Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Did You Learn?

Well, we've made it! We made it through all of the cooking, cleaning, hoopla, Black Friday, Saturday shopping and the emotional, or maybe for some, the ecstatic goodbyes. Now that Thanksgiving is over, we have time to reminiscence.

For many, Holiday gatherings evoke stress, discomfort and anxiety within families and ourselves. For others, it's a time of bliss, merriment and good times. Regardless of the outcome, we can be thankful for experiences and opportunities. Maybe you were able to contain your emotions and words if something negative was said or did. Or maybe you were able to express yourself rather than bottle in emotions. Better yet, like my previous post suggested, maybe you took a break during the chaos or asked someone for help! Whatever the case may be, there was a lesson learned to be thankful for.

As we now prepare for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you may celebrate I encourage you to spend some time self reflecting. If you are experiencing hesitancy or stress, you may feel better by seeking out professional help from a counselor. A paper my sister wrote said it best, "family is what you make of it and how much you dedicate to it...the only person you can change is yourself". This is true, and when we change, we often see others around us change. When we are able to learn why things happen, we can deal with them better.

So, if a family experience during Thanksgiving has given you a reason to seek out ways to learn about yourself and grow personally, give thanks!

*Info in this blog is strictly my personal and/or professional opinion. Posts and comments are not intended to treat, diagnose or replace any medical advice you may have received. Please contact your doctor or therapist if you feel you need help, and in case of an emergency, dial 911.*

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Holidays Are Here!

As the Holidays approach, it is easy to become overwhelmed with cooking, cleaning, gifts, family, office parties, get togethers and all of the sales. Therefore, this time of year can produce stress, and alot of it. Here are some tips in handling the upcoming Holidays.

-Make a To Do list; it can be overwhelming if you forget to take your Holiday party outfit to the cleaners
-Make a grocery list in advance; a house full of guests + 1 roll of TP=chaos
-Set realistic goals; you cannot do it all in one day
-Ask others for help; ask a friend or family member to pick up the laundry if they are on that side of town but remember to return the favor!
-Take a break; it's ok to retreat to your room for a few minutes even if you do have house guests, they'll understand
-Bite your tongue; In some cases, keeping your peace in the moment, will allow for peace after the fact
-Remember the true Reason for the Season

This year, why not try to make an effort to follow this list and let the readers know how it works by leaving a comment on how you manage Holiday stress.

*Info in this blog is strictly my personal and/or professional opinion. Posts and comments are not intended to treat, diagnose or replace any medical advice you may have received. Please contact your doctor or therapist if you feel you need help, and in case of an emergency, dial 911.*

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's Your Reality?

The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Real Housewives of Orange County, I Married Myself a Balla', Paris Hilton's: My New BFF, Hogan Knows Best, Whitney and Bobby!

With so much "Reality TV" on, it is easy to loose focus and get caught up in what someone else's reality is. I recently saw someones status on a social networking site that said, "I'm watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta, I can't wait to be like them". And I thought to myself, "why not be like you?"

It is important to live our lives based upon our own reality rather than the life someone else has, or the lifestyle someone wants us to have or even think we should have. When we live for ourselves, we remove a lot of pressure to try to be like someone else. We aren't consumed with keeping up with the Joneses, but we are consumed with being the "best me I can be". Now, I'm not saying to not reach for higher goals, wealth, prosperity and status. I'm not even telling you to not have a role model, so don't get me wrong. But what I am saying is don't loose yourself in the process. Reach for these things because you want to better yourself and your family, not because you want to be like someone else.

