the importance of a president that cries

Despite the unrest of the last few weeks, we as a nation were able to witness the peaceful transfer of power to a new President on the 20th. However, it was something the day before, on January 19th that struck me.

A nation grieving needs a leader who knows how to grieve

The, then President-elect Biden was saying goodbye to his state of Delaware and thanking them for everything they’d done for him. He was also speaking from the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center , which many will know is named after President Biden’s late son. In the address that the President gave he became openly emotional, he cried, he paused to let the emotion have space, and he talked about his son. In short, he let himself grieve, but in doing so he’s letting everyone else grieve. The most powerful politician, and some say the most powerful person in the world stood on a stage, cried for his dead son and displayed an appropriate healthy way to talk about and mourn for someone we have lost. He didn’t hide it, stuff it down or convey a message that this kind of display of emotion is inappropriate. He led by example and like he said later: to heal is to remember.

Right now, our nation needs that example more than ever. We’ve lost hundred of thousands of loved ones. Many families have lost people this year from a virus that doesn’t care who you are. Our family is one of those. We’ve been through a collective loss and we need to go through a collective mourning and grieving process.

I’m sure Biden will not be a perfect President (because who could be) but I’m thankful that he is a feeling, vulnerable person who knows that it is not weak to allow our emotions a place at the table. I think about our country and am grateful that it chose a leader who knows how to grieve.

In the coming years we will need to heal, and we may have just put someone in charge that is up for the job.

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how to manage during stressful news cycles

As responsible adults it’s important to stay informed on current events. In the current events of the last few years that kind of responsibility can feel like cruel and unusual punishment. Constant exposure to the kind of stress inducing, out of control, non-sensical, content that has been the new norm is not healthy nor sustainable. In the last few weeks it feels as though we’ve reached boiling point and beyond.

News Stress Relief Checklist

If the events of last week taught us anything it’s that we’re not out of the woods yet, so below is a checklist of things you can do to reduce your exposure and hopefully reduce your stress. You don’t have to do all of these. Pick and choose what works for you.

  • Time your news consumption. Limit your televised news to either mornings or evenings, or for a certain number of minutes per day. No more than 30.
  • Delete Twitter or other news apps for a day.
  • Watch a comedy
  • Have a group facetime with family or friends
  • Do a 10-minute yoga session
  • Donate time or money to a cause that you believe in
  • Clean a part of your house you’ve been putting off (closet, under the bed, oven, microwave, fridge, pantry, etc.)
  • Plan a date night with your significant other
  • Write a letter to a distant family member
  • Above all…give yourself grace! Things are hard, you’ll get through it!

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This week we Americans watched as our Capitol was over run by domestic terrorists, right-wing extremists, white supremacists, nazis, & fascists – wanting to overthrow the government. Reading that it may seem like I am using hyperbole. I am not. They had t-shirts. They had t-shirts that said “camp auschwitz”, they flew the confederate flag in the capitol, they had “civil war” printed on their apparel and were intent on their coup. This is no exaggeration. They also, were incited and directed to do so at the urging of our President, Donald Trump.


The seriousness of the matter highlights our feelings of helplessness at home. We watched as our government had to evacuate. On the news reports came in that they were barricaded in their offices. Handed gas masks. We watched as the National Guard did not show up. We waited to see if in fact, the coup would be successful, and we could do nothing.

The messages we receive

The average American felt the panic and the fear. But the Black American also saw plainly the message of injustice. Contrast the events of yesterday with the events of this summer. Our peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors were violently brutalized by police for walking in public streets in an effort for their pleas to be heard that their lives do in fact matter. Yesterday, we witnessed video of those same police waving the insurrectionists on in to the capitol to complete their mission.

A lot of people online are saying “this is not America” – but yes it is. We have to say it is. Accept it. See it fully and truly. Because only then can we realize the depths from which it needs to change.

The problem with “getting along”

There are also others, mainly the evangelical side of the aisle that is calling for a “peace among both sides” “to end the divisiveness on social media” and just “love more like Jesus”. These messages are tone deaf, uneducated and show the naive privilege of the writers. I do believe prayers are necessary. I believe that God has work to do, and believers need to carry that out.

But you can’t do that with your eyes closed and these statements of “just get along” suggest that we do just that. It is okay to say what is wrong when it is wrong. When the devil tempted Jesus in the desert he didn’t say: you know let’s just find a compromise here, so we can cooperate. No, he told it like it was. Evangelicals today…please remember you can tell it like it is, and don’t condemn those who are.

Social justice issues are mental health issues. Systemic racism is a mental health issue. We need widespread acknowledgment first – then we need action.

