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Month: July 2015

Dear Stress….I am breaking up with you.


90% of the things we stress about each day never actually happen.

….Whoah! That’s a lot of stress. That’s a lot of pointless stress.

Can you think of anything you’ve let consume your mind and it never even happened? A lot of times I stress over not meeting a work deadline, however I always get my work turned in on time. Or have you ever worried that someone is going to be mad at you, and you replay the scenario regarding what you’re going to say to them over and over in your head? And how many times does it actually end up happening?

Why do we torture ourselves so much?! I think for everyone the answer is different. But the question for me isn’t focused so much on the why, it is more so focused on the what can I do about it?

Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And we can choose the way we wish to respond.

For me, one aspect that helps is to focus on positive stress. Yes, the term sounds contradicting but there is such a thing as positive stress- planning for a wedding, packing for vacation, preparing for a baby…The list goes on and on! And how wonderful are those things? So, for me, I ask myself what things am I allowing to consume my mind that are positively stressful?. By thinking about and recognizing those positive things, I start to get more excited about them!

Make a list. If I start to feel overwhelmed it is really helpful to write things down and out of my brain. Whether it is a to-do list, a shopping list, a list of reminders, etc…I write it on paper or on my phone. I literally feel myself exhale as I am writing.

Can I control this? This one is difficult for me. If I am stressing over something that is out of my control, I often let my brain be consumed by it. I have to ask myself if I can control the thing that stressing me out, and if the answer is no then I have to let it go. For example, I am getting married soon (yippie!). My wedding is going to be outside, and I find myself worrying about the weather. Can I control this? Nope! So instead I focus on the fact that regardless of the weather, I am going to be married that day. And that is the goal, after all, isn’t it?!

Find a reason to smile. This one is always important. Smiling is truly one of the body’s best medicines. What helps you to relax, smile, laugh, and have fun? It’s okay to take a break and breathe once in a while, and to include laughter in that break is ideal. For me, sometimes it’s not even about laughter. It can be just finishing up a tough work out and smiling afterwards because of how good I feel.

Know that you have done your best. At the end of the day we are exhausted, aren’t we? Sometimes things don’t go as planned or we don’t get everything accomplished that we wished to. But, we have to tell ourselves that we have done the best we can. And if someone else is upset with us because of that, that is okay! Some days, especially in social work, I have to remind myself that I have done my best. There are days that I may be the only one who recognizes that, but that is okay. You must know within yourself that you made the right choices and you have to be able to accept that.

Recognize priorities. Is not getting my laundry and dishes done today really important? It this really worth stressing over all day? Of course not! If there is a list of things overwhelming you, simply eliminate the stuff that does not need to be done today and focus on the important tasks that need your attention.

Will this matter tomorrow? A week from now? A year? Ask yourself if what is overwhelming you today going to matter in the future. Is it worth your time?

Just remember: It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it.

Dear Stress…I am breaking up with you, for GOOD.

Sincerely, A Happier Me.

-keep shining




Safe Word


As a parent /care giver, we know teenagers can be difficult, that is no secret or surprise. We worry about teenagers and the decisions they make. It is stressful!
As a teenager, life is challenging. You’re trying to figure out who you are, who you want to be, and what choices you want to make in life. And at times, you make choices based on what your friends want and not necessarily what feels right to you.

I am sure everyone has a few situations they look back on with some regret, or knowing it was wrong. However, because our peers did it or pressured us into doing it we felt obligated. It was the “cool” thing to do, so of course we wanted to fit in!
So, how can we help? As caregivers and parents, what are some tips/tricks we can utilize to ensure our teens and children stay safe? There seems to be nothing that works at times as teens will want to be independent, and of course think we are the worst people on the face of the earth! Teenagers do know everything and have every answer, as you know 😉

I just have one simple trick to share today, and that is the create a “safe word” with your teen or child. You and your teenager can come up with a word together. Once a word is decided upon, this can be used in numerous different situations your teen is not comfortable in. For example, let’s say your teenager is at a friend’s house and the friends are doing something that makes your teen feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The teenager can text you their safe word. As a parent or caregiver, we can then call our teen telling them we need to pick them up for whatever reason we make up. This is just one example of how a “safe word” can be used.

