Let’s Hear It For The Boys

I said I wanted to highlight the efforts of the individuals I see on a daily basis. If I were asked to pick one person who stood out, I don’t believe I would be able to do it. They are all incredibly amazing in their own way. There is however, one group that stands out to me and those are my young/early adult males. When I was a young therapist I recall stating that the young adult male was my least preferred client because they “knew everything” or were the most uncooperative. I can say today half of my clients are males between the ages of 25-40. I am constantly amazed by their desire to make changes in their lives and by their willingness to step out of their comfort zone and put their trust in me.

These men come in for a variety of reasons; post trauma recovery, anger management, relationship counseling, career coaching. Regardless the reason, the motivation is within all of them.

They sit in my office comfortably distanced from me on the opposite side of my desk, hoping the barriers of my tablet and laptop will protect them from emotional vulunerability. It doesn’t. I anxiously await the day when they are able to come in and sit on the rich dark brown leather loveseat and relax. One day. Their pens and notebooks are in hand waiting for a task, because we can’t possibly just sit and talk about stuff. I especially appreciate the ones who talk nearly the entire time even though their first sentence was, “I don’t share my feelings with people and I won’t do it here.” Okay.

These men have made a choice to try something new. To take a different path. They have stepped out of the box and allowed themselves to be vulnerable and available for change. That is a pretty scary place to be and I can’t help but respect and appreciate it. Hats off to the men seeking to better themselves. I’ve got your back.

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Agree to Disagree

Recently I have been doing more work with couples, which I am growing to enjoy with each couple I meet. It is fascinating to see two individuals who are seemingly so different, work to co-exist in a relationship that demands compromise. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with two personalities and also two genders; there is likely to be some conflict. Science has already proven to us that the male and female brains have differences that affect how we see, interpret, and react to things. Then mix in the different temperaments, which also influence behaviors.

Differences and conflict in and of themself are not bad things. They often makes us think a little and once in a blue moon we might even consider the other parties perspective. The challenge comes when there is no willingness to even accept that a different approach is possible. With this type of attitude, one party in the relationship is bound to feel dismissed and devalued.

I am often asked, “so am I supposed to just say I am wrong when I don’t feel I am wrong?” Not exactly, but how about simply saying, “I hear you” or “So this made you feel…” or even “I see where you may have thought that”. That gesture alone will at least make the other person feel validated. And isn’t that what we want? Okay so some of us want to be right, but most of us just want to be heard and validated.

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Ten Words or Less

I am so used to teaching parents that when implementing discipline there is no need for much dialogue. If the rules, and consequences for breaking the rules, was preestablished then there is no need for debate. I tell them 10 words or less, to ensure the child is listening and processing. I give similar advice to adults when verbal communication becomes ineffective. I recently worked with a client who wanted to repair a relationship, but knew a discussion would lead to fighting. I simply said, “what would happen if you just gave them a hug?” The response was, “well they would probably hug back”. How about we give that a try. Sometimes less is better. Just like some blogposts. It is okay to be brief and still make a point. I’m learning.

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Feel the Pain


I have experienced my share of loss over the years and I have learned that no matter what it is I have lost, the process of dealing with it seems to be the same. There was initially a sense of pain and hurt, then came the journey to normalcy and finally a period of reflection on the message or lesson learned.

Loss can be a result of something minor like a piece of jewelry or something with a greater impact, such as a loss of a family member or friend. As I reflect on things I have lost, my mind goes from losing my smartphone to a job to both my grandmother and mother. The degree to which these losses impacted me varied greatly, but the process used in dealing with them seemed too similar. Whether the loss was something I anticipated, was the fault of my carelessness, or was completely out of my control seemed to have little influence on how I dealt with it.

What was your first reaction when you experienced a loss of something or someone? It is different for everyone, but did it sound something like this: What? Why? Why me? Why now? Why like this? What did I do wrong? What am I going to do now?

It may have looked like this: crying, staring blankly, cussing, praying, cleaning, eating, not eating, sleeping, not sleeping.

And you may have felt something like this: anger, sadness, confusion, overwhelm, withdrawal.

This is the pain, the hurt. This is when your head throbs and your stomach aches and your chest is pounding and you can’t breathe…

Let’s sit with that for just a moment…

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When I Hear Music…

…it makes me dance!

