Friday Waypoints- 11/30/18

Lessons from my Clients

Solomon (not his real name) reminded me that my efforts and the efforts of the team of people in his life are not in vain.

Solomon is a 26-year old young man, who watched his mother murdered in front of him when he was around 5 years old. She was beaten to death by a jealous boyfriend. Solomon bounced around in what has been called “foster-care drift” for the rest of his childhood. He was sexually abused by the two grown sons of one foster parent. He didn’t finish High School and spent 4 ½ years in jail and prison until they asked me to work with him a couple of years ago. His Case Manager, Abby, from Centerstone has been in court on every occasion and he’s now off probation. He had no ID and no Birth Certificate in order to get an ID. He was denied disability despite his Intellectual Disability. I could go on and on. I helped him order a Birth Certificate from Illinois and we got his ID. Abby has insured that he had a place to live and food every week and TARC tickets to get around town. Chris, from Centerstone is a Job Coach and has a job lined up for him. Mr. Williams from Goodwill is helping Solomon get his GED. Mr. Williams, noticed that Solomon has missed a couple of classes and called Solomon to make sure he didn’t miss any more.

I’ve seen him grow during these past two years. Really, I’ve seen him grow up.

We’ve become his family. Maybe the parents that he didn’t have. We care about him. I pick him up and we talk. I take him to Sunergos Coffee and get him a “fancy drink.”

It’s one of his favorite places.

Mine too!

Book I’m Reading

I continue to study, “A Guide to the Good Life,” by William Irvine. I decided that this would be my Holiday gift to family and friends.

The second Stoic Technique that Irvine shares is “The Dichotomy of Control.” The essence of this technique involves figuring out how much control you have over people, places, and things and then setting goals in your life that reflect the control that you have over those things. As an example, if you decide to play Tennis, it would be helpful to set goals that do not frustrate you and take away your tranquility. “Playing tennis” is an activity that you have some control, but not complete control (sooner or later you’re going to lose).

Instead of setting the unrealistic “external” goal of winning, Irvine suggests that you set an “internal” goal such as: To improve your tennis skills over the course of the next year. You have some control over that.

I encourage you to join me and study the book and begin practicing the Stoic Techniques that lead to the Good Life! More techniques are coming!!!

 

Photo by emme deme designs

Family Hiking Tips

Why You Should Still Hike in the Fall & Winter

Don’t shy away from hiking with your family during the Fall and Winter months as the positives clearly outweigh the negatives:

  1. NO BUGS!
  2. NO SPIDER WEBS! Those of you that have hiked in the summer months, know the experience of having those yucky spider webs get all over your face…I hate them!!! I’m always glad to let the other hikers hit the trail first and get the spider webs all over their face…but when hiking in the winter, there are no spider webs.
  3. You don’t overheat. A cool morning or afternoon makes hiking in the Fall and Winter more pleasant.
  4. You can see more. The forests change when the leaves fall. I love the view from the ridges of the Jefferson Memorial Forest in the winter.

The Do’s & Don’ts for Family Hiking

Make initial hikes short.  

I recommend 2 miles or less and very little elevation change (see the recommended hike at the end).

Prepare a snack and hot drink.

You want the hike to be fun and rewarding for the kids (and yourself). These can be healthy snacks or not. Chalk it up as a picnic! Plan ahead and purchase a day pack and thermos.

Be positive throughout the hike.

This may be difficult because our children today are very stimulated by electronics. The forest CAN compete but you have to help them shift gears. They will come to love the forest, its sounds, colors, and smells. Help them notice the forest.

Don’t be afraid to be quiet and let the forest teach your children.

Dress Warm.

No one likes to be cold. Pick a sunny Saturday or Sunday with the temperature in the upper 40s or 50s. Any type of sport sneaker will work, and dress with layers so you can shed them if you get warm.

Try This Louisville Hiking Trail First!

The Horine Cemetery Trail, Jefferson Memorial Forest

This is a 2-mile out and back trail, meaning that it is 1 mile out and 1 mile back. There is almost no elevation change, which means a perfect trail for young children.

Directions to the Trailhead Parking lot:

-Take the Gene Snyder Freeway to the New Cut Exit

-Turn Left onto New Cut Road heading toward Fairdale

-Follow New Cut Road for approximately 1.2 miles

-Enter the Roundabout and take the first right onto Mitchell Hill Road

-Follow Mitchell Hill Road for approximately 1 mile

-Turn Left onto Holsclaw Hill Road

-Follow this road up the hill for approximately 1.5 miles

-At the top of the hill take a sharp Right into the Horine Reserve section of the Jefferson Forest

-Follow the road to the parking lot

-Exit your car and walk through the campground gate

-Walk the campground road for approximately .2 miles

You will see the Horine Cemetery sign on the left and a gate just before the porta potty.

