5 Tips to Help You Through a Major Life Event

I just passed the licensing exam for my profession (LCSW), earlier today. It was pretty awful, I must admit, 4 hours, 170 questions, many of which you had to choose the best possible answer amongst multiple good ones. It's something I have been actively working towards for the past 6 years of my life, and a long-term goal of mine since I majored in psychology over 10 years ago. I'm not gonna lie, it was quite a stressful process, and there were many moments before and during the exam where I wasn't sure I would pass. I've had similar experiences in which I felt terrified, and needed to keep my cool, like the three years I competed in the National Yoga Asana Championship for California. The yoga competition is a 3 minute demonstration on stage, in front of a silent auditorium of people in which you demonstrate balance, strength, flexibility, and grace. It's terrifying, but also a wonderful experience. Below are my 5 biggest tips to help you through a major presentation, deadline, exam, wedding, job interview, fill in the blank:

  1. Deep breaths. When your heart is pounding, and you feel like you could pass out, take long slow deep breaths. Close your eyes even, take deep breaths and center yourself. I used this tip many times throughout my yoga competition and my exam, and the breath truly works. Deep breathing calms the nervous system down, lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure. It works guys, and we know it works because it feels good and we can measure the positive physiological changes deep breathing has on the body.
  2. Put things into perspective. I like to picture myself on my deathbed and this usually helps me to put everything into perspective. At the end of my life, I don't think I'll look back and regret bombing a presentation, failing an exam on the first try, or fumbling a competition. What I would regret is the time I spent worrying about the event or beating myself up afterwards for not living up to my standards. Before our yoga competition, one of the judges/yoga gurus gave all the competitors a pep talk. She reminded us that we have been practicing yoga before the competition, we will practice yoga afterwards, and that the competition was simply 3 minutes to be in the present moment. It wasn't going to change our lives. We were going to continue practicing yoga regardless of the outcome. It made something that felt so big, feel a bit smaller. Putting things into perspective can really help calm the nerves.
  3. Be in the present moment. The last tip leads me into this one. Try to be in the present moment during your major event whether it be an exam, a presentation, a competition, etc. Tip #1 can help. Whenever I found my mind wandering out of the present moment, that's when I noticed my suffering increase, or my performance decrease. Try to be in the present moment. It will make everything go smoother. 
  4. Practice Gratitude. I noticed my nervousness, my stress, my anticipation, my mind calmed when I thought of the things in my life I felt grateful for. You can't actively feel grateful and scared at the same time. Gratitude fills your heart up, it calms the mind, it improves mood, it attracts more great things into your life. Try gratitude the next time you find yourself in fear or anxiety.
  5. Tolerate Discomfort. Part of me knew I would feel a sense of unease until the end of my competition or exam. Sometimes, what we fight we strengthen, so accepting a certain level of nerves can help to keep them from becoming even more intense. Fear and stress can be a good thing. My fear of failing the exam motivated me to study even more the days leading up to it, so embrace what you can of your fear and use it for good not evil ; )

Hope these tips were helpful, use them the next time you have a major life stressor coming up and leave a comment underneath of any tips you have that would apply here. 

10 ways to Reset your energy

We are human, and being human includes shifts in energy, changes in mood, and changes in thoughts (e.g positive to negative). First step is always awareness. Try to notice when the energy shifts inside you whether it comes in the form of a bad mood, negative thoughts, low energy or no motivation. Next step is you have to put energy towards shifting your energy. Even if you are in the deepest depths of depression and you have no energy to get out of bed, maybe you can practice deep breathing. Point is, find something, that involves energy, and feels doable, then do it. Some days, I come home from work exhausted and all I want to do is plop down in front of the television and not move for the next 5 years. What I've found, is if I don't do something to change my energy, I typically feel that way until I go to bed. If I can muster the motivation to practice an energy reset activity, at the very least, I have the opportunity to feel better. It may not happen, but majority of the time, when I put energy towards changing my energy, it works. Below are 10 energy shifting activities I've found to be helpful in reseting your energy. 