When attempting to communicate our wants, needs, desires, and feelings we are sometimes at a loss for words. As a result, we often turn to the talented singers and song writers to help put words to our feelings. We can pull out our ipods, log in to itunes, search youtube, or simply turn on the radio and find a song that expresses exactly what we are feeling at that moment. I have found that this is a great way to connect with others, especially to teens. They live and breathe music. I often will ask them to name a song that expresses how they feel. I will then look it up and print out the lyrics. Whoa, if you only could see what I see. These kids are hurting and doing it silently and they aren’t the only ones.

I absolutely love music of all genres and as a result, I have so many that are dear to me. I could not possibly select a favorite. However, the following are a few that make my heart sing (or cry).

Beautiful (Christina Aguilera) – Having worked with children for nearly 17 years, I believe every child should listen to this song daily from age 5 to 12. We have got to stop tearing our children down and work harder to build them up.

I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) – It seems like this song has a greater impact to our middle age women. By about age 40, we have all experienced something that we felt we could not overcome, but somehow we survived.

Forget You (Cee-Lo) – Now I have to first say I am not a fan of the original title. I strongly believe “forget you” works perfectly. So this song is for the guys, but not solely. I mean falling in love and losing that love to someone else is tough, but how uplifting is it to be able to say, “forget you, oo oo ooo!” I love it.

Earth Song (Michael Jackson) – Gotta have a song for the world, right? This song, especially with the video, is so powerful and speak volumes to what we as human beings have done to each other and our environment. Shame on us! Listening to this song makes me feel compassion!

So what’s your go to song? What does it represent and what does it do for you?

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Calgon Take Me Away

I always pride myself on being a city girl. Loving the excitement of the fast pace, the brightness of the lights, and the busyness of the people surrounding me. It excites me. So naturally, when I need to take myself to a place of calmness I go to Africa (in my mind of course). I imagine a place that is warm, no hot!!! I imagine a place where animals are moving about slowly. A place where the air is still and quiet.

It is odd to me that this is the type of place I think of given I am not an outdoors kind of person and I am not fond of critters. But that is the beauty of the imagination. I can leave out the creepy crawlies and just enjoy the stillness. How peaceful it is, even if just for a moment.

Where would you imagine going to let your mind relax, even if just for a moment?

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Why We Write

In my daily life coaching practice, I regularly recommend that my clients write. Sometimes the writing is with a specific purpose and other times it is simply free association of whatever comes to mind. Journaling is an excellent way to release intense emotion in a healthy way and it also provides a tool to help process what is consuming our thoughts. Blogging serves  a similar purpose, the only difference is it is public. So why would I want to publicly display emotions, thoughts, and thought processes? Well, for me it is a way to connect with others with the goal of sharing, supporting, challenging, and encouraging. These are things that motivate us to keep moving forward one day at a time, one choice at a time. In this space I want to celebrate the efforts of the many people I have encountered and offer suggestions for some of the most common issues that have been presented. I also hope to highlight that changes we make no matter how small, to better ourselves. I do recognize expressing your emotions and allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be overwhelming at times and so I want this blog site to be a place to slow down, find clarity, and move forward. That is my ultimate goal.

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30-Day Challenge: Be Positive

Positive smileJust a few weeks ago I was watching an awards show on television. At the same time I happened to also be browsing on Facebook. While on Facebook one of the groups I “liked” began commenting on the same show I was watching. I very quickly noticed that all of the comments being made in the group were negative. They all centered around how unflattering they felt someone looked.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but then it really got me scratching my head. The things I was thinking were very different then the comments they were making. I wondered why this group was so negative and what could be done to change their perceptions.

I made a promise to myself that I would go out of my way to only write comments that were positive and only respond to comments that were positive. Now don’t get me wrong, that does not mean that I didn’t periodically have unpleasant personal opinions about the things I saw and heard. But knowing personally how detrimental, painful, and infectious negativity is in our society today; it was simply my plan to balance the negativity that was being spread with more positivity.

How on earth, I thought, are we going to change the views of society if we continue to perpetuate the very negativity that we complain about?

As a child therapist, I often share with parents and teachers that they need to provide 10 times the positive reinforcement to each negative comment or reaction. This is considered balanced due to the heavy influence negativity has on people. I found myself offering the same advice to adult leaders. When evaluating their staff, it is much more productive to provide some positive feedback before offering the negative criticism. Again Balance.

Somehow balance was not in this group. What I saw was quite the contrary and it got me feeling really discouraged. Asking myself, how is this helping? Who is this helping?

