Riding the Wave(s)

img_4675Sorry, this post has taken awhile to get posted, but between the flu bug that wouldn’t go away and life itself, it’s been a roller coaster. But that is what this post is all about learning to “Ride the Waves.”

I chose this subject, since it is a frequent topic of discussion with clients. If one is open to it this is an area that can provide much growth emotionally and in the self-esteem department is one I like to refer to as “Riding the Waves.” It’s more commonly known as “Peaks and Valleys.” We all have them, we are on a variety of biological schedules whether hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. It’s one of the aspects that connect all us to each other & makes us human.

Riding the Waves/Peaks and Valleys refers to our energy levels throughout our life. Most of us know it on a daily basis, such as “I’m a morning person or I’m a night owl” as examples. Which are you? The scope of this is much larger than just that question. It can help us define how best to use our talents, energy levels, resting periods and make the best of our life.  Learning to make peace and acceptance of this aspect of our humanity and uniqueness can help us use these Peaks and Valleys to our advantage instead viewing them as positive and negative. Actually they are neither, but definitely can help each of us make the most of Riding the Waves.

I was first introduced to this theory in my Pharmcology class in grad school, regarding dealing with the ups & downs/cyclic nature of Mental Health issues. This theory/method is actually quite applicable to everyone, whether you have Mental Health issues or not. I’ve used this technique with many of my clients over the years and many find it’s application useful in the many aspects of their lives.

Clients will often report their constant battle with themselves in regards to trying to change from being a night owl to a day person as an example, with my question to them is “Why?” Often startled by the response and the question,  we will discuss further the lack of acceptance of this natural aspect of their life.

Many of my self described “night owl” clients will discuss their struggles with trying to fit in with, the traditional schedules/daytime hours that the “average” person keeps. Often, they feel pressured to fit into a system that biologically doesn’t work for them.  My question to them, “why fight it?” Being a night owl is no different or any less than  being a morning or afternoon person. One just have different strengths and talents, figuring out how to use them is the key.

A larger population that can also benefit from this are various types of mental health issues, especially those with the diagnosis of Bipolar, higher functioning   Autism/Aspbergers and certain types of Schizophrenia. How they can benefit is very similar to night owls, since they often have highs & lows/peaks & valleys more often, for longer periods of time and are often fighting against the cycling aspects of their illnesses on a consistent basis. I often hear from this population of clients is the desire to be “normal.” (I’m still trying to figure that one out, such as the 2.5 kids part)

How my clients with mental health issues describe this constant struggle with the cyclic nature of their disorder, “is a battle between themselves and fitting in.” It can be tiring, frustrating and seriously effect their self esteem. When I bring up the idea of learning how to work with the cycles, instead of fighting with themselves, they are often surprised. No matter how much therapy or professionals they talk to, nobody has ever brought this idea up with them. Many are open to trying this new approach in their search for answers and solutions.

What I encourage clients to do as the first step is to track their cycles in length, intensity & what types of activities they are able to complete during the various stages of their cycles. Such as what are their talents during the up and down moments. Such as for someone with bipolar disorder, what can the best accomplish in manic/high energy phases. Such as cleaning house, work tasks that require lots of momentum & for some their creativity lies in this phase. As they are traveling down from the high phase to the lower/depressive phase or back up the ladder, often they have most of their clarity and clear thoughts. This is a time when tasks that require a clear mind are best accomplished, including working on ideas written down when manicy phase, making lists and paying bills. Upon reaching the bottom/depressive portion of the cycle, this can be a period of rest and gathering one’s thoughts.

For my clients who try this technique, many have reported that they have noticed some positive changes in their life. These include their cycles smoothing out, sometimes shorter in duration and more time between cycles. What is probably the most amazing result of this, is the improvement in their self esteem and reduction in negative self talk. Also they report having more energy due to the acceptance of who they are and a greater appreciation of their talents. It’s truly amazing what happens when we quit/reduce the internal fighting we can have with ourselves.

In your hourly/daily/weekly/yearly cycles, how much acceptance do you have of all your talents & abilities?

Do you struggle with yourself with these issues?

Feeling overwhelmed and help figuring out how to cope?

Contact me for help.

Ladder or Shovel, it’s your choice.

 

IMG_6083I love this title, basically due to the fact that it a direct line from a conversation that a coworker and I were having the other day. We were talking about a mixture of personal experiences and clients in general.

