The Lighter Side of Transformation

with Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Many kinds of freedom to celebrate on Independence Day

I am excited about my independence…

Lisa Wessan, Chelmsford, MA

Freedom from the bondage of Food, Fat and Fear!

Freedom from the Three Cs:  Complaining, Condemning and Criticizing of myself and others.

Freedom from needing approval from family, friends, colleagues, clients.

Freedom from depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and all negative thinking.

Freedom from FOMO!

Freedom from the stress of being Here but wanting to be There!

DBT Independent and need help

Freedom from all or nothing, black and white, dualistic thinking.  Dialectic thinking is a cure for recovering perfectionists, and a lot of OCD, obsessive compulsive, harsh thinking as well.

Freedom from Compare and Despair.

Freedom from jealousy, envy, lust, longing and cravings.

The only thing I do crave, however, is MORE FREEDOM!

I love feeling useful and peaceful, which is foundational for a life worth living. I also want to feel light and relaxed more of the time.

I want to feel “Serenity in the Storm,” as it is written:

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”  (unknown author)

Is my life perfect today?  Hell no!  Far from it!  I need to change SO MANY THINGS – I will spare you the burden of listing my ongoing pain, aggravation, losses, frustrations and deep sadnesses – but the good news is that these things are not dominating my consciousness.

I am not a victim anymore. It is no longer possible. I am 100% accountable for my life.  I blame no one for my difficult situations and expect no one to save me.

Yes, it’s true, with the help of G-d, Wise Mind, Higher Power, and my Army of Angels, I am the one who I have been waiting for! This is totally a G-d Job…turning my defeats into victories, and my scars into stars.  I have finally become bulletproof to the bullies, harsh people, fear and rage around me and within me. As it is written:

“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4: 11-13)

🌀With the deep healing powers embedded in psychospiritual treatments anything is possible! 🌀

Yes, I’m excited to share this today – my New Normal – after decades of battling with depression, eating disorders, severe mood swings and more.

If you are still struggling, please hear me when I say HAVE HOPE, things will get better if you don’t give up.

HOPE HOLD ON PAIN ENDS

Learn and practice your transformative behavioral and spiritual skills (DBT or whatever) knowing that you are making progress and that “This Too Shall Pass.”

If I can heal and be well, it can happen for anyone.  I am just another Bozo on the Bus, hastening slowly towards Wholeness and Oneness.

May you have a healthy, peaceful and relaxing fourth of July!

Never give up! 

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.

 

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On Receiving Accolades at the State House in Boston

When I left my job at NBC as a Talk Show Producer, I knew that there was never going to be a time when fame, fortune, cash and prizes were going to make me happy.  Not that I was ever famous, or super wealthy.  But I had lived in that world, worked at 30 Rockefeller Plaza for over a decade amidst the affluence and glittery abundance of mid-town Manhattan.  Working in the Entertainment Division at NBC was being at celebrity central, especially working on the talk shows.

What I learned, after a while, is that these things cannot sustain deep joy and wonder.  Working in that world was not inspiring me, and I felt I was somehow skimming the surface of life. I knew at some point that I was going to move on…

Fast forward…Yes, moving from trauma to transformation is now the name of my game.  As it is for most of my peers,  we are mostly off the radar, not seeking the limelight and quite happy doing what we do in the privacy of our consulting rooms.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I learned I was going to be honored for my deep dive into psychospiritual matters!  This was quite the shockeroo…

Who would have guessed that working with clients through their mysterious process of defrosting grief, recovering from illness, loss, abuse and neglect, teaching skills on emotion regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, finding new purpose in life, and finally building new dreams would be honored?   Not me. 

Getting kudos for how we work through the muck of it all? Incredible! Clearly, there is no Red Carpet in therapy land!  (Perhaps one day, however, when my book is out there, it will become a best seller, and then a blockbuster film…that would be fun and quite the wild ride.  Being a bit conflicted about being on the big arena,  I will need to continue to choose “Courage over comfort,” as Brené Brown  says.  Book tours, screenings, interviews, all positive and negative.  “Courage over comfort” helps me to accept leaving my safe, small world and moving on!)

