Stuck—Not Broken

You cannot always control the waves but You can learn to surf the storms of life.

MY APPROACH TO HELPING

There may be days when you attend a social function, engage in a relationship, or complete a life or work task and appear to function just fine to others but, on the inside, you feel ramped up, on edge, a bit off, worried, and misunderstood. This state may even be accompanied by your inner critic that tags along and replays the events of the day over and over within your mind as if you are stuck in a perpetual vortex that you cannot seem to escape.

Or, perhaps you recently lost a loved one and find yourself enveloped within the effects of the loss. There are days when the heaviness is so great that it takes all you have to put on your armor and go out into the world with a brave face—all the while feeling shattered on the inside.

There could even be may be days when you struggle with low energy and all you want to do is retreat, avoid, and push away thoughts and feelings yet you manage to the tasks at hand— all while knowing you are not fully engaged.

Perhaps you use to have a zest for life and just cannot get that feeling back or even wonder what others mean by having a “zest for life.”

Within this life, we may all come to feel stuck—perhaps through our spiral of suffering within anxiety, depression, grief and loss, relationships, or other life transitions and struggles—and not know how to get back to or on your life path and purpose. You may be stuck but you are not broken!

I love working with and helping people! I will partner with and empower you on your unique life journey. I use a down to earth and open minded approach towards your healing and growth. On this journey, I will walk alongside you and navigate as we work together to design a personal roadmap towards your desired destination. This approach allows for the greatest possibility of you getting back to or the discovery of your best self!

MORE INFO ABOUT MY PRACTICE

I believe that everyone’s story matters. I am driven to live out my passion and purpose of supporting others every day. Through a personally tailored approach, I partner with my clients to offer a therapeutic healing space that promotes empowerment and positive self-growth. I work best with those who are ready for and motivated towards a pivotal change—wherever that may lead us on your unique life journey. 

MY ROLE AS A THERAPIST

It is my belief that, at the core of all healing, is a supportive relationship. We each have the ability to live a rich, full, and meaningful life. I will serve the role of a guide, encourager, and advocate for you to live optimally.

When I am not at the in-person or virtual office, I enjoy spending time with my family, listening to podcasts, practicing mindful living, traveling far and wide, reading, savoring my coffee ice cream and chai tea latte, and sitting in coffee shops catching up with my friends.

One of my favorite quotes is,
“You are the author of your own life story…so make it a good one!”

I am eager to meet you and excited to share in your journey!

Urge Surfing

Urge surfing can be used with any urges (e.g., urges to avoid, escape, or push away unwanted emotions, urges within procrastination, urges to isolate, urges to self-harm) you experience, including action urges of emotions that don’t serve us well.

Emotions also serve a purpose. Similar to when our stomachs rumble to signal hunger, emotions signal us of a greater need. With this, we can have the urge to run from the action urge of anxiety or grief /loss because of the discomfort of the experience. If we can learn to sit with the emotion, be curious, and identify what it is trying to communicate to us…we can, in turn, take positive action within it and ultimately respond mindfully (versus react) to its signal. When we are able to do this, the strength of the wave is diminished.

To Urge Surf, visualize urges rising and falling like waves. Rather than trying to fight against the wave and be tossed and turned upside down, practice the skill of noticing and observing then surfing the wave until it’s lost it’s power.

Each urge has 3 stages:

RISE WITH INTENSITY

The rise of intensity is when the urge is triggered or begins building up. This is when, if we are able to notice and name what is happening (pay attention non-judgmentally to the sensations that are occurring for us). We can be curious and open to this experience and choose in that moment to not fight against it. We can also deploy our learned coping /mindfulness strategies (breath work, grounding, engage our 6 sensations of sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing plus movement) so that the wave does not grow as big.

THE PEAK

2) The peak is the point the urge is the strongest, like the white caps of the crest of the wave as it peaks. It is slightly before this that we must choose whether to surf and ride the wave or be taken down by it. If we choose to ride, we can continue to take deep mindful breaths as we ride our surfboard. This stage can last up to 20 minutes.

THE CRASH

3) The crash starts when the urge begins to lessen, like a wave after it has peaked and starts falling back into the ocean and towards the reclaimed calm.

Past, Present, or Future?

We can often become anxious in anticipation of the future or sad about the past. It can be helpful when we are able to live in the present.

If this sounds like you, the following activity may be useful. If you would like to try it out, write “future” on a piece of paper. Under “future” write “present” and under “present” write “past.”