This is a beautiful 2-mile hike!

When you get there, let the kids look around while you prepare the snacks and hot chocolate!!

Before going on the hike, you might do a Wikipedia search for the Horine Family and Cemetery. Share the Horine story!

Everything that you see around you once belonged to them.

And now it’s yours.

Family & Life Hacks for the Holidays

The Holidays are coming and most people have a love/hate relationship with them. We love the food, the lights, and the sentimental feelings that come with them, but hate the stress, the drama, and the sentimental feelings that come with them. Whats more, few things can be more painful than celebrating the holidays without a lost loved one or after a tragedy.

I’ve compiled some suggestions for getting through the upcoming Holiday season. As they say in the many treatment groups, “Take what you like and leave the rest.” I hope they can make these next 6-8 weeks more meaningful and restful.

1. Lower your Expectations

Whatever your thinking about HOW the Holidays should unfold, cleanse your mind of those thoughts.

2. Traditions are Evil

There I said it. More families have more fights over TRADITIONS than anything else. Nothing is worth losing your peace and quiet!

3. Get off the Family and Office Gift Exchange

It’s a waste of money. I have sadly listened to many families that waste lots of money buying gifts for extended families members. I have 8 siblings and 50 plus nieces and nephews. We decided 40 years ago to NOT do the exchange. Best family decision we’ve ever made. I have always opted out to the office “white elephant” exchanges. I have never regretted that decision.

4. Decorate your House For You, Not for Anybody Else

Put your tree up when you want it up. Take it down when you want it down. Keeping up with the neighbors is a trap. Don’t do it.

5. Do not “Charge” the Holidays

If you limit your gift buying to cash, you’ll come out the other end much happier.

6. There is No One Reason for The Season

There are “Reasons” for the season. You get to decide. There are religious reasons. There are family reasons. There are cultural, and personal, and altruistic reasons. It can be whatever you want. I find meaning in the New Year’s Day Holiday. It gives me a chance to reflect on the past year and dream about the new.

7. Make Amends

Do not let another Holiday Season pass, being at odds with a family member or friends. Those hurting relationships will rob you of your joy during this season.

Slow down. Take a Deep Breath. Relax. Do Nothing. Forget the concerts. Forget the scenic drives. Forget the Holiday Party. Forget the Mall. Forget the congested traffic. Forget the holiday movies. Try to do as little as possible this Holiday season. Stay at home and simply enjoy the quiet evenings with your family and loved ones.

Don’t be afraid if you and your kids get a little bored. Boredom can be a motivating force for creativity. Do not feel pressure to entertain your kids every second during the Holiday-School break. Worse-case scenario: They’ll look forward to getting back to school.

Get Outside. Walk, hike, stroll, sit on a park bench, lay under the stars, visit the many parks in Louisville, have a winter picnic. Seriously, get off your butt this Holiday Season! You’re most likely going to eat more. That’s okay! Enjoy the food. Enjoy the Thanksgiving and Holiday meals.

Then get out and walk. Go into the forests. Do a special walk on Thanksgiving morning or New Year’s Day.

Friday Waypoints- 11/16/18

Meaningful Moment:

Watching the Sun set on the second night of backpacking in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. I had hiked into the Chessler Park area of the Needles District with 60+ lbs. on my back, through some beautiful and rugged terrain. Except for a few jet streams, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was facing a desert meadow with rock formations in every direction. I wondered how many people had been able to witness such a beautiful sunset, in such a beautiful place. It was a spiritual experience. It was an experience that had gotten me outside of myself and had made me feel that I was a part of something bigger, older, and a part of something that had been there for millions of years and likely will be there for millions more. I felt connected and at peace.

Book I’m Reading:

“A Guide to the Good Life” by William B. Irvine. This book was recommended by Tim Ferriss on his podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show.” I was completely taken in by this book. Irvine re-introduces us to the idea of having a “Philosophy of Life.” He begins by asking, “What do you want out of your life.” If you don’t know, you may be at risk of mis-living. This book is about Stoicism and Stoic techniques that help us find the good life. I’ll be reviewing this book and discussing some of the Stoic Techniques in upcoming blogs.

Podcast I Recommend:

Daily Meditation Podcast, by Mary Meckley. I like this podcast. First, it’s free. Second, It’s a guided meditation. You simply get into a meditation mode and listen to the podcast. Third, these are short, around 10 minutes. Give it a try!

