Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's Not the Number of Breaths We Take...

This was written by the comedian, George Carlin. It places in perspective, what are the most important things in life.

"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too  fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. 
Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it  doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away."

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and joyous 2013.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dealing With Grief at the Holidays

We, as a nation, are recovering this year from a series of painful and tragic events. Some may also be experiencing their own personal losses. The holidays  may also magnify those that are lacking or suffering therefore triggering guilt in people. These feelings of grief might inhibit the joyful expectations and excitement for the holidays making it more difficult to cope.

The Grief Process is a combination of several emotions such as Denial, Anger, Regret, Guilt, and Sadness. How we experience grief is due to many factors such as amount of time, affiliation/connection to the loss, religious beliefs, and cultural issues. Here are some suggestions of ways to cope that might be helpful :

 - Treat yourself with 'TLC' (tender loving care). Don't overextend yourself or become overwhelmed. Ask others to help with preparations and tasks. 

- Graciously limit or turn down invitations from people or situations that may cause heartbreak.

- Respectfully communicate your needs to others.

- Allow yourself to leave any situation that triggers painful feelings.
- Some people start a new tradition to honor the memory of a loved one and allow for the expression of loving feelings.

- Employ self-care through relaxation and stress reduction techniques as in exercising, hot baths, listening to soothing music, reading a favorite book, tending to a garden, getting a massage, sipping a cup of hot tea, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy meals.

- Refrain from the overuse of food, alcohol, sleep medications, sugar and sweets as they may make you feel depressed and fragile.

- Seek out the comfort of your support system or attend therapy or grief support groups. 

- Give yourself the gift of self-acceptance – your body, mind, mistakes, needs/wants, decisions and feelings.

It is true that, with time and the employment of healthy coping skills, healing will occur. As they say, it is no accident that the first 4 letters in Health are Heal.            

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Mental Illness That Effects Us All

'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother'

This heartbreaking article illustrates the gap in the Mental Health system. This boy in the article is now of the age where his mother has no legal control. (That is for the people who acknowledge their child has a problem with mental illness. I worked in Special Education where many parents refused to accept their child was mentally ill even after the teachers and schools tried to tell them they had problems. There is also a lack of and a vague understanding of what constitutes mental illness and what is being odd, peculiar and eccentric.) 

After 18 years old, he does not have to comply if he does not want to... include being made to go to a psychiatrist/therapy, take or comply to medication, and go to and remain in a facility due to 'patient's rights'. Therapy does not cure severe mental illness. Patients Rights were established that gave all the power of care to the patient. The only way he can be held is if he commits a crime. He is legally able to go 'AMA' (against medical advice). Then there is the 'who pays for it' problem. The States closed the residential mental hospitals down. Mental hospitals will only keep them on a temporary basis as insurance does not cover long-term care. If they have no insurance, they are out there floating around. We are not always talking mentally deficient people, we are talking very bright people who can 'look' and 'talk' like they are sane to hide it. Look at the UniBomber and the Batman shooter in CO. This is the 'Mental Health gap'. What we see in all of these from the Senator shooter through this latest, I believe is Schizophrenia, a personality disorder and state of psychosis that can be genetic or induced by drugs. Symptoms tend to increase in late teens/early twenties. This is why taking guns away does not solve the bigger problem. The Unibomber used bombs. I hope this does not upset you as that is not my intention. This is just my opinion on the matter as a Mental Health provider in the trenches.

'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother'
Written by Liza Long, republished from The Blue Review Friday's horrific national tragedy -- the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut -- has ignited a new discussion on violence in America.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Use equal parts of:           

Blend with much Understanding and lots of Forgiveness. 
Bake continuously in the oven of Commitment and Trust.
Baste often and liberally with a Sense of Humor.
Serve with plenty of Communication in a Problem-Solving atmosphere.
( Especially good when shared with loving family and friends. )

Note:   This is a tricky recipe that requires careful attention and the participation of both cooks.  When it falls flat, check all ingredients and increase amounts as needed. Prepare it often for best results.

If both cooks cannot perfect recipe, see a marriage counselor for recipe alterations.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Yourself and Your Child 

It can't be bought in a store, it doesn't come in various colors, and one size fits all. It is the key to mental health, learning and happiness. It is the armor that protects us from the dragons in life, and it is our largest task as parents. If you as a parent don't pass it on, your child has a high probability of failing in life. The gift is self-esteem.  

Self-esteem is defined as appreciating one's own worth and importance, and having the character to be accountable for one's self and act responsibly towards others. Self-esteem evolves through the quality of the relationships between children and those important in their lives. Children learn who they are from words, attitudes and nonverbal messages given to them. 

