We have today!

letting go

15 years ago I captured this picture of my daughter holding onto my finger. She was only a few months old and I remember vividly the feelings that surrounded this period of time in our lives.  September 11 was suppose to be like any other day.  I was preparing breakfast for her two older brothers, trying to get them out the door for school.  Like any other busy home at 7am on a Tuesday morning, life was hectic… until I noticed what was flashing across the TV screen. It seemed for a moment everything froze… Life changed dramatically that day for many of us.  I wanted to pull my children close and not let them out of my sight.  I remember feeling fear and disbelief I had never experienced before.

The old saying that “you never know what you have until it’s gone” never held more meaning for me than it did that day.  Why is it that we take for granted some of the most wonderful things in life and fail to show our love or appreciation until its too late?  Why does it often take a great loss to awaken us to the treasure we had?

15 years ago today I noticed with greater detail the sparkle in my 6 year olds eyes, the inquisitive questions of my 3 year old, and the soft tender folds of my little daughter’s hand wrapped in mine.  What happened that day was horrible and changed us all.  As a country we mourned together.  But as a nation we pulled together.  We loved and supported people we had never met.  Many gave their lives to save another.  In honor of those that lost so much, I feel I have a responsibility to live more fully.  We never really know what tomorrow may bring, but we have today.

 

 

 

You don’t want to miss this!

A new and dear friend of mine is heading up this retreat – you don’t want to miss this! Even better, it is being held in the beautiful landscape of Bryce Canyon.  A scientifically proven program to help couples strengthen relationships and increase closeness. What better time than now to go enjoy Bryce Canyon and improve your relationship!

Version 2

 

How do I find a good therapist?

Finding a therapist

Last summer I needed to find myself a chiropractor.  I had never been seen by one before, and quite frankly, wasn’t even sure what qualities I was looking for.  I asked around for recommendations from friends and neighbors.  I then narrowed down my search by scanning the list of names on my insurance panel.  Then scouring web page after web page knocking potentials off my list by superficial criteria such as an outdated website or an unappealing picture of the doctor.  I really had no clue what I was looking for, so I just followed my gut.  In the end, it turned out well, but it caused me to think a lot about what an individual goes through when it comes to selecting a therapist.

I few years ago I read a fantastic article written by Daniella Tempesta, LCSW, Demystifying Therapy: 5 Insider Tips to Finding a Good Therapist, and it is too good to just reference, so I have decided to include the entire article. I encourage you share it with your friends and family.

It’s a new year, you’ve set new goals, and you’ve decided it’s time to go to therapy. Now what? Entering “find therapist” into your google search window is not going to help. There are a lot of therapists out there, but finding the right one for you can be as daunting as trying to find a good date online.
After more than 15 years of seeing a variety of therapists myself, I’ve had my share of bad experiences. I once met with a therapist who greeted me at the door dripping sweat and dressed like Run-D.M.C. (sans gold chain), straight from the gym. And while I don’t think a therapist’s outfit is a reflection of competence, I do appreciate a person who cools down first and dresses in a professional manner. And then there was the woman whose first question was “So, what’s wrong with you?” Not exactly the best way to create a sense of safety.
But don’t let me scare you off, I’ve also had amazing, life-altering, not-sure-what-I-would’ve-done-without-’em therapists. So even if it sounds like you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your “theraprince,” the result is definitely worth it. Below you will find my top five tips for how to find an awesome therapist.
(Still not sure therapy is for you? Check out my top five reasons why everyone should go to therapy.)
1) Ask People You Trust For Recommendations
Asking people you trust for recommendations is a great place to start. This could be a friend, family member, coworker or other health professional. If someone you trust can make a referral, this can act as a prescreening process. If you have a friend or family member who is a therapist, they would also be a good person to ask as well. Therapists tend to have good information about other reputable people.
2) Pick a Specialist if Necessary 
Think about why you are seeking help and if necessary, find someone who specializes in treating your particular issue. If you are struggling with something very specific like OCD, ADHD, addiction or an eating disorder, it is very important that you see someone who specializes in the treatment of these disorders. There are evidence-based protocols which are used specifically to successfully treat issues like those listed above. If you are seeing someone who doesn’t have specific training in your issues, you might be wasting your time and money. Also, someone who claims to be an expert in everything is likely an expert in nothing. The field of mental health is just too broad for any of us to be experts in all issues, so beware of someone who claims such things.
3) Use the Web, But Don’t Be Limited By It 
The web is a great resource for locating and learning more about local therapists.Psychology Today has a comprehensive listing of therapists and allows you to search based on several different factors. To be listed on Psychology Today, therapists must prove that they have an advanced degree and up-to-date professional license. You can read profiles or click through to individual therapist websites. If you are immediately turned off by someone’s tone, listen to your gut and keep searching. Just make sure you are looking in industry-appropriate locations. For example, Yelp is great for restaurants, but the same principle doesn’t apply to therapy. Finding a good therapist is a lot more nuanced than finding out which restaurant makes the best duck-fat fried Brussels sprouts.
4) Interview People Who Might Seem Like a Good Fit
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potentials, give them a call. Get a feel for what they are like on the phone. Do you feel comfortable talking with them? Do they seem interested and empathetic? In addition, you might ask the following questions: 
A) What is your style like? 
This is important. Even if someone is a very skilled therapist, his or her style may not jive with yours. Try to get a feel for what it would be like to be in the room with the person. Are they active and engaged or will you be doing most of the majority of talking? Will they be giving you homework or will all the “work” happen in the sessions themselves? 
B) Do you have experience working with my issue? If we were working together on this issue what can I expect? 
You want to make sure that the therapist has familiarity and is comfortable working with the issue that brought you to therapy. 
C) What is your theoretical orientation?
There are many different schools of thought in psychology and each therapist approaches problems differently based on their training and theoretical orientation. For example, a psychodynamic therapist might focus on childhood history, dreams and the unconscious roots of your behavior, while a cognitive behavioral therapist will help you identify problematic thoughts and help you shift those thoughts and their resulting behaviors. There are many different ways to approach the same issue, and while you may have no idea specifically what style you want or need, make sure that what the therapist is proposing is something that sounds aligned to your personality and needs.
(For a more detailed description of some of the most popular types of therapy clickhere.)
5) The Relationship Is More Important Than the Resume 
Don’t be overly focused on finding someone with long list of accomplishments. Just because a therapist has written several books or has a busy public speaking schedule, it doesn’t mean that they are the right fit for you. Research has found that the most effective therapists build strong therapeutic relationships with their clients and have highly developed interpersonal skills including warmth, acceptance, empathy and the ability to accurately identify how a client is feeling. So give more weight to how you feel in the room with the therapist, rather than their list of accomplishments.
Now that you are armed with strategies for finding a great fit I wish you the best of luck in your search. I hope you find the therapeutic experience as rewarding and life altering as I have. Happy therapist hunting!

