Eating with the Dead

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“Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is approaching and for some people this may be a difficult time of the year due to the lack of a proper resolution regarding the departure of their love ones from this world. It can be challenging and painful for some to remember that their family members are not here anymore. Some individuals may still have the need to grieve and mourn their love ones especially if they did not have the opportunity to attend their funerals. Anxiety and depression may be experienced by some. On the other hand, other people may see this celebration as an opportunity to come to a peace about their losses.

Growing up in Mexico City, “Día de los Muertos” was an exciting holiday (on November 1st deceased children are remembered, and the following day is adults turn) because we used to carve pumpkins, placed a candle inside of them, and went into the neighborhood to ask for money, “un veinte a la calavera”(a coin for the skull) is what we  used to say (the equivalent to trick or treat). Besides that and the special treats including “pan de muerto” (special bread), and “calaveritas de dulce y chocolate” (small skulls made of candy and chocolate) was all children cared for. Children were not fully aware of their parent’s or relatives’ emotional pain and distress.    

Many Mexican people express their love, respect, and honor to their deceased family by preparing their favorite food and drinks, and by putting them on tables along with flowers, candles, and pictures; this is a way to keep them alive in their minds. Some of them go to the cemetery and on the tombs, they put deceased’s favorite food, alcoholic drinks, flowers, candles, and even some bring a mariachi band to sing their dead’s favorite songs. They talk to them as if they were right there listening. For some, this celebration may signify a way to be in peace with their deceased specially if they did not have the opportunity to do so when they were alive. In some cases, people may be afraid of the unknown or the death itself, and may also believe that through following this rituals and celebration, they can save their love ones from eternal punishment.

Día de los Muertos also offers individuals the opportunity to openly process their losses without feeling criticized or rejected; expressing unresolved emotions are encouraged and understood, thus a sense of relief may be experienced. By  remembering their love ones people may feel a sense of connection, however, going through a process of grieving and mourning with the help of professional therapists is encouraged for those who have experienced not only traumatic losses, but those who feel distressed and depressed for the departure of their love ones.

Khesed Wellness profoundly understands people’s emotional struggles, and offers affordable professional counseling services for those who are dealing not only with grief and loss, but trauma, anxiety, depression, addictions, and more. Our therapists are more than happy to help you with kindness, love, and respect. Please visit our website at khesedwellness.com for more information and locations near you.  Spanish speaking services are also now available.

Comiendo con los Muertos

El Día de los Muertos se acerca y para algunas personas ésto puede ser un tiempo difícil debido a la falta de un proceso apropiado de resolución con respecto a la partida de sus seres queridos de éste mundo. Para algunas personas puede ser desafiente y doloroso el saber que sus seres queridos ya no estan aquí. Algunos individuos pueden tener todavia la necesidad de pasar por el procesos de duelo especialmente si no tuvieron la oportunidad de asistir al funeral de sus familiares. Algunos pudieran estar experimentando ansiedad y depresión. Por otro lado, otras personas pudieran ver esta celebración como una oportunidad para ponerse en paz con la pérdida de sus familiares.

Habiendo crecido en la Ciudad de México, el Día de los Muertos era una festividad con mucha emoción (el 1o. de Noviembre los niños que han muerto son recordados y el siguiente día es el turno de los adultos) porque le dabamos figura a nuestra calabaza, le colocabamos una vela adentro y nos ibamos a las casa de los vecinos a pedirles un veinte a la calavera. A los niños lo único que nos importaba era ir a pedir dinero con nuestra calavera y la comida, incluyendo el pan de muerto y las calaveritas de dulce y chocolate. Los niños no estan completamente conscientes de la agonía y dolor emocional de sus papás o familiares por la pérdida de sus seres queridos.  

