Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness, CBIT, ERP, CBT-I, Behavior Consultation, and Treatment for Anxiety and Insomnia

Laura Van Schaick-Harman, Psy.D., BC-TMH


Dr. Laura's Meaningful Psychological Services

Online and Office Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

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Do You Have Weeds in Your Life?

Posted on July 22, 2019 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (2)

We have weeds. Big, thick, and tall weeds. I have tried mulch, landscape fabric, and sprays, and it helps a good amount. This year, I thought I finally did it. No weeds! Yay!


I was wrong. After a few weeks, I saw the evidence. A few weeds either survived or new ones navigated their way through a tiny opening in the mulch and fabric. Untamed and free, they grow and grow to be thick and full and push out our pretty sunflowers attempting to grow.


Back to the drawing board...I think I will try to de-root the surviving weeds next and see if that helps.


Do you have any weeds in your life? Are you suppressing negative feelings? Are you avoiding taking risks to grow? Are you letting weeds grow wild? Are you forgetting to nurture your flowers?


Is anxiety, depression, anger, or jealousy taking over your life?


If your life feels full of weeds, look for the flowers trying to grow. Get at the root of the weeds and challenge yourself to face the scary and negative feelings. You may need to try different strategies to see what works best for you.


If needed, seek the support of a psychologist. We can help!

The Importance of Play

Posted on May 22, 2019 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (2)

Play is so vital and important for both children and adults. For several years in my practice, I have observed many families rushing from school to multiple after school structured activities for multiple children with multiple conflicts. Kids express feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Our high achieving students struggle with balancing clubs, sports, and HW and when to turn down additional responsibilities. Parents struggle with which opportunities to take and pass on.

This Ted Talk illustrates the importance of play from a biological perspective and the relationship between play and mental health.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg-GEzM7iTk" target="_blank">http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg-GEzM7iTk

Whole Child Learning

Posted on April 22, 2019 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (8)

Yes, just yes! This month, I am sharing a presentation by Dr. Hynes, Superintendent of Schools in Patchogue-Medford. This talk provides some insight into whole child learning, mental health, physical health, social emotional growth, and raising children to be successful and healthy adults.

https://youtu.be/qczA5SLhxEY

KonMari

Posted on February 21, 2019 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (2)

Have you been swept up by the KonMari method and reorganizing your entire house yet? About 6 weeks ago, my husband and I decided to try this new show on Netflix that follows a professional organizing consultant author who helps people get their possessions in order. This was purely for entertainment, but my personality loves to learn and pay attention to the method behind the madness.


I don’t want to spoil the series or the books or your interest in learning more, so I will try to focus on KonMari elements that spoke to me personally and professionally.


I was hooked after the first few minutes of the first episode. What followed was interesting. I learned new ways of folding, storing, organizing, and choosing what to save. I was most struck by the idea of simplifying life. For many people, living a more simplified life seems out of reach. Marie Kondo provided me some very practical, simple, easy to implement strategies that have helped simplify so much. As a psychologist, this idea makes so much sense and helps reduce stress and anxiety.


Specifically, KonMari advocates for a “one look” strategy. This means that when we open a drawer or cabinet, we can see everything in an organized way, access items easily, and know what we have and what we don’t. This helps prevent us from purchasing items we already own (which many of us have done!).


I am really interested in seeing how this method may help parents and children. So many families report feeling overwhelmed by toys. Have you ever said or thought something like this: “but you have so many things to do choose from, why are you bored/upset/mad?” to your kids? Kids can learn to organize and fold using these strategies as well. My 4-year-old can happily help with laundry and my 18-month-old can clean up some toys according to categories. It is important for children to be a part of the day-to-day household tasks, have responsibility for their belongings, and not be entertained all day (I.e., be bored and use their imagination).


Let’s look at the importance of simplifying our bedrooms and playrooms, our schedules and agendas, and ultimately, our choices.


