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Children of Divorce: 5 Long-Term Effects of Broken Marriages

A broken marriage can be a scary, ugly, and confusing thing—especially for the children of divorce.

But, the tumultuous time of divorce isn’t the only thing couples need to worry about. A broken marriage can have lasting, long-term effects.

Some divorces end peacefully. Two people can agree their relationship didn’t work out. And some parents can co-parent their children just as well, making a favorable situation for everyone.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

In a drawn-out, angry divorce that started with a broken marriage, kids can bear the brunt of the long-term effects. Let’s look at a few of those, and the problems they can cause later in life.

1. Anxiety

Did you argue with your spouse in front of your child? Are the arguments about them? Do you confide in your child about your problems with their other parent?

Children in the middle of a broken marriage can develop anxiety if things aren’t handled the right way. Your child should not be your “friend” or therapist when you’re going through a divorce or separation. Additionally, they shouldn’t have to hear you argue with your spouse about them.

If they do, it can lead to a lot of guilt. They might start to resent the other parent. Or, they might feel as though they are the root of the problem.

2. Depression

A broken marriage can cause depression if a child takes the blame for it. Or, if their life suddenly changes and things aren’t the way they used to be, it can create an overwhelming feeling of sadness.

Signs of depression in a child can include isolation, problems sleeping, or sudden difficulties at school—both with their education and in their relationships with friends.

Survival is science. Living is art.

3. Fear of Abandonment

When children of divorce witness a marriage falling apart, it’s easy for them to take what they’ve experienced and apply it to their own life, even if it’s years in the future. They might develop a fear of abandonment in their romantic relationships later in life.

This mindset can lead to relationships where they are dependent on the other person for their happiness. Unfortunately, extremely dependent people can get into relationships that are emotionally or physically abusive.

4. Fear of Commitment

Some children may take the opposite route in their romantic relationships when they get older. They might be hesitant to get into a serious relationship with just one person because they’ve seen how easy it is for things to go wrong.

No one wants to get into a relationship, assuming it’s going to be doomed from the start. If a child has been through a particularly ugly divorce between their parents, that experience can steer them away from committing to someone. As a result, they may not easily be able to have a healthy relationship.

5. Inability to Cope

A lack of commitment doesn’t just affect relationships. When a child grows up thinking they can “walk away” from their problems because they saw their parents do it (or one of their parents), it can eventually become difficult for them to deal with the hardships of life.

If they lose their job, someone breaks up with them, or some traumatic event happens, a person who has learned to avoid confrontation, commitment, and problematic situations their whole life can have an incredibly difficult time dealing with things like these.

The good news? None of these long-term effects have to happen—even if a divorce does play out.

Again, a broken marriage is hard for everyone. A crucial thing you can do when you’re going through a split is to communicate with your child. Let them know it’s not their fault, and don’t use them as a substitute therapist.

If you see that they’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Sometimes, a therapist or counselor can be the best way to help children of divorce work through the struggles they’re dealing with at home. Please, contact my office today or visit my page on children and grief counseling to learn more about how I can help.

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Ketamine and Depression: Know the Reality, Myth, and Controversy

Ketamine has a long history of wearing many hats. Initially, the military used it as an anesthetic. Today, ketamine and depression are getting a lot of attention because of how quickly the drug works.

The most significant benefit, according to some, is that ketamine could help to prevent depressed individuals from harming themselves.

Unfortunately, there is some controversy surrounding ketamine and depression because of the drug itself. Ketamine is sometimes shuffled into the category of synthetic and designer drugs.

As a street drug, it has names like Special K, Vitamin K, or jet. It can be highly addictive when taken incorrectly. Therefore, it’s essential to separate the truth from reality when it comes to this drug.

What Does Ketamine Do?

When it comes to ketamine and depression, the drug works by giving users a sense of dissociation. Some describe the symptoms as a less-intense version of PCP. Extremely low doses are given for depression, meant to manage symptoms rather than offer a feeling of “getting high.”

That’s why people who use ketamine for depression go for a limited amount of infusion treatments only. The procedures are monitored, and the correct dosage is given. Patients safely wean off the drug after about eight sessions.

When it’s taken in pill or capsule form, and the incorrect dosage is given, ketamine can cause harmful symptoms like:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Visual disturbances

More severe side effects can include difficulty speaking or slowed breathing. Often, people who abuse ketamine show signs of irritability and have changes in their mood. Also, they are often disoriented or have difficulty remembering things.

Is Ketamine a Good Thing?

So, can ketamine and depression work together? Or, should you worry about the “street drug” aspect of it?

