Friday, September 30, 2011


Do you have the necessary courage to look within? As humans, we would prefer to change anything and everything on the outside, while completely avoiding the feelings on the inside. We attribute feelings of anxiety, depression and physical symptoms to external factors, such as family history or a change in seasons.  We take medication to alleviate the pain and discomfort of the symptoms, without addressing the cause. It takes courage to look inside and acknowledge feelings of hurt, disappointment, fear, or grief. These are the typical emotions that underlie depression and anxiety.  Sadly, some people believe that they will always have to suffer from the long term effects of unexpressed and squelched emotions. It is not true.  These emotions can be healed if you have the courage to go beyond the wall of suffering and reach understanding. Often people who suffer from depression and anxiety are eager to heal the symptoms, but lack the knowledge to do so. When I offer the solution to attend one of the many personal growth weekends, I am met with a surprising and perhaps fearful look. Again, people would prefer to change their circumstances, then to go away for a powerful weekend of transformation. Some people are afraid of the actual work, while others are afraid of the group experience. They are afraid of exposure, of others knowing their struggles. These are the struggles they try to keep concealed. The weekends of healing are not as scary as one may think. It is actually the most rewarding experience and opens you up to greater joy and abundance. Today, I wish for you courage to move beyond your struggle and heal your emotions.   

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Need for Order

Do you have a need for order? Are you the type of person who gets irritable if your house or desk is out of order? In other words, does a lack of order cause an emotional reaction? If so, you are not alone. Many people are adversely affected by a lack of order, which is often related to the condition of their childhood environment. Many people crave order as a result of growing up in chaotic home environments. Whether there were emotional conflicts between family members, or the challenge of trying to find your belongings, chaos can leave its impression in adulthood. You can either continue the pattern of chaos as it is familiar and comfortable, or you can do the opposite, so as not to feel the same way you did as a child. A lack of order can be associated with a lack of control.  Thus, life feels overwhelming. It is then necessary to gain control. You want to know where the scissors are when you need them.

We often hope for order, but do not always take the time to create order. It takes someone coming to visit for a weekend to put things in order. During times of feeling emotionally overwhelmed, put something simple in order. Clean out a drawer. Tidy up a closet. Order allows us to feel grounded and renews our feeling of security in the world.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Embracing Change

Change is necessary. Yet, many people fear change to the point of avoiding change. It is easier to hold onto the familiar when you are afraid of the unknown. Change challenges our fear of the unknown. We do not know what will happen once things change. Yet, we forget that life is always changing. Seasons change. Children grow and change. Relationships change. People change. If you fear change, you are likely to hold onto the past, the old and the familiar. You resist change. Your sense of security is tied to keeping things the same. With the fear of change is often the belief that change is bad. It is the idea that if things change in your life, you will not be okay. You will not be safe. That is not true. Look around you and notice what has changed or what is in the process of changing. Change is inevitable. Know that all things in life will change, and must change. Accept and embrace change and your life will open to unlimited possibilities. Change is good.

I embrace change. Change is good.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Gift of Time

Today was a gift. It had been a long time since I had some time for myself. I was given the time and therefore, I sat with its message. I walked, as I do most days, but chose today to walk alone and without music in my ears. I chose to walk in silence. I wanted to be open to the thoughts and wisdom that came from within, as I walked in the rain. Unlike what I would find on a warm and sunny day, I was the only one walking my typical path. The message rang loud and clear that I was being given time for myself. I quickly realized that I rarely take time for myself. I can have time when it is given to me, but I do not know how to take time. I will make time when there are family responsibilities or obligations to meet. In other words, I will take a day off to visit colleges with my daughter Kelci. I will take time when I am asked to take time, like when the kids were home sick from school. I will take time when I work the weekend programs. In other words, I have to have a reason to take time. Today provided me with the gift of understanding my relationship with time.

The truth is that time is a constant. Everyone gets the same amount of time in a day, regardless of how it is spent. How do you choose to spend your time?  When given extra time, will you work or play? What is your personal relationship with time?