In the meantime, it’s wonderful to live in Massachusetts, one of the more enlightened states that takes the time to acknowledge our inner journey, and how important it is to use mental health resources when the going gets tough.  Massachusetts is great at de-stigmatizing mental health issues.  There is tremendous support here for everyone to get what they need and move on.  

The Big Day…

On March 6, 2019, there was a beautiful and moving ceremony at the State House in Boston to honor a few of us maverick social workers who are doing extraordinary things in our practice.

Several politicians gave speeches, Senator Ed Kennedy acknowledged us by name (see his Facebook post below)  and there were lots of hugs and cheers throughout the event.  In addition, our photos with brief bios were on display in the State House during National Social Work Month in March.  (So fun and unexpected!)

Each of us that were honored that day has taken our original graduate training and morphed into providers who are doing unexpected works.  We all went past graduate school and expanded into unpredictably useful areas  (Click HERE for the original press release.)

My unusual areas of work involve Walk and Talk Therapy,  Therapeutic Laughter Training and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  (You can learn more about these topics at my web site, www.lisawessan.com)

I appreciated Senator Ed Kennedy’s comments on Facebook and his ongoing support of our work (see below). It was a special day and fun to be with my magnificent peers.

Here are some photos from the day:

 

Thank you for sharing in the gratitude and excitement of this moment in my career!  It was certainly one of the highlights of my time here in Massachusetts.

Up Next?

The journey continues — and this is truly a shameless plug — I’m an organically wired promoter, and cannot help sharing good science tested information or personal anecdotal results from the Lisa Laboratory of Life!  So if you want to keep in touch, you can follow this blog, or send me a message at my web site to receive my periodic newsletter.

Stay tuned for more quality news as we journey together from Trauma to Transformation!

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Moving towards wholeness, and lightness of being…

25 lbs 04.25.19

 

Yesterday morning I attended my wonderful Weight Watchers meeting (WW) and was delighted to learn that I have shed another two pounds, bringing my total weight released to 25.8 lbs since I joined WW (01/26/19).

I shed some tears on the scale, and my WW coach, Nancy, gave me a huge hug.  We are all in this together.   Nancy’s weekly inspiration, tips, mindfulness and commitment are totally uplifting and contagious in a good way.

What is exciting is that I KNOW I CAN DO THIS all the way to my goal weight.  I need to shed 25 lbs several more times to get where I want to be, but it will happen.

I have never felt so confident and grateful for a food program. This I can do!  Plus, I feel no guilt or shame when I do have the occasional indulgence, for I have enough “rollover points” to eat whatever I want, as long as I plan for it.

If you are excited about the possibility of also shedding your unwanted pounds, come join me in this journey towards wholeness, with more joy, energy and good health coming your way…WW is the sanest and most relaxing food plan I have ever followed.

To that end, I invite you to use this link to get your first month free to sweeten your starting days,  WW FREE MONTH  (I’ll be getting a free month too, so thank you for joining with me, it’s a Win/Win for all of us!)

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

Before and After 25 lb milestone

From a private moment of deep despair (Winter, 2018), to feeling the joy at the New York Botanical Garden,  04.21.19. It’s amazing what 25 lbs. can do!

 

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.
www.LisaWessan.com

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My new beginning…first 10 lbs. off!

I feel grateful and liberated! | 14 FEB 2019 | Amazing! |

My years of trying to practice “Moderation Management” with my food have sadly failed.  But thanks to my sister’s polite perseverance, I signed up with the new Weight Watchers (WW) program on 26 JAN 2019 to try one more thing…and I am amazed at how well it is working!  I’m so excited that I’ve shed 10 lbs, and feel very motivated to keep this up, one day at a time, one pound at a time, until I am back in my healthiest body.

