Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Apple Cider Versus Coffee

During this time of year, a lot of us (including myself) spend some time reflecting on the previous year and what our hopes and expectations are for the New Year.  Some people (unfortunately not me) clean out closets or file cabinets.  It’s a time of renewal and new beginnings.   Sometimes it’s more than old clothes or papers we need to part with but also old experiences.   

I recently had a funny incident with my niece and nephew.  I had taken them to the blue Santa parade (an Austin tradition) the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I thought as a special treat I’d take hot cider and cookies to snack on during the parade.  While watching the bands and floats go by, I offered some cider to one of the kids.  He quickly said it “smells funny” and refused to drink it.  Well, this kiddo is a picky eater and is known to refuse to eat perfectly good food so I ignored his complaint and gave cider to his sister.  His sister quickly made the same complaint and refused to drink hers.  Now I was getting frustrated.  Being the good aunt that I am, I decided to prove them both wrong and drink it myself.  What do you know….it did smell funny.  Turns out, I used a thermos that I normally used to transport my coffee and what the kids smelled was old coffee residue.  It became clear that the thermos was of need of a deep cleaning.  

The whole situation reminded me that sometimes things that have happened in the past can influence our experience in the present.  Though the coffee had long been gone, its influence was still present.  Are there some situations that you experienced this year that need to be eliminated from your sphere of influence so they don’t carry over into next year?  Grudges that need forgiven.  Wrongs that need to be dismissed?  Pains that need to heal?   If so, purge them.  Decide that you are not going to allow them to effect your future.  Take whatever steps you need to take so that any negative experiences from this year do not have the power to take away your joy in the New Year. 

As for me, I have to apologize to two of my favorite people and hopefully make it up to them.  I have a feeling they’ll never want cider at my house but maybe I can make it up to them with Christmas cookies?

Monday, November 3, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make A Berry Pie

Ever have one of those days when the stars are misaligned and everything that could do wrong does? I had one of those this week, 24 hours of mishap.

It all started when I came home from work and noticed that my grass had gotten terribly over-grown and one of my kitchen lights had burned out. After I’d assembled everything needed to mow, I realized there was no gas in the mower. Later that evening, Dax (my foster dog) decided I was going to slow for him and bolted and spent half the night running amuck the neighborhood (me chasing behind him in my pajamas). After carrying the big dog home and having only a couple hours of sleep, I decided to make quiche for my son and me for breakfast. After thawing out the pie crusts and warming the oven I discovered I was short the number of eggs needed. Then the final straw, I went to get my morning coffee and all that comes out is a small amount of very dark brew. Evidently the coffee maker wasn’t working. That’s when I had the poisonous thought “It’s going to be one of those days”.

We have to be careful about what we label things. One of my favorite sayings is “Our mind seeks to confirm what it already believes to be true”. So, if I decide that a day is going to be filled with negative events, I’ll notice every negative thing that happens. Maybe it’s a traffic jam, a spilt cup, a slow checkout line at the grocery store. But I could have the exact same day with the expectation that it was going to be a great day and I’d notice all the nice things that happen. I might notice the beautiful weather or how much I enjoy my lunch. It’s the same day….the only difference is the expectation and intention.

So, as I sat there with my tiny bit of overly-strong coffee looking at knee high tall grass, I declared, “Oh good, now all the bad stuff is out of the way so I can have a great day”. Then I went and made berry pie with the pie crust meant for quiche in my dim kitchen. My son and I had a delicious berry pie for breakfast. And you know what? It was a good day. Our thoughts are powerful; let’s use them to make us feel better, not worse.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What’s The Difference Between A Feeling And An Emotion….Just A Story

One thing I struggle with is impulsivity.  I’m not always good about restraint and assessing all options before leaping.   It has brought me some great unexpected benefits and some painful moments.  This weekend my son and I received information regarding a dog that was at risk of euthanasia.  We’re both animal lovers and without any real planning we went and picked up this un-adoptable, very scared dog.  I’m not sure if this is one of those “great idea” moments or “what was I thinking” moments.  What I do know is this pup is terribly scared of people (not loud noises, other dogs, storms, etc.).   He’s doing better now but he spent the first 48 hours cowering in a corner scared to death.

