Something’s Gotta Give!


This is something that I am learning in my life currently. I am 34 weeks pregnant, and I am really starting to feel it! The bigger baby and I grow, the more my body tells me to slow down and take more breaks. If you know me at all, then you know this is hard for me! I am usually an energetic, type-A, let’s-get-this-done type of person. Because my mind and my body are in conflict, I often find myself frustrated and unfairly judging myself. I tell myself things like, “you should be doing more”, “too much time was wasted today just sitting around”, and “there must be tons of pregnant women doing much more than you right now”. These are not things I would think or say to anyone else, so why do I judge myself so harshly?

I think often of the DBT skills – especially of radical acceptance, non-judgmental stance, and wise mind. Remember that these skills require on-going practice. They are simply not understood and checked off a list or mastered (though I wish it were that easy!) I must remember to radically accept what I can not control and to let go. My body has changed greatly and I have to make adjustments accordingly. I can’t be on my feet as long, lift as much, or run as many errands. I have to let go when my to-do list isn’t all checked off and we don’t have anything cooked for dinner, or the bathroom is a mess. I have to remind myself to shift into neutral thinking when I start judging. I must say to myself, this is what I accomplished and this is what I didn’t. I will get to (fill in the blank) when I am able to. I have to challenge these beliefs that things must be a certain way. When I feel anxious or frustrated, I must balance those emotions with logic. What are the facts? Oh right – I’m eight months pregnant! Even if I wasn’t, I am human and I deserve a break. I am flawed and there is no such thing as perfection.

What has to give in your life right now? Often we try to take on too much, balance too many obligations. Work might be suffering if you have too much stress in your personal life, or you may be having issues in your intimate relationships if you have too many work or other social obligations. What I see most often unfortunately is that YOU are the one suffering. Everything else might be in balance, but self-care is non-existent.

What do you have to let go of so that you can take a little bit better care of yourself? What would that look like? If you could create more time for yourself, how would you fill it? Try to really challenge yourself to give up something – today and/or in your life currently!

Act The Way I Want to Feel

I recently started re-reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. (subtitle: “Or why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun”) I forget exactly why I had picked this book up in the first place, but I really enjoyed the author’s story of why and how she tried to become happier. It is a lighter read than some books I may gravitate toward given that I am a trauma-based therapist. However it being lighter doesn’t mean it doesn’t give great points and insights on improving your life.

What does it mean to be happy? How can I have more fun? How can I make my life less complicated? How do my actions contribute to or re-enforce the days that I’m down and mopey?

One of her personal commandments – mantras and reminders of how to live a happier life that I am so loving right now is: act the way I want to feel.

Act the way I want to feel.

My husband will say to me sometimes if I get annoyed, “well you can feel however you want to feel”. This unfortunately for him (sorry babe!) sparks further annoyance. “Why would I want to feel (fill in the blank: angry, sad, annoyed, etc.)?” Of course I don’t want to stay stuck in feeling angry or sad. I want to feel happy, calm, relaxed. So how do I do it? This is becoming a reminder for me in those times to do something to turn it around.

Act the way I want to feel. It reminds me of the DBT skill: opposite to emotion action. Essentially this means: move toward what will help you versus what will hurt you or keep you stuck.

If you feel depressed, what will be the smarter option for getting out of the depressed mood?: A) stay in bed all day and watch dramas on Netflix or B) get up, shower, and go for a walk or call a friend to have lunch.
If you feel angry, what will be the smarter option for calming down?: A) throw things and yell about what is making you angry or B) take a deep breath, walk away, and shift attention away from the thing that has triggered you.

Sounds simple right? Of course I understand it isn’t that simple or else none of us would ever stay in bad moods. The thing that I encourage you to do is practice. Practice trying a better & healthier way. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Push yourself when even though you don’t feel like it, you know doing so will make you feel better. So often I hear people say, “I just didn’t feel like going”, about something like going to the gym or going out with friends (things they know make them feel good). This “I don’t feel like it” thinking traps them into often doing something ineffective, like isolating, emotional eating, drinking, or self-harming in some other way. If you know that going to the gym or going out with friends makes you feel better, then push yourself to try.

Think about what makes you happy, what gets in the way of your happiness, and what contributes to staying in bad moods. Practice acting the way you want to feel!

Self-Imposed Pressure

Dear followers, it has been almost a year since I have written to you. My apologies! Life has been so busy with settling into our new home, preparing for our wedding, and other day to day life stress and adventures! I’ve been thinking a lot about the website & blog lately. I’ve been feeling more inspired to write, create, and connect. I also want to acknowledge that I’ve started to write several times but have hesitated. The reason? Self-doubt.