When you feel caught up in thoughts or emotions, slide/move your finger up or down the page to determine where you are. Are you in the past, present, or future?

After a few times you can move the written out page to a visual in your mind. This can be a useful strategy as you move about your day in order to determine your current mindset. If you find you are in the future or past, you can then ask yourself what you may be able to do to move back to the present. This is an intentionally lived and mindful life, a life within the present.

Single on Valentine’s?

Humans are wired for connection so it is no wonder that being single on Valentine’s Day can bring with it a sense of feeling left out.

Society has a way of communicating that being in a relationship is the only way you get to celebrate Valentine’s Day. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! Whether you are single by choice or single for reasons beyond your control (e.g., because we are in a pandemic 😷), you do not have to be in a relationship to take part in this holiday.

There is no rule that says you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day but if you would like to, these tips may help:

—Shift the focus and be your own secret admirer

Practice self-care, compassion, and self-love. Instead of focusing on what you may not have, reframe your mindset onto what you do have and treat yourself well.

—Reduce or eliminate love triggers

Today may not be the day to watch a movie with a romantic love story or listen to love songs. Rather, try a new genre or better yet plan something new that you can look forward to. Focus on your holistic growth by going on a hike, trying a new virtual workout, participating in a new activity, and/or tuning into YouTube for some virtual travel sights. In fact, research shows planning, watching, or re-living a past travel experience in your mind can elevate the feel good chemicals as if you were actually on the trip.

—Plan a Singles Zoom Date with Friends

Get together with others to play online games, watch a movie, cook a meal together, or just hang out.

—Shower someone else with care

Do you know of someone else who is single or recently lost a loved one? Sending a small but thoughtful gift could mean the world to another. Bonus, it may bring increased levels of happiness and connection to you also.

Valentine’s Day can be a joyful time if you are within a relationship but quite difficult if you find yourself alone. If you’re struggling with severe feelings of loneliness and inability to cope, it may be a good idea to reach out to a caring mental health professional. The global pandemic has brought with it a whole array of difficult and residual effects. We all need someone sometimes to help and support.

#alone #valentine #depression #connect #mentalhealth #california #lakeelsinore #temecula #murrieta #therapy #counseling

Are you a Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

A young woman went to her Grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.

Her Grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her Granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft and mushy. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardened egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled as she tasted its deep flavor and inhaled its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, Grandma?”

Her Grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin, outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her Granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong? But with pain and adversity, do I wilt and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a fluid spirit but, after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water – the very circumstance that brings the adversity, the pain, the hardship – into something quite wonderful. When the water gets hot, it releases it’s fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better, and change the situation around you for the better.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?

~ Author Unknown

2020 in Reflection

As we stand on the welcome mat of 2021 and prepare to enter its door, I find myself reminiscing. Who knew when my family arrived back in Cali in October 2019 that we were headed into a worldwide global pandemic that would cause massive societal shifts that have come to change the way we live.

2020 what a year! It is said, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” —Tuli Kupferberg

As I reflect, this is where my thoughts drift this morning and where I am able to take some solace amongst the continued uncertainties of this virus. Uncertainty and change is no stranger to me. The trick is to remember the blessings amongst the chaos and not get so caught up in it all that we forget to live. The virus has already stolen so much from us but what has it given us? How has it forced us to evolve and embrace what is important in life?

Vernon Law says it well, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

The surreal’ness of it all. Benjamin Disraeli said, “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.”

I have lived this life of change and unpredictability before. In response to quick turnaround military orders, I recall the night before my families big move to Italy at the end of 2018 wherein we packed up 4 kids and 3 dogs and moved across the ocean. The true challenge of this change, the absolute blessings from embracing and moving within it. It changed us in ways we could never have imagined—despite the difficulties of a massive move, uprooting our kids, adapting within an unknown culture— we persevered as we soaked up the history, the culture, the food experiences. While there were many blessings, there were also true challenges within this growth-producing experience. We gathered a true multitude of memories from our time abroad as we were given the opportunity to travel all over Europe. We drove the crazy no rules roads in Italy, dived into various cultures and languages, walked the streets of Rome, ventured to Pompeii, white water rafted in Austria, ate yummy pastries in Bologna and huge (size of your face) homemade pretzels in Germany, went to Shakespeare’s Globe in London, plus so much more. We took the fear of this move and travel alongside us and did not let it hold us back. Now that we are nestled back in Southern California, these experiences are ones we continue to treasure.

