We text emoji’s to our friends, family members and co-workers. Emotion, a noun, is defined as a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Emotional Intelligence, a noun, is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.  We all identify, manage and express our emotions differently. We all use different words to define our experiences, thoughts and emotions.  Is there a right answer? Is there one emoji for happiness? Can a picture accurately describe a natural and instinctive state of mind? Should we share all of our emotions? Is there such a thing as being too emotional? Are you emotionally compatible with your partner? How do you know? Wait a minute, let’s back up. How do you even know what you are feeling? If we are unable to identify our emotions it will not matter if, when or with whom we share our emotions. Do we censor ourselves due to stigma, prior experience, grief or trauma? What is your feeling story?

parrots on stick for finding your voice 3 18 16

The country is focusing on candidates for the office of the President of the United States of America. Watching debates, googling the issues that matter to us as individuals, families and communities and voting in the primary election. My mind turns to our sense of power. Do we think that our voice will be heard? Does my one vote matter? Does my opinion matter? What is you have already been victimized? Your voice was taken from you when you were silenced, violated, abused, isolated, bullied and victimized.

How do you reclaim your voice? I listen to the candidates speak and think about their voice; their story. What words do they use? What story are they trying to tell us. How do we re-write our story? How do we move from silence to singing our praises and standing up for ourselves? What gets in our way? Who gets in our way?

Believing that we have the power to change originates in a fundamental belief that we matter. What we say, think and the actions we take matter. Upon that foundation our story is written, re-written and re-authored. We have the ability to heal. To rise again. To actually flourish not just exist. What will you do to make sure your voice is heard?

Bring a change of clothes. You may get messy along the way. Please remember this.

YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU MATTER. I MATTER. WE ALL MATTER. STAND TALL.

BREATHE DEEP.

YOU GOT THIS.

Last week I attended the Illinois Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (IAMFT) Annual Conference. A conversation that I was engaged in has remained on my mind. I want to share it with you to keep this exploration going. I want to talk about using the word “Wellness” instead of “Self-Care”. I want to talk about what this means to me. I want to hear about what it means to you. I look forward to hearing your comments and engaging in a collaborative dialogue which focuses on wellness as a lifelong love affair.  While researching this topic I came across a definition of wellness that jumped out at me. Wellness (a noun) can be defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.  Just let that soak in for a moment. Breathe it in as you digest these highly intentional words. Read it again if necessary. Say it out loud if you feel like it.  Is there a particular word or string of words that makes something stir?

A quality or state of being healthy in body and mind. A state of being. A lifelong relationship with yourself. A lifelong engaged way of relating to the world you live in. Awareness of your presence. A commitment to continually seeking balance. A desire to attend to self as needed to heal, move through, let go, deepen and grow. What I tell myself about myself is important.  A result of deliberate effort.  Intentional. Directed. Loving. An embodied focus on wholeness while knowing that it will never be perfect. It will be fluid, real, alive and active. Wellness is a lifelong love affair with yourself. This relationship is with yourself and the dynamic world you life in. Maybe next Valentine’s Day you will take yourself on a Wellness inspired date with yourself.

Remember, I can’t wait to hear from you. Let’s keep this going.

picture image journey

A journey. The act of traveling from one place to another. Passage from one place to another. Adventure.  Odyssey.  Sojourn. Your journey awaits you. Therapy can be one mode of transportation as you seek, revive, grow and discover. That thought you had about creating change or wishing things were different. The energy that is growing within you to attempt something new. Your journey awaits you. It is often helpful to enlist a co-pilot, navigator, trusted partner as you travel from one place to another. The destination is called Change. Creating anew. Reducing something. Transforming another. Awakening something within. Feeding your spirit. You are worth it. You are capable of happiness. You deserve it. Your journey awaits you.

  • tree and snow image for blog post 1 26 16Therapy is a process. Change takes time. Trust, relationship building and skill acquisition. These three components help to create a healing environment in which connection, growth, healing and change can occur. There may be stuck moments, repair and reconnection may occur and at times it may feel like things won’t get better. It is at these times when a person must practice self-care, stay in connection and have hope in the process. Trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in your ability to heal. Trust in someone else despite a past filled with hurt and abandonment. Trust that the process of therapy and your desire to create change can and will create help you fulfill your goals. Expressive arts are often a constructive avenue to explore themes such as trust between sessions. What has “come up” for you as you read this post? Where will you let it take you? I look forward to hearing from you.
   CHANGE IS NOT  JUST FOR THE LEAVES

 CHANGING.                                    It’s not just for the leaves.               

We have all heard that change is inevitable. We know that we are told that the only thing certain is change. We have also heard that change is good. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” What does change really look like? Are we always certain that we have the ability to change? Ability to change? Are these skills innate, learned or more like a combination, mixture or hodgepodge of experiences that we breathe, live and absorb? What will my relationship look like if I change? What if I don’t change?  Will they change too? Kindness, patience, skill building, communication, the dance of disconnection and repair, believing in ourselves, believing in the resilience of our relationships are all essential ingredients when contemplating or taking action to make a change.

