Author Archives: Marcy

About Marcy

Writer. Child advocate. Counselor. Wine taster. Coffee drinker. Tea maker. Wannabe ukulele player whose life is ruled by a tiny furball.

6 Tips for a Less Stressed Holiday Season

Standard

christmas-1911637_1920.jpgNovember is upon us. Holiday decor has filled our local shops even before Halloween costumes hung on the racks. With the advent of November, the holiday season begins in earnest.

The stretch between November 1 and January 1 tends to be the busiest and most stressful time of the year. Shopping, company parties, family get-togethers, can be difficult to navigate.

Monitor your expectations

It’s easy to get carried away with a fantasy of the “perfect” holiday gathering. Take some time to evaluate what is realistic to expect of yourself and your family. Consider adjusting timing or size of holiday gatherings to reduce stress.

Set limits

Spend some time looking ahead at your calendar. Work and home obligations continue during this season. Considering limiting holiday events to one or two per week to keep them manageable.

Plan self-care

While your calendar is out, schedule your self-care including exercise, massage, and evenings at home. Stick to your schedule when invitations for holiday gatherings arrive, decline those that conflict with your self-care plan.

Don’t overindulge

Holiday parties and employee break rooms can be hazardous places during the holidays. Enjoy treats from time to time, but don’t overindulge. Excess sugar and alcohol make you feel sluggish and interferes with sleep.

Buy experiences, not things

Things tend to accumulate and create clutter. Consider investing in experiences with your family. Buy movie tickets, museum passes, or concert tickets as gifts that you can enjoy with your friends and family after the holiday season.

Do something for someone less fortunate

Take time to think outside of your circle of friends and family. Buy gifts for children living in poverty and donate to local organizations, serve a meal at a soup kitchen, donate gift cards for gas or groceries to your local church to distribute to those in need.

Advertisements

Life is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Standard

Galen Rupp won the Chicago Marathon on October 8, 2017. Rupp is an accomplished athlete having competed for the University of Oregon and the United States Olympic Track and Field teams.

 

Galen Rupp

Galen Rupp of the United States wins the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Chicago. –The Associated Press

 

I am not a runner, however, I am fascinated by the minds and lives of people who run. So many of the runners that I know are independent, determined, positive, and future thinking. The parallels between training for a big run and living life are endless.

Pace Yourself

“In a marathon, if you run too fast, you get exhausted. If you run too slow, you never make it.” ~ Uday Kotak

We only have this moment in time. If we hurry through it, we miss out on the experience, the memory. Be mindful of the moment and allow yourself to savor it before moving on.

“The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” ~Unknown

This Too Shall Pass

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” ~Albert Einstein

Painful moments are just moments. Tap into your wells of resilience and stamina. Reach out to supportive friends and family members when life gets tough. The act of giving up is not the same as pausing or resting. Giving up means not only starting over again, but having to rekindle the motivation. Stay the course and you will reach your goals in time.

Talk to Yourself Positively

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” ~ George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Use affirmations to remind yourself that you can get through the difficult times. “I’m okay, right now.” or “I can do this.” are simple reminders that can carry you through times when you feel like you cannot go any further. Positive thinking increases energy and allows us to continue forward despite struggle.

“With the spirit of endurance, we shall strive in any situation.” ~ Lailah Gifty Akita

Set Goals

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”  ~ Pablo Picasso

Set achievable goals for yourself, then attain them. Once you’ve attained your goals set new goals. Goals keep us moving forward, but only if they stretch us and are achievable. If you set goals that you cannot accomplish in a timely manner, you set yourself up to fail.

Set goals for every area of your life. Consider a career goal, a health goal, and a relationship goal. Start small and create a plan that will guide you to the completion of your goal.

Rest and Recover

“The best of all medicines are resting and fasting.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

Take time regularly to rest and recover. Runners training for races take breaks in their schedule.  On a daily basis, this can be as simple as reading for 30 minutes in the evening or going for a walk. Plan time in your week to ride your bike, spend the day at the beach, or take a hike in the mountains. Plan a big trip once or twice a year to allow yourself to completely disconnect and recharge. Resting will allow your mind and body to become stronger and increases endurance.

woodland-656969_1920.jpg

Between the Miles

I have always counted the miles.

Sometimes they came quick,

Other times slow.

The distance between things,

The way I could know.

Close could feel far,

And far could feel near.

The miles that passed too quickly,

The ones I ran out of fear.

They weren’t all the same,

So I had been told,

The unmarked trails,

And the days I was bold.