  1. Music - Music taps into our emotions like nothing else. Use it to your advantage. You can use music to help you emote your energy (e.g. putting a sad song to help you cry it out when you are feeling down), or to change your mood all together (e.g. putting on happy music to help get you out of a mood funk). You can also use music to enhance any of the below activities. 
  2. Breathwork - I truly believe in the power of your breath. The breath is the only control we have over our autonomic nervous system. Deep breathing lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure and turns on our parasympathetic nervous system the part of our body responsible for calming us down. Check out my post on 4 breaching techniques to lower anxiety in under a minute here
  3. Get Silly - Making funny faces into the mirror, doing a silly dance, getting inverted by hanging over the side of the bed or doing a handstand against the wall are all ways to completely shift the situation. Never underestimate the power of play. 
  4. Meditation - Sometimes getting quiet is what you need. Light some incense (my personal fav is palo santo) get comfortable, close your eyes, relax your body, and either practice a self-guided meditation or put on one of the many free guided meditations available on calm.com, insight timer, or youtube. I have had complete shifts in mood from beginning of meditation to end. It really is a powerful tool. 
  5. Walk - Yes, walking is awesome for moving energy, and decreasing stress in the body. Next time you are stressed go for a walk, preferably somewhere nice, possibly with headphones in, or simply listening to the nature around you. 
  6. Nature - Nature does great things to the brain and spirit. Whenever I watch a sunset or sunrise, I instantly feel calmer, more connected, and at peace. The sound, sight and smell of the ocean also works to reset my energy, and the smell of pine trees on a warm day. Get out in nature next time you need an energy reset. 
  7. Gratitude - Sometimes remembering the things that are right in your life, help to put the things that are wrong into perspective. I fully believe gratitude is a necessity happiness. Read a past post about specific gratitude practices here and here.  
  8. Yoga - I believe I can honestly declare that I've never gone to a yoga class and not had my energy shift from it. Yoga never fails me. Even if my practice is simply sun salutations and breathing, yoga always works. Going to a studio is awesome, but even practicing some Youtube yoga in your living room is sure to help. 
  9. Talk about your feelings - I mean what kind of therapist would I be if I didn't include this one? 'Better out than in' I always say when it comes to negative emotions. Talking about your feelings with the right people definitely helps to decrease the power those negative feelings have on us and diffuses some of the negative energy holding in feelings has caused. Key tip is to talk about feelings with someone who you know can be supportive because not everyone is. 
  10. Dance - This involves music and moving your body. Getting your body moving to a song you are loving at the moment is an awesome way to shift energy. You can even do a silly dance to include strategy number #3 for added intensity. Again, the combo of great music and that body movement is what makes dance a great energy reset activity. 

Again, emphasis is placed on putting energy, in whatever way possible, towards shifting your energy when you are feeling in a funk emotionally, energy-wise, physically, spiritually, or mentally. The point is not picking the perfect activity, but rather finding what feels doable and trying it. Your mood is less likely to change, your energy is less likely to shift if you aren't putting energy towards that intention so give one of the above activities a try next time you want out of a funk. 

Bedtime Habits to Improve Sleep

Hey guys, sleep is important. Sleep is king. Sleep is essential to our overall functioning! Above are 10 bedtime habits to improve sleep. Use as many of your senses as possible when creating a bedtime routine (e.g. touch, taste, smell, sound). Most of the tips are self-explanatory but I want to clarify a couple. No. 1: turn off electronics 1 hour before bedtime. As soon as the blue light from electronic screens hits our retina, the body stops producing melatonin (nature's Ambien). I know  I'm guilty of using electronics too close to bedtime, but if you are having trouble sleeping, electronics should be the first thing you eliminate in the nighttime. Finally, No. 6. Read (preferably fiction). Fiction helps you to escape everyday life, to get lost in a fantasy, and to take a mental vacation. Majority of people who have difficulty falling asleep report they have trouble shutting their brain down, slowing the thoughts in their head. Reading is helpful in general, but I think fiction does a better job at calming the brain, so that's the reasoning behind the preference given to fiction. Build a bedtime routine that feels authentic to you and your lifestyle, but do try to create some kind of a routine. Good bedtime routines, practiced over time can help signal the brain and body to start winding down, thus improving your ability to relax and fall asleep when the time for bed comes. Hope this was helpful and happy snoozing everyone!