Personally, I have re-discovered some possessions that still bring me joy. I have felt good about donating items to organizations that help people who may be in need of just the item that no longer brings me joy. I emptied multiple storage tubs that were holding items that I don’t need, would be better as a blessing for someone else, or were not doing me much good being hidden in a tub. My oldest son helped me to label a lot of items, which helps us to identify what is what and also teaches word recognition.


Consider trying out an episode or read Marie Kondo’s book. Maybe you will discover something very helpful!

Sesame Street

Posted on January 17, 2019 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (8)

Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away. Gosh, I really like Sesame Street. Maybe it’s the Nostalgia of familiar songs (“1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10..11, 12”;) and characters. Maybe it’s the high-quality programming that provides information useful and helpful to young children. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have to worry about inappropriate ads or content when my children watch or read a Sesame Street story. Whatever it is, Sesame Street is an approved and celebrated aspect of childhood in my book.



Sesame Workshop has a meaningful way of tackling difficult and serious topics and can really make a difference with the population who views it. There are many families and children struggling with hunger and homelessness right now all over the world, including our own neighborhoods. Take a look at the https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/12/health/sesame-street-homeless-muppet-bn/index.html?utm_source=CNN+Five+Things&utm_campaign=3fa1cedc8e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_12_12_56&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6da287d761-3fa1cedc8e-86111485" target="_blank">link to learn how Sesame Street helps kids to understand and cope with this part of life.



May you always find yourself with shelter, not be hungry, and be able to make this world a bit kinder.

Let Your Heart Be Light

Posted on December 17, 2018 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (19)

Let your heart be light. What do you think of when you hear this?



If you didn’t recognize this phrase, this is a song lyric in a popular holiday song. I got to thinking about the deeper meaning of this phrase within the context of well-being.



Is your heart light? What does that mean? What does a light heart look like? How can we describe, measure, or even observe a light heart?


 

For me, my heart feels light when I am tucking my children in bed at night and when I check on them when they are sleeping. There is a special and wholesome feeling watching children sleep brings us.


 

When do you feel that your heart is light?



Notice that the lyric says “let” rather than “feel.” This word choice suggests that we have more influence over our feelings than we think. We sometimes get caught up in a problem and we forget our internal capacity to cope and make healthy choices. We choose not to experience peace and joy. We choose unhealthy thinking patterns or to let our worry thoughts define us.


 

When you feel a light heart, are your troubles indeed out of sight?


 

Perhaps we can have a light heart even when we have troubles and struggles. Our mindset can make a big difference in our day-to-day mood. Allow yourself to breath and manage stressors. Your heart may be lighter and fuller.

 

Pay attention to those warm feelings. Look for the good. Focus on your ability to handle difficult situations.



Happy holidays!

Be Thankful

Posted on November 15, 2018 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy fall to all! I hope you have taken the time to notice the beautiful and varying colors around you during this harvest season. As we approach thanksgiving and the holiday season, let us take time to experience and show gratitude for aspects of our lives we are thankful for. Maybe it’s a friend we speak to every day, or a cousin we rarely see but often think about. Perhaps we are thankful for the ability to bring our children to school, purchase a cup of coffee, or stay home from work when we are ill.

I encourage you to look for the good in the bad, the happy in the sad, and the meaning in stress.

Have a happy, healthy, and meaningful holiday season.

What Would Someone You Admire Do?

Posted on October 15, 2018 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This month, I am sharing a podcast with Dr. Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist who specializes in the use of positive psychology and has an excellent-worth-following blog.



This episode talks about the powerful thought-feeling-behavior connection- how our doing, thinking, and feeling matters. Dr. Boardman also discusses coping strategies for anxiety and how to apply meditation strategies.



I challenge you to consider these ideas:


In this moment, what would someone you admire do?


Have you been handling this situation differently?


How are your behaviors related to your thoughts?



