“Mommy does work ever close?”

"Mommy does your work close?"
Overscheduled

I looked at my schedule and I asked, “what did I do to myself.” It was the week before Christmas and I looked at my calendar and realized I crammed as many client appointments as I could all week, supervision appointments, all after a full training day the week before and amidst all the holiday to dos that weren’t yet done.

 

Man did I feel overwhelmed. I forgot the white space. You know, the space between clients to get my documentation done, the time to wrap up loose ends from training day, pay taxes, all the fun stuff.

I worked so long last week (training week which always adds more to dos’) that my 4 year old daughter asked me, “mommy does your work close?”

Oops. I overscheduled myself again. I felt guilty about it most of the week because I miss my kids and this time of year you plan holiday activities (our holiday pancakes with Santa was kind of a bust because 4 year old cried the whole time because she had an ear infection).

I know what I was thinking when I scheduled it all. I was thinking that I needed the money and my clients needed me. Feelings like I wanted to please others and not disappoint anyone by making them wait until January for an appointment.

On the other end of it, I prayed for this. I prayed for full client load, a growing training and supervision business, and to expand myself. Growing pains.

I think this kind of thing ebbs and flows for me. I go from not busy enough and broke to overdoing it. But I kind of feel like our business, the counseling business is like that. Ebb and flow. Busy and not busy. The trick for me is, I think, is noticing when it gets too much and pulling back and making necessary adjustments, sticking to boundaries, assisting clients to move along that are ready for discharge, etc.… and stop being so hard on myself when it starts to take over and run into family life, but just to make the changes I need to make.

Sometimes that advice is easy to say, but takes a TON of courage to pull off. I have had to work very hard at setting boundaries in general and it doesn’t come easy to me. I am really blessed right now when I think about it. To have enough work that I need to pull back and set boundaries in my daily schedule, time to breathe, time to write, and time to create.

Gratitude for it helps. Gratitude and making small adjustments along the way to tweak the overworked schedule into something more balanced. I’m thankful.

How do you manage your schedule when it becomes insane? Leave a comment below with your tips. Thanks!

5 Tips for Coping with Holiday Grief and Stress

Already the Hallmark Channel is playing it’s marathon of Christmas movies. They are nostalgic, sweet stories. It’s an easy escape and some of the plot lines are a little cliche but after a difficult work day it can really help me decompress.

While there are certainly characters with problems during the holiday season, Christmas is presented in a positive, peaceful, magical light. However, I was reminded recently that this season is often times difficult for some families. I’ll be the first to admit it can be an overwhelming, stressful time for me between work, children, family functions, social functions, financial strain and gift planning. It can be a reminder of a person you loved and lost, a death or bring out conflict in some families. So how do you manage grief and stress during the holidays? Here are a few tips to help you along.

1. Slow down: prioritize your social functions, take time to breath and remind yourself of what it’s about. It’s about God sending his Son to the world and reconciling our relationship, it’s about peace, it’s about time with your loved ones.
2. Set your limits financially : make a budget, say no to functions if there are too many on your schedule, don’t over-extend yourself financially.
3. Find supporters that you can talk about your feelings with; friends, spouse, a counselor.
4. Give yourself permission to have feelings, both the ups and the downs.
5. Create reminders of the hope that is in you around the house, such as a nativity scene, and advent calendar, symbols that mean peace to you.

These are just a few tips on managing holiday related stress and grief.

What helps you manage stress and grief during the holiday season? Leave a comment below and join the conversations!

Courage to Tell the Truth

TRUTH

Recently I witnessed one of my closest friends giver her testimony in front of her church. She talked about how she struggled with some things and how God has used that in her life to help others (she is also a therapist). It took a lot of courage for her to be vulnerable, even with people she knew were supportive and loving in her life. I am thankful I was there to support her.

It got me thinking on the way home about some things.