The conversation revolved around a situation someone we both knew was going through and how comfortable people can become in a negative situation. I use the word negative as opposed to bad, since bad tends to imply black and white thinking. As much as possible I try to fall into the grey area of thinking, which basically means for the most part situations are not one or two sided. I believe in the philosophy of there are many sides, pieces and outcomes to most situations. I may not agree with a person’s choice(s), but I’m not living their life and as long as they aren’t harming children, others or animals what they do is their choice. As well, as the consequences of said decisions.

This particular situation revolved around being stuck in a rut and that one basically always has two choices, find/ask for a ladder or keeping digging the rut deeper. I know that people will say there is a third option, staying still.  Even though, we humans think things are standing still/ moving in a straight line it’s not the truth. Everything is always in motion and rarely a straight line, whether we can see it or not. Scientists and Mother Nature can prove this whether it be rocks, us or time. Which is why if you are in a rut, as time goes on, it either gets deeper or you wake up one day and decide you need a ladder. No matter how long that ladder ends up being, finding/asking for it is always the best option regarding moving forward.

To me, the interesting part of all of this is how comfortable people can get in their ruts, no matter how deep or negative. Most of that comfort isn’t, I love/like this situation and this is where I want to stay. It come from fear, the fear of the unknown vs the fear of the known. We humans can get lazy in regards to that fact that many would rather stay in an uncomfortable, negative situation/rut rather than venture out to check out options. The fear of the unknown for many is one of the top fears. One may not like their current situation, but they know the outcome, boundaries and consequences. Even peering over the edge, can be a scary move & the fear can still outweigh a possibility of change. It doesn’t matter what percentage the change can improve the situation, the fear can often outweigh the probable outcome.

Those of us who have worked with survivors of abusive situations have seen this first hand. I remember while working with foster children and their placement into a safe environment from an abusive living situation and the discomfort in the beginning of being in the safer place.  Often, they would act out, trying to get the abusive responses they were familiar with and not understanding or being comfortable with the safe and loving environment they were now living. The panic, fear and not knowing what the outcome or response would be was on their face and body language. Usually, if they stayed in a safe placement long enough, they would relax and become comfortable with these new responses and environment.

The other fear of the unknown in getting out of a rut is failure. It’s a huge part of human nature to wonder about the big, “What If?” It doesn’t matter if it is a posItive or negative “What If.” This even becomes even harder for people to find the courage, if they are surrounded by naysayers and people who aren’t supportive. But it can be done.  It’s not easy, but for those willing to take the chance, it can be worth it, especially given living in a situation that isn’t healthy or supportive to a possibility of change.

Do you find yourself stuck in a rut, need help designing plan or exploring options? I can help and don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, I enjoy hearing about your thoughts & experiences.

Theory of Wish Fulfillment

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A common and sometimes fun conversation I have with some of my clients as they reach various milestones both big and small is “The Theory of Wish Fulfillment.” I can’t remember who introduced me to this theory,  it was at least 15-20 years ago. I will admit it sounds like faux psychology when it is mentioned to people.  But it has a basis in reality and as with many aspects of life, it is about your perception of yourself and your life. Both numerous studies and interviews with people who have either achieved or are working on achieving their goals state thinking about their wishes/goals/dreams and literally being able to feel/taste it with every fiber of their body are key components to being able to reach their hearts desires.

When my husband Nat and I transferred to Eureka, our first home here was a small rental. Which was very different from our previous home, which was spacious, lots and lots of storage space and a two car garage. Our new small home didn’t have these luxuries, no garage, limited storage and no dishwasher (a biggie for me). At the time it wasn’t what mattered to us. We were working and living in the same town together finally and had a million dollar view off the back deck. This million dollar gift at the edge of our backyard was a slough, a water view. I had promised my husband in my search for employment closer together, so we wouldn’t be working four hours apart, that we would end up by the water again. A promise I was determined to keep to him. Both of us love being by the water so, despite the other inconveniences of our small home, life was good.

A few months after we were living in Eureka, our landlord was moving out of her gorgeous home, which was two doors down from us and on the slough as well. Nat was outside one day and noticed that she and her son were moving furniture out of her home. Curious, Nat wandered over to see what was going on. He discovered she was moving to the other side of town and she took him on a tour of the home. He was smitten, came home later and excitedly told me, “I want to own that house someday.”