Have you ever wondered what a real, reality show would look like? What if a news or TV crew followed you everyday, unscripted and uncut? What if they watched you raise your children to be humble and respectful and they watched you solve a disagreement with your spouse, after you've argued and slammed a few doors. What if they taped you going to work early and leaving late, only to still get caught in traffic. What if the show featured your negative balanced bank account, or taped you making your budget weekly because you weren't too sure how high gas and groceries would be this week. What if it taped your true, raw emotions after a crisis or even after a happy and eventful moment? Would you watch this show? If your answer is no, then my question is why not? Many of us live this life on a daily basis, and even though it may not be the life we want, it is a real life, based in reality! As much as we may want to, we can't "press pause" on our lives, we can't edit and erase situations, we can't live life based upon a script and we surely can't say, "cut, take 2, annnnddddd....action"! Real life, based in reality doesn't happen this way. (We can learn to "record" over the negative thoughts playing in our heads that cause us to feel inferior and incompetent but that's another blog for another day!)

The "Real Life of (your name here)", is the best production running and you are the best critic out there! Let's stay focused on what's real for our own individual situations and make steps to achieve the reality we want. Be Blessed!

"There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other." -Douglas Everett

"What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."-Otto Rank

*Info in this blog is strictly my personal and/or professional opinion. Posts and comments are not intended to treat, diagnose or replace any medical advice you may have received. Please contact your doctor or therapist if you feel you need help, and in case of an emergency, dial 911.*

Monday, November 10, 2008

I admit it, I had a really hard time!

Yep, I said it and I'm not ashamed to tell you! At least, I'm not ashamed anymore. You see, the last 30 days have been so hard for me. And it all started with a dreaded call from my doctor on October 10, it knocked me completely off track. I, "the therapist" was caught off guard! The call left me thinking, what the... (explicit)! But, after loosing it and crying for a little while, I pulled it together and relied on the comfort of my faith, my God, and my friends and family. I resorted to doing what I knew, I prayed. Then, I resorted to what I tell my clients. I talked about it, journaled my experience, stuck to my normal daily routine and celebrated with millions the election of Barack Obama. Then, while I was still on cloud nine, day dreaming about my crush, Mr. Obama, I received another phone call on November 5th. My heart immediately sank and I panicked because I was told after going in for tests, "everything looks good and we'll only call you if something further is needed". So, you can imagine how fast my Obama-high deflated when I heard the voice message from my doctor, "call to make an appointment". I called back and the nurse, who is always friendly to me, said, "the doctor wants to go over the results with you. I'm sorry honey." So, once again, I lost it, but this time, it was different. I didn't rely on my faith, because, honestly I felt let down, betrayed, and started to question my God. And to make matters worse, I had to wait 5 days before I could see the doctor, which made my weekend very difficult to get through. I had done what I tell my clients on a daily basis NOT to do. I isolated myself, I retreated inside myself, I didn't talk it out and pushed away those who were only trying to help me. But, in my defense (more like justification for my actions), I didn't want to be rude; I didn't want to explain; I didn't want to cry. I didn't know what to say when someone would ask, "how are you doing" or when they'd say "it's going to be ok". I thought, "how would you be doing", "how do you know it's going to be ok". So, in order to not have to hurt someone or talk about what I was feeling and thinking, I threw up the "deuces" (shut everyone out). Fast forward to today, November 10th, my doctors appointment. As I'm driving and once I get into the room to wait some more, I say, "Keep it together Kristy, don't loose it, keep it together, you can do it, you can do it, you can do it." Then, I lost it! And thankfully, my doctor kept me calm and from passing out on the cold floor. Turns out though, although I didn't get the outcome and results I wanted, the fact is, things can be A LOT worse, and I am very well aware of this. So, even though I'm not feeling 100% like my usual self, I am feeling better than I did last week, this weekend, this morning and a few hours ago. I know there is a reason for everything, nothing just happens. I know people have far worse situations than mine. Like Margie LaSalle who is living with Stage IV cancer, has a husband and two small children. But, she is able to say, "not me, I have to be here for my children"!

