Archive for December, 2007

The Gift I Gave that Everyone Hated

December 31, 2007

Our kids gave us a surprise party last month. All our friends and family came, and everyone looked really great. You’d think that would be obvious since they were so  decked out and all. I mean, thought they looked great. So I printed and framed a photo of each couple for Christmas, and managed to apparently traumatize each and every one of them. Well, truth be told, it was the women who were traumatized….

Responses ranged from polite dismay, to “Omigod, I look terrible in that picture!” to “Do I really look that fat?” to my sister’s most memorable response. She opened the gift, exclaimed “But I look so old!”  and began giggling uncontrollably….which caused our mother to start giggling with her…till they were laughing so hard that tears were streaming from their eyes. (In all fairness to me, she wore a silly hat the night the photo was taken, which did not flatter her, but I figured she must have liked how she looked or why would she have worn it, you know?)

The moral of the story: I will never, ever give anyone a photo of themselves again. People always think, hope (?) that they look better than they actually do…why would I want to be a buzz kill ?!

My Visit to the Hereafter

December 29, 2007

Last night, in a dream, I saw my father again. This is not to say I dreamed of him, which I do quite frequently. Usually I dream that he is still alive, his features no longer blurred by time. I can see the fine white childhood scar etched into his forehead, the square chiseled planes of his face, the brown hairs on the knuckles of his strong, beautiful hands. There is no action in this type of dream. It is more like a silent close up, a still shot, causing me to feel guilty when I awaken because I had forgotten these details.

Sometimes he does not know me in my dreams. I run into him on a crowded city street and greet him joyfully, but he tells me there must be some mistake and coldly leaves me. Or else I dream dark dirty dreams of his ghastly dead body, filled with worms and wet decay, and I awaken sobbing, convulsed with horror.  

But in the dream last night I went to him, to a crimson gold meadow where sickness and dying have never existed, where the trees are lush and plentiful, and the sunlight clearer than any I have ever seen on this earth. He was not the mature father I remember but a bouyant young man, and I was a child, and he lifted me up in the warm fresh breeze, and we knew that we had been separated for a very long time. We cried with joy together, and when I awakened, the tears still streaming from my eyes, I could still smell that sweet green air, and I knew that I had not just dreamed of him but spent a time with him outside of time, in the place where dreams are made.

Psychscribe Quote #8

December 29, 2007

“Do not go gently into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light!”

Dylan Thomas

What is the Best Thing That Happened to You this Year?

December 27, 2007

I will be thinking of this as I drive to work this morning, and I hope you will give it some thought as well….It occurs to me, as I write this, that we therapists are always harping on how “you make your life happen” and “you are the agent of your own change” and thoughts like that..And they are good ones, to be sure.  But sometimes, well, stuff happens as we all know, that we did not cause…bad stuff…today however I’m looking for the best thing that happened, something wonderful that the universe (or God) threw at you….

More on My Alpha Male

December 24, 2007

An alpha male recognizes a problem even before it actualizes, and prepares for it. After all, that’s what leaders do, don’t they? So because I am unwell this holiday season, he single handedly has the whole Christmas feast planned and ready to go. This silver star recipient, who has countless medals for his valor and heroism in combat, is at this moment simmering his homemade cranberry sauce, layering his home made lasagne,  and roasting two turkeys for our 14 guests tomorrow. I am so so blessed to have him.

My Christmas wish to all of you is that you not only receive blessings and good health, but also recognize the ones you have…and remember to thank the people who are the blessings in your life.

How I Do Not Define Myself

December 23, 2007

So how do we define ourselves?  I posted that question when I started this blog. I asked if it was by our roles, our relationships, our work… I didn’t get many responses and I can see why – that’s not exactly an easy answer! Sounds like it ought to be the topic of a term paper.  So I think its only fair  to muse a bit on this myself…

When I was a child,  of course it was by relationship.  I was a daughter.  An extension of my mother and father and my wonderful extended family.   I was also an avid reader and writer from the first day I learned to sound out my phonics. Later I became a friend,  a wife, a mother, and a Christian. And those relational definitions of myself satisfied me for many years. But then depression crept in like a cold dark fog,  and with it a long, long search for my own identity. I wanted a definition of myself created by myself,  not one that I had blindly accepted from my culture.  I began to feel that  those roles did not define me…they described me. 