Years ago, when I was a young teenager, I went to WW to shed more than a few pounds.  It was a very negative experience for me at the time. I was fat-shamed, humiliated and often experienced physical and verbal abuse at home for gaining weight. In sum, when my sister told me how much she was enjoying it, I shuddered with PTSD and said, “Never.  I will never go back there!”

Being someone who steadfastly remains open minded and skeptical (truly dialectic), I was eventually persuaded to give WW another chance. So this is just a quick note to share my enthusiasm, hope and joy for this first 10 lbs.  It’s fun that WW has dozens of incentives built into their program.  These charms pictured above that are given for weight loss are sweet. But there are even more incentives with the WW new app.

The WW app makes it super easy to develop an advanced mindfulness of what we are eating. We can track all of our food intake,  scan the Universal Product Code (UPC) of nearly every packaged food out there, track exercise and make it meaningful with lots of rewards along the way.

Plus, scanning the UPC is a powerful education and exercise in mindfulness concerning food.  For example, knowing that one granola has 9 points for 1/3 cup, and another granola has 4 points, helps me make a more loving choice when I think of having some granola as part of my breakfast.

I also enjoy the live WW meetings. The topics are relevant, well thought out and are enriched with useful collateral graphics and discussions.  I usually attend two meetings a week, and get weighed once a week.  I look forward to attending. The WW meetings are inspiring, uplifting and often full of laughter and some tears.

I feel liberated –  I can eat any food in the world and still shed weight – as long as I stay within my daily points structure.  It’s subtle, it’s simple and it’s even fun to work this gig.

If you are interested in trying WW, use my invitation link below to sign up and we’ll both get a free month added to our plans. I can’t wait to be on the WW journey with you!

https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/checkout/iaf/?iaftoken=20A6A0ED00

To your best life ever,

Lisa Wessan

 

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.
 www.LisaWessan.com

 

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Boylston, MA: “Night Lights: Winter Reimagined” is so Uplifting and Rejuvenating

For those of you in the Greater Boston area, there’s something magical to see at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden.   A variety of  creative displays cover the whole garden, indoors and outside. It is so beautiful, cosmic and exhilarating to walk through at night.

“Night Lights: Winter Reimagined” will be available to visit until 12/30/18 (must purchase tickets prior to going, timed tickets). IMG-6877

Inside the Rainbow Tunnel, Tower Hill Botanic Garden

 

I hope you can get there this year.  If not, mark your calendar to book for November/December 2019 for their next awesome light show.

Happy Holidays!

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

 

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Thoughts for the Season

Thank You Gratitude

There is a crack in everything,

that’s how the light gets in.


~ Leonard Cohen

 

There’s a lot to be grateful for this season, and I’m grateful for the never ending Light that goes to any length to reach us…

I appreciate this verse from Leonard Cohen, that when you are having a breakdown , aka cracking up,  you are actually have a breakthrough.  Those cracks allow us to grow, learn and transform.

No cracks, no wisdom.  It’s all part of the mysterious dialectical personal growth process we engage in as living beings.  We are not aiming for perfection, but we are aiming for wholeness.

I hope this message finds you in good health, moving towards wholeness, having more breakthroughs than breakdowns!

 

Happy, healthy, spirit of Thanksgiving and holiday season,

 

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

You might enjoy one of my recent articles…

 

Wessan, L. (2018). Walk and Talk Therapy: Moving Towards Wholeness.  Social Work Voice. 16-17.

Wessan, L. (2018). When you are Addicted to Drama…

Wessan, L. (2018). Holiday Blues? Pause and Take a Mental Laxative (Forgiveness 101).

 

New Groups Starting…

UP  Next in Westford, MA:

Open Enrollment Period for Adult DBT Skills Group ends 1/3/19. This next semester we cover Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness.  Learn more HERE. 

DBT Skills Group for Teens starts 1/8/19. 