While misusing ketamine can lead to dependence and withdrawal, medical professionals often use it to treat depression. It’s never something that you should start taking on your own without the guidance of a medical professional.

If you do start taking it in capsule form, it’s more likely that you’ll become dependent on the drug. That can quickly lead to addiction and, eventually, without it – withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms from ketamine include an increase in depression as well as anxiety, anger, and even restlessness. In the long run, taking it improperly can make your depression worse.

People who experience depression can quickly turn to things like drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms. So, the euphoric-like side effects that ketamine can provide are often appealing to those who have feelings of extreme sadness. But, it’s never a good idea to use a substance as a way to deal with depression.

Controlling the Controversy

One of the best ways to manage your depressive symptoms is to talk with your doctor or a therapist. If you’re having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, don’t take it lightly. Call 911, go to your nearest ER; get help immediately. It’s best to speak with someone who is able to help and support you.

While different types of anti-depressants and other drugs work to manage your symptoms, controlled environments and dosages are critical.

If you have an interest in ketamine as more than just a street drug, infusion treatments can help. A physician will space out infusions over several sessions. And, help you come off the drug carefully, so it doesn’t become addictive, and your system doesn’t go through withdrawals.

It’s understandable to want to find relief from your depressive symptoms immediately. But, don’t risk your overall health and wellbeing to do it.

If you want to learn more about ketamine and depression, or you want to talk about your symptoms, feel free to contact me or set up an appointment. Or, if you are struggling with addiction, visit my page on synthetic and designer drugs to learn more about how I can help.

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Is Addiction Really a Disease? – Taking a Look at the Facts

Tell someone you have a condition like diabetes, and they will almost certainly respond with concern and compassion. But tell someone you’re struggling with addiction, and the reaction may be much, much different.

Although society has progressed, many misperceptions remain when it comes to mental illness—especially addiction.

Here’s a look at the facts surrounds addiction and an examination of whether it constitutes a disease or not. Let’s dive in.

What Is Addiction?

It may involve the use of a substance, or it may mean a particular behavior. Either way, addiction “rewards” a person for the repeated use of a substance or behavior. Even when the consequences are demonstrably harmful, the addicted person feels the incentive to indulge.

A few of the many addictive substances and behavior are:

  • Drugs (legal and/or illegal)
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Sex
  • Pornography
  • Gambling
  • Disordered eating
  • Internet gaming/Internet usage
  • Exercising
  • Shopping
  • Pain (e.g., cutting)
  • Stealing
  • Setting fires

Addiction can strike across all genders, classes, ethnicities, and ages.

Is Addiction Like a Disease?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine calls addiction “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” In plain English, this is not an issue of willpower or morality.

Addiction is a brain disease, a compulsive disorder. Of course, there is a wide range of mental activity going on during craving, but here are some sample breakdowns:

  • A person may feel helpless or powerless for several reasons. The discomfort of these feelings leads us to seek solutions. Addictive behavior gives us a false perception of empowerment. It provides us with a sense of regaining control.
  • In other instances, helplessness produces anger. Once again, this stems from a feeling of not being in control. Rage is a powerful catalyst for destructive behavior. Addiction is nothing if not destructive behavior; thus, it gives us that false feeling of empowerment.
  • You feel helpless. You feel anger about feeling helpless. But, in a state of powerlessness, you choose displacement. Rather than confronting someone or something that has wounded you, you reverse your powerlessness by choosing an addictive behavior. Your pain appears to be (temporarily) soothed, but, of course, the source remains. This pattern keeps the cycle going and deepening.

Is Addiction Really a Disease?

Yes. According to the American Medical Association, it is caused by a combination of factors:

  • Behavioral
  • Environmental
  • Biological (this includes the significant risk factor of genetics)

A few factors to consider include:

  1. Addiction is not a choice. Yes, of course, individuals can choose whether or not to partake in a substance or activity. However, people cannot decide how their body and mind respond to any substance or activity.
  2. People with an addiction are responsible for seeking treatment and maintaining recovery. But, they need empathy and understanding. Addiction is powerful, and a support system is crucial.
  3. It’s not fair to discount addiction as a disease because it involves choice. For example, a person who chooses to be sedentary and/or follow an unhealthy diet is not wanting to have heart disease. Actions have consequences, but that does not preclude the existence of a disease.
  4. As touched on above, addiction rewires the brain—specifically the reward system. This rewiring influences a brain’s ability to:
  • Make decisions
  • Remember
  • Learn
  • Control behavior

Everyone Deserves to Heal

The good news is that help is available regardless of how any individual perceives addiction. A full assessment is essential early on.

Also, addiction can trigger other conditions from anxiety and depression to hepatitis C and sexually transmitted diseases. Treatment will take an integrated form and be provided with dignity and respect.

