waypoints

Friday Waypoints- 06/21/19

Being a Father

I spent some time this past week reflecting on fatherhood. I look into the mirror and more often than not, I see my father. It scares me sometimes, but not because I don’t like what I see, but because I didn’t expect to see Jerry Neese in the mirror. My father was a very handsome man. I loved seeing him put on his suit every morning to go to work. The summer after I graduated from High School, I worked with him as I waited to enter the Air Force later that Fall. I loved going to lunch with him and his staff and I was so proud to be his son. I remember the morning he drove me to the airport to travel to San Antonio to enlist. He told me that he was a little envious of me because of the the new journey that I was beginning. It’s a wonderful memory. I do not remember ever have a cross word with him. I never remember a feeling of disappointment from him.

We clinicians describe that as having a strong attachment figure. It didn’t stop at 18 years old. It continued until the day he died at 82. I remember those hugs from a 6’ 4” man. I had to step on my tippy toes to hug my father. We said that we loved each other.

John Bowby wrote, “Throughout the adult life the availability of a responsive attachment figure remains the source of a person’s feeling secure. All of us, from cradle to the grave, are happiest when life is organized as a series of excursions, long or short, from the secure base provided by our attachment figures.”

My life has been a series of long and short excursions from the secure base of my father’s (and of course my mother’s) love and acceptance. And they have been happy excursions!

Thank you Dad for being a loving, gentle and strong father for me and my brothers and sisters.

Electronic Nicotine Organization

I’ve been asked to sit on the advisory panel for Electronic Nicotine Organization. Tom Popescu recently started this organization to address the problem with Teenagers using nicotine vape pens. We will look back on these days and see them as pivotal for preventing this young generation from becoming addicted to nicotine and cigarettes. Support this organization!

Tom Popescu, the President of ENO writes, “Our goals are to: educate youth and adults of the consequences of electronic cigarettes, inform policy makers and help shape the debate, utilize social media influencers to expand awareness, counteract the marketing efforts of vaping and tobacco companies, create a support platform and resources for users who are addicted, and develop a mobile app for on demand counselors for users and research.”

vaping program

Introducing RAVE: Reduce Adolescent Vaping Education

Raising Awareness Around Vaping

Vaping, or the act of inhaling a vaporized liquid from an electronic smoking device, is becoming an epidemic across the country. Teenagers are picking up BLU cigarettes, JUULs, and other vaping devices for a multitude of reasons and ending up addicted to nicotine. Whether teenagers are interested because they see their friends vaping, enjoy the flavors, or think it looks cool, it’s detrimental to their health and wellbeing.

There is a common misperception that vaping is safer than smoking because vaporizers do not contain the hundreds of chemicals found in the tobacco leaves and filters of cigarettes. However, research is showing that this is not the case. The vapor is infused with propylene glycol, flavoring chemicals, and nicotine. A person who vapes, just like a person who smokes cigarettes, becomes dependent on the nicotine within the product.

Some vaporizer liquids do not contain nicotine, but most do. In fact, JUUL is the most popular brand of e-cigarettes and 100% of their “pods” contain nicotine. While it is marketed as a smoking cessation device to help adults kick the smelly habit of smoking traditional cigarettes, the marketing is also targeting teenagers. Until they were reprimanded by the FDA, JUUL had a highly engaging presence on Instagram, a social media platform mainly used by teenagers. And still, to this day, the design and packaging of the JUUL is sleek, “sexy”, and appealing to easily influenced teens.

More worrisome than the design and accessibility of the JUUL, and other vapes, is the discreetness of them. Unlike traditional cigarettes that come in a large pack and carry a lasting odor with them after they’re smoked, vapes are discreet in size and omit no odor. This makes it much harder for parents, teachers, and other adults to recognize when their teenager is vaping.