I talk often to my clients about self-doubt and indecisiveness. In reference to my creativity (including journaling, crafting, and blogging) I have been victim to my own self-imposed pressure. It’s the pressure of perfectionism, something that runs deep for me. There is a picture of me that my husband loves to bring up to describe me. I’m maybe 4 years old, sitting in front of my Little Tykes table with little animals laid out in front of me. What’s funny is how they are lined up – all different animals and little plastic figurines lined up perfectly like little soldiers! Clearly my need to organize and for things to be just so is nothing new!

It can be really hard to let go of that. All I can do is try. There will always be some sort of pressure and potential for self-doubt, if you allow it in. I have wasted so much thought and energy worrying about what other people think at the expense of being my true self. I’m going to continue to work on being the best I can be each day while allowing room for mistakes. I hope that you can continue to work on being kind to yourself. Take risks and make mistakes! It is all opportunity to learn.

Please write me with ideas for topics & what you would like to see more of on this site!

Spotlight on ~ DBT

DBT = Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

This is a type of therapy I became more aware of in 2010 while working at a partial hospitalization program. Since then I have had multiple trainings and have learned as much as I could about it. In my experiences, it has been the most useful and effective type of therapy that I have worked with.

My favorite skills are wise mind and radical acceptance.

Wise mind is the balance of your logic and emotions. Many of the DBT skills are about balance. It is probably unrealistic to expect that we would be completely logical about a situation, and it is probably ineffective to be completely emotional about that same situation. Ideally, we would acknowledge what our emotions are (basic mindfulness practice – checking in and observing our feelings), and then engage the rational part of our brains so that we don’t act out impulsively.

Things to consider for arriving in wise mind: Can you identify the emotion or feeling? Where do you feel it in your body? Can you rate it on a scale of 1-10? Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you are feeling without acting. Then assess what you are thinking. What information do you have – what are the facts? Is it something you have any control over? Are you making assumptions or predicting the future? Understand that your thoughts are not always true. Live without judgment and you can tap into your own wise mind.

Radical acceptance is about acknowledging reality. Acceptance doesn’t mean forgiveness or that we condone or are happy about that reality. It just is an acknowledgment that we most likely have no control. Remember, the only things that we can control of are our thoughts, feelings (though this is often debated,) and behaviors. Everything else is out of our control. The past is out of our control, though we can learn from it; the future is out of our control, though we can try to prepare for it. Finding acceptance can create an important freedom and allow you to live in the moment without judgment.

Check out these resources for more information on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and feel free to comment with any thoughts or questions!

DBT Self-Help
DBT at Get Self-Help
DBT Links at Healing from BPD
Diary Card templates (to track your progress)

Journal Prompt: Think of a recent upsetting situation. How can you use wise mind and radical acceptance to look at it differently?



Winter Blues

My apologies loyal followers and guests. It has been so long since I have written a new post! I had hoped to start writing more since I moved (back in November), but I haven’t quite figured out my flow yet.

Many of you have mentioned that its been difficult this winter with as much snow as we have had. I can understand. Though I am a person that is content with being at home, I do like to go out as well! With the weather such as it has been it certainly has been difficult to get motivated to go anywhere, or even do things around the house. It’s been really easy to hide under the covers and get sucked into the Netflix queue.

What’ s the winter been like for you? Are you playing in the snow with your kids, getting projects done inside of the house, or do you find yourself doing a lot of eating and sleeping each evening and weekend?

Think about how you could motivate yourself! The new year is a time where we set goals and resolutions. Have you been keeping up with them? Maybe this is an opportunity to check in with yourself about your hopes and dreams – for the future and for today. Can you mindfully live in the present? Can you appreciate your right now?

Some ideas for coping and thriving while we wait for spring:

  • plan a vacation – get away for the weekend soon, or think ahead to the summer
  • make yourself a cup of hot tea and curl up with a book you’ve been wanting to read
  • go out, but stay indoors – check out a concert, movie, or go to a coffee house
  • take an online class, research something new, or go through that pile of paperwork that never seems to get put away
  • check out to connect with others and find new hobbies
  • play a board game or get out a deck of cards – with the family or some friends
  • start an indoor project – check out Pinterest for some budget friendly ideas for updating your living space
  • start a blog – what would you want to write about?
  • start your spring cleaning early – you don’t have to wait for spring to have a yard sale, just throw it up on eBay or craigslist

Please comment with any ideas that you might have! Stay warm, and I will talk to you soon 🙂

How Giving Up and Letting Go Are In for 2014

One of my best friends has had a hell of a year – moving out of state, resigning from her job, deaths in the family – just to name a few of the things she is dealing with. One of the ways that she has gotten though it is to say to herself, “I’m going to pick my battles.” It may sound simple, but this statement and what is represents can be so powerful – letting go.

