Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wedded Wednesday 7/28/2010

Since today is a special historical day for me, I decided to start a new series on building a checklist before you get married.

I am going to cover one topic that you should consider as PRE-married people. This also works for married people in seeing what things could be causing conflict in your marriage and things you might possibly want to start working on.

We are going to start with a very obvious one...

Does your future spouse or current spouse have the ability to compromise and do you?

When you get married so many things change in your life but not everything changes. For example, if you are someone who enjoys watching sports on television and your spouse does not, chances are, you will still enjoy watching sports and they still won't once the I Do's are in place.

Now, as a married couple compromises generally take place on both sides. Using our prior example, let's say that as a single person you watched sports on television 4 days per week. Your spouse NEVER watched sports on television and enjoyed sitcoms instead. In your house, there will most likely need to be a level of compromise. A good example would be you changing to 2 days of sports on television a week and your spouse watching at least one of those days with you. Shared interests are important and although your personality will NEVER change, the situations in your life will.

Can you think of any area where you will NOT compromise and other areas where you are 100% willing to compromise?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Talk it Out Tuesday 7/27/2010

Today I wanted to take a poll and I could really use your help. I want to know the following if you could email me at or simply leave a comment after this post.

The questions are...

Imagine that you are looking for a therapist/counselor. I would like to know the following things from you if you indeed were looking for a therapist...

1. How would you find a therapist in your area? (would you go online, ask a friend, etc...)

2. What is most important to you when looking for a therapist?

3. What would make you feel comfortable in a therapist's office?

4. Would you use a therapist if you heard about them from your general doctor or a trusted professional?

5. Does a free consultation session appeal to you when trying out a therapist? (this is a 50 minute free consultation to meet the therapist and talk with them to see if it is a fit)

Thank you ahead of time for your input and I really appreciate it!

Have a lovely Tuesday!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mental Health Monday 7/26/2010

Today I decided to put a video on of deep breathing because a lot of people do not know how to do it and it is so effective. I have started using it and fall asleep much faster and feel much less stressed. I have also included a link where you can purchase the cd that I use that was created for Christians and produced by my Boss and Friend Dr. Jennifer Fee, Psychologist!

To order a CD email or you can just email me if you want! :)

Here is how to start

Self Care Sunday 7/25/2010

Yoga: a start

If you have never tried Yoga, I highly recommend it. It relaxes me and has made my back a lot stronger and I don't hold as much tension. I have included an 8 minute video to try to see if Yoga is for you.

Relax and enjoy!

Stressful Saturday 7/24/2010

Did you know that kids get stressed too. As a matter of fact, I have seen numerous children in therapy who have anxiety disorders and deal with stress heavily. I decided to put on some tips on some ideas to reduce stress in children:

1. Imagination:

Using your imagination can be quite relaxing and helps foster children's creativity. Encourage your child to close their eyes, dream up a far away happy place and take you with them. Find out what inspires your child with this exercise.

2. Three Wishes:

If you want to find out what is stressing your child out, ask this simple question: if you could wish three things, what would they be? You might not get the answer you think.

3. Game play:

Playing a board game might get a child talking and relaxing so break out LIFE and get going.

4. Draw a picture:

Again, this is a way to get an idea of what is happening in your child's life. They often draw things that are bothering them or they may draw what would be ideal right now.

5. A day to getaway:

Give your child the day to choose activities for both of you and play along with whatever they need. Sometimes simple attention and focus helps them de-stress

Keep checking back for more tips on reducing stress in children!

Family Friday 7/23/2010

Hey everyone, I wanted to share a great resource with you all today. I recently signed up on this site for FREE to make a calendar where Anthony and I could share our appointments with each other and keep commitments easily seen. I love this site and recommend it to you. You can sign up every family member with a different color and you can ask that reminders be sent to the adult's cell phones throughout the day. This keeps the calendar free from clutter and also keeps us where we are supposed to be. They also have a section where you can make a shopping list and have it sent to your cell which means no more forgetting the sheet of paper at home. There are numerous resources on this site and I highly recommend it.

Go HERE to sign up and get organized in YOUR family!

Thirsty Thursday 7/22/2010

We are going to be continuing on our path to true happiness today with a simple yet effective tip...


You know the old saying "It is better to give than to receive?" It is totally true. If we want to be truly happy, we have to get outside of ourselves sometimes and give to those we love or those in need.

I recommend starting with the ones you love because this kills two birds with one stone. It not only fits the mold of giving but also increases the connectedness and happiness of your current relationships which is always happiness inducing!

Some examples of how to give...

-- Make a homemade card for your spouse and list 20 things you love about them.

-- Make your spouse their favorite meal for dinner with an awesome dessert.

-- Give your kids a special prize for being a great kid and making you proud.

-- Call your friend and ask them to come to coffee on you and spoil them with a wonderful dessert and expensive coffee beverage just because.

-- Take your mama some flowers because she gave you life.

-- Show up at your dad's work with a Sears gift card for some new craftsman tools. My dad always loves this!

-- Give your sister a few hours of babysitting a niece or nephew just so they can take a bath by themselves or even go out for a walk or drive.