How yoga taught me to deal with discomfort

As many of you know, I've been a regular practitioner of hot yoga or Bikram yoga (yoga done in a room heated above 100F). This is a yoga that truly tests your mental and physical strength. At times, it's uncomfortable as your muscles shake in a posture, or the temperature rises in the room. At times, I've found myself agitated, looking for the cause of my discomfort, blaming everything in the room. I've witnessed my mind looking for something to lock onto, a source for the blame "It's too hot in the room". "The teacher's timing is off". "The person next to me is breathing too loud". "It smells bad in here". It's comical really. I think it was the Buddha who said "the root of all suffering is attachment". I realize now, I've been attached to how I want things to go. I've been attached to how I want to feel in yoga class, attached to what I think the temperature should be at, the teacher's timing as she moves us through postures. I've been attached to wanting yoga to feel relaxing, or healing, or easy. None of these factors are factors I can control. The only thing I can control is my own awareness, my breathing, using the breath to calm my body down, and assessing what's needed based on the current situation. I can't even control what my yoga will look like that day, because it will change based on the environmental factors, my energy level, whether I ate well the days leading up to class, and where I'm at mentally/emotionally. Such is life. Some days everything will be going wrong at work, or in life and it's easy to blame those external factors for discomfort or a bad mood. It's true, we are affected by energy from people, places, circumstances, and experiences, but if we can let go of placing blame and focus on what we can do to change our energy, or rebalance, it may be a more effective focus of energy. Some days all the factors are just right, and you feel like you're coasting. Some days it's the opposite and you may need to metaphorically sit out some postures, or focus on maintaining control of your breath. Next time you're in a place of discomfort, agitation, frustration do these following two steps:

  1. Stop, close your eyes and take a few long slow deep breaths. Make sure you're in control of your breathing before moving onto step 2.
  2. Ask yourself "what am I attached to". Am I attached to wanting someone to respond/act a specific way, attached to an old identity, attached to a dream, attached to wanting to feel a certain way, how I think this situation should go, etc. 

First step is always awareness. When we become aware of something, we decrease the power it has over us (even if just a little). I thank my yoga practice for the discomfort it brought me so I could learn this powerful lesson. It took me years to detach from my blame, and I'm still working on it, but now I can recognize the discomfort as the attachment that's causing my suffering. Attachment is part of the human experience so guaranteed we all have it. Attachment is necessary for connection to life, but in many instances it stops serving us and causes suffering. This is when you can analyze and use awareness to decrease its power. Hope my musings on the subject were of service to you and your life. Namaste.

The importance of play

When did life get so serious? Adulting is hard work, responsibility, stress, a never-ending list of to do's. I'm definitely someone who can take life a bit too seriously, and I often stop to remind myself to chill the f**** out. Remember when we used to play all day? When we used markers to color with reckless abandon, no thoughts about how our picture would come out or worries regarding whether others would like it? We colored for ourselves, we created for the heck of it. We played with other kids, using our imaginations to create story lines for make-believe. When I led art therapy groups for children I noticed as kids got older, they requested pencils more often, so they could erase their 'mistakes'. The kindergarteners generally reached for crayons and markers, rarely asking for pencils, thoughts of mistakes far from the forefront of their minds. 

Play is not only fun, it's critical to our happiness and well-being. Children learn through play, and play contributes to healthy cognitive development so those minds can learn even more (read more about it here). Laughter, often goes hand in hand with play and is not only shown to reset a positive emotional climate, but to also promote healthy bonding in relationships. Significant others bond with one another through play, connecting and diffusing negative emotions through laughter. Parents bond with their children through play, and this bond sets the tone for what later gets termed as attachment, the foundation on which all other relationships are built upon.  Play says to the other "you are enjoyable", and to yourself "this person is fun" as well as "I'm fun, or life is fun". The problem is, as we age, laughter and play decline. We don't have recess scheduled into our work day or art projects on our lunch breaks. We get home from work and plop down in front of the television, or attend to other chores (e.g. exercise, cooking dinner, laundry) and simply haven't created a climate in which play has a priority. When I had difficult times, my husband would throw me on the bed and I would laugh like I did during childhood, the anger or despair crushed beneath the lightness of laughter. Creativity, art, and humor can all be forms of play. Forget about what others will think. Forget about whether you will like the finished result, or whether you will look goofy doing it. Life shouldn't be so serious and play shouldn't be only for the young.