I was reading an article the other day that discussed that the only difference between a feeling and an emotion was a story.  For example, if someone cuts us off on the highway, we’re angry (feeling) but later that day we’ve completely forgotten about it and it holds no real meaning.  A friend betrays our trust and causes us great pain and we may still be angry about it five years later (emotion).  It’s an interesting concept.  Makes me wonder what story my foster pup has.  He’s not just experiencing a feeling, he’s experiencing an emotion – somewhere on his journey he experienced a very scary story.

So, what do you do with a pup that is so afraid of human contact he cowers in a corner?  You give him a new story.  You show him every day how people can be a source of love and compassion.  You speak in soft, re-assuring tones.  You’re patient when he runs from you for no reason.  You don’t take his rejection personal because you understand, he’s got a story.  It’s our job as dog foster parents to help him replace his old scary story with one that will benefit him, not keep him paralyzed in fear.  We all have stories but if we have one that is taking away our options, affecting our future, and providing a negative emotion (fear, anger, etc.) we need to replace that story.  As for the pup, I’ll let you know how it goes but I’m hoping he’s able to create a story that allows him to bond with a loving, forever family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hunger Is The Best Sauce

With the fall season upon us, my son and I usually do some camping.  Recently I was having a discussion with a friend about how food always tastes better when you’re camping.  Even simple food that I routinely eat at home, like instant oatmeal.  Somehow it tastes different when eating it in the car on route to the office versus on a cool morning outside my tent.  My friend said “hunger is the best sauce”.  It was a phrase I hadn't heard but it fit perfectly.  You appreciate something the more you’re aware of how much you need it.  On my recent hiking trip in Peru, I had to go four days camping with no water.  When I got back to the hotel, I took a long, hot shower and appreciated every minute of it.  (Anyone within smelling distance of me probably appreciated it even more).  Usually a daily shower is just routine, something that I hardly notice.

I think life is that way, right?  It’s like the country song, “Live like you’re dying”.  If we take the time to really notice and appreciate what is around us, we have a new sense of gratitude.  There is a lot of research about how having a sense of appreciation or gratitude can make us happier.  I know for myself, I sometimes get so wrapped up to the to-do list of the day that I lose all sense of appreciation of what I have in that instant.  There are small opportunities every day to remind me to be grateful for the moment.  The feel of a breeze on a hot day, the taste of the perfect cup of coffee, the smile of a child, a hug from a friend.  I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to slow down enough to catch those opportunities for contentment.  I think I might also make dinner time later at my house – maybe if “hunger is the best sauce” my little guy will complain less about what I've prepared if he’s a wee bit more hungry J.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Got Pain? Put A Band-Aid On It!

I hate the saying “no pain no gain”.  I think it insinuates that it’s somehow noble to suffer through pain, or even worse, that seeking relief from pain is somehow a sign of weakness.   I've had people tell me, “Why should people get counseling because of this or that, part of life is experiencing pain”.  I hear “death and grief are just reality”, “life is meant to be stressful”, “everyone feels sad”, etc.  I want to challenge all those thoughts.  Yes, trials will arise, but accepting the pain and suffering through them doesn't have to be part of it.

As most of you know, I recently returned from a challenging hiking experience.  As someone who is not into physical challenges, it required a lot of pre-planning and training.  One thing I learned is that foot care is extremely important.  One little pebble that feels like a small nuisance can turn into a huge painful blister.  During the hike at nearly every stopping point, I’d take off my shoes and inspect my feet to make sure there were no signs of redness or rubbing.  If there was any sign of a problem, it was immediately addressed with ointment or blister protection Band-Aids.  The thought being, I’m going for endurance.   Yes, I could continue to ignore that little tender spot except in the long run that tender spot will bring me unnecessary pain.  Could I push through a blister?  Sure, but why endure that pain if there are ways to comfort it.

Will life present hardships?  Sure, I agree that part of the human experience is unexpected turns in the road, situations we didn't expect, losses that are painful.  What I challenge is the idea that when those hardships occur, we somehow benefit from “pushing through the pain”.  I challenge that a better approach would be to prepare for them, get support when they do occur, and use whatever skills or resources are available to you to ease the pain.   If you need some extra support or skills to help, that’s where counseling might come in.  I always say counseling is a sign of strength, not weakness.  It’s an aware person, one who is monitoring their own health and can identify what they need, that seeks counseling. 

