Is It All Hype? How to Manage Anxiety from the News

It’s nearly impossible to avoid the steady news stream surrounding the coronavirus pandemic that has swept over the world. So how do we manage anxiety from a global crisis?

Whether you always hear new data or statistics or you’re buying into what “news” is being posted on social media, it’s easy to feel anxious. You might also be scared about the situation, in general, or even wonder if it’s all hype.

This virus isn’t the first illness or other major world event to cause anxiety among many of us. And, it won’t be the last. Still, what can you do to manage anxiety and feel less fearful about what’s going on around you?

Take a Break

Perhaps you think the news is blown out of proportion. Or maybe you don’t believe everything you read or see on television. Nevertheless, an excellent way to manage anxiety over it is to step away from the news for a while.

Closeout of your social media accounts, turn off the television, and stay away from your phone. No, it’s not always fair that you have to completely “shut down” for a while to avoid the news. But, sometimes it’s the best option.

It’s often the constant, sustained stories of hopelessness and fear from the news that can continue to trigger your anxiety. By taking breaks throughout the day and focusing on something else, you can manage those triggers. As a result, you can handle your symptoms better.

Try spending your time doing things that will not only distract you, but that can reduce stress. Try reading, exercising, or even meditating. These activities can help you to feel more mindful and less anxious.

Focus on What You Can Control — Not What You Can’t

When you’re dealing with anxiety, it’s not uncommon to feel as though your world is spinning out of control. If you want to manage anxiety, it’s essential to recognize that there will always be things out of your control, such as losing a loved one to this virus. But, there are things you can control, like going to counseling for loss.

You can’t control how many people catch the virus. You can’t control what happens to those who do. What you can control is how you respond to what the news is saying.

You choose what to believe, and you decide how to act on it. When you put yourself in control of those things, you’re giving yourself more power and taking away the authority of your anxious thoughts.

Find the Moments of Positive News

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when scary statistics and predictions continuously bombard you. While you don’t necessarily need to go looking for “happy news,” pay attention to the positive pieces that pop up on the air.

This pandemic, for example, has shown great moments of humanity. People are helping others. Workers are donating their time. Restaurants are giving food to children who are out of school. Younger people are checking in on seniors.

There are bright moments, even in negative stories. So, don’t focus solely on the doom and gloom of the current situation (or any news story). You don’t need to ignore the negative things to find and appreciate the positive news.

Struggling with Headline Anxiety

If you’re trying to manage anxiety amidst the news of the coronavirus or other happenings in the world, you’re not alone.

These are uncertain times. It’s crucial to make your mental health a priority. Unfortunately, that isn’t always easy to do when you’re stuck at home, surrounded by the news all day, every day.

If you’re having trouble managing your anxiety, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Anxiety typically doesn’t go away on its own. Thankfully, you don’t have to manage it alone. Feel free to contact me for more information about working through your anxiety or visit my page on counseling for loss to learn more about how I can help.


8 Daily Practices of Generosity & Gratitude

All across the web, we encounter articles and lists urging us to become more successful. While some of this content can be helpful, most of it takes for granted that we all similarly define “success.” Sure, we need resources to survive and thrive. But what about the many other elements of an enriching and fulfilling life? In particular, what good is our material gain if we have not cultivated daily practices that enhance and expand our sense of generosity and gratitude? Here are 8 daily practices of generosity and gratitude that take only a little investment and yet the pay off can be life-changing.

Generosity in the Digital Age

We are all connected in previously unimaginable ways. However, even a casual glance at the dreaded Internet “comments section” demonstrates how our digital connections don’t always result in generosity. To be a giver means more than likes and shares or color-coded profile pictures. Quite often, it means doing something more face-to-face. But whether IRL or online, generosity is intended to describe a selfless act.

As the inimitable Fred “Mister” Rogers once stated: “I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said ‘yes,’ when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else.”

Gratitude in the Digital Age

Our devices have the power to extract us from the present moment. When we are not present, gratitude is hard to find. Gratitude lives in each moment — in the here and now. It is a counterbalance to the allure of social media notifications. It is an antidote to the notorious “fear of missing out (FOMO).”