Everyday after that moment, for 3 yrs we drove by that house and we said as we drove by it,  “One day you will be ours!”

We patiently waited three years of shear agony, watching others come and look at “our home.” We dreaded each time we saw cars in front of the house, worried that our dream home would slip through our hands. Eventually, after 3 years we were finally in a position to purchase our dream home and were able truly call it ours. The moral of story is that if you wish/want something bad enough, you have the power to make it happen.

Self-Talk, the ability and desire to convince and talk yourself into what you desire and dream for your life. Also self-talk can be negative if you let it. As with many things in life it is about your perception of yourself and your life. Both numerous studies and interviews with people who have either achieved or are working on achieving their goals state that thinking about their wishes/goals/dreams are a key component to being  able to reach their hearts desire.

When I bring this topic up with clients, they often have to think on it. Many realize the truth it in, especially as their goals unfold in front of them. This talk is also useful when one is struggling, having hit that rough moment in their journey. We often revisit how far they have come and which parts of their dreams and wishes have come true so far.

How are you doing in regards to reaching your goals? How far are you in your journey? If you have reached your goals, what helped/has helped you them?More

Grief Counseling & how it can change your life

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I know this probably sounds like an unusual title for a blog post, but I figured it fits in with the idea of a new year, new goals. If one wishes to move forward with ones life, resolving issues or closing the door(s) this is a vital component in the process . After all it is hard to move forward if we keep tripping over the same stumbling blocks or continually falling into the same ruts.

Why grief counseling? Actually the answer to this question is easier than you might think and dealing with your losses can free you to be able to move on with your life. I wish more doctors and therapists would recommend grief counseling to their patients/clients as a regular part of the healing process. It can work wonders, isn’t fun by no means, but clients often tell me that it is worth the work.

When working with clients when I recommend grief counseling it is a suggestion I advise my clients to consider for growth and moving forward in their lives. The conversation will come up at various points in our working together, especially when it becomes obvious that some of the barriers in their lives and self sabotage is related to needing to grieve, mourn or make peace with the various losses in their lives. Yes, clients do give me a puzzled look when I suggest it, but as we explore what is holding them back, they become open and often enthusiastic about this idea.

So, what am I talking about when I mention the word loss in relationship to grief counseling? Often we equate loss, grief and grief counseling with the death of a loved one either human or otherwise. Though the actual  need to grieve a loss has many more definitions and depth to it.

A loss basically means just that, whether the loss be a loved one, job, relationships  of various kinds, a material item that has precious meaning, an acquired disability or health issue to name a few.  When working with my clients the most common losses that are discussed are loss of a loved one, a job or a disability/health issue(s).

Since my day job involves working with people with disabilities and many of them have an acquired disability/health issue the common loss they deal with is making peace with the old self and learning to embrace the new self. Often this presents itself as a skill set or ability that they loved and/or were talented in and since the disability/health issue they can no longer either do or have limitations in this area. So, they spend a lot of time beating themselves up emotionally and mentally about how useless they are, since they can no longer be as they once were in their life. Especially, if their self image or belief of self importance is the a major part of the loss. Once their loss is indentified, if they are open to grief counseling I will encourage them to look into it. Sometimes, the discussion of grief counseling itself is left for the next meeting, if the client isn’t quite ready to go further. I’m not a grief counselor nor is that an area that I am an expert, but being able to help clients realize or make a decision that this can be a vital step in their progress is equally important.

What losses have you had/have in your life that you haven’t mourned, made peace with or really been able to put in the past?  It’s one thing to think you have put it to rest, but totally different to truly do it. It’s been my experience in my own life, friends/family and in my professional life that if you haven’t done this, these issues pop up when you least expect it.

If you need help figuring out this part of your life, I can help you sort it out. I would also love to hear your stories as well.

Jobs are like dating

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Though, I choose this title for a blog post, it’s meaning is deeper than it’s first impression. Actually, it’s not just jobs are like dating, but life in general. I thought   “jobs are like dating,” is a more catchy title or not. Blogging as well can be like dating.

I had this conversation with a client in my office the other day and immediately thought blog post! It has been awhile since I had this conversation with anyone, so I thought, ” New Year, New Goals.” Let’s not talk about resolutions but more of a reality check and putting things in perspective.