Muchos mexicanos expresan su amor, respeto, y honor hacia sus familiares muertos al preparar su comida y bebidas favoritas, y colocando flores y fotos; esta es una manera de mantenerlos vivos en su mente. Algunas personas van al cementerio y colocan sobre la tumba de sus seres queridos su comida favorita, bebidas alcholicas, flores, e inlcuso algunos llevan un mariachi para que canten las canciones que le gustaban al difunto. Le hablan a sus muertos como si estuvieran ahí escuchando. Para algunos, esta celebración puede significar una manera de estar en paz con el difunto especialmente si no tuvieron la oportunidad de hacerlo en vida. En algunos casos, la gente puede tener temor a los desconocido o a la muerte misma, y creen que al hacer estos rituales y celebraciones pueden salvar a sus seres queridos del castigo eterno.

El Día de los Muertos es una oportunidad para algunas personas de procesar abiertamente sus pérdidas sin sentirse criticados o rechazados; también son animados a expresar las emociones no resueltas de tal manera que puedan experimentar alivio. Al recordar a sus seres queridos, las personas pudieran sentir una sensación de conección con ellos, sin embargo, para aquellos que han experimentado una pérdida traumatica, o para aquellos que se sienten atormentados o depresivos por la partida de sus seres queridos es muy recomedable que pasen por un proceso de duelo con la ayuda de terapistas profesionales.    

Khesed Wellness entiende profundamente las luchas emocionales que las personas experiementan, y ofrece servicios profesionales de consejería accesible para aquellos que no solo estan sufriendo con el luto y la pérdida, sino también con trauma, ansiedad, depression, adicciones, y otras cosas más. Nuestros terapistas estan más que felices en ayudarte con amabilidad, amor, y respeto. Para más información y localidades por favor visita nuestra página de internet en khesedwellnes.com

About the Author:

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Francisca Alvarez

Francisca Alvarez RP, Apprentice is earning her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Denver Seminary. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Economy from Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico, City. She is Prepare/Enrich certified in working with couples to heal and strengthen their relationship. Francisca is passionate in helping people to become healthy in a holistic way and is willing to incorporate faith into sessions if clients bring this subject up. She is open in serving the Hispanic community including teenagers, young adults, adults, and couples. Francisca was born and raised in Mexico State and moved to Colorado two decades ago. She spends some of her free time traveling with her husband and their teenage daughter, and also enjoys watching movies, and eating Mexican and Italian food with family and friends. 


SPECIAL EDITION: Video Interview w/ Jennifer Knapp - Grammy Nominee

SPECIAL EDITION: Video Interview w/ Jennifer Knapp - Grammy Nominee

Get a taste of what’s to come at our Fall Event, “What Connects Us” on Friday, October 19th! Hear from Grammy Nominee, singer/songwriter, and social advocate —Jennifer Knapp—as she talks with our Founder about connection, especially in our world more aware than ever of all that disconnects us.

Navigating Your Relationship With Food

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There are so many components that help us to regulate our minds, bodies, and emotions. Attachment theory says that from cradle to grave the primary need of every human being is human connection. Beginning in early childhood, our attachment styles begin to develop based oftentimes off of our family’s attachment style.In the clinical world, counselors refer to there being four primary styles of attachment, which are anxious or ambivalent, avoidant, disorganized, and secure. When our need for human connection is not met in a way to provide a safe haven to come to when we feel emotionally vulnerable or a safe base to venture out into the world, we grasp for substitutes that will fill the void of that painful feeling of disconnection and fear.

Food can become this safe haven for many people since it is comforting, predictable, and oftentimes it will always there when you need it. These are the same qualities that we long for with the closest people in our lives. After time, however, it becomes evident to most people that food is not meeting their need for connection. This is one of the central themes that will be uncovered in the group that I will be running called Navigating Your Relationship with Food.

This October, I will be running a group for women from the ages of 20 to 40 years old who desire to find more freedom in their relationship with their food. There are many components that influence one’s relationship and patterns of eating such as self-esteem, body image, relationships, family history, and life circumstances. My hope is that this group provides a safe place for women to come and sort through what factors are complicating their relationship with food, themselves, and their relationships with others.

