Adapting: A Two Way Street

We direct ourselves and other Christians to adapt to God’s ways.  We address the need for His will and His direction for our lives and how we are to love Him. This being by faith not works but not forgetting that faith without works is dead.  But. Let me challenge your thinking a bit that Christ coming to us, our celebrations of Christmas in Him and Easter in Him is… the Lord actually adapting to us!  His adapting allowed for connection or maybe I should say reconnection with Him. We were made to be in right standing with the Father through Christ’s adaption to humankind. He became human. He needed His diaper changed, He needed hand feed, and He required someone to bathe Him… Our Creator came yes as a babe but as a babe, He required all the things a sweet little snotting baby needs… 

two-way-street-arrows-road.jpgRelationships require mutual adaptation and as in all things He set the example and our relationship with the Father is in no less need for adapting on both sides, His and ours. 

If we focus on our adapting to others it allows us the opportunity to feel superior. It is more uncomfortable to acknowledge others adapting to us… let me clear things up if there is a question here, others adapt to us as much as we adapt to others. That doesn’t feel as nice. 

“Deal with” or “tolerate” are also words to take the place of adapt for others towards us and those ideas are even less warm and fuzzy. Others around me, those who stick around and adapt tolerate or deal with my irritating qualities and I know full and well I have some of those… such as the frustrating way I need to be on time so let’s not put a time frame on things you might want to have less pressure in experiencing or my aversion to the word moist, stepping on cracks, mouth noises, repetitive sounds, loud startling things, or tin foil. I could go in but I think you have the point. I should probably add my grumpiness when I don’t feel well, my attitude toward unwanted change, and the way my hair sheds constantly everywhere I go… it’s just so much, all the hair all the places…  those who love me or are forced for whatever reason to be around me adjust to my quirks, my weaknesses, but also my strengths. 

iStock-479224952.jpgWe don’t have to be like one another to be connected and able to develop healthy loving effective relationships. We can celebrate our differences and have compassion for other’s struggles and for our own struggles.  Often, we have compassion for other’s struggles and intolerance for our own.  Something may be easy for us and a struggle for someone else and we must be careful to not project our expectations for ourselves on to someone else or be careful to not measure someone else’s abilities or situations against the measuring rod we hold up to ourselves. 

What does adapting today look like? I’m so glad you asked…

Perhaps you are currently putting up with a relative you don’t like that is visiting or a coworker you must work with closely but you don’t see eye to eye. Congratulations! This might not feel very noble or notable at all but adapting is God-like or in the nature of the Father so much so that He has laid down examples that can be read nearly anywhere in the gospels. 

We are capable of both accommodating other’s needs because they have value and its kind and good to do so and adapt to those we care about, must work with, or are around for lengthy amounts of time. Plus, adapting is kind and generous and our world could use a little more kindness…

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”

– Thomas Edison.

  • Some things we can practically do is listen more than we speak…
  • Don’t micromanage in a way to conveys others skills and talents are not valuable or appreciated… be aware of how we communicate to others.
  • Make an effort to “give lilies to the living” and by that I mean let people know what they mean to you and tell them the kind things you think and don’t say because well …feelings are gross… feelings arent gross, they may be uncomfortable but they are beautiful, gifts, natural, healthy, and meant for our good… even anger… even fear…
  • Find out what people’s needs are and see what you are capable of doing to help meet those needs. Too often we only help when there’s a return on our investment. This is not how we hope to be treated.
  • Be sincere.
  • When we do… the who, the what, the how, and the why all matter.

In a perfect world, we would go about our business and all would connect and interlace smoothly. There would be no hiccups, sneezes, speed bumps, or garbage trucks. We don’t live in a perfect world… its more of a dirty, dumpster fire of brokenness.  If you want to connect to by others then find ways to connect to others first and give as an investment in a world where so many take… Something special will be waiting for you.

 

PhD​ Research Study

Looking for participants for my Ph.D.-MFT Research Study, is that you?

Hey guys! I am currently drawing near the end of my Ph.D. process and I am working on a small research study prior to the dissertation phase. I will be ABD at the end of this semester and part of this semester’s work is to conduct my own study.

I am including a link you can click to see if you qualify for the study. It would mean so much to me if I had your help in completing my research!

I am looking for mental health professionals that treat trauma and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I realize this is a high specific parameter but the “narrowness” of the requirements for participants will help me filter the qualifying factors much more quickly.