I used to believe that as a therapist I’m supposed to have it all together all the time. We are taught as therapists to have a professional distance from our clients. We are to limit our self-disclosure with clients about our own struggles. While these limitations are certainly helpful and ethical in the professional setting so that we can be objective with our clients,(because there is nothing worse than dumping your own junk onto your clients) there is a danger that this distance can carry over into the rest of our relationships and become a protective façade that we have it all together all the time. In the beginning of my career somewhere I allowed that lie into my life, and learned how to put on a good face, and somehow believed that when I am vulnerable with my emotions that somehow I am weak. I believed that I have to pretend that I have it all together all the time.

 

The truth is, therapists are people who hurt and go through things just like everyone else. I have been seeing my own therapist for almost 8 years now to deal with my own work/life balance, anxieties and times when I’ve hit burnout. The more I meet with people, work with my clients, supervisees and talk to colleagues, I believe now that there is a purpose for our challenges, whether that purpose is revealed to us or not. God will use them to work through us for the good of others and ourselves.

 

It’s never without a purpose. That’s why I believe being vulnerable with others about our struggles is so healing. I could see the hope, joy, and peace in my friend’s face as she took the courage to share, and how the façade came down in her life and she could be vulnerable with others. It was freeing.

 

For more information on being vulnerable, watch Dr. Brene Brown’s Ted talk on her vulnerability research.

My Body Says Slow Down, but my Mind Says Go!

It’s the day after a medical procedure and I’m still recovering. I have some help the day of but then I’m up and driving around the next day. I feel 75% myself, just sore. It’s been difficult to get rest and entertain my kids and get ready for my birthday party next week. And even though I gave everyone at work notice, it seems I still get client calls and messages. My brain got overwhelmed, and I found myself in a mood. You know the one. The one where I NEED to take care of myself physically and mentally but I can’t seem to turn off the thoughts. Thoughts of the to-do’s, thoughts of cases I need to address, and thoughts of the pressure I’ve felt the last few months. The overwhelm had sunken in and I caught myself spreading myself too thin.

How do I stop when my body is saying stop, slow down, but my mind says, go-go-go? I tried all the tricks, avoiding, talking to my hubby, trying to focus on the here and now, and even giving into some of the to do’s. All signs that I need to put on the breaks and re-adjust some parts of my life so that I can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s crunch time. It feels like forever, but it’s not. There will be an end. Boundaries will be set, and space will be made where it needs to be.

It’s time to focus on what’s in front of me, the little people in my life, my faith, and my family. Serving others is most of what I do and there comes a point where it can overtake your life if you’re not paying attention, and I have to pull back some places and set more boundaries. Allow others help, to take over parts of my to do list (or trim it), and allow others to adjust around me rather than myself adjusting to them all the time. It’s a difficult shift for me. I tend to want to please others, and I’m hard on myself when I say no or if I can’t make everyone happy. I allow false guilt to set in if I’m not paying attention to my thoughts. But the truth is, I will never make everyone happy all the time I am not their source of happiness or healing. I am not the answer to all their problems. I am only a vessel that God allows to work through me. Boundaries allow God to work through me and teach others to rely on Him and to open doors for them. Sometimes my saying no and setting boundaries is leaving space for God to work in someone else’s life just as much as giving Him space to work in mine. It’s a freeing experience, really, to say no to something or set a boundary somewhere because it helps guide you to your goals, so you can let go of the things you need to.

What do you need to let go of when you find yourself needing to slow down? Leave a comment below and let’s support each other’s boundaries.

Sanity for the Working Parent

Family photo
Photo Credit Joy Neville Photography

“Mommy you don’t play with us.” Ouch. My kid said this one day when we were at home and talking about a game we are about to play. What an awakening. I work with families and children. I play with children all day long. And I always felt like my priorities were right. But this got my attention. I have been working a ton recently on some awesome opportunities, and some things have gotten off.

As a therapist and a mom it is always a challenge to balance both career and family. I’m a pretty driven person who deals with a streak of perfectionism, so if I’m not careful I can find myself out of balance. I see this issue come up time and again both with parents of the children I work with, supervisees and other working parents. How do you have a career that supports your family financially, but at the same time stay connected with your family? I have the fortunate opportunity to be able to adjust my schedule and have flexibility, and not every family has that. However there are some things that I do that helps me, and I hope that it can help other parents to readjust as necessary. Please note I have NOT perfected this in anyway and am constantly learning how to incorporate these in my own life.