True North Counseling Constellation Blog

Saturn

Saturn

 

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

-Walt Whitman

 

I remember the time and place when I first saw Saturn. It was this past summer in Woodland Park, Colorado. My granddaughter was standing next to me. That’s what seeing a planet does to you. That’s what it does to them. She will never forget it, standing there, waiting her turn at the telescope, standing next to her grandpa.

We wandered into the dry-air night and looked up in perfect silence, at the stars and planets.

Kids need to know their neighborhood: their street, their city and state, their country and planet, and then farther. They need to reach out to the planets and stars.

We are made of the same material as stars. They are us.

Introduce your children to the sky and they will never forget it and they will never forget the person standing there next to them as they tippy-toe and gaze into space.

I offer two books to help you and your kids get to know their extended neighborhood:

Zoo In The Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations

by Jacqueline Mitton, Christina Balit (Illustrator)

This is for younger children. You will enjoy having them sit on you lap and introduce them to the constellations. And then go outside and look for them on a clear night. So much fun. They will never forget.

Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations–and How You Can Find Them in the Sky (Child’s Introduction Series)

By Michael Driscoll

This is for older children and has so much information about the planets and stars. Study this book with them. Become astronomers together. Buy a telescope and fall in love with the night sky…together!! Your children will talk about the experience with their children and grandchildren. You will reap what you sew!

True North Counseling Rememberance Blog

Who Changed Your Life?

Who Changed Your Life? George Flores Changed Mine.

My list is large. Of course, my parents and family are on my list. As a child, my bronchial tubes were closing and my sister, Shirley, put me under a homemade-steam tent. I was able to breathe. I was 8 years old.

Many of you who know me, know that I love hiking and backpacking. I love the Grand Canyon.

The person that introduced me to the Canyon was George Flores. He changed my life.

It was February of 2002. I remember it vividly. All of our equipment was rented from the General Store on the rim of the Canyon. We arrived at our first campsite and realized that we had left one of our tents in the store. There were four of us: two women and a child, and George and me. And now just one tent. We looked at each other and smiled. George and I spent the next 4 nights sleeping under the stars in the Grand Canyon. I’ll never forget it.

George passed away last year and we released his ashes into the Canyon. In between the time that he introduced me to the Canyon and the trip that laid him to rest in there, George helped me develop a hunger for the outdoors, and really, for life.

We fished for trout in the Sierra’s, cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge, backpacked in Yosemite, through the Tetons, up to Thousand Island Lake, and to countless places in California. We photographed at Big Sur, Monterrey, Death Valley and the Canyon. I am a photographer, cyclist, and backpacker in large part because of George.

We had a Victory-Beer outside the Giant’s baseball stadium the year they won the World Series.

All of it changed my life. He was my brother-in-law and a friend.

Was it the Canyon and those road trips, listening to the Eagles? Was it George? He was a teacher and he taught me many things. And I suspect that George learned a little from his friend and brother-in-law, Mark Neese.

Standing at Plateau Point and watching George’s ashes blowing in the Arizona wind, I thought of this beautiful poem:

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep

I am a thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glint on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain

I am the gentle, gentle autumn rain

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep

When you awake in the morning hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight

I am the soft, soft starlight, starlight at night

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep

 

I will never be able to look into the Canyon without thinking about George. And for that I am thankful.

Friday Waypoints- 11/2/18

Meaningful Moment- Switchbacks

I took three adolescent boys into the woods to train with backpacks this past weekend. It was therapeutic!!! We stopped on the trail in the Jefferson Memorial Forest and walked through a stream bed. We looked for geodes. It was three young teenagers in the woods, looking for geodes.

I saw the burdens that they were each carrying lifted from their shoulders during that hike. They each carried 20 pounds in their packs; training for the overnight trip in a few weeks.

Somehow the forest, a heavy pack, and camaraderie can take away some of the junk that you carry around each week. I really believe that!!!

Lessons from My Clients- I unplugged

Thank you A.H., a teenager that I’m working with. Really, ‘thank you’ to his mom. Part of our encounter this week included a discussion about electronics and his iPhone. He informed me that Sunday is “electronics free” day. I asked him what he thought about it and he said he loved it!

I have been feeling edgy over the past couple of weeks. It’s election time and there has been a lot of news coverage. I seem to be on my phone browsing during all of my free time (Twitter, Facebook, and other news apps).

I think that sometimes we need to unplug from it all! I deleted those apps from my phone for the month of November. I feel better already!!!!