So, if you are a mental health care provider or you know someone please consider sharing this link and help me complete my research!

Research Qualification Survey

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Also, here is a QR code if you prefer!

And hey, if you participate and want to let me know you clicked through shoot me a comment down below or just give us a thumbs up for support if you cant participate!!!

 

MAGICAL DO-OVERS

When life is less accommodating, every moment leaves an imprint on our brain.

This lack of modification shapes how we, as humans, perceive both things and people in the future of our experience journeying through life. This occurrence is known as implicit memory, and it is persistently prompting us to be careful.

Caution… Who can even be trusted, always safety first, and of what are we capable?

photo-1515488825947-f1c0842d7953.jpegRemember when, as children, we were allowed to have do-overs? Somewhere in your childhood, you are surely able to recall a moment some adult gave you a do-over. A teacher? A parent? A coach?  Those were magical moments. A do-over made the entire experience as if the original kerfuffle had never even occurred, right? Getting the chance to bat again after clearly striking out, just one more chance to shine. Getting to retake a test when we did not pass it the first time because “you know this stuff, show me what you know.”

When we didn’t like the way, things turned out we could have a do-over, but unfortunately, life is less accommodating than our childhood do-over opportunities.  I cannot lie and say there are not benefits to cautious living, oh yes you bet there are! Caution helps us to avoid things that make us unhappy or sick or put us in harm’s way. BUT there is, absolutely, one danger that our implicit memory cannot speak to and lend aid and that’s the danger of our biases! Our biases preclude us from seeing things the way they are, the truth of things. We are, essentially, blinded by our biases. How does this affect our experiences? What do our biases cause us to miss out on or relationships that never happen due to our predispositions?

Little Blue Bird

An excerpt from  POPPY:  

TALES FROM THE HEART

If you have yet to purchase your copy order it here!

 

Tiny little blue bird

how sweet you sing to me

delicate and beautiful

as you spread your wings

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I watch you through my windowsill

and wonder of all you see

You rest awhile on a branch

In my magnolia tree

then off you go with no goodbye

to continue your day’s journey

I will see you again one day

But for now, you’re off exploring

 

If you enjoyed what you read here there’s so much more in my latest book. The link is at the top of the blog for purchasing. Also, if you like what you read here please like and follow our facebook page for updates on upcoming publications and events!

Love to have your feedback! Leave us a message below and tell about your reflections or thoughts! As always, please share this with your people!

Zebra Strong- Chronically living

Having a chronic illness is a challenge in more areas than just a bad body day or remembering to take loads of daily meds.

There are days my body rebels against my will and on those days I may lay on my bed or in the living room on the sofa and groan with disappointment and pain. I may cry through words or tears, as I find my heart sinking from the weakness in my body. I have noticed when I reach the point of groaning its mostly due to the disappointment and sadness of spending another day horizontal. Another day of a schedule canceled or at the least severely disrupted yet again. There may also be a groan of fear for what is ahead for me in the temporal and a grumbling for dreams deferred. Lamenting a healthy body I once had… Sometimes I really just run out of words or am tired of thinking the same things and find there is nothing left but a groan.

I recently found there is an alternative groan, a better way. Paul shares in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 that the groaning I experience can be viewed from a different perspective that is of an encouraging nature rather than contributing to the potential for a negative mindset that will only drag me deep into the depths of despair. This groaning is the cry of expectation that overflows from a heart looking ahead to the eternal. My being, what makes me who I am knows that something is amiss. I was not made for this chronic illness. We, me AND you, may groan and become tearful over various types of pain but there is a deeper place of understanding in our spirit regarding the pain our temporal bodies feel.

Whether I am conscious of it, and now I will be more so than I have ever been… deep within my soul I am longing for home, for Heaven. In heaven, there will be no sickness or pain. There I, we, will have a trouble-free, pain-free, existence surrounded by eternal, unconditional love and light. My new body will work perfectly and my heart will be constantly overflowing with love and joy and my mind, well it will be free and clear of clutter and chaos.

I have decided, after reading Pauls words and chewing on them for a bit, that this challenge my body has here in this life does not have to be a period, it can be a comma. The comma can signify a breath taken in a sentence of a chapter of our life story that points toward the significance of pacing self as our story unfolds. My groan can now reflect a seeking of peace, restoration, wholeness, and redemption which fosters hope. I have despaired of hope and it’s a pain that burns just as deep as the fire of hope when I am able to turn the despair on its head! When I cannot His strength is sufficient for me to hold on until hopefulness returns! This is real life and I am just human and the Father knows this and I believe He is patient with me as I work all this out through Him and apply His word to my heart and life each day.