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New Year

Happy New Year from me to you! It’s early in the morning as I write this and I’m sitting next to our droopy and dry Christmas tree. My husband and I have been negotiating on when is the appropriate time to take it down. I am someone who likes to look forward and move. I am a big believer in taking it down the day after Christmas. He is a sweet sentimental man who wants to milk it for all its worth. So here it is, the first of January and we’ve still got a Christmas tree in here!

It makes me think though…

Just as this old dried out tree has been carried over from last year, what other relics of 2020 are wanting to be be acknowledged still. No doubt the year was…interesting. We’re not totally out of the woods yet in terms of Covid, but there was more to the year than that. In our personal lives there were many changes too. My husband started a new job and made huge strides in his career development. I become licensed and started my own business. We got tickets to SDCC!…Then it got cancelled. My Aunt died. I gained in closeness to a group of friends that I’ve come to see as invaluable. We also diminished in closeness to some friends that we thought were invaluable, but perhaps we were wrong. Many things can happen in a year, and it highlights a principle that change is constant.

What 2020 did to us and for us…

Twenty-twenty also showed us that we are capable of withstanding and persevering so much! Even as I think about the sad things from this year – no SDCC, no travel, losing friends – I’m encouraged that we will move on from that. The collective world has withstood an event so insane that as survivors I hope you feel the capabilities that have been hard won this year. As such, you’ve been tested in the sorrows, the disappointments, fear, conflict, anxieties and grief of 2020 and have survived. Let that be an encouragement for what you may face in the future.

Our tomorrows will have more opportunities and more hope – for travel, comic conventions, and friends out there that we haven’t even met yet that could be lifelong at that. Our tomorrows will also have more pain. Even as a write this I got sad family news that we weren’t expecting. We don’t get to choose how our years will go. But, be kind to yourselves and others. Have faith that you can withstand, and hold on to one another.

I encourage you to reflect on your year, acknowledge the good, and the hard. Thank it all. Be encouraged by what that’s made you into today and hope for tomorrow.

Therapist Thoughts: Get Updates Weekly!

As we head into a new year, I want to announce the start of my weekly Therapist Thoughts blog posts. Every week I’ll be sharing thoughts and perspectives on mental health issues of the times – right to your email inbox! Don’t miss out on free therapy content. No appointment needed!

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The most exciting part of these updates is the interactive nature. I encourage you to reply (at the bottom of the posts), ask questions, and request content on the topics you are curious about and would like to hear more on. Therapy is expensive and not always accessible to everyone. While this site and this resource is not a substitute for professional services, I want it to be a tool that anyone can use.

sexism and mental health

For the ladies out there, here’s a topic: sexism and mental health. A weird thing happens when you identify as a woman. That is society believes you are less than those that identify as a man!

Women get treated differently and are expected to accept it. But what about what happens inside when we are the direct recipient of a sexist remark? It’s nice to imagine that in our empowered fury we would smother the flame of oppression. We would tell off the perpetrator in a who-do-you-think-you-are speech. In the best of times this can happen! Other times we pause. This happens because we can begin to believe things about the roles we are assigned. This happens as a result of our socialization into the system that holds these beliefs.

We think: They probably didn’t mean that. I’m being too sensitive. I’m being a bitch. I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I’m making too much noise. I’m being difficult. 

If this is you in those moments, do not be ashamed. You are experiencing the internalization of a system more ancient than you. 

What I want you to be aware of though is that this is a system that is wrong. 

Some girl…

I was recently referred to as “some girl” while I was in a professional setting by a vendor and it pissed me off immediately. But then, my internalized sexism told me to simmer down “he didn’t mean it” and so on. But ladies, no. In these moments we are within our right and duty to speak up and say: That’s not okay. 

In these moments of doubt when we question if our voices should be heard, let us take note from our future Madame Vice President Kamala Harris….”I am speaking.”

The Decisions We Make

One of my husband and I’s favorite kind of podcasts to listen to are those from people who choose to live off the grid or “homestead”. The kind of adventures these people get into, and the things they become experts on fascinate us and may one day inspire us to start a similar journey of our own. But for now, we just enjoy the tales from the comfort of our car.

On Today’s Episode…

Today the episode we listened to featured a woman who departed the typical American life to live off grid. She has a tiny home on a mountain in Wyoming and is self-sufficient with free time and financial freedom. Sounds like a dream, right?! One of the things she said really hit home. She mentioned that people can look at her now and say “Wow, she’s so lucky she can just wake up and make some tea and wander the wilderness with no obligations” . The woman said while this is true, this is only possible because of the 6 years of work and learning that led up to this point. One thing she made known is that nothing comes easy and nothing is perfect. It took her work and dedication to carve out a life that she wanted for herself.

I love this. I think it applies to everyone no matter how they are living. It’s tempting to see how other people live and to think that they are just lucky or “have it perfect”. What we don’t see is the mundane toil that got them there. It can be tempting too, to throw pity (or envy) parties when we see others succeed. I’ve grown to have less patience for that sort of thing. If I’m looking to someone else and envious of what they have, it’s not anything to do with them. It’s all to do with me and what choices I am (or am not) making that is the source of my disdain.

