• Are you in a state of shock and disbelief? Are you an otherwise whole person who is facing a cataclysmic crisis? Is your world spinning because your reputation, your family, your health, your business or something else is imploding?

    Take a deep breath and know that you have found a safe place to get help and work through whatever crisis is holding you back from the life you desperately want. No matter how bad things seem in this moment, the next moment is your chance to stand up and say No More! No more pain, no more shame, no more loneliness and no more sadness. Crisis may be a part of your life today, but it doesn't have to define you. You may not see the way out, but I can show it to you.

  • Are you SUCKcessful?

    03 Oct 2014

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    Sometimes life just sucks.

    I don’t care who you are, what you have done to shield yourself from pain and loss; sometimes, no matter how awesome you are- Life is gonna suck.

    It’s gonna throw you a curve ball, for a loop or bare it’s nasty yellow teeth at you to see what you are gonna do about it. How you live your life before the challenge will likely determine how you manage the unwanted.

    If you live in a bubble, never allowing yourself room to stretch, grow and fall flat on your face, chances are you will have a tougher time managing the unmanageable. If you have opened up to the idea that bad things happen to good people with the same frequency that good things happen to bad people, you might come out the others side a little less bitter and more emotionally intact.

    Here are some things to consider about life and some life hacks to better prepare you for the inevitable suck fest….

    • First world problems aren’t that big of a life suck- Chances are, what you think is a life suck is nothing comparatively to most of the world as a whole. Even if you lost your job, your home, your spouse or your reputation, you remain miles ahead of most of the world who lives in extreme poverty, with untreated preventable disease and literally nothing to their names. Take a deep breath and use social media to explore the wold vs. venting about the inconveniences of your first world life-sucks.
    • Things seem worse than they ever are- Most of the time, we exaggerate the experiences we are having when life sucks. We overemphasize the pain and under report the  blessings within it. As a coach who deals with a spectrum of issues, I have seen people face extreme loss with dignity and grit and people face minimal loss with tantruming. Sometimes our biggest set backs offer us the opportunity to grow the most. Being unable to control what is happening in our lives strips away the silly illusion that we orchestrate our outcomes. We certainly can affect them or influence them, but the only thing we can control is how we live with our situations.
    • Bad things happen to good people- I said this above and it bears repeating. The feeling that you didn’t deserve what is happening is a common springboard for depression. Everyone wants to know why things happen. Sometimes there is no why. There is zero explanation in the moment because you haven’t searched for any meaning. It is as if we expect crappy things to happen to people who deserve it. Well, what constitutes deserving to be raped, having a family member murdered, losing your home, a baby or your spouse? What horrible things must you have done to be visited by the karma bus in any way? This isn’t eye-for-an-eye… This is much bigger and when the bad comes, it comes with two grand invitations to lose it or become SUCKcessful.
    • Time brings healing, perspective and choices- In the moment, you will be many things: petrified, angry, sad, isolated and more. I’m not going to sugar coat anything and tell you there is a magic pill that makes it better. Time makes it better. Time gives you the space you need to grieve. Time gives you the ability to get used to what has happened. Time gives you the opportunity to grow or atrophy. Give yourself time. Give yourself the opportunity to ride things out for a bit and see what happens.
    • Crisis will make you a better person- Before I suffered my biggest crisis, I was a judgmental beotch. My frame of reference was so narrow and self-centered that I had no clue what true grace and compassion were. Sure, I felt sorry for people who had been abused like me, divorced like me or treated in ways I personally resonated with but aside from that, I had all sorts of opinions about others and the situations they were in and none of those thoughts took into consideration what I know now. Crisis made me a better person. It stripped away my arrogance and exposed my inner a-hole by showing me the nature of others and how much it hurt to receive their rejections. One of the things I am most proud of taking out of my experience is my true sense of compassion and genuine curiosity about the plights that others face.
    • Crisis will up your game and improve your quality of life- When you manage crisis and allow it to do a big work in you, your whole life improves. Yes, you faced loss and pain but after the dust settles opportunities come. Opportunities to pay it forward, be a leader and help someone else. The moment you are out of your own head; the moment you are of value to others, you are able to help someone else manage their crisis too. The more you use what you have been through to ease the suffering of someone else, the more at peace you become with all that has happened.

    You can make yourself SUCKcessful in the face of crisis. You are not doomed to a life of lack and loss. You have choices in your moments of shame, pain or discomfort.

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    How to avoid an empty nest divorce

    01 Oct 2014

     

    ??????????????????The divorce rates are incredibly high during the emptying of the nest. Couples who allowed the children to the be center of the universe find themselves in a whole new world when Johnny isn’t there to divert them from the fact that they haven’t maintained a shred of meaning in their marriage. The lack of intimacy and the lack of common ground is actually cultivated the moment Johnny is born.

