Monday, November 23, 2015


The holidays are once again fast approaching and maybe this will be the year that we do things differently. So many of my patients and friends confide in me that they really do not enjoy the holidays. They rush through Thanksgiving and dive head first into shopping for gifts, sending out cards, going to parties and giving parties, and find themselves feeling flat and tired. Let yourself enjoy each holiday in its own right.  
Halloween is a lot of fun, especially when you have children who are excited about their costumes and all the candy they will receive. Thanksgiving truly is a day to give thanks for what we have, family, friends, a safe place to live, and food to eat. 

Try and really look at the difference between wants and needs. If all your needs are met and you are able to have some of your wants, than you are much better off than many people around the world. As for the post‐Thanksgiving holidays, make your budget, your list, and methodically make your way through and really enjoy the processing of selecting gifts and wrapping them and anticipating the pleasure of the person you are giving the gift to. If you have to spend time with family members that you really do not enjoy, try and look at what you do like about that person and remember that every person has a story and you may not know their entire story. Wish them well in your thoughts and maybe you will even see them smile. If you are missing people that have passed away or are not able to be with you this year, focus on the positive memories. For those people that cannot be with you this year, call them. Maybe even arrange a group call on skype or face time. Share memories and remember what you are thankful for. Even if your life is not where you want it to be, there is always something to be thankful for and something to share. HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Everybody has an opinion about social media.  Some people do not see or understand the attraction to social media and other people cannot understand why more people are not more involved.  Like anything else in life, we all don’t like the same things.  For those of us who do like social media, some are involved on a very minimal level and others are involved throughout their day.  The question is; when is it too much?  When social media is used as an escape it is too much. 
If someone turns down a social invitation or time with family because they want to update Facebook or follow someone on Twitter, it is too much.  Social media should add to the quality of our lives, not become the focus of our lives.   There is nothing wrong with enjoying pictures on Instagram or Facebook, or following someone on Twitter.  However, to put anything meaningful on these sites, you have to go out and live life.  If your children seem overly consumed, maybe limit them to an hour a day.  And while you are at it, limit yourself to an hour a day.  I have met people who proudly tell me that they spend up to five hours a day updating all their social media.  What else could have been accomplished in that five hours?  Maybe spending time with family or friends, working out and exercising, learning a new hobby or skill, reading a book.  Social media is an adjunct to life, not the center of life.  
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Thursday, August 27, 2015


I wish there was one easy answer to this issue.  Unfortunately, the answer depends on so many different variables such as duration of the relationship, intensity of the relationship, age at time of breakup, and reason for the breakup.  Breakups are stressful and painful no matter how they happen, even for the person doing the breaking up.  The loss of a relationship is a form of grieving, just like when we experience a death.  We grieve many types of losses, not just by death or loss of relationship.  We may grieve the loss of a job, moving away and losing our home and community, loss of a friend, even loss of physical integrity.  When dealing with the loss of a relationship, as painful as it is, we have to remind ourselves that the pain is temporary.  We have to also remind ourselves that were the relationship strong and balanced, it would not have ended.  Therefore, I like to describe it as a dress rehearsal for the real relationship.  It was a time to learn about relationships and what you like and what you don’t like.  Many people express a fear that they will end up alone.  Better to be happy alone than miserable in a relationship that just does not work or even worse, may be abusive.  So how to go forward?  
The most important requirement to coping with a breakup is to get out from under the covers, take a shower, look great, and go out with your friends and/or family.  Stay active and involved.  If you were never that involved or active, now is a good time to start.  You can hurt and be miserable or you can hurt and be active and distracted.  That latter is better as it allows you to see that life can go on in a positive way.  Who knows, maybe when doing something you love, you might meet someone wonderful who really gets you and wants to be with you forever.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015


 There are many of us who are quite happy to give help and enjoy the role of caretaker.  It makes us feel good to help someone else.  However, there is a subset of us who are not comfortable accepting help from others.  We are concerned that we are a burden, we feel guilty that someone may have spent money on us or gone out of their way to do us a favor.  The bottom line, however, is that a balanced relationship allows us to be on both sides of help and sometimes we just need to be gracious and say “Thank you”.  This means not constantly or frequently telling the other person how sorry you are for inconveniencing them and accepting their help at face value.  Helping you allows the other person to also experience the joy of helping and actually creates a better balance in the relationship if you have been able to help them in the past.  All this being said, even when offering or accepting help, we need to have healthy boundaries.  Don’t accept help that you know will absolutely hurt the other person and don’t offer help that you know you either can not afford to offer or will hurt you and your family in some way.  There are times we want to help, but what we can offer may not be realistic for our current life situation. 