Life is about endurance.  We want to enjoy the journey, not suffer through it.  So the next time I hear someone says “counseling is just a Band-Aid” – I’m going to take it as a compliment.  Anything that relieves or prevents pain can’t be all that bad.  Have a great week!

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Bird Watch So I Don't Choke People

Facebook has all of kinds of faults but one of them lately is the “targeted advertising”.  I was actually tempted to buy a product being advertised on my newsfeed the other day.  It was a t-shirt that said “I bird watch so I don’t choke people”.  While I resisted due to the fact that I would really never choke anyone or encourage others to, as a birdwatcher I thought it was cute and emphasized the relaxing aspect of bird watching.

We face stress every day, me included.   Things like traffic, annoying coworkers, relationships, financial strains, etc.  While I don’t have a boss, some days I feel like I have multiple bosses – their names being United, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, etc.  Every insurance company questions my treatment plan, diagnosis, etc.   They’re just doing their job, but it’s frustrating just the same (especially when you sit on hold for twenty minutes or even worse, talk to the computer operator......which never seems to understand me…..maybe it’s my southern twang?).    So we have to have some ways to replenish.  I use the analogy all the time of a Styrofoam cup with all the stress representing holes in the cup and our emotional energy representing what is being lost.  So we have to refill our cup.

I’ve received some criticism due to some personal choices I’ve made to refill my cup.  I love to travel and have tried to pass on my fondness of travel to my son.  We’ve enjoyed visiting beautiful locations all over the world.  With that said, I don’t have the kind of budget most world travelers have.  I don’t have a large savings account, I drive an old car, and I don’t own any fancy clothes or furniture.  My other hobbies are not considered “cool” or “hip”.  I hike, read, bake, and of course…..bird watch.   I mention this only to say, refilling your cup is priceless.  Nurturing ourselves is what gives us the strength to nurture others, to be compassionate, and to be patient.   There is a Buddhist saying “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”.  I think sometimes the fear of being selfish gets in the way of us doing the very things we need to do so we can serve others. 

So….what refills your cup?  Is there a hobby, a pleasurable activity you enjoy, or a little splurge that you can do for yourself?  When was the last time you did something to nurture yourself?  Are you feeling overwhelmed and drained?  If so, it might be time to do some good self-care before you feel like choking someone.  For me, I’ve got several trips planned and if you see someone at the park with binoculars…..it maybe me bird watching. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Compassion Overboard

Recently Bill Murray crashed a bachelor party and gave some great advice to the groom to be – travel with someone and if your relationship can survive the trip, marry them.  I couldn’t agree more.  Travel can be very stressful and you really get to know someone when you’re with them 24/7.   As most of you know my son and I recently had a 10 day vacation ourselves.  As much as I’d like to say that I handled it like a pro, at one point on our cruise I threatened to leave him in Jamaica (yes, that’s the loving and compassionate parent I am).  Thankfully I decided leaving him in Jamaica was probably not a good idea and we both made it back safe and sound.  When I arrived Monday to my office one of the first emails I opened was one about compassionate parenting (oh no). 

I often talk a lot about the importance of compassion.  In EEGs they can actually see a shift in the brain when someone is performing an act of compassion (the prefrontal region of the brain – happiness area - lights up).  What I don’t always remember is that one way to be compassionate is to accept someone as they are and not allow my own “perception” of how things “should” be to get in the way of acceptance.    It is not anyone else’s job to make me happy, nor is it my responsibility to be in charge of their emotions. When we have concern for others it actually increases our own sense of well-being.    When I lost compassion for my son (hence the threat of leaving him in a foreign country) it caused a loss of happiness for myself.  