Whether you are the person with an addiction problem, or it is someone you love, treatment begins with acceptance and a sincere request for help. Contacting a trained and experienced counselor is an excellent first step.

Please reach out to us today or visit my page on addiction recovery to learn more about how I can help.

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Making Christmas More Meaningful with Befana

Since I was a child my family has always celebrated Epiphany and the arrival of Befana; the old witch who in Italian tradition flies on her broom filling children’s shoes left by the door with little surprises; sweets for those whose behavior was good and little lumps of coal and twigs for those who were not so kind or gracious in their actions. But as I got older, the legend of Befana became more important as a way of making Christmas more meaningful. So, I’d like to share our version of it with you.

The Legend of Befana

The story goes that a special baby had been born under a very bright star in Bethlehem and people from many towns and villages were making their way to see him. As it happened, three very learned viziers; sometimes called counselors or wisemen were passing by Befana’s town on their way to Bethlehem.

Befana was beloved in her town as a kind and generous strega (think good witch, wise woman, etc) and was especially fond of caring for the children. One of the children in the town passing by told her of the excitement and bid her to follow. But Befana didn’t want to show up empty-handed and decided she would bake some sweets to take first.

More people passed by her home, calling to her as they hurried by so she would not miss the chance to come. But at her kitchen window, Befana waved them on with a smile and she rolled and baked her breads and cakes.

Day after day, the people going by called out to Befana at her kitchen window as she worked. Each time she smiled, waved and them and said she would be there – she just had a few more things she wanted to get done.

Hurry Up, Befana

Finally the house was clean, all the baking complete and she had them wrapped her many wondrous treats in a clean cloth and tucked in her basket and was heading out. The skies were moving to evening and getting darker and only a few people could be seen in the distance on their way to Bethlehem.

But Befana realized she had not swept her doorway. What if someone came by and her house was messy? She put down her basket and swept the doorway, the porch and all the way down the little stone walkway in front of her home. Done. She decided to bring her broom thinking she could help with the cleaning up from all of the visitors. Now she was ready. She grabbed her basket and her broom and stepped into the road.

Befana Is Finally Ready

But all was silent. The town was empty. There were no people to be seen and now it was well into the night. Had she missed her chance? Maybe she could find a caravan or group of others – perhaps she could catch up?

She ran in the direction of she had seen people go earlier. She ran and ran, desperate to make it. But Befana was not so young anymore and she had no idea where she was going. She refused to give up and continued to run.

Eventually her body could take no more and she sat down under an olive tree, in tears. Befana realized that she had let things that were not very important, keep her from attending to things that really are. She felt devastated.

Grace and Opportunity for Befana

A multitude of angels who had gathered for many days in the skies above Bethlehem were heading home – one of them saw Befana crying beneath the olive tree. The angel recognized her as the compassionate woman she truly was – who had cared for so many others in her town for her entire life. The angel extended a gift of mercy to Befana – in the form of an opportunity.

Befana would not go to Heaven just yet. She would live on – able to do what she loved to do – she would be able bake throughout each year. And then, on Epiphany, she would travel the skies on her broom, delivering treats to all good children, until the day Christ returned to the world. Then she would be able to visit him, completing her heart’s desire and be released from the mortal world. It would be hard work and not necessarily what she might expect, but it would be a chance to amend her mistake through a service of love.

Befana smiled and gladly accepted.

Why do I love the story of Befana?

Because it is a story of many different things to many people. For some, it’s a story of forgiveness. For others it’s story of the promise of redemption and of making amends. It’s a story of service and second chances. A story that reminds us to pay attention to the wondrous things in life – those precious things – the “big picture” and to not get caught up in our attachments or desires; trying to control the little things or be overly concerned with how we might appear or be judged by others. And for someone else, perhaps a story reminding us to listen to the people (and the moments) in our lives that call out for our attention and to not take them for granted.

One particular aspect that I love is that the story of Befana doesn’t have a villain. There is no bad person who “gets what they had coming” – there is no winner compared to a loser. It’s a story of a good person – a kind and giving person – who gets caught up in the mundane, the “busy work” and ends up being distracted from the bigger picture and consequently, makes a mistake. She had the best of intentions, is regretful and tries her best to plough through but cannot do it on her own. Then, from an unexpected source, she is extended an opportunity to amend – not just a cavalier wiping of the slate – but a true chance to act towards making it right.