I now desire my groans and tears to point me toward Christ and eternal life rather than to despair. My suffering is but a moment incompatible to eternity. That isn’t to say I enjoy it or I just shrug it off because it is very real in moments of pain but I can now recently myself intentionally and seek refuge in that the Father has provided through His word. My tears depict there should be more. There is a heavenly body to look forward to, this mortal body is a brief shell. Someday soon I will have a new body forever and be home with Jesus and all of Heaven.

This brings me to HOPE! Enduring and persevering is found rooted in hope and we hope when we have a solid belief or even the smallest hope of something on the otherwise of the need to endure and preserve. We press forwards because something in us says “It’s worth it, press on!”. We can have a hope in Christ and our Heavenly reward that is secure. We as humans love security, seek security, and become distressed when we do not have security.

2 C’s

Spoiler alert, Jesus juke ahead: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (John chapter 7, verse 21) In my own conviction, I am reading this as the two great C’s The great commandment and the great commission.

Fulfilling Jesus’ “Great Commandment” loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Fulfilling Jesus’ “Great Commission” (“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”) sharing the gospel with unbelievers, in the hopes that they’ll actually hear the message of Jesus, believe in Him, and become Christians.

What does this mean practically? 

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I don’t know exactly, but I have a few ideas. I have a few ideas of how I interpret this direction in my own life.  If my neighbor is without and I would provide for myself, I am to provide for my neighbor in a selfless way, not in a self-sacrificing way.  These are entirely my opinions and only worth well, I don’t know the answer to that either.

I want to take a moment to discuss what the Word has directed love to be to create a fuller picture of “loving” our neighbors as we love self.  The well-known love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. According to the writer, love is the following things:

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I have seen this displayed in word and offers of prayer, but I don’t believe that is what Jesus expects of us as His children. This is the action verb form of love, and I venture to believe all the love references the Bible holds for us is action not lip service. There are young people and older people alike leaving the church faster than fellow church members can ask them why…  What is our role when loving our neighbor.

I believe here is where we behave as Christ did. He did… He acted, He moved, and He loved through doing, acting, and moving. He could have spoken healing for the blind man who saw men as trees part way through his healing, but He did not… He chose to reach deeper into the man’s life through space invading and providing something more than healing but also connection. (Mark 8:23-25)

 “23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

Were Jesus’ actions necessary for the blind man’s healing? No. But, can we learn something from

Jesus’ choice to lead, touch, and heal a man in need? More than yes! 
how-jesus-crossed-all-boundaries-in-order-to-reach-a-single-hurting-person-940x629.jpgI believe Jesus took this moment and demonstrated the great commandment to love your neighbor.  He wants to connect with us in more than words, and as we are made in His image and charged to be a reflection of Christ, we are expected to connect to our neighbors. The man was not untouchable despite his obvious imperfections. Jesus made certain to demonstrate how we are to encounter others in need.

I am guilty of hurting others, and I have been stung in church both enough for my taste, but I am sure I will be hurt in the church again. I still go, I still gather with fellow believers… it’s not about “them,” it’s about me. I attend because I read “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” and this is for a good reason. We need one another. “Church people” are wholly people with an advantage of the revelation of Christ and His unconditional love
and response to us as His children and followers. This means despite our mere humanity, we are charged with rising above the standards of societal expectations and community relations and do all Christ empowers us to do well, love well. …love with excellence and serve well- service with excellence.

I am not looking for a perfect church because my sin nature and continual failings will corrupt such a fantastical place. I am looking for other believers to behave as children of a Father who presented love as the only way of life. I never want it said of me I was in fear of touching another life due to the complications of distress and challenge neither do I want to be considered an untouchable.

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Popper, on truth and safety…

It is not just the opinion that is important but also learning how someone reached their conclusion. Karl Popper (1963), philosopher and a few other things, discussed the importance of knowing how we develop our beliefs and discovering motivations behind the thinking.  Public or societal opinion can be irrational and if allowed to go unchallenged can give rise to such movements as Hitlerism.  truthU.pngPopper (1963) determined in so many words, the moral framework of liberalism is a counterbalance to such structures as Nazism.  He believed the answer to public opinion is the western rationalist tradition of critical discussion.  He was pro-argument for truth’s sake for as Popper noted, “the truth is hard to come by.”   The great Winston Churchill (1940) stated:

“People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick up themselves and continue on.”

Rationalism supports social justice. Rationalism according to Popper (1963) essentially negates any formative thinking of utopia due to its implication to violence. Being an ideal state of society, Utopia does not allow for change or differences of opinion and ideology. A utopia is a form of rationalism, but according to Popper, it is the wrong form.  The correct way of rationalism is arguments and discussions of our own and others thoughts and opinions provoking refutation and conjecture.  Without rationalism, violence occurs to create the result thinking of utopias boundaries and parameters and the maintain them.  Nazism. Profoundly Popper (1963) states, intellectual development has outrun our moral development.  This requires attention.  He believed there has not been a time in history that humans have however been given the level of dignity that society has lent at the time of his contemplation.  According to his rationalistic belief system, men are equal and are to be respected as such.
The potential for over-analyzing and risk-taking when deciding on whether or not to report information is a present concern.  Being considered gate-keepers, is a challenging place to exist.  Reputation is paramount in the mental health world.  communitysafetypic.gifPeople rely on the ability of the clinician to create a safe space by which they open themselves up to vulnerable existences.  No one wants to be the individual bringing an accusation up to the licensing board, but in the end, the importance of the safety in our field weighs more heavily than that of whether or not the alleged offender continues to feel fond of the accuser.  Popper (1963) discusses the importance of truth and though he was not discussing the role of a therapist, in the mental health world truth is crucial.  Reporting an individual for doing wrong, being a gatekeeper for society or even the mental health world is a weighty responsibility, and one that each clinician takes on when accepting licensure and each person carries as a member of a community.  If clinicians do not hold truth and reporting of offenses in high regard, people get hurt.  If community members do not maintain safety and security of truth and accountability in high regard, people get hurt.  Responsibility, integrity, vulnerability, and gatekeeping are paramount frameworks for the care provided by humans for humans deserving of dignity and protection.  Society has an obligation to its members to care for and protect one another.  There is a guard for creating safety for those with wounds needing healing and clinicians that may prey either intentionally or unintentionally on them.


Popper, K. (1963). Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. New York, NY: Routledge Classics.

 

He Weeps with Us

 

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Jesus wept. John 11:35

The shortest verse in all the Bible…  Obviously, the easiest to memorize as well.  This verse takes us back to a sorrowful time in the life of Jesus. In the small village of Bethany, we find Him weeping at the grave of his friend Lazarus.  The tears of our Lord conveys volumes to the reader.  I had not really thought of it before but actually, Jesus could have but did not speak healing from a distance like he did for the centurion’s servant. Matthew 8:13 Jesus had his reasons.  His reasoning did not negate the suffering, He did not take it lightly.  Instead, He was “greatly troubled” and wept.  The Son does what His Father’s, our Father’s will is even if it brings temporary sorrow He will be glorified and all He does is good and for good.

With poignant brevity, the gospel of John, took the most simplistic words to convey the mourners experience watching Jesus around the grave by stating,  “Jesus wept.” Don’t you know He did not weep because Lazarus was dead.  I believe Jesus wept when He saw Mary and Martha, Lazarus’s sisters crying.  He loved them and he loved him.  He knew what was coming, he knew in just a moment at a beckoning he would raise Lazarus from the dead and bring him out of the grave in his grave clothes.

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Tears touch the heart of our Father!

Mary’s heart was broken, she lost her brother.  I understand this heartache all too well.  She was hurting and had lost hope for help for her brother.  She had called for Jesus, she had believed in Him and she now believed He was too late to help.  Jesus wept with her knowing her heart and her sorrow.

There is no interpreter needed as tears speak much clearer than words.
In Psalm 56:8, the psalmist says the Father keeps tears in a bottle.  So… it’s okay to cry.

Compassion for suffering     The Calamity of Sin

The Calamity of Sin    The Cost of Redemption

The Cause of His Own Death

For all these things he wept…

I am grateful the Lord’s heart is broken when my heart is broken.  It’s hard for me to comprehend the nearness of the Father to me but I feel Him.  When I am filled with sorrow He is with me.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). And when that morning comes, “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).

Dreaming the Big Dreams …Always Worth it… 

This season has proven to be some kind of wild for me and just recently a few items have been checked off my bucket list. One of those being my first book a pocket poetry is being published and I’ll be in my hand in 13 days or less. I am having so many overwhelming feelings of joy and nervousness and excitement and shock. You have all been so kind especially since this is truly a small pocket edition work and it’s only special to me. I am excited to share it with those who have journeyed with me thus far and many moon to come!