 

  1. Let go of getting everything done all the time. Some things will be left undone. There is finite number of hours in a day and it is impossible to complete everything every day.
  2. Make the time you do spend with your children/family count. I make it a point to keep my weekends low key and not over scheduled. This is necessary both from a self-care point of view and bonding with my children. We have certain routines that we do keep on the weekends (such as at least one day we have movie and pizza night).
  3. Set a cut of time for work. In my field it can seem like there is something to do all the time, and setting a cut off time to stop working and go home has worked wonders. I will even put “GO HOME” on my schedule to give myself a visual reminder to NOT SCHEDULE SOMETHING THERE.
  4. Say no more than you say yes. It is tempting to take on multiple projects, Post this! Schedule this! Volunteer here! But giving yourself permission to say no sometimes will help focus your attention on the things that matter the most.
  5. Plan self care times every day to decompress. (for me it’s herbal tea before bed and watching something stupid on TV).
  6. Seek out consultation and networking with other parents in your field. You will find that it’s not just you, no you’re not crazy for being a working parent, and also remind you that we are in this together.
  7. Accept help from others.
  8. Ask for help.
  9. Give yourself the permission to adjust as needed. I have found that I have had to adjust my schedule or way of working every few years as my family’s needs change. My family’s needs change depending on the stage we’re in, for instance my kids had different needs when they were babies, but now that one is preschool age and the other is school age they need attention in different areas.
  10. Make smaller adjustments as you go along, rather than big leaps. Change happens as you make small adjustments to your schedule and your life, generally not in one big leap. And sometimes the simple adjustments (such as adjusting your cut off time for one day) makes a bigger impact than you expect.

 

What helps you maintain your sanity as a working parent? Whether you are a therapist or not? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I can’t wait to read everyone’s tips.

When Passion Shows Up

I’ll never forget the first time I saw play therapy. When my late supervisor allowed me to observe my first play therapy session I fell in love at first sight. It felt right. It felt natural to me and I loved how it worked with where the child was in their development.

 

That session was a pivotal moment for me. It started a passion that motivated me to pursue my career and specialty as a play therapist and play therapist supervisor. I had so much to learn, but it didn’t stop me from moving towards my goals.

 

I had no idea what kind of challenges lay ahead, including difficult work environments, heavy caseloads, and the level of trauma and complex issues that my young clients face with courage.

 

I have non-therapist friends ask me “how do you work with …(place favorite issues here). What I tell people (and myself when I’m faced with challenges of my job) is that yes, but I get to see a child heal from a trauma, connect with their parent, make new friends, learn how to stop being afraid and live a full life. I get to watch people heal and increase their faith in their God and themselves. I get to spend my day alongside young ones who deal with so much they should be too young for.

 

At the end of the day it’s encouraging work. It’s worth it. Some cases are sad. True. I have to constantly balance my work life, and personal life, true. I have to keep my emotions in check sometimes and my support systems close. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

 

What’s your passion? What fuels you? Leave a Comment Below about how you found your passion.

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Uncertainty and Change; Friend or Foe?

Uncertainty: Friend or Foe?

Making a Change:

Since last year I’ve been working on a lot of goals. I opened a business and started working with supervisees for the first time. I’m putting myself out there as a trainer/speaker for the first time. First, first, first.

Adding these responsibilities have really stretched me and challenged me in a lot of ways. I’m learning to experience the emotions that come with owning something with your name on it. I am by no means an expert at business, but I like the challenge and I’m learning as I go. I was looking to grow and change and challenge myself. I’m accomplishing just that, and in the process I’ve done a lot of new things I’ve never done before. It’s a very exciting time for me.

The Challenge of Uncertainty

On the other side of taking these steps to obtain my goals in the counseling field comes a lot of uncertainty. Financial uncertainty, will I have enough clients, will supervisees come to see me, and what if I work months on a training and no one shows up? Fear of failure and the unknown can easily creep in.