What was designed to be a very uplifting and inspirational awards show was being beaten down with criticism and ridicule. What I saw was average sized women choosing not to wear spanx, showing their love for who they are (I mean that is what the awards show was all about wasn’t it?). What I read over and over again was, “that dress is not flattering”, “is she pregnant?” “Is it just me or is there something wrong with her midsection?”, and “what is up with her hair?” I was hurt as if it were me personally they were criticizing. But the reality is, it was me they were criticizing. I mean I looked just like some of those women.

Not feeling so good about the discouragement I was feeling, I committed myself to restoring the balance by being positive. Unfortunately I am but one of many million, but it only starts with one right? So, here I am again challenging you. For just 30 days focus on displaying positivity. Think twice before you type that Facebook or Twitter post. Is it something you would want someone to say to you? Is it something that will be hurtful? Is there something else you could say that would make someone smile? Go out of your way to look for the positive aspects of life and share them.

If the negative thoughts are just that overwhelming and you must say them, write them down and then throw them in the trash. For the next 30 days Be Positive. Can you do it? Are you in this with me? Will it help? What do you think? Share your thoughts. I’m curious.

Change your mindset, Change the world.

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Habits of Fear

“For the young are unconstrained by the habits of fear.” – President Barack Obama

For centuries we have been groomed from childhood to do things a cerbroken-chains 2tain way. Or not do things a certain way. We have to get all As. Or we are not good enough to even get all Cs. Those on top are afraid of falling down, and those on the bottom are afraid of coming up. It is a cycle, amongst many other unhealthy cycles, that we have found ourselves wrapped in and unable to disconnect from. We are generationally and culturally bound by these fears. Fears of what if.

What if…they are better than me? I get my feelings hurt? They don’t like my idea? They laugh at me? They disagree?

The reality is that many people feed off of others’ fears to mask their own. They sense it and take advantage of it, as a means of protecting their own insecurities.

So why are we giving them so much power over our lives? Without our fear, they are powerless. Powerless!

So I ask the question, what could we do if we were unconstrained? Unconstrained by the habits of fear.

-Would we step in and stand up to a bully regardless of who he or she was?

-Would we demand to be acknowledged, respected, and rewarded by our employers for our commitments at work?

-Would we stop for just a moment to assist someone no matter what their appearance?

-Would we give a stranger walking down the highway a ride to the next exit or better yet, all the way home?

-Would we acknowledge our own beauty to include: acne, surgery scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, dimples (not the ones on your face), muffin tops, love handles, and the list goes on?

I am sure you all are saying, “This girl is dreaming”. Well, yes I am. Dreaming for just one person each day to remove the sense of fear from their minds and walk in confidence. Not the kind of confidence that says I am better than you. No, that’s arrogance. But rather the confidence that says I am so great that I want everyone I meet to feel and be equally as great. Could you do it? Would you do it?

I came across this quote that has stuck with me for some time.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear”. – Ambrose Redmoon

I am committed to the greater goal of making this world a better, safer, happier place for my sons by making that goal more important than my fears. I am not afraid to stand alone, but I sure would like some company. Is anybody with me? What are your fears and what personal goal would you like to place above that fear?

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No U-Turns: Dig Deeper

Two days ago I started exercising again after a 4-month break following abdominal surgery and a move back to the mainland. The workout, which consisted of 30 minutes of Insanity and 1 hour of power yoga, was tough; but I got through it. One hour later, however, I could feel my muscles tightening up. To tell you the truth they were screaming at me. And then the dreadful 2 day later pain kicked in full swing. I found myself holding on to everything possible to make it up and down the stairs, in and out of my car, and let’s not even talk about the challenge of sitting on the toilet. Through this pain, I recalled the instructor repeatedly saying, “You’re not tired” and my response every time was, “Yes I am”. I had been here before, both as a student and a fitness instructor. Deep down I knew that in order for me to get past this pain I had to keep charging through it. And so, two days later I hear my girlfriend say “take two Aleve, get back in that gym, and dig deeper”. There was no turning back. No U-turns for me. To turn back meant I would one day have to feel this level of pain again. No thank you.

This is how trauma recovery works. You first acknowledge the awful pain you feel. You cannot avoid or deny the pain because it demands to be recognized. Blame that on our biological make up. So go ahead and let the pain have its moment. You then give it the necessary treatment it needs to begin to heal. Whatever that is for you: therapy, coaching, support groups, journaling, crying. The next step is to find a support system, even if that system involves just one person, and you allow your vulnerable self to be challenged to “dig deeper” and forge through the pain. Before you know it you will begin to feel stronger and the pain will take its rightful submissive place. Are you ready? There is no turning back now.

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