The RAVE Program

According to research reported in the Wall Street Journal, vaping rates among teenagers jumped 75% in 2018. Alarmed by this increase, Mark Neese, principal therapist at True North Counseling in Louisville, KY, has decided to raise awareness around the dangers associated with this behavior by introducing a special program. RAVE: Reduce Adolescent Vaping Education, is a 4 to 6-week program that combines individual, group, and family therapy with education to ensure that parents are able to act as change agents in the lives of their teenagers. Teens enrolled in RAVE will attend 4 weekly group sessions that are facilitated by two certified clinicians. True North Counseling’s certified clinicians include one behavioral specialist and one social worker who will provide up-to-date information about the dangers of vaping and smoking. Each session will feature a strong Mindfulness component as well.

In addition to the four group sessions, a family session will kick off the program and three individual sessions are also included with the goal of enlisting a commitment from the teen to stop vaping. During this process, parents are given strategies for relapse prevention including the use of Nicotine Test Kits. Nicotine can stay in your system for up to three months depending on the frequency of use. When used randomly by parents and guardians, nicotine testing proves effective in deterring teenagers from continuing to vape. Nicotine Test Kits will be provided to the parents or guardians who participate in the RAVE program, so they can test their teenagers as frequently or infrequently as they’d like.

Tips for Parents & Guardians

If you are a parent, guardian, or adult concerned that a teenager you know may be vaping, the first thing to do is talk to them. Ask them if they feel they are dependent on the device or if they feel agitated when they are not doing it. Discuss the risks of vaping including what’s known and not known about the long-term effects. Make sure that they understand vaping is just as bad for them as cigarettes, but with different effects and different results.

If you’ve already talked to them and still suspect that they are vaping, let True North Counseling in Louisville, Kentucky help. With the new RAVE program available at True North Counseling, parents or guardians can work with their teenager and True North Counseling’s certified clinicians to help teens stop vaping. As a team, everyone will come up with a strategy to quit vaping, prevent relapse, and stay mindful of the dangers associated with vaping and the benefits, both short-term and long-term, of not vaping.

To learn more about the dangers of vaping, read our past blogs on teen vaping and vaping facts. True North Counseling’s first RAVE program begins on July 11, 2019. For program costs and enrollment those interested in learning more can contact Henry L. Buckwalter, CSW, an Associate Clinician at True North Counseling, by calling 502-377-4814 today. 

Friday Waypoints- 6/14/19

What I’m Reading

“Changing Body Composition through Diet and Exercise” by Michael Ormsbee, Ph.D.

I’m actually listening to this book on Audible. I’m on the road a lot and I spend most of this time listening to books. Ormsbee writes, “Improving body composition by losing body fat and optimizing lean is not about vanity –it’s about health.”

This book is not about losing weight. It’s about decreasing the amount of body fat in your body and it’s about insuring that you do not lose muscle mass. I like this approach because I do not want to lose weight. My BMI puts me in the overweight category, but that’s because I work out and exercise regularly. I realized years ago that you begin losing muscle mass as you age and I have worked very hard to maintain and grow muscle. I “preach” to clients, “You need to work at becoming stronger as you age.” Maintaining your lean muscle mass is one way of do this. Ormsbee does a very good job explaining the basics of nutrition and puts the focus on the right things.

What Are You Listening To?

Apple Music is introducing me to new music and helping me stay in touch with my favorites. Just hit the “For You” tab on the app and you get the option of “New Music Mix,” “Favorites Mix,” and “Chill Mix.”

Don’t underestimate the power of music in your life. Recently, I’ve been utilizing the Mindfulness Meditation that encourages you to “Step in the Feeling.” This could include “stepping into the sadness. Most of us DO NOT like listening to “sad” music, but there can be something therapeutic about purposely sitting during a mindfulness session and “stepping into sadness” while listening to sad music.

Of course, listening to “happy and upbeat” music is important too! I’m listening to some past favorites right now and this music is conjuring up many memories associated with that music. Let music by thy medicine.

Families Want to Get Along

One of the reasons I love what I do is the desire that most families have to get along. They want to end the conflict. They come to me hoping that I can help and many times I can.

Raising teenagers is not easy! Teenagers are under a lot of pressure! Neither Parents not teens want to fight and when I see them years later, they scratch their heads and wonder why there was so much conflict.