So then I went through a phase of believing you are what you do. I mean I really did believe that.  I went back to school , pregnant with my second child, and  I was also a student. And that satisfied me for a while. I felt a lot better about myself, because I am an intelligent person and I liked that label. I defined myself as a learner. I also had to read and write a lot, which was what I’d had a passion for from the age of six.

But sooner or later, I had to graduate. And off I went into my occupation, degree in hand, a “professional”.  Now I know who I am, I thought.  When the buzz died I continued, and continue, to take more postgraduate training.  And I still get that buzz from learning.  The only thing is….I’ve also  learned that my occupation does not define me either. I am not what I do. True, the occupation I’ve chosen  says some things about the kind of person I am, but it doesn’t define me. 

All I know for sure is that I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a therapist, a  learner, a writer, an artist, a soul searcher, and a Christian.  But none of those define me. How can they? Isn’t the human soul  greater than the sum of its parts?

Do You Love an Alpha Male?

December 21, 2007

I posted a love note mine sent me…would you be willing to tell us what you love about yours?

In Case You Haven’t Seen This…

December 21, 2007

I believed every one of them, but at least I’m not a doctor! I was most happy to discover that I am not causing myself irreparable harm by not drinking 8 glasses of water a day.


Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
Thu Dec 20, 7:20 PM ET

Popular culture is loaded with myths and half-truths. Most are harmless. But when doctors start believing medical myths, perhaps it’s time to worry.

In the British Medical Journal this week, researchers looked into several common misconceptions, from the belief that a person should drink eight glasses of water per day to the notion that reading in low light ruins your eyesight.

“We got fired up about this because we knew that physicians accepted these beliefs and were passing this information along to their patients,” said Dr. Aaron Carroll, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “And these beliefs are frequently cited in the popular media.”

And so here they are, so that you can inform your doctor:

Myth: We use only 10 percent of our brains.

Fact: Physicians and comedians alike, including Jerry Seinfeld, love to cite this one. It’s sometimes erroneously credited to Albert Einstein. But MRI scans, PET scans and other imaging studies show no dormant areas of the brain, and even viewing individual neurons or cells reveals no inactive areas, the new paper points out. Metabolic studies of how brain cells process chemicals show no nonfunctioning areas. The myth probably originated with self-improvement hucksters in the early 1900s who wanted to convince people that they had yet not reached their full potential, Carroll figures. It also doesn’t jibe with the fact that our other organs run at full tilt.

Myth: You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Fact: “There is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water,” said Dr. Rachel Vreeman, a pediatrics research fellow at the university and co-author of the journal article. Vreeman thinks this myth can be traced back to a 1945 recommendation from the Nutrition Council that a person consume the equivalent of 8 glasses (64 ounces) of fluid a day. Over the years, “fluid” turned to water. But fruits and vegetables, plus coffee and other liquids, count.

Myth: Fingernails and hair grow after death.

Fact: Most physicians queried on this one initially thought it was true. Upon further reflection, they realized it’s impossible. Here’s what happens: “As the body’s skin is drying out, soft tissue, especially skin, is retracting,” Vreeman said. “The nails appear much more prominent as the skin dries out. The same is true, but less obvious, with hair. As the skin is shrinking back, the hair looks more prominent or sticks up a bit.”

Myth: Shaved hair grows back faster, coarser and darker.

Fact: A 1928 clinical trial compared hair growth in shaved patches to growth in non-shaved patches. The hair which replaced the shaved hair was no darker or thicker, and did not grow in faster. More recent studies have confirmed that one. Here’s the deal: When hair first comes in after being shaved, it grows with a blunt edge on top, Carroll and Vreeman explain. Over time, the blunt edge gets worn so it may seem thicker than it actually is. Hair that’s just emerging can be darker too, because it hasn’t been bleached by the sun.

Myth: Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight.

Fact: The researchers found no evidence that reading in dim light causes permanent eye damage. It can cause eye strain and temporarily decreased acuity, which subsides after rest.

Myth: Eating turkey makes you drowsy.

Fact: Even Carroll and Vreeman believed this one until they researched it. The thing is, a chemical in turkey called tryptophan is known to cause drowsiness. But turkey doesn’t contain any more of it than does chicken or beef. This myth is fueled by the fact that turkey is often eaten with a colossal holiday meal, often accompanied by alcohol — both things that will make you sleepy.