Make The Holidays More Meaningful

I have been in Befana’s shoes at various points in my life; focused on what details I thought were important and needed my attention – only to discover I was missing something greater and far more precious. At times I had friends and loved ones try to get my attention – to hurry up and not miss the moments that were passing by. And still, I did not listen., But I have also been fortunate to have had many “angels” along the way – from places and people I never would have expected. And in their grace, found a path back to connect with the more precious and dear. Call them angels, wise men, good friends, mentors, sponsors, whatever you want. I call them gifts and I am truly grateful.

A Meaningful Christmas Challenge for You

In celebration of epiphany, a time of realization and discovery – look at your life. See your successes and the things you do have – the cup half full. See the struggles that you overcame, the times you could have stumbled but didn’t, the mistakes you made and yet still you are here today. And then, take a step back and consider the people who helped you get here – helped you through, supported you, loved you, befriended you, believed in you, supported you – whether in big or small ways. Consider making this holiday more meaningful but starting a tradition of reaching out to some of them and letting them know how grateful you are to have had them in your life. Celebrate gratitude and reflection this 12th Night – take the road of a truly Wiseman (or Wisewoman).

Pace’ Tutti and Buon Epiphania!

Click HERE For More Information on Services Provided by Ben Carrettin / LiveBetterLiveNow

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How to Understand Why Benzodiazepine Detox Is So Hard

For a person struggling with addiction, detoxing from any drug or substance can feel nearly impossible. But, a benzodiazepine detox can feel both hopeless and terrifying, all at once.

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are powerful drugs designed to work with the nervous system. They’re typically given to people who suffer from anxiety, panic disorders, tremors, and insomnia.

Because they are such powerful substances, abusing them can lead to severely dangerous symptoms.

With that in mind, there’s no wonder as to why someone who is misusing or abusing benzos should seek treatment immediately to fight back against the addiction. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Withdrawal Takes Longer

While some drugs come with intense withdrawal symptoms, most of them only last a matter of days. That isn’t the case with benzos. Depending on the benzodiazepines that were taken and how they were abused it can take weeks, months, or even years to completely get rid of withdrawal symptoms.

Unfortunately, those symptoms can be extremely intense and hard to deal with on your own. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepines include:

  • Anxiety
  • Dysphoria
  • Tremors
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

While these symptoms can weaken over time, other side effects of withdrawal, including a decreased sex drive, depression, and poor concentration, can linger on for months. Some can even impact people for years.

What to Expect From a Benzo Detox

The most crucial thing for a benzodiazepine detox is to get the drug removed from someone’s system entirely. Within the first 6-8 hours of withdrawal, an addict can experience intense bouts of anxiety and insomnia, and those will peak throughout the next few days.

With that extreme anxiety often comes symptoms like sweating, a racing heart, and nausea.

The first few weeks are often the toughest. As mentioned, some symptoms do last and can even seem to come up randomly, months after quitting.

What’s the Best Treatment for a Benzo Addiction?

A benzodiazepine detox is often the best way to kickstart a treatment program, as it usually is with any synthetic or designer drugs. While certain prescription drugs can help with benzodiazepine addiction, the best route is often a rehab program combined with some addiction therapy.

Choosing the best kind of treatment often depends on the addiction itself. What’s more; is that it’s often hard for an addict to admit that they need help in the first place. This mindset is another reason detox is so hard.

In many cases, an inpatient rehab center (at a Medical Detox level of care)is the best solution. Inpatient programs typically monitor addicts as they go through withdrawals, making sure they are safe and as comfortable as possible. It allows them to be in a temptation-free environment, and can even provide medical care if needed.

Outpatient programs are less invasive as they allow you to come and go. But, for those who are dependent on benzos, that can be too tempting, especially as you start to experience withdrawal symptoms and revert to using. And more importantly, speak to an addiction-savvy doctor first. Your physical safety through detox should be the primary focus at the beginning.

 

Finding Support During Detox

During a benzodiazepine detox, the focus should be getting the drugs out of your system. Long-term, however, addicts frequently need more support to keep the drugs out. Because withdrawal symptoms last so long and can feel so powerful, as stated above, it’s not uncommon for people to relapse.

So, in addition to rehab centers, a reliable support system is necessary to stay clean and sober. Because benzos are so problematic, attending support groups and going to therapy on a long-term basis can help you to manage your former addiction and even get to the root of what initially caused it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, it’s never too late to get help. A benzodiazepine detox is hard, but it’s doable with the right resources, support, and time.

Feel free to contact me for more information or visit my page on counseling on synthetic and designer drugs to learn more about how I can help.

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The Power of Service: 3 Tips for Teaching Kids About Volunteering

The power of service can help with many things. It can create a giving heart, helps with children and grief, and allows kids to learn about different ways of life and the planet. Doing things for others can be a powerful thing. We live in a world where it’s common to ask ourselves, “what’s in it for me?” – volunteering reevaluates that mindset and helps us to understand how rewarding it can be to serve others.