    From the birth of their first child,  parents are trained that their worth as a parent is tied directly to the value they place on the baby. Society says that good mom’s are selfless and make their children their priority and the best way to nurture a child is to make certain it knows that it is the focal point in the family. While it is important that an infant receive massive amounts of attention, some families are unable to let go of the all-baby-all-the-time focus and  the child/children become the constant focus throughout their childhood.

    Along the way, the parents sacrifice the primary relationship- the one that started it all. In the name of great parenting, moms and dads neglect their intimacy, their friendships and their partnerships. The overwhelm of parenting creates rifts and causes growing pains that become chasms of unmet needs and underwhelmed lives.  All along the bulk of the resources, both financial and emotional, go to the children.

    One of the outcomes may be children who are ill fit to face a world where they must wait, earn their way or dare I say….. go without.

    Some marriages crumble before the diapers come off. Husbands who expected more attention, wives who resented the lack of help. Other marriages hold on for the sake of the kids, their reputations or for financial reasons.

    AND THEN THE KIDS GROW UP

    I see it all the time. Families who start to lose it Sept of their kids’ Senior year in high school. The anticipation of the slow cutting of the cord. It worsens on the eve of graduation and is at it’s peak the day they leave for college. Weeping mothers fill the parking lots of university dorms everywhere.

    Do not get me wrong, it is awful to transition form being a kid-at-home-mom to a woman with no reason to cook dinner and wash ten loads of laundry……. or is it?

    When the kids have been the center of the universe and the marriage is an afterthought that clung to life by duct tape and a values system of “married for life”, things will get really hard when the nest is empty. The silence is deafening, The collapsed social activities, the displaced need to be needed….shall I go on?

    One day you wake up and realize, I put all my eggs in my metaphorical kid-basket simultaneously when my egg hit my uterus.

    The years of marriage neglect are heightened when you realize you have little to nothing in common with the person you married because you never fostered anything besides your kids. You failed to launch a successful marriage the moment the pregnancy test turned positive.

    Here’s a great example of how American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage written by Dr. Danielle Teller, who, may I say is a metaphorical genius. She compares our kids-first parenting styles to religion and she is so right. Lookie Here:

    In the 21st century, most Americans marry for love. We choose partners who we hope will be our soul mates for life. When children come along, we believe that we can press pause on the soul mate narrative, because parenthood has become our new priority and religion. We raise our children as best we can, and we know that we have succeeded if they leave us, going out into the world to find partners and have children of their own. Once our gods have left us, we try to pick up the pieces of our long neglected marriages and find new purpose.

    Together with Dr. Astro Teller, she wrote an awesome book called Sacred Cows: The Truth About Divorce and Marriage. 

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    You can avoid this fate. You can stop the trajectory. I have had enough experience with divorcing couples to share some easy tips to stop the child-focused insanity!

    1.  From the moment your child is born, get a sitter- I don’t care if the sitter is your mom, your sister or a paid service. I don’t care if you can’t bear the thought of leaving your child in someone’s care. Do it. Date your spouse, go to the store with them. Go wash the car, buy underwear and nursing bras or get a pizza. Do things without our kids and make each other a priority.
    2.  Learn to communicate effectively- sleep deprived parents can’t hear anything but a babies cry.  Strung out parents don’t know how to ask for what they need without a hint of sarcasm attached. It may be impossible to share your inner most feelings and desires when you are up at 3:00 a.m for a feeding, but a lot of marriage break downs start when children are infants, parents aren’t that mature and they start chipping away at the foundations laid at the wedding alter. Hurt feelings and unmet needs can cause parents to drift and they oftentimes back fill their needs by putting kids front and center. kids grow up. Learn to communicate effectively without causing harm when your kids are young and your marriage will be more solid as the kids pull out of infancy.
    3. Love your spouse more than your kids! What??? Yes, I know, I am about to come under fire. Love is boundless people. The best thing you can do for your child is to massively love their parent. Love their parent so much that it becomes the measurement they use to choose their own spouse. If your child grows up knowing their parent was in second place, it is easy for them to put themselves in second place when their time comes. What a waste to spend all that time raising a child up only to watch them settle for less.
    4. have a sex drive- I said it. It’s ok to watch Veggie Tales AND be a freak with your spouse. Just because you wear a matching bow with your toddler doesn’t mean you can’t compartmentalize your roles in the home and express yourself naturally sexually. Many couples suffer greatly from lack of intimacy when kids are the forefront of the lifestyle.
    5. Keep yourself together- One of the massive indications that kids are the priority is the lack of self-care with mom and dad. Gaining excessive weight and becoming unhealthy are tied to letting the kids’ agenda be the primary tone. No gym, no healthy foods is often the wayside byproduct of a parent who says “I don’t have enough time.”
    6. Hire help- Parents who think that they have to do it all deny themselves the fruits of their labor. In the name of being Super Mom, women stay up too late doing never ending chores that nobody acknowledges and stir up HUGE resentments. These resentments bleed over into the marriage and spiral into withholding sex, communication and turning the focus on kids to avoid the pain. Hire help. Call your mom. Find a way to offset the overwhelm.
    7. Read about relationships- If you are a great parent, chances are you are taking in information about parenting. Talking to others about tips and such. Put as much effort into Googling phrases like “How to communicate with my spouse” or “date night tips for couples” as you do kid focused phrases and put the information into action.
    8. Talk to your elders- Even if your parents divorced, they have valuable information and hindsight that will save you from their brand of heart ache. Unless a divorce was due to violence or some other deviant issue, they will have invaluable information and empathy about any struggle you are having.

    Empty nest divorce is avoidable. You can put as much effort into raising your marriage as you do your kids and when the kids leave, your life is brand new- just like theirs.

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    A Mother’s Love Knows No Bounds

    30 Sep 2014

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    There is a page on Facebook that is the epitome of what I LOVE about the human spirit. A wonderful woman owns a photography studio that specializes in capturing the beauty within, what many could call, ashes. A wonderful woman has found her calling by combining her creativity, empathy and talent to capture images of beautiful people managing the unimaginable. Love Song Events and Photography is one amazing site. The images are on trend, amazingly beautiful and yet, they often are based on the pain and loss that only crisis brings.

    I follow many of the stories on the site and always wish I had access to the families so I can offer them help, comfort and any ounce of wisdom that might ease their pain. Their bravery is some of the most amazing I have ever seen. It is humbling to watch the families walk through their story with their heads high and amazing photographs to commemorate their journeys.

    In my heart, I want to share messages of courage and hope with my readers. I want others to know that they are not alone in their fight to rage against crisis. Crisis comes in many forms and one path does not outweigh another. One journey is not more important, more impacting or more valuable than another.

    Through following the Love Song Events and Photography Facebook page, I learned about Ashley. A beautiful woman in her early twenties who discovered she had bone cancer. That, in and of itself, is a trauma but to add to the pain, Ashley was ten weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed. She made the only decision she felt was correct, to protect her child, despite encouragement from the physicians to terminate her pregnancy and engage in treatment immediately. Ashley refused life saving treatment to protect her daughter. Something any mother understands.

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    Refusing treatment had an unbelievable price tag. Shortly after Paisley’s birth, Ashley was told the cancer had spread and that she has less than a year to live. I know you are near tears as you read this just as I am in writing it. It makes no sense that something so horrible would happen after a mother so selflessly set aside her needs for the needs of her child. I have no words of wisdom, only of support and admiration.

    Ashley and paisley were featured on their local news channel where she transparently shared her sadness, her fears and that she has zero regrets.

    There is no way that I can understand the multitude of emotions that have to surround the entire family as they prepare for the months ahead. All I can do is offer my prayers, my hope and my empathy.

    This is the stuff that life is made of. THIS is what matters in a world where even I am easily put out by the small things. In all of my snarky banter about life and the humor I use to shield myself from my pain- this, THIS is real. This is pain that seemingly has no purpose. This humbles me to the fact that I am healthy and though I face fears and worries about day-to-day life, it matters not when put into a new perspective.

    Ashley, my heart goes out to you and your beautiful family. My chest swells with pride at how your family is wrapping their arms around you and will continue to support your family when the time comes.

    You are beloved Ashley, you are the epitome of what motherhood is meant to be.
    God Bless you!

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    An apology to Taylor Swift

    07 Sep 2014

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    I owe Taylor Swift an apology. I had thoughts, shared them on Facebook and I got schooled. I deserved it too, and now I am sorry. Truly sorry. So sorry that I am posting my faux pas, my blunder, my moment of less-than-Faydraliciousness.

    I was having a bad day

    Not like an epic bad day. Not like one of the days where the world was crashing down on me, more like one of those days when things weren’t as awesome as they could have been. I was tired and I had been driving a long time and while I was driving I was listening to podcasts. My favorite podcast features entrepreneurs and their failure and success stories. The goal is that the listener feels the pain of the failure, right there with the guest, and then feels the sunshine break through the clouds afterward, as they tell how they overcame their entrepreneurial belly flop.  Usually I am one with the pain. I resonate with the journey and I am metaphorically standing in ovation when I hear the success, but not that day. I LOVE the pain-point of the podcasts because they remind me that I am not alone. Neither are you BTW

    That day the guest told his mind-blowing failure of epic proportions and it pissed me off. Mind you, this is a guy making a ton of money and his biggest failure was…….. are you ready?????…….. He got a D in a college class.

    Seriously?

    I almost chucked my iPhone through the windshield. I almost stopped listening to my favorite podcast because I was seriously underwhelmed by this guy and what I had determined was his lame-a** excuse for a failure.

    Then I got my hair cut

    While I was sitting under the dryer waiting for the color to be burned into my hair follicles, ummmmmmm yes, I am a woman of a certain age……  I decided to flip through a magazine.

    That’s when I saw it and lost my mind

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    Brave lives in the moment. Ummmmmm There was nothing about this ad that screamed BRAVE to me. Nothing. It put me over the edge. First the guy with the D and now this? A D is the worst life-shattering event in a life?  This is the picture of bravery? OMG a thousand images flooded my thoughts of what brave looked like and none of them involved Keds and Taylor Swift on location with Craft Services nearby. None of them.

    In my self-righteous snark, I posted this to Facebook:

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    I totally believed what I said. I totally believed that Mr. D-in-his-class and Taylor Swift were catastrophic crisis rejects and that neither of their struggles were valid or worth being on a famous podcast or a national ad campaign. I based this on my own story and the countless stories I know about what I deemed brave. My Facebook post was my attempt to put on my crisis super hero cape and pontificate my way to being a bravery know-it-all.

    As you can imagine, I got a TON of support. Lots of people reinforced my superior stance that neither Mr. D or Ms. Swift deserved to fly their bravery freak flags.

    But then this comment showed up

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    I got schooled

    Rachel was right. Just because the tapes that play in my head about what is brave didn’t initially include images like this ad or smaller failures like a D in a class, I diminished their impact. I marginalized them.

    I hate when that happens

    I hate when I realize that I am a life-long learner who doesn’t always get it right and misses the mark. I hate it and I crave it. I crave to be reminded of the ways I am too big for my britches and that I am not as evolved as I would like to be. I crave the instances when I am shown that I still hold judgmental thoughts even though I don’t want to. It was the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15 who said “I do not understand what I do. For what I do want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”

    Why do I do that?

    Because I am tired, I am human and I am jealous that there are people in this world Like Mr. D and Taylor Swift who have not had what some would call horrendous things happen. That doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. The impression I got is influenced by my filters and let’s face it, some filters need to be hosed off once in a while.

    So Mr. D and Taylor Swift I am sorry. I am so sorry that I marginalized your ability to impact others. Sometimes I need the Rachel’s of my life to remind me of that.

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    Mental illness and the iPhone

    28 Aug 2014

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    When I think about modern technology and the advances that make life easier, I have to include my iPhone. Last month, my iPhone made it possible for me to help my daughter through a crisis that, without my immediate attention, could have escalated into something more than it needed to be.

    My daughter has struggled with a mental illness since puberty. It has been a long road of symptom awareness, medication adjustments and cognitive therapy to help her find her place in the world. Mental illness is a spectrum disorder and in my over twenty years as a mental health specialist, I have seen both ends of that spectrum and everything in between. For my daughter, she falls somewhere on the spectrum that includes the ability to have a job, live independently, have autonomy and hope but, not far off from the place on the spectrum that includes no coping skills for sadness and intrusive thoughts. Sometimes she shifts on the spectrum and when she has those intrusive thoughts, there is a small window of time to provide an intervention and get her back on track.

    One of the banes of mental illness and mothering is that my child can’t always decipher  between normal emotions and her thought and mood disorder. She looks to me to show her what is common, what we all face as humans and what is more. In this case, she was weaving back and forth between her broken heart and her intense moods that swing rapidly within her mind.

    I literally thank God for seeing fit to change my heart in college from being an English major to a Psych major. It was one of many times He knew what would matter in my life long before I did.

    My experience in mental health made it possible for me to parent a special needs child and to help foster her into being the absolute best version of her that could ever be. To me, she is a shining example of what life could be for people who have mental illness and live high functioning lives. I am so incredibly proud of her and to be her mother. I am so grateful that God thought I was awesome enough to give me this soul to nurture. There is nothing I would not to do for her benefit.

    So, when my iPhone dinged beside my bed at 2:00 a.m., I knew something was up.

    when you have a special needs child, you never turn off your phone. Hell, I would imagine no matter what the functioning of my children, I wouldn’t turn off my phone.

    In the images that follow you will see the exchange between my daughter and I and how I was able to bring her back to a place of peace simply by being available, using humor and my unceasing commitment to her mental health. I admit it, I’ve got skillz. If you are a parent to a special needs kiddo, no matter what age, you’ve got mad skillz too. I honor you.

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