The image I have included is the cover of the book coming in t-minus 14 days and counting!  I understand poetry is not for everyone but these were for me and from my heart encompassing a range of experiences from joy to heartache. Don’t feel obligated to try to love it. It is what it is. Many of you will find yourself in the pages but don’t fret in asking me to point it out. Just enjoy. Thank you all for your support and to everyone who has pre ordered, thank you. Your support speaks volumes and I am grateful to have so many who care. That’s rare I know so I don’t take it lightheartedly. I cherish each of you, you know who you are my friends, my loved ones.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” 

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is Finally Time…

maxresdefault.jpgI have been waiting, as patiently as I am capable, to fill you all in on a little secret.  Those of you who have been on various journeys with me will understand why this is so special.

Hours and hours of hard work has paid off… in 14 days my first book will be PUBLISHED and physically in my hands! I am over the moon with excitment!  I realize it si not for everyone. I did not write it for everyone.  However, it is written for the someones who know my journey and share in the investment of the adventures and heartaches… or those who love poetry.

A BIG thank you to all who helped make this happen and know this is the first of many more to come. Pre-order is possible, just let me know and I will send you an invoice for the preorder and shipping!

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To pre-order click here or comment in the section below this post with an email I can reach you with an invoice! Pre-orders are $10 w/free shipping!


Last thing I want to say… don’t ever give up on yourself or your dreams. Many of you will see in my book where you have played a roll, you will see yourself and I am forever changed by your investment.  So, I end with this thought… 

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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To stay as is or become more…?

Soren Kierkegaard once said “There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.”  I have seen several theories in his motivation behind this truth.   I happen to believe one reason this is mans fear… man instinctually has the immense need for success.  (Obviously some lack this internal drive) I believe it is to whom much is given much is required or the more you know the more responsibility you hold… so if you are to trip into your greater self you then are held to a higher standard and the fall is much further and the pressure much greater.  I suppose this is why people may prefer to live with the motto “ignorance is bliss” as a form of protection against the pressure to avert mistakes or missteps that can mar ones character. 

Where do you find success and is it relevant to societal expectations?  Where in Life do you believe you have found the greatest nuggets of wisdom, are you still searching, or so you have a good arguement to stay in the blissfully ignorant state staving off responsibility as you may know it? 

Adrenal Glands & their essential bodily functions

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism 
  • Detoxification Capacity 
  • Neural Tissue Health
  • Endocrine Function 
  • Metabolism
  • Musculoskeletal

What is Addison’s? Well. There’s more to this disease than you will desire to read in one blog so I’ll give you some highlights and resources to find out more! 

The definition of Addison’s disease is such a poor excuse to clarify what an Addisonian is and what they experience… but here it is: 

Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when your body produces insufficient amounts of certain hormones produced by your adrenal glands. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol and often insufficient levels of aldosterone as well.

Also called adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease occurs in all age groups and affects both sexes. Addison’s disease can be life-threatening.

For an even greater in depth look at the life of an addisonian check out the blog I referenced at the bottom of the page! She nailed it! 



Main symptoms of LOW CORTISOL which, if left untreated can lead to adrenal crisis can vary widely:

  •  Fatigue & muscle weakness
  •  Nausea, sometimes leading to
  •  vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  •  Inability to cope with stress/anxiety
  • Moodiness, irritability, & depression 
  •  Headache or migraine
  •  Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating &/or Dehydration
  • Dizziness/disorientation
  • Muscle aches or pains 

In an actual CRISIS, you will almost always have sudden penetrating pain in the lower back, abdomen, or legs, can have severe vomiting and/or diarrhea followed by dehydration and likely will have low blood pressure and possible loss of consciousness and seizures (BP can also go high in some people). 

In PAI, (Primary Adrenal Insifficiency) potassium will often be elevated and sodium will often drop too low. In adrenal crisis, confusion will nearly always be present in everyone. 

CRISIS SYMPTOMS (these will vary by person and you may only have some of these):

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness/light- headedness /Fatigue
  • Flank pain (back sides)
  • Headache/migraine
  •  Fever 
  •  Joint pain
  •  Loss of appetite 
  •  Loss of consciousness 
  •  Low blood pressure (can also be high)
  •  Nausea 
  •  Profound weakness
  •  Low blood sugar 
  •  Rapid heart rate
  •  Rapid respiratory rate
  •  Shaking/chills 
  •  Unusual and excessive sweating
  • Vomiting, Confusion or coma

Here’s a real life story of someone with Addison’s! 