These are the lessons I learned during this last month:

1. I am human
2. It's ok to "loose it"
3. Get over myself, see the blessings awaiting me and be thankful
4. Don't make those who are trying to help me suffer too
5. Say what I feel and think
6. Nothing is too big for my God to handle
7. I am strong and can handle more than I think I can
8.God doesn't punish us
9. Negative and pessimistic thinking does take a toll on a person
10. Don't give up, take a day or two to be absorb and process information, then deal with it
11. Like my previous blog says, I am a survivor

So, I would like to thank everyone who has been here for me these past 30 days and longer. Thank you for not trying to "drop kick" me, thank you for threatening to "stalk" me if I didn't answer my phone "one more time", thank you for telling me you'd "tear down" my gate to get to my house (and risking catching a legal charge), thank you for sending me 'Superpokes' on Facebook, thank you for praying for me when I didn't have the strength, thank you for cleaning my kitchen, thank you for making me veggie lasagna, thank you for making my bed just so I can lay right back in it, thank you for allowing me to be mean and not taking it personal, thank you for knocking on my door at work using a special knock so I'd know it was you, thank you for giving me a book to read, thank you for reminding me that I shouldn't question God, thank you for emailing me, thank you for sending me scriptures to read, thank you for encouraging me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

You are: God, Henry, Ke'Sha, Shaketa, J'olene, Liz, my mama, Greg, Melvin, Maria, Dr. Hudson, Anna, Joel Osteen, Barack Obama, David, my clients, my Sorors and anyone my head can't remember to name!

As I close, men and women, please love yourselves and your families enough to get your annual physical exam and suggested tests, it might just save your life! Don't forget to leave a comment and read the story of Margie and Chris LaSalle. Thank you

*Info in this blog is strictly my personal and/or professional opinion. Posts and comments are not intended to treat, diagnose or replace any medical advice you may have received. Please contact your doctor or therapist if you feel you need help, and in case of an emergency, dial 911.*

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm A Survivor

"I'm a survivor, I'm not gon' give up. I'm not gon' stop, I'm gon' work harder. I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it, I will survive, keep on survivin'!"

These are the lyrics to Destiny's Child hit song, Survivor.

I conducted a group yesterday with 8 teen girls who have lived and experienced almost every kind of imaginable abuse and trauma. The topic was "Victim vs. Survivor" and I had them make a list of the characteristics of a victim and those of a survivor. When we began discussing a survivor, some gave the general answers, "strong, happy, trusting". Then came the "deeper" answers like, "willing, white, black, powerful, wounded, fights back, uses misfortune to their advantage, learns from their mistakes" and so on. As the group moved on, they agreed, "a survivor can be anyone. I'm a survivor!" Once they really absorbed this thinking, their attitudes and body language shifted to a positive, and what seemed to me, joyful disposition. They were able to learn that despite their life's experiences, they don't have to be victims, they can "fight back" and be a survivor. As a therapist, this was a joyous moment for me. I was thinking, "they get it, they really get it!!"

So, my next question to them was how does one move from being a victim to being a survivor and these are the answers from girls 13-16 years old:
Talk your problems out,
Take baby steps,
Get a support system,
Identify the problem then admit it is a problem,
Ask for support,
Build a team of trusted people.

I challenge you to identify those things that are making you a victim and use these steps to help you move to a survivor. You can then finish with Destiny's Child's tune: "After all the darkness and sadness, soon comes happiness. If I surround myself with positive things, I'll gain prosperity"!

Leave a comment with your thoughts, song lyrics, and/or quotes related to being a survivor.

*Info in this blog is strictly my personal and/or professional opinion. Posts and comments are not intended to treat, diagnose or replace any medical advice you may have received. Please contact your doctor or therapist if you feel you need help, and in case of an emergency, dial 911.*

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fear: The Dream Stopper

"I don't want to get hurt again". "I'm scared 'cause I don't know them". "What if..., what about...".