If you have had a diagnosable eating disorder in the past you are welcome; if you have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder you are welcome. The focus of this group is not how to heal from a diagnosable eating disorder, per se. It is rather to help you untangle the web of emotions and cognitions behind food and addressing those aspects rather than the eating itself. My hope is that women are able to find sustainable methods of connecting with themselves, with others, and with food and break out of the maladaptive patterns that have been formed. The tone of this group is welcoming, understanding, compassionate, and empathetic because has unhealthy habits and beliefs that they develop  to help them cope and survive. By the end of this group, I hope that you are no longer surviving in your relationship with food, but rather thriving!

About the Author:

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Amy McCann, RP, Apprentice, is earning her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Denver Seminary. She is open to seeing many types of clients of all age ranges. She is trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and desires to help couples strengthen their relationship. Amy earned her Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Movement Science from the University of Vermont, and desires to help her clients in a holistic way. She is passionate about people finding true freedom and healing in every area of life. Amy also has rich cultural experiences with living overseas and enjoys cross-cultural work with clients. Amy is originally from Boston, but loves living in Colorado with her husband. They enjoy hiking, fly fishing, playing games with friends, and eating ice cream. 

When Body Positivity Doesn’t Feel So Positive

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When it comes to the topic of body image and eating disorder recovery, much conversation occurs around the concept of body positivity. In recent years, a movement has erupted from beneath the rigid body image expectations perpetuated by our culture to declare that “health” should no longer be automatically synonymized with “thin,” and we have begun to see a greater celebration of the various ways that bodies take size and shape. Instead of enslaving our bodies to harsh diets and punishing workout routines, an alternative approach has been offered to tell us that we can indeed celebrate the feats our bodies are capable of and honor them with nourishing foods and movement that we enjoy.

Many of the leaders in this movement are women who have been brave enough to push back against the unreasonable body image standards to which they have long been held hostage, and often in my work in the field of eating disorder treatment, I have suggested that the rest of us must join the work our sisters have started and begin to cultivate body positivity movements for men, racial minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community, as well.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge, however, that for those of us who have spent significant amounts of time at war with our bodies, the idea of such personal body positivity can seem nearly impossible. The notion may be good in theory, but after years of wrestling with body disgust and hatred, the concept of celebrating and loving our physical selves can feel like nothing more than a pipe dream. To you, my friend, I simply say: I get it. Body positivity does not always feel good and positive, and I know well that the way we feel about our physical selves does not always consist of celebration, warmth, or acceptance. If anything, the expectation that body positivity must be defined by these experiences can lead us into deeper guilt and shame about the actual, darker emotions we sometimes feel when we look in the mirror. The truth is, for some of us, practicing body positivity will at times be the most difficult, and least positive-feeling, thing we ever do.

I recently went through a difficult season in my life, and honestly, I did not feel very positive about my body during any of it. It was a season of hardship, filled with struggle, scarcity, hurt, and grief, and in an attempt to alleviate some of the pain, I turned back to a few of my most reliable and damaging numbing techniques. My body, in turn, adjusted with them.

I am well-practiced at criticizing my body for not being good enough and for changing in ways that I deem to be undesirable and unacceptable, and during this season, it took a lot of my energy to refrain from berating my body and myself for being human and imperfect every time I got dressed in the morning. It took additional energy to then refrain from engaging in even more damaging practices to compensate for its changes. The only body positivity I could muster during that time was an acknowledgement of the ways my body had agreed to hold my pain when the rest of me could not and choose not to actively criticize it or punish it for the way it had done so.      

In reality, body positivity doesn’t always, or sometimes ever, look like a celebration for all of the wonderful things our bodies allow us to do. Some days, body positivity instead looks like whispering to our physical selves through gritted teeth and tear-stained cheeks that despite the pain, the fear, or the disgust, we will choose not to do anything we know will cause them harm. Some days, it looks like nothing more than putting in the fight to ride out the wave of body distress without engaging in destructive, quick-fix ways out of the emotion, even if we know those ways will temporarily dull the pain. Some days, body positivity is desperately seeking out a glimmer of gratitude, no matter how small, that our bodies have endured our mistreatment, made space for our pain, and have kept us alive. And on those days, my friend, that is enough. 