Myth: Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals.

Fact: There are no known cases of death related to this one. Cases of less-serious interference with hospital devices seem to be largely anecdotal, the researchers found. In one real study, mobile phones were found to interfere with 4 percent of devices, but only when the phone was within 3 feet of the device. A more recent study, this year, found no interference in 300 tests in 75 treatment rooms. To the contrary, when doctors use mobile phones, the improved communication means they make fewer mistakes.

“Whenever we talk about this work, doctors at first express disbelief that these things are not true,” said Vreeman said. “But after we carefully lay out medical evidence, they are very willing to accept that these beliefs are actually false.”

Therapist’s Prayer

December 20, 2007

As a human, I am God’s patient.  As a therapist, I have many patients. I pray He uses me to heal them today, and myself as well.

This is Lupus: YouTube

December 19, 2007

Most people don't really undersand this disease, how prevalent and devastating it is. If you would like to find out how you can help, please click on the organization which produced this YouTube:  Lupus Foundation of America

Alpha Male Love Note

December 18, 2007

This is the email he left me this morning. This is the man I love.  I love what he did, how he said it, all of it. Bottom line is its nurturing and protective and we all need this in our relationships:

“Your car has a lot of ice on it.  I cleared the windows but do not put on the wipers until the car has warmed up.  You might want to go down and turn it on and leave it running for 15 min or so before you leave.   Watch for ice coming off when you are at speed.

Love you”

Psychscribe Quote #7

December 17, 2007

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Elliot

Defining Moment with my Teen

December 16, 2007

I remember how utterly terrible those teen years were.  Beyond awful. Beyond my worst nightmare. My adoring little sweetheart, mommy’s sweetheart,  had turned into a teen-zilla. Challenging me, pushing me, defying me, screaming at me. Our cozy little condo had turned into a war zone. What had felt like a warm, loving home had morphed into an atmosphere of what can only be called hate. I admit it. She shouted she hated me often enough, and truth be told, I felt the same way.

I felt despair for a long time. Until one nite when she stormed past me into her bedroom, slammed the door, and sobbed and gulped into her pillow.  And I heard her despair.  That’s when the old mommy instinct finally resurfaced.

I realized that not a kind word, not a gesture of affection, had passed between us for so long that I could not even remember when. I tapped on her bedroom door and sat on the side of her bed.  I gently asked her if I could please talk with her.   She lay there, looking at the ceiling and wiping the tears away.

“I just want to tell you, sweetie, that I can’t remember the last time I told you that I love you….and I do. I love you very much. I want you to know that even though we fight about your behavior and my rules, I think you’re an amazing kid and I am very proud of you. …and  I still really would like to be able to give you a hug….?” 

My little girl picked up her arms and we hugged, fiercely, with both of us now in tears.  I can’t say everything changed after that. We still fought, but the atmosphere of hate had vanished.  I tried to remember to say something nice to her every single day.  She started to smile again. And the descending spiral we’d been sinking into was reversed by me. The mom.  After all, that’s a mom’s job, isn’t it?

Single & Happy? Imago: YouTube

December 15, 2007

So view this, if you will, and tell me…what do you think?

Interracial Marriage – YouTube

December 14, 2007

I found some of these student interviews to be disappointing...but then again, what else was I expecting in today's world?  Anyone else have the same reaction?

Psychscribe Quote # 6

December 12, 2007

“Whatever life you lead you must put your soul into it, to make any sort of success of it; and from the moment you do that it ceases to be romance, I assure you. It becomes reality!”  From Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

What is Codependence?

December 12, 2007

Codependence is a dysfunctional pattern of living and problem solving learned and absorbed during childhood. It happens due to growing up in a family where there is a great deal of chronic emotional pain or trauma and unhealthy boundaries. Examples of these are families where there was: unskillful parenting, a critical or non-nurturing environment, domestic violence, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, substance abuse or addiction, or chronic mental or physical illness. Just like individual people, not all families can be so neatly categorized. Codependence can happen in any family where parents are trying their best, but learned unhealthy patterns of relating.  Therapy can heal you from the past and help you to create a healthy life and identity for yourself. 