8 Daily Practices of Generosity & Gratitude

1. Start Each Day With Intention

There is so much we cannot control. Our greatest power, therefore, lies in controlling what we can. Set an intention for each day.  Take responsibility for yourself, your feelings, and your responses to others. Strive to make your time and energy count.

2. Take Tech Breaks

Again, our devices can shatter our most generous and grateful tendencies. Schedule deliberate breaks to be present in our own life — and the lives of others.

3. Pay Attention

The poet Mary Oliver reminds us: “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” Your attention may be the greatest gift you can bestow on anyone. It is also the lens through which you recognize for whom you and to what you show gratitude.

4. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Don’t leave things to chance. Keep a daily journal of the things that make you feel grateful.

5. Ask Others If and How You Can Help

Helping is not about what we think others need. It’s about letting them guide us to be generous.

6. Pledge to Listen More and Listen Better

A version of paying attention, listening is a gift. Increase your listening time. Hone your listening skills.

7. Get Involved in Volunteer Efforts — Or Create Your Own!

There are so many helpers out there. Get involved. If you can’t find a group doing what you wish to do, create a new group! There is always a need – so stretch and give of your time, talents or both.

8. End Each Day By Choosing a “Headline”

Before you fall asleep, mentally “write” a headline to describe the highlights of your day. Honor your efforts and pledge to do more tomorrow.

How to Tap Into Your Generosity & Gratitude

None of us are immune to daily stresses and pressures of modern life. There is no shame in asking for help with our emotional growth. Working with a therapist provides us with such an opportunity. Frequently, we may be our own worst enemy when it comes to cultivating daily practices. Your counselor is like an unbiased guide offering another set of eyes — experienced and trained eyes.

Together, you can identify behavioral patterns that hamper your growth. From there, new approaches are created and tried out. This process of discussion, followed by trial and error, is a proven path toward personal evolution and fulfillment.

Please contact me today if you’re ready to begin this journey toward a more fulfilled life. Or, visit my page on heart disease and depression counseling to learn more.


Does Your Child Suffer from Separation Anxiety? – 4 Ways to Prevent a Meltdown

4 Ways to Prevent a Meltdown

Separation anxiety can be hard for both a child and a parent. Seeing your child break down every time you have to leave them is heartbreaking. And it can cause you to feel guilty or even frustrated, not knowing how to prevent a meltdown.

The cause of separation anxiety can be a variety of things. For example, a change in the environment, like moving to a new home or school, can trigger it. Any time a child feels unsafe or not secure without you, it could lead to symptoms of separation anxiety.

So, what can you do to help your child get through it? Can the meltdowns that happen when you leave be avoided?

With time and effort, yes, they can.

Let’s look at a few ways to prevent a meltdown.

1. Create a Quick “Goodbye” Ritual

Rituals and routines can be comforting to babies and young children. An action that is done over and over again lets them know it’ll be the same every time. So, your “goodbye” ritual means that, eventually, you’ll come back to get them.

It’s also important to say goodbye relatively quickly and without making a big deal over it. It can be tempting to linger, give them one more hug or kiss, etc. By reducing the amount of fanfare you give your farewell, it will make it easier for both of you.

2. Start Small

For some children, you may have to do “practice runs” when it comes to leaving them with someone new. If you have a new caregiver or your child is going to a new school, practice what things will be like ahead of time.

Try leaving them with that individual for a few minutes one day, and then a few minutes more the next. Gradually, you can go for more extended periods or travel further away from the location.

Once your child starts to see that they’re safe with that particular caregiver, it’s easier to prevent a meltdown when you leave in the future.

3. Be Consistent

If at all possible, keep your child’s surroundings the same. If you regularly have a caregiver for your child, it can be better for them to come to your house, rather than have your child go to their place. And if your child has to go to a daycare or school, allow them to bring one thing from home to make them feel comfortable.

It’s also better if the primary caregiver for your child is consistently the same person. Switching out babysitters every week won’t help with your child’s anxiety. Having as much consistency as possible when it comes to time spent in someone else’s care will help to ease their worries.

4. Keep Your Promises

Did you tell your child you would be back to pick them up at 5 pm? Then, that’s exactly when you need to be there. Don’t be late just because you think your child can handle it.

They’ll start to build confidence over time that they’ll be okay with you away. But you can easily break that confidence if you break a promise to them.