With this lesson fresh on my mind, I think I might manage our conflicts a little differently in the future.  It’s not that it wasn’t OK that I got terribly frustrated (you try traveling with a 13 year old that thinks deodorant and showers are optional, rarely listens, and needs to eat every 2 hours) – it was that I allowed my frustration to get in the way of viewing him with compassion which robbed me of my own joy.   Before you call child protective services, please know that I love my son my than life itself and would never actually do anything that would cause him harm.   I will, however, consider springing  for the larger room next time J. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pollyanna - It's Not Just A Movie - It's A Way Of Thinking

As a client was walking out of my office, she reported “you know some people think positive statements are just Pollyanna”.  I knew what she meant, which lead to a good discussion on productive positive statements vs unproductive ones (which I’ll talk more about later).   The discussion lead to me question what did we mean when we say someone or something is “Pollyanna”?

Turns out, Pollyanna was originally a character in a novel, then later a movie, about an orphan with the gift of an optimistic spirit.  She was able to cheer up even the grumpiest of townspeople.   In the story she has to overcome her own personal obstacles and she does so by finding a way to create a positive perspective in difficult situations.  Today I don’t think it’s used in that way, today we use it as a negative term.  In fact, in several on line dictionaries Pollyanna is defined as “unreasonably or illogically optimistic”.  I think this is what my client was referring to.  Unproductive positive statements go against reality and ignore what our circumstances are. 

As some of you may know, I recently had a really yucky summer cold.  It’s only the second time in three years I’ve closed my office due to being ill (the other time it was food poisoning).  It would have been silly for me to be thankful for being sick.  It’s not a good thing that I was sick.  It made me miss appointments, miss fun weekend plans, and took time away from my son.  It would have been totally unproductive for me to think “I’m glad I’m sick” or “Even though I’m running fever, I’m not sick”.  Instead, what I kept telling myself is “It’s inconvenient that I’m sick but whatever challenges it presents, I’ll find a way to meet them”.  In other words, I’ll re-schedule appointments, catch up on work when I can, and not worry about things out of my control (like being sick).  I don’t have to be thankful for being sick to frame my thoughts so it’s not so stressful.  This is productive positive thinking about a circumstance.

You know the saying “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  It doesn’t say, “If life gives you lemons, you have to eat lemons” (and enjoy them).  In other words, accept the circumstances for what they are but work to make the best of them.  In my case, I caught up on several seasons of trash TV that has been sitting in my queue for months that I hadn’t had a chance to watch.  While I would have rather been feeling well, the reality was I was sick and there wasn’t anything I could do to change that.  Giving me productive positive statements about my ability to catch up on work and to overcome challenges made missing work and being ill less worrying.

Good news is that I’m now feeling better and resuming my normal routine.  Next time you face a challenging circumstance, I hope you you’ll remember to keep your thoughts positive AND productive.  I’ll have some difficulty using the term “Pollyanna” in a negative way now that I know the “real” Pollyanna was a great role model for positive thinking! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Many Therapist Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Have you seen those articles that list the worse paying degrees?  Counseling is always on the list, usually at the top.  You’ve never seen a conversation stopper until you’ve seen someone in a group announce that they’re a therapist.   How about the philosophical game where you list a bunch of professions in a life raft and you have to decide with limited resources who can stay and who gets thrown over.  There is usually a hot debate about whether you’d want a doctor or a carpenter, both needed if you need to start life on a deserted island.  There is NO debate about the mental health professional.  We’re tossed over immediately without any debate at all.   There are so many shrink jokes that there are whole websites dedicated to them.  So with that in mind, why is this blog entry about me being thankful for my job?  Because I’d counter that I have the best job ever and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

Kids are brutally honest.  (Sometimes even painfully so.  If I get a new hairstyle, I can always depend on my kid clients to let me know their frank opinion about it).  So, when I tell a kid that my job is to listen to people and help them solve problems, they think it’s the coolest job ever.   I have to agree.  I get to see people overcome obstacles so they can reach goals they never thought were possible.  I get to see a struggling artist leave their day job to pursue the artistic career they’ve always wanted. I’ve held the hand of trauma victims as they’ve found the strength to move forward.  I’ve witnessed couples moving beyond their problems and recommitting to their relationship, parents repairing relationships with their teenager, and a child getting their first A because they’ve learned new tools to help them focus. 

While I enjoy being able to be a part of someone’s healing, I also feel it’s an honor to see them through some of their most difficult moments.  I have the privilege of being the one to lend an ear to the employee that just lost their job, to the new mom that’s at her wits end, to the spouse that just buried their loved one, to the gay son who just came out to his family, to the teenager that just found out they’re pregnant or to the parent that just found out their child is using drugs.  While these moments are painful for both me and the client, I feel it’s a huge compliment that they feel comfortable enough to have me accompany them on their journey. 