A great way to learn why we aren’t keeping up with YOU and it sounds like we make a lot of excuses to avoid fun check out… Spoon Theory in depth or an overview below:


For more information:

NADF

NORD

Best blog ever to get a clue! 

The Effects of Chronic Illness on a Family System

A Current Issue and the Effect on a Couple

“Research shows that couple dynamics influence the immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems, and self-reported health status; and medical problems can affect all areas of a couple’s functioning, including communication, sexual and emotional intimacy, and role flexibility (Dankoski & Pais, 2007).” Using therapeutic services may be helpful for a family to process a new way of living or a loss of the previous lifestyle due to the course of a chronic illness.  Family therapy can provide the system with tools and support to manage the anxiety, depressions, fear, miscommunication, potential conflict, and stressors brought on by the needed adjustments and caregiving accompanying chronic illness.

 When a couple faces chronic illness

 Facing a chronic illness such as an autoimmune disease can take years of searching and testing for a diagnosis. Once the family receives the diagnosis there are mixed emotions that accompany such as both fear and relief.  Relief comes due to finally knowing the name of what the family is fighting and the protocol that may come with that specific disease. Fear and distress floods a family as they see potential and sometimes probably declination in the future of their loved one’s quality of life and the challenges the family will be facing for a lifetime.  The diagnosis of the illness marshals in the opportunity and need for further family and loved one’s support systems to increase the resources, readiness, and availability.

One of the major tasks a couple has to face is first learning about the illness and what they will be facing, their options for treatment and quality of life, as well as available resources concerning their specific challenge (Dankoski & Pais, 2007). Living with chronic illness can be isolating and cause depression and anxiety.  Activities the couple once enjoyed may no longer be an option due to the limitations of the illness and this may cause friends and social supports to move on in life and in a sense, leave the couple behind if the illness prevents the couple from participating often in social gatherings.  Adjustments and accommodations can be made if the couple and their social supports are willing to work together for the sake of the value of the relationships.

Impact on relationship

The chronic symptoms of an autoimmune disease can be perceived as burdensome by caregivers or support system members, or the fear of being a burden can be overwhelming by the ill individual.  A couple faces great strains on traditional couple activities, socializing, physical intimacy, time, and life/marital milestones.  Confusion and misunderstandings can occur as each person is struggling to process the changes needed in their lifestyle.  Frustration can arise from multiple doctors and years of misdiagnosis and worsen symptoms without answers until diagnosis finally occurs. Depression and hopeless can plague the couple due to loss and perceived future losses. Chronic illness can create deep feelings of hopelessness for a happy marriage or happy life, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Feelings of anger and discouragement may be encountered as the learning phase is navigated for this lifelong adjustment that will more than likely continue to change and morph, but the key is to monitor and adjust and rely on not only each other but social and familial supports (Law &Crane, 2003).  If the couple does not reach outside themselves for support and help for care, there is a possibility for the destruction of the family system; but with utilizing the resources available, support systems and education, strength and encouragement, hope and positive outlooks can be found.

 Goals of therapy

Approaching this situation as both an individual with a rare chronic illness and a clinician, I see ample opportunity for solution-focused brief therapy with components of narrative therapy to be effective in helping the couple create the desired changes and set the appropriate goals they believe they are able to work toward. Psychoeducation is an important facet of the therapeutic process the provide the couple with needed information about resources, stages of grief and the value of understanding why goal setting and commitment are paramount for success (Law &Crane, 2003). A component of narrative therapy that will be helpful for a couple in this situation is restorying.  Changing the way the couple perceive the situation and their role in this new adjusted way of living will require the clinician to assist them in re-authoring their story in a positive light typically contrary to natural reflex; then assist the couple in creating the alternative more preferred story that is less problem-saturated but seeks out exceptions, positive perspectives and ways to make the most of the positive available (Law &Crane, 2003).