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2018. All rights reserved.
www.LisaWessan.com

 

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Something wonderful is happening…

As I am continuing my ongoing birthday celebration (from 4/21), yesterday a dear friend took me to see Amy Schumer’s new film, I FEEL PRETTY, which I loved.  Thank you Amy Schumer for being so brave, vulnerable, transparent and still zany and hilariously funny.  Yes, you are the carrots in the brownies…(as you shared on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday podcast recently).  So great to laugh at the absurdities and incongruities of our plump biosacks  that carry us around here at Earth School.  I FEEL PRETTY is clearly part of the required curriculum for the Liberation Philosophy for Plump People!
Brief back story…
This is how the day went…first I had a long overdue haircut at noon —  and my new hairdresser, Chloe, did an amazing job!  I left her salon feeling extremely pretty.  I even had a few tears in my chair, because my hair has been in a side-braid more often than down on my shoulders for a long time.
Here is a recent braid photo from last Sunday at the Lyric Stage Theater in Boston, MA, chatting with Eugene O’Neill after his play, Anna Christie…
Why the hair neglect? Am I too busy? Not caring? Rushing from exercise to office, no time to fuss?  Apathy?  Whatever.  I like my braid, but I have gotten some negative feedback from my sister that it is not flattering.  I wear it anyway. I know my hair looks nice when it’s down, but some days I am not able to get that together.
In Chloe’s salon chair, my tears told me that I missed that part of myself, feeling beautiful and glamorous, and desirable.  I hadn’t felt this way for quite some time it seems. I usually feel moderately acceptable, clean and neat, and I know I look ok, but this haircut took it up more than  few notches…from acceptable to awesome!
New Haircut 5.5.18
Then while I was feeling soooo pretty, I’m watching Schumer’s new film, I FEEL PRETTY, and I had a surprisingly major transformational experience!  (similar to Amy’s character in the movie, but not as dramatic. Will not spoil the story for you, just go see it!)
I suddenly get how my attitude and Belief System (B.S.)  rule my mood, energy, and activation of  this phenomenon of “feeling pretty.”  My BS determines my interpersonal effectiveness,  distress tolerance and ambition. My BS can launch me into the heights of joy and super success or drive me down a slippery slope of negative thinking and despair. For today, I have the skills to reign myself in, but the roller coaster ride of negative BS can be a huge distraction and wasteful of my time and energy.
What are the odds?  Coincidence? Or is the Universe conspiring to turn me the hell around?  Pretty haircut,  followed by seeing the movie I FEEL PRETTY, and then a new neural network explodes in my brain…it’s a G-d Job, for sure!  Best birthday gift du jour…and I know more are coming!
Yes, I get it, I am an irresistible magnet for good people, places, things to come into my life.  My energy is sheer deliciousness and I want to be with people who celebrate me, not just tolerate me…in my plus-sized body. This is just a fantastic news breaker!  I FEEL PRETTY!  YES! Full throttle, all 12 cylinders pretty. A masterpiece of creation. Much needed, part of the beautiful landscape.
Onward and Upward,
Lisa
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Each Day, a New Beginning

2018 New Year

Remember, each day is a new beginning, as it is written in Winnie the Pooh:

“What day is it ?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favourite day,” said Pooh.

Some days may appear to be more special than others, but in fact each day is a special pearl of a day.  Let’s love the day, no matter what…experiment in feeling an attitude of gratitude for each breath you take.

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Gratitude Quotes

There are a plethora of wonderful quotes and passages on the topic of gratitude.
I thought I’d share a few of mine, with some annotations, and let them continue to spread more good energy in the world!
* * *
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.  And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed!”
~ Author Unknown

Ralph Waldo Emerson and this unknown author really grasped the enormity of the amount of goodness which lavishes us at all times.  We are typically not thinking about how well gravity keeps us on this Earth, without crushing us; how our bodies work with such precision and accuracy (most of the time); how the air we breathe and the food we eat sustain us.  From the micro to vast macro levels, we are swimming in an abundance of complexity and richness. To be in awe of the magnificence of this mosaic of life, and let that gratitude sustain you — regardless of the cash and prizes in your life — is a path to more inner peace.