Book I’m Reading

I’m reading “The Hurried Child,” by David Elkind this week. I read it 25 years ago and he has since updated it. It impacted my life when my sons were in elementary and middle school. “Children need time to grow,” Elkin writes, “to learn, and to develop. To treat them differently from adults is not to discriminate against them but rather to recognize their special estate.” Slow down. I’m writing a review soon.

True North Health

The Therapy of Hope

Throughout our history, humans have gone through many times of despair. Families have lost hope. At times, people have felt and feel hopeless. I don’t want to sound like a downer, but all of us, at times, have wondered if it’s worth it. We have contemplated giving up on a relationship, a teenage son or daughter, a job, and yes, ourselves.

I have taken many courses throughout my life, and I’ve read many books, but none affected me as much as “A Theology of Hope,” by J. Moltmann. In it he writes,

Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: “Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.”

People come to therapy because they have feelings of hopelessness. As a young therapist, I was inspired by Moltmann’s declaration, to be an instrument of hope. At the very heart of therapy is the goal of helping people find hope, because without it they cannot live.

I believe that hopeful people inspire hopefulness in others. A hopeful therapist has many tools and strategies for helping people, but most important they inspire hopefulness. I believe they infect people with their hopefulness. They engage in a Therapy of Hope.

I have often advised that, when people leave their therapy sessions with a therapist, and they do not feel more hopeful, that they should seek out another therapist. It doesn’t matter how many letters they have after their names or books on their shelves, what you need is more hope. Thankfully, there are many, many clinicians that are able to give you this most basic gift.

Switchbacks: A Therapeutic Backpacking Program

True North Counseling Launches a New Program for Teens

I was introduced to Willard Gray when I was 14 years old. He was the 4-H Extension agent in Warrick County, Indiana. Willard introduce 3 other boys and me to the woods of Southern Indiana and Kentucky. He was a wonderful man. We spent time hiking ad camping in the Land Between the Lakes, Mammoth Cave, and in many, many state parks and forests. We were birders and foresters. I remember riding to Illinois early one morning to watch the Greater Prairie Chickens in the driving snow. He gave me memories that I will never forget.

True North Counseling believes that introducing young people to nature will change their lives.

We are launching a new program called “Switchbacks.” We will invite teenage boys and girls from the inner city and kids of color to hike and backpack into the woods of Jefferson Memorial Forests, as well as the forests of Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and parks throughout the country. This therapeutic backpacking will teach them about birds and trees and help them disconnect with the internet and connect with nature.

True North will recruit men and women who want to invest in the lives of young people. These men and women will share their love of the forests and woods.

True North will provide backpacking gear and a vision for these young people. Trips will include campfires and inspirational stories. The program will include cohorts of 6 teens that last 6 months. All alumni from the program can continue to participate with new cohorts. They can share their visions with new participants.

If you want to sponsor one of these young people or be an adult mentor, contact True North at 502-777-7525.

True North Health and Fitness Blog

The One Reason You’re Failing

People begin and end fitness and nutrition plans all the time. They begin with high hopes and end a few months later a little discouraged. What went wrong? Why did they fail?

I’m convinced that there are many diets that are healthy and can help you lose weight. I’m convinced that most exercise programs will help you get in better shape. Additionally, I’m convinced that it isn’t the diet or exercise program that matters, it’s the strategy or modality that you use to follow the program.

We fail at our fitness and exercise programs because we are utilizing strategies that are not a good fit with our personality.

So what is your personality type? If you don’t know, I recommend visiting https://www.keirsey.com. You can take the personality inventory for free, or pay and get a comprehensive description of your type (there are 16 different types). If you are a J (Judging) vs. P (Perceiving), then you prefer more structure and more routine.

I am an INFP. The P means perceiving and indicates that I prefer less structure in my life. Here is what the experts say about me:

  • A live-and-let-live attitude comes naturally to INFPs, and they dislike being constrained by rules.
  • They are spontaneous and often juggle several projects at once. They enjoy starting a task better than finishing it.
  • Because of the preference for perceiving over judging, people with INFP have both the positive characteristics of the perceiving type (flexibility, adaptability, openness, etc.) as well as the negative (disorganization, messiness, indecisiveness, etc.).

This means that I don’t do well with structured programs. I don’t do well with programs that require week-after-week of adherence; to programs that require me to monitor and use some level of self-control over a lifetime. I know myself and I know that this strategy does not work. I need dieting and fitness breaks. If my workouts are more intuitive and not so regimented, I’ll do better.

Get to know yourself through this assessment and then adjust your dieting strategy to better suit your personality. You’ll enjoy it more and you’ll be more likely to maintain it over a lifetime.