Depression

How to Be with Sadness

The thought of going to a funeral used to be a terrifying prospect for me. Walking into a room filled with sadness and grief evoked -- well -- an intense desire not to go. Anxiety was all I could feel. It obscured the feelings I wanted to have like sadness and compassion. And, I secretly felt ashamed that I didn’t have “the right” feelings.

Core emotions, like sadness, are evolutionarily designed survival programs that all of us have. They are hard-wired deep in the middle part of the brain and arise involuntarily depending on what is going on in our immediate environment. 
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Children and Teens

Pain, Creativity, and Secret Notebook Excerpts

If you own (or used to own) a diary, have you ever looked through your past entries in an unsuspectingly good mood and found yourself offended by your own depressive writings? Don’t worry, you may not quite be the Negative Nancy that your diary paints you out to be, or a person who is perpetually bummed out. You don’t necessarily have to look back upon the works of your 15-year old self and cringe at your 67th “I’m am so alone” entry; as silly as you think they may sound now, these feelings were real at the point of time they were written, and every bit valid considering how circumstances were back then.
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Grief and Loss

A Practical Tip for Developing a Stress-Resilient Life

“Your dad’s had a heart attack.”  

My own heart shot into my throat, hearing my mother’s garbled words a thousand miles away.

“He’s going to be okay, but maybe you could fly out?”

It’s been almost two years since my father’s heart attack and he’s made important changes that have improved his life quality considerably. Both my grandfather and grandmother died of heart disease. They experienced immense socio-economic challenges and faced more stressful life situations than I could possibly imagine.

However, this part of my own family history has inspired me to explore ways to reduce stress in my own life and the lives of my clients. Today, I would like to share with you one idea I find incredibly useful in building a stress-resilient life.   
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Depression

Overcoming Sorrow

“Sorrow comes to all… Perfect reality is not possible, except with time. You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better and yet you are sure to be happy again.” – Abraham Lincoln
Sorrow is the opposite of happiness, yet both are part of human existence.

Like life and death and the changing of seasons, it should be familiar enough to recognize that things have a sequence. Sometimes that sequence is a time of birth or rebirth, a creative force that erases failure and negativity. Other times, however, there’s a clearly defined sense of decay, lack of progress, mistakes and endings.

The key to overcoming sorrow and
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Children and Teens

Mother’s Day for Those Without Mothers

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” - traditional 19th century American spiritual
Not everyone gets the mother every child by birthright deserves. Sometimes a child doesn’t have a mother due to death or abandonment. Sometimes mothers who were not mothered themselves haven’t a clue how to do it. Sometimes a mother is addicted, abused, or mentally or physically ill and has all she can do to survive herself. And sometimes a mother’s idea of mothering is to be selfish or harsh. Whatever the reason, a child who lacks a mother or who lacks a mother who is mothering knows instinctively that something is missing.
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Grief and Loss

How to Find Joy… Even When Life Is Feeling Awful

When we are experiencing loss and sadness in our life, everyday can feel like a struggle.

Whether it is recovering from loss of a loved one, divorce, a lay-off, or anything else, we forget to care for ourselves and to find joy at the time when we need it most.

Learning how to reinvent ourselves, establish our independence again, and figure out what we want during this next chapter of our lives is a bit overwhelming. Oftentimes, we may forget to see all the wonderful things that await us. 
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Family

On Grieving and Celebrating the Deceased

Aunt Jane died.  She was 95.  Aunt Jane was the lady who taught me how to play jacks and cats’ cradle in 1969 when I was six-years-old.  She fed me salmon patties, which I grew to like.  She took me on daily walks by the duck pond.

When we all got older, it was my brothers and I who entertained Aunt Jane.  We took her to lunch at the steak house or stopped at a burger joint and picked up food and took it to her apartment, where we laughed and joked and marveled at our aunt, born in 1921.  Jane still called the refrigerator the “ice box.”
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Grief and Loss

Making Room for Change

Change is unavoidable and the part of life we all dread. Change can be hard and uncomfortable. The ways we navigate change are often a reflection of how we have experienced change before. Change can be threatening, inspiring and/or encouraging. Ultimately, the more room you can make for change in your life the easier time you will have dealing with the change when it comes.

How do we prepare for change? What can we do to focus on the positive aspects of change? Luckily, there are some things you can put into place for yourself that will help you effectively manage the changes you confront in your life.
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Aging

Peeling Off the Pericardium

On June 12, 2014, my life changed immeasurably with an unexpected cardiac event. It had been brewing for a while and reached a boiling point with a fully occluded artery sending me careening into a new way of living and loving. A few hours after the initial symptoms, I had a new body part (a stent) keeping it open and the blood flowing.

How many beats per minute? How much love can the heart hold? How do we keep the blood pumping that sustains our lives? How do we become works of he(art)? Each of these is a practical and philosophical question I ponder.
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Anger

Fatherhood: Optional

“We have a personality clash,” my father would flippantly remark before storming off. This was his throwaway line.

I stood there dumbfounded. A sensitive teenager, the words wounded. There was a cold dismissiveness in his voice.

“What have I ever done to you?” I wondered.

The answer: Nothing. But that doesn’t stop the lingering hurt. In 1997, 2007, and, yes, 2017.
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