That’s a lesson that is so important to pass on to kids.

If you’re interested in teaching your children more about the power of service, it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Use these three tips to help you start.

1. Find Something That Includes Their Interests

An excellent way to show the power or service to your kids is to find something they already enjoy. So, hone in on their interests.

For example, is your kid an animal lover? Try volunteering with them at the local pet shelter where cats and dogs need good homes.

Does your child have a passion for cooking and food? Take them to a nearby homeless shelter or soup kitchen to feed those who can’t afford a meal otherwise.

By incorporating some of your child’s interests or hobbies, they’re more likely to see how they can use the things they already enjoy to help others in need and to make a difference genuinely. Most kids like knowing they’re doing something well-meaning. If that can include something they’re already good at or interested in, they’ll probably stick with it.

2. Bring Their Friends Along

Kids love doing things with their friends. No matter if your child is a leader or follower, they’re likely to stick with something longer if their friends are doing it, too.

So, if you’re planning a volunteer day, ask the parents of your child’s friends if those kids can come along, too!

Volunteering together as friends is a great way to build a closer bond while doing something worthwhile. Instead of an afternoon playing video games or even playing outside, your child and their friends could be making a big difference for someone through the power of service. When they realize that, they might want to make those outings more frequent.

3. Try Various Acts of Service

Try different ways of serving others as a family to keep your kid interested. You could make it a monthly outing by choosing different organizations for whom to volunteer. Spend one month volunteering at a local senior center. Next month, work to clean up local beaches or parks.

By making a schedule ahead of time, you’re more likely to stick with it. You can also get your kids involved in picking out different groups to whom you will contribute. Again, if they feel like they’re engaged and interested in what you’re doing, they’ll be more willing to put effort into it.

By adding variety to your acts of service, you’ll keep your kids interested. It will also help to open their eyes to how many needs there are. Between people, pets, and the planet, there are so many ways to get involved. You shouldn’t limit yourself (or your kids) to just one.

Serving Without Reward

The power of service is the rewarding feeling you get after doing something good for someone (or something) else. It’s not always easy for kids to see that on their own, especially in the society we currently live in.

So, use these tips to interest your kids in volunteering. You could be helping to create habits in them now that last a lifetime. That’s an excellent springboard for future generations to continue helping others in need.

 

If you’re needing support in your parenting endeavor or perhaps tackling the more important topics, please reach out to me today. Or, visit my page on children and grief to learn more about how I can help you and your child when it comes to navigating life’s tough areas.

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Presence Before Presents

It’s a festive time of year and in the hustle and bustle of it all, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to put presence before presents. Traditions vary and obligations abound, but the seasonal change of the year beckons us to reflect and remember what it truly most precious to each of us in our lives; to not let the stuff get ahead of the spirit of the holidays. But how to I find and keep meaning in the holidays? Below are 20 Ways to Make this Holiday More Meaningful for you and your loved ones.

Holiday stress already got you stressed out?

Feel lost in the commercialism and marketing deluge that typically overtakes this time of year?

Wanting to make presence more of a priority than the presents?

Below are 20 Ways to Make this Holiday More Meaningful for you.

 

1. Start With Spirituality, the rest follows.

Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist – whatever your faith tradition; give it the place of reverence it deserves and build the rest of what you have to do on top of it. The season is not about commerce, unless you allow it to be. Cultivate the meaning you seek.

2. Things lose their value quickly – People do not.

Don’t let the hectic shoppers, demands on your schedule and overall commercialism steal you away from what is important. Make people a priority. Give them your time, your attention. It matters more than that great new gift idea you have for them.

3. Remember to Give.

Smile at people, look at them – don’t turn away. Hand a couple bucks to the guy on the corner and have a handful of change for the red bucket and bell ringing volunteer out in the parking lot – and thank THEM for being out there asking for help others.

4. Take It In.

Stop, breathe and take the time to really notice…..take a deep breath when you are tree shopping – smell the pine trees, see the dancing flames in the fireplace, hear the popcorn, feel the warmth of the coffee cup you are holding, close your hands around it and smell the cinnamon. Breathe deeply and slowly every so often and pay attention to your senses.

5. Say “Hi” and “Thank You”.

Whenever you can and especially to the dry cleaners, the grocery clerk, the bank teller, the maintenance guy, the cleaning lady, the receptionist – take the time to give that small moment of “I appreciate you” to people who far too often go unnoticed for all they do.

6. Handwritten cards.

For some it’s a joy to do and for others a pain, but do it – at least a few of them. When you take the time to write it yourself the person you send it to gets the message “you are worth something more to me, worth my time and effort”.

