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Every Time You Remember, Forgive

This small but mighty string of words caught my breath a bit.  And I’ve always been quite weary of the word “forgive”.  It seems lofty, unrealistic, or an appealing but empty sentiment better described with words like dealt-with, processed, or understood.  The word forgive seems to suggest that the pain just dissolved or is somehow no longer part of the story or relationship. So my own working definition of “forgiveness” is better described this way: a process of understanding what happened from all sides and finding closure in the ways needed.  Sometimes this closure means setting boundaries or cutting-ties with someone, sometimes it means working to find compassion for ourselves when we’ve done something we now feel ashamed of.

Regardless though, after spending years weary of the word forgive, I was surprised by how this tiny gut-punch string of words moved me so.  As I turn them over - everytime you remember, forgive -...

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A Dysfunctional Childhood: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Childhood Trauma: The Hidden Epidemic

The ways in which a messy childhood keep showing up are endless as we move through different chapters of adulthood, aren’t they?  We can work, think, ponder, heal, write, therapy, and self-help our way into deeper understandings and better places mentally, but the sneaky poison bombs still get dropped sometimes.  And so…. the layers continue to peel back as we learn more about how our brain got wired in the early years, why we’re sensitive or “weird” in particular ways, how we get triggered by stuff we thought we understood, or why we’re hit by moments of feeling crazed towards our kids or partner or co-worker…. 

The trajectory that so many of us follow as we move through adulthood often means the stakes get higher as we age.  The coping skills that got us through our 20’s no longer work (hello alcohol), we’re increasingly on the hook for showing up responsibly in our...

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Bring On the Family Boundaries: Holiday Edition

How to set Boundaries with Parents During the Holidays

 Family during the holidays can bring so much – a sense of home, history, context, laughter, inside jokes for days, knowing eye rolls, comfort, familiarity, nostalgia.  And for those of us with a history of family trauma or dysfunction, the holidays bring a whole other set of potential experiences too – nervousness, judgement, too much alcohol, loss of boundaries, cruel comments, or just the deeply unsettling anticipation of shit possibly hitting the fan and knowing the fallout could last for months (or years!).  

I talk to clients every November/December about how to make holiday plans - where to go, who to see, who to avoid, what boundaries to set.  Above all else, I remind people not to forget they have agency, seriously.  They get to make the ultimate decision around how they’ll holiday and who they’ll include.  They’re no longer children whose plans are...

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What is Childhood Trauma? Avoiding the "Big T": Childhood Trauma

It’s hard to believe we don’t acknowledge it more, but so many of us are wandering around having experienced childhood trauma.  The big -T word gets thrown around a bit too casually these days (OMG it was SO traumatic when…), but sometimes I wonder if that’s because we’re warming up to using it at all.  When used appropriately, trauma is a word that hangs heavy and real.  We shy away from using it to describe our own experiences, because to admit we *might* have experienced trauma in childhood is complicated.  It suggests we’re somehow broken, or that our parent(s) really messed up, or that we need help, or that the bad thing really did happen.  It’s complicated because comparatively, others have it worse and we feel compelled to save the big T word for them.  I often remind clients that you can be drowning in 5 feet of water or 50, but that both people are drowning just the same.   

What is Childhood...

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The Power of Naming Emotions

It can feel so utterly mysterious sometimes, the way feelings creep up.  Reminds me of the comically absurd shock I still feel some months when I finally realize I’m on the hormonal rollercoaster leading up to my period.  As if I haven’t experienced this completely predictable monthly phenomenon for the past 30 years.

What Does it Mean to Name Emotions?

In session with clients I often hear, “I swear it came out of nowhere.  All the sudden my heart was pounding and anxiety hit me like a wall”, or “I was just so damn angry, that’s it, nothing else.”  Again, the mystery that can surround our feeling states and cloud our ability to manage them.  If we could retire altogether the notion that there’s any mystery whatsoever to our feelings and begin to recognize their patterns and triggers, then naming them gets easier and more fluent.  And by naming our emotions, we begin to manage them.  To understand...

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Dealing with the Hard Stuff: Actually, It's Supposed to Just Be Hard Sometimes

When we’re in pain, we often assume that if we're just skilled enough or healthy-minded enough, we can move ourselves back into ease or comfort; that it's not "normal" to feel pain for longer than a few minutes and we want OUT.  And this may be true if we’re talking about the disappointment of a friend forgetting our birthday or not landing that interview.  But when it comes to the heavy hitters - a cancer diagnosis, losing a job, grieving a loss, experiencing divorce -  there’s no pushing fast forward on being in the hard place.  There’s not an “I’m OK now” category we can switch into via self-help techniques or meditation.  Sometimes it’s just really, really hard.

A new friend of mine was recently diagnosed with the “really bad” breast cancer.  The aggressive kind that doesn’t respond to treatment and starts showing up all over.  This woman is 3 years older than me, a sassy college...

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Will My Relationship Last??

“What’s the strongest indicator that my relationship will last?”

I hear this a lot in session.  And as a person married for 15 years, I’ve spent many hours in the weeds pondering this myself...  

We all have assumptions.  “If they really get me”, “if we have good sex at least a few times a month”, “if our communication is strong”, “if our values align really well”, “if we have lots in common”.  

Signs A Relationship Will Last

But honestly, the most important factor for success in a long-term relationship is the ability to continue growing, changing, and evolving towards the person you want to be throughout your time in said relationship.  This may mean creative growth, spiritual exploration, entrepreneurial pursuits, a penchant for adventure, hobbies for days, curious wanderings.  Growth = what makes you feel whole and alive.  And these aren’t necessarily...

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