The thing is, change and uncertainty are very challenging for me, and probably for many others. I tend to like plans and to know what’s next. Those that know me know how scheduled I am and how I like to plan my life way in advance. Business challenges that for me on so many levels. I’m very loyal and dedicated and I will drag out a tough situation that’s not great just to avoid the change and stay in my comfort zone. On the positive, this makes me a very loyal and consistent person and I’m great at commitment, but if I don’t keep myself in check I will continue a sometimes difficult or not good for me but good for them situation, or get stuck in the mundane.

It’s Not Just Me!

I’ve noticed some of the same challenges with change and uncertainty with people that I work with.  Either they hit a new milestone in their career, like getting their license and begin to explore their options, or they’ve decided to change the way they are doing something in their home or work life and dealing with the ambivalence that can sometimes follow the decision to make a change.

I read this morning on one of my favorite websites “Unstuck.com” that our brains see uncertainty as a challenge.  That we try to make up something certain in our minds to deal with the uncertainty because we are wired to survive that way.  This makes since in a survival situation, but it can sometimes be a stumbling block to a positive change. People tent to have trouble seeing past the ambiguity to the other side of the change. It takes a greater payout on the other end for people to walk through the uncertainty.

So Now What?

I was talking with someone I trust yesterday about some of the uncertainty I’m experiencing right now and she asked me how could I view uncertainty differently, rather than a threat? Or a fear? Well, here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Change is certain.
  • Change is sometimes necessary.
  • View it as an opportunity to be creative with your life.
  • Write out the positives of the end goals.
  • Practice self-care rituals to deal with the emotions of the change.
  • Lean on your support, your tribe, or who ever you go to for accountability and
  • Practice your faith and trust in you God, and also yourself to make the right steps.
  • Focus on the next step right in front of you, (Thank you Oprah for this one!)
  • Focus on the Process not the outcome (thanks Marie Forleo!)
  • Look at the ambiguity and uncertainty not as a threat, but as an opportunity to be creative and make some tough decisions.

How do you deal with change and uncertainty? Leave a comment below and share with your friends.

# 1Tip I Received as a New Counselor Filling Out the License Application

Starting out as a new counselor I worried about filling out the application, meeting the requirements, would it get approved, etc… One thing that helped me relax and stop over analyzing things was when a seasoned counselor simplified it for me. I hope you find this tip helpful in today’s video blog.

 

What Questions Do You Have on Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor?

Do You Have Tips on What Helped You Become a Counselor? Please Share Below in The Comments!

 

Don’t Let Discouragement Get You Down

cropped-header-2.jpgSometimes you plan things. Big plans. Life changes, opening a business, starting a relationship, going out with your girlfriends, anything. You get excited about it, you think, “Thank the Lord! Look at how He’s blessing my life” when things start going well. Then you have one of those weeks, cancellations, bad news, a tough client week or whatever the case. I feel disappointment, if I’m honest with myself, and some confusion too.

So how do I turn this around? I want to give up, but that’s not the answer. I want to drag my appointments in the door by their hair. No, that won’t work either. I want to blame someone, myself, others, the universe.

Then I feel like, what is the world telling me? Am I really ready for this? Did the Lord really tell me to do this? Doubts. Big Hairy DOUBTS. I’ve poured hours, money, sweat, tears, time, you name it into this venture. I look into the face of uncertainty. I can’t stop now I’m too far in.

I get down on my knees and give my worries to the Lord, my God. That’s my first step. I allow the tears. I allow the mixed emotions. But when I give it over to the Lord, I know He has no doubts. He will bring the people that need what I have to offer. He will provide. He’s proved it to me time and time again. When I left an agency job broken and torn, He healed me, when I had nothing He provided my needs. He gave me support and all I need. He won’t let me down. People will. Money will. Position will. Things will all let me down. But He won’t.

Isaiah 42:16 (NLT)

I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.

 

1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the lord is finished correctly.

 

Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

  • Deuteronomy 1:21 (NLT)

    Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!’

  • Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

    Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Public Reading of the Book of Instruction

  • Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

    This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua’s Charge to the Israelites

  • Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

    Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.