This week, I witnessed a wonderful family following the “therapeutic map” that I laid out before them. I saw them all working together. And they left with smiles on their face because they saw something work. It keeps my compass pointed toward “True North.”

Things We Don’t Talk About: Child Abuse

Content note: This post contains mention of childhood abuse and trauma. Please exercise discretion if this is something that may be triggering or upsetting.

Following on the heels of the previous post about Things We Don’t Talk About: Miscarriage and Stillbirth, I thought I’d exercise my role as “Namer of the Elephant in the Room” and talk about child abuse—specifically, childhood sexual abuse. From 2009-2013, national Child Protective Services agencies substantiated (or found strong evidence to indicate) that 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse. A majority of child victims are 12-17. Of victims under the age of 18: 34% of victims of sexual assault and rape are under age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are age 12-17. The majority (9 out of 10) of these assaults happen to girls. Our own Kentuckiana community has seen several serial abusers in the news recently, with perpetrators who gained access to victims through schools, childcare organizations, and scouting community activities. The overwhelming response on all of these cases where children were abused has been “Where was her mother?”

The idea that sexual abuse is perpetrated by a stranger is simply false. Not only is it untrue, it’s also dangerous, because it shifts the focus from helping children be heard and feel safe to teaching children that there is nothing they can do to keep themselves safe from strangers. The vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence against children are known adults who were trusted by the child’s parent(s). RAINN estimates that up to 93 percent of victims under the age of 18 know their abuser.

Make no mistake: the responsibility for child sexual abuse rests solely with the perpetrator. Child sexual abuse isn’t a symptom of “bad parents,” or being negligent or not caring about your kid. However, there are things that parents can do to reduce the risk of their child(ren) being sexually abused.

First, know the signs.

Physical signs:

  • Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in genital area
  • Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
  • Pain, itching, or burning in genital area

Behavioral signs:

  • Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively
  • Develops phobias
  • Exhibits signs of depressionor post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents
  • Has trouble in school, such as absences or drops in grades
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors
  • Nightmares or bed-wetting
  • Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role
  • Returns to regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking
  • Runs away from home or school
  • Self-harms
  • Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact

It’s never too late to have these conversations.

  • Teach your child about boundaries. Let your child know that no one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable — this includes hugs from grandparents or even tickling from mom or dad. It is important to let your child know that their body is their own. Just as importantly, remind your child that they do not have the right to touch someone else if that person does not want to be touched.
  • Teach your child how to talk about their bodies. From an early age, teach your child the names of their body parts. Teaching a child these words gives them the ability to come to you when something is wrong. Learn more about talking to children about sexual assault.
  • Be available. Set time aside to spend with your child where they have your undivided attention. Let your child know that they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If they do come to you with questions or concerns, follow through on your word and make the time to talk.
  • Let them know they won’t get in trouble. Many perpetrators use secret-keeping or threats as a way of keeping children quiet about abuse. Remind your child frequently that they will not get in trouble for talking to you, no matter what they need to say. When they do come to you, follow through on this promise and avoid punishing them for speaking up.
  • Give them the chance to raise new topics. Sometimes asking direct questions like, “Did you have fun?” and “Was it a good time?” won’t give you the answers you need. Give your child a chance to bring up their own concerns or ideas by asking open-ended questions like “Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?”

 

 

 

Ten Things Therapists Wish People Knew About Therapy

1. We don’t talk about you to anyone else.

Whether you see a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, or a Licensed Psychologist, we are all held to a high standard of confidentiality by our respective professional organizations. If we were to talk about you to anyone outside the “cone of silence” (meaning outside the supervisor-supervisee relationship), we could be brought up on professional charges and have our licenses stripped by our state boards.

2. We’re not going to ‘fix your kid.’

One of the hardest things about working with children and adolescents, from a therapist point of view, is that parents must realize that change has to happen to the entire family system. The analogy is a little crass, but here it goes: Fixing just one family member, whether parent or child, is like washing just one piece of laundry, and then being surprised when it smells bad after being tossed back in with unwashed laundry.