Where did that anxiety come from?

0601141741a

Do you ever wake up after a good nights rest to be greeted with a pit in your stomach or tightness in your chest.  Some form of anxiety has taken over your body and yet you have nothing you can really pin it to.  Your day may seem like any other, and yet in some ways you feel paralyzed. Anxiety can and does seem to appear out of nowhere, but I want to share with you a few things that may help you narrow down what’s really going on so that you can get on with your day.

The first thing you may want to ask yourself isn’t just whats on the agenda for the day, but what has the entire week or even month been like?  All too often we tell ourselves I shouldn’t feel stressed or anxious, it is just a regular old day.  But usually our body is the first to let us know that we need to slow down.  Most of us tend to plow through crazy schedules and not take notice of how often we don’t get enough sleep, good nutrition, or relaxation.  Just like a tired little 2 year-old can have a melt down in the middle of a store after missing their much needed nap, the adult body isn’t all that different.  So, when that sick or heavy feeling comes over you, listen to it and take a moment to assess what you need.

Another common trigger for mysterious bouts of anxiety can actually be specific dates and seasons.  Although something stressful or sad may have happened 3 years ago, it isn’t uncommon for the body to respond similarly to how it felt at that time.  If you were dealing with a stressful divorce or sick child as the fall leaves were beginning to change and the air became cooler, don’t be surprised if some of those feelings creep back a year or more later even though in your mind you have moved on and know it is over. Our bodies are responsive to our surroundings. Something as simple as the smell of paste or crayons can transport us back to 1st grade. Powerful memories can have the same effect on us in many ways.   Be sensitive to what you are feeling and nurture yourself.  If it feels bigger than something you can manage alone, reach out for support or consider seeing a professional.

Photo Credit: Cy Ott

Can our marriage survive living long distance?

LDR-long-distance-relationships-32910194

I had a client tell me yesterday that long distance relationships don’t work.  He was referencing the situation he and his wife were in and quite resolute that if he were to leave the area to find work, that his marriage would dissolve.  Little did he know that my husband and I have been living long distance for the past 7 years.  When my husband first considered working in China, I was terrified.  I was unsure of how I would mother 4 children alone.  We had never been apart that long.  What if I just couldn’t hack it?  I remember feeling emotionally torn for myself and yet excited for the opportunities this would offer my husband and our family.

Some of what I learned during those years, was that I am strong and capable.  I learned on YouTube how to fix our washer, and also realized I can change a battery in a beeping smoke detector.  I learned that there are many things we tend to stress over that really aren’t worth the time and energy.  My life in many ways became simpler and my focus shifted to what was most important.  The most fantastic part, was I fell in love with my husband all over again, and again.  Every 4 weeks he would come home and we would celebrate the time together.  We couldn’t take each other for granted.  If a disagreement arose (and of course they would) we didn’t waste much time owning our part and making it right again.  Being selfish, stubborn, or giving the cold shoulder for a couple days just wasn’t a option.  Believe it or not, these were some very happy years for us.  Hard? Yes.  Would we want to do it again? No.  But, I can say that our marriage not only survived… it thrived.

Now although he no longer works on the other side of the planet and is only gone a few nights a week, we still use many of the same tools that helped nurture our marriage during those longer dry spells apart.  We communicate daily, we express love and appreciation often, and we flirt. Yes, you read that right.  It may be obnoxious for the kids, but we unashamedly flirt a lot.   On our wedding day, this was actual counsel given to us in the ceremony!  We have learned to not take ourselves too seriously.  We play.  We talk.  We plan. We date.  And then we get back to work.

I am not advocating long distance relationships.  In fact, my husband and I frequently discuss what would be necessary in order to live more traditionally.  What I am saying though, is that learning how to love your partner and acting on it  is the glue that keeps a marriage together.  And, this principle applies regardless of being under the same roof or thousands of miles apart.