Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Human Beings! Happy Thanks Giving!

As we gather with our family and friends for this holiday of Thanks Giving may we focus on Human Being rather than Human doing. Remember to breathe in and out connecting to the greatest gift of your life, your body. Center yourself into the human experience. May we all be grateful for this journey we call living. May we live believing we are all connected. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow human beings! Yes, I mean you! 

This is my holiday gift to you.

Mary Kay Keller
Human Ecologist

May we be Love!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving - Thanks Giving

Thank You for Everything

      Thoughts and actions related to gratitude and appreciation and thankfulness are in the air, as Thanksgiving is almost here. It is the time of the year that I recall the story I got from Alan Cohen ( about a female Zen master named Sono who taught one simple method of enlightenment. She advised everyone who came to her to say one affirmation many times a day, under all conditions. The affirmation was, "Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever."

       People from all walks of life came to Sono for healing. Some were in physical pain; others were emotionally distraught; others had financial troubles; some were seeking soul liberation. No matter what their problem or what question they asked her, she said the same thing.  She told them to affirm: "Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever." Some people were disappointed; others got angry; others wanted to argue with her. And yet there were some people who took her suggestion to heart and began to practice it in their lives. It was said that everyone who practiced Sono’s mantra found peace and healing. 

       Can you imagine what your life would be like if you stopped complaining about anything and everything? Fall is a time of letting go, so what if we let go of complaining? And simply let each of our complaints fall away like the leaves on a tree during fall. Most of us have been conditioned to question, analyze, and criticize everything we see.  We end up questioning, analyzing, and criticizing ourselves. Then we miss out on joy and happiness.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A newborn's experience being massaged

In my classes when caregivers are learning to massage the baby I will remind them the newborn has been tucked and rolled inside the mom's tummy their whole existence. Thus having the limbs free and flying in the air is a new sensation. So is having the limbs stretched out while being massaged.

Additionally as they grow and exhibit new bahaviors over the next few days and weeks the developing muscles may feel tired as they repetitively kick, throw hands and arms out and lift the head. The head weight accounts for most of the newborns weight the first week. Lifting the head is alot of weight on the little neck.

After the last massage instruction with parents of a 3 day old baby where the father massaged the baby to give mom a break, the newborn lifted his head up and stared directly at the mom. The long eye contact was engaging. The mother responded by holding the gaze with much love. It was an intense exchange. The father was enamoured and pleased with the results of massaging the baby.

We discussed imaginging what it must be like for the baby to no longer be in the only world it knew prior to birth and how it must feel to have so many new experiences all the time at first. Just remembering to massage the areas you imagine you would need massaged after running all day like a toddler, goes a long way to building a relationship through empathy, sensitivity and engagement.

And this baby got the massage while the parents relationship benefited too. Dad enjoyed massaging the baby providing comfort while mom enjoyed watching dad massage the baby! It was the ultimate benefit to each in the family unit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Today's Post is from the Author of "The Loving Art of Infant Massage," Vimala McClure!

— Vimala McClure

         I first learned about the ancient art of infant massage while I was studying to be a yoga teacher and working in an orphanage in Northern India in 1973, when I was 21 years old. I made a connection in my mind observing the children there.

         I loved the children, who always came rushing to me, wanting to hug me, to sit on my lap, and for me to sing with them. I noticed that all the children I saw, both in and out of the orphanage, were delightful. They were open and relaxed and always smiling. They played together — pretend, like all kids — and they also spent a lot of time holding hands in a circle, dancing and singing. In spite of their extreme poverty, they were happy, they had a relaxed way of being in the world, and I often saw both boys and girls walking around with a baby on their hip. I remembered observing children playing in U.S. playgrounds; their games were often games, they gathered in little bunches, bullied the kids. They fought for time on the monkey bars. So different!

         One night, after class, I was walking around the compound, looking up at the stars,which were so bright and different from what I saw in America. I approached the sleeping quarters of the children, and peeked in. A girl, about 12 years old, was massaging a baby and singing. I waited until she was finished, and went in to talk to her. Luckily, I knew some Bengali, which was her language. She told me that massage, especially for babies, was traditional. I asked her if she could show me how to do it. She happily agreed, and allowed me to massage the baby, who was so relaxed and sleepy. I learned how to use oil, warm my hands, and do each stroke. The baby connected with me immediately. She gazed into my eyes, smiled, and drifted off to sleep.