3. We’re not going to arbitrate your arguments (or tell your partner that they’re wrong and you’re right).

When doing couples therapy, I make it very clear that I’m not on one partner or the other’s side. I’m on the side of your relationship, until you tell me otherwise. (Then we’re working on a new goal.) I’ve often told couples that they can argue at home—therapy is a place for them to learn how to do things differently.

4. There are times when therapy isn’t appropriate.

If there is domestic violence between the couple or ongoing abuse in the family, it isn’t appropriate to provide therapy services to the unit. (It is possible, however, for individuals in those situations to receive therapy services.)

5. Therapists go to therapy.

Some training programs actually require therapists-in-training to see their own therapist. As a rule, therapists of all varieties view mental health checkups as being just as vital as physical health checkups, if not more so. With the things that we see and hear, if we didn’t engage in appropriate mental health self-care, most would leave the profession within a few years.

6. We’re affected by your stories, even when we don’t show it.

As a helping professional, I wouldn’t still be in the business if I didn’t genuinely care about people’s well-being. I’ve cried with some clients, and I’ve cried after some clients have left. Some of the stories that I’ve heard of unimaginable heartbreak and horrific abuse have also included some of the greatest triumphs of the human spirit. It’s this balance that keeps me doing the work.

7. Therapy is hard.

If you’re “doing therapy” to its fullest potential, therapy (and your therapist) will challenge you, make you uncomfortable, and stretch you toward a life worth living. If you believe that therapy is a passive experience, or that all the work of therapy happens in the therapy room (not outside in your real life), you are probably going to be disappointed in the results you see.

8. Not all therapists are the same.

Much of the research about the effectiveness of therapy is now showing that it’s not necessarily the background, credentials, methodology, or training of a therapist that makes the difference—it’s the connection between the therapist and the client. It’s hard to be vulnerable and make progress with someone you don’t feel safe with, or that you don’t feel understands you in a pivotal way. That being said, just because you didn’t make the progress you wanted with one therapist doesn’t mean that therapy isn’t for you—it means that you may just not have found the therapist for you.

9. Most therapists aren’t pro or anti-medication.

I view medication and therapy a lot like buying a house. The house is therapy, but medication is the funding. Can you get an adequate house with so-so funding? Sure. But could you get your dream house with access to all the funding you need? Similarly, you can have Scrooge McDuck piles of money, but if you can’t find the right house, it’s not going to get you anywhere.

10. Change is possible.

The philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesos asserted that “Change is the only constant in life.” Without change, we as individuals and as a species would cease to exist. No matter how overwhelming your problems feel, change is possible!

Five Steps to Recharging Your Professional and Personal Lives

A guest blog by Life & Career Coach Julie Morris

We all want success in our professional lives, but we need the right balance to avoid burning out. That may mean spending more time with loved ones or pulling back from commitments. By making adjustments, you can give yourself solid foundations to keep on thriving.

Recognize Your Stressors

One of the first steps to a healthier relationship with work is knowing your stressors and having techniques to manage them. Take a moment to think about your stress levels and how you react to specific triggers, like having an upset stomach or becoming irritable. Are you weighed down by financial issues, or have you taken on extra responsibilities to impress or support colleagues? Is there tension with someone, or do you feel like you have few opportunities for “you time”? Consider writing a journal to help you identify triggers, and process what you are facing. By being aware of stressors, you can prepare the way forward to dealing with them.

Allow Yourself Breaks

Do you find yourself still working at home, answering emails, or taking on a backlog of household chores? It adds up, and that can not only impact your career but cause stress and exhaust your whole being. So, make home your sanctuary, somewhere you can relax and do things that bring you joy. This might involve bingeing a favorite show or spending time on creative pursuits. To help your efforts, consider delegating chores to others, like hiring an interior cleaning service. After all, in Louisville, it will set you back by only $119 to 231 on average, yet the benefits could ultimately be priceless. Use these services as an opportunity to let yourself have moments to yourself without feeling guilty. Remember, you are still productive, but to truly thrive, you need to recuperate and recover.

