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.

Therapeutic relationships have the potential to create change. Change? What does that look like? Recovery? What does that look like? Getting some help. What does that look like?

Creating change. What exactly does that mean? Is it the same for everyone? Is there a quick fix?

Creating an atmosphere in which growth and change can occur? What does that mean? How exactly does that work?

Who creates these definitions? Who defines what heals?

If I stop ____________; am I healed?

How do I know what a healthy therapeutic relationship looks like?

Do I risk exposing myself?

Am I broken?

Am I perfect just the way I am?

Who creates these definitions?

Who defines what heals?

Does it occur in a therapy office? A gym? A spa? While meditating? In the midst of being mindful? While sitting in my therapist’s office? While taking a walk? In the moments before I fall asleep?

Who defines what heals?

How powerful are relationships?

How connected are you?

How in touch are you?

Do you need to be broken to be healed?

Can you find happiness?

Will it get better?

Will they finally understand?

Who creates these definitions?

Who?

You?

Storytelling. It is therapeutic. It’s that simple. Tell your story, a story, any story. In the space between the telling and the witnessing is a land of transformation, rejuvenation, creation an event! There may be pain that is unleashed or tapped into.  There may be moments when the pull to become silent is very loud. We hold within us the ability to heal. We do not need to see ourselves as broken to find happiness. The same stories that bind us can set us free. We can change the story we told ourselves. We can enliven a new way of being. Write another chapter. Heck, we can even revise a previously held notion about ourselves, others and even the world at large. If we open ourselves up to possibility we must be gentle and welcoming to what is revealed. A traumatic story may feel like the last chapter of your book or maybe even the title of a complete anthology. This can change. We can heal. We can overcome. We can work through it. We can be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We can push through. We can have hope for ourselves even when we feel so disconnected from who we are. Our stories.

I encourage you to tell your story. Pick one. Anyone and begin. Your first audience can be a piece of paper. A blank word document. In our head as we are showering. Tell it. Feel it. Hear it. Heal it!!

Honor.
For those before us. Those we once knew. We heard about them from our family.
For us. For who we hope to be. In inspiration. For ourselves. Because we deserve it. If not us; then who?
How shall we take a realistic view?
Must we?
Can honoring another person change us?
Are there different rules when speaking of honoring ourselves?
Could the journeys inform one another?
Effect one another?
Deepen the impact both personally and inter-personally?
It is the space between the questions and the quest for an answer where honor is found, earned, strived after, witnessed…..

There are many types of adventures we can embark upon.

Some are chosen.

Others are given.

Some we stumble upon.

Others call to us until we answer.

This word can mean different things to different people. Does an adventure have to push your limits? Are challenges necessary? Is the unknown the exciting part? Is it the journey? The destination? Adventure. Can it occur within our own psyche? While dreaming? While making love? Does it involve a backpack? What must be added to constitute an adventure? Does something need to be set aside? Do you need to laugh along the way? Is the itinerary set? Remember; not all who wander are lost.  Have you ever had the experience of a good story being an adventure? Ever get lost in a book? Have you ever been carried away? What role does fear play? Does a past experience come into play? Adventure. This is different for everyone. How does it change when others are involved? Do you need a sidekick? An entourage? Where does your source of comfort, strength, and encouragement come from? How do you replenish when your reserves are low?

This writing exercise, this exploration could also be seen as an adventure.

The word means different things to different people.

What will your next adventure be?

I would love to hear about it.

There are many types of adventures we can embark upon.

Some are chosen.

Others are given.

Some we stumble upon.

Others call to us until we answer.

This word can mean different things to different people. Does an adventure have to push your limits? Are challenges necessary? Is the unknown the exciting part? Is it the journey? The destination? Adventure. Can it occur within our own psyche? While dreaming? While making love? Does it involve a backpack? What must be added to constitute an adventure? Does something need to be set aside? Do you need to laugh along the way? Is the itinerary set? Remember; not all who wander are lost.  Have you ever had the experience of a good story being an adventure? Ever get lost in a book? Have you ever been carried away? What role does fear play? Does a past experience come into play? Adventure. This is different for everyone. How does it change when others are involved? Do you need a sidekick? An entourage? Where does your source of comfort, strength, and encouragement come from? How do you replenish when your reserves are low?

This writing exercise, this exploration could also be seen as an adventure.

The word means different things to different people.

What will your next adventure be?

I would love to hear about it.

There are many types of adventures we can embark upon.

Some are chosen.

Others are given.

Some we stumble upon.

Others call to us until we answer.

This word can mean different things to different people. Does an adventure have to push your limits? Are challenges necessary? Is the unknown the exciting part? Is it the journey? The destination? Adventure. Can it occur within our own psyche? While dreaming? While making love? Does it involve a backpack? What must be added to constitute an adventure? Does something need to be set aside? Do you need to laugh along the way? Is the itinerary set? Remember; not all who wander are lost.  Have you ever had the experience of a good story being an adventure? Ever get lost in a book? Have you ever been carried away? What role does fear play? Does a past experience come into play? Adventure. This is different for everyone. How does it change when others are involved? Do you need a sidekick? An entourage? Where does your source of comfort, strength, and encouragement come from? How do you replenish when your reserves are low?

