Monthly Archives: June 2013

Brain Fog

brain fog

Hey, studies are substantiating that there’s a strong connection between the food we eat and the way we feel mentally—our mood!

Psychologist Dr. Lynn Johnson, author of Enjoy Life! Healing with Happiness, wrote an excellent piece about this on his blog here.

I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I know how I feel just minutes after eating a donut for breakfast. It’s not good. Ask anyone around me. (No. Don’t!) On the frank side, I get edgy, unfocused, dumber and drained of energy. Mark Hyman, M.D., in The UltraMind Solution, calls it “brain fog.”

As a therapist, I see the correlation between food and mood particularly among teens. My first advice to a depressed teen is to eat better. Typically, they don’t like hearing that, but it’s worth a try. And when they do, they usually report feeling better.

Have you noticed any connection yourself between what you eat and how you feel?


Filed under General Interest, Get Free

The Latest Wow: He Says ‘No’ to Sex

sleeping gorilla + copyright

One of my male clients wowed me with this:

“It’s hard to be amorous with someone who’s beating the hell out of you mentally!”

So things turn a man off, too. Hmmmm. So much for their reputation as animals.


Filed under Couples, General Interest, The Latest Wow!

Guilt is a Cruel Dictator

domineering mother cropped

Beth feels guilty because she doesn’t want her mother to watch her 2-year-old son. She would prefer to use her mother-in-law, her husband Sam’s mom. Why? Because Beth doesn’t want her son to be exposed to the same belittling treatment she experienced as a child.

Beth feels strongly about her position, but teeters at times. She’s weakened by her mom’s guilt tactics.

“Maybe I should let her,” Beth said.

I told her this:

 “Guilt should never be the basis for our decisions. It’s a poor judge of what’s right.”

“Your priority is your son, not your mother and not your guilt. Can you imagine the amount of guilt you would feel if your son experienced even a portion of the emotional abuse you experienced?”

Wiping away tears, she nodded. “You’re right.”

By the end of the session, Beth was relieved. She learned several things that gave her a new way of seeing things. For one, she learned it was okay to set a boundary—even right to do so!

Moving forward, Beth and Sam will avoid mentioning babysitting, period. Instead, they’ll arrange times for their son to visit grandma when either Sam or Beth can be present. And if Beth’s mom starts using guilt tactics, Beth will change the subject.

We don’t have to be held hostage to guilt or to those who wield it like a weapon.

To read more about Sam and Beth, click on their tag below.

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.

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Filed under Client of the Week, General Interest, Get Free, Parenting

Call It a Relationship Virus

Bacteria 1 under microscope

I’ve written about Beth and Sam before (on 2/7/13 and 3/21/13). After divorcing Sam, Beth decided she didn’t really want to leave him after all. Within a few months they were back together. When I asked her what changed her mind, she said, “I’ve discovered that anger fades a lot faster than love.”

Today, they’re still doing well. “It’s because we talk things through,” Sam said. They don’t let things fester or go unsaid. They use a technique I taught them called “Checking-In.” In a calm conversational tone—the kind that doesn’t invite defensiveness—one partner asks: “What are you thinking right now?”

“We use it when we want to know if everything’s okay,” Amy said. She readily admits that she needs this more than Sam. “I’m guilty of making assumptions,” she said, “and then I react poorly.”

A book that keeps her on track—one she swears by—is called The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz. In a delightful, simple and oftentimes humorous way, he illuminates how we sabotage our relationships and inner peace. Making assumptions is one of the pot holes.

As I pointed out in my post, “It All Took Place in a Sunny Cafe,”  studies show that 90% of the assumptions we make are untrue.

In terms of well running relationships, instead of making assumptions or jumping to conclusions, we need to stay open-minded and seek clarification—get the other person’s story.

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.

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Filed under Client of the Week, Couples, General Interest

A Girl Needs Her Dad

father and daughter

It’s doubtful that many fathers realize how important they are. I don’t question it. As a daughter, I have firsthand experience, and as a counselor, I’m reminded on a regular basis of a father’s immense impact . . . . continue

Happy Father’s Day!  Do you have a favorite story to share about your dad? How did your dad make a difference in your life?