Body positivity, in its truest form, is not always pretty, and it is certainly not always connected to any actual positive feeling. For some of us, loving our physical selves may feel futile or impossible, and yet, if there is even one small act of physical kindness that can get us through the difficult days, if there is even one time we can show our bodies appreciation instead of harm, the hope that inspires body positivity remains.

My dear friend, if you are afraid that celebrating your physical self is out of reach, I feel you. However, if you are also tired of waging a constant war against your body, I am with you. Let us begin the hard work of making peace with our flesh and bones together, and in doing so, discover that in the moments when we feel like celebrating our bodies least, even the smallest acts of physical kindness are cause for celebration, too.           

 

About the Author:

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Zach Verwey, MA, LPC, NCC holds a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from a CACREP accredited program and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Colorado. In his clinical practice, Zach has worked extensively with LGBTQ+ concerns, eating disorders, holistic sexual health, values and identity, and grief and loss, and he is Prepare/Enrich certified in working with couples. He is especially passionate about addressing the ways in which body image difficulties impact the LGBTQ+ community and regularly works with clients and provides education through writing and public speaking on this topic. Zach believes deeply in the power of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationship work in the therapeutic process, and offers a holistic and integrative approach that honors the mind, body, and spirit. In his spare time, Zach enjoys reading the memoirs of female comedians, experimenting with new bread recipes, and exploring Denver’s latest hot spots with a friend or two. 

 

Is “Fitspiration” Worthy of Aspiration?

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Are you constantly looking in the mirror to see if you have lost that five pounds yet? Or always thinking about your next meal and whether it will fit in your diet regimen? Do you feel anxious if you haven’t completed your exercise routine? You are certainly not alone. Many women everyday wrestle with body image and obsessive patterns concerning food and exercise. Disordered eating is a very common issue for women.

There is a new trend on social media called “Fitspiration.” Many women will tag themselves after their workout or eating a healthy meal and tag #fitspiration on sites like Instagram and Facebook. Studies have shown that there are over 5.2 million pictures on Instagram with this hashtag (Holland & Tiggemann, 2017). This hashtag highlights women with a certain body type, which is unattainable for lots of women. It also does not highlight the health benefits of diet and exercise, but rather obtaining a certain appearance. This can lead to discouragement for women who don’t feel like they match these women's images and it can send them spiraling into unhealthy eating behaviors.

One study compared a group of women who posted photos of fitspiration with a group of women who posted pictures of travel who were both tested for behaviors of disordered eating and compulsive exercise. Even though the women who posted fitness pictures appeared healthier, they scored higher for patterns of disordered eating (Holland & Tiggemann, 2017). The women posting fitspiration photos also scored higher for compulsive exercise, which is associated with more extreme levels of exercise that can lead to fatigue, injury proneness and social withdrawal (Holland & Tiggemann, 2017). It appears that the women posting about fitness are motivated more by perfectionism (Goodwin, Haycraft, Willis, & Meyer, 2011) and the drive to obtain the ‘socially acceptable’ body image  rather for the benefits of health (Holland & Tiggemann, 2017).

Images like these and many other factors in life can encourage unhealthy behaviors of eating and working out. Changing these behaviors is not as simple as finding the will power. There are multiple levels of thought, will, and heart all at play. It takes time to determine where the depths of insecurity have originated and how to work through it. Please check in again as we continue to unpack this complex topic of disordered eating and ways that lead towards true healing and freedom.

 

continuing the conversation

 

There is a much needed conversation around women and disordered eating, where the questions of “how do I know when I am falling into patterns of disordered eating?” or “what drives me to habits of disorder eating?

If you or someone you know would like more help to navigate through your relationship with food, I would encourage you to check out our group called “Navigating Your Relationship with Food: From Disordered Eating Towards Recovery.” There will also be a part two of this blog that will delve deeper into the underlying dynamics behind eating disorders.