However, the strength of emotional support can never be underestimated.  Even small measures of help can have a tremendous impact on the other person.  For example, a phone call or visit, sending over dinner or inviting someone over for dinner.  This allows the other person to know you care.  If you are on the receiving end of this type of help, understand the other person is giving what they can based on where their life is and know they are thinking about you and you are not alone.  Remember, when someone wants to help you, they care.  Let them care.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015


A staff member recently gave me a list of 15 questions regarding toxic people and I decided the best way to go about this was to just directly answer each question.
  1.      What are the signs someone is toxic?  The signs typically involve a pattern of behavior although this is not always the case.  The pattern I am referring to is when a person repeatedly engages in a behavior designed to take advantage of you, make you feel badly about yourself, make you feel guilty, and make you feel the life is being sucked out of you.
  2.      What does it mean to be toxic?  It means the person has been seriously damaged at some point in their life and maybe at several points in their life.  Rather than dealing with their emotional pain internally, this person deals with their pain externally.  In other words, they are spreading the pain and becoming an emotional cancer that will emotionally devour you and even possibly destroy your life.
  3.      What do toxic people do to our lives?  They can, if allowed, actually take over your life.  You may find that everything in your life revolves around their dramas and crises.  A sense of entitlement may develop and may develop quickly, such that you may be punished if you do not rescue them or listen to them when it is demanded of you.  Toxic people are typically master manipulators and use guilt as part of their control.

  4.      How does removing them from our lives help?  Removing toxic people from our lives helps us have more stability in our lives, allows us to develop healthy boundaries with people, and takes the contrived drama out of our lives.  It allows us to breathe emotionally.
  5.      Who deserves another chance?  If someone harms you with the intent to harm you, think long and hard about keeping them in your life.  If you keep them in your life and they intentionally harm you again, consider them malignant and cut them out of your life.  Remember, toxic people engage in a pattern of abusive behavior.  Anyone can have an occasional slip.  The non-toxic person, however, will readily apologize and not blame you for their behavior.
  6.      What is the difference between a person making a mistake or using poor judgement vs. a person who is toxic?  The toxic person engages in patterns of dysfunctional, harmful, malignant behavior with an intent to hurt you while someone just making a mistake or using poor judgement will take full responsibility and learn from their mistakes and feel genuine remorse for hurting you. 
  7.     When do you put someone out of your life? As soon as you realize they are toxic and have overtaken your life.
  8.      What does it mean to cut out toxic people and what does that look like in how we handle ourselves with or around them?  Cutting out toxic people is like cutting out emotional cancer.   As with any cancer, we cut it out and never take it back into our lives.  If you run into them, you can be socially polite, but do not give them any information about yourself they can use as ammunition to hurt you.
  9.      Why do people choose to keep people in their lives who they know are toxic and what does that say about us?  It means they may have been trained by a toxic parent to tolerate toxicity in their lives and it is expected.  People may not know what it is like to have non-toxic relationships.  How calm and beautiful it can be.  They may think toxic relationships are normal.  Many people say that someone is their friend and it is really only a relationship based on history versus a true friendship.  In a true friendship, the friend does not abuse you, use you or manipulate you into feeling guilty and doing whatever they want no matter what the cost to you.
  10. What if you’re unsure a person is toxic?  If it is a pattern of bad behavior with the same tired excuses that tend to blame everyone but that person, the person is toxic.
  11.  What if you don’t want to let go even if you know you should?  When we care about someone we don’t want to let go.  However, when we make a decision that is healthy for us it tends to be healthy for the people around us.  In the long run, your toxic person has to learn that they are the common denominator and they are the one that needs help.
  12. What if you want to let go but are afraid of backlash or just don’t know how?  There is really only backlash if the other is in a power position over you.  If this is a work relationship, document, keep your paper trail, and maybe even look for a position in another company. If the relationship is with a neighbor, just keep your distance.  However, if the relationship involves family or friends, you really need to consider cutting that person out of your life.  In these more intimate relationships, it is not so much backlash as it is punishing and guilt inducing, which really is more about their toxic agenda than it is about you.
 13.  What if you have to be around the toxic person, such as at work, in the family, at church, or a neighbor?  At work, see if you can transfer to another department or look for another job, in your family keep an emotional distance and don’t get involved in their drama, and with church and neighbors, be superficially pleasant and nothing else.  If you can’t get away from the toxic person, don’t engage these people or give them false hope for your involvement in their drama.  They will eventually look for someone else to rescue them.