7. Invest in your Relationships.

This is where presence before presents really hits home. Start your closest circle; family, spouse, best friends, close colleagues – make a point to earnestly get to know them a little better as people, to get closer. Ask about them and their lives – and pay attention. And grow it from there.

8. Slow is Better than Go.

Embrace the quiet moments – they are better than the craziness and panic of the commercial season. Allow yourself time for earnest reflection. It’s not wasted time.

9. Purpose Above Perfection.

Tree Decorations are about the time putting them up and the reflection on what is important in life – it is not about how crooked the tree is, or the faded ornaments or whether there are too many lights at the bottom. Every tree is perfect as it becomes. Period.

10. Play More Music.

Me, I prefer holiday music and I have some old favorites I work in – but festive, bright, heartwarming, inspiring music – whatever that is to you. Sing it, dance to it – but fill more space with music. Start by turning it on in place of routinely turning on the TV, tablet or skimming through your phone.

11. Traditions Evolve.

But they are not carved in stone. Revel in the traditions of the past, as long as they are meaningful AND be open to letting a few move over for new traditions to be born. I love some of our special traditions during the holidays – but the best moments have often come from welcoming something new into our celebration together. Remember presence before presents…as well as traditions. Don’t get hung up on the “We always”, focus more on just the “we”.

12. Find the Beauty.

Some holidays will be harder than others. We may have lost people we loved,be faced with medical concerns, moved far away and be unable to travel home or be trying to balance more than in past years. There is always beauty in the world – even in darker days. Seek it and share it. There are few more important paths in this time of year.

13. Pay It Forward.

Do something that helps someone else and expect nothing back. Several years ago I tried the pay-it-forward drive-through experiment. I paid $5 for the coffee for the person behind me in the drive thru and told the barista to them I said “Have a great day and just do it for someone else sometime”. The next time I saw the barista, she said the line made it nine cars with people paying for the person behind them. It may have been easy, but each person could have just kept it for themselves, but instead they thought about the person behind them and passed it on. Little seeds of caring.

14. Remember People of Service.

Your postal worker, the UPS driver, the cashier, the lady at the cleaners, the local firehouse, the constable service – whomever. Make time to go and thank them – shake a hand, bring a bag of cookies or some hot chocolate. Look them in the eye and let them know what they do is appreciated and noticed.

15. Snow Becomes Slush.

So what. That’s life. All worldly things are impermanent. Enjoy them while they are here and when they are gone remember them, but also get up and celebrate the next new snow. Nostalgia is fine, fond memories a treasure – but life is about change, growth and movement. No holiday will be like the previous and it shouldn’t. Each one has the potential to be special in its own right – make it so.

16. Smile & Forgive …infectiously.

You don’t know the other person’s story, period. Don’t jump to assumptions or let your bias swamp you. When you get cut off in traffic – try to let it go. When they pull into the parking spot you were waiting for – try to let it go. These are small, silly things in the grander scheme or your life and theirs. Advance a little grace to someone else – your heart will love you for it.

17. Cultivate Wonder.

Presents before presents…and let there be awe. Especially with the young and the elderly. Pause and notice the sparkle of lights, the bright colored wrapping paper, the flicker of candles, the giant store decorations – talk the wonder, share the awe. When you inspire this in others something wonderful happens for all of you.

18. Respect the Red Suit.

If you don’t believe in Santa, keep it to yourself. Don’t ruin it for the people around you – especially kids. Keep the spirit and mirth of the season alive for everyone – all ages, all faiths and all beliefs. Leave the “Bah Humbugs” to Scrooge and make a commitment to celebrate the good in humanity.

19. Practice Gratitude.

It’s easy to see what is missing or wanted. We spend far too much time doing that in life. Look at what you do have and reflect on how your life would be without it. Say “Thank You” to people. Reach out and tell the people in your life that they matter and tell them why. Write 3 things you are grateful for each day – unique to that day, no matter how small – and read it aloud to yourself before you go to bed. In no time you will start noticing the “gratitudes” around you in everyday life more and more,

20. Say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or…

…Whatever tradition you honor greet others with it as you like. It doesn’t matter if others only say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” – you say it your way. My Jewish Uncle loves being wished “Merry Christmas”. He says it is an expression that celebrates love from the person who believes in something good and greater than themselves. So send it out and be joyful in it. And whatever holiday wish comes your way remember that person is honoring you from the heart – who wouldn’t want that? And if you hear nothing back? So what? Put your merry heart into the universe. Keep your presence before presents. It’s good for you and all of us.

Buon Natale’ e Pace’ Tutti !

