Stress Resilience Workshops: When Events Change Your Life

I am inspired in 2018 to launch Whole Wellness Stress Resilience Workshops for anyone going through something.  We are all going through something or coming out of something that is life changing at any given time.  I am coming out of 10 years of private practice with Whole Wellness Counseling and a massive amount of learning and growth.  In reading "The Book of Joy, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World" by Douglas Abrams actually twice over the fall I have become more resilient in my daily life.  I have practiced mindfulness meditation and Yoga since the early 90s, and I genuinely did not get it for myself until last year that what I have been doing in my practice over the last 10 years is helping my clients to become more resilient to life.  I love working individually, but I look forward to sharing my wisdom with groups and watching the magic of a group at play.  

Stress resilience accepts that life is stressful and change is hard.  Stress resilience accepts that even the most positive life change involves grief and stress.  Stress resilience does not eliminate or deny adversity or painful loss.  Stress resilience embraces adversity and change as a building block necessary for personal and professional growth.  Stress resilience is training for a balanced and meaningful life. 

I am offering a FREE 2 hour introductory workshop that you can register for on my website.  When we are done with this workshop you will understand what stress is and how stress impacts the mind, body, emotions, relationships, and spirit and you will target and identify what your stress is all about. 

You will explore your story, and perhaps begin re-telling it. 

You will leave with strategies and tools ready to implement to begin your journey into a more stress resilient life.  I will incorporate mindfulness based stress reduction techniques with cognitive behavioral strategies to guide participants through exercises to create stress resilience.  

Please share this post and the workshop information with friends, colleagues, and family members who may benefit.  I look forward meeting you!

Anxiety and boundaries during the holidays..

Do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you think about the holidays?  Are there family members that push your buttons and leave you feeling emotionally drained and exhausted?  Most holiday stress comes from our expectations and our relationships.  Do you feel disconnected or driven to drink more than usual during the holidays.  Many of us do.  In my practice, boundary setting is central to anxiety that my clients experience. 

Learning how to hold boundaries with love is a life long process and journey for most of us.  If you love deeply, then you have boundary issues.  If someone in your family is sick or has a disability or chronic illness, then you have boundary issues.  If someone in your family marries or divorces you have boundary issues.  If someone in your family has a baby you have boundary issues.  When families change, and change is constant, we all experience boundary issues in our relationships which has an impact on our expectations of ourselves and eachother.  

Expectations are the second pillar of stress during the holidays, and inherent with expectations are boundaries.  What do you expect from others during the holidays?  Are you a perfectionist?  Do you spend hours on Pintrest or shopping to find the perfect table setting to please a family member who you know will approve you for having made such a purchase.  Do you expect family members to come to your house or traditions to be fulfilled each year.  What happens if it is impossible for a tradition to be fulfilled?  Can you roll with change and accept that change is a constant and look for the good in change?  If you can then you will experience more joy. 

Do you over-spend during the holidays to please others while feeling tremendously guilty about putting your family in a pinch for the new year?   Are you putting others ahead of yourself to the extend that you are diminishing your savings?  Don't do it!  Set a boundary around budgeting.  Stick to your budget and plan to buy small tokens or make trinkets or baked goods for your loved ones.  Focus on unconditional love.  Unconditional love means that it truly does not matter how much money or how many gifts you give someone, but more that you are showing your love in some way.  It truly is the thought that counts.  

Focus on your values and you cannot go wrong.  Do you value integrity?  Traditions?  Honesty?  Time with family?  Cleanliness?  Happiness?  Courage?  Perserverence?  Kindness?  Connection?  Love?  Get clear with a list of values that you hold and then allign your to do list and your budget with those values.  

I see major gains for clients who are able to boldly set boundaries within their relationships, with money, with their expectations of themselves, and assert their needs in a way that is kind, considerate and self-compassionate.  Balancing the needs of your family with your own personal need for happiness can be tricky.  Give yourself 51% and the rest give to your family and loved ones.  When you are fulfilling your own needs and feeling the love for yourself then you will have the energy to give to those around you and that will amplify their experience.  Should you need a holiday consult to clarify your values and your boundaries I am here to help with intensives that utilize writing and process work to clarify your goals for how you want to feel during the holidays.  Go to my calendar to set up an initial time to talk on the phone.  I look forward to talking soon! 

Reaching our service members and Veterans

Courage to war and courage to heal are dichotomous in nature.  Duality exists in nature, for light there is dark, for pain there is pleasure, there is an ebb and flow to life.  It expands and contracts.  Nature is a metaphor and a mirror through which life is projected.  See the air cooling, the leaves changing color and dying, falling off tree limbs, darkening and becoming still.  Notice the rise and fall of the sun and moon, the cyces of nature unfold before you.  We are all connected in this dual nature as we are also separate, and there is a cycle of closeness that happens with darkness.  Light and heat disconnects as we break apart for air and cooling off, or we spark off eachother and distance until it is once again time to hybernate.  Some come close and some stay distant with the cycles that happen in life.  