  14.  Is it even possible for a person to start out benign but become toxic later in life?  
    Absolutely, but not the most typical.  Usually this type of dysfunction starts in childhood due to either or both an unsafe physical environment and an unsafe emotional environment.  Toxic people typically present as charming and wonderful when we first meet them.  If they are really good, they will draw us in slowly so we are sucked in to their drama before we even realize what is happening.
  15.  Can good people be toxic?  No.  Toxic people appear to be good on the surface to suck you in.  They do nice things for you and then when they ask you for something, they remind you what they have done for you.  Whatever they do for you will have strings attached.  Even if they apologize, they find a way to make you feel guilty and wrong.  If their bad behavior does not seem intentional but happens frequently, it is a pattern and a pattern of bad behavior is toxic. 
When someone in your life has a pattern of using you, making you feel guilty, disregarding your needs, or making you feel like you are being sucked dry, they are toxic and you are their prey.  If you do not want to be someone’s prey, don’t let them be your predator.    

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015


For many of us, this will mean taking care of elderly parents or possibly an elderly spouse.  This is a painful, exhausting, frustrating, incredible, amazing journey.  Whoever you are taking care of, for whatever reason, the experience will be what you make it to be.  However, there are some guidelines that will make the experience richer.  Let’s assume this is a person you love and want to take care of.   Remember that this is a very scary time for them.  They are losing their independence and for many people that translates into losing their pride.  Whether you are taking care of someone in a facility or at home, try to help your loved one keep as much pride as possible. Some people would be more comfortable being showered by a staff member than a family member.  Other people feel the opposite.  Regardless, try and do the fun things with your elder and allow staff to do some of the more difficult health care activities.   Help them do as much as they are capable of doing.  If they are able to walk, let them and help them walk.  If they are not able to walk but like to be taken places in a wheelchair then try and make that happen.  If they enjoy eating out, take them out. Even if they do not remember what you just did, as long as they enjoy the activity, then provide the activity.  When they can no longer go out, bring the take out to them.  Rent a movie for them to enjoy, especially an older one that they might already remember.  This makes it easier for them to follow and enjoy.  Ask them to tell you all their stories and record the stories or write them.  Many rich family history is lost when an elder dies.   They will usually enjoy having an audience for their stories and even though you may have heard some of the stories, this time you will be more aware that you may not hear it again and you will find yourself wanting to ask more questions. 
Go through old picture albums together, also a great way to travel back through memory lane, hear more stories, and allow your elder to enjoy some memories with you.   One of the most difficult transitions for the caretaker is to transition from the role of adult child or spouse to the role of decision-maker.  Sometimes, in your new rule, you will have to make a decision that goes against what your elder initially wanted.  If you are used to being in the role of child, it is very difficult to not “obey” your parent even when it is not in their best interests.  Remember all the things your elder has already lost:  friends, family members (maybe even a child or a spouse), job, home, pets, physical integrity such as loss of mobility, and cognitive integrity such as memory loss.  One of the most difficult aspects of aging are all the losses.  The last thing most people want to be at the end of their life is a burden.  Don’t make the caretaking a burden or it will come across that way to everyone.  There is joy still to be experienced.  Don’t forget to get help and take some time for yourself or you will burn out.  Make new stories in your life that you can share with your elder, it will make them feels more a part of your life and you will have a very interested audience.  When your elder dies, you want to remember more joy than sadness, and you are the one that can make that happen. 

