Happify or Wholify?

As a counselor, I think one of the greatest things I can do for my clients is to bust the myth of Happily-ever-after. We grow up hearing this story over and over again and it looks so good at the end of a fairy tale. But we should teach our kids there’s a reason its called a fairy tale. There is no real place called “happily ever after”.   Yet, many of us travel out of childhood and into adulthood on a Holy Grail search for it only to feel constantly frustrated in finding it.

IMG_0623I don’t want my clients to search for it. Instead, I introduce them to wholeness and show them the Life Puzzle model.   I want them to see their lives as an on-going growing journey that honors their physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual SELF. The framework of the Life Puzzle includes 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF and in putting those pieces together over one’s life journey, wholeness emerges. And happiness? It’s in there too—through the healthy foods we eat, the relationships we engage in, through the family we create, the community we connect with, the environment we care for etc. Happiness is also found is managing the special challenges that come into our lives that force us to grow through tough times.

Continue reading

Not done @ 21!!!

As another school year begins…….

High school graduates are soon heading off to college and college graduates have entered the real world.  Both of these transitions represent two of the most intense times of our lives.  We are leaving a comfort zone of friends, family and the known while heading into the unknown.  We may be excited as can be about it all–but nonetheless, it is a very unsettling time requiring tremendous learning, new choices, establishing new patterns and social contacts.

Did you know that 40% of freshman drop out of college? (and never go back!) Did you know that depression rates skyrocket after college graduation.  What’s going on here?

As a counselor I have worked extensively with the 18-24 age bracket.  It is very important to show them that they are still working to form their SELF.  Boundaries are not fully developed and the SELF is unsure of so many pieces of their Life Puzzle.  In this overwhelming state, with lots of choices to be made, many in this age bracket shut down and feel defeated. I love working with them and showing them how to turn defeat into an adventure of living instead.

NOT DONE @ 21 !!!!

One of the chief complaints I heard from so many of these young adults was their belief/feeling that they were “behind”.  That somehow by 21 they needed to have figured it all out and that was not happening!  As I mulled on this more and more, I felt compelled to make this issue more visible and talked about. With several clients, I had “dialogues” about this issue.  I turned those dialogues into a short booklet I’ve put together called “Not done @ 21—building wholeness in a 100 year life”. Continue reading

Reject or Embrace?

At a domestic violence conference, the crowd sat engrossed in the keynote speaker’s 30 year story of abuse. Not until she lay in the hospital with practically every bone in her body broken was she finally able to leave him. As she told her story, the disgust towards her ex-husband was palpable and when she called him the ‘scum of the earth’, heads nodded.

But then she ended her talk with saying that her greatest grief was that her daughter had grown up to also be a victim of a domestic violent relationship and her son had become a perpetrator. And it flashed in my head “Is he the scum of the earth too?”

As we moved into the q & a portion, I wrestled with that thought until I stood and simply had to ask her; “You mentioned your son had become a perpetrator and as you described your ex-husband as the scum of the earth, I wonder—do you think your son is the scum of the earth too? Or was he just unlucky enough to have been raised in a family dynamic where he was taught to manage his emotions through violence?” Continue reading