-- Go to your local food bank and volunteer to give food/clothing out.

-- Go out and shop in preparation for Toys for Tots this Christmas.

-- Go find a bunch of good priced school supplies and give them to a teacher you know who is under appreciated

-- Bag up all of your unused clothing/household goods and give them to the goodwill store nearest you..clears out clutter while helping someone in need.

Sit and pet your dog/cat because they love your attention. Also two-fold since pets lower your blood pressure and help deal with stress

I pray you have a very giving week!

Wedded Wednesday 7/21/2010

Today I want to give you an idea to make your marriage more relaxing, happy, and less strenuous. Often times in our marriages we fight really dirty. We call names, bring up the past, and speak harshly. These do irreparable damage sometimes so I think that today the best thing to show you how to do is build a "fighting rules" document for your marriage.

Meet with your spouse when you are NOT mad at each other. Get out a piece of paper and start to talk about how your fights go. When you argue/disagree what are the things that really cause the fight to escalate and cause damage?

In my house, it was bringing up the past, raising voices, and saying things about the other's weaknesses.

In marriage, we know each other best so it is easiest to hurt each other.

My advice is make a document with 10 or so rules that you must obey while disagreeing or having conflict. This will help you both adhere to a standard that supports love and not divorce.

A great example:

1. Always sit down and face each other when disagreeing, noone Lords over the other or walks out.

2. Do not mention divorce or splitting up

3. Do not call names or exchange profanity.

4. Past fights are not welcome in this fight

5. It is not appropriate to roll eyes, cross arms, or sigh when another person is speaking

6. Do not interrupt

7. Try to reflect what your spouse has said to you to eliminate confusion and miscommunication

8. Hold hands while talking about a sensitive subject, this reminds you of love and not conflict.

9. Do not forget that you LOVE each other therefore speak to each other with kindness and love even if you are disagreeing

10. Treat your spouse as you would like to be treated yourself when you have done something wrong.

Use the ones that work and try to keep to at least a few of them to start in your conflicts. It will make things a lot easier!

Talk it out Tuesday 7/20/2010

Today's topic is simple. What do you think about the phrase "Happily Married?" I think personally it is sad that we have to specify that we are HAPPILY married when shouldn't marriage be overall happy? I know that it really isn't in today's culture and that many people are miserably married or even "openly married" or cheating as I call it.

Marriage for me is a lot of fun and really happy and relaxing. When I am with my husband I am most myself, most relaxed, and least stressed. What do you think about the phrase "Happily Married?" I am curious?!

Mental Health Monday 7/19/2010

Today I decided to talk about something we all tend to understand, movies. There are so many movies out there that depict mental illness that I thought it might be fun here and there for me to review some of those movies and let you know what is out there to watch that might help you see these illnesses in action.

Today's topic is going to be obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. We talked about this a few weeks ago because people do not recognize it and over self-diagnose it. I decided I would attach on a little film clip of "As good as it gets" so you can see it in action. Please rent this movie if you haven't seen it and are interested in the topic. I highly recommend it. It is a great movie!


Self Care Sunday 7/18/2010

Self care is a very important part of our lives and mental health. Many people do not even know the meaning of self-care or if they are doing their part. Today I decided to post a link to a self-care assessment that you can do to find out if you are doing a good job at Self-care. There are other resources on this site as well so enjoy!

Stressful Saturday 7/17/2010

We all go through stress every single day. Some of us more than others due to small children, house repairs, financial concerns, traumatic events, health problems, and the list goes on. Today I am going to give you a quick response to stress that will help you sort it out in the moment.

This tactic is called "Choose your Response"

We never really have the option to choose the stress in our lives. If we did, we would not choose for the tire to blow on the freeway in the worst traffic ever on the way to work. We would obviously choose for that same tire to blow when we are pulling out of the driveway on the way to something frivolous like a pedicure and we just happen to have an extra tire in the garage and hubby is home to fix it quickly. Oh wouldn't life be grand if that were a possibility.

Since it isn't...this little tactic will help you decide what to do with each stressful event. In this little exercise we are going to ask ourselves some simple questions.

1. Does it matter?

No I know that right now it seems like it all matters but I want to use the example of the blown tire. After you get the tire repaired, feel the expense of the new tire, and deal with the inconvenience of being late...will it matter? Probably not. Other things in our lives matter far more like the stress of losing a loved one or the stress of our child being sick.

2. How much control do you have over the situation?

I have come to the conclusion that if I can't control it, it doesn't deserve my stress. You can't control if your tire blows on the freeway but you can control making sure you have the proper tire pressure, checking the tires for any seemingly small problems, and insuring yourself with AAA coverage. Do what you can do...and then stop trying to control.

3. Is the source of stress in the past, present, or future?

You can not do a thing with the past, you can deal with the present, and prepare for the future. Let all the past stresses leave you since there is absolutely no rewind/delete button.

4. Focus on the importance!!!

There are far too many important things like our loved ones, our health, and our spirits to concern ourselves with silly things like tires being blown, a small fender bender, a misunderstanding, or forgetting to do something at work. Life will go on and when it does, be thankful for the important things you still have.