Low self-esteem comes from rejection, conditional love or no love, threats, lack of attention, emotional or physical neglect or abuse, perfectionism, and comparison to others. Also included are put-downs, name-calling, ridicule, humiliation, judgment, criticism, discouragement, disrespect, prejudice, resentment, needs not being met, stress, and focusing on externals (appearances, behavior, performance). When children experience this kind of treatment, they conclude that they are not important, good enough, or okay. That becomes their truth they carry with them throughout  life.

High self-esteem comes from attention, acceptance, respect, love, honesty, 
affectionate and appropriate touch, having their needs taken seriously, honoring 
their uniqueness, and having choices. Also needed is encouragement, support, appreciation, high and reasonable expectations, being listened to and understood, safety, a sense of personal power, a feeling of connectedness to others, being responsible, having a meaning in life, being healthy and fit, forgiveness, gratitude, and play. With a high sense of self-esteem, a child that is challenged by negative influences has more of a chance of overcoming and surviving. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Forgiveness : How to Let Go and Move Forward

How many of us have felt we were 'wronged' and think that person does not deserve our forgiveness? I am sure most of us could write a list of people and situations that we hang onto tightly to protect us from dealing with the pain and fear of vulnerability.

Forgiveness : let’s clarify what forgiveness is not. To forgive is not to excuse, justify, pardon or condone what someone else did. Furthermore, forgiveness does not mean that you reconcile with this person or that you invite him or her back into your life. Sometimes the person has passed on and that door is forever closed. The purpose of forgiveness is to free yourself from the negative thoughts and emotions that so often accompany a grudge. A great deal of research suggests that there are negative consequences for those who find it difficult to forgive. 

A lack of forgiveness is often accompanied by resentment, which is associated with feelings of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, people who are less forgiving are more likely to be unhappy, pessimistic, neurotic and have illnesses due to repressed anger. On the other hand, forgiving people are more likely to be happy, calmer, optimistic and physically healthy due to a healthier immune system.

But such benefits can take time. One study demonstrated that emotionally abused women who participated in forgiveness therapy experienced greater self-esteem and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. I, personally, held weekly therapy groups over a 4 month time span at a battered women's shelter where I planted the message that the best revenge is letting go and moving on to a better life without the anchor of the memories of abuse. None of these women returned to abusers because they learned they were worth more than their previous fate.

True forgiveness can be one of the most difficult things you ever do.  The pure act of forgiveness should have NO STRINGS ATTACHED. Through hard work and perseverance, the benefits are more than worth it. Here are some recommendations for this process:

Remember when you were forgiven/walking in their shoes - If you are having trouble forgiving someone, recall a time where you were in the opposite situation—a time when someone else was hesitant to forgive you. Put yourself in the shoes of this person. Why did he/she forgive you? Did you deserve it? What would your life be like if they never did? What would their life be like if they still held a grudge against you? How did it hurt you if they refused to forgive you? Remember that one day you may need to be forgiven again, and someone else will be in the same position you are in now. If you would hope to be forgiven, it’s right to do the same for others and extend the same courtesy.

Write a letter (whether you mail it to them or not, can also be done in your journal) - You may not feel comfortable directly contacting the person who wronged you, and that’s okay. Nonetheless, you may benefit greatly from writing a letter detailing what happened, how you felt about it, and what you wish he or she would have done instead. Finally, do your best to express forgiveness and understanding toward that person regardless of the outcome.  Think carefully about whether you should actually send the letter -- when in doubt, wait a while longer. There are some doors best left closed or, at least, modified.

Putting the act into perspective - What actually happened? Was the person aware of the deep impact they had on you? Did you play some part in the interaction? Was it a miscommunication or a non-malicious act? Was this person acting in accordance to their personality style? Is your hurt coming from your own 'stuff' of which they have no knowledge? Are your expectations of them out of reason? What purpose is our anger serving us? Are we really dealing with the inability to forgive ourselves?  Does the punishment of not forgiving them fit the crime? 

Clinging onto the past can just bring on more of the same - Ever asked yourself why you feel stuck in your life? Are you stuck in the same patterns that bring the same pain? Is the inability of letting go of the past keeping you from a happier future? Is it time to shed the old ways to become a lighter, happier you?

You may be tempted to hold on to anger and bitterness like an old, faded photograph as a form of protection from the rawness of the pain of vulnerability. Without it, there will be nothing to remind you of what happened and why it was wrong. However, you need to ask yourself a simple question: does this make you happy? Does it really feel good to have hard feelings toward someone day after day, year after year? Imagine what life would be like if you let those hard feelings go. Do you remember what it feels like to not have such a heavy burden on your shoulders? If not, its time to find out. 

Ultimately, forgiveness will set you free. There will still be hard days when the memories come back and the hard feelings resurface. But if you make the conscious choice to forgive what took place, your life will be forever changed. Your hard heart will soften and you will see the world differently. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness and see for yourself the peace that awaits you in your new life.