Easy street is not a place that any of us walk down. But with discipline and grit we can carve out our own type of paradise. Whether that be on a mountain in Wyoming or in our own backyard.

continued learning

One thing that all licensed therapists are required to do is complete a certain number of continuing education credits (CEUs) throughout their career. This is to keep us sharp, grow our skills and stay up to date on the latest scientific research and evidence-based trends. In the first year of your license you get a grace period where you don’t need to take any CEUs but in my experience this is the BEST time to take them!

The journey from graduate level intern to licensed therapist is a long and arduous one and it can feel like once you “get the license” you can put your feet up, but this is not the time to slow down. You learn a lot in those pre-license years but its mostly things that you are told to learn, and you likely aren’t choosing your path, you’re adhering to the regulations to get that shiny prize. Because we have so many mandated requirements and so little time to ourselves in this phase, we often feel lost when we are autonomous and free licensed practitioners.

This is okay, and do not be alarmed if you are feeling this way. We haven’t had the experience or the freedom to try different modalities and learn them, because we’ve been locked into managed care practices or studying for exams. But once the necessary evils of licensure are behind you I can’t encourage you enough to explore explore explore. Find as many free trainings as possible, go on retreats, attend webinars, and really try and find what is true for you. You’ve been taught a lot of things in your training but it’s up to you to decide what is true for you in your practice. Education is how you do just that!

dealing with rejection

One of my hobbies is creative writing. I’ve always been a fan of stories so it was natural that some day I’d be writing my own. I’ve written both screenplays and novels but any writer will tell you that if you are wanting to get your work published in a traditional sense you must be a friend to rejection.

And boy are they right! I have two completed fiction manuscripts (and five completed scripts) that I am super proud of, and have had a lot of positive feedback on my novels from agents and independent publishers alike. Yet, nice comments and encouragements can feel like nothing unless it comes with a contract. I’ve had both my projects on submission for a while now, and while the books are still on review with several agents and publishers, it still hurts when one comes back with a “not for me”.

This happened recently with a small independent publisher who was reviewing my most recent manuscript. They had been really interested in it for a while, but after a reviewer provided feedback that it wasn’t their “taste” it was ultimately rejected. Gotta be honest, this sucks! I read their comments, and while most everything they had to say about the book was great, they ultimately just stated that the style wasn’t right for them. That was another reminder that the publishing industry is a very subjective business. It takes one persons preferences to make or break your way into things, and that’s just how things are.

This is the same for all rejection. By nature, rejection is subjective. There’s a quote that goes: You can be the best, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who hates peaches. When experiencing rejection on your own scale, I encourage you to remind yourself that. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s disappointing. But keep your head up. Someone who loves peaches is bound to come along.

Being friends with your parents as adults

I’m fortunate enough to have my parents still in my life and to have a close relationship with them both. Today we did a socially distanced pseudo-thanksgiving (read: chic-fil-a at picnic tables) and we got to talking about how their parenting shaped my life as an adult. The talk was enriching and educating.

One of the things my mom made a point of as we (my sister and I) were growing up was that she was our mom, not our friend. While this sounds harsh it is very healthy. She reminisced on a family member who would interact with her children on “peer level” and how that was off-putting to my mom. In contrast, my mom had a clear role as us kids were growing up and she understood that. That role was “mom” not “best friend”. This paid off because now, decades later, we are able to be friends as adults.

My dad was equally part of our lives as kids. Some of my fond memories with him are conversations at our kitchen table about things I was going through. He was a source of solid wisdom. Much like a mountain that welcomes you to sit in its shadow and listens to your concerns without judgement or derision. One of the best parenting frameworks my Dad instilled was that as we got older we were given much freedom to make our own decisions and that no decision was a “bad” one. Rather, decisions would have different levels of natural consequences. And my parents let us feel those consequences when they happened, yet they never let us get in over our heads.

Both reiterated the importance that they put on treating us as little future adults. The understood we were people who were going to grow up to be adults in our own rights. We were treated with respect and dignity and given chances to learn, and guided when we made mistakes. I know no parents are perfect, but mine must have done something right because in a time when I get to choose who I spend my time with I always try and make my parents a priority.

Your story with your parents may be different. That is okay. While my parents are great, they’ll be the first to say that they aren’t perfect.

However, if you still have your parents in your life I hope that you can make time to make connections (if it is safe and healthy to do so) with them this week. Give them a call or FaceTime. Ask what they remember about raising you and ask what feel that they did well and maybe should have done different. These talks can be healing and deepening. If you are a parent yourself these talks can be invaluable as you lead your little ones on in their own journeys.