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Manners And Social Etiquette

I was recently asked by a co-worker to write about manners and the lost art of social skills as a follow-up to our blog on “The Lost Art of the Thank You Note”.  Social etiquette is referred to as social skills in psychology.  Why is this training so important? Social skills are not just important as a courtesy to others, but can help or hinder us in our personal and professional relationships.  Many young children seemed to have not been taught basic skills such as saying Thank You, Excuse Me, Please, etc.  In addition to verbal niceties, eye contact is one of the most valuable social skills we can teach our children.  When we interact and communicate with others, if the other person is not looking at us, we may not feel like that person is really listening to us.  We will also miss non-verbal cues without eye-contact.  Other aspects of social skills include sharing, offering food and drink, being kind, and making people feel welcome. 
My mother used to call this being a good hostess and making other people feel comfortable, not just in your home but where ever you are and whatever you are doing.  Do not cut in line, do not make fun of people, do not imitate people, and do not try to embarrass people.  It may only be a matter of time before you are on the receiving end of that behavior and it does not feel good.  In essence, teach your children to not be bullies.  Some people seem quick to take offense and rather than escalate the situation, help your children learn how to de-escalate and calm down the other person.  For example, rather than yelling and cursing, use a calm and soothing voice, maintain eye contact, and focus on problem solving.  If the person helping you in a store seems grumpy and angry and rude, smile at them and thank them sincerely for their help.  You may be surprised at how the other person will often mellow and smile back.  In fact, smiling at people is a wonderful and underrated social skill.  It is difficult to have a negative response to someone with a genuine smile on their face.  Don’t talk about people behind their back when you are frustrated or angry with them.  Whether at work or in your social circle, it is rude, often spiteful, and may bounce back at you in a negative way.  At work, if your co-worker hears what you said, you may not be able to re-establish a good relationship with them as the trust will be lost.  This is especially true in a social relationship or friendship.  Do not say anything about another person that you cannot say to them directly.  By the way, direct communication is much better for problem solving anyway.  Filter your ideas, actions and verbalization through thoughts and acts of loving kindness and the rest will come naturally.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Parenting Your High School Graduate/18 Year Old Adult

     Congratulations to you and your child graduating from High School.  After 13 years of hard work, your child has begun the true transition into adulthood.  So now what?  Some of you will have children go away to college, some will still live at home and go to a local college or vocational school, and some will enter the work force.  Your sons will receive a draft card in the mail and your daughters will insist that you can’t tell them how to dress.  How can you make this transition in a healthy way that allows your relationship with your children continue to grow and not deteriorate into frustration and resentment on both sides?
  The answer can be found in your communication.  Think of your 18 year old as a brand new adult, like a newly hired employee.  They still need some guidance and mentoring.  However, this has to be done in a way that is mutually respectful.  The best place to begin is with your expectations and this will depend on the history of you and your child.  Let’s assume you have had a relatively good relationship and you generally trust your child.  List out all your expectations of your child and have them list out their expectations of what is going to change in their life in terms of new responsibilities and privileges.  If your child is going away to college, work out a budget with them and be available to them when they have questions about how to deal with problems that arise.  Help them develop a budget as many children have never done this before.  Reinforce the rule of never drinking and driving or being a passenger with someone who is drinking. Talk about roommate etiquette.  Discuss how often you expect to communicate and/or if possible, how often you expect them to come home.  Please do not pick a major for your child.  That has to be their choice, good or bad.  You don’t want them to resent you later in life because they never got to explore a desired career path.  You don’t have to understand their interests, you have to support their choices.
     Things will probably be trickier if your new adult child lives at home. You will see things you may not want to see and will worry more because of it.  Again, sit down with your child and discuss your expectations and your child’s expectations.  For example, discuss curfews and how you will negotiate them.  Possibly your child will not really have a curfew, but you will want to know where they are and when they will be home.  Explain to them that this is a courtesy as you live together. Each of you need to know when to expect the other family member to be home.  If your child is working you need to discuss what expenses they take over and what you will still pay for.  If they don’t take care of their room, show them what you would like to see them do and also let them know that there will be times when you ask for their help as a family member and not a child.  Your job is to guide them and mentor them, not control them.  Allow them to make mistakes while still under the safety of your protection (within legal limits of course).  Communication and mutual respect will help your child navigate and grow into an independent adult more smoothly than rules and demands and punishments.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Coping With Boundary Pushers