 Below are a few adult ways to play:

  • Joking around with your significant other or cracking jokes with your friends
  • Making funny faces in the mirror or at someone else
  • Tickling
  • Art, photography, adult coloring, playing music
  • Literally playing games
  • Leaving funny notes for significant others, co-workers, and/or friends
  • Googly eyes on random objects (this one is a super fun prank)
  • Silly dances, or jumps (like the one pictured above)

The picture above was taken on a random day out with my husband shooting pictures. We had so much fun getting this picture, laughing as my husband jumped in the air over and over while I tried to snap the picture at the right moment. It was fun. It was play. And it reminded me that moments like these are the ones I live for.  

5 ways to lower anxiety in 5 minutes or less

Look, life is stressful. Work is stressful. Busy seems to be a growing trend. Cellphones ensure we are always connected to distractions, and it's becoming harder and harder to unplug from our stressors to truly be present while we unwind. Having consistent practices to decrease anxiety is a necessary part of a happy lifestyle. If you don't have stress management strategies, you need to find some fast. Accumulated stress can manifest in some pretty ugly ways such as panic attacks, weight gain, depression, and irritability. It doesn't take a long time to decrease stress. In fact, short stress reduction strategies practiced a few times per day can be all you need. Below are 5 anxiety reduction methods you can practice in 5 minutes or less.

  1. Child's pose. There's a reason child's pose is the restorative posture in yoga. There's something about child's pose that says 'calm down'. Getting into this posture, closing your eyes, and taking a few deep breaths can truly help to lower heart rate and calm your nervous system.
  2. Scent. Yes, scent is received straight into the limbic system. It's powerful. Lavender, eucalyptus, and frankincense, are a few powerful scents to calm you down quickly. Saje Wellness is one of my favorite brands to purchase healing aromatherapy products. Keeping a rollerball with scent in your purse, lighting a scented candle, and/or using essential oils, are great ways to utilize this strategy.
  3. Witnessing a sunset. I feel instantly grounded when I watch a sunset. There's something calming about the light, the energy, and the mood as the sun lowers over the horizon. There's a reason my instagram feed is filled with sunset pictures, and research supports the healing power of nature on our brains. Catch a sunset nightly or weekly to incorporate this stress reduction strategy into your life.
  4. Pause and reflect. When I'm anxious, I often find myself reacting, rushing, and moving at a mile a minute. Simply taking a moment to pause, slow down, acknowledge to myself I've been rushing, and reflect on why I'm anxious can make all the difference. 
  5. Alternate nostril breathing. This strategy deserves an entire blog post of its own because it's that good. This is probably my personal favorite and most effective stress reduction exercise in under 5 minutes. I use alternate nostril breathing regularly when I'm anxious, and I feel calmer after about 3-5 rounds of breaths. 

Remember, you don't need a lot of time to reduce your anxiety. I have and use all these strategies on a regular basis along with various longer practices. The most important point is stress reduction practices should be practiced regularly and consistently to prevent an accumulation of stress. I hope this list is helpful the next time you are feeling anxious or ungrounded. 

5 tips for getting through pain and suffering

My last major post focused on the definition of happiness. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we can't be happy all of the time. As a psychotherapist, I often receive the questions, "How do you handle hearing all of these sad stories" "How do you manage to stay happy when you constantly work with people who are unhappy" and "How can you handle seeing all of this tragedy".

In my perspective, I work with the human experience. My work is to help others understand and navigate what it means to be human. All of the stories and feelings I hear, are all part of the experience. We are all human, and therefore all things others experience feel or think, are all things it's possible for anyone to experience, feel or think. At times, we like to believe we are separate, superior, that what someone else did, or thought, or said we could never think, or say or do. This simply is not true, and also dangerous. It creates separateness between us when there shouldn't be. What another experiences, I too can experience. Part of the human journey is pain, suffering, tragedy, and loss. Part of the human journey is joy, excitement, passion, and love. We cannot choose to take only the good parts of this experience and leave the bad. They are equally important. Things are defined by their counterpart, by their contrast. We wouldn't appreciate light if we didn't have dark. We wouldn't appreciate life if we didn't know death was looming. We wouldn't appreciate happy moments, creative moments, moments of inspiration, joy, excitement, elation, contentment, if we didn't also experience sorrow, tragedy, discomfort, pain and suffering.

