Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein quoted in the WSJ ON STYLE January 14, 2010

Posted on January 20, 2010
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A New Look for a New Life, by Christina Binkley Bye-Bye, Bottega: A Former Executive Purges Her Closet in Search of Deeper “People often feel the need to reinvent themselves when they reach midlife or the years before retirement, says Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, a psychologist in West Allenhurst, N.J. It’s common for people like Ms. Kan to feel that they’ve compromised too much of themselves for their job or their marriage, and to want to rectify that by starting afresh….”

Please read the full article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704586504574654971072980350.html

Interview with Loretta Kensley, author and expert in the Sacred Feminine

Posted on March 25, 2009
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I thought you would enjoy hearing Martha Trowbridge, my co-host on Happiness for Women Only! interview Loretta Kensley, author and expert in the Sacred Feminine and the originator of the website, www.moondance.org They are discussing a critical subject for women, finding happiness through creativity.

June 2, 2008

Download the Mp3


Magic Potions We All Need This Time of Year

Posted on November 3, 2008
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As winter descends we begin to feel the chill of shorter days and less sunlight. For many of us, less hours of light combined with colder temperatures results in us feel less light emotionally. For some of us, who actually have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) gloom really sets in. This gloom often has to be offset by either full spectrum lighting and/or various psychotropic medications.

For people with mild versions of feeling down or sad at this time of year, I’d like to suggest a way to lighten ourselves and bring more light back into our lives. My suggestion is the use of magic potions. Did I say “magic potions?” You thought I was a positive psychologist, not a magician or a medieval enchantress of some type! Yes, I said “magic potions” and yes, indeed, I am a positive psychologist. So what do I mean? Let me explain.

When I talk about magic potions–an expression I use to add drama and fire to our cold winter days–I am really talking about individual mental health formulas designed for each person. These are available in various sizes, shapes and compositions. Just like the old fashioned pharmacy where the pharmacist got out his mortar and pestle and mixed a compound for you when you didn’t feel well, our mental health magic potions are that unique, requiring individual mixing. In fact, a compound that agrees with me may not agree with you. So it is very important to take the time to mix exactly what each of us need. This is necessary for the full affect of joy and rejuvenation that each of us so deserve this holiday season.

Now let’s look at what makes a mental health potion real magic. The best way I can initially teach you about these magic potions is by example. For me, a magic potion this time of year is simply to walk outside of the house, as I did this morning to listen to a crow up in a tree calling its song. This ordinary bird, not usually sought after for its song, has always quickened my heart and unleashed a momentary but real sense of well-being.
For many, many years I’ve wondered why. The best I can determine is that I have memories, partially forgotten, which I call in my book, THE ENCHANTED SELF: A Positive Therapy, “shadow prints of the mind.”

These vague memories are without a clear storyline but do seem to take me back to my grandmother Rose Silverman that I loved so much. The crow’s call starts a memory trace that includes Rosen Road where my grandparents lived. I do not remember any crows calling, but I do remember lying in my bed and experiencing the wider world through an open window. I felt content lying there, enjoying the aromas of flowers and cooking, the street noises, including children’s voices laughing and shouting, cars and, of course, nature’s voice: the birds chirping, and the trees rustling. All of this made me feel so safe, drowsily content and anticipating what our adventures that day would be.
Perhaps I’d get to ride on the swan boats downtown at Boston Common, feed the pigeons and grandpa would buy me a balloon. Or maybe we would be going to visit a relative and I would be offered a wonderful box of chocolates from which to pick one or two special selections. Then I would get to dance and show off and receive some well appreciated praise.

How lovely to bring all that back in a flash! I want to thank the crow that was up in the tree today for being there and so exquisitely offering me the exact mental health potion that I needed to start my day.

Here’s another example of a simple, magical potion that compounds beautifully for me. This past Sunday was a lovely day but by 4:00 pm, shadows were already appearing suggesting the inevitable gloom I feel as sunlight disappears and dusk arrives by 4:30 or 4:45 pm. Rather than stay at home, perhaps even doing some necessary paperwork or even a more household-like chore such as tidying my front hall closet, I abandoned my house and took myself down to the boardwalk near where we live.
For an hour I went back and forth on this short boardwalk savoring the smells that still lingered from autumn, as well as the visionary experience of watching the sky slowly get darker. I enjoyed the extra light in the sky near the ocean, hearing the waves as I walked and occasionally sharing a friendly “hello” with another passerby.
Then, of course, I returned home to all the mundane chores–the first one being preparing dinner. However, I did have my magical potion still running through my body giving me an infusion that carried me through the rest of that night. Thus you see how magic can happen when we design mental health formulas designed for each person!
We’re going to continue to talk about mental health magical potions again in the next issue. Let’s stop for the time being so you can begin to prepare your individual mental health magical potion!