As many of you know, boundaries is one of my favorite words.  There are two types of boundaries that we need to develop and they must be in sync with each other for us to be truly empowered. Internal boundaries consist of our self-talk.  If we do not give ourselves permission to say no to someone even when it is not only not in our best interest to say yes, but also harmful, than we are not protecting and valuing ourselves.  We can say no to something and still be a very good person.  Just because we can do something does not mean we should.  Shouldn’t we help people and be willing to do so?  Absolutely!  That being said, however, we also need to put ourselves in the equation.  We can work as hard as the person we are trying to help, but not harder. When we work harder, we are enabling the other person. If a friend or family member is in crisis, be there for them.  If they are in the hospital, visit them.  If they want you to do errands for them because they are busy, and you are also busy, it is perfectly ok to say no.  If they want you to pick up a prescription or some groceries for them and they do not pay you back or get annoyed with you when you ask for the money or can’t help them, then they are entitled and you are not taking care of yourself.  

 When you find yourself feeling guilty when you tell someone no, did the other person make you feel guilty or did you make yourself feel guilty?  If the other person made statements to induce guilt, that is manipulation and the agenda behind the manipulation is not in your best interest.  If you made yourself feel guilty, you need to learn to challenge the concept that you are not allowed to say no or take care of yourself.  What about the external boundaries I mentioned earlier?  The external boundaries will stem from the internal boundaries.  If you do not give yourself permission to set a boundary, you won’t.  If you give yourself permission to set boundaries, you are more likely to say no.  When your internal boundaries are becoming healthier, it sometimes takes longer for the external boundaries to follow.  Most of us do not like to disappoint others or feel that someone we care about thinks negatively about us.  That is when we have to remember that people’s reactions are about themselves and not us.  Our reaction is about us.  We cannot control what another person thinks or feels.  We can only control what we think and feel.  With healthy and strong internal and external boundaries, we usually feel much better about ourselves and our confidence and self-esteem grows and grows, making us less susceptible to manipulation and guilt, which, of course, reinforces the good boundaries.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

When Someone You Love is Diagnosed With Cancer

    Even today, with so many successful treatments, cancer is still a very scary word.  Most of us, when we hear cancer, we automatically think about nasty treatment that makes people feel sick, and then we think about death.  There are so many different types of cancers and treatments that we just can’t make assumptions.  Prognosis depends on the location of the cancer, what stage it is in, how quickly it was caught, whether or not it has spread and where it may have spread, and what treatments are available.  I think one of the most important factors is the attitude and mind set of the person with the diagnosis.  Over the years of working with people diagnosed with cancer, I have met people that were told their cancer was terminal and I have met people that were expected to survive and did not.  What is the psychological difference and why does it even matter?  The mind and the body have what is called a symbiotic relationship.  This means that the mind and the body are interdependent upon each other for survival and what affects one will affect the other.  We can never underestimate the power of the mind.  The person with the diagnosis is going to be scared and overwhelmed and confused.  They need to be in survival mode and focus on getting better.  How can you help them?  Be there for them and ask them what they want or need.  If they are the type of person that will not ask, then think of ways to make their lives less stressful.

Go to appointments with them, include them in social invitations, take them out to lunch or bring them lunch (finding out what they can eat of course).  Help them with research, take notes for them at the Dr. appointments, take them to chemo and wait with them, remind them how much they are loved.  When they are tired, give them positive feedback about how hard they are working to get better and how proud you are of them. Let them rest when they are tired and respect that they may need alone time because visiting or talking is too much of an effort.  Bring them pictures, videos, sayings that give hope and can make them laugh.  Visual imagery is so powerful and if they do not know what this is or how to do this, help them find a therapist that works with patients coping with cancer.   I have had patients imagine that they have dragons in their body burning the cancer cells, or armies going into combat and the cancer cells are the enemy.  One patient even visualized tiny angels in her body fighting the cancer cells.  The patient fighting cancer also needs someone to talk to that they don’t feel they have to protect and therefore censor what they say.  That is another reason to suggest they see a professional.  It is their safe place to talk, express fears, cry, get angry, and get strong.  If they ever express any hopelessness, remind them that the mind can do amazing things and they can be the one that is in the percent that beats the odds.

