“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!

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.

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.

6 Steps to Practicing Self Care

girl homeworkMediumHere lately the practice of self care has been on my mind and a focus for me. It’s been especially important recently with a newborn, a 5 year old, a career, and a husband in school. My life is pretty crazy and I can easily get frazzled and worn out if I let it.

To be honest there are days where I struggle to balance my own needs with the needs of others in my life, especially when it involves my kids and my clients. Self care is talked about frequently between myself and my colleagues, and there are even whole professional workshops on it!  The following are things that I do to helps me to practice self care and I hope it will give you some encouragement to take care of yourself as well.

1. Journal.

I was struggling to find time to journal so I downloaded a free journaling app on m iPad which helps me since I’m usually using my iPad anyway (especially when nursing my daughter). Journaling helps me to process my day, what I’m feeling, and areas I struggle with. I use “My Wonderful Days lite.”

2. Read a day to day devotional.

I love in depth, deep devotionals I can dive into, but I don’t always have the time to spend on them so I use a day to day devotional for times where I’m needing to spend prayer/devotional time but I don’t have a lot of time by myself.

3. Ask for help when I need it.

This one is especially difficult for me because I’m an independent person and I’m so used to helping others and doing things myself. But I find that delegating and knowing my limits help ease the pressure.

4. Seek out social interaction.

Social media is great and there are many ways to connect with people via Facebook, twitter, google+ or the social media platform of your choice. However, they cannot replace face to face interaction with people in real life. This can be through church, professional associations, or just calling up a friend to chat and meet for lunch.

5. Set realistic goals for yourself.

When I get overwhelmed I tend to want everything done right now! (Like, I need to clean my house!). but I find when I break it down into smaller steps (My goal today is to finish the dishes) I feel much more accomplished and can focus on one thing at a time.

6. Take time to sit down and unwind, even if it’s only 5 minutes.

I find after a long day of seeing clients, or even days I’m home with my children that taking time to wind down by sitting in my favorite chair, drinking a glass of water or herbal tea (my favorite is tranquil dreams from Teavana) it helps me to sleep better and get re-focused.

These are just a few ways I practice self care in my life. If you have your own tips, please join the conversation and leave a comment below. Let’s support each other on our journey of self care.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

10 Things to Make Your New Year Stress Free

I don’t know about you, but for me the end of a year and the beginning of a new one always has a feeling of relief for me. I love the idea of a new, fresh start and starting over. The past year for me has been full of ups and downs, and a lot of personal stress. But at the same time, there are many blessings in my life. If I look back this year, I can see where God has really come through for me and my family. I love the hope that a new year brings. I believe that this year will be better than last year, and that God will continue to teach me how to trust Him in my life.

Here are 10 things that I am going to do this year to make life more stress free take these ideas and also add your own in the comments:

1. Say no to at least one project a week.

2. Reduce the amount of caffeine and sugar I consume.

3. Plan at least one date night a month with my husband.

4. Plan more time with my girlfriends.

5. Schedule in at least one morning a week for writing and business planning.

6. Pay down debt.

7. Say what I am thankful for everyday because God supplies all me needs and provides for me every day.

8. Read more for pleasure.

9. Read a good Bible study or join a Bible study group.

10. Give up trying to plan every little detail of my life and allow God to work things out.

 

Verses that Spoke to Me this Week:

 Isa 43:16, 18-19

This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Proverbs 3:5-6 

The Message (MSG)
5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Confusion vs. Trust and Faith

What’s chronic, repetitive, or inflamed in your inner or outer life?