Mental Health Magical Potions: Suggestions to Consider in Creating Your Individual Compound

1. Stay alert to moments during the day that seem to please you or refresh you. I had to become alert to my responses to the call of a crow before I was able to realize that his call filled me with a sense of well being. There are probably sounds, aromas, visual scenery, or even certain people you see during the day that also arouse positive reactions in you. You may know exactly why, such as when I see Sally her smile is just like my Aunt Rose’s.

Or they may be vague (‘shadow prints’), such as the way I enjoy driving down this street more than that street but I don’t know why. It doesn’t matter. Look for your magical potions wherever you can find them during these dark days of winter.

2. Stay alert for magical potions that can help your body as well as your mind stay feeling good this season. Do you like to walk? If yes, it’s a really great idea to walk as much as possible this time of year. Are you more of a couch potato? Well, maybe there is still some enlivening things you can do, even moving your arms in various circles and motions as you sit watching television. Even that amount of exercise can help the mind/body connection stay in a more positive state.

Brand Innovator: Remembering a True ‘Enchanted Self’

Posted on October 24, 2008
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I’d like to thank Mark Stinson of Brand Innovator for posting my article, Remembering a True Enchanted Self” on his blog. You can see it here.

Posted on September 15, 2008
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Recently, in a women’s therapy group that I run, the desire for fun and a change of pace over took me. I suggested that we deviate from some of our typical work and instead go around the room imagining a vacation treat designed to suit each woman’s desires.

It was fascinating to see how many marvelous vacation ideas quickly emerged. One woman wished to go to Mexico and South America to view the ruins and lie on the sun in beautiful beaches. Another woman wished to go to Greece and see the ancient ruins there and then slowly make her way through Europe. This could take a leisurely period of time, perhaps even a year. Another also wanted to go to Europe but to do other things, such as take gourmet cooking classes in the South of France and become somewhat fluent in several languages. Another woman opted for spas and other experiences to bring

But My of Florida am. I oily neck compliant and that going.

vitality to her body and ultimately her spirit. One person was in reality making plans to go to several meditative retreats over the next few months.

I was fascinated as each woman spoke and realized two things. First, I would have been a happy companion on any of the presented vacations. Each one sounded fulfilling, energizing and provided a change that would be good for me, as well as the person who thought of it.

Secondly, I realized how much each woman, no matter what her background or problems, yearned for change, adventure, getting to know strangers and other places, no matter how burdened by daily problems of relationships, children, money, etc.

How unique we all are — that’s for sure! Each vacation was strikingly different from the others, and yet how universal so many of our needs for replenishment are.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes now that spring has arrived fantasize to day dream about a wonderful vacation that you can create, at least in your mind. Take the adventure.

Please pass along your wonderful vacation ideas to us. I know we’ll all be stimulated and enjoy our magic carpets! Bon Voyage!

Part 2 – A Play Date With Vacation Ideas

Take a moment and jot down three fantasy spring or summer vacations you would love to take, if money and time were no object!
• Where would you go?
• Who would go with you?
• What would you like to do?
• How long would you like to be away?
• What would you enjoy seeing … experiencing … discovering?
• What would be the highpoint of your trip?

Enjoy your fantasy vacations. If you wish, go further and get some information on these places.
• Would you like at least one to come true?
• What steps would be necessary?

I leave the rest up to you — whether you simply daydream or bring about a new reality I wish you refreshing, fun thoughts.

Was She an Angel?

Posted on September 8, 2008
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Welcome to a world where happiness is a possible mental and emotional state at least a good part of the time.  Welcome to the Enchanted Self Positive Psychology Concepts where I teach you how to generate a life worth living that has meaning, value and integrity for you.  Unique to your mental wellness needs which may be different from any other person alive!  How do we overcome adversities that are part of life and still experience positive emotions most of the time?  The answers to the above are complex and full details can be found in my first book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy.  However, one of the ways is to feel open to the concept of miracles.  When we see our universe as having great positive potential, and even the capacity for miracles, we are uplifted and hopeful.  I’m sharing a great miracle story with you today.  This is not a made up story!  Enjoy it and let it help you come closer to your own personal Enchanted Self!
by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Many years ago, Annie’s* great uncle, a furrier in the lower East Side of New York, was busy helping customers in his shop. The end of the day was coming quickly. Although eager for business, he was also eager to close his store, lock up and make his way through the crowds to his train. He was a man of precision and routine and always made a certain train. In fact, he always sat in a certain car. He would then take out his reading glasses, indulge in his daily newspaper’s late edition, relax and look forward to his loving wife waiting with a nourishing evening meal.

