Contributed By Diana Bonus, LMHCP
It’s November. Fall is in full swing, leaves are blowing, pumpkin spice is in the air, and temperatures are becoming cooler. Fall, specifically November, is also the time when we honor the tradition of giving thanks. Many of us will gather with friends and family, roast a turkey, watch some football, and share a couple of reasons we are thankful. While all of these customs are important and meaningful, I wonder, when was the last time that you examined the meaning of giving thanks?
Giving thanks. Look at the word “giving.” Our holiday is not Thanks-having, it’s Thanks-giving. Thanks is not something you have, it’s something you give. Thanks-giving is action. It’s synonymous with the discipline of practicing gratitude. Gratitude is not an emotion, not something you feel, it’s something you do. When you flex your gratitude muscle, it might feel sore and tired, but what is that age old saying? Ah, yes, “No pain, no gain.” Flexing your gratitude muscle can be as simple as saying “thank you” to the bank teller or the grocery store clerk before they say it to you. You may even be surprised at the balance between giving thanks and the size of your gratitude muscle.
Often we find ourselves spending time looking for someone or something to blame for our circumstances. Here is a Thanks-giving challenge: instead of grumbling about your car, speak gratitude that you have transportation. Instead of looking at the mess your children have created, tell your children what you appreciate about them. Find something every day to be grateful for, and watch how sleek and toned that muscle becomes. Today I am grateful for warm chocolate chip cookies!
What are you grateful for?
Contributed by Tammera Bibbins LISW
Self - Care IS Self - Preservation
Self-care… We are beginning to hear that phrase more often. There is finally an understanding about how absolutely important self-care is for those who are in the helping profession. We, in the helping profession, spend much of our time and attention devoted to the care of others. And what about those not in the helping profession? Let’s look at our social context. We live in a capitalistic society that praises the movers and the shakers, the over achievers, and the Type A personalities. Our society emphasizes producing and doing. We have almost become a culture of Human Doings instead of Human Beings. So it’s no wonder that we continue to struggle with finding that just right balance. When we think of self-care, images of getting a massage, getting out with friends, and (at least for women) getting manicures and pedicures often come to mind. And now that we understand the importance, we are now being reminded how important it is that we take care of ourselves, manage our stress, and live as healthily as possible.
But are we really seeing the whole picture? Sure, massages and pedicures feel great to the body. Laughing and having a good time with friends is restorative, but there is a bigger picture that we often do not think about.
Self-care isn’t something you tick off your To-Do list once you’ve gone to a yoga class or had a massage. Self-care is a constant repetition of many tiny habits, which together soothe you and make sure you’re at your optimum—emotionally, physically, and mentally. We often don’t look at the emotional or mental side of self-care.
Here are some examples from each category:
These are but a few ideas and I’m sure this list could be much longer. So as we move forward in our quest for Self-Care, let’s not to forget to see the whole picture.
What is Self-Care to you? Turning off the phone, computer and television after a certain hour. Using music to soothe instead of stimulate. Just listening to the sounds around you. Playing, reading a good book and using quiet time thinking positive thoughts. Often times our stress comes from within. The part of us that is unhappy and gets caught up in Shoulding all over ourselves. If we can be quiet and experience joy in those moments on a consistent basis, our selves are preserved much better.
Domestic violence is defined as a behavior or behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control others. I have to admit that before I started working with clients who have experienced this themselves and have suffered significant trauma from being in these types of relationships, I used to think that domestic violence only included physical abuse against others. Now that I have been exposed to this from working with families in their homes and currently as a new Mental Health Clinician, I realize that Domestic Violence is much more than physical and has many different levels.
Commonly we assume that the perpetrator in domestically violent relationships is male, but the reality is that men can also be victims of domestic violence, we just rarely hear about it as they are less likely to report it is happening. Types of domestic violence can include name calling, using intimidation to get the results you want, actual threats of physical harm, sexual assault, and several others. The victims of domestic violence are not the only individuals affected by the abuse, it also affects children and any other individuals in the home or out of the home indirectly. It is so important to think about the indirect effects. Children who have been exposed to domestic violence can be affected behaviorally and emotionally. Even in infancy. Trauma effects children no matter what age. Being non verbal doesn't mean there are no effects.
Because often times a victim of Domestic Violence aligns with their abuser, they may have difficulty leaving the situation. They may feel love for the other person and be confused between the positive feelings and negative feelings they have for that person, believing that the good can overcome. They may feel no support due to the controlling factor in these relationships and isolation that occurs for many reasons. There may be children involved, and they may resist going to a shelter that is too hard to get into anyway and feel there is no other option than to stay or be financially insecure.
There are cycles to domestic violence which begin with the tension that builds right before the abusive incident, the blow up happens where immediately after the offender is calmer, realizes what has been done, may begin to blame the victim and feels sorry. Then the making-up stage begins where apologies and promises are made, then the calm begins which is where the nice things in the relationship happen that is difficult to walk away from. This is the stage I like to refer to as the honeymoon stage where the offender continues to make promises and might even go as far as buying the victim gifts, then something happens and the tension begins to build. The cycle begins again.
Some of the psychological effects domestic violence can have included guilt, shame, humiliation, anxiety, depression and withdraw. These