So in closing, I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my journey that has led to where I am today.  I’m incredibly thankful.  And to my clients who have shared their best and worse times with me, thank you for trusting me.   Wherever your journey takes you, I hope that you are in better place having dedicated your time and resources to improving your mental health.  I can't think of a better job.  I can’t close without at least one therapist joke.  So…how many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?  Just one, but it takes nine sessions.  J  Have a great day!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Enlightenment On A Spring

My niece and nephew got me a great gift for my birthday.  It was a stick-on statue of a smiling Buddha, kind of like a bobblehead, for my car.  The box was labeled “Enlightenment on a Spring”.  They know I drive a lot for my commute and they knew it would make me smile.  Now every time I look down to shift gears, etc. I see a smiling fat Buddha bobblehead looking up at me.  It’s hard to be angry, even in the horrible Austin traffic.

It’s amazing how much one thing can change your perspective.  Opra Winfrey a while back promoted vision boards.  A display of photos or pictures that represented what you wanted to incorporate into your life (fun, money, family time, peace, etc.).  The idea being the more you looked at it, the more likely we would feel invested to make it come true.  Or, remember the little starfish is the movie Nemo.  Anytime something stressful happened, she'd say she was "going to her happy place" meaning she was visualizing something better.  The same concept as my Buddha toy, what we see effects how we feel and act.  

With this in mind, do you have a vision of what you’d like more of in your life?  Maybe a positive change you'd like to make in your future?  Do you want to jump start your career?  Do you want to make peace with your family?  Do you want more organization in your life?    Is there a picture or scene that would help remind you of that?  Remember, what we see effects how we feel and the choices we make.   If nothing else, if you travel in heavy traffic, I highly recommend a fun bobblehead.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Krispy Kreme Theory of Motivation

When I went I moved into my new office a few years ago, one of the benefits of its location was that there were three donut shops all within a short distance of it.  My favorite by far is Krispy Kreme- did I mention I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth?

When I talk to clients about making positive change, one thing that often comes up is motivation.  Change is always stressful and habits (even bad ones) usually have some pay off.  So let’s say you want to reduce your social drinking.  While there will be benefits, there will also be costs (less time with friends at happy hour, etc.).  You want to be more organized in the morning?  Great, but you’ll have to give up some free time to organize closets, etc. 

So when someone tells me, “I really want ________ but as hard as I’ve tried I can’t accomplish it” the first thing I question is the cost/benefit ratio.  I call this the Krispy Kreme theory based on my own experience of trying to reduce the amount of sweets I eat.

 Currently I’m in the midst of trying to improve my health to get ready for a hiking trip.  One of my strategies was to give up my lovely Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which on most days I can do just fine (the benefit of improving my health outweighs the yummy short term benefit of the taste).  But every now and then I’ll be having a rough day and just can’t resist.   For me, the need the donut meets on a stressful day outweighs my desire to improve my health.  Hence, the Krispy Kreme theory of motivation is that we only can make positive change when the benefit outweighs the costs.

So if you are trying to make positive change and it seems like it’s impossible to make progress, ask yourself “What need is this habit meeting?”  “Is there some benefit to not making change?”  “Is there a cost to making change that is just too painful?”   Once you have a good assessment of all the cost and benefits you can start overcoming obstacles and find ways to have meet need while supporting your goal.  

For me, when I need a break from a bad day, I don’t just say too bad – suck it up.  Instead, I’ve found a few ways to give myself a treat that doesn’t go against my long term goal of improving health.  I might watch an episode of my favorite TV show on Netflix, have lunch with a friend, or buy some new fun nail polish.  I get the need met by treating myself but doing it in a different way.

Good luck with your goals and if you need some inspiration, I highly recommend the pumpkin spice cake donut from Krispy Kreme J.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fish, House Guests, and Destructive Emotions....After 3 Days They Need To Go!

I have a good friend that has a saying, "House guests are like fish, after 3 days they need to be thrown out".  Now I have to add that I'm very lucky that I have great relatives and house guests.  I'm actually usually sad to see them go.  But, I do think it could be a good rule for destructive emotions. 