He had just breathed a sigh of relief as the last customer left, when an attractive older woman walked into the shop. Uncle Morris immediately felt a wave of anxiety. How could he be generous of spirit, perhaps give this woman all the time she needed, and yet still make his train? How could he explain that he needed to make his train? After all, a businessman is in business. She might only assume that one would stay open for a prospective customer.

Uncle Morris was plagued by these thoughts as he graciously began to assist the lady. Quickly it became apparent that this very lovely, older woman, beautifully attired in the finest woolen coat and hat, with fur trim and elegant long leather gloves was serious about a purchase of an expensive fur coat. She asked many relevant questions. She wanted to know the different types of pelts available, the styling that different pelts lent themselves to, the cost factor and the time factor in having a coat custom made.

Morris became more and more aware of the feeling of perspiration building up under his shirt collar. He was now acutely aware that he would probably miss his train. Suddenly, as he was feverishly working out the price of several different models for the customer, he looked up from his pad of paper. He noticed how much she resembled his dear departed mother. There was an uncanny resemblance. Something about her smile and her expression–especially the eyes!

Somehow this softened his heart as he felt a surge of love for his dear, departed mother.

His mood changed. He found himself intent upon helping this woman and quickly forgot his anxiety symptoms. He taught her a little bit about the different pelts. He showed her samples and gave her even more estimates. He stopped thinking about the time.

Ultimately she asked him to price a certain type of pelt in a certain style coat. She said that she would come back after he phoned her with the information and make the down payment. She gave him her phone number, thanked him profusely and left the store, with a smile and a nod goodbye.

As she left Morris glanced at his watch and of course without question, he had long missed his train. Still, he had enjoyed her company–and her smile! He put the information safely in a drawer, turned off the lights, double locked the door, brought down the steel safety window grid, set the alarm and walked to the train. He knew there was one in a half an hour that he would comfortably make.

He was astounded to find out that when he arrived at the train station that he would not be going home via the train. There were loud announcements telling people to go outside and instead take buses which would shortly be arriving.

Why? He couldn’t believe this. He was in shock as he learned that the train that he normally took, including the car that he normally sat in, had met with a terrible accident. There were many fatalities.

As he rode the bus home that night, he was trembling inside, so relieved to have been forced to take a later train ride.

A week or so later, Morris had checked on the pelts and the type of fur that the elegant, older lady had requested. He was ready to call her with the exact cost. He picked up the phone, dialing the number that she had left, only to be told by the operator that the number was not in service. “Oh well,” he thought to himself, “perhaps one of the digits is off even though she wrote it down herself for me. Let me check her name and address.”

He proceeded to do this and was told that there was no such address. He placed the receiver down, perplexed. He slowly formulated a thought that at first seemed impossible but then seemed close to probable. “That woman saved my life.” He said to himself. “It’s very odd that now she doesn’t seem to exist. Also, if she hadn’t looked like my mother, I probably would have been less polite. I might have even rushed her out and made every effort to make my train. I wonder if she was sent here by God to protect me?”

*names changed as requested.

Becoming an Enchanted Self

Posted on September 1, 2008
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How do we obtain a life worth living? How do we overcome adversity? How can we experience positive emotions? How do we stay in good mental health? These are serious questions and to briefly answer them would be unfair to the reader. But I can say as a positive psychologist, working in the treatment room with clients for almost thirty years, there is a kind of mental magic that you do need to be in touch with and learn how to utilize. No, it is not the same kind of fairytale magic that Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs represent, although certainly a trip to Disney World can be good for our mental health Rather, I would say to you, “remember the magic” — the magic that exists within you. I call this your “personal magic.” Discovering your personal magic is as wondrous as watching the magic performed by magicians. The magician appears before us and eloquently recites a magic spell. With a flick of the wrist, people, animals, and objects disappear, and then reappear.