Soldiers hold still and stern with a duty to country above all else.  The cycles of nature still apply, but force and duty prevail for a soldier.  The sun may rise and set and the soldier carries on to the beat of his command.  There is pride and pain, but joy and the experience of love and freedom are fleeting when the soldier is on mission.  Pushing through pain and finding a way to survive is a way of life.  Living is survival, and survival is enough.  

There is a magic bullet question that arises in most every encounter I have with a soldier or veteran or family member; What is the point?  That lingering, longing question.  What is the point when it is all said and done.   When the ashes have fallen and settled and the darkness falls upon the day.  What makes rising in the morning possible?  What is the point of this all?

I have no magic answers.  I am here to reach you though, to find you through the pain and to help you find a new mission in life, one of joy and love and relationship.  And yes it is possible and no it does not come without pain and hard work.  I have developed a program and a formula that can help to guide you to that place.  To a place where the magic bullet question becomes the ammunition for living your fullest life.  Pick up the phone and call and I will be waiting and honored to answer your call, for my duty is to heal our nations hero's thereby impacting the whole.   I am starting a group on October 27, 2017 at 11:30am.  Call now to learn more.

Building Resilience in the Information Age

How is your relationship with the news of your community, state and world?  Are you anxious attached, avoidant attached, disorganized attached?  What is a healthy attachment to information, social media and news?

Resiliency is more important than ever.   We live in a world where hearing about natural disasters is becoming common place, being displaced, losing a loved one or loved possessions, losing an election, a job, a marriage, a child, random acts of violence, threats of war, threats of riots and civil unrest are what we hear about when we turn on the radio, TV, open up FaceBook, drive down the street, talk to parents at drop off and you will hear the stories, it is unavoidable.  Some choose to live in a bubble, limit exposure to media, or over expose to media. The reality that the only constant is change, is shoved in our faces daily.  You may be living in a beautiful house, with a beautiful car, healthy family, solid career and encountering a headline about Hurricane Harvey and the devastation can knock your mood from content to terrified and the next thing you know you are jumping into the car to rush to a gas station to stand in line for an hour while the sun is shining, and all is well.  

If you are one of the 18% of Americans who deals with Anxiety or PTSD, then you are impacted by these stories.  You either tune in to obsession or tune out to denial or disassociation.  Those gears of over-tuning or tuning out are both hazardous to your health and wellbeing in the world.  Over tuning causes obsessive distraction and poor concentration.  Tuning out may generalize over to how you are taking care of your responsibilities like parenting or friendships.  They just don't work and for the most part whether you tune in or tune out you are anxious and irrational when exposed to things you cannot control. If you are a recovering codependent like me, you understand exactly what I am talking about.  Your relationship with information and media can become addictive and compulsive just like any bad relationship.  

Creating behavioral patters for resiliency, daily habits that create a bounce back effect are key to the self care necessary to have any healthy relationship.  Resiliency involves being active in self care, mindful of your emotional state, cultivating curiousity and an experimental mindset toward problem solving, non-judgment and acceptance of what is, and most importantly the ability to connect with people who are encouraging and supportive of who you are and who you are becoming. 

Are you active in self care?  Do you feel guilty if you take a few hours to treat yourself to some relaxation or consiously remove yourself from a situation that is stressfull at home or work to take a breather?  Self care is more than just getting massages 1 time per month or even regular exercise.  Self care involves an active intention.  It means setting aside 1 or more hours per day incrementally throughout the day to tend to your needs physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.   It means balancing the demands on you with time for renewal.  So if you are raising a family and pusuing a career, while finding time be socially conscious and volunteer at a Hurricane shelter you need at least 2 hours of self care per day.  Ideally you are incorporating all of your needs:  exercise,  nourishing your body with good food, journaling, meditation, time sitting in nature, reading inspiring literature, and taking mini breaks to write down what you are grateful for.  Daily practice is essential.  

Cultivating curiosity and an experimental mindset toward problems that you are facing.  Do you ever find yourself stuck and rigidly going back and forth with one or two answers that just don't seem to work for the problem you are facing.  When we are in fight or flight, we cannot think outside of the box.  We become rigid and limit our options.  One way to cultivate curiosity is to spend time playing with children and if you don't have children, go to a park and get on the swingset, dig your feet into the sand box, jump up and down and act silly, have a dance party or roll down the windows and sing to your favorite music.  Get playful and begin again.  When you get stuck it means it's time to step back and shake it off.   You'll notice a feeling of expansiveness and possibility grows from playful curiosity.  We can take ourselves back to the days where everything was a wonder and a grand experiment.   Use your imagination!  Truly life is a grand experiment and when we can disengage from our codependency traps that make us want to control and manipulate and accept that we are limited beings, then being playful and cultivating curiosity is a piece of cake.  When we get curious and silly and playful it is nearly impossible to be judgemental and critical.