Some questions to help you explore your relationship with change:

Q: What did you learn about yourself the last time you were faced with making a change?

Q: What happened the last time you were faced with a change you had no control over?

blog image child hands in dirt with plant

What we tell ourselves about ourselves is critical to the way that we are in the world. Our self concept, our self-esteem; that Mojo we talk about is the byproduct of a cultivated bed of thoughts, belief systems and stories. Who we tell ourselves we are helps to determine what we grow into. Our inner dialogue can vary and it has most likely evolved as you have grown up, experienced life and engaged in relationships. Our storybook begins with the seeds of thought planted by our caregivers and the environment we live in. Some are familiar flowers we replant year after year. Some become outdated and we update our self concept as we phase out a certain belief or thought about ourselves. Usually this occurs when we are provided with conflicting information and we begin to see ourselves a bit differently. A new varietal can emerge. Hopefully one that can help us to continue to grow, weather the storms that come our way and adapt to our changing needs. At times we also need to tend to our garden. We must weed out, transplant, nurture and feed our inner landscape.

I welcome you to take a stroll through your inner world. For today, pay attention to the words you tell yourself as you move through out your day. Try to view yourself through a lens that is non-judgmental so you are able to examine, explore and make changes from a place of love. Many flowers rely on the sun to open. Be your own sun!

rainbow ribbon of connection blog post july 22 2015

What image would represent your most intimate relationship? How do you manage the ebb and flow of connection and disconnection? What gets in the way?  Questions like these are a great way to check in with the current weather report for your most intimate relationships. You can journal on your own. How about a dialogue with your partner? Take a moment to check in with yourself. What is currently needed to improve the quality and level of connection between you and a special someone? It is often helpful to seek the counsel of a professional like a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist who can assist you in achieving the highest level of relational health.

Remember; we all need warmth, attention, intention and connection in order to always be growing…growing…growing…

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, comments, suggestions!

family therapy child seedling picture

It takes a village. Most of us have heard this phrase before. But what does it really mean? And what is this “village” that is mentioned. Well, I believe that the village can be as wide or as small as we make it. Our village can include our family, grandparents, best friends, a babysitter, a coach, teachers, professionals who are enlisted to help with bumps along the road, social media, and our neighbor next door.  Reaching out in order to meet needs, balance stress and collaboratively arrive at solutions.

Many people ask me what exactly do people do in family therapy. They wonder if “everyone” should come. Many individual “issues”, “problems”, “behaviors”, “events” create the need to reach out to call on someone in the village. All of this occurs within a social context (the family, community, school system etc). There are often creative and collaborative solutions which can be authored, re-authored individually, within the couple/partner, parental or sibling subsystem, or the entire family system as whole. The focus of the therapy, the configuration of the players involved is depended on the presenting issue or reason for seeking out services. I often assist parents to feel more equipped to address, manage and navigate through developmental phases and family life cycles stages. Yes, people often seek out a therapist when they need help with a crisis, time limited problem, or would like to explore their options regarding relationships, vocational aspirations or creative processes. What matters most is more complex than the reason for calling on the village. what matters is a desire to grow, change and experience a shift in perspective, affect or circumstance.

big aamft clinical member

meditation quote from elephant journal dec 2014

Hi. I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that struck me. I felt the words in my core. I found myself re-reading it and saying it out loud. I have let the words settle in me. They are someone else’s words. An appreciative shout out to Sarah McLean. I could have just gone on with my day. I could ignore the words seeping back into my consciousness. Could I really? I think I was done for when I was propelled to say the words out loud as I re-read it. I must share that I have a predisposition to be affected by words. I began my college adventure wanting to revive the Victorian novel. I dreamed to have my work reviewed in Ms.Magazine because Gloria Steinem herself was moved by my words. Back to that moment though.
“Give yourself time every day…”. Time; there doesn’t seem to be a lot of free time going around these days. Kids, work, home life and an attempt to gather with other adults to eat food that is warm in a restaurant that doesn’t have a kids menu is a true act of balance and patience. Ok. So I can see how I was drawn to this.
Let’s keep reading, digesting the words and letting them marinate, “…to be quiet and still with meditation.” Ahh, just reading it reminds me to take a better posture and breathe. Now for anyone that knows me I don’t have trouble being still. Being quiet outwardly and inwardly; now that is another story. A work in progress.
“Choose a simple practice…”. The word simple is not something used to describe me, my life or my inner world. Or is it? This part is tricky. Would my choice be familiar and therefore somewhat easier to accomplish? Nope. I decided to build on my love of the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I decided to allow myself to be motivated by Jamie’s blog about happiness and her real life example of finding a practice or more simply stated…wait for it…letting the practice find me. My current focus is on daily gratitude preceded by positive contemplation. I also include a picture. I will share my Gratitude calendar after 365 days. A shout out to Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler for the inspiration.
Now for the closer…”turn your attention inward and connect with this source of your intention”. This requires a loving attention that moves inward, past the critic and through to the true self. It is here that I am able to connect with myself on a level that knows no words.
What will you do when something strikes you?

I would love to hear from you.

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