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Turmeric, Holy Basil and Ashwagandha: Why These Healing Herbs Are So Popular

The holidays are here and while many see this as a calorie-pounding season of feasting – it can also offer a time for taking care of your health. And let’s face it, proactive, preventative health care is more pleasant, less costly and a lot more fun than after something goes wrong.

But with so many over-the-counter and prescription medications on the market today, it can feel overwhelming. Some of these medications come with harmful side effects and may do more damage than healing. And many of the processed health products out there are no better.

That’s why more people are turning toward natural solutions to help with pain, ailments, and even certain diseases.

Healing herbs have become extremely popular in western culture over the last few years. Ironically, most healing herbs have been used in other cultures for centuries. So, it was only a matter of time before we jumped on board!

Healing herbs like turmeric, holy basil, and ashwagandha are some of the most popular. And they are showing up in a growing number of health products, diets and herbal medicinals. But popularity isn’t a reason to use them – it’s their actual effectiveness and what they offer that’s driving the craze.

If the Three Wise Men had brought three more gifts – these near-miraculous herbs should have been on the list. Let’s take a look at what these herbs can do for you.

Turmeric

Turmeric has, arguably, become one of the most popular healing herbs in recent years. Whether you take a supplement, make a “turmeric latte,” or add it to your food, you can reap many health benefits from this herb very quickly.

First, it’s a natural inflammatory agent, which can help with anything from sore joints and muscles to more serious problems like arthritis. (And some cancers respond well to anti-inflammatories).

Turmeric has become increasingly popular due to its impact on digestive health. It’s a natural antibiotic, it can help with bloating and stomach ulcers, reduces gas, and helps to improve digestion.

In addition to being a healing herb, turmeric can also help to prevent certain types of cancer, as well as the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Holy Basil

Holy basil has more than just a great name; it’s a powerful herb! People in Southeast Asia depend on holy basil and have for centuries, thanks to its healing properties. Unsurprisingly, many cultures use it to heal the mind, body, and spirit.

The interesting part about holy basil is that different parts of the plant can be used for various ailments. For example, the flowers of the plant typically treat bronchitis. An ointment made from the plant often treats skin conditions like eczema.

The whole plant can also be used to help with stomach issues like diarrhea and nausea.

Learning more about the holy basil plant might make it your go-to solution for many types of ailments.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha may have a strange-looking name, but it has incredible healing benefits. It’s an ancient herb that has been used for its medicinal purposes for centuries. It has both physical and mental health properties.

Ashwagandha can help to reduce blood sugar levels, making it a natural solution for diabetics. It also can reduce levels of cortisol in the body, and can help to fight against certain types of cancer.

If you struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders, ashwagandha can help to reduce your symptoms and help you to break free from the confines of your mind.

All of these healing herbs are great on their own. All of them not only help with existing problems, but they can help to fend off other diseases of the mind and body. Plus, they can be even more effective when combined with other treatment solutions. This is especially true when you’re struggling with both mind and body problems.

For example, heart disease and depression counseling might not seem to go hand-in-hand, but when you’re taking healing herbs for both, you can boost your overall wellness and treatment power by talking to a therapist along the way. Remember, stacking treatments is a great way to alleviate symptoms quickly.

If you’re looking for more information on these healing herbs, feel free to contact me. Or visit my page about heart disease and depression counseling to learn more about how I can help you.

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Is It Time for An Addiction Intervention? – How to Tell

Addiction is serious, no matter what. If someone you love is going through struggles with drugs or alcohol, an addiction intervention can be the best way to kick start the treatment they need.

However, an addiction intervention needs to happen at the right time. If someone you care about feels ambushed or that they’re not being understood, it could end poorly, and they could refuse to get any help.

It’s never easy to see someone you love struggle with drugs or alcohol. So, when can you know if it’s the right time for an addiction intervention? Let’s take a look at some of the signs.

Sudden Behavioral Changes

Let’s face it; you know your close friends and family members. You know how they typically act—their normal behaviors, their personality, their preferences, etc. One of the best ways to tell if it’s time for an addiction intervention is simply to pay attention.

Has their behavior changed? Does something about them seem off? These subtle changes can be a good indicator when it comes to some of the first signs of an addiction. It’s essential to find out whether it’s an addiction causing the shift in behavior or something else. But, sudden behavioral changes are nothing to take lightly.

Stuck in a Fog

Has the person you care about become increasingly “foggy?” Do they have a hard time keeping up with conversations? Do they get confused easily? Maybe they’re struggling at work or school and can’t stay organized or be on time.