Some miles went down,

Spiraling so low,

When I was afraid to look forward,

There was nowhere to go.

The sunset came fast,

And the day turned to night,

But the trails could be endless,

If I looked at them right.

Everything I knew,

All I was told,

The conversations left behind,

The people who grew old.

When the miles stretched out before me,

I wanted to sew them at the seam,

Looking forward and then back,

Holding everything in between.

~ Jacqueline Simon Gunn

7 Tips for Talking to Children About Mass Shootings

Standard

With great sadness I read of another mass shooting. 58 people have been confirmed dead and hundreds more were injured in the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday, October 1, 2017. As adults, it’s difficult to understand the hows and the whys of these events. For children, it’s even more difficult.

Young children, under the age of 8, have a difficult time differentiating between fact and fiction on screens including television, computers, smartphones, and game systems.

Children over the age of 9 have greater understand, but when overexposed to information about shootings and other traumatic events are at risk for developing anxiety, depression, anger, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Below are 7 tips for talking to children about mass shootings and traumatic events.

1. Limit exposure to news.

If possible, do not allow children under the age of 9 to watch the news.

If older children are watching news, make a point of watching with them. Take time to help them express their thoughts and feelings about the information. Provide additional information from a calm, adult perspective. Point out positive media images if appropriate.

Engage children in non-news related activities: Watch movies on DVD, play board games, go for bike rides, go to the park.

2. Reassure children that they are cared for and safe.

Remind them that there are more good people in the world then bad. Encourage them to make a list of all of the supportive people in their lives.

3. Validate their feelings.

Let them know that it is okay to be sad or scared, but they are and will be okay.

4. Identify ways to give back.

Doing something productive can help manage feelings. Encourage children to write a letter of encouragement to the injured, collect soda cans and donate the proceeds to a medical fund to help victims, or other ideas that they may generate.

5. Check in with them periodically.

Ask children if they have any questions. Be sure to let them know that you are open to talking more if they want.

6. Monitor adult conversations.

Children hear more than adults realize and can often misunderstand adult reactions to traumatic events. Have adult conversations in private spaces where you cannot be overheard. If a child overhears part of a conversation, be open and honest about your feelings while continuing to reassure the child of their safety.

Some indicators that your child needs professional help includes:

  • Persistent worry or anxiety about their safety or the of their friends and family.
  • Continuing to focus on thoughts of the incident, including seeking out news information, talking about the event, or drawing pictures of the event.
  • Significant changes in behavior including inattentiveness, irritability, sleeping too much or too little, lack of appetite, etc.
  • Persistent headaches or stomachaches.
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds.

On Being or Acting As If

Standard

Or, fake it until you make it.

Change is difficult.

cocoon-591554_1920

Smoothing out old patterns and creating new pathways doesn’t happen overnight. But is there danger in faking it? Yes, and no.

When we use affirmations, we affirm statements that are how we want life to be.

“I am healthy, strong, and fit.”

We may not be there, but our affirmation is pulling us that direction. We are working towards being.

When we act “as if” we can allow ourselves the opportunity to grow into our desired behavior. Putting on your running shoes and running around the block can begin to move you closer to being a runner.

However, acting as if can create significant cognitive dissonance when the acting is not being followed up by doing. Cognitive dissonance can become strong motivation to work harder at being more authentic. Ignored, it can develop into shame and manifest depression and anxiety.

Think back to the CBT triangle.

cbt-triangle

Stating that “I am a runner” when putting on shoes each day, but only walking as far as the kitchen for potato chips can create feelings of defeat, despair and disappointment and drive thoughts of insecurity.

Acting as if can be healthy if there is truly action behind it. In this same scenario, the client puts on their shoes and runs around the block each day. Each time they run, they increase their stamina and experience feelings of accomplishment. They begin to run a little further and positive emotions and thoughts increase about their move towards becoming a runner. Soon, they are no longer acting as if, but are firmly entrenched in being. They are a runner.

Take time to reflect on what you want to manifest in your life. Are you on the road to being? Or, are you just acting as if?

Dealing with Emotions: An Analogy

Standard

imageSometimes you don’t want to deal with emotions.

Sometimes you need to wait until you have more time to process.

Sometimes you hope that they will just go away.

Waiting until you have time alone to think things through or holding onto the emotions to share at your next counseling appointment can be a healthy option. Stuffing emotions down and ignoring them long-term can make them even harder to deal with and create more problems.

Unprocessed emotions are like leftovers. After dinner, you can carefully pack them away in the Tupperware and place in the refrigerator, but at some point you will have to take care of them.

If you deal with the leftovers within a day or two, it’s easy to handle. But the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to manage and will take more work to sort out.

If you really try to ignore the leftovers, push them to the back of the refrigerator and “forget” about them for a month, the task of dealing with them becomes awful. The leftovers become rotten. They are smelly, slimey, and hairy. Taking care of them takes more work and effort.

So, shall we deal with it now, or later?

Total Eclipse of Life

Standard

 

solar-eclipse-1115920_1920.jpg

Oregon is in the path of totality, which sounds ominous. Discussion of the impending eclipse has ranged from a party-like excitement to a deep wariness.

There are many situations in life that bring untimely darkness, much like the upcoming solar eclipse. The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or losing a job are just a few of the events that create a shadow in our lives, effectively blocking out the light.

Yet, just as the moon passes over the sun for just a few moments, so do these dark moments in life pass. They fade away and the light returns to our lives once again.

But even during totality, that darkest moment, the corona of the sun is still visible. Planets including Venus and Jupiter will glow in the twilight sky along with the star, Sirius. There is light, even in the darkest places.

So often we believe that this loss or that failure will create a permanent dark void in our lives and that we may never recover. Yet given time, hearts heal, new relationships develop, job opportunities appear, and the light returns. And, if we are paying attention when we are lost in the dark, we will see the bright lights of our family, friends and other supports guiding us back into the light..

In every darkness, there’s a light.

In every struggle, there’s a way.

In every faith, there is a hope.

~Anmol Andore

6 Actions to Increase Self-Love

Standard

identity-795295_1920.jpg

Self-love can be a difficult thing to find when you have spent your life feeling “less than.” A history of traumatic events can lead a person to erect a concrete wall around their heart. Love for others is difficult, but love of self can become nearly impossible.

Short of breaking out a jack hammer, how do we overcome the negative thoughts and emotions that hold us back from loving ourselves?

Get to know yourself

Who are you really? What do you like? What are you really good at? Imagine all the questions that you would ask a person you’ve just met and want to get to know better.

I am a writer, a therapist, a sister, a traveler, and an activist. I am friendly, funny, curious and sometimes silly. I like coffee (and tea), fluffy dogs, and the beach. I love camping in the woods and luxurious high rise hotel rooms.

Take responsibility for your life

Wherever you are today is where you are today. While you cannot change what has happened to you in the past, you can take full responsibility for the choices you make today. Your decisions today are not the fault of your parents, teachers and others that shaped your early life.

Begin a path of healing by seeking out respected therapists, clergy, or healers who can support you in taking responsibility. Create a circle of friends who will hold you accountable to your choices.

Set and maintain clear boundaries

Loving yourself means protecting yourself. Teach others how to treat you by setting clear boundaries. Practice saying “no” to events, activities, or requests for help that don’t fit in your schedule or interfere with self-care or important relationships.

Nurture yourself

Most children have caring adults devoted to cuddle, nurse, teach, and play with them. These loving adult relationships fill the heart and nurture the soul. As an adult, the responsibility to receive nurturing falls on you.

Create a list of enjoyable and soothing activities to try. Some ideas? Take a walk early in the morning before the neighborhood wakes up, slip into a warm bath with scented bath salts, savor a piece of dark chocolate alongside your favorite coffee, or slip into your favorite pajamas and fluffy socks before curling up on the couch to read.

Manage your health

Taking time to manage your health creates more time to enjoy your life. Loving yourself includes taking yourself to the doctor and dentist, taking medications on time, eating healthy foods, and getting adequate physical activity.

Create personal affirmations

Like anything else, learning to love ourselves is a process. Affirmations are a beautiful way to help us remain focused on the path we have chosen. Create your affirmation by thinking about what you want to manifest in your life.

Not sure where to start? Spend some time writing in your journal about how you want your life to be. While you are working on your own personal affirmation, practice one of these:

  • I am deserving of love.
  • I am at peace with my past and enjoy a life of balance and harmony.
  • I love myself; I am growing and healing everyday.

Several years ago, I spent a day writing a personal affirmation. I had been on a retreat that inspired me to accept myself and begin to thrive. Each year since, I have revised the affirmation so that it continues to be my guide. Below is my current version:

My life is an adventure and I seek new experiences.

I do not put off doing something until “later.”

I live my life to the fullest everyday.

I am healthy, beautiful and fit: I spend time doing rather than watching.

I am a warrior: I control the direction of my life.

I can accomplish what I set out to do.

I love myself and deserve to be treated well.

6 Ways to Survive the Dog Days of Summer

Standard

sun-622740_1920.jpgAugust has arrived and brought extreme heat to the Pacific Northwest. We are not accustomed to triple digit temperatures in this region of the country. There is evidence that extreme temperatures can affect mood, and high heat can increase aggression. According to research, intergroup conflicts increase by 14% while interpersonal violence increases 4% during peak heat cycles.

So, how do you keep your cool when heat strikes?

  1. Slow Down – Reduce the number of tasks and appointments to the minimum to allow time to move from task to task at an easy pace. Rushing increases stress and body temperature.
  2. Stay Inside – If you are particularly sensitive to heat, stay in as much as possible. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, keep shades and curtains closed, avoiding upper floors as much as possible. Remember heat rises.
  3. Drink Plenty of Fluids – We all need water for health benefits, but during hot weather we need extra fluids to replace what is lost through perspiration. Avoid dehydrating beverages such as caffeinated drinks and alcohol and increase consumption of water and iced herbal teas.
  4. Wear White – Wear white or lighter colored clothing which reflects the heat instead of black or darker shades which tend to absorb the heat.
  5. Eat Lightly – Eat smaller portions more frequently through the day to reduce strain on digestion. Avoid eating large meals.
  6. Cool Down Fast – Even with good intentions, we can sometimes over do it and end up overheated. To cool down fast, apply ice packs, cool compresses or cold water to the pulse spots on your body which brings down the temperature of your blood vessels and lowers your overall body temperature. Areas of focus included the neck, inner wrists, back of knees, ankles, top of feet, temples, inside bend of elbows, and inner thighs.

The impact of weather on mood can be reduced significantly by being flexible. Have backup plans for activities to do inside on hot days such as going to the movies or engaging in hobbies. Or, plan water related activities such as swimming or going to the beach and save hiking for the more temperate days.

Stay Mentally Healthy

Standard

Some great ideas for staying mentally healthy!

Discovering Your Happiness

In this modern day and age we are constantly thrown into situations that require us to invest the majority of our time in order to have success. The crazy day to day lives that people are leading these days can result in serious health problems. Lack of sleep, high levels of contact stress, and no down-time are often contributors. It is so important to manage your time properly and make sure that even when you are working hard, your health does not end up suffering.

Here are 6 tips on staying healthy with a hectic schedule.

Follow these and you will enjoy a more balanced, positive and overall healthier work life!

1.Don’t Compromise on Sleep

If you really want to make sure your health does not suffer because of your routine, you should try your best to get as much sleep as possible. A common mistake that people make is that they…

View original post 697 more words

Embracing Radical Self-Acceptance

Standard

You are beautiful.png

One of my favorite DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) concepts is Radical Acceptance. It speaks to accepting something as it is, right now. Radical Acceptance reminds me of the title of an old movie ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.”  It’s about letting go, not fighting against what is, and allowing things to be as they are.

Self-acceptance is like that. Letting go of shame, judgement, and self-doubt and embracing tolerance, trust, and forgiveness is the work of self-acceptance. It is recognizing that I cannot do everything or be everything to every person around me. It is allowing myself to live in the moment and know that I am doing the best that I am able right now.

Celebrate You

Acknowledging your strengths balances out your perceived flaws. For example, I can relish my creativity and still recognize that I am not gifted in other areas. GPS maps were made for myself and others who are perpetually directionally challenged. Create your own list of your strengths, skills and character traits and begin to celebrate how these shape your life.

Turn Off Your Inner Critic

We all have a running soundtrack in our heads. The inner critic has absorbed every negative thing that has been said to us or about us. At any time, the inner critic can pull up words or images from years ago to “prove” that we are not enough. Prepare yourself with your own arsenal of positive self-talk starting with your list of strengths. Use affirmations to center yourself and stay in the moment.

Surround Yourself With Love and Acceptance

Take an inventory of the people in your inner circle. Who do you spend the most time with? Does your support system include people who love and accept you? Who are the most loving and kind people you know? Reach out to these people and strengthen those relationships.

Affirm Yourself

I am wholly wonderful. I do not have to be perfect for others to love me or to love myself. I accept myself as I am now, as I was yesterday, and as I will be tomorrow. I acknowledge my imperfections and am thankful for the journey I am on as I seek to love, trust, and accept myself more deeply each day.

 

Note: This post is part of the 2017 Kindness Challenge.