Encouraging women to evolve and create new opportunities at any age.

Let Freedom Ring!

It's Almost the 4th of July!

By: Kendra Brown


We Americans, no matter our party affiliation, are generally united when it comes to valuing our hard-won national freedom.  All across the country, we’ll have celebrations, fireworks, and picnics.  We’ll display our patriotic colors, listen to Souza marches, and observe family traditions (I always insist on baking a blackberry cobbler!).  All through school, beginning in elementary years, we learned about our early pioneers - how they dared oceans, plains, and mountains to escape the confining influences and demands of others.  They are our heroes: independent tough-minded folk who dared to seek, and even fight for, their own answers.
I find it paradoxical that we are so conscious of protecting our national freedom and so unconscious about personal freedom.  Routinely, I see patients in emotional distress because they are trying to meet unrealistic expectations from others.  I wish I could say they are asking for ways to question these expectations; to see if they are personally appropriate and if not, to assertively confront them.  However, it’s interesting, and sad, that their typical concerns have to do with meeting others’ expectations, rather than refusing to.  Therapy begins then, with helping the patients become conscious of personal freedom and the joys of making choices that are appropriate and life-enriching.
As I work with my patients, I remind myself of the old idiom, “Practice what you preach.”  I, too, need to take time – frequently – to step outside my normal routine, and my unconscious habits to question, “Do I really need to do this or that?”  And at a deeper level:  “Do I still structure my life around values and beliefs that I no longer hold?”
The images that flash across the television screen and decorate the covers of magazines are those of youth, money and power.  It’s easy to lose the sense of worth that is the result of years of living – of aging.   “Should I really compare myself to a fashion model who is barely 20 years old?”  “Can I consciously remind myself that I have value that has nothing to do with appearance, money, power?” “Am I conforming – or choosing?”
Perhaps it has never been as difficult to be independent; the fetters can be just as crippling when they are subliminal, as when they are actual bonds and chains. But we come from good stock.  We know the stories of those who dared everything to resist impediments and shackles. This 4th of July, let’s resolve to embrace the goals and rewards of independence – at both the national and the personal level!    


Continuing the conversation...
Reader’s comments and contributions:

Reader’s response to Dianne Spina’s article on “Reinventing Ourselves” in the April Newsletter:
Your newsletter piece was well done…sincere and with a sense of humor.
As for reinventing myself, I think this happens every year in a “ready or not” fashion. With each passing year my body dictates what I can and cannot do. Hence, I adjust my lifestyle to accommodate these changes. Sometimes they are major such as cutting back several hours of yard work in a day and sometimes I just need to tweak  things a little bit, such as going to bed earlier most nights.
To keep as much happiness and harmony in my life as possible, I also need to adjust to the changes my spouse is going through. Because he is several years older, it can get annoying when I want to move faster, do more, or experience things he is not interested in learning. My word of the year is “patience” and this goal is achieved with various levels of success. One helpful hint is to repeat the phrase, our situation could be reversed and that usually gets me back on track as far as understanding, tolerating, etc.
In any case, life is good, life is full and golf remains a challenge.

Kendra’s response: 

I love this last line (above).  …”life is good, life is full and golf remains a challenge.” Unless our  reader objects, I’m planning to have that screen-printed on a tee shirt!  And, I’m urging our  reader to continue her conversation with us!  Your comments were very thought-provoking and I will pass them on to patients who will benefit from them.  Thanks.

Reader response to Kendra’s Memorial Day Reflection in the May Newsletter:
What a wonderful piece!  Most timely, as I just heard from two other former students over the weekend.  Needless to say, I felt genuine joy.
Thank you. Ellen

About Edie’s Book Shelf:

Hi Edie,

Love your book. Every day my goal is to:
1) exercise
2) do something for someone
3) do something creative. 



Every Picture Tells a Story

Kendra asked that I include a photo of me for the newsletter. Well here it is.  This is me in my office where I work for business owners helping them (virtually) with the details of their businesses.


By Terry Gray
I love details and in this picture you can see behind me many little details in my work space. My office bookshelf contains what I consider to be essential tools for my work with clients.  I have business books related to accounting, management, human resources, copy-writing, HTML (website coding), marketing, and leadership.  I have pictures that make me smile and help me feel comfortable.  There are pictures of our grand-baby and grand puppy, a wedding photo of our son and  daughter-in-law, and one of our younger son on top of a helicopter, working on the rotor blades.  I have a painted lizard from a shopping trip with Kendra, it reminds me of both her and Florida.  There is a lovely little vase dear friends brought me from China, with Mardi Gras beads draped over it.  Go figure!  The combination of these eclectic things creates an atmosphere that is comfortable for me, and enhances my creativity and productivity.
I chose this photo to share with you because it brings up some topics we think would be interesting in future newsletters. 
What/who do you surround yourself with?
What/who contributes to your living more comfortably and enjoyably?
For example, good people,nature, just the right colors, sunshine – or rain?
Favorite photos: Do you fully present yourself in photos and in your life?
Do your photo images equal how you feel?
Photos capture my freckles, not my spirit.
Favorite photos
Are you missing from the photos in your albums?  Why?

What places have you visited that you highly recommend?      
Send us your thoughts on these topics and any other topic you would like to add to the conversation.

What’s on Your Bookshelf?
By Kendra Brown
Are you, like me, always looking for a good book to read? 

Please send us titles and recommendations from your bookshelves.  

And speaking of books, one more request:  recently, a friend mentioned she may start a discussion group around books written by women and about women.  I’m always up for that!   Another chance to enrich my “village” - I won’t pass that up.  So, we are on a search for appropriate books.  Do you have favorites that fit this category? 

While we are on the subject, I’ll tell you about some of my favorites.  If you haven’t read these, they are wonderful and I’m happy to share the titles with you!
My first recommendations are all authored by Barbara Kingsolver.  Many of her books have occupied my bookshelves, but these are the ones about women that I like the best.  The Poisonwood Bible may be my all-time favorite book.  The story is told by the wife and four daughters of an evangelical missionary who takes his family to the Belgian Congo.  It is also the story of the complexity of the Congo, itself, as each of the women describes it from her own perspective over time.  Kingsolver’s writing is silky smooth and delicious and I learned a lot about the Congo and its history, at the same time that I enjoyed the craftsmanship of her writing.

I also loved The Bean Trees  and its sequel, Pigs in Heaven. They are about a woman and her “adopted daughter”, who is Native American and their often humorous adventures.  I still laugh when I recall the two books; and as I write this, realize I want to read them again.

Next, is The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.  The novel takes place around 1940 and the action involves coastal Massachusetts and London.  It really brings those times to us in a graphic and personal way. Blake weaves the characters’ lives together across the Atlantic in such a way that I felt I knew them and that I understood the times better too. 

My last recommendation is The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  It’s set in Paris in the 1920’s and tells the story of the love affair between Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley.  Ah, the ambiance!  It’s almost as good as being there!
Join the conversation….

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Copyright © 2013 Kendra Brown, Ph.D, All rights reserved.
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