Does this sound like you or someone you may know? Many of us do not know our true potential due to our fear of the unknown, our fear to step out on faith and see what the world holds for us. I can recall a moment in my life when I used to ALWAYS say I needed to know exactly what was going to happen. I made every attempt to plan due to my fears. Rather than making reasonable and logical plans, I often prohibited myself because I was scared. Someone close to me, who is well accomplished and very secure told me yesterday, "I'm scared to love and get in a relationship because I don't want to get hurt again. It's hard" (then she let out a resounding and high pitched, "ooohhhh-wwweeee")! Now, I can understand this thinking and I'm sure many of you can! I have been at that point in my life too, almost 3 years ago. But, when I did finally let go of my need to control, my fear, and lay my past to rest, I was able to love again AND be loved on a level I could never imagine.

But, here's the kicker for me. As I talked to a group of girls on yesterday regarding anger and forgiveness, one of them said she didn't want to travel (which is one of her dreams), because of her fear of being kidnapped and not knowing foreigners! At 11 years old, she is actually re-evaluating her life's dream, due to a fear that can happen right in her own neighborhood (kidnapping, strangers, etc). Her fear, and many of ours, has become a dream stopper! This hurt me because I thought to myself, what are we teaching our children? We tell them they can be anything they want to be and can do anything they want to do, but as they WATCH us restrict our own goals, they indirectly learn that fears can stop them; that they can be whatever they want to be with the exception of what they fear!

Ask yourself, what would've happened if Martin Luther King, Jr. would've given in to his fear? If Ghandi would've been stopped by fear? What if John McCain would've been stopped by fear when he was a POW? What if Barack Obama would've stopped his dream to potentially be the first African American President of the USA because of his fear? What if you would have never gotten back on your bicycle when you were little because of your fear of falling again? And my ultimate, what if Jesus would've never died to save man because of a fear? The point is, in order to do great things and reach our dreams and goals, we cannot give in to fear!

Have you ever heard the saying, "As a man thinketh, so is he", or "you are what you eat"? The basis is simple, we are only as good as what we think or do. Again, I counseled a 13 year old who told me one day, "I want to be a doctor...but that will never happen". When I asked her why it wouldn't happen, she had no explainable reason at that time. Eventually she was able to acknowledge that her fear of being unable to control her anger due to her past, was the reason she wouldn't be a doctor. She was fearful that her feelings, and her past, would come to haunt her, therefore; at 13 she was ready to give up on her dream to be the first in her family to finish high school, go to college and become "someone big and important". Once she let go of her fear and started to lay her past to rest, she begin to express her dream of being a doctor, not her fear of it!

As you evaluate your dreams, remember that fear contains and holds us. If you give in to your fear, you will be stagnated in learning your abilities and reaching your dreams. Picture it this way. You blow air into a balloon, the air in the balloon represents you and your dreams while the balloon represents your fears. The fear (balloon) is containing you (air), preventing you from escaping and becoming the best you. Now, place a few long pieces of tape on the balloon and use a needle to make a small prick in the balloon where the tape is (this actually works). You will notice that the air is seeping out of the balloon, rather than the balloon bursting. You are no longer being contained by your fears! With one small step, you are slowly becoming a better you!! Sometimes, we have to find the strength (tape) in us and move from your comfort zone and all it takes is a little motivation and push (needle stick).

The tag line of my private practice is: "New Vision Counseling Center: Offering a New Vision To Meet Your Life's Destiny". When we change how we see something, we are able to have a New Vision on what is destined for our lives, we can see how to reach our dreams! But first, we must move fear out of our sight! It can no longer be a Dream stopper, but now a Dream Maker!

Don't forget to leave a comment with your thoughts, your dreams and most importantly, how you will no longer be contained by your fears.

*Info in this blog is strictly my personal and/or professional opinion. Posts and comments are not intended to treat, diagnose or replace any medical advice you may have received. Please contact your doctor or therapist if you feel you need help, and in case of an emergency, dial 911.*