Actually, we are all magicians. We can all conjure up magical moments from our past; and reinvent them in new and different ways that will have a positive and meaningful effect on our lives. It is not as easy as when Mary Poppins reaches into her magic carpet bag and pulls out a spoonful of sugar. Yet it is not hard. It just takes some learning, effort, and time. For example, you may have positive memories relating to the summer season. Perhaps you stayed with grandparents at the shore, collected shells and caught fireflies. Or maybe you were the child who loved to fish or filled your days playing Monopoly on the porch with friends. Reinventing these magical moments may mean buying or planting flowers, taking a horticultural class, learning to play bridge, going camping or sailing, or even spraying scented fragrances in your home that remind you of your grandparents garden. For some of us, finding our own personal magic is a more difficult pursuit. It is similar to the magician who attempts to escape or separate from his or her locks and chains while trapped inside the confines of a small box. Many of us have experienced dysfunction or pain in our lives that may impede or prevent us from achieving states of well-being. For instance, Cinderella came from a dysfunctional household. Within all the turmoil and abuse her stepmother and stepsisters imposed upon her, she still managed to hold onto her hopes and dreams. She could separate from her misery with the help of her animal friends, focusing on things that gave her pleasure and joy. Meeting Prince Charming may not be high on your list of hopes and dreams, but having a fulfilling relationship with a spouse or friend may be. Let’s get back to your ‘personal magic.’ Why not call that special friend that has been on your mind or arrange an evening out with your spouse? Why not get dressed up, go out to dinner or spend some quality time with someone? And that someone can even be yourself. Summer is a lovely season to simply be outside with those we care about. Why not go for a walk with someone special? These are all ways of recapturing the magic inside you. How about going to the library or popping onto Amazon and getting yourself a read novel or inspirational book for summer reading? Yes, this is your season. Cherish your rights to today. And whenever in doubt as to what to do to have pleasure just look into your own treasure chest of memories and grab out a gem, i.e. something you have enjoyed in the past. If you want to and can do it again, great. If not, find a way to magically re-invent the interest so it fits you now. You can do it! Like the genie in Aladdins Lamp, You too possess magic. When You grant yourself permission to remember the magic that exists within you, you are well on the road to discovering your ENCHANTED SELF.

An Enchanter: The Gabbie Cabbie

Posted on August 28, 2008
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Finding out how to live a life worth living and being able to overcome the adversities that befall all of us in a normal lifetime, while also experiencing enough positive emotions to feel happy much of the time, may sound like a tough assignment. But if you can just be true to yourself and learn to read your own personality style, interests and potential, or as I say, recognize your ‘Song of the Soul’ than being happy can be a very realistic happening. In my book, THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy, I teach you many techniques for recognizing who you are at the most authentic level and also how to learn to meet your needs so you can live out your dreams. I give many case studies in the book about how people do just that. However, it is always great to hear of or meet someone who has already done all of his homework. For he is reaping the rewards of true happiness, living the good life, full of mental wellness, and is such an example to others. A few years ago I was driving in my car and suddenly on Public Radio a wonderful interview came up. A journalist was interviewing a man who calls himself, The Gabbie Cabbie. This is his story as I remember it: Mr. Franklin is a cab driver in New York City. As a result of some magic in his life and his own inspiration, he started a corporation called Gabbie Cabbie, Inc. He decided that no one in the world was better suited to tell you about New York City than a cab driver who drives it all day. He looked at himself in the mirror of life and decided that he was the one! So, he and his wife took some time and they approached every radio station in the world, which meant over 40,000. The ball started rolling and before he knew it, he was being called for interviews. Since he started talking about living in New York, he has had over 40,000 appearances on the radio. He has been interviewed around the world, both on the radio and on audio on the web. At first, he was self-conscious. He talked about events that had happened in the city and the people who came into his cab, but not about himself. He was almost a little afraid to be personal—even had fantasies that he would be stalked. However, over the years he realized that people loved to know a little about him. It made him human and very real to them. So, he began to share more about his son, who had just graduated from West Point and his daughter who was living in Ireland. Currently, he still is out there talking about his city, his world and himself. He feels that he has helped people around the world better understand New York City. He is determined to continue as this is his passion and his message to the world. I think that he is a wonderful example of somebody deciding that indeed they have a role to play beyond earning a living, beyond all the standard roles of being a wife, husband, neighbor, etc. Inside of himself, he realized that there was a special spark a gift he had to offer the world. He wasn’t just a cabdriver—he was an ambassador of a great city. He had a mission and no one else in the world could do it exactly as he could. Becoming an Enchantress or Enchanter (in terms of have the excitement and energy to send out into the world what we are most passionate about) means deciding what roles you have to play in life that are exquisitely suitable just to you. In fact, no one else can do them as you can. Then you can begin to cast your spells of Enchantment, as the Gabbie Cabbie did. As an Enchantress or Enchanter you combine inspiration with mental perspiration in exactly the right balance to move forward. That’s what the Gabbie Cabbie was willing to do. I admire him and I admire each and every one of you with the persistence and courage to cast your positive spells upon the world!