I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Lessons from Winnie the Pooh

Posted on August 19, 2018 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (8)

If you’re ever in need of a pick-me-up, you may find one in the stories of Christopher Robin and the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We recently enjoyed a movie trip to see the new feature film (I will do my best to avoid spoilers) and loved it!

 

The movie depicts the busy, stressed out, anxious, and worried life many adults experience day to day. We easily get caught up in work responsibilities, financial worries, parenting tasks, and chores. We lose touch with our imagination, forget to rest, and overschedule our families.

 

In this movie, we learn a few valuable lessons. First, work is important, but how important is it? Pooh wonders if work is more important than a balloon (see the movie for context). Second, relaxation and self-care matters. As Pooh says, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.” And third, spend time with your family and tell them you love them unconditionally.

 

Do something fun and meaningful today! Just a tip-that may include doing nothing at all.

The Days are Long

Posted on July 17, 2018 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (8)

Happy July! This post totally snuck up on me. I can’t believe how quickly time can pass, especially as a parent.

 

I remember reading “the days are long but the years are short” (Gretchen Rubin) a few years ago and feeling impacted by this message. The days can feel so long, especially when we have so many activities to do, tasks to accomplish, people to see, and places to go.

 

As parents, we may struggle with maintaining the master schedule. We try to make sure our kids take every opportunity that comes their way and feel bad if they miss something. We arrange minute-to-minute schedules to accomplish the daily tasks of food shopping, laundry, and cooking. We say yes to extra work responsibilities. We try to find time to have our own fun, shower, and, yes, even time to use the bathroom.

 

In all of the busyness, are we savoring the moments of traveling, shopping, cleaning dirty little hands, making lists, or going to birthday parties? Are we slowing down from all of the doing and focusing on just being? Are we able to exchange one extra-curricular activity for a family game night?

 

Spend time together.

 

Right now, I am savoring this moment when my 3-year-old (as he is watching me write this) said this post was a “nice list” and when I send it to somebody they will say “wow and put it on their refrigerator.” I don’t know if you will post this on your fridge, but hopefully you will go out and enjoy the day!

 

Pay attention to those little ones.

Our Struggles Can Be Beautiful

Posted on May 21, 2018 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (16)

On most of our walks as the season changed from winter to spring, my oldest son pointed out that the leaves are "trying to grow" in the sweetest most optimistic voice. At 3 years old, our perspective may not yet be influenced by negativity from the world around us. This observation has prompted me to watch how the leaves on one of my favorite trees along our route grow. For months, the tree was barren and devoid of liveliness , as were the neighboring trees. At first, we noticed tiny yellow buds on the edges of the branches. We were surprised by all of the details they displayed and how these buds did not seem to resemble the beginning of a leaf. As the weather grew warmer and the days longer, these buds grew more and finally peaked into a large green leaf. With this, the tree became alive again.


On some days, our life may feel barren and empty. These feelings may even last a whole season. With our weather adjusting between cold and warm days, the leaves were struggling to grow- or as my 3-year-old sees it, "trying" to grow. Our struggles teach us how to harness resilience, be patient, overcome obstacles, and transform something empty into joy.



Pay attention to the details and challenges in your life. With time, resilience, self-care, and hope, they may develop into something beautiful.

Everything is Fine

Posted on March 20, 2018 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (29)

"Everything is fine." How many of us hope for everything to be fine?


The TV series The Good Place invites us in with this phrase right away. We find ourselves yearning for things to be fine, to have everything going well, and to not deal with sickness, anxiety, depression, or anger.


If you haven't watched The Good Place yet, consider catching up before reading this post I am sharing below, as there are significant spoilers. I have really enjoyed this series- it will get you thinking, feeling, and laughing.


If you're like me and find yourself curious about the science behind "everything is fine" and the struggles of life, then read on. This link shares a very interesting peek at the world of goodness and evil.