Family Friday 7/16/2010

Today I thought I would give you ten tips for dealing with step-children. I know that we all want to believe that children are always a joy and easy to deal with but when you are coming from a place of hurt and brokenness and so are the children, there is a lot that can go into just basic coping and getting along. Here are ten important tips to remember when blending families:

1. Don't expect too much too soon: This is due to everyone in the relationship coming into a new situation and many of them going through loss and grief. Take the time to get to know them and develop relationships naturally.

2. Don't become a disciplinarian to your step-child too soon: This can always get messy when clear relationships have not formed and boundaries may not have been discussed. Ease into the parenting part of the relationship.

3. Be Consistent: This goes for any child but mainly a step-child. Everything in their life has been thrown off balance and nothing is consistent and every child (no matter the age) needs consistency. There is a great scripture for this "Let your yes be yes and your no be no"

4. Create the same plan for everyone: If there are step-children and biological children, make sure to create the same plan for everyone. Example: if children under 15 have a bedtime of 9:00; so shall EVERY child under 15 not just the step-children.

5. Make Consequences and rewards: Parents seem to have an easy time making consequences like You don't do your homework, you don't get on the computer. However, rewards seem to be the part people miss. How about if you get your homework done by dinner; you can have 30 minutes more computer time. This works so much better than consequences for getting things and yet both are necessary.

6. Make new rituals and traditions: It is absolutely crucial to form new traditions for the new family. For example; making Sunday after church a time to have brunch together makes everyone feel a sense of togetherness and builds that simple little idea of consistency in children's lives.

7. If you are an adult, BE an adult: Even though it is not your child, it is still a child and you are an adult. Even if your step-child tells lies about you, screams in your face, and calls you are still able to conduct yourself as an adult and treat the child with love. There is never a good reason to be childish when you are an adult dealing with a child.

8. Be honest about feelings: Don't say you love them if you don't and do say you love them if you do. Don't expect grand gestures of feeling or gratitude...just feel and be honest for the sake of telling them. Expect nothing back and you will be pleasantly surprised.

9. Allow them to call you what they want (within reason): Obviously profanity would not be appropriate but if they aren't comfortable calling you mom or dad, don't be upset. Allow them to call you whatever is comfortable because remember, there is guilt for replacing a parent. Give them the freedom to grow the name with the relationship. I have a friend who LOVES his step mom so much and yet still calls her by her name to give respect to his own mother. I support this!

10. NEVER NEVER NEVER talk badly about their other parent: Do not refer to their biological mother as "the wicked witch" or anything derogatory. It is necessary for them to see you respect for them in being cordial about their other parent. You can call her the wicked witch in your mind if you wish! :)

I hope these tips have helped you and good luck this week in your endeavors to connect with your family!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thirsty Thursday 7/15/2010

We have been talking about how to be truly happy over the last few weeks. Today my tip for being truly happy is ....


I think when we are down or having difficulties in life it is really hard to remember what we have in life that is wonderful. I have started something in our house that has been really affective. There are a few ways to do this exercise so I will give you some options.

The first one is "a thankfulness journal." Get yourself a journal that you really like and begin to take time each night before bed to write one simple thing that you are thankful for. It can be as small as "I have breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart." or it can be huge like "Today I was given a promotion at work." The idea is to realize that everyday there are things to be grateful for and thankful for and it makes us really focus on these things instead of life's irritants.

Another way to do this exercise is to build a "thankfulness box" What I did was take an old shoe box and covered it in pretty scrapbook paper and made a bunch of little slips of paper out of scrap paper left around. Each day I write something I am thankful for one slip of paper and so does Anthony. We put it into the box and leave it alone. Not only is the exercise of thinking of something to be grateful for helpful but then we wrap it up like a present for New Years and spend our New Years reflecting on all God has done for us.

It is really hard to not be happy when you realize all that you have in life..the people, the things, the opportunities, the talents, etc... Take a moment to count your blessings!

Wedded Wednesday 7/14/2010

Last week I talked about signs that your marriage may be in trouble. It is time for new diagnostic. How about thinking about whether your marriage is healthy and happy. Here is a checklist of things you find in a happy/healthy marriage.

1. You go to bed at the same time: There may be times that you go to bed together and then one of you can't sleep but overall couples that go to bed together whether for intimacy, snuggling, discussion, or just to be close are generally happy couples!

2. You have developed shared interests: Having things that you enjoy doing together is a great sign of health and happiness. My husband and I love Las Vegas, road trips, new restaurants, a great bottle of wine, silly museums and sites and coffee shops!

3. You hold hands: This could be brief times or a lot but holding hands is a sign of closeness and intimacy.

4. You Accentuate the positive: Happy couples do not over exaggerate the negative in each other but focus on the positive most of the time. This doesn't mean you don't have issues, but they do not outshine the happy moments!

5. Forgiveness and Trust come easy: If you find it easy to forgive little things and trust your spouse, you are clearly in a healthy place.

6. Hugs and Kisses when you greet: Whether away from each other for a few hours or a few days, the happy healthy couple greets each other with embraces!