Some people may think why not just call your parent and tell them to come get you?. Well, let’s be honest, how many teenagers are going to tell their friends they do not feel safe and want to leave? Not many.

“Safe word” also assists in helping you and your teen communicate. Start by thanking them and praising them for using the safe word (refer back to my Relationship vs. Repair blog), and then talk about what happened, or how to avoid dangers in the future.

This simple technique can also be used for children to ensure their safety. Just like you would with a teenager, you and your child create a safe word together. For this next example, let’s say the safe word you and your child created is bubblegum.  Example: Let’s say you are having neighbor Joe pick your child up from daycare because you work late. Joe has to tell your child the safe word, bubblegum, before your child will go with neighbor Joe. Let your child know to never leave with any adults unless the adult knows to say the word bubblegum. Make sense? Now, our  job as parents is be sure to tell neighbor Joe the safe word prior to picking up our child 🙂

Simple, but effective!

Safety is important. Do not feel ridiculous for wanting to double, or triple check, that your teen/child is safe. You are entitled to those feelings as a parent, and it is important that we know our children are safe.

-keep shining

Relationship before Repair


Relationship before Repair

This concept is SO important when forming and continuing relationships- positive and long lasting relationships. But let me tell you, it’s not easy. So what does this mean exactly?

Relationship before Repair means to focus on your relationship and connections with someone before repairing a problem or issue, or correcting someone due to a mistake that was made.

Here is a helpful example:

Let’s say you have a teenager. Let’s say this lovely, polite teenager decides not to come home for their curfew. When would a teenager do such a thing?! I can hardly imagine it 🙂

So, your child is not home and does not answer your calls. You’re worried, stressed, frantic, upset, disappointed. And in the midst of all your understandable flight of emotions, your lovely, polite teen comes through the door 2 hours after curfew.

What do you do?

I can tell you in that moment I would have a few choice words to say and send them straight to their room while I decided their fate! However, is this method really helpful in that moment? What will that teach your teen?

This is where we remember Relationship before Repair.

How much more memorable and meaningful would it be to focus on your relationship in that terrifying yet frustrating moment? When your teen comes through the door, wouldn’t it be better to first hug them and tell them how happy you are that they are safe and at home? To tell them how much you love them and how worried you were. And thanking them for coming home.

What would that tell a child? What does that teach them?

Imagine how much this concept can help your relationship with teens, with children, with coworkers, with significant others….

Think about what’s really important in these situations, and where the focus needs to be in these intense moments. Because honestly, amidst all your anger and frustration is relief. Relief that your child is home and is safe. In that moment, that should be our focus.

Now I’m not saying we don’t discuss the issue with that teenager, and I’m not saying we do not ground them. Consequences for actions are necessary at times and issues need to be addressed, but there is no sense of making consequences if there is no connection or relationship established. I can assure you most teens will not listen if they do not have a positive connection with you, and most people will be on the defense regardless of whether or not they are at fault.

People want to feel loved even in their worst moments. It is times like this, when people know they mess up or know they are wrong, that they need you the most. This is where you can prove to them that you are there for them for the long haul. This is where you prove that your relationship with them matters. So much can be defined from these moments, and the response you will get from people may shock you. Now I am not saying it always works and that teen will never be late again, but they will remember what you said and how you handled the situation, and that is what matters.

We say a lot when we are mad, it’s human. And some of what we say in our moments of anger later comes back to haunt us. Sometimes we are so angry we don’t even remember saying what we say. Relationship before Repair keeps us in check and reminds us what is truly important in the heat of the moment. It reminds us that we need to focus on the love we have for one another and let our love help define and strengthen our relationships.

-keep shining