Filed under General Interest, Parenting

A Boy Needs His Dad

dad and baby hands incl copyright

From the moment a boy separates from his mother’s placenta, the journey with his father begins. It’s a connection as vitally important to his growth—from an infant to a man—as the umbilical cord has been to his development.  Continue . . .

We can forget just how vitally important fathers are in the lives of their children.  Today I want to share about fathers and sons; on Sunday I’ll talk about dads and daughters.  


Filed under General Interest, Parenting

Anchored By Fear

Chronic boredom is the sting of non-being,
The pain of the unlived life,
The roads not explored,
The risks not taken,
The persons not loved,
The thoughts not thought,
The feelings not savored.

                                                        —Sam Keen

canoe cropped 2

Picture yourself canoeing down a stream. All’s running smoothly until you see something that warns you of possible trouble out ahead—tree limbs are sticking out of water.

Anchored to fear, you stop dead in the water. In this state of motionlessness your life stands still. You try to reassure yourself by saying,  “At least I’m safe.” But are you? I’m reminded of this quote by Henry David Thoreau: “The tragedy of a man’s life is what dies inside of him while he lives.”

Ned, a client of mine, is safe but miserable. He has dreams—marvelous and reachable dreams—but he’s constantly paralyzed by a brain full of what-ifs, like “What if I don’t succeed?”

He wanted to know how to overcome that barrier. I started by giving him a personal example:

Several years ago, I took scuba diving classes before taking a trip to the Caribbean. Scuba diving was on the itinerary and I wanted to be prepared. But when the time came to perform, I froze. There I was in all my diving gear, poised to jump off the boat, but nothing happened. I couldn’t jump! This wasn’t me. I love the water and I’m a good swimmer! I think I stood there for ten solid minutes while everyone was forced to wait on me. Not a comfortable moment.

What was wrong? My brain was full of the what-ifs. Was a hungry shark awaiting his lunch? Would the equipment work? Did I really learn what I was supposed to learn?

Finally, I made the decision to take the plunge (literally). I did not have the luxury of waiting for my fears to subside. I decided to jump—despite my fears.

That event and others like it taught me that we have to act—seize the moment—if we want life to be real for us. We can’t wait for our fears to go away because they won’t. We’ll be waiting forever.

My son, Tav, once said this:

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves, “Am I in control of the outcome, or is my most feared outcome controlling me?”

That is where I took Ned next. I wanted him to feel capable of managing obstacles instead of being a helpless victim at their mercy. And in fact, according to Orison Swett Marden,

“Most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”

My earlier blog post titled “Close Your Eyes and Jump!” also addresses this topic.

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.

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Filed under Client of the Week, Get Free

Reject Spirit Zappers


When we tune in to the outrage of being violated, no matter what the degree, it’s the beginning of putting up a protective shield.  We’re designed to be invested in self-preservation.

 It appears that for the duration of our lifetime, we’re assigned to one person to fully watch over, to love unconditionally, and bathe with constant caring and protection. We inhabit that person’s body. How else can you explain survival instincts, defense mechanisms, and pain?

These statements are excerpts from a column I wrote about Natalie and Tiffany a few years ago.  Today,  they know how  to avoid deflating people. I’m happy for them, and am moved to help others with  the same advice I  gave them.  I would love to hear your story!


Filed under Couples, General Interest, Get Free

The Cookie War

stack of cookies

It’s not about the power another person wields or takes; it’s about the power we surrender.

That is what I conveyed to Amy in our counseling session. She needed an answer for  dealing with her demeaning husband, and it didn’t entail placating  him or being little around him.  It entailed boldly standing up for herself.   Read Any’s story here . . .

We must speak our truth, I told her, in part  because it might change the other person, but mostly because it changes us.


Filed under Couples, General Interest, Get Free