         I was profoundly touched by this experience. I thought about it a lot. I began to think that perhaps Indian children were so kind, inclusive, responsible for the younger ones and happy in their play, because they had been massaged regularly as babies. Massage is a normal thing in Indian families, especially in the villages and towns where ideas have not yet influenced them. Women usually live with their husband’s family; when pregnant, their mothers-in-law massage them every day. After giving birth, they learn to massage their babies as part of their everyday life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Do you suffer when interacting with a family member?

This is the best advice that I have heard for handling people you love, such as family members, who are too painful to be around on a regular basis.

Click here to view a video on How to Cope with Narcissistic Family Members!

It is one of life's greatest challenges to cope with, family members who cause you pain and anguish. Cutting them out of your life doesn't really make most people happier.

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Happiness is your Destiny!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

For the second year in a row the message is published as I am a Guest Author on the National Fatherhood Initiative - Father Factor Blog!

Earlier this year, I was invited to a TEDxTalk, interviewed and then presented. I dedicate this talk to fathers everywhere who play equally critical roles in the lives of their children.

Fathers are not always biological and sometimes men who father are not in the family of the child. Fathers maybe men who are mentoring a child of a single mother or an uncle, or grandfather who is there to role model what a man is to a fatherless child. I also dedicate this talk to the men who may have desired to be fathers and for whom this may not have been their privilege. May they know their dream was important! I encourage comments on the TEDxTalk and I hope you enjoy it and find it beneficial. Read the entire article here!
July 2015: Click here to read this year's guest blog!

Historically, mothers have been the primary caregivers of newborn babies. During the last century, fathers went from being banned from the delivery room to being encouraged to attending the births of their babies. In the past, care-giving skills were discouraged for little boys during their early childhood due to gender bias, i.e., playing house and dolls, thus denying them of learning about child-care like little girls do, yet when they had their first baby they were suppose to know what to do. In the past, fathering was not recognized as a contribution to children's well being. Now we know that when a child has a significant bond with their father, this bond contributes greatly to child outcomes. Read the entire article here!
 Click here to read the 2014 guest blog!

What was not in the TED TALK were the slides. Click her to view the entire slide presentation
Enjoy! Feel free to forward and/or post comments!

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
TEDxTallahassee 2015
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Monday, June 29, 2015

It's official I LOVE PIXAR movies. INSIDE OUT is pure genius!

When I work with people on their relationships with dating, romance, family, friends and work relationships I always come back to the basics. What we are thinking and how we make decisions in our own best interest is essential to being successful.

Now I advise you to go see the movie Inside OUt! This movie is not just a children's movie, it is for adults too! It is a must see. This movie let's us see into our own perspective and those of the people around us. Children can get an inside view of what is going on with their parents and parents with children. Transfer this to your friends, co-workers and extended family. The ability to get past our defense mechanisms and to portray brain chemistry in such a easy to understand format is awesome. Click here to see the trailer only watch the first one then wait for the second one! What a treat! TREAT yourself and those you love to the movie of they year!

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
TEDxTallahassee 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Happy Father's Day! How important are dads in the lives of children?

Happy Father's Day to all the father's out there, the known and the unrecognized fathers! There are obvious fathers and then there are men who are mentoring other fatherless children, men who desired to be fathers and did not have that reality come true for them, fathers who never got a change to be a father to a child born to a single mother, uncles and grandfathers who lived dual roles in the lives of children.   I have been privileged to study fathers and when I say this, it was an honor to have the men who participated in my original parent study open up to me candidly. I am forever grateful to have had that opportunity. The first of three articles is going to print and will be published by the end of the summer. I look forward to submitting the other three. This is just the beginning as I move forward seeking funding to continue this research near my home in Gadsden County Florida. I desire to continue this work on a larger scale. I am also grateful to researchers who have gone before, such as Andrea Doucet whose work she published in a groundbreaking book titled, "Do Men Mother?" While the title of the book offends some the content of the book her writings of over 20 years of research gathering men's stories in her qualitative studies is illuminating. I read it slowly absorbing all the nuances of the patterns she has illuminated. Most recently, what I read was that yes, fathers engage differently with their children than mothers. While we as moms seek to nurture and protect it is the fathers, the men in our children's lives who support them in stretching themselves to find their boundaries in their risk taking activities. Further supporting that children benefit greatly from both feminine and a masculine perspectives.