Enjoy!


https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_the_good_place_says_about_good_evil?utm_source=Greater+Good+Science+Center&utm_campaign=b3401ffd33-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_GG_Newsletter_Jan+31+2018&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5ae73e326e-b3401ffd33-50850427" target="_blank">What "The Good Place" Says About Good and Evil

Healthy Nutrition: Focus on Eating Disorders

Posted on February 19, 2018 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (6)

Caring for ourselves is very important. When we struggle with self-care, it not only hurts ourselves, but the people we care for as well. Have you ever felt like you were trying to do so much that you were actually ineffective?


There are many different aspects of self-care. This month, I am focusing on one aspect-nutrition and healthy eating.

I am sharing this blog post, republished with permission from my sister who is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. Please share this information with your loved ones and seek help if there is a concern. I hope for a healthy lifestyle for all.


https://www.stateofbalancementalhealthcounseling.com/blog/snapshot-of-the-different-eating-disorders" target="_blank">Snapshot of the Different Eating Disorders

Unfortunately, society and the school systems typically fail to properly educate on the topic of Eating Disorders. As a society, we are terribly misinformed and under-informed. Health classes typically breeze over the topic in a 40-minute period, if that, or in 5 textbook pages that are glanced over. Furthermore, most health classes explain different Eating Disorders in language that is very misleading. I hear so many of my clients complain about the frustrations they’ve felt when their health teacher teaches that people who have Anorexia simply starve themselves and don’t eat anything at all. This is, in fact, untrue. If a person doesn’t eat for any significant period of time, they will die. If people with Anorexia never eat, how is it possible that they may be struggling with this disorder for years, and still be alive? Now, why does this matter? It matters because our adolescents and young adults are so susceptible to eating and body issues, and if our teachers are explaining these disorders without giving due diligence to the topic, our young people then come to believe that they don’t have a problem, when they do. The consequences then become them continuing to struggle, not reaching out, and getting to a place much further along in their Eating Disorder, simply because they thought they didn’t have a problem, because they were educated in such a way to believe they did not. Now, I want to make it clear that I am not blaming the school systems or our teachers for the misinformation or not spending enough time on this. I simply would like to put this information out there in a simplified, yet straight-forward way. I’ll give a small snapshot of each disorder so that it can begin to correct the misconceptions we have been taught in our society:

-Anorexia Nervosa: This is marked by the intense fear of gaining weight. A person will severely restrict their food intake to a caloric intake that is below what really is necessary for the body to function optimally. Many times, this will lead to a significant drop in weight in a small window of time. However, it is important to note that you do not need to be underweight to have Anorexia. This is one of the biggest barriers to seeking treatment that many people have since they feel they are not classified as being underweight, therefore they must not have a problem.

-Bulimia Nervosa: In Bulimia, there may be periods of time where the person restricts their intake. The difference from Anorexia is that there will also be episodes of binging and purging. Purging may be done through various methods including inducing vomiting, using laxatives or over-exercising. The person with Bulimia also struggles with body image issues and fear gaining weight.

-Binge-Eating Disorder (BED): BED has 2 clear differences from the other disorders;

1: There are episodes of binge-eating, however the person does not purge and;

2: There is not a body image component. However, this does not mean that the person may not feel shame about their body, it means that they are not engaging in an act to ruthlessly avoid gaining weight such as restricting or purging.

Typically, Binge-Eaters will have episodes of binging that they will describe as mechanistic, numbing or out-of-control.

-Orthorexia: Although this one has yet to make its way into the DSM-5 as an official diagnosis, it is something that still is problematic that is hiding under the disguise of “healthy eating.” We are living in a society that is all about eating better, eating “cleaner,” and some people take this to an extreme. How does one know if it’s just a person trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle versus Orthorexia? The answer lies within their flexibility, or lack thereof. If they are never, or very rarely, willing to have a food item that may not be considered “healthy” or “clean,” they may have Orthorexia. When there is such a rigidity around healthy eating, it begins to become unhealthy. If you can never allow yourself to have regular ice cream or a meal at a normal restaurant, the quest for healthy eating may have gone too far. There’s nothing wrong with trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle, but healthy also requires flexibility. In this disorder, body image issues tend not to be the focus.

-Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): This feeding disorder looks a bit different than the rest. It is sort of the catch-all for Eating/Feeding issues that don’t have it’s own diagnoses. Some examples of how it may present itself in a person are as follows;

1: Someone can’t eat anything green because they have an aversion to the color. The aversion may have developed from a time they got sick from having a food that was green in the past. Or;

2: Someone undereats out of fear that if they eat too much, they will get sick.

While these examples are not all-inclusive, the important piece to take away is that there is some reason that the person is unable to eat all foods in a normal, healthy way, for a reason that is unrelated to body image.

-Body Dsymorphic Disorder: This one can be very tricky to understand, even for the person experiencing it. The textbook definition is a “preoccupation with a defect or a part of your body that is either slight or imagined.” For example, someone may be convinced that they have one eye that is smaller than the other, however, no one else is able to see this. The “defect” is either very slight or even imagined. As an outsider looking in, it can be difficult and frustrating to understand. What is important to remember is that that preoccupation is that person’s truth. In the example given, this person’s truth is that one eye is smaller than the other, and trying to convince them otherwise is going to be about as difficult a task as convincing me that the sky is green.

It is important to note that while these are listed as distinct disorders or issues, they typically do not look as clear cut in actuality. People may and typically will range in their problematic eating behaviors throughout their lives, if not dealt with. It is rare that you find someone who is so close to the textbook definition of solely one disorder.

One note I want to make perfectly clear is that not falling into one of these categories does NOT mean that you aren’t struggling enough to get help. You do not have to feel you have a diagnosis to need treatment. You do not have to be underweight to need treatment. You do not have to feel out-of-control to need treatment. You may feel that you struggle with eating or body image issues and find that it is interfering with your quality of life. If you feel you are struggling, treatment could be beneficial for you.

Thank you for reading, I hope this post offers some clarity and understanding! Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments either by leaving a comment or messaging me privately!

I wish you wellness on your journey to finding your State of Balance!

Hate and Love

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (33)

Any Doctor Who fans out there? My husband is a huge fan, so I've been witness to a few episodes and lots of memorabilia. I watched part of the most recent episode, which included (spoiler alert) an amazing monologue/last speech by the Doctor as he was regenerating. One of the remarkable and most memorable statements during this speech included an important concept.

"Hate is always foolish- love is always kind." 

This statement is actually paraphrased from British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel prize winner Bertrand Russell.

Hate and love are both strong words. Some may view them as opposing feelings on each extreme of the continuum of feelings about people or things.

This got me thinking. Always is also a strong word. As a psychologist trained in cognitive-behavior therapy, we are taught and teach to avoid using such definitive and absolute words such as "always" and "never" since they can be inaccurate, irrational, and unhelpful. Rarely is something always or never anything.

And yet, I find myself agreeing with the Doctor's speech.

Holding hatred is unhelpful and hurtful. Are there times when it is good to hate? We might think there are, but probably not. Forgiveness if a gift to ourselves just as much or even more-so than it is for the person we are forgiving. Sometimes, we can forgive someone without ever telling them that we have. Letting go of hate doesn't mean resuming a relationship again in the same way or continuing to get hurt. We can still change our behaviors. We just let go of the hatred. Why hold on to hate? Perhaps it really is "always foolish."

Now we get to love. Love is another powerful emotion that we experience towards our friends, family, pets, jobs, activities, and foods. We can show love to others in a variety of ways. Kindness is good. When we treat others with kindness and show them love, we usually feel good. Sometimes we feel yucky after showing love, especially when the love is not returned, but it is still kind. If we remember to keep ourselves safe and in healthy relationships, we will be able to enjoy showing love.

Let's be wise- show more love and let go of hatred...

Inner Peace

Posted on December 18, 2017 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (49)

Have you ever experienced some days where you couldn't access a moment of peace? Days of craziness, hustle and bustle, or stress?

This busy holiday season can really bring up the stress levels. While we can’t control the number of holiday event invitations we receive, the expectations of those around us, the traffic jams, the flight delays, getting sick, the change in schedules, or the weather, there is a lot that we can control.

This season (and maybe moving forward, always), we can find that inner peace during all of the phone calls, drop offs, doctor visits, gift wrapping, and traveling. The peace that hides inside while we endure stress. The peace that wants to spread outward to others.

I am going to challenge myself to experience peace throughout my day. Bringing it out, feeling it, enjoying it, and savoring it are all under my control. When we are able to feel peace, we can actually change the way we respond to situations. When we change the way we respond to situations, we influence the reactions of others and the outcome.

Looks like we have more control than we thought. I hope you find your inner peace today.

Can You See Things Differently?

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (4)

You think you have the right and best way of doing (insert activity). In fact, you insist that you know you're right and your (insert person-partner/friend/co-worker/boss/child/parent) is wrong. Where does this lead you? Usually to a disagreement, disappointment, or a feeling of being disgruntled. In reality, there is no right or wrong way. So, why do we get so hung up on seeing things from our own perspective?


The way we view the world matters. In fact, this interpretation has a direct impact on how we feel, which influences how we behave. It can feel very natural and easy to concentrate on our own perspective and not consider the perspectives of others.


In my practice, we often work on a mental stretching exercise in which we try to develop alternative explanations for the behavior of other people as well as understand a situation from another perspective. Trying to see the situation differently has a lot of benefits, including the development of cognitive restructuring skills.


Being able to see a situation from another perspective does not mean that you agree, disagree, accept or reject someone else's viewpoint. It just means that you value multiple perspectives on an issue and can expand your thinking. You may ultimately decide that your original opinion is still best for you, but you may be more compassionate towards the other person. Sometimes you will amend or change your viewpoint by incorporating other perspectives.


To illustrate this, consider the following situation. You are standing in line at the supermarket and perceive that the cashier is moving too slowly scanning your items for you. Your first thoughts attribute this slowness for lack of skill or caring for the job. This results in frustration, negative judgment, and a potentially not so nice interaction. When you consider alternatives from the cashier's perspective, you can develop the following options that the cashier 1- cares very much about their job that they don’t want to make a mistake; 2-love their work and enjoy going slowly; 3- just got yelled at by their supervisor for making a mistake; 4- dealt with an aggravated customer earlier who said the cashier bagged too quickly and broke their glass jar of sauce; 5- they don't feel well; 6- they do not in fact care about their job; 7- they have a physical disability. You may be able to come up with even more possibilities. In doing this, you are expanding your viewpoints and cognitive abilities and may even be kinder both to yourself as well as the other person.


Challenge yourself today. Try to see things differently. Try for even a moment to be in someone else's position. You may learn a lot about yourself and your world.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (16)

May is Mental Health Awareness month. My goal for this month is to bring attention to the importance of our mental health.


Our well-being is important to monitor, develop, and take care of. Have you ever noticed when you feel irritable that you may be negatively impacting your friends, family, or co-workers around you? Our well-being affects the well-being of others.


Self-care is not selfish, but rather a necessary and important aspect of caring for and loving ourselves and others. We can only care for others when we have cared for ourselves. This may seem counterintuitive to many of you, but think about how much better you are able to help your children complete their morning routines, rock that work presentation, or spend meaningful time with your significant other when you are well-rested compared to when you are sleep deprived.


In my practice, I often reference the emergency instructions providedwhen flying. If the oxygen masks are released, parents should put the mask on themselves before their child. As a parent, this seems very counterintuitive and unnatural. Take care of myself before my child? The important point to remember is that by taking care of the grown-up first, we can better care for the child. If we pass out or get injured, how can we help our child then?


Practice some self-care this month. Read up on well-being and having a healthy mindset. Our mental health matters.

Permanent Decisions and Temporary Feelings

Posted on April 17, 2017 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (35)

Have you ever said something and then almost immediately regretted it? Most, if not all, of us have been there are at one point or another in our lives. When we get down to the basics of this experience, we learn that we let our feelings dictate our actions. In other words, we let a temporary state make a permanent decision for us.


Our emotions can be experienced so intensely at times. We feel so angry at our spouse for forgetting to take out the garbage again. We feel scared that the darkness while driving will be too much to handle. We feel sad that our friend cancelled plans on us. And so we yell at our spouse, or avoid driving at night, or mope around the house the entire weekend.


These actions are hard to undo or take back, and often leave a permanent mark on ourselves or someone else. Handled a different way, the feeling would have passed and our choices would have been much less detrimental to those around us.


We have more power than we think. Our feelings are temporary. They will go away. Why make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling?


This month, I am challenging you to respond with grace, respect, love, hope, and self-care. Use your problem solving skills and think of an alternate solution. Remember, all feelings are ok. What you do with them is what matters.

This is Us

Posted on March 13, 2017 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (4)

*Spoiler alert* This month's post is about a TV show, This is Us, on NBC that premiered this fall. If you have not seen the show, consider watching the first episode and see if you connect. The remainder of this post may spoil some of the plot for you (I tried not to be very specific), so proceed at your own risk...


Ok, so I am hooked. This is Us has successfully tapped into multiple elements of the meaningful life. The real meaningful life, not a fairy tale. We explore interesting family dynamics, we dig deep into the backgrounds of secondary characters, we cry with grief, we suffer with anxiety, we are surprised practically every episode as the story unfolds, we laugh with appreciation, and we journey together in the complications that make us, well, us.


Some of the recent episodes have highlighted the role of anxiety and panic on both the individual and family. We learn about a drive for perfection, competition, pain with loss, and stress-induced panic. We learn that we may feel differently on the inside from what we portray on the outside. We see the impact of anxiety on family and the impact of family on anxiety.


This is Us shines a bright light on themes of adoption, of disease, of second chances, and of diving into life with a zest that is unshakable. We learn about anger, frustration, fear, and forgiveness.


We learn about loss. We really learn about loss. But we also learn about resilience. In one of my favorite lines so far, taken from the first episode, we learn how this family took "the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade." Excuse me while I retrieve my box of tissues...


This is Us explores so many psychological concepts. We dig into resilience, adoption, stress, illness, grief, pain, panic, anxiety, joy, relationships, divorce, re-connecting, and addiction. I am eagerly awaiting what other themes we will explore. After all, this is us too.

THINK Before You Speak

Posted on February 13, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (3)

We've all been there. Someone has said something without really thinking about what they said. The words used could have been hurtful, embarrassing, careless, lies, impulsive, or revealing. We likely have experience being the speaker as well as the receiver. We likely have witnessed an emotion such as anger or anxiety speaking through a person rather than the rational mind. We wish we could take back what we said. We wish we could have not heard what was shared. Yes, we have all been there.


How many times have we heard or told people to think before we/they speak? Probably many. This is easier said than done. While expanding on my learning recently, I came across a very helpful acronym that breaks down exactly what we can do to think before we speak. As soon as I learned of it, I immediately knew this was to be the topic this month. It is so important for us to know. I do not know of the original source, but whoever it is- thank you!


Here is how we can T.H.I.N.K. before we speak:

T - is it True?

H - is it Helpful?

I - is it Inspiring?

N - is it Necessary?

K - is it Kind?


Before we use our words, we can ask ourselves these 5 questions. My hope is for you to be an effective communicator, maintain and repair relationships, and use your words to build others up rather than tear them down. Try it and see how you feel.