7. Saying good morning and goodnight: Treating your spouse better than you treat strangers is a great way to stay healthy and see if you are healthy. If you grunt at each other and don't greet each other, perhaps things are getting a bit too lazy!

8. Reaching Out: Happy couples tend to reach out during their day in some way whether it is a text message on their break or a phone call just to check in. This a way to know you are on each other's mind.

9. You take pride in each other: Happy couples are proud of each other and of their relationship. They don't down to their partner or about their partner but always speak kindly and proudly about who they married.

10. You respect them: If the person you respect most is your spouse; great job! You have a happy and healthy marriage!

Talk it Out Tuesday 7/13/2010

So the other day I was watching a children's movie with a few of my favorite kids and my husband and realized that in the first 10 minutes of the film, one of the characters was attempting suicide. I became very bothered by this scene and was troubled not just because that is a VERY adult issue but because I had seen this film before and did not notice that. It was when I was viewing it with children that it became apparent to me what was involved in the film.

It ended up that the movie actually spent quite a bit of time on the attempted suicide and I couldn't help but wonder what was going on in the children's heads that I was watching it with. They weren't my children so I couldn't discuss this very sensitive topic with them. I thought, this would make a very good Talk It Out Tuesday topic. I would love to open the floor to you guys and ask if you think children's films have too many adult issues and if so, can you name one that troubles you.

Mine was "The Incredibles." By the way, I really enjoyed the movie but the topic of suicide is very heavy for children. I would love to hear what you all think! Check in!

Mental Health Monday 7/12/2010

I often hear people in normal day to day conversations say things like "I am so depressed" when they don't have the pastry at Starbucks that you really wanted. I also hear things like "That is depressing" when you hear that there is a quiz in your next class. These things are completely normal to hear in your life but they irk me a bit because depression is such a serious issue for so many.

Today I thought I would take the time to write up some things about Depression and also give you a link to a self test in case you feel you may be suffering from depression.

The first thing I want to say is that depression is not "being bummed, sad, down, or having a bad day." Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. More than 20 million people in America alone suffer from depression. It usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30 It is more common in women and can obviously be experienced in new mothers as "postpartum depression" which is a whole other topic.

Depression is also ONE part of bipolar disorder (which is again, another topic altogether). Many people do get better when being treated with antidepressant medications and talk therapy. has put out a very simple depression self test that is available online.

Go here for the self assessment.

If you find that you have most of these symptoms, please see a mental health care provider and let someone help you. Depression is very serious and hurts so much. I pray that each of you are able to navigate through it if you struggle with it.

Self Care Sunday 7/11/2010

A great way to do self care and really be an overall healthy person is to find a hobby/interest that you enjoy and invest time in that hobby. For me, it is scrapbooking and for my husband it is playing his guitar. These things help calm us, center us, and help us feel a sense of accomplishment.

Today I am going to help you if you haven't found a hobby or interest that suites you. Here are some considerations to make when choosing a hobby.

1. Time: How much time do you have to devote to a hobby? Do you have 1-2 hours per week or 1-2 hours per day? This will make a big difference in what hobby you choose. If you only had an hour a week, you would not choose a hobby that requires a lot of your time.

2. Money: How much money do you have to invest into your hobby? If your budget is very limited, you would obviously not want to take on a hobby like learning to fly a plane as lessons are very expensive. You might choose a hobby like cake decorating or model cars as this would be affordable and might fit your budget better. Anything that costs more than you can budget becomes a secondary stress therefore not really helping your care for yourself.

3. Space: Do you have the space to do your hobby? For example, I love to scrapbook so I have a special place in my house where my supplies are stored and where I choose to scrapbook when I spend time on it.

4. Aptitude: It probably wouldn't be wise to choose a hobby that will not work for you. For example, if you are afraid of water, perhaps surfing isn't the hobby for you.

5. Follow Through: Choosing a hobby that you like enough to follow through with is the key issue. If you don't enjoy painting enough to pursue it often, it isn't the hobby to choose. Choose something you are passionate enough about to follow through with. My husband loves music and wants to entertain with it so he chooses to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day practicing his guitar. I love my niece, nephew, sisters, husband, etc..and I love being able to look through pictures and memories so my time spent on scrapbooking is well spent.

6. Research: Have you spent adequate time finding out all of the tools and resources that you will need to pursue this hobby. When I started scrapbooking I had no idea how many awesome tools were out there but as I learn more, I get more and more excited about my hobby but if you need many more tools and resources than you have, this can be frustrating.

7. ONE AT A TIME: It is most helpful to pursue one hobby at a time so that it isn't just another unfinished project to make you feel stressed and bad about yourself. Give yourself time to really enjoy and get good at what you choose.

Happy Hobby Picking!

Stressful Saturday 7/10/2010

Today we are going to talk about a really bad affect that stress has on our bodies. It can cause us to gain weight. As we all know, carrying excess weight is hard on our bodies in so many ways. There are a few ways that this can happen. Here is a quick check list to see if maybe some of those extra pounds are due to not handling stress properly.

1. Are you often too busy to exercise or too exhausted at the end of your day to include it?

If this is a yes, this can cause unnecessary weight gain since we all need to exercise. Exercise has body benefits like healthy weight and stable blood sugar and blood pressure but it also has mental health benefits of "blowing off steam" as well.

2. Do you eat when you are not hungry as a way to handle stress?

This can add some excess calories to your day when they really aren't needed. A great way to combat this habit is to get a glass of water, munch on veggies, chew gum or do some relaxation exercises and see if the need to eat goes away. If it doesn't, perhaps you ARE hungry.

3. Do you find yourself skipping meals because you are too busy to eat?

This doesn't sound like it would cause weight gain but it certainly can. Not only do timely meals help your metabolism to continue but it also keeps you from overeating at your next meal. Timing your meals throughout the day to help fuel you is the best choice.

4. Do you feel almost constantly stressed and do not feel you have adequate stress relieving techniques?

This can be a huge problem not only in weight but in many areas of your body like blood pressure. The best solution is to find fast things like breathing exercises that help you manage your stress. Having excess cortisol (stress hormone) contributes to weight gain.

5. Do you tend to consume more caffeine when you are tired, as a way to have more energy?

This boost of "energy" can lead to a crash and an excess of cortisol. This also leads to poor quality of sleep which contributes to weight gain.

6. Do you have more weight around your middle than you used to?

Excusing of course having a baby, it is often a sign of too much stress when you gain a lot of weight around your middle. Raised cortisol levels make people store fat around their middle. This obviously leads to poor health in areas like heart disease, diabetes, and blood pressure.

7. Do you get less than 7 hours of sleep each night?

I know sometimes this can't be prevented but it really does contribute to weight gain to not get enough sleep. It also makes everyday stresses like job related stress and simple inconveniences seem much more unmanageable. Getting enough sleep can change your life.

8. Do you eat a lot of fast food simply due to being "too busy" to cook at home?

This is a pretty obvious one, if you are eating a lot of fast food you are most likely ingesting much more sodium, fat, carbohydrates, and calories than your body needs. Being overly stressed and too busy can lead you to frequent the drive through instead of taking time to prepare your meals.

That's it for today but there are so many reasons that not handling your stress in a healthy way can lead to health problems like weight gain! I hope that you sort through the check list and find a few ways to improve your stress level.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Family Friday 7/9/2010

We are continuing our discussion on step-families this week. Upon researching the topic of step-families, I came across some information that interested me. I found that there are 4 stages of step-families and I thought I would give you the information I found and perhaps it will add a touch of normality to your life.

Here are the 4 stages that step-families go through as they try to become a family.

Stage 1: The fantasy stage -- This is the "Brady bunch" phase where everyone is happy with everyone else and they imagine one big happy family.

Stage 2: Confusion stage -- Tensions arise, conflicts begin, people begin being themselves and there starts to be less romance to the situation.

Stage 3: Conflict stage -- Anger starts to erupt, true feelings begin to emerge, hopefully honest communication and openness also develops.

Stage 4: Comfort stage -- Family members begin to relax, become used to the new rules, regulations, and ways of life, hopes arise for family in the future, bonds solidify.

The important thing to remember is that every family is different and although these are stages that are mapped out, you may skip fantasy altogether, never get to comfort, or even become comfortable without all of the conflict. Either way, it is supposed to help you become aware and realize that everything that a family goes through, a step family has to go through in a much more volatile way. I encourage all of you who are in step families to look at where you are and be encouraged that this is normal progression and things will most likely calm down soon.

Another huge factor to consider is the possible emotions that a step child could be going through. Consider these for next week before I delve further into them:

  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Jealousy
  • Guilt
Thanks for reading and I pray that your families are well!

Thirsty Thursday 7/8/2010

As we started with last week, we will be continuing our talk on ways to be truly happy. Today's way is ....


I know that when you first read this you will think "oh man Erica, that's corny" but I assure you it isn't. What I mean by this is find a place that you feel truly at peace and happy in your life. For some people it is an actual location like "the beach" or "Disneyland." For others, there are factors that must be present like "Reading a book outdoors" or "Playing my guitar." For others it may even be a state of mind like "When I have all of my work done" or "When I have time alone no matter what I am doing."

Your job is to figure out where yours is. Here are a few ways to figure it out....

  • I want you to close your eyes and begin to think of the word peaceful. Name the first place that comes to your mind.
  • What does it look like there?
  • Who is there?
  • Are you doing anything? (reading, singing, napping, praising God, playing guitar?)
  • Where is this place around you?
This is your peaceful place. Spend at least 10 minutes there a day and you will feel so much more happy. Comment if you have a peaceful place and let me know what it is like.

Wedded Wednesday 7/7/2010

Today I decided to do a bit of a rough diagnostic for you so that you can gauge if you're marriage may be in trouble. I should note that only you and your spouse know if your marriage is in trouble but the signs I am going to put on are entirely valid for things to do a quick marriage check up. It has been in my experience both as a married person and a therapist to know that these signs are valid for documenting some problems within a marriage relationship (or any romantic relationship)

Signs that you may need to see a Marriage Counselor:

1. You are not the person you have always been: If you think you have changed a lot since getting married and do not feel these changes are POSITIVE changes, perhaps you are trying to be someone you are not in order to meet someone else's needs. Discussing marital expectations is a great way to combat becoming someone else that you are NOT in marriage. Being able to be honest about who you are is half the greatness of being married. The other half is being loved for being that person.

2. You argue about really stupid things: My experience is that you have numerous fights about things that really don't are avoiding having fights about the things that really do matter. For example; you have started to fight a lot about what restaurant to choose on date night and you haven't had sex for over two months. My guess is, the fight is less about Olive Garden and more about "connecting physically" with your spouse.

3. You are feeling indifferent or apathetic instead of hurt or angry. I am not saying you should walk around being hurt and angry in a relationship but if things have started to not bother you that once would, you are checked out. Figure out why it doesn't bother you anymore by being honest about how much you actually care.

4. You hide a lot of things. Are you buying things and not telling your spouse that you spent the money? Are you meeting up with people that your spouse does not approve of? Are you loaning money to your family but not telling your spouse? These are all signs that there is no room for honesty and respect within your marriage. Ask yourself if you would like to be treated in this manner. I bet you wouldn't. If you are hiding things, there is always something amiss unless it's a new Diamond in which case...hide away Anthony.

5. You have a confidant who is not your spouse. Again, let's not be extreme. You are always allowed to have people you confide in and talk to including friends, family, and your friendly neighborhood therapist (shameless plug) but if you find that you are confiding in someone of the opposite sex or even same sex and you are expressing things that your spouse knows NOTHING about, there is an issue.

6. You insult each other in public. Although I think the "in public" is optional here, in public is the worst. Have you ever seen that couple when you are at Target and they are bickering and hurling insults at each other? Awkward! Not just is it awkward at Target, it's awkward at home. If you do not respect your spouse enough to present them in a good light in public, I fear what you do at home.

7. It gets physical. I will not even give one second to this one. You know it isn't right if someone is getting physical. This includes hitting objects, walls, or throwing things.

8. You need to do EVERYTHING together. As much as this doesn't SOUND like a problem. It is. Being able to be an individual and also a couple is crucial to good relationship health. There should be appropriate time to be together, time to be with friends/coworkers/family, and time to be ALONE. All of these are crucial for good health. I have to wonder what you are afraid of if being away from your spouse is frightening.

9. You do not do ANYTHING together. Just the opposite of the last sign, if you are like two ships passing in the night and it doesn't bother you....why doesn't it. This is supposed to be your best friend. For me, I love to see and hang out with my husband. Although I have friends, family, and myself to enjoy...He is my favorite!

10. Many of your fights are about people outside of the marriage. One word: Boundaries! It is important to understand that within a marriage; family members, friends, and others do not have rights to your marital information and certainly shouldn't be causing hardships. Keep that marriage FIRST!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Motivational quotes that have TRUTH to them

I got an email today with some motivational quotes and thought they deserved to be shared. I have added my own thoughts on these quotes and hope that you can take something in from each of them today and apply it to good mental health.

"The Groundwork of all happiness in good health" -- Leigh Hunt

This one really hits home with me because when someone is in good health in every aspect it is hard for them not to be happy. If you think about the people who are unhappy or even about your own unhappiness, is it due to poor physical health? What about poor mental health? Spiritual? I think this quote probably holds a lot of truth. Being health is pretty priceless. Ask anyone who isn't!

"The principle is competing against yourself. It is about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before" -- Steve Young

I think this is another quote that really resonated with me. Any time that I find myself competing against others it makes me entirely miserable but when I strive to compete with myself and be better than I was before, I find myself feeling energized, motivated, and entirely driven for success. I challenge you today to compete with yourself. Did you work out yesterday? If not, spend 30 minutes moving your body today. If you did, do something a little extra today. Were you nice to the ones you loved yesterday? If not, love on them today. You get the idea.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit." --Aristotle

I think this is the quote today that really inspired me. Often times I will say things like "I am not healthy" or "I procrastinate constantly." The difference between me being healthy and unhealthy is the habit of doing things that are healthy. I have decided to stop saying those negative things about myself and just start DOING what I want to be!

"Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still" -- Chinese Proverb

I think a lot of times I get really frustrated when things take time like getting in shape, saving money for something special, or even accomplishing a goal. This was a great reminder today that only standing still is not getting anywhere. As long as you are moving, you are going the right way!

I hope this quotes helped you today and drove you onto new and better things!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Talk It Out Tuesday 7/6/2010

Often times when we go to job interviews we get asked this question that is very hard to answer. It is hard to answer because if we answer it truthfully, we may not get offered the job. However, if we lie about it, most likely if they hire us they will soon find out we were dishonest. The question is "What is your biggest weakness?"

I decided to put this to a discussion today and talk this question out. First of all, I would ask you to answer whether you feel it is a sensible question to ask in a job interview. Secondly, if you can be...try to be completely honest and share what you believe your biggest weakness really is. I am anxious to see how many of us can be real and genuine when asked this question. It would be a great question if nothing rides on it and people could be honest.

Just an experiment for your "Talk it out Tuesday"

My Answer: No, I don't feel it is sensible to ask this for the aforementioned reasons. I think that if people were honest, they may not get hired. If people are dishonest, it serves the company or business poorly as well due to the implications of the weakness being an issue later. As for my own biggest weakness, I would say (completely honestly) that I have a huge lack of motivation. I often times have these great ideas and feel like I could run a million projects and when I sit down to do it, it sounded a lot more fun than it is and I want to do anything other than that task. However, if someone tried to take the task from me and complete it, I would feel threatened and want to take it back only for the length of time of getting it back just to have NO motivation again. I really feel that my consistency is also an issue. I will work hard for 2 weeks and then lose all of my steam for work projects.

Ok, I have bared my proverbial soul....I am hoping you all join in the discussion and share your biggest weakness. I promise you won't be fired or hired based on these answers!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mental Health Monday 7/5/2010

Since it is Mental health Monday, I thought today we would talk about a disorder that is commonly displayed in movies, tv, and is the butt of so many jokes. Today I am going to explain the difference between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Many people confuse them by saying "I am so OCD" when they just like their home clean. Others do not understand the concept of compulsions and obsessions. I think that far too many people use the term OCD without full knowledge of what it looks like. I will start by putting a video up so you can get an idea of what OCD really is.

This video is from this show I have been watching on VH1 called The OCD project. I thought this explanation was well formulated and these people have severe forms of OCD. I would recommend you give it a look if this interests you.

As Dr. Tolin explained there needs to be two different things going on for a person to have OCD. Obsessions are the thoughts that are constant and persistent in the mind of a person struggling with OCD.

An example of this would be a constant thought of "My child is going to die." This thought would not only come to your mind but would be intrusive and inappropriate and would cause marked anxiety or distress. We all have worries that come into our minds and even some of those that seem a little inappropriate for the setting but most of us can get that thought out of our mind and self soothe enough to not have to deal with it constantly and persistently. A person who has OCD will not be able to self soothe but will do step two which is to form a compulsion.

A compulsion is a repetitive behavior or mental act that a person feels the need to continue doing in response to the obsession or according to rules that must be followed rigidly. We will use our prior example of "My child is going to die."

Compulsions a person may use to combat this obsessive thought are things like:

repetitive behaviors: hand washing, ordering, checking ....or....
mental acts: praying, counting, or repeating words silently.

The main thing to remember is that these two are connected and there is something irrational in the mind that tells the person struggling with OCD that doing these rituals will cause the obsessive thought to neutralize. There is no comfort or rest for this disorder without treatment.

Now...onto Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

This is the disorder that more people relate to than people who relate to OCD. The criteria for OCPD is:

A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

1) is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost.

2) shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)

3) is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)

4) is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)

5) is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value

6) is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things

7) adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes

8) shows rigidity and stubbornness

People often confuse the two of these and as you can see...they are VERY different!

Here is a video to explain the differences more thoroughly to supplement the reading.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Self Care Sunday 7/4/2010

The most basic definition of self care is behaviors that counter the effects of emotional and physical stress. We absolutely can not escape emotional and physical stress as long as we live in the real world so it is imperative that we all learn how to do basic self care and even advanced self care. We will start with the most basic of all self care.

The first step to self care is taking care of your body. Our bodies are so important to the management of stressful situations. Every situation will seem and even feel worse if you don't feel well physically. Most of these things people would say "oh I know I am supposed to do that" but they often do not. Take a moment and go through the list of self care strategies for your body and see if you could be doing more to take care of your emotional health by first taking care of your physical health.

1. Have regular check ups with your doctor: Make sure to do yearly physicals as well as getting needed immunizations, dental check ups, vision check ups, and taking all prescribed medications. If this is something that your religion goes against then please read the other tips here.

2. Eating for fuel: So many of us eat just to enjoy food and very rarely think of food as fuel. Your body needs certain vitamins, minerals and basic nutrients to work at its best physically. This is also true for your brain and your ability to cope with problems. Talk to your physician about what calories, nutrients, and diet is needed for optimal health.

3. Exercise: Often people think that exercise has to be hard. We have become people who sit most of our lives so getting up and moving 20-30 minutes a day will not only help you physically but get oxygen moving. Your brain will work better in helping you cope with stressful situations.

4. Get therapy when needed: Now you knew I had to go with this one. So many people frown upon therapy and think "oh that is for someone really screwed up." It really isn't. Therapy is for those people who are strong enough to admit that they need someone to help them through the difficult times. You don't have to stay in therapy forever, sometimes it is just to walk through difficult times or maybe you have things you have never talked about and they weigh on you. Give talk therapy a chance!

5. Get proper amounts of rest/sleep: Most people know that they should get 6-8 hours of sleep per night so I will refrain from lecturing on that topic (as I write this post at 2 am due to my own insomnia) but what about REST. It is just as important to have down time where you do things you enjoy and find joy in. For me, that means scrapbooking, cooking, reading, organizing, and going to the beach. Find things that relax you and give it at least 30 minutes of your day. If all you can find is 10 minutes, start there. Rest is just as important as sleep to your mental health and well-being.

Self care is paramount to mental health, stay with me on Sundays to find out how to take the best care of you that you absolutely can!