In Eastern philosophies we are challenged to not ever have negative emotions (anger, resentment, jealousy, etc.) but for most of us we're not quite ready for that level of enlightenment :-) But I do think it is very attainable to set limits for ourselves for how long we'll allow those negative emotions to interfere with our lives.  Let me give you an extreme example that just happened for me. 

You guys may not know but I recently lost my best friend.  My dachshund dog who had been by my side for almost 10 years passed away Sunday a week ago.  When this happened I was overwhelmed with grief.  I am lucky that I have a schedule that I can adjust and was able to take some time off to really grieve.  During this time it wasn't pretty and I had a lot of VERY strong emotions.  I cried, I got mad, I blamed myself, I blamed others and I cried some more.  But after a couple of days I forced myself to start living again.  I went to work, I made dinner, I returned phone calls and emails.  While I was still sad for sure, but I used tools so that it wasn't overwhelming and interfering. 

I know some people can't relate to the loss of a pet but maybe you can relate it to any situation that brought up a strong negative emotion.  Maybe a betrayal by a friend, an injustice at work, or overwhelmed with a situation.  Whether the emotion is sadness, anger, betrayal, or something else, the idea is that don't let it hangover you for too long.  Dont' let that negative emotion take root.  Acknowledge it without avoiding it but also making a conscious effort to move forward.  Grant it some losses or circumstance may take longer (and small things like traffic shouldn't take you three days) but the concept is the same.  You don't want to be still feeling that same negative emotion over an incident 2 weeks later, a month later, a year later.

So next time you feel yourself "stuck" with a negative feeling, ask yourself "Have I given myself time to deal with this situation?" and if so, make a plan to move forward.  Today is international day of happiness.  Though I continue to grieve through my loss, I am able to identify a multitude of things that bring me joy (including the opportunity to know and work with so many cool people).    Have a great week!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Don't Run Out Of Toilet Paper

I like the idea that there is no problem without a solution.  Might not be a easy solution, might not be one we're excited about, but a solution none the less. 

I recently bought a small charcoal BBQ pit.  I was absolutely terrible at using it.  I couldn't quite get the timing right.  Coals were either not hot enough or too hot.  I either put things on too soon or not quick enough.  After several raw or over-cooked meals I decided grilling just wasn't for me and put the grill away. 

When discussing different ways to problem solve with a client, I challenged that if someone ran out of toilet paper they didn't just say "Oh well...guess we'll never have toilet paper again.  No.  They would go out to the store and buy more toilet paper".  Then I realized I hadn't really made an effort to problem solve the grilling challenge.  With the help of my 13 year old son, I researched on You Tube how to grill with charcoal.  I'm proud to say we had our first edible grilled meal last night.

If you have a problem that is hanging over your head.  Whether it's a little thing that is like a pebble in your shoe, small but bothersome, or a big life challenge, I encourage you to brainstorm some solutions.  Spend as much time seeking answers as you do worrying.  Remember, you wouldn't just allow yourself to run out of toilet paper!

This therapist doesn't live in Utopia

I was shocked when one of my clients said "You use your own tools?".  Well, yes I do.  Why would I provide tools that I don't believe in?  How would I know they are helpful if I don't use them myself?  Hence the beginning of  this blogging journey.  I thought it might be helpful (funny if nothing else) to show how I see positive thinking, creative problem solving, and mindfulness being used in my life or the lives of my clients. 

I think sometimes we think of therapist kind of like children think of their school teachers.  (I remember my son being surprised when he saw his teacher having margaritas at our local Mexican restaurant with some friends.).  I think sometimes there is a perception that somehow therapist live in some peaceful, Utopian reality where we sit around meditating and we don't bounce checks, spill coffee on ourselves or yell at traffic jams.  I'm here to burst that bubble, at least for this therapist.  But I want this blog to be a place of encouragement too. 

In the midst of my own chaos, I often find ways to combat stress and live with purpose and meaning.  If you want to learn more about me you can visit my website at www.coopercounselingpractice.com. Thanks for visiting my blog and hope the stories, antidotes, and experiences I write about can be a source of support to you!