This writing exercise, this exploration could also be seen as an adventure.

The word means different things to different people.

What will your next adventure be?

I would love to hear about it.

 

Today, I attended day two of the Illinois Marriage and Family Therapy (IAMFT) Conference at NIU, Naperville Campus. The speaker was Mary Jo Barrett. We began the day with an acknowledgement of holding a trauma focused systemic conference where there was a traumatic experience. Mary Jo Barrett was also one of the volunteer therapist who assisted following the tragedy. A member of IAMFT is a parent of one of the deceased students. That set the stage for a day filled with collaboration, intention, a quest for change, a focus on what we will bring to the experience, as well as, what we hope to gain from the day. The day illustrated the collaborative change model beautifully. I always enjoy trainings with Mary Jo or at the CCC. I am inspired to be both a better woman, partner, mother, daughter, sister, friend. I am also reminded to add intention to my “knowing” and work towards change. She talked about the natural tendency toward change. It is so true. Following my clients lead, setting the stage, teaching skills and making changes. Did I know what I was doing when I allowed myself to follow an instinct with a client, ask a few questions, stop to grow a moment and bam…we were suddenly in the depth of the issues. Creating a treatment plan is creating intention. Setting the stage for change. Having a focused goal in mind. Transparency is key. I always explained why I asked a client to revisit something they just said or when I shared a musing with a client. I say why I am asking a client to explore an avenue of understanding.I did this because I attempt to manage the hierarchy by eliciting involvement. I had no idea that I was “intervening”. That wasn’t the main attraction. It was just what “I do with clients”.

What has helped you when seeing a therapist?

Who was in the room?

Who wasn’t in the room?

What is your intention for the day?

How will you make that happen?

I would love to hear from you.

Collaboration within the therapeutic relationship is a key ingredient for creating a change of context.

 

Today, I attended day one of the Illinois Marriage and Family Therapy Conference. Year after year, I enjoy learning, engaging, being inspired while inspiring one another. It is also nice to speak the same language. We may have different words to describe our art but the systemic and culturally sensitive foundation is systemic. The keynote  speaker was Dr. Mona Fishbane. Her cutting edge couple work and intergenerational therapy continues to set the healing stage for change. Families, couples and individuals all over Chicago are changed as a result. What has changed? They have. Literally, their brain has changed. We can change. We can grow. The couples dance can now be seen as the “dance of the amygdala.” A variety of lenses are useful as we are all unique. The couple system is also unique. Family of Origin work is still cool. Thanks for allowing that to be true Mona! Remembering my family therapy roots, learning about cutting edge scientific thought. Back to basics while upgrading to newer versions. Bugs get fixed. New solutions are created. I had a “star” today that signifies “new thoughts that will inform my practice of psychotherapy”. How exciting it is to be inspired. Both professionally and personally. Chicago has become a hotbed of innovative, health producing couple work. I am so lucky to be a part of it. As a person who is a member of many relationships. I cannot learn about ways to improve relational satisfaction without absorbing new skills which can improve my relationships. My brain can change. I can have an empathic connection with a story of healing and apply the lesson to my own relationship with my husband. Allow myself to delve deeper as we practice innovative interventions. My job is to intervene as a therapist. Not power over. But power with. Collaboration.

Whew…that was just day one. It feels enlivening to be inspired. I invite you to be inspired. Fall in love all over again. Create a new trust; a more complicated trust. Take the leap. Face the fear.Be vulnerable. Grow. Change.

I will be there right beside you.

“What would it take for me to make a change?”  This is a question many of us forget to ask ourselves when we decide to start eating better, start exercising more, stop yelling at the kids as much, quit smoking, stop drinking soda, face an addictive element in our life. We tend to dive in. We all know that with a little planning, forethought and determination we can do anything right? We might make a few plans in our head, sometimes share it with a friend, partner or sibling or even declare in on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  “What would it take for me to make a change?” Did we include this in the planning and preparation phase? Money? A prize? A vacation? Recognition from family, friends and many likes on your new profile picture on Facebook? Is it a feeling inside of you? Is it something you can see when you look in the mirror? Are the rewards external? Are the rewards internal? “What would it take for me to make a change?”  Would a close friend have to fight cancer for you to decide to make a change because life is precious; you are precious? Do friends influence your motivation? Is it an inner drive to overcome? Are you sick and tired of being overwhelmed, ashamed, hidden, locked away from your own happiness? Do you keep going and wonder when you will find the time? What matters is a spark. A wish to be different. To be differently in the world. A desire to change. Grow. Develop. Deepen. Dig in. Risk. Be willing to want. “What would it take for me to make a change?”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 80 other followers