My TEDxTalk is about research I conducted at Florida State University. I will give a brief overview, as the many benefits that fathers and their perceptions of the benefits to their babies, were discussed in detail on the National Fatherhood (click here) blogI taught fathers infant massage and then gathered data through video taping, interviews and diaries fathers kept while massaging their infants throughout the study. What I learned while writing up the research and from fathers outside of the research who spoke with me about the topic was as valuable as the actual research.Watch the video for illuminating details.

Positive child outcomes establish the critical need for both female and male role models in a child's life. As a society, when we treat men like they are outsiders and the babies as exclusively the mothers' domain, then, we do children and fathers a disservice. Considering how they were deprived of fathering play as children (dolls were off limits) and deprived of dual custody, based upon gender rather than merit, it most certainly has been the child that suffered. Fathers who participate in child care classes spend more quality time with their babies and report feeling confident and competent in their role as a father. Both competency and confidence are scientific indicators of long term involvement in the lives of their children.  After publishing articles on this research I wrote the first of many books to come and published it on Amazon, "Hassle Free Bedtime," that includes information from my research and the research of others to support fathers in their journey of acquiring new skills. 

Caution on "our parental rights."

Children have a need to be protected from exposure to violence. Neither gender has a right to expose a child to neglect or violence or sexual exploitation as children require a higher standard of responsibility because they are developing and vulnerable. Any parent who claims a right to raise a child or be in the life of the child and who has exposed a child to violence or sexual exploitation has a higher responsibility to seek treatment before expecting access to their child. Children are not our property, they are a gift to be nurtured and loved. It is through this process that we become better human beings.  

TEDxTallahassee 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Women be more than what you think people see!

One of the first responses to this amazing TED talk was someone saying how she should not support "unhealthy" bodies. Of course it was an anonymous posting. What people don't realize is thin was not valued until the mid 1960s when Twiggy was pranced around by the modeling world. Even thin women are not happy with their bodies. As far as unhealthy bodies, I am now considered overweight. I was not as a child nor as a woman, nor as a woman after 4 full term births. My weight gain was after being prescribed medication without being warned of the side effect of excessive weight gain.

What I have discovered is how superficial society really is! I suspected this when I was young and attractive by the worlds' standards, people referred to me as a "looker," "quite a catch," "a hottie," etc. Now what's sad is I had no idea. I didn't know I looked good because I grew up during those years of Twiggy parading down the modeling ramps. I had a curvy figure even at 110 or 115 pounds. When I looked in the mirror, my body never hit the mark, especially after birthing my children.

I think I am more of a catch now. I am educated, notable intelligent, and I LOVE my body. My body takes me on bike rides. I was commuting from my house to FSU when I was teaching. It is 10 miles from my door to FSU College of Human Sciences one way. I would then do errands bringing my ride to no less than 30 miles in a day. My health? Well my doctor can't believe my resting heart rate, my cholesterol count is lower than people younger than me and my sugar levels are the same as they were when I was 18. The reason I am posting this is I am just tired of a male based society determining what women need to look like or wear or say. I don't require outside approval from others. I never did turn and ask my husband does this make my butt look big? Should I wear this, etc.?

When I dated I often felt justified resentment when I realized my date was more into my looks than he cared about what was going on in my head. One man asked me to go for a walk on a break from the ballet performance we were attending. Said he needed to stretch his legs. We walked and talked and quite frankly the temperature had dropped. I was freezing and he was clueless. When we got back he turns to me and says, " I have a confession. I just wanted to show you off!" I think he thought I would take it as a compliment. I just walked a city block freezing for this man to treat me like I was some sort of an arm charm? Seriously. No second date. He had no idea that I was carrying a nearly 4.0 in my undergrad Psych program or that I had just finished the second field research project by my junior year or that I had completed an internship in the NICU specializing with parents whose baby was terminal, or that I had completed my coursework under the direction of the honors program. He didn't ask and I didn't get much of a chance to get a word in between his talking. Lessons learned, 1. Set much higher standards for dating. Don't say yes again until I see signs they see my insides as well as my outsides and count it valuable. 2. Notice when men keep the conversation a two way street and run from the ones that don't. Yes, I know I might be waiting awhile! It is okay, I am fine waiting. My worst day of being alone has beat my best day of being with someone who doesn't love me inside out! Being alone allows me the freedom to just BE!

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
TEDxTallahassee 2015
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Suggested Readings!