This burning question is personal. There are many things I could say about it. The past year or so of my life have brought out a lot of hurt, joy, tears, laughter, many mixed emotions. Most recently I took on some opportunities in my life that reminded my of the things that I left, and inflamed a lot of mixed emotions, distrust and confusion. Confusion about what God’s will is for my life right  now, how to decide if an opporunity is one that Is from God, or just a distraction from what His will actually is in my life. And me,being stubborn would rather take an opportunity and then stress about how to get out of it rather than saving myself the heartache and stress and trusting the path that I believe God has put me on. The repetitive is the constant battle to trust the process, and my practical mind, the need for certainty and to provide for my family financially vs. patience, trust and hearing the whispers of the Holy Spirit in my heart leading me, allowing God to unfold his will for my life openly without reservations. The balance between the “busy syndrome” that often accompanies the profession of counseling, the need to pour out compassion everywhere, and the need for self care and rejuvenation. It is a constant battle and conflict for me, and left unchecked can lead me to stubborn slips of faith. It reminds me of Peter, when he sees Jesus walking on the water towards the boat, he takes one step out, and begins walking towards His Savior, and then loses his focus off Jesus and focuses on the storm, then fear sets in and he falls into the stormy waters. There are several things that I love about this picture. One: Peter has the faith to get out of the boat, and two, Jesus is right there pulling Peter out of the water to bring him back to safety and into the boat. It reminds me that I don’t have to fear, that I can take the steps of faith that are presented to me, and that when I fail Jesus is there to rescue me and bring me back to safety, and showing me that I can Trust Him and His will and place in my life.

Matthew 14:22-34

 

Learning to Love Yourself and Connect with Others


Robin Marvel is an author, Empowerment and life positivity coach and motivational speaker for children and adults. Using tools from her “Awakening Consciousness” book series she is expanding creativity and self awareness in beings everywhere.

Robin is Leading Out Loud as the owner of Marvelous Empowerment. Providing a variety of workshops to encourage empowerment in all ages. More information on Marvelous Empowerment can be found at www.aurasenseguide.com, a website designed to strengthen your being while encouraging Universal Awareness.

Check www.aurasenseguide.com for upcoming lectures and workshops.

I Interviewed Robin about her book, “Awakening Consciousness, A Girl’s Guide.”


    I first started writing as a child. I loved being able to create something I could grow and learn from.

    What was your inspiration to write “Awakening Consciousness, a Girl’s Guide?”

My inspiration to write “Awakening Consciousness A Girl’s Guide!” was my four daughters. I wanted to make sure they were aware of the big picture of life. I also wanted to encourage girls of all ages to love themselves and create a sense of self security within.

What age group is it appropriate for?

“Awakening Consciousness A Girl’s Guide!” does not have a specific age group. As a parent you can use it with your children as young as 1, young girls can use it as well as adults. Wherever you are on your path you can benefit from the guide.

What is the goal of the book?

The goal of “Awakening Consciousness A Girl’s Guide!” is to create a sense of self security and love within all.

How could your book be used in a therapeutic setting?

My book could be used in a therapeutic setting because it is very motivating and hands on. It offers a variety of empowering, self esteem building exercises that are fun and will create security in whoever is doing them. It is also a workbook so people are able to keep track of their progress.

What advice to parents do you have about using this book?

My advice to parents is to use this book to connect with your child. Encourage your child to explore who they are and love every part of who they are. Allow them to expand on their individuality. As parents we have the opportunity to raise confident, empowered beings that will change our world!

What is your favorite activity in the book? There are so many that look fun! (I liked the idea of the armoa buddy).

This is a hard question. I love all the activities . You are right the aromabuddy is so fun. If I had to pick a favorite I think it would be the ChakraCizes. The chakraCizes really get the people moving and they instantly can feel a shift in their energy so they know they are working!

Where can your book be purchased?

My book can be purchased in any bookstore as well as www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.com and www.lovinghealing.com

What other projects are you working on?

I am fortunate enough to have many projects I am working on. “Awakening Consciousness A Woman’s Guide!” will be out in 2010. I am also working on my next book “10 EmPOWERaids to Inspire Mind, Body and Spirit”

I am also the owner of Marvelous EmPOWERment ~ offering a variety of empowering workshops for all ages throughout the world.

Do you have a job other than writing? What is it?

My other jobs include being a mom to four of the most amazing beings as well as the instructor for Marvelous EmPOWERment. I am also an Energetic Specialist and motivational speaker for all ages.

What is an Energetic Specialist, and who could benefit from one?

An energetic Specialist is a person that will help you to raise your energy level through positive activities. You will be educated to know your unique energy profile and guide you towards activities that will strengthen your vibrations.
Everyone could use an energetic specialist. No matter where you are at on your path you can always use coping mechanisms to strengthen your integrated whole.

What are your future plans as a writer/author?

My future plans as an author are to continue to encourage empowerment and self security within all. I plan to keep writing books that will inspire beings to accept who they are with love and gratitude. I want parents to see the importance of teaching their children self security at a young age so they will not need to heal as adults.