In my Thursday night DBT Skills Group (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we recently explored this poem by Pat Schneider (Schneider, 2005)  to gain insight into the mystery of the generosity and kindness of the Universe:

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

*  *  *

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

~ Frederick Keonig

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

“The quality of your life equals the ratio of appreciation to complaint.”
~ Alan Cohen

Complaining is draining. One of my teachers in NYC once said, “If you  would abstain from complaining for 30 days, it would transform your life.”  Yes, I took on that challenge and it was an amazing month. I learned that what I focus on increases.  When I focus on what’s good, it expands.  When I focus on lack, illness, anger, scarcity, exhaustion, it gets worse. In sum, the intense energy I expend on complaining can be flipped to be uses instead in the arena of creative solutions.  As it is written, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”  (Matt. 15:11.)  Let your words be the seeds for a greater tomorrow, consider each word you speak a new seedling that will start to grow. You want to plant loving, smart, solution focused seeds.  They will turn into strong action plans, and help you manifest your dreams.

*  *  *

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
~William Arthur Ward

Some people have a difficult time expressing their feelings, even good ones. Feeling grateful and not saying anything about it is a sad loss of the beautiful and healing vibrational power of gratitude.  Just saying “Thank You” out loud has a profound shift on your inner chemical factory.  It has been proven in many studies how every thought becomes a chemical reaction in your body. (Emoto, 2004)

In the 12 Step world (Alcoholics Anonymous and all the related  recovery programs) , it is often said “Grateful people don’t pick up.”  The power of gratitude can help a resentful, angry addict focus on what’s working and good, and not feel the need to reach for the substance of choice for self medication, as in “Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink!” Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” is recovery code for focusing on what’s good, and to quit ruminating about what’s bad.

Making a gratitude list before bedtime is a classic and wonderful way to pre-pave the  way for a good night’s sleep. Gratitude calms the mind and reconnects to the Source Energy from which all our good comes to us. Here’s an example from one of my clients of one way to write your gratitude list:

“At night, I find written inventories helpful. I keep them brief and to the point, with three columns: plus, minus and gratitude.  In the first column, I list things I did well that day…In the second column, I list things I did not do well that day (binged on anger, lied or kept someone waiting).  In the final column, I list all the ways in which I am grateful.  I try to make this at least as long as my  other two columns!”
~ S. P., Massachusetts

Another way to amplify this positive energy is to send thank you notes. I love writing thank you notes in longhand on beautiful stationary because the energy  channeled from my hand gets directly transferred to the paper, and then the recipient can feel my gratitude even stronger than via text or email.

Writing thank you notes allows you to experience the deep gratitude and positive goodness a minimum of three times. First, there is the  immediate wave of gratitude in the moment of the experience. Second, when I write the thank you note  I re-experience the gratitude again.  Finally,  the third wave of gratitude comes back in a boomerang effect when the recipient calls, texts or emails me to thank me for my thank you note!  We often have a wonderful exchange, and the gratitude rises again.

In Conclusion

I invite you to experiment in the laboratory of your life…take on one or more of these practices to experience more gratitude in your life, feel better, and then create more positive results:

  • Say thank you more often.
  • See how it feels to write out your gratitudes each day.
  • Abstain from complaining for 30 days, and focus on your gratitude list instead.
  • Send out a few thank you notes to people whom have enriched your life, whether for a brief encounter or even for long term relationships.

thanksgiving2

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017. All rights reserved.
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Sources:

12 Step Recovery Programs – There are currently over 200 free programs worldwide. After the first three, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and  Overeaters Anonymous, the evidence of a strong recovery rate was significant enough to apply the 12 Steps to many other addictions, including nicotine, cocaine, pills, hoarding/clutter, internet, videogames and more.  If you are struggling with an addiction, search for a 12 Step program that will help you.

Matthew 15:11, New International Version (NIV).

Emoto, M. (2004). Hidden Messages in Water. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing.

Schneider, P. (2005). The patience of ordinary things. In Another River: new and selected poems. Amherst MA: Amherst Artists and Writers Press.

 

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