So much of our anxiety has to do with control – wanting to control the things we can’t, feeling out of control (especially when it comes to emotions), ignoring or avoiding the things that we can control, and getting so angry when we can’t make loved ones just do what (we think) they need to do. Imagine that you could stop yourself, evaluate the scenario with a clear head, and realize that it isn’t worth your energy? You can!

Often associated with AA is the serenity prayer, “Higher power, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer/mantra can be such a helpful reminder for anyone struggle with the stress of difficult situations. A quote by mindfulness guru Elisha Goldstein – “It is what it is, when it is”. This so simply ties radical acceptance and mindfulness. Can you work on accepting your reality? You don’t have to agree with it, like it, or understand it. But you can accept that in that reality there is nothing you can do about it. Your only control is over your thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and reactions to everything else.

Just for today, or as a new resolution, try giving up control and letting go. The dishes don’t have to get done before you go to bed. The kids don’t have to get straight As on their report cards. You don’t have to put on make-up every time you leave the house. Think about what brings you joy and what brings you frustration. Re-evaluate what is important in your life. Letting go of the more trivial things can help you to focus your attention on what matters.

Journal prompt: What can I let go of? What is something that bothers me that I have no control over? Where can I shift my attention to instead?

Recommended reading: “Mastering the Art of Quitting“…  I have not yet read this book, but recently heard an interview with one of the authors on NPR and was very intrigued!


Hope for Today


As some of you know, I am the proud parent of a rescued chihuahua. Her name is Luna and we are absolutely in love with her. Luna has made the rounds being in and out of people’s homes – she is an older dog and is blind in one eye. We know that she was in a home where there was a “bad divorce”. I’m sure you can imagine what that means. I’m told she wasn’t abused but I’m sure she witnessed a lot of yelling and ugly behavior. Now she cowers and puts her tail between her legs when encountering new people. She is friendly and will warm up, but I can assure you she was not very thrilled to discover she was leaving her foster mom they day we adopted her. I get the impression that the husband in that situation was mean to her because almost three weeks later she is still not completely comfortable with Scott.

Luna has become very attached to me since that day though. She is very loving, cuddly, and when I’m with her she never leaves my side. She reminds me of my own traumas when I think of hers. There is no way of knowing what the future holds. It can get better.

We can hope, wish, pray, plan, but whatever will be will be. Often when things have been negative, traumatic, or just less than ideal for us we tend to get stuck into thinking that is how it will always be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I knew that I wanted a small dog for quite a while. But I didn’t know I would find the perfect dog for me. I think of her as my furry little soul mate 🙂 And if dogs could think about the future, I’m she wouldn’t have known she was going to be lovingly spoiled by new parents at her age.  But she is. And we are happy to do it!

Have hope for today. As bleak as it may seem at times, we never know what will be there around the bend. I know that trying to be positive can seem fake and un-realistic at times. Try being neutral. Remember that part of mindfulness is being non-judgmental. Try getting out of the all-or-nothing thinking and remember there are often numerous possibilities.

Journal prompt: What are you hopeful about today? What are ways that you can balance looking forward to the future while remaining grounded in your present?

Spotlight on Mindfulness

Those of you who know me know that I use mindfulness in my personal and professional life.  It is something that I very much believe in, and practice as much as possible. I think it is a valuable tool that keeps me going. It really has changed my life.

I used to be a person that either lived so much in the past or became easily consumed with the future at any given moment. I would get stuck in bad memories, focusing on what could have been or what I could have done differently about it. What my life would have, could have, should have been if… (fill in the blank). Those pesky ‘what ifs’ get us trapped in worry about the future as well. It can paralyze us and prevent us from following through on a decision. Keeping yourself so consumed with the future is not productive either.

We can learn from the past, and we can prepare for our future, but what we have is right now. This present moment. We have right now to live for.

Mindfulness doesn’t mean that you can’t look back on fond memories, or look forward to something in your future. We can learn from our past, and we can prepare for something upcoming that might be difficult. Be careful however that you don’t become so consumed by it that you are missing out on today.