Do you wait for time to magically appear? Or do you secretly hope that someone will give you permission to take some time? In other words, do you feel worthy of your time? Many people feel guilty or ashamed if they get time, take time or have time. They immediately think of things that they should be doing. The truth is that you are worthy of your time. Yet until you feel worthy of your time, you are not likely to make time for you and for the things that you value. As a child,you may have received a different message about time. If you were hurried or rushed regularly, you were not allowed to take your time. Take a moment to think about how that might develop in your living, even as an adult. You cannot take your time. The ego reiterates that you are unworthy of your time. It further suggests that the time of others is more important than your time.Your time is not valuable, therefore it can be easily tossed aside. 

Time is an essential ingredient to living a happy life. It is necessary to have time to spend on yourself, as well as in ways that enhance your living. Give yourself the permission you need to have the time that you deserve. Make time for yourself. Take time for yourself. Share your time with others, but insure that you have your time as well.  .Act as if you are worthy of your time by safeguarding it. After all, your time is valuable and sacred.  Take your time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Creating a Balanced Life

Ahhh....balance.  You may agree that life is good when there is balance. It is important to note, however, that balance does not in any way suggest perfection. Your life and all matters within your life are not expected to be perfect, only in balance. It can be said then that balance is more of an attitude, than an actual life experience.  Balance allows you to be peaceful with the matters of life. You may have laundry to do, but you remain peaceful. To live a balanced life is to put aside the emotional drama. There is no need to react or to over react, to blame or to defend. Your life, and all that it entails, will be taken care of. When balanced, you get things done. You move from one task or obligation to another, with a sense of peacefulness. You remain patient with those around you. You listen as others speak. You get your work done and you do it well. You smile throughout your day. You take time for yourself and for others. You manage your life in all aspects needed, without complaint. You ask for help. You wait patiently. You go with the flow; you can let go of an expected outcome and trust the unknown. You can allow things to evolve, to grow and to change. You see the good in all situations and in all people. You are balanced. And from this balanced place, there is an inner peace that recgonizes that you are safe and all is well.

How do you create Balance?

The following are keys to creating a balanced life:

1.       Take time for yourself. Enjoy your own company.

2.       Breathe. Take deep breaths throughout your day.

3.       Develop tools for staying grounded (meditation, guided imagery. therapy)

4.       Burn incense or sage.

5.       Release negative emotions.

6.       Connect lovingly with others.

7.       Read inspirational material. Avoid the news and television drama.  

8.       Take a walk or other physical activity.

9.       Acknowledge your gratitude.

10.   Be restful. (Get adequate sleep)

11.   Take time in nature.  

Feeling Successful

Most people yearn to feel accomplished. It is the idea that you have accomplished something that you set out to do. In other words, you have achieved success. And even more importantly, you are successful. We yearn to feel successful. Too often, people feel quite the opposite.  They feel that they have failed. They then internalize the thoughts and feelings and eventually identify themselves as a failure.  That is, I am a failure. Consequently, they become quickly frustrated in their attempts or worse yet, they quit before they try. They then set their sights either on something large or something later.  When I get my college degree, I will be successful. When I marry and have children, I will be successful. When I write a book, I will be successful. When I earn more money, I will be successful. Sadly though, it also means that success must wait until later. Why wait? Begin today to cultivate success in your life.  Find something that you can easily accomplish today. Put away the baskets of laundry. Clean out the kitchen drawer. Organize your desk.  Choose a task that you know that you can accomplish in a reasonable amount of time. In that way, you will avoid the common feeling of defeat that underlies failure. Make the task enjoyable by playing music or enjoying a cup of tea.  And then tomorrow, find something else to accomplish. With a string of daily accomplishments, you will begin to feel success rising from the depth of your being. There lies the feeling of victory, success and pride in oneself. You are successful.  

Last night I was in bed, when I realized that I had not written my daily blog.  Several nights prior, I had gone to bed very late and therefore, I felt tired. In addition, my body was tired from closing the pool the day before and doing various other projects around my house. I thought about jumping out of bed and getting my computer to write, and then I told myself that it was okay. It had been a day of accomplishment. There were things that had been on my list for months, if not a year, and I chose to accomplish them today. I went to sleep knowing that I had accomplished a great deal in my day.  I went to sleep peacefully and awoke this morning ready to write.  And so, I challenge you to step into your success…

What can you accomplish today?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How happy are you?