These are all vital signs that shouldn’t be ignored. It might be easy to make up excuses for someone, suggesting they’re just tired or stressed. If these signs become consistent, however, they might be turning to drugs or alcohol, and it could be the right time for an addiction intervention.

Isolation from Friends and Family

Common indicators of addiction are when someone stops doing the things they typically enjoy and isolates themselves from the people they love.

An addict often knows that what they’re doing is problematic. They can become ashamed or feel like no one will understand them. Isolation is often more comfortable for an addict than it is to face reality or people.

If someone you care about is spending much of their time alone, avoiding friends, making excuses to stay by themselves, it could be a sign of a bigger problem.

Talk to Someone About It

If you feel worried about your loved one, there’s a good chance someone else is, too. Don’t be afraid to talk to another close mutual friend or family member about your worries.

One of the worst things you can do is to keep your concerns to yourself. Or, to wait until the signs become extremely obvious, and your loved one is even deeper into their addiction.

Instead, pay attention to some of these warning signs to know when it’s time for an addiction intervention. Make sure you understand what the intervention itself should look like. You can choose to perform a “soft” intervention that is a bit more positive with fewer consequences, or a “hard” intervention that may require the one you love to get professional help to overcome their addiction.

It’s okay to be nervous about launching an addiction intervention for someone you care about. But you don’t have to do it yourself. A trusted therapist can help you to understand some of the signs indicating our loved one is dealing with addiction.

If you’re not sure how to navigate an addiction intervention, feel free to contact me or visit my page on addiction interventions to learn more.

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5 Tips from Breast Cancer Survivors on How to Live Fearlessly

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may have already seen things like pink ribbons, walks, and campaigns for a cure.

We’ve indeed come a long way in terms of breast cancer research and general awareness, as well as early detection. But, hearing the word “cancer” at any stage is scary and overwhelming.

Thankfully, because of the awareness surrounding it, breast cancer is often treatable and beatable. And the survival stories are inspiring! Here are a few inspiring tips we can learn from those who’ve dealt with breast cancer head-on.

1. Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

Breast cancer can affect different women in different ways. It depends on how the disease has progressed, the type of treatment you’re using, etc. It isn’t fair to compare yourself to other people who have gone through it.

This approach to life is one we should all follow—we’re all different, and that’s okay. From Nancy Reagan to Sheryl Crow, each breast cancer survivors all have a unique, compelling story to tell.

2. It’s Okay to Be Scared

While fear surrounding a cancer diagnosis shouldn’t take over your life, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared or overwhelmed. That’s a normal response, and acknowledging it can help others around you to be as supportive as possible.

Perhaps you think that you have to be strong all of the time—you don’t. You can put up a fight and beat your cancer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have moments of fear or weakness. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come to you naturally.

To this day, Christina Applegate shakes when she recalls getting the phone call confirming her biopsy results. The bottom line is that it’s okay to be scared. Courage means facing your fear, regardless of how you feel.

3. Ask For Help

Most breast cancer survivors know that it’s nearly impossible to get through this disease on your own. Again, you might feel as though you have to be strong. Or, maybe you want to prove to yourself that you can get through this without anyone’s assistance. This mindset is not uncommon for people to possess in everyday life, as well.

However, family and friends are there to help you. They’ll likely be more than happy to do everything from prepare meals on days where you’re too tired to mow your front lawn.

When Lea Renfro was battling breast cancer, she found it inspiring how much people cared about her. Don’t feel as though you have to keep up with the pace of life as you go through challenging times. Reaching out for help will give you time to regroup.

4. Adjust to Your “New Normal”

Breast cancer survivors (and all of us) can fearlessly live when they choose to adjust to the new normal of life. What does that mean? It’s a bit different for everyone, of course.

You might have to change everything from your eating habits to your sleeping patterns. Some people deal with “chemo brain,” which can cause your body to go through changes that you didn’t have to worry about before. These changes include graying hair, fatigue, etc.

You might also have to put more focus on rebuilding relationships and understanding your limits. Melissa Etheridge found herself toggling between grief and gratitude daily. She eventually chose to be thankful for her diagnosis, and she encourages others to follow her lead.

In many ways, once you’ve experienced a traumatic event, your life will never go back to being the way it was before. So embrace your “new normal.”

5. Seek Mental Help If You’re Struggling

If you’re in recovery and you’re having a hard time adjusting to your new life, you may benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist. Counseling for cancer patients isn’t uncommon. A counselor can help you from the initial diagnosis to living your life in remission.

Whether you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re going through treatment, or you’ve beaten the disease, you don’t have to deal with the ins and outs of how it affects your life on your own.

Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment, and let’s talk. Or, visit my page about counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones to learn more about how I can help.