Part of our work as humans is to enjoy the good moments, and to learn and grow from the bad. Part of our work as humans is to figure out how to navigate through the bad moments and work like hell to get back to the good, back to creativity, to seek out experiences that excite and inspire, to seek out relationships that fulfill and interactions that feed our soul. Part of our work is to realize that the good and the bad must coexist within us and within our lives, as each serves an equally important purpose.  

How do we navigate through the bad moments when we are deflated by suffering, worn down by work, and dulled by pain? Below are a few tips I've found that help me through rough times:

  1. Remember this too shall pass. Remember the only thing constant is change, and you can't have darkness forever. Whatever you're going through will pass as long as you take an active role in creating that change. When I'm going through something difficult, reminding myself this won't be forever helps me to relax a little so I can move through the next steps.
  2. Acknowledge the feeling. Denial only keeps you from moving forward because sometimes the only way out is through. You can't move through something, you won't acknowledge exists. Feel your feelings, and seek support if necessary from friends, family, therapists and/or doctors. 
  3. Seek support. The only thing worse than going through something difficult is going through it alone. Majority of the time, others can't solve our problems. If they were easy to solve we would have already solved them, but what they can do is bear witness to our experience. What others can do is provide empathy, love, understanding, and a presence as we go through our difficult time. I can't emphasize enough the importance of seeking support be it from a friend, family member, therapist, mentor, etc.
  4. Allow yourself to be shaped by the experience. Some argue that our growth comes from our tough times. What I know for sure is that at least in every difficult experience, there's opportunity for growth. Look for the lesson. Welcome the invitation to grow, and become stronger. 
  5. Practice self-compassion. Nurture yourself. Love yourself. See our post on how to love yourself for the specifics, but self-care is crucial when you are going through something. And.. take it easy. You aren't going to be functioning at 100% when you're under stress or adverse experiences.

Social media posts filled with happy moments, can make it easy to forget that we all experience pain and suffering. I hope this post is helpful for your next bad moment. 

What Are You Using to Numb Out?

I'm coming off of a month where I had been working a lot, picking up extra shifts. It was too much. Even though I love my job, I didn't have balance. During this time, I felt this sense of dis ease, something wasn't right. I felt unsatisfied. I felt like I was working towards nothing, as though I had been working harder, but it wan't getting me anywhere. I bought more things, justifying my extra work days as time that had gotten me that extra treat, but I was still feeling unsatisfied, and down. Finally, I realized that I had been working for "things" and those things, didn't satisfy my heart or soul. I was using the extra shopping to numb out to the fact that I had lost balance. I felt like I was working for nothing because I was, in a sense. I was working for "things" which had no value as far as the heart is concerned, and using things as a means of feeding the sense of dissatisfaction that arises when one's soul isn't satisfied. It got me thinking....what do I need to feed my soul.  I didn't need more beautiful things in my home to feel happier, or to feel satisfied by life. I needed to get back to living in a way that feels satisfying rather than seeking without for that satisfaction. 

We all numb out with something, thinking that if we could just have (fill in the blank), we would feel happier. We all use something to decrease feelings we don't want to feel. Drugs and alcohol are an obvious, but buying stuff, dieting, staying busy, constant traveling, television, social media and internet, overexercising, eating disorders, self-harm, sex, flirting, can all be ways we humans numb out to the fact that something isn't working in our lives. Most of the aforementioned can also be part of a healthy life as well (with exception of self-harm, eating disorders, and overexercising), it's how we use them that make them either healthy or unhealthy. I can tell you from experience, that if you use them to numb out, these things will only leave you feeling more unsatisfied. They will feed and fuel your dissatisfaction, forcing you to either realize what's going on and grow, or propel you into using these things even more to numb out of the now greater dissatisfaction. Only you can stop and reflect on your behaviors and determine which of them are used to numb out. Only you can determine whether you have balance in your life, whether your life revitalizes your energy or drains you of it. What do you need to feel satisfied with the life you are living? Everyone's balance looks different, but you'll never find it if you don't take the time to inquire.

simple pleasure of the week: napping

A lazy Sunday with a 20 minute nap thrown in is what I call a day well spent. There is something about a perfectly timed nap that leaves me feeling well rested and energized. Plus, waking up with the sun still shining feels so good. Pair it with a hammock to lay in and I'm as happy as can be. There are times however where I feel almost guilty taking a nap, thinking I should be more productive or enjoying my day fully awake. What I came to find recently is that research shows napping really can be beneficial for your health. It can boost creativity, help with memory and relaxation, and can lower blood pressure. No more guilt for me! Check out the infographic below to find out how to take the perfect nap.

10 ways to love yourself

I'm pretty sure we don't love ourselves enough. If you're someone who struggles with self-esteem and/or with self-love, then increasing your self-love behaviors is very important. I think most of us know that our beliefs and thoughts influence our behaviors, but fewer people know that our behaviors can also influence our thoughts and beliefs. So there really is some truth to that phrase "fake it 'til you make it". The mind doesn't like to have unexplained experiences and therefore works to justify our behaviors. Thus, if you perform behaviors daily, over time that represent self-love, you are more likely to begin cultivating self-love. Even if you have great self-esteem, it's still nice to show yo'self some sweet sweet love regularly to keep your mind, body, and soul healthy. Below are 10 ways to love yourself:

  1. Dress yourself in an outfit you love. Some days are just bad and I wake up not excited about the day ahead of me. On those days I make sure to wear an outfit I'm excited about, because it makes the day a little bit better. Dress in clothes that make you feel good about your body, flattering clothes, with fabrics that feel good. Wear accessories you love. Do this every day. You deserve to enjoy the things you cover your body with. 
  2. Play your favorite song on your way to work, and sing along shamelessly. There is power in music. Music goes straight to our emotions, so play your favorite song and sing along or not, whatever feels best for you.
  3. Take an extra day off work. Call in sick, or schedule a vacation day in which you focus only on you (e.g. home spa day with DIY pedicure, body scrub, a good book, or a long cafe visit).
  4. Take a bubble bath. Candles, music, wine, sparkling water are all optional but encouraged. 
  5. Meditate or take a restorative yoga class. I'm placing emphasis on restorative, gentle activities rather than strenuous. If you are someone who needs to increase the self-love, an intense yoga or exercise session could have the potential to turn into another way to push yourself beyond your limits. Restorative yoga and meditation, are all about relaxation, and giving back to yourself, so stick to something gentle.
  6. Look into the mirror with the sole purpose of finding things you love about your appearance. We all have something we like about ourselves. It could be your hands, or your eyes, your smile or your hair. We often place emphasis on the things we don't like about our appearance, things we want to change and don't put enough emphasis on the things we do like. Taking a minute to do just that can help to shift your self-view.
  7. Get a massage, pedicure, manicure, or facial. Pampering yourself is an awesome way to show yourself love. Not only are you taking the time to seek out ways to give back to yourself through these activities, but you're also spending money on yourself, further reinforcing the belief that you deserve to be loved and cared for. Of course, this is not license to rack up debt on these types of activities but it is a nice treat every once in a while. If you're short on cash, or trying to save, you can always do an at-home spa treatment (e.g. face mask, pedicure). The key to this one is to choose the activity with the intention of pampering yourself not to make yourself "better" (e.g. don't get a pedicure because you think your feet are gross and you need to make them look better, get one because you want to show yourself some love). 
  8. Take a walk near something beautiful. You deserve to see beauty. You deserve to have time set aside simply for walking near something beautiful or inspiring. If you live near nature, this should be an easy one but even big cities, have beautiful views and beautiful streets. Go there. Walk. Breathe deeply, and enjoy this time.
  9. Set aside time for lazy reading. This could be a book, magazine or blog. It doesn't matter what you read, but make it something you love. Setting aside time just for lazy reading is an awesome way to say "I love me, I'm setting aside time just to enjoy reading (fill in the blank)"
  10. When choosing your meals, think of foods to nourish yourself. So often, we choose foods for weight loss (e.g. low fat, low carb). This can easily turn into the opposite of self-love (e.g. choosing foods to lose weight because you don't think you're good enough the way you are). It's ok to want to drop some lbs and get healthy, but shifting your goal to caring for your body through food choices can get you there even quicker because it's coming from a place of love rather than hate. 

Lastly, do these actions with the intention of loving yourself. Intention is the key here! Any of these activities, if done without intention, will have no effect. Intention is really what gives these actions their power. Lastly, remember, that we all deserve love, first and foremost from ourselves! Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for the rest of our relationships to rest on so make it a strong, positive foundation.