Overall, just love them and be responsive to their changing needs.  As you are doing all this, don’t forget to take care of yourself.  You are also scared and hurting and you need balance in your life.  You may find you feel guilty that you are healthy and not fighting cancer.   Remind yourself that guilt is misplaced in this situation and you also need to laugh and play and normalize your life as much as possible.  Don’t forget to reach out to the people you are close to in your life to talk about how you are feelings.  If you are really struggling and afraid of losing someone you love, you may also benefit from talking with a psychologist who can help you with coping skills and listen without judgment or needing to be protected.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Living With A Mentally Ill Spouse

There are so many types of mental illness and so many levels of impairment within each mental illness, we would need a blog to address each specific illness and how that illness affects the spouse.  Therefore, this blog will be very general.  Maybe you married your spouse knowing they were mentally ill or maybe you found out later in the marriage or maybe the mental illness did not evolve until after you were married.  Regardless of the path you are walking with your spouse, your marriage has some extra stresses placed on it, for both of you and any children you may have.  The first step in living with mental illness is to have a working knowledge of the illness so you can both be good consumers and learn how to best manage the manifestation of your illness.  You need to read about the diagnosis, and from credible sources, not just off the internet.  Both of you need to work with a psychiatrist and psychologist (or therapist) to understand the illness and develop a system that minimizes and maximizes control over the illness.  For example, you and your spouse could benefit from learning the warning signs that a break through episode is about to occur.  If your partner has bipolar disorder, for example, and you want to try and avoid hospitalization if at all possible, write out a list together of all the warning signs/symptoms that would alert you that a medication change may be needed.

Be supportive of your spouse, they did not ask for the illness.  Support may come in the form of empathy, but also comes in the form of being involved in treatment and preventative actions.  You need to learn as much about the disease as your spouse, you need to know who is treating your spouse and also be comfortable talking to them about what you see, and you need to work closely with your spouse not only to try and avert episodes, but also the best way to minimize spousal and family distress and hurt during an episode or hospitalization.  Most importantly, treat your spouse with respect.  Just because they have a mental illness does not mean they are not smart and aware.  When at all possible, have your spouse involved in treatment decision making and pre-plan in case they have an episode that does not allow them to participate in the moment.   There are many communities that offer support groups to both the individual and the spouse and these are always worth checking out.  Be honest with your children at a level they can understand.  Being honest with children is so much better than your child filling in the gaps with their imagination.  To the youngest of children you may want to call the mental illness a boo-boo in the brain that sometimes makes that parent feel or act a certain way, but the parent always loves the child (children).  To an older child, explain that the parent has a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes them feel or act a certain way, and again, the child is still loved and wanted.  When your child is approaching becoming a young adult, share the diagnosis and the family history so that your child is aware of their genetic background and can be informed for themselves and their future family.  Remember, there is always help out there, you have to reach out for it and accept it.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

I have been asked by many parents of teenagers if it is alright for their child to read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, and currently if it is all right for them to see the movie.  NO.  The book is about a young, naive, recently graduated college student with insecurity and abandonment issues.  She meets a slightly older, insecure man with even stronger abandonment issues who has learned to compensate by being beyond successful in business and becoming a billionaire.  The man is also into bondage.  Boy meets girl and they try not to fall in love as they are very different and the girl does not like to be controlled, punished, and given pain as part of their sexual experience and he feels that while he can give her some of what she wants sexually, his needs must be met.  As the story unfolds over the trilogy, there are very explicit descriptions of their sexual behavior and the basis of their relationship appears to be sexual.  He dominates and she tries to break free.  He loosens up some and they get married and live in a mansion and have a couple of children.  They engage in a sexual life style that is outside the norm for most people.  This is just not the book to introduce love and sexuality to teens, both boys and girls.  If you allow your high school student, who is probably already confused and conflicted about sexuality to read this book, you are providing a very slanted view. There is a part of the book where the girl, Anna, thinks about liking her partner’s control and protectiveness, as long as she can handle it.  Again, this does not reflect a healthy, mature relationship.  As for the movie, it is rated R, so it is not as sexually explicit as the books, but it also does not leave anything to the imagination and the dynamics in the movie are the same as in the book.  I would not introduce a young teen to this movie.  However, a young adult over the age of 17 has probably already formulated some idea of their sexuality based on their exposure to the media and their own initial exploration.  If your older teen does read the books or see the movie, it might be helpful for them if you have a conversation about the story and why it is not healthy and only represents a very small part of the population.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Lost Art of The Thank You Note