By following through on your commitments to pick them up at a specific time, you’re reassuring them even more that they can not only handle being away from you but also that everything will go back to normal at the end of the day.

Remember, It’s Not Forever

It can be tempting to give in to your child when they’re having a meltdown, but the best thing you can do is to reassure them everything will be okay. Giving in will only make things harder in the long run. For some more helpful hints, check out Family Education.

If your child is struggling with separation anxiety, try the solutions above to make leaving times easier for you both. If nothing seems to be helping, though, please feel free to contact me or visit my page on children and grief counseling to learn more.

Together, we can work on figuring out the underlying cause for your child’s separation anxiety and find different ways of dealing with it.


Choosing a Life Coach: 5 Essential Traits to Look For

Choosing a Life Coach is not very hard, if you know what to look for. Below are 5 essential traits to look for to make sure you find the right one for you. A great life coach needs to have much more than techniques and resources for you to try. Their personality traits can make a big difference, not only in how well they work with you, but how much they can change your life.

Chemistry is vital between a life coach and their clients. So, it’s essential to choose someone who feels like a good fit.

With that in mind, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to life coaches. When choosing a life coach, you might find someone you don’t work as well with, as you initially thought. That’s okay. Understanding that ahead of time can save you both a lot of effort (and save you a lot of money!).

There are certain traits every life coach should have, though. When you’re starting your search for a coach, keep these characteristics in mind to narrow down the field.

1. They Are Trustworthy

Life coaches have to advertise themselves and their services to get clients. But, are they authentic within their marketing? Are they “selling” more than just a gimmick?

If your life coach isn’t authentic, they’re looking at themselves as a product. Products can only do so much, and they typically follow a pattern instead of working with people on an individual basis.

Without authenticity, you’ll never be able to fully trust your life coach. Without that trust, you’ll never be able to build a strong relationship with them. As a result, your time together will end up feeling more like a motivational seminar or lesson.

In choosing a life coach, try to focus on the relationship. That said, relationships are built on trust, and your relationship with a life coach is no different. Make sure they’re themselves from the start.

2. They Know Who They Are

Most people can tell when someone is being “real” with them or not. A life coach should have textbook knowledge, but they should also have a unique personality that makes them qualified for what they do.

After all, almost anyone can read a book, attend classes, etc. It takes a particular person to motivate others – they should have formal professional training, measurable experience and a personality that inspires. Keep this in mind when choosing a life coach.

Your coach should have no problem showcasing who they are. If they have a naturally positive, motivating demeanor, you can feel more comfortable learning from them.

Also remember, that part of knowing who you are is knowing who you are not. A reputable coach will never try to represent themselves as being the best coach for every person and every need. If they are not open and honest – up front – about what they don’t do, then look for someone else.

3. They Are Compassionate and Supportive

Great coaches genuinely connect with their clients. So, when a client is facing struggles, the coach feels those struggles and wants to help. Finding someone with compassion can make a huge difference. They’ll let you know you shouldn’t be ashamed of your struggles, and you won’t feel alone in getting through them.

Your coach should also be supportive, no matter how big or small your challenges are. It takes a delicate balance, being able to connect with clients while offering “big picture” guidance, but the right life coaches make it happen.

4. They Are Confident

Your life coach should know what they are worth. This mindset doesn’t mean they’re cocky or condescending. But, they should have confidence in themselves, what they do, and how they can help you. (Be wary of those priced way below the market or offering special “discounts”. You often get what you pay for, to a point. And significant price reductions usually reflect desperation which is not a good sign. Yes. Be a smart shopper – but be savvy too).

Their confidence will help you to trust them more. A life coach can show you how confident they are in what they do simply through how they live their lives. They make mistakes and own up to them, they have a thirst for knowledge, and they stand firm in what they believe.

5. They Are Dedicated

Life coaches can have several different clients at any given time. The best coaches show the same level of dedication to each one. Coaches understand that it can take a long time to see results. It’s a journey. When your coach commits to going on that journey with you, you’ll want them there for all the ups and downs.

Your coach should be willing to stay involved with you every step of the way, even if that journey takes longer than expected.

If you’re unsure about whether a professional life coach is right for you, or if other forms of counseling and help might be better, feel free to contact me for more information or visit one of my other my pages to learn more about my services.


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.


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.


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.


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!

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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.


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.