This conversation comes up from time to time with clients when they are putting employment and other aspects of their life into perspective and learning more about themselves. Typically, it will start out as a conversation about past jobs that one has had and the why’s & why not of these jobs or job choices having not being a good fit and the reasons they wouldn’t return to those occupations or employers  Along with choices and situations that lead to that job and the reasons they are not there at this point in time.

Early on in my Social Service career after such a conversation, I was talking to a colleague and made the statement about how much jobs are like dating along with many aspects of life. The comparison is amazing if one thinks about it. So, how is dating like jobs and life in general, one might ask?

If one thinks about it, what are the key aspects of dating?

1. Meeting someone who might be a good fit.

2. Trying out, spending time with a person to see if this is where you would like to spend your valuable time and energy with and on.

3. Deciding if this is someone/something that you are willing to commit yourself.

4. What type of relationship can/do you see yourself having?

5. Could this be long term, short term or just one date event?

Putting job search or other aspects of your life into this perspective or conversation with either yourself or someone you trust can be helpful. Especially in regards to making decisions about various aspects of one’s life or dealing with unhappiness in your life.

I often encourage clients to use this technique in putting value on various aspects of their life past and present. An example of this could be:

What was it about a certain job  that you have that you hated or felt was weighing down your soul?

If it were a person how would you treat it or feel about it?

What would you like to change about this situation?

I have also reversed this in conversation with clients to review what is working for them, makes them happy and the reasons why these are positives for them. This conversation is also useful in regards in also figuring out what works and doesn’t for someone. Which is equally important in regards to figuring out how to proceed with ones life.

Another other reason I use this approach instead of the traditional Pros & Cons list with some of my clients is to help them sort out the various aspects of their life no matter their age. In my day job I work with a population between the ages 16-70+, so this scenario has different meanings to them, due to ages, life experiences, expectations and needs. As I often tell colleagues and clients, what we want from dating is different as a teenager than at ages 25, 34 45, 50 and on up. Hopefully, as we move through life and get to know ourselves, we understand what we want, what we are willing to put up with and won’t tolerate. Along with what has been learned from both our mistakes and the positive experiences in life.

Whether evaluating or re-evaluating aspects of life it can be difficult to find a starting point for people. So, putting a different spin or approach in the quest to figure out oneself and achieving our goals, personally and professionally, can be quite effective.

This is a vital key to reaching and achieving happiness. Studies show (there are many of them out there) and I encourage you to check them out in support of the relationship between happiness and health. I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity in all aspects of ones life. How you define happiness, success and quantity/quality of life is up to you. If stuck, I can help you figure out how to get there, just feel free to contact me.

How many balls can you juggle?

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The month of November has just flown by, with many of the projects for this blog ended up being pushed aside and I apologize for that happening. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you have other plans.” Beides my day job & the life coaching,  I also decided to open in October an Etsy store @ LunagaiaKnits.

The Etsy store is probably something that in hindsight I should of started months before, so it wouldn’t eat up so much time between October and now. Life is a learning experience and we all continually learn whether we admit or realize it. The good thing about the Etsy shop being up and running is I can give my attention back to the blog and the life coaching. I have missed my time away from the blog I will admit.

I am admittedly one of those people who can actually get energized by having many balls in the air. Which is what has happened since I started both the blog/life coaching and the Etsy shop. Plus, I tend to multitask continually, which can include, when I appear to be goofing off or not doing my mind is usually working away on problems or planning my next steps. This is how I get stuff done, in a timely manner, it’s how my adult ADHD manifests itself . I haven’t been this energized in a while, which is a positive outcome for me. Have you had those moments in either your present or past times in your  life? I would love to hear about them, so feel free to share with me.

I have lots of plans for the blog, life coaching  and my Etsy shop for 2017, including for the blog the goal of posting at least twice a month. I’m not a believer in resolutions but a BIG believer in goals and plans. In fact this was part of the conversation my massage therapist and I had the other nite during my massage. The concept of making goals and plans instead of resolutions and the fact that plans and goals seem to be taken more serious than resolutions. Which do you subscribe to or do you make plans/goals/resolutions? Is there a reason you choose one over the other? If you don’t make plans/goals/resolutions, why not?