Get Sleep

The benefits of being well-rested are plentiful, from improving focus and memory to strengthening physical health and making you less susceptible to conditions like depression. As a start to improving slumber, try to stick to a regular pattern, including weekends and days off, as this can help you get ready for sleep. Your internal clock can also benefit from keeping your bedroom dark and cool. If you are still restless, check your mattress and pillows to see if they need replacing; you can find a comfortable new mattress for as little as $200. While getting enough sleep is easier said than done, the effort is worthwhile.

Invest in Relationships

Whether at home or work, relationships are important to your well-being and overall success in life. Unfortunately, a busy workload can eat into our time with loved ones, but we can counter this by planning ahead and setting specific dates. This not only lets you adapt your schedule to meet your personal needs, but having something set in stone can also ensure that nothing gets in the way. When it comes to work, don’t hesitate to reach out to colleagues, especially if you feel overwhelmed, and always show a willingness to listen and support them. Likewise, be open with others, and remind yourself that you too deserve support.

Balance Your Schedule

Without a balanced schedule, your well-being cannot improve. You need a routine that works for you, and this may involve cutting back on responsibilities that add to your strain. To aid this, prioritize your personal and work commitments, but be objective with your daily activities. You may be volunteering for an organization or doing overtime to help someone else, but adding to your workload does you no good. This may sound daunting, particularly if you have to say “no” to others, but by maximizing your time, you can boost your focus and energy for all your goals.

You deserve a flourishing professional career and a personal space where you can be happy and thrive. Give yourself a break, get the rest you need, and build a supportive network. With a coordinated strategy, you can re-energize yourself and enjoy success.

Julie Morris

Life and Career Coach 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Friday Waypoints

Friday Waypoints – 05/17/19

Mark Neese is back with another Friday Waypoints blog post. On this weeks Friday Waypoints, Mark discusses how drugs cause parents to abandon their children, why the internet is a dangerous place for teens, and he revisits The Parklands of Floyd Forks. Mark discusses his previous visit to The Parklands of Floyd Forks, a hidden gem in Louisville, KY, in his Friday Waypoints on 5/10.

Drugs and Parents that Abandon Their Kids

I’ve been working with families for about 25 years. My early career was working in the rural counties surrounding Louisville. The families that I worked with were struggling with poverty and at times intellectual disabilities. It was challenging and rewarding. Every now and then I run into one of the family members that I worked with and it is very gratifying to see them doing well these many years later.

Today things are different. I have never witnessed an epidemic as I have today: parents abandoning their children because of drugs. This past weekend was Mother’s Day and two of the teens that I work with wanted to call and talk with their mothers but were unable to contact them because they were both AWOL. Both mothers are semi-homeless and have serious drug problems. To compound the problem, one of the teens witnessed his father being taken away in an ambulance because of a suspected overdose, on the very same day. Not such a “Happy Mother’s Day.”

Meditating in The Parklands of Floyds Fork (Reprise)

I was back at the Parklands yesterday to visit the Moss Gibbs Woodland Gardens. It is the gem of the new park system. It’s beautiful, and quiet, and I anticipate spending many of my mornings there. I’m practicing Mindfulness and using guided meditations by Donald Seigel. For those interested in learning more you can visit his website for free meditation downloads: http://www.mindfulness-solution.com.

The meditation that I used yesterday while sitting in the midst of the garden was one that focused on self-compassion. During this meditation you focus on the phrases: “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live at ease,” or “May I be safe, may I be at peace, may I be free from suffering.” You can do this while driving, walking or sitting in a quiet place in your home. The Woodland Garden offers a place to sit quietly and listen to the Towhees, wrens and Cardinals. It offers a place to be part of a forest.

The Internet is a Dangerous Place for Teens

I am working with a Teen that was nearly swallowed up by Internet. Her mother saved her. It started with the website, “Wattpad.” This is a social storytelling platform. It ended with her sending pictures of herself to perfect strangers through a group on Instagram: #ddlg. She was being groomed for something dangerous and evil.

These are adult sites and 13-year olds should not be on them! She had no clue what she was getting into.

Parents, monitor your teenagers on the internet. There are predators that will take advantage of their innocence and take it from them!

Quote I’m Pondering

“Your smile and your laughter lit my whole world.”

Ranata Suzuki

Vaping FAQs

The Next Scourge (a term I never use) of Our Country: Teen Vaping

Leave it to the Tobacco Industry to figure out a way to get more people addicted to nicotine at a time when smoking in this country has been in decline.

Here is their approach: 1) Target teenagers, 2) Make the product very cool (sexy), 3) Make it in as many flavors as possible, and 4) Put nicotine in the product.

The result: Teenagers are increasingly using vape pens (e-cigarettes) and becoming addicted to nicotine and putting themselves at risk of smoking combustible cigarettes.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here are some FAQs (Courtesy of Smoke Free America) about vaping:

Vaping FAQs

What is vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling a vaporized liquid from an electronic device. The vapor commonly contains nicotine, flavoring and other additives. It also can contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes the user feel “high.”

What are the different vape products?

Popular terms for vaping devices include JUULs, e-cigarettes, e-cigs, smokeless cigarettes, vaporizers, vape, vape pens, vapor pens, mods, tanks, cigalikes, e-hookah and hookah pens. These vary widely in size, shape and design. Some look like computer flash drives or highlighters, while others are bulky and box-like.

What is in a vape juice or e-liquid?

Vape juice, e-liquid, JUULpods – these are all names for the liquid that is vaporized into an aerosol cloud. Vape juice most commonly contains three ingredients: propylene glycol and/or glycerin, chemicals for flavoring, and nicotine. 

The pods for JUULs, the brand name of the most popular vaping device among teens, contains nicotine 100 percent of the time. The amount of nicotine in one JUULpod has the same amount of nicotine in an entire pack of cigarettes. Some vape pods can also contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes the user feel “high.” Complicating the issue, vaping doesn’t give off the telltale smell of smoking marijuana or cigarettes.

Is vaping healthier than smoking cigarettes?

Though some may claim vaping is less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, that doesn’t mean that vaping is safe. In other words, “safer” doesn’t mean safe. Studies have shown that the aerosol vapor can contain dangerous toxins, including heavy metals and chemicals known to cause cancer and other diseases. 1

Most vape devices contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Human brain development continues far longer than was previously realized (until age 25), and nicotine use during adolescence and young adulthood has been associated with lasting brain impairments, including effects on working memory and attention. 2

There are also no standard regulations for vape manufacturers. Even with more than 450 different types of vape products, there are no universal standards for product design, ingredients and safety features. 3

More troubling, some vape products are owned by big tobacco companies, which have a history of prioritizing sales over safety.4

Some teens say they just vape flavors, without nicotine or THC. Is that possible?

While some vapes do not contain nicotine or THC, most do. In fact, 100 percent of JUULs – teens’ top choice for vaping devices – contain nicotine. And each JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. Plus, studies have shown that most vaping products labeled “nicotine free” actually contain nicotine.5 For teens who don’t want to become addicted to nicotine, the safest option is not to vape at all. 

Can teens under age 18 legally vape and buy these products?

Vape devices and paraphernalia cannot legally be sold to or used by anyone under the age of 18. 

How can I tell if or what kids are vaping?

That’s part of the problem – it can be very hard to tell if a teen is vaping. Not only do manufacturers make discreet devices that resemble flash drives, highlighters and more, but they also do not have the same strong odor that is often a giveaway for parents and teachers. Vaping is so discreet, in fact, that students have been known to vape during class.

 

Friday Waypoints- 5/10/19

Mindfulness and Teens

I confess. I’m a novice in Mindfulness practices. I’ve practiced a “Zen” lifestyle for many, many years. That has involved a lifestyle that “simply experiences” rather than analyzes events and people in my life. It has involved utilizing my “peripheral vision,” something akin to intuition to navigate the journey that I’m on.

I haven’t been much of a meditator. I do a lot of thinking and ruminating while I hike, and I love that experience, but sitting in a chair and quieting my mind just never took. Through the years, however, Mindfulness has evolved and become so much more than meditation.

More recently, Mindfulness has become a clinical intervention and this past week I was able to introduce two very anxious teens to the practice. They both reported feeling better. I hope to give them skills and tools that help them well into adulthood.

The Parklands of Floyds Fork

I lived in Portland, Oregon many years ago while I attended college and was very impressed with their park system. I left there thinking that I would never experience that same commitment to parks again.

Today, I’m attending the opening of the Woodland Garden in the Broad Run section of the Parklands. I have had some sneak peeks and it is a wonderful place. When each section of the Parklands opened, I said, “This is my favorite section of the park,” until the next section opened. I’m in one of the Parks every week. I hike the trails, walk the Loop Path, and ride my bicycle and find solace there. The Parklands heal my mind and my body.

The Woodland Garden is going to be my new “Mindfulness Place,” for doing Forest Therapy.

Kids Don’t Feel Safe, and It’s Taking Its Toll

Another school shooting happened this week. It barely made the news. Perhaps the media is becoming numbed to these shootings. What a horrible, tragic, and sad event!!

Our children are being killed, and across the country others are being severely traumatized. I was listening to the stories that they were telling about this last shooting in Colorado. A 12-year old picked up a bat in the midst of the shooting and was ready to lead the charge against the shooters. My heart goes out to every child in that school and every 6th grader that feels that they have to defend themselves because the adults somehow failed them. I don’t have any simple answers to prevent future shootings, but I know that these children are being scarred and injured in ways that will change them forever. What will heal them and help them is talking about the trauma in a safe place with a trusted adult who cares for them and has the caring skills to mend their emotional wounds.

Brain Fog & The Body-Mind Connection

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Brain Fog & The Body-Mind Connection

I’m sitting in a Starbucks this morning in Woodland Park, Colorado. There is snow on the ground and I can’t see Pike’s Peak because of the fog. Winter lasts forever here!

I’ve been reading books on Thyroid health because I’ve been experiencing another type of fog: Brain Fog. As it turns out, my thyroid has been under producing Thyroxine and brain fog is associated with Hypothyroidism.

There is a lot of new thinking about hypothyroidism. Anthony William, in his book, “Thyroid Healing,” suggests that an under-functioning thyroid is one of many symptoms caused by the reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). These other symptoms include: problems with sleep, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and brain fog or mental fatigue, just to name a few. William also warns that people can also experience an increase in anxiety and depression as a result of EBV reactivation.

Most of us have the EBV in our bodies, but it remains dormant most if not all of our lives. An environmental stressor can reactivate it. He suggests that something as simple as having an old filling replaced or exposure to mold can bring it out of dormancy.

I don’t bring this up to jump into the debate about hypothyroidism, but rather to reassert my belief that “our bodies and minds are so closely connected that they catch each other’s diseases.”

Seeking Treatment

As a clinician who sees people that are struggling each day with anxiety, depression, mental and physical fatigue, I take it very serious to help them consider that these issues could have a physical basis. I insist that they consult a health professional.

I’ve been experiencing “Brain Fog.” It’s possibly being caused by a virus that was reactivated sometime in the past 6 months. Knowing this means that it’s “not in my head,” or “burnout,” or “something wrong with my thinking, such as sabotaging thoughts,” but rather, it’s a virus or low thyroxine production affecting my body.

This means that I can do something about it. I can help my thyroid heal and combat the EBV. It will always be there but hopefully back into dormancy. “Healing Thyroid” offers several nutritional strategies to accomplish this. And of course, exercise, fresh air and the forests will provide the rest.

I want you to know that all of this is supplementing the care from my doctor. I am taking medication to supplement the loss of Thyroxine, and she is monitoring my blood work closely.

It will be a team effort.