Children and Teens

Why You Should Support Your Child’s Interests

My 11-year-old son Tommy collects stuffed bananas. You know, stuffed banana plush toys. He found his first one (and all of them, in fact) at the thrift store. This initial stuffed fruit was not just an ordinary banana, it was a stuffed Rastafarian banana complete with dreadlocks.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It’s a Rastafarian banana,” I said with glee.

Needless to say, Tommy had to have it. The price was right -- $3. We bought it and took it home.

This purchase brought on an extensive Internet research project on the Rastafarian religion.
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Disorders

Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

“He is sooo OCD,” I overhear a 20-something snarkily remark to a friend.

The hair on my skin crawls. As someone with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) -- one from a psychiatrist, not Urban Dictionary -- I bristle. Sure, the remark was insensitive, even callous, but here’s why I cringe: the seemingly innocuous remark perpetuates public misperceptions.

OCD, the medical diagnosis, is far more impactful than OCD, the movie diagnosis. Unlike Jack Nicholson’s endearingly misfit character in "As Good as it Gets," OCD signifies more than an uncompromising adherence to routine. The person with OCD faces education and workplace stigma from puzzled colleagues. At its worst, OCD can be incapacitating.
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General

5 Quick Ways to Recognize Your Self-Worth

Self-esteem is not a hot and sexy topic. Not even close. I know people don’t love to talk about their self-esteem in front of others, but I’m passionate about it.

Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. Have you ever noticed how prevalent low self-esteem is among the general population? I have. I have also grown to understand there is a lot we can do to change that. Once we become comfortable in our skin, our self-esteem can soar.

I used to have low self-esteem and all the accompanying characteristics. Then one day I began to ask myself why. Why do I feel this way? This one question inspired more than 10 years of studying low self-esteem and strategies to increase it. It consistently remained a focus for me for more than a decade.

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Aging

Going Back to School Later in Life

This past September my mother, at age 70-something, returned to graduate school after a 40-year career in interior design.

Going back to school brought great joy to her life. She loved learning and being part of a collegiate community with its accompanying youthful energy and enthusiasm. But she also experienced high anxiety about grades, keeping up with the workload, reading small print with her failing eyesight, and getting to class in bad weather.

When I went back to school at age 39, I also remember feeling both excitement and fear. My mind raced with questions: will I be able to study and do well while maintaining my family responsibilities? Will I be the oldest in my class? Will I still have the focus to study after all these years? Will the classes be interesting? Is it worth the money that school costs? Will it lead to a better life? I had many hopes and dreams but also the fear of failure, dread of embarrassment, and anxiety about all the unknowns.

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Anger

How to Manage Overwhelming Feelings

How many times a day do you mutter the “F" word? During stressful situations, maybe during your commute, or following a heated argument with a loved one, the four-letter word slips out. It strikes an emotional nerve, paralyzing you and antagonizing family and friends.

Feel. What “F” word did you think I was referencing?

Are you a feeler? Do pangs of guilt and bursts of excitement define your day? I know your pain. As a self-admitted sensitive soul, my feelings rise and ebb like a cresting wave.
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Children and Teens

What to Do When You Feel Unmotivated in Your Career (And 3 Ways to Do Your Best Work)

We’ve all faced days at the office where we’re just not feeling motivated. Off days happen to everyone and it’s tough -- if not unrealistic -- to constantly do your best work. There are bound to be times when you procrastinate too much, lack focus, or struggle to start important projects.

You may react by getting down on yourself, wondering where your determination has gone. It can be disappointing to feel like you’re not living up to your aspirations, especially when there’s important work to be done, which there almost always is. Speed, efficiency, and productivity are what drive results, and when our energy doesn’t match our ambition, it can be frustrating.
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Personal

Learn How to Let Go of Shame and Forgive Yourself

"Stop beating yourself up. You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once." -- Unknown
I haven’t always been the woman I am today.

I used to be scared. Of everything. And everyone. Painfully shy and insecure, I saw myself as a victim of my circumstances, and was always waiting, on guard, for the next rejection. I masked my insecurity in a blanket of perfectionism, and worked hard to put forth the image that I had everything together and had it all figured out.

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Brain and Behavior

Surviving the Traffic Jams of Life

The shrill horn startles you. “Hey, jerk, pay attention,” a flat-chested trucker shrieks at you. Waving in his direction, you respond with your own blue streak. Sadly, your vulgar mouth moves faster than the gnarled traffic. The 7 a.m. commute is a fitting metaphor. Stuck in an unfulfilling job and crumbling relationship, a catnap is a futile reprieve from your sinking life.

In the U.S., we face snarling traffic, time-sucking commutes, and soul-sucking jobs. In 2015, Los Angeles commuters wasted 81 hours rotting in traffic. Even in cities regarded for their quality of life (I am looking at you Denver, Seattle, and Minneapolis), choking traffic is the norm.

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Books

A Cancer Survivor’s Healing Plan

When I last saw my oncologist, he referred me to a counselor about some anxiety and flashbacks. It's one of the free services available to me as an ongoing patient being monitored post-cancer.

I had one appointment, and we had a good talk. He gave me perspective and helped me understand that I already do have a lot of life skills and ways to cope with anxiety as memory flashbacks happen. I just need to breathe through it and wait a few minutes for it to pass. It seems like a grief response, he said, and will get less frequent with time. But it's normal. It's intrusive but not disabling.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Find Power in Silence

"Silence is a source of great strength." -- Lao Tzu (6th century BCE)
How is silence a source of strength? I adore the works of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, but sometimes I don’t know what he means. Does he just mean the kind of silence in meditation?

Here’s more:
When life is simple,
Pretenses fall away;
Our essential natures shine through.

By not wanting there is calm,
And the world will straighten itself out.
When there is silence
One finds the anchor of the universe within oneself.
This kind of silence appears to be the inner peace of living in the moment and appreciating the invaluable ordinary things around us every day. Quieting all those thoughts that color our perception day in and day out, we live in the moment and tap into a bounty of joy and gratitude for the simplest things.
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Personal

10 Warning Signs You’re in a Codependent Relationship

Are you a codependent person?

"Ugh, I am so not a codependent person," said the codependent person. "I'm way too independent and responsible to depend on another person like that. In fact, it's all the other people in my life with the issues, and I'm stuck cleaning up their messes."

I didn't think I was a codependent person either, until I was slammed into reality one night in a Barnes & Noble aisle. There I was, sprawled under the four shelves labeled "Addiction," desperately thumbing through each book with shiny streaks down my face.
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Depression

My Depression Was a Dealbreaker for Him


He found out by Googling me.

I have been writing candidly about my life for as long as I can remember. I've never been able to pull off fiction because my brain doesn't work that way, but I have been able to, as Hemingway put it, "sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Or, since it is the 21st century, sit down at a computer and just let it all out.

Maybe I'm a product of the 21st over-sharing generation or maybe I just want others to feel less alone in their own struggles; some days, I'm not quite sure. But either way, the topics in which I choose to cover never fail to evoke a strong response, and I would never want it any other way.

One such topic, from which I’ll never steer, is my depression.
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