In these families there are no appropriate boundaries for the child to experience or learn. Some grow up with no personal boundaries at all. They take in all the negativity of others’ fears, attacks, anger, and criticism. Everything gets in and overwhelms them resulting in no clear sense of identity. Others grow up with rigid boundaries, never allowing anything positive inside, like love, admiration, compliments, and nurturing.

To be emotionally healthy we need to develop  boundaries which keep out the negative but let in the positive. This results in a person with healthy self esteem.

Signs of Codependence

  • You have no idea what normal is
  • Your moods are directly dependent upon the moods of the people you’re close to
  • You attempt to control people’s moods because if they feel good, you’ll feel good.
  • You must always have the approval of others
  • You blame others for your feelings or behavior
  • You have a pattern of getting into abusive relationships/friendships
  • You minimize your unhealthy relationships/friendships
  • You defend or minimize your family of origin’s unhealthy patterns of behavior
  • You “stuff” your feelings
  • You rage at others
  • You feel ashamed to cry in front of anyone
  • You feel numb when it comes to expressing emotions
  • You feel uncomfortable when others express strong emotions
  • You make yourself feel better with addictive substances or behaviors
  • You have never learned to say “no” or “that’s not gonna work for me”
  • You feel bored and empty if there isn’t a crisis in your life, or someone to help
  • You fear being alone
  • You lie rather than speak your truth
  • You lie rather than speak your truth
  • You’re afraid of authority figures
  • You don’t have a clue how to have fun
  • You are very self critical
  • You feel guilty when you stand up for yourself instead of giving in
  • You are, or love, a workaholic
  • You are a reactor in life, rather than an actor  

Source: The Wellness Insititute

 Recommended Reading

  • Breaking Free from the Victim Trap: Reclaiming Your Personal Power by Diane Zimberoff
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

How Ear Plugs Saved My Marriage

December 10, 2007

I do NOT snore. Women don’t snore. It isn’t feminine. Its embarrassing to be told the whole house shakes like  its been hit by a mack truck when you sleep.

So I’ve insisted he is delusional, despite the fact that my husband’s morning smile  has morphed over time from a frown, to a snarl, to a downright nasty growl. The kind, protective war hero I’d married had been making me feel like it was every man for himself. He’d been threatening to sleep in the other room which neither of us wants since we are both cuddlers.  We’ve always said that if our marriage ever got to that sorry state of affairs we might as well split. I was kind of, sort of worried…not really…

But finally I noticed, over time, that his acting out behavior had stopped. His disposition was better in the morning. The smile was back.  Today I went into his night stand looking for something and came across  foam ear plugs.  He never said a word to further assault my dignity now that a solution had been found. And neither will I.

My hero is back.

Psychscribe Quote #5

December 9, 2007

“She had the most arresting kind of beauty. It was only later ,when she began to lose it, that she began to really act.” Pia Lindstrom about her mother, Ingrid Bergman

If you could return to one year of your life…

December 9, 2007

What age would you re-live? And then, what  good moments from that time can you re-create now, perhaps in a different way?

Inner guidance- read text beneath empty frame pls

December 9, 2007


Imagine your wise inner self …deep inside…. just waiting to have the opportunity to speak directly to you.  As you look at this blank picture, what words of guidance materialize on it ,  from you….to you?

WHY won’t men ask for directions???

December 9, 2007

Santa Won’t Ask for Directions…

Are you NOT on speaking terms with a sibling?

December 8, 2007

In so many families the kids polarize, right into adulthood. They cut each other off and let the childhood dynamics ruin the present and the future.  It affects everyone, because where once there was a sibling  (and aunt, uncle, cousins, etc.) now there is a ghost. 

What do the children learn from this? To solve problem relationships in the same way. Is that what we want for our kids?  The important thing to remember is the old adage: let bygones be bygones. Because once your parents are gone your sibling is the only person who lived, and survived,  your history with you.

Psychscribe Quote #5a

December 7, 2007

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’. Author Unkown

How do you feel about your siblings ?

December 7, 2007

As a therapist I usually hear feelings that are  either way too extremely positive….or  very negative responses to this question. On the other hand, the people who come to see me are not usually coming from the happiest of childhoods, where these bonds formed….or didn’t… 

(I say way too extremely positive because if you have someone THAT idealized you’re probably projecting your needs onto who or what that person represents rather than who he or she is, warts and all.)

I’m curious,  how do you feel about your siblings?