Self acceptance and acceptance of what is, is key to resiliency.  When we are judgemental we are not accepting of what is.  The inner critic comes out and shames and blames and creates limited and distorted thoughts that can lead you down the rabbit whole to anxiety, despair and hopelessness.   Judgement and criticism breed negative, non-reslience and can lead to depression and anxiety where control and manipulation is the mechanism for survival.  The inner critic is convinced that it is in control.   Your survival is not dependent on being in control of someone or something outside of yourself.  The critic is caniving and shrewd.  Be mindful and you get to choose to allow, choose to accept what is and decided what you can and cannot do about the problem.  Most social media and news headlines and the messages they convey are outside of your control.  Practice letting go, accept that you are one human being, and be patient with the process of evolving.  Today you may not be able to volunteer or donate and that is ok.  In a week or month or at some time in your life, you will fulfill your desire to help others if that is the desire.  Put it on your list and be patient and accepting of where you are today.  Let it go and celebrate what you are doing and able to do today.  

Connect with people and groups who support who you are and who you are becoming.  Do not allow yourself to sit in front of your computer or on your phone looking through facebook or twitter, or reading about other people's lives, or watching TV about other people's lives. Get out in the world and find people and create a circle of support.  You can use social media to find connections to meet ups and groups that are interested in what you are interested in.  Seek it out.  Join a church, join a group that exercises together, join a knitting group, meet up with friends at least once a week to share stories and support eachother.  Host a dinner party, plan a camping trip, organize a block party in your neighborhood, make cookies for a neighbor you have been wanting to meet, call an old friend, write a letter to a friend who has relocated, pick up the phone, network, get out in your community.  Let go of your fear of rejection and take a risk!  Tell someone you are needing more connection and friendship in our life and 9 times out of 10 they will invite you to the next gathering they attend.  People need people to be resilient.  Find your support and don't stop ever.  This is a continual process and unfolding that you will endeavor on for the rest of your life.  No one ever reaches a maximum number of friendships.  

We are evolving, each one of us.  Go forth and be resilient!  I am off to connect with nature and dip my feet in Bull Creek while I watch my dog Marley play in the water.  It is a beautiful day!


Finding a trauma therapist in Austin

As you know, Austin is the fastest growing city in the U.S.   I relocated to Austin, TX in June of 2001 from New York City just before 911.   Shortly there after, I decided to go to graduate school to study PTSD in combat veterans.  I am not alone in my desire to help our nation heal.  911 raised our collective awareness to the prevalence of PTSD and to our vulnerability as a people.   Brene Brown is a vulnerability expert.  She did research on vulnerability and came to some pretty strong conclusions about what vulnerability is.  It is strength because it brings about truth which is powerful.   

In many ways our vulnerability has brought us together as one nation, and yet the repeated traumas of war and violence play on our minds daily.  We may have survived 911 and we live in a fairly serene, Utopian part of the country, but we are not immune to the effects of war.  It is no wonder that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health).  

If you yourself have not been deployed you likely have a family member who has served or is currently deployed.  This 18% of our population are the ones who seek help and then report that they have a diagnosis of one of the anxiety disorders.  A great many strong soldiers and first responders never seek treatment due to the stigma of having a diagnosis brought about by many variables including genetics, chemistry, support system, and life events.  

I understand the confidentiality needs of veterans, soldiers and first responders.  I am sensitive to the safety needs and empathize deeply with needing effective and efficient treatment.  I am the daughter of a former Air Force reservist and granddaughter of a Navy service man who survived Pearl Harbor and a flight surgeon who survived WWII as well.  When I was 12 years old I journaled about the effects of war on me and the world around me.  

The time is now.  Yes, I am speaking to you.  You know who you are. There is no need to hide and hiding is fueling the pain of shame.  Seeking private therapy is a way to avoid any possible negative reprecautions of having anxiety or PTSD.  As long as you are paying privately for short term therapy, then no one needs to know how you got so much better and so much happier in your life.  Short term therapy can be anywhere from 3-12 sessions which is a manageable healthcare expense when paid for out of pocket.  Leave the past in the therapy room and you get to walk away healthier and with a sense of resolution about what you have been through.  Nothing will change the facts of what you went through, but how you feel about it and the story you tell about it can change.

When looking for a trauma therapist you want to consider the following questions:

1.  What methods do you use to treat trauma and PTSD?

2. How effective are those appoaches?

3. How long do you expect I wil be in therapy?

4. Have you worked with service people in the past?  Have you served?

5. Have you worked with someone who has this kind of trauma experience?

In a perfect world, you want to find someone who you can trust and who has a track record of caring deeply about their clients and seeing positive outcomes.   Along with these questions you need to find a therapist who you feel comfortable with, someone who you can have a real conversation with.

I hope that this helps!  If you want to learn more, please call me and I'm happy to speak with you about additional resources that may be helpful.