s and the A that are in my life. You are seen and loved.

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Beginning with me

In 2016 I was badly burnt out and struggling to figure out what I was going to do moving forward. I knew it was a complete change from what I had been doing for the last few years. Much as I love the people and the purpose that comes from working in the Community Sector, it was no longer a space where I felt I could even breathe anymore. That is what burn out is, and if you don’t attend to it things only get worse.

I took a short-term contract in the training sector, because I do have skills and qualifications that are suitable for this. However, it was too soon and my batteries were still very flat. I could not work at the level required at that time.  A kick start got me going for the day, but it didn’t keep me going.

From these experiences it was evident that I needed to take a much longer break, and really rebuild myself. My heart was missing my children and my mother who were all living in another State nearly 4,000 kilometres away. It was time to move “home”. However, there was no ‘home’ as such to go to. I had been away nearly a decade.

My very dear friend Christyne was also listening with her heart. Even though we had not had a lot of contact due to busy lives, we had a friendship that stayed true through all the changes and years between. The fact that I had remained deeply loved and valued as a friend became very evident when -out of the blue – Christyne offered me a place to stay with her and her hubby. It was very matter of fact: ‘we think you need to come home’. So the plans were made and home I came.

For the first four months I was good for nothing. Chronic asthma, fatigue and a fuzzy brain overwhelmed me. I was given space to heal and come to my own strength. I was reminded of the good things we had done together, and of the positive connections we had made with our respective family members. I was allowed to be my own person, my boundaries were respected, and my presence was welcomed. Honest and authentic conversations were ordinary daily events and these were as healing as any medicinal care that I had to take.

My recovery focused on simple strategies for living, eating healthy meals, walking regularly, being mindful and meditating, allowing myself creative space, engaging with others in healthy ways, and of course, looking after my family relationships.

From this experience, shared with Christyne and Tony, a new direction evolved. We decided to embark on a new direction together, and we have called it KiS4 Life: Keeping it Simple 4 Life. Bringing together our combined learning around mindfulness and wellbeing, we have created a platform for exploring ways of living better through different modalities. There is something for everyone here.

As each program is developed and rolled out we hope that you will find the experiences as rewarding as we have.

Peace, Light and Love

Elizabeth

AWAKE in Perth

We worked with Kate and The Hope Project Now to bring Kate Seselja to Perth in 2017.  Kate has authored a book “AWAKE” which is endorsed by the United Nations Association Australia as meeting the Sustainable Development Goal No 3, for sustainable mental health.  The AWAKE program has been recognised as a key development tool for all of the SDG Global goals.

Kate spoke about her experiences and recovery from a significant gambling addiction, her appearance on “You Can’t Ask That” on National Television, and her travels to the USA where her work was recognised at the UN.