Solution-focused therapy will also provide effective care for this specific type of challenge a couple will face. Looking for exceptions, using scaling questions to help them become more self-aware and finding ways to help them take baby steps toward lowering the depression level to one level lower at a time. Asking the couple how they would know depression had changed from a seven to a six on a scale of one to ten. Scaling questions, psychoeducation, and exception identifying are effective tools; but I would further the work by having the couple set short-term measurable goals they are able to work toward and commit to establishing to the possibility of victories given the right motivation and partnership of support within the couple and family.

Reference for further reading! 

Spoon Theory If you haven’t read this and you love someone chronically ill….

American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. (July, 2016). Chronic
illness. 
Retrievedfrom http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Women_and_AutoimmuneDiseases.aspx

 Dankoski, M. E., & Pais, S. (2007). Whats Love Got to Do with It? Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy,6(1-2), 31-43. doi:10.1300/j398v06n01_04

Law, D. D., Crane, D. R., & Berge, J. M. (2003). The Influence Of Individual, Marital, And Family Therapy On High Utilizers Of Health Care. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,29(3), 353-363. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2003.tb01212.x

Thomlison, B. (2016). Family assessment handbook: An introduction (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 

Wetchler, J. L., & Hecker, L. L., & (Eds.). (2015). An introduction to marriage and family therapy. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

 

We used to never get enough…

43051d76d4b1990ed41.jpgWhere has the comedy gone? Relationships are falling flat and the adult world is taking over!!! The following is a review of Penny and Leonards System Dynamics. I would LOVE your feedback on the joy…or discontent… you find with these lovable friends!  (***ALERT*** longer post than usual but it’s worth dealing with the extra 3 minutes of reading! maybe.) P.s. I am sadly aware there are so many from this tribe I did not get to mention… mostly because this became SO LONG!

System Dynamics

Penny and Leonard Hofstadter’s family dynamics are challenging. They are a newly married couple living with a third party at all times. Discontent about a roommate with compulsive and controlling behaviors living with them named Sheldon Cooper was prevalent. Despite discussions, it ends with complaints without actions.  A newlywed couple in our society can view this as a negative impact on their time together.  Finally, Sheldon moves out and the couple then moves in another one of their friends, Raj, with his own personal interesting issues and challenges adding more tension.  There have been indicators prior to marriage that both parties do not believe they have another choice for a relationship and have settled for one another.

Boundaries are challenging within the Hofstadter couple’s marriage and are identified as permeable.  Both Sheldon’s and Raj’s issues bleed into Penny and Leonard’s relationship.  I believe most of the friend’s issues stay in the forefront in this household as people are continually coming and going.  This triangulation has become such a challenge, Sheldon even went on the honeymoon with the couple to San Francisco for what he convinced them was for personal reflection (International, 2015).
Leonard has mommy issues and low self-esteem, he seeks validation and affirmation from both Penny and his mother. Penny is a socialite, can appear selfish, shallow and is always looking to capture her dream as an actress. Penny seeks refuge in the wisdom of her one newly married friend (Bernadette) and one single friend (Sheldon’s Amy) to sort through marital challenges. TV-Show_the-big-bang-theory_270880.jpgThe couple has adopted Sheldon as a relationship akin to a younger sibling or a child.  They are unable to ignore him and move forward.  The more Leonard needs Penny, the more Sheldon needs Leonard. The couple presents with continual attempts to sabotage their own marriage, I believe both are in fear of losing the other and are finding themselves unable to face that fear. Pushing through fear is challenging and a way back to a healthy marriage is communication about these issues.

Sheldon has limited emotional recognition (maybe a sweet pea sized amygdala to blame) as well as lessened expressions of his own emotion.  He is controlling and orderly and many have described him as having Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but he insists his mother had him tested and he is definitively not classified as crazy.  Raj is not as overtly challenging as Sheldon, but his presence in the newlywed’s home still draws the focus away from whatever issues the couple may need to resolve.  If the issues remain on the back burner, they can fester and grow rather than create growth.

The couple’s supra-systems are impacted by social group differences and families of origins (Wetchler & Hecker, 2015).  Leonard’s personal devotion to all things science fiction is far removed from his wife’s yoga practicing, low-tech lifestyle choices. The families of origin come into play periodically abrasively reminding this couple of their vastly differing upbringing. Minimal history is provided of legitimate financial stability other than Leonard refusing marriage therapy due to the cost being a strain. Leonard comes from a high-achieving family and personally is an experimental physicist at Caltech with a sibling working as a tenured law professor at Harvard. Penny has a high school education or equivalent and a few college courses. There a is minimal family of origin history other than she has a sibling with drug addiction and a criminal record.

Penny and Leonard have a relationship agreement drawn up by Sheldon and agreed upon by the couple.  It consists of rules, roles, and expectations for their marriage. The covert rules are the challenges that create miscommunication, hurt feelings, and arguments between the couple after the issues have festered for period of time (Wetchler & Hecker, 2015).  I do not believe there has been at length communication about roles and expectations outside of this contract drawn up, signed, and amended when necessary.  This contract was developed due to Penny’s discontent over Leonard’s lack of romantic pursuit of her and her challenge to communicate her feelings with him.

Boy! Relationships can be messy!

For further reading on relationship agreements here is Sheldon’s and Amy’s for your viewing pleasure!

Penny: You guys just got back together. You might not want to ditch her on her birthday.

Leonard: I think Penny has a point. You can see it another day.

Sheldon: But someone might spoil the movie. No one can spoil Amy’s birthday for me. Surprise, she’s even older. Who saw that coming?

Penny: Aww, that’s nice. Put that on her cake.

References:

International, I. A. (2015). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/About_AAMFT/Position_On_Couples.aspx

Wetchler, J. L. (2015). An introduction to marriage and family therapy. New York: Routledge.big-bang-theory-bazinga_114809.jpg

 

Take a Breath! 

Even when on a working vacation it’s important to practice positive self care! I’m not talking about taking a shower or using deodorant but we are all grateful when those things are consistent. 

Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

            -Virginia Satir 

I’m taking a moment to remind you and and mostly myself of one of the greatest lessons I am continually learning. To continue to move forward in anything self care must be a priority. Self care can wear many faces and people often label things as self care that are far from it. Let’s be real, authentic with ourselves and make time to exist and breathe and be okay. We get caught up in the depths of life’s current struggling to meet expectations of others but as Satie said… “We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.” 

What does that mean for you and your reality today? 

What are some activities or relaxation tools you enjoy in your own self care time? 

Theatre of the shoulds 

The theatre of the shoulds is an explanation for an experience many have when our head and heart must divide because the orthodoxy of Christian living doesn’t meet our needs as we live on earth and the structure of our community. This requires the theatre of the should outside and needs inside. Our hearts need to be quenched from a thirst far deeper than any earthly gift. We reach for anything that resembles “water”.  Our lives are divided into two parts… our secret life inside and the life others see. It’s a struggle. The alternative many choose is to simply deaden themselves if they do not seek out any water available.

What other option do we have? I am speaking of those who know Christ yet find themselves in this battle of numb it or drown it.

Despite aiming this at us ladies, I know this is a reality for both men and women alike…

I think a few answers are found in the word, worship, prayer, and community.  Reading the same chapters and books can become mundane at times but that’s when the spirit is able to bring revelation and we find His leading through prayer and community! It’s all connected!


What other ways have you found to keep yourself filled with joy and motivation? From where do you draw strength?

No Words

Who or what is dictating the story of our lives?  There are times in life we are left without any words to describe the internal experience of the forming of our story.  How do I feel?  Not how do I think or believe but how do I feel?  This is a challenging question because by and large many people tend to say “I feel…” when they are actually disclosing a thought or belief.  What is going on with me?  Would anyone actually understand?
bd140c955902c9dd708d7ed89cdf6462      I hear this from many clients and I have experienced it myself at times.  When we are left without words to express ourselves or find we are too fearful, isolation can surround our hearts.  An isolated heart can cause us to feel so far from those we love and the adventures we long for. What can we do?

When there are no words… Get creative! Don’t give your control to anything or anyone! Enough of life can be oppressive so stand your ground and own your journey however that may look! I would like to challenge even myself to fear not when I cannot describe and maybe reach out to the opportunity to express instead!  Often describing something that is felt versus thought can cause it to be flat and lifeless. Our feelings are far from flat and lifeless! We feel blue! We smell winter! We are as clean as a whistle! Our lives are more than our thoughts.  Such experiences more valuable in expression than description… how does blue feel and winter smell…

Let’s commit to being a believer of our realities and begin shaping circumstances into life experiences that create more of what we want.  Negativity can be found in all experiences but there’s a flip side as well… the positive outlook is a choice.  If we allow life, it will inhibit.  When will we be believers in our own ability to create better for ourselves?

I would love to hear of your experience with processing the world around you! Let’s stop and take a moment to become more self-aware. Just because we cannot describe whats happening inside doesn’t mean it doesn’t have validity or impact on our existence!