I’d also like to add a word on being non-judgmental and on gratitude. Part of mindfulness, about being in the present moment, is to be as non-judgmental as possible. Try to be an observer to your current experience – inside and outside of yourself. Try to limit placing value or meaning to it. Especially when this can lead to negativity. Its easy to be hard on ourselves – many of you can relate to this! Instead of calling ourselves “stupid”, “worthless”, or so many other things we put onto ourselves, try staying neutral. Things do not have to be good or bad. It doesn’t have to be black and white – there are many shades of gray.

Remind yourself of what you are grateful for. What do you appreciate at this moment? Currently in your life? Sometimes that can being us back into the present. Maybe you are grateful for your friendships, your health, your home, or your pets. With so much anxiety and stress we can lose sight of the things in our lives that enrich them. Try not to lose sight or take anything or anyone for granted.

Journal prompt: What do you have to be grateful for today? In this present moment? What is going on in your present awareness that you can learn from?

See ‘Coping 101’ for links for more info and tips on mindfulness!

Fall Fresh Start


Whether or not you are a teacher, student, or parent of school-age children, fall seems to have the energy of a fresh start. We trained our brains for so long to look at a new school year as a brand new year. Now that we may be out of school it can still be a time for resolutions. Clearing out, cleaning out, and starting fresh. This can be something as simple as your home or car – separating out toss, keep, or donate. Hoping cool autumn air will be on its way soon so that we can save energy from the AC and open up our windows – letting that stale air out.

What can be more difficult is starting fresh with ourselves and our relationships. Think about what changes you would like to see for yourself. Are you happy? Do you feel fulfilled? Are the relationships in your life serving you – is it a relationship, or a relationshit? Prioritize your needs by thinking of the major aspects of our lives:

  • Love & Intimacy
  • Relationships – Friends
  • Relationships – Family
  • Physical Well-being/Health
  • Spirituality
  • Fun & Play
  • Learning
  • Finances
  • Work/Career
  • Helping Others/Philanthropy

If you had to rate each of these categories on a scale from 1-10 (10 being the highest), what areas shine and what areas could use some attention? This rating system resembles the Wheel of Life that we can use visually to help us see the balance, or lack thereof, in our lives.

While on my Tranquility Summer Camp retreat in mid-August, the lovely Kimberly Wilson had us journal and meditate on this exercise. (*Will be writing more about my experiences from my retreat soon!*)

Don’t stop with your assessment though. Come up with a plan. Look at the areas that have a lower score that you would like to see increased. What are you going to do to get that number up? Or maybe you want to focus on the areas that have high numbers, and think about how you are going to maintain it.

Please enjoy the start of your fall! Take time to slow down in the transition to reflect on where you are in your life, and how you can make the most out of your everyday!

Remaining Well While on Vacation


While spending the weekend in beautiful Cape May, I am reminded of several things. I am reminded first of all how wonderful this town is – how cute, magical, and peaceful. I am grateful for the opportunity to take trips away from home. I am grateful that my fiancé and I are able to take time for ourselves. I am grateful for his company, and his patience for my love of boutique shopping 😉

I am also reminded that no matter where you go, that’s where you are. By this I mean that we have to remember to perform self-care, exercise mindfulness, and be kind to our inner child. Even on vacation. Despite being surrounded by serenity, triggers may pop up unexpectedly. Being prepared with a self-soothing plan – using your five senses to ground you into your environment – can be a sure way to help you back down from that spiral into anxiety or depression.

Ask yourself: What do I see? What do I feel or touch (i.e. temperature, fabric)? What do I hear? What do I smell? What do I taste (i.e. chewing gum, a hard candy, a lingering taste of coffee or green tea)? Bring yourself back to the present. Tell yourself: It is 2013. I am (fill in the blank) years old. I am in this location (fill in the blank here too). I am in the here and now. Tell yourself if it feels appropriate to do so: I am safe.

Often we can experience an out of body feeling, which can coincide with the slippery slope of what-if thinking. We are shifting from present to past, or present to future and are not enjoying or experiencing the present moment.

A lovely gift from boutique owner Crystal Hardin at the Mermaid’s Cove is this book I am reading through, “Heart of a Buddha”. Here are some quotes to remind us of how to be in our present moment.

“We are what we think.”
“All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.”
“Nothing is permanent. Nothing is worthy of anger. Nothing is worthy of dispute. Nothing.”
“Do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Take time to slow down and be present as your summer begins to wind down into the new year of autumn.