On a scale of 0-10, how happy are you in your life at the present time? What will it take to move that number up? When we do not feel happy in our lives, it is due to the fact that we are looking for happiness from the outside. We are looking to someone or something to make us happy and to make life more fulfilling. We are in a place of lack. We are lacking. And when we are in this place of lack we unconsciously look elsewhere for satisfaction. We put an emphasis on something (a new home, new job, a second child, and a new vehicle) in hopes of feeling happy again. The truth is that true happiness will never come from a purchase or a relationship. It can only come from within. People have a difficult time in understanding this powerful and essential concept. No person or things will ever making you happy. You will make you happy. Your thoughts will make you happy. Your happiness is directly related to how you feel about yourself. Just for today, ask yourself this question: How can I make myself happy in this now? And then do it…

Just for today, make yourself happy!

I am responsible for my happiness or my misery. I choose happy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Days Go By

Today I am filled with love and gratitude as I celebrate my daughter, Kelci's 18th birthday.  It seems so surreal. It feels like yesterday when I would braid her beautiful platinum blond hair, and make her pretty little dresses for Easter or Christmas. She grew up so fast. I feel like the last 10 years whizzed by. She is now employed, applying to colleges, and enjoying greater independence. As a parent, I am so excited for her, but I also feel sad that she is almost ready to launch. The days continue to go by. As they do, I am reminded of the song, Cats in the Cradle by Cat Stevens.  Life has a way of eating up our precious time with loved ones. There is always so much to do, and rarely the quality time to just be together. I remember when Kelci was small and slept in a loft bed. I would lay on the floor and do a relaxation meditation for her to fall asleep.Those were precious moments now held fondly within my memory, and of course in my heart. There were many such precious moments. I continue to capture those moments as both my girls contiue to grow and mature and become more independent.

As I teach others, it is important to learn how to live in the present. In this way, you are less likely to live with regret. For instance, being present to the moment means that you are actually mindful of the experience you are participaiting in it, rather than longing for the past or wishing for the future. In being in the present you are able to actually enjoy it more fully. And then when the present moment passes, you will not feel as if you need to bring it back. You can readily embrace the next moment

Days go by. I no longer need to braid her beautiful hair, but greatly enjoy the occasional pedicure together or talking about her day. Similarly, I enjoy being with Marissa, my 13 year old, who is following quickly in her sisters footsteps. There is a busy-ness to our lives that I know will not always be there. Yet I would never change it. I simply need to insure that I take the time to be with them.

No matter what your current life offers, be mindful in your living. Do not allow the hours or days to pass without your recognition and appreciation. Practice the Buddhist philosophy of Be Here Now.
Do not dwell on the past, you cannot bring it back. Do not worry about the future, it is going to be whatever it is. Be present to today and savor the joyful moments.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Managing the Household

There are times when managing a household can feel overwhelming, particularly during times of transition. In the Fall, there are pools to close, summer items to put away and warm weather clothes to put in drawers. And then of course there are the bills to manage, the laundry to do and the groceries to purchase. Although it may be tempting to want to put your hands in the air, and say "I give up. I can't do it anymore," you continue to persevere. You put one foot in front of the other and recognize that tomorrow is another day. But then, how does one successfully manage a household anyway? How do you keep all the balls up in the air, hoping that none will fall, while keeping your sanity? To think that there are women who single-handedly do everything, while there husbands or significant others mow the lawn or watch a football game, or simply criticize the way things are getting done.  And there are those single-parents who don't have anyone else to offer assistance or even words of encouragement. They just do what they have to do with rarely a complaint. No one ever said managing a household, would be easy, but it is necessary. It is also not the most glamorous job to have, nor does it offer much appreciation or acknowledgement. Yet there is something satisfying in knowing that things are taken care of, or will be taken care of, that makes this position rewarding.

 The following are some tips for making this job a little easier:

1) Be patient with yourself and others. Know that things will eventually get done.
2) Be reasonable. Have reasonable expectations for what can be done in the time that you have.
3) Request help. People will not necessarily volunteer to help, but will do so if expected to. And have you ever noticed that a person that does everything is typically a person who is not comfortable asking for help? Learn to ask for help.
4) Delegate. Help others to feel capable by giving them things to do that can help you out. People watching television really can fold laundry.
5) Give yourself a break. Recognize that you do not have to win anyone's approval nor do you have to be a superhero. Take time for yourself. Reward yourself for a good job.
6) Take things one task at a time.
7) Stay focused. Do not get distracted. Keep to a task until it is complete and then move onto something else.
8) Use online banking and have your bills paid electronically each month so that you do not have to think about it.
9) Keep a daily list of things to do to increase focus and efficiency. What didn't get done today can be first on the list for tomorrow.
10) Enjoy your home and family. Take time to relax and to appreciate the work that you do to make things nice for yourself and your family.

And of course, be grateful for your home and family. Life would be lonely without them.  Remember that there may be a day in the not too distant future, when you will miss taking care of all of these things, and will reflect on how you ever did all that.

"The greatest things ever done on Earth
have been done little by little."
- William Jennings Bryan


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are you up for a Challenge?

After attending various school functions each evening this week, I was initially considering skipping tonights school function, so as to get something done at home, ormore importantly, to spend time with the girls. When I arrived home, I asked the girls about the program, which they had attended earlier in the day. They both strongly encouraged Jamie and I to attend. I was interested as I had heard that the program, entitled Rachels Challenge, was inspirational.

I am so grateful to Newfield Middle and High School for bringing such a heart-warming and powerful message to the school community. The program was created in memory of Rachel Joy Scott , the first high school student shot in the Columbine High School Tragedy.  Rachel kept a diary and wrote words of inspiration knowing that one day she would touch the lives of millions of people. Only weeks before the shooting that took 13 lives, Rachel had written an essay that later became the catalyst for inspiring greater kindness and compassion in the world. It was a wonderful presentation that depicted stories from her life in which she demonstrated kindness. For example, Rachel would choose to stand up for kids being bullied and sat with new students at lunch, so that they would not sit alone in the feelings of isolation and rejection.

 Rachels challenge is: 1) to always see the best in others, 2) to have positive influences,3) to dream big, 4) to use kind words that heal, instead of hurt, and finally, 5) to create a chain reaction of kindness. It was a reminder of how important kindness is to creating a loving, supportive home, a caring neighborhood, an involved community and a world of peace. Kindness.
Such a simple concept that is too often ignored. Unfortunately, it takes human tragedy and natural disasters for many people to remember to practice kindness. The program encouraged students and parents alike to make a commitment to practicing the five values that most notably represented Rachel.

I wish to pass this challenge on to you. Are you willing to
always see the best in others,
to have positive influences,
 to dream big,
to use kind words,
 and to show others kindness?

Would it really be a challenge?

For more information, visit the link:
Rachel's Challenge


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nature's Gentle Reminders

Thank you, Nature, for your gentle and ever present reminders:

The sun-- for reminding us that each day offers a new beginning.

The sky-- for showing us that life is full of endless opportunities.

The lakes-- for teaching us that wisdom comes only with stillness.

The waterfalls-- for life is not about how much or how little we have, but how persistent we are.

The rivers-- for demonstrating the steadiness with which we must move toward our dreams and ambitions.

The mountains-- for reminding us that beauty exists beyond the challenges in life.

The trees-- for knowing when to stand alone and when to embrace the support of a community.

The wind-- for encouraging us to be flexible and to move as God readily directs us.

The roads and highways-- for reminding us that there is always the means with which to move forward.

The moon-- for providing us with the necessary time to pause, rest, and replenish.

Thank you, Nature, for your gentle and ever- present reminders.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Going Below the Surface

Shh....I am sleeping. I am unavailable, unaware, and even unwilling to wake up. Shh...please do not disturb me from what I perceive to be an unconscious bliss. I prefer to be removed from that which I may be responsible for creating in my life. I prefer sleep to wakefulness, unconscious to conscious, blame to responsibility (ability to respond). In that way, I can stay in denial and keep my life limited by familiar patterns. Shh...let me be, leave me alone. I know this place and I don't want it to change. In other words, Please do not disturb. 

For those of you who know me, you may be surprised to hear that I had a session today in which I was completely speechless. I was sadly reminded of how some people want help, but are unwilling to change. They simply want their life to move in a way that brings greater light without ever eliminating the darkness. Typically, I am patient and understanding and want only to facilitate a deeper understanding of the real, underlying issues within a situation. But today it was different. I simply honored the individual's perception and gave her an appropriate referral. In the 20 years of practice, I am not sure that has ever happened. Hmm...I guess I met my match. I have accepted the fact that my work over the years has changed. I can no longer listen intently when a person chooses to stay in denial of their actions and reactions.

The truth is that although we may not always want to accept responsibility for our emotions, our past histories, our actions and reactions, we must learn to do so in order to grow emotionally and spiritually. It is not in our integrity to continue to blame people, places and experiences for causing us to react in certain ways. We choose how we will react.  We are responsible for our feelings. We are responsible for our health and well-being. We are responsible for our financial gains or losses. I know that in the beginning it is hard to accept this reality. As humans, we are afraid to accept responsibility. It is as if we subconsciously return to the days of childhood when our survival depended on blaming a sibling or denying that we did anything wrong.  When a parent questioned, "Who broke the glass?" the response was typically "Not me" or "I don't know." Blame and/or denial become the key coping skills so as to avoid the pain of feeling ashamed or "bad" about oneself. Why do we have to feel "bad"at all?
If only we could quickly recognize that no matter what, we are good people and worthy of love and acceptance.In other words, you are not a "bad" are simply a person learning more about yourself and your living. No need to run or hide, just simply to acknowledge that you are human, capable of many things and responsible for your actions and reactions. "Yes, I did that." And now, you can go below the surface to understand more about why you do (or did) what you do and how you can do it differently. There is tremendous wisdom and healing below the surface, if only you have the courage to drop your defenses. After all you are a good person, worthy of love and acceptance.           

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Peace in the Heart

How do you cultivate peace in your heart? The sad truth is that many people are restless and spend much, if not all, of their life looking for something to ease their restlessness. The mind is busy.The world is even busier. And so how does one experience true peace? To begin, you might choose a peaceful place; a place that is free of noise, chaos and distraction. Nature often provides a peaceful environment, as well as spending time alone. Some may find peace in a warm bath, or sitting in meditation. Others may include lying in a hammock or on a float in the pool on a warm summer day as peaceful. Peace is a feeling that comes from being at ease. There is a freedom from the worries of life. It is the ability to "be" rather than the need to "do." Peace is a feeling in which all is well with your world. Everything feels right. You are content in the moment, in the experience, in your living.  But just how do you reach a content and peaceful place within yourself?
To cultivate peace in your heart one must heal the emotions which would otherwise distract you, You must begin to let go of your fears and your worries. Let go of your anger and resentment. Let go of your hurt and sadness. In this way you free your heart to experience the more wondrous feelings of joy, happiness and peace. It is also important to recognize that peace has a spiritual component. It does not matter what you believe in, only that you believe in somethng greater than yourself that has your best interest at heart. In this way, you have the option to surrender your emotional burdens. Often people confuse spirituality with religion, and are opposed to being a part of anything religious.  Spirituality is much more than any particular religion. It is a personalized relationship with the Divine, which may include God, the Angels, the Universe, Buddha, Jesus, Mother Mary, Goddess, or even simply,  a willow tree. Often people will experience a feeling of peacefulness when they attend a church or synagogue. Peace dwells within your spirit. When you nourish your spirit in whatever form, you will find peace. Take the time to cultivate peace in your life. Quiet the mind. Become centered. Breathe deeply. Embrace peace....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"What Would Ellen Say?"

 I have had numerous clients over the years tell me that, when confronted with a challenging situation,  they will ask themselves, "What would Ellen say?" It is only until recently that I have allowed this understanding to sink into the depths of my being, not from a place of ego, but from recognizing that it is a responsibility to share the gifts that we are given. We are all here to grow and to understand ourselves on a deeper level in order for our lives to open more fully. Therefore, it is here that I can metaphorically open the door to my counseling practice and allow the wisdom, encouragement, and hope to touch more lives on a daily basis. And so, it is with love and gratitude that I share my thoughts and reflections here with the intention that others will find meaning and inspiration to enjoy their lives fully.