I’m a firm  believer in having at least some plans and goals every year. I’m not a big believer in overloading oneself with plans, one also needs to take breaks and step back as well. Along with not beating yourself up if you don’t get everything or very much of your plans and goals completed. I discuss ways how to break down goals and plans into simple manageable steps which will allow you to see and appreciate your completion of the steps and progress in my blog posts in June 2016 which are titled “List, What List” & “Ok, I’m in the Top Spot” along with my post in September 2016 discussing “Affirmation, Affirmation, Affirmation. The techniques discussed in these postings are helpful with both defining and establishing goals and plans as well as into manageable pieces so one doesn’t seem overwhelmed. I have often used these techniques with clients and in my own life, so I know how well they can work!

Do you have system that works for you? I’m always looking for new techniques to share with clients, feel free to share. Are you in search of a way to improve your success with accomplishing or even setting goals & plans? Contact me for help.

On this note, I wish everyone Happy Holidays, however you celebrate or what you celebrate. I will see you on my blog, my Facebook page-StartsLaura and my Twitter page-LauraStarts. Enjoy!!!

Happy Holidays or not?????

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Yup, the American holiday season is creeping up on us so, I thought I would get this post up before all of us are waist high in the season.  Where has this year gone? My paternal grandmother used to always tell me the older you get the faster time flies. Her theory which I believe, is that as we age, time seems to go faster since more of it is behind us than ahead of us.

Another reason for this post, is a conversation I had with a client a few days ago, regarding this issue. My client shared with me that she had noticed in both her support group and herself, the everyone was feeling down in the dumps, depressed and extremely emotional.  she further stated that she was especially feeling emotional & raw, plus she had just realized that morning that November had arrived.

I agree with her, that for many Americans the time frame between the beginning of November and the first part of January is rough on many levels. Studies and my own experiences both professionally and personally show this to be true as well.

Contary to the holidays movies, most Americans don’t have that ideal/Hollywood fantasy life to begin with, much less so when the holidays roll around. Along with the pressure to be the perfect host/hostess, attend every event, keep that happy face/persona and enjoy every moment is a lot to expect of anyone. I’m tired already, how about you?

For those who are struggling with mental or physical issues, financial or family  issues the holidays add extra stressors. Besides the increase in depression during the holidays, is the occurrence of holiday fatigue and it isn’t just with children, adults often have this as well. We can recognize holiday fatigue in kids as easily upset, extra crying/tantrums and just not being themselves. Actually, it’s not that much different in adults, we have just been taught how to mask it. But should we just mask it, fake it till the holidays are over or acknowledge these issues?

I’ve always held to the belief that if you need a break, plan to have some space & time to yourself, to both regroup and rest. There’s nothing wrong with doing this and remembering to take care of yourself.  I discuss the importance of self care in my blog post, “Where are you on your list?”  While self care is important all year round, it is especially important during stressful times in our lives including the holidays.

Also, think about how many & which holiday events & activities are important to you. Do you really need to accept every invite that you are invited? I know it may be tough to turn down some of them, but for our own mental and physical health it may be something to consider. Think of alternative plans & activities, including staying at home in your pjs. Down time can be considered an alternative plan or activity.

A prior boss who I worked for about 20 yrs ago, used to rotate holidays. For example, she & her husband would spend Thanksgiving one year with family and the next year by themselves and do a similar rotation with other holidays. They would even rotate the year they were participating in a holiday with family, hosting duties as well. Sometimes we forget the host/hostess might need a break as well.

Even rotating which events and activities that you attend every year, can also be both a great stress reliever and make the holiday season more relaxed & enjoyable. For example maybe attend Joe’s party this year, skip Susie’s & next year host to give both Jo & Susie a much needed break. The following year you might feel more up to attending both or attend Susie’s event. I’ve known those who do the hosting can easily get caught up in wishing to please everyone & invite one and all to the event. Tho, they are secretly hoping, not everyone shows. I’ll admit that I have done this myself. I think we all have from time to time.

A favorite way to spend the holidays for me is to travel. I LOVE going on vacation during holidays breaks such as Thanksgiving or X-mas. My family often used to this when I was a child & it could be quite fun. It can definitely be an alternative way to enjoy the holidays without the pressures of the holidays.

Depite the pressures and stress of the holidays, now is the time to start thinking about how you want to spend the season. Since my husband & I did lots of entertaining during the holidays last year, we are planning a low key and much needed relaxing season this year. Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts.