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Children and Teens

Driving Your Own Bus

“I am not going to Cancun,” I barked -- defiance lining my voice.  

Eyebrows arched, my saintly mother glowed at me. “What do you mean you aren’t going to Cancun? You are not spending the week at home; you can spend the weekend in Duluth with your grandfather,” she coolly responded.

“Fine, I’ll go see Grandpa Arnold,” I smirked before stomping off in a pique of high school frustration.
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Anxiety and Panic

The Sandwich Effect: Starting and Ending Our Day to Be Our Best Selves

How we show up each day is largely determined by our attitude and outlook. Despite the challenges that we might be facing in the day ahead, what we choose to focus on plays a big role in how we get through our day.

I have had days filled with stressors and hurdles that I have moved through with grace, courage, and presence, while on other days, filled with far fewer stressors, I have plodded through with irritability, negativity or anxiety.

It didn’t have to do with what was unfolding during the day as much as what was happening in the space between my ears. When I wake up too early and can’t fall back to sleep, and focus on thoughts of how tired I am going to be and predictions of doom and gloom for my day ahead, I set myself up for irritability. On the other hand, on the mornings when I wake up too early but sit outside and take in the early morning solitude that I so often miss at this hour, I show up very differently in my day.
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Anxiety and Panic

Requiem for a Nightmare


I am a recovering praise fiend.  

As a little boy, I would sprint home and unload my day’s events to my nonplussed mother.

“Hi, Mom, I earned an A on my English paper,” I would gush. And then my tone would drop an octave, “But I earned a B on that math quiz.” Dropping my head, I would then sulk to the kitchen table. That B would invoke a night of heavy soul-searching and, at times, self-flagellation (“What happened? How could I get a B on that math quiz?”). While amusing now -- in an awkward, semi-embarrassed way, my self-reporting entailed more than a daily academic update. It represented my unquenchable thirst for praise.
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Anxiety and Panic

Sharing Knowledge of Your Mental Health Issues

We were on Route 9 in between Kremmling and Silverthorne, Colorado. Our ultimate destination was Colorado Springs. To say that we were out in the boonies was an understatement. Mountains rose up to the right and left of us. I was enjoying the solitude when suddenly my cell phone rang.

Who could be calling me?

It was a New York City area code and a phone number that I didn’t immediately recognize. I was surprised I could even get cell phone service at this altitude.
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Aging

Thoughts on Time Versus Money

If someone gave you five hundred dollars to spend on something that makes you happy, what would you buy?

Some new clothes? Gifts for friends and family? Or perhaps you’d donate the money to one of your favorite charities -- after all, what could make you happier than that?

Well, there is something that makes most people happier, but we rarely consider it to be something we can buy: Time.
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Addiction

5 Ways to Safely ‘Get High’ with Your Kids


Everyone needs to feel EXTRA alive sometimes.

I've been thinking lately about the term “getting high”, as it is so commonly used in our culture today.

As a student of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), I know the real power our language has in influencing our lives.

This leads me to wonder about the relationship between how we define getting high and the epidemic we now face with substance use disorder in our country.

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Anxiety and Panic

Experiencing Goodwill


As someone who shamelessly scours Goodwill for second-hand finds, this confession is particularly painful: New is better.

New experiences -- that is. I will forever cherish my vintage t-shirts and maps.

Over the past year, I have put those vintage maps to use, traveling to five countries.

While traveling can tire (that said, I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not shedding any tears for me), fresh experiences rejuvenate -- at least anecdotally. Even when they seemingly sap every reservoir of energy and patience.
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Anger

Bloody Brothers: The Fraying of Sibling Relationships

Blood is thicker than water?

Well, what if the blood contains petty feuds, simmering resentments, and the occasional volcanic eruption?

Welcome to the fraught world of sibling relationships.

Spending our childhood terrorizing our Des Moines neighborhood, my brothers and I were thicker than thieves. In the family scrapbook, there are endearingly awkward photos of my brothers and me mugging with oversized tennis trophies. Or vacationing in Colorado. Or celebrating the latest family milestone. With our toothy grins, the pictures radiate a boundless joy.
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Children and Teens

7 Essentials for Parents of Kids with OCD

Looking back to what I now know suggests that my 3 1/2 year old son’s long lasting temper tantrums may have been an indication that something was up. I just didn’t know what it was and wasn’t sure how to become better informed. All I remember is that it seemed like it was his way or the highway. He eventually grew out of those temper tantrums by the time he started pre-school.
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Bipolar

Bullying Isn’t Just ‘Child’s Play’

My name is Gabe Howard and I’m forty years old. I’m outgoing and charismatic, and I make my living as a writer and speaker. Despite a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, my adult life is stable and I’m content. When it comes to my childhood, many things stand out, but — even all these years later — the biggest defining event is that I was bullied.

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Depression

Therapist Grief

As a therapist, many people come in with issues with grief. For years I have tried to help clients figure out the well know Elisabeth Kubler Ross Stages of Grief and what stage in their grief they are in: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It has been sad to watch clients suffer and deal with grief. I have wished many times that I could...
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Anxiety and Panic

Speak the Evil

See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

And in case you were wondering, the proverbial “evil” would be my dormant mental health issues.  

Growing up in an upper-class family in Des Moines, Iowa, mental health was an afterthought -- sandwiched in between tennis matches, gawky Homecoming dance photos, and college football Saturdays. While I struggled with perfectionism (presaging a later struggle with OCD), my mother glossed over my mental rigidity.  

“You just have high standards, Matthew,” she soothingly reassured to me and -- perhaps -- herself.
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