Stressful Saturday 7/3/2010

Which one of us hasn't felt financial stress at one time or another? I am sure most of us are experiencing it now. The economy is such that many people are losing homes, jobs, and having their businesses go under. It is no wonder that stress is at an all time high. I thought I would start our stressful Saturdays by talking about how financial stress affects you and what you can do.

Financial Stress causes a lot of issues that can/should be prevented. Here are some of the things it can cause:

1. Unhealthy Coping Strategies -- Many people who have financial difficulty start to cope by abusing substances like alcohol, drugs, or even food. These things only exacerbate the situation and cause emotional more financial difficulty with the cost of these addictions.

2. Less money for self-care -- When money gets low, people tend to cut back first on things like health care, therapy, exercise expenses like the gym, and even their once a week coffee or pedicure. Cutting out these things to pay bills can lead to you feeling even worse and having absolutely no outlet for your stress and failing health.

3. Lost Sleep -- When people start to worry about finances, it often gets worse in the nighttime hours while you lay in your bed trying to sleep. It can be hard to be rested when your mind will not shut down at night.

4. Unhealthy Emotions -- Credit Card Debt, loss of assets, etc... can lead to an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and depression. It feels like a bottomless pit at times and it gets increasingly difficult to find happiness in these times.

Now, here are a few tips on how to get through your financial stress and help yourself feel better:

1. Find out where you actually stand -- Many times people "bury their head in the sand" and don't look at the reality of where they stand financially. This can lead to them getting more and more behind when it might actually have been manageable to begin with.

2. Don't stop self care -- When you have to cut out things like pedicures and coffee house drinks; replace your old self care with newer cheaper options. Some tips I use is doing my own pedicures at home, making a nice flavored coffee drink at home, or even signing up for online programs like MyPoints and reading emails for points that you can redeem for gift cards to expensive meals, Starbucks, or even some clothing stores. We just had a meal tonight at Macaroni Grill for absolutely free due to this site.

3. Create a budget -- A budget makes you feel more in control of the process of getting out of debt or managing the little you have in the best way possible. Again, this is being more aware of where your money is going and doing the best things you can with it. This makes you feel a lot more peace when dealing with bill collectors and creditors when you know exactly what is going on.

4. Learn to find joy in cheap/free things: Have a game night with your spouse and play for small dollar store prizes, have a $2 themed date night including the dollar menu and a $2.00 movie at a local Regency theater, go for a walk in a beautiful place and pack a picnic from home. These small joys can make those money woes seem incredibly small.

5. Value people, not things: Remember that this is a season of your life and this too shall pass but don't spend your time wishing it away, savor moments with those you love and the process of learning how to be a wiser money manager!

I wish you all the best and blessings upon blessings!

Family Friday 6/2/2010

Did you know that the average marriage in America lasts only 7 years and 75% of people remarry. That means if there are children in these families, these children end up in a step family. I thought I would take a few Family Fridays to discuss Step families and some of the things that people do not consider when joining families and some of the myths that keep families stuck and unable to move forward in the quest to be a family.

The first myth I think is the most important to realize for people considering remarriage. There is a myth out there that tells you "If I love you, I will love your child."

This is JUST NOT SO. Often times, children are on their best behavior when their mother or father is dating and then when the marriage takes place, many changes also take place. The child may begin to act out or pull away as soon as the family moves in together. Many children feel a need to pull away as soon as the step-parent starts to love them more. There is far more to lose for a child if they are attached to the new "parent." Love can and most likely will happen but just like any other relationship, it is not instant and no child or adult should be expected to feel this instantly and acting as if they should, could simply cause the opposite effect in your family.

Tip: Give your children and your partner time to acquaint and build a friendship before they are expected to respect that person as a parent and be very clear on your intentions to marry and allow your children adequate room to express discontent and frustration with the union.

Have a lovely family Friday!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thirsty Thursday 7/1/2010

I looked up the definition of "thirsty" and it came up saying "parched or craving something." I thought that was a great way to start our Thirsty Thursdays. A lot of us go through life thirsting for something but we aren't sure what it is. My guess is that we are all craving happiness. Happiness is defined as "a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to immense joy. Most of us haven't even found contentment much less immense joy.

I thought we should start today by telling you one way to be a happier person. We will be going through these ways over the next several weeks of Thirsty Thursdays.

The first one is ...

Limit your Focus:

A lot of us try to be perfect in a number of areas of our lives like being a perfect spouse, a perfect parent, a perfect employee, perfect in our health/fitness, etc... and to be honest, this is the PERFECT recipe for unhappiness.

Limiting your focus to one area of your life that you want to be great at and giving yourself the ability to be "ok" at other areas can be the key to achieving true happiness. For me, I have made it my ultimate goals to be dedicated to my faith and great at my marriage. The rest (job, parenting, hobbies, housekeeping, and fitness) just seem to not feel quite as important when I am truly reaching the goal of being a great wife.

When we try to be perfect in so many areas, we make it much easier to be bad at everything therefore decreasing our happiness in life.

Go ahead and comment on this post with the one thing you want to be great at and allow yourself to just be good at everything else.

Have a great Thursday everyone!