I find myself thinking, what if we had not embraced the challenge and converted it to opportunities? What if I had let fear hold me back?

After all, “The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” —Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

When we remember the blessings amongst the chaos we get to live fully—even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Tending to the Campfire of Life

When we build a campfire, does it burn eternally? Do we build it once and never tend to it again? No, of course not, similar to our devotion of creating a rich, full, and meaningful life, we have to tend to that campfire every single day to keep the flames burning. Life is similar, we have goals we are striving for, obstacles we face, and things we must put into action to keep our flames blazing. This may include stepping back and assessing the campfire several times a day to add new logs to the campfire and generate new sparks and/ or maintain the everlasting campfire (i.e., a rich, full, and meaningful life). Of course, within balance, once we have a strong campfire built, life is also about just being and enjoying the warmth of the campfire you have built, adoring the dance of the red, orange, and yellow flames, throwing a new log on occasionally to keep the spark alive, and remembering life is not a destination, it is a journey…sometimes a journey that takes many logs being added to our campfire. Live the intentional life, a life full of campfires.

Lighthouse

It may be difficult to see your way to shore amongst the storms of life.

While you may not need someone to row the boat for you, it can often be helpful for another to shine the light onto the path towards a rich, full, and meaningful life.

Providing a safe harbor for my clients to seek refuge and safety from the storms of life.

The Fish Tank of Life

How is your Fish Tank?

Numbness Iceberg

Part of being human is the experience of emotion. Emotions serve to communicate to us when things are going well and not so well so that we may formulate a response. With this, the feeling of numbness may be something everyone experiences from time to time—from feeling overwhelmed by a life stressor to some form of trauma. Typically the feeling is temporary and allows us mental and emotional processes of shutting out feelings in order to move through something difficult. However, for some, this feeling of emotional numbness can linger for a duration—often serving as a protective defense that guards us from further emotional or physical pain. While this shield of numbness can serve us well in the short-term, such as to get through a life stressor; when it stays for a duration, it can have long-lasting consequences such as the inability to problem solve, experience pleasure and other positive emotions, engage in life, and be the whole person we can choose to be.

Numbness can show up differently for each person. The cause could be wide such as symptoms associated with PTSD, Grief/ Loss, Depression, Anxiety, Abuse/ Neglect, and/ or a whole array of past life experiences that have now come to haunt your present. When feelings of numbness linger or stay for the duration and exceed our ability to cope, it may be time to consult a mental health professional to support in unpacking and processing within the causation of the emotional numbness.

Treatment may include a Therapist (such as myself) who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma Work, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), and other treatment approaches.

Travel Far- Eat Well- Live Long- Love Optimally

I am a Therapist who travels between California and Europe. In my time here on Earth, I have been blessed to live all across the United States; making a home in almost every corner (coast to coast) and some in between. One day, as a Marriage and Family Therapist, as I sat and counseled my clients, as I had so often did, to live their life to the fullest, to seize the day (carpe diem), and to have no regrets, I found myself intrigued by my words in a new way. That night, on my drive home, I wondered was I taking my own advice? Had I lost site of living within my guiding principles? Sure I had a great life but was I living my life fully or stuck in my comfort zone? So, when international travel came calling, I had to answer. I transferred my private practice to fully online and set out to live the life I wished so dearly for my clients (i.e., the discovery of living life to its fullest within each person’s desire). As someone who has suffered from then learned to live with anxiety and depression this was still a bold move…however, I hear life begins at the end of your comfort zone, a quote by Neale Donald Walsch and I was not going to let fear and the unknown hold me back—I would bring any uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and so forth alongside me on this journey as I am determined to live my life to the fullest no matter what. While we each have to choose our own guiding principles, for me, they are Travel Far- Eat Well- Live Long- Love Optimally. Within it, I have come to the realization and embracement of no roots as I have found that I do not necessarily have roots in one certain physical place but wings that allow me to fly. If anything, my roots are found in the people I have met along the way that store space in my heart (like so many clients I have come to know and offer support), the experiences I have met through food, history, and culture along my travels, the richness of the life I have lived, and the ability and choice to love optimally. While your ideal life may not match mine and send you jet setting across multiple oceans…I would love to walk alongside you and help you discover (or re-discover) what it means to live life fully. If you think online therapy may be the right fit for you, I welcome you to contact me and begin your own “journey.”

2020 Update: While I still have a love for traveling far and wide and continue to offer online Telemental Health Sessions, I now have re-established an in-person therapy practice within the state of California. To learn more click HERE