Most people are back to their normal routines following the holidays and New Year’s.  The gifts have been given and received, but have the Thank You notes been written?  When I was a child, Thank You notes had to be written within a few days of receiving a gift.  According to my mother, if someone cared enough about you to take their time and spend their hard earned money to select and purchase a gift for you, you had a responsibility to thank them.  She felt this was especially important when you received a gift in the mail because how would that person even know you had received the gift.  Today, it appears that many people do not write Thank You notes which I think deprives the gift giver of some special attention for caring about you on your special day or holiday. Furthermore, today there are so many ways to thank someone.  If you do not want to write out a Thank You note the old fashioned way and send it by “snail mail”, a Thank You e-mail or even a Thank You phone text still acknowledges the other person.  Most of us like to receive some form of recognition for our efforts.  We recently sent a wedding gift through a store wedding registry as we were unable to attend the wedding.  To date, several months later, we still have not received a Thank You note and we do not know if they received the gift we purchased or if they received it in one piece?  It would have really been nice to get a brief note.  Over the holidays, I was also amazed at how many people were sent gifts that were never acknowledged.  I was discussing this with some friends and it was interesting to hear some of their opinions.  One friend shared that if she did not receive some form of Thank You, she no longer sent that person gifts in the future.  Another friend would call and ask the person if they received the gift and whether or not they liked it.  A third friend told us that she stopped sending gifts, but would continue to send cards to celebrate the occasion.  A couple of friends said they just continued to send the gifts if the recipient was a child but stopped sending gifts after graduation from High School.  The general theme here is that people were hurt to not be thanked and recognized.  Let’s all remember this the next time we receive a gift.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grieving Over The Loss of Your Pet

     Recently, a very close friend experienced the death of her beloved dog.  She asked me to write a blog about coping with the loss.  For many of us, a pet becomes a family member and loved as another child in the family.  We choose the right name for them, the right veterinarian, the food we feed them, the toys we buy for them, and sometimes, we even send them to school.  If we have to leave without them, we decide on who is the best person to take care of them.  We want our pets to be happy, content, and well cared for.  In exchange, our pets give us unconditional love and approval.  When our pet dies, many people feel as though a part of them has died as well.  However, unlike when a person in our lives die, some people may not understand our grief and expect us to get over it.  Grieving any loss takes time.  You may have moments and days when you feel strong and able to function without feeling so sad and then unexpectedly, get slammed with an onslaught of grief that is overwhelming.  Allow yourself to feel what you feel and then force yourself to go back to whatever you were doing.  Remember, your pet loved you unconditionally and even in death, would want you to be happy. 
Your pet had a good life with you no matter their age at death, and certainly better than many animals and even some people.  Many people often express feelings of guilt after a pet has died, thinking about things they did not do or regretting things that they did do, such as yelling at a pet or not giving them attention when they wanted it.  No one is perfect, not even your pet.   The important point is that you loved each other and were better for it.  Many people wonder if they should get another pet.  That is an individual or family decision and do not allow yourself to be pushed in either direction by a well-meaning person in your life.  You know if you want another pet or if you want to wait or if you want a different kind of pet.  Even if you get another pet, they will not replace the pet you lost, but will have their own place in your heart.  Their presence will be missed greatly, but life is for the living and just like you wanted the best for your pet, your pet wanted the best for you, which is the essence of unconditional love.

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