About The Author:

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Amy McCann, RP, Apprentice, is earning her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Denver Seminary. She is open to seeing many types of clients of all age ranges. She is trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and desires to help couples strengthen their relationship. Amy earned her Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Movement Science from the University of Vermont, and desires to help her clients in a holistic way. She is passionate about people finding true freedom and healing in every area of life. Amy also has rich cultural experiences with living overseas and enjoys cross-cultural work with clients. Amy is originally from Boston, but loves living in Colorado with her husband. They enjoy hiking, fly fishing, playing games with friends, and eating ice cream. 

 

The Benefits of Exercise

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As the new year approaches many are thinking about their health and fitness goals for 2018. Our guest blogger Deb Ruka who is a personal trainer in Lone Tree writes about the link between physical wellness and mental wellness. We hope this helps to kick off your new year in a holistically healthy way.  

Exercise...everyone knows they should be doing it, but most people don’t realize just how beneficial it is. Here are just a few of the advantages to regular exercise: weight control, improved body image, reduced stress, and decreased risk of disease.  These benefits are just tip of the iceberg. Hopefully this article will convince and motivate you to prioritize physical fitness.

Exercise is a great way to manage your weight. Think of calories as a savings account: you always want to have some in reserve. Calories in moderation are not a bad thing, just the opposite, calories are in essence heat energy, which means calories increase your energy levels.  And burning calories will boost your metabolism, increasing your body's overall efficiency.  Exercise and good nutrition are a great recipe for increased energy and weight control.  
   
While weight loss is usually the prime motivator to get people started on a workout regime, don't underestimate the added benefit of  improved body image that will result. This can be challenging and frustrating because it usually takes time to notice changes. You will probably notice physical changes, like your clothes fitting differently, before changes on the scale. Don’t be alarmed, this is a good thing because it means you are losing body fat and gaining muscle. Focus on exercising consistently and good nutrition, then the weight loss will come.  With the confidence you'll feel from from your improved self-image, you'll notice that feeling will trickle into other aspects of your everyday life improving your mood and your overall mental health!
     
If that doesn’t inspire you how about the effect exercise has on your stress levels?  Exercising prompts your body to excrete endorphins.  In layman's terms, these are feel good hormones, so exercise results in the reduction of stress and mood improvements. Exercise:  it's the most underutilized antidepressant! 
   
Still not convinced to exercise? Does a decreased risk of disease peak your interest?  Regular exercise can improve your cardiovascular health and lessen the possibility of type 2 Diabetes. It can also reduce your prospects of getting some cancers, strengthens your bones, and mitigates your chances of having osteoporosis. When you aren't worried about your physical health, you'll have more time to focus on your mental well-being.
     
Is it work?  Of course, that’s why it’s called working out, but anything worth having is worth working for. Your physical health is directly correlated to your mental health; so go out there and do something, anything, to stay active! There are so many options out there:  play a sport, hire a trainer, download workouts on line, go for a brisk walk, jog, bike, join a group fitness class, join a gym, buddy up with a friend, or rent free workout DVDs from a library. So who’s motivated?! 

 To talk to the author Deb Ruka L.Ac.,Dipl.,MSTCM about your fitness goals for the new year please contact her at  her website  or by phone at 720-209-2984.

To talk to the author Deb Ruka L.Ac.,Dipl.,MSTCM about your fitness goals for the new year please contact her at her website or by phone at 720-209-2984.

#GivingTuesday 2017 Thank You!

#GivingTuesday 2017 Thank You!

Thank you for all your support yesterday! We need 50 more people to join our 60 for $60 year-end campaign. Joining our 60 for $60 project is a great holiday gift, especially in a loved one's honor.

Kindness and Potential Work Together

Kindness and Potential Work Together

There are daily opportunities to lean into kindness, or not. This could all sounds fine and dandy too, until it gets personal. This call toward a kind life, which means a full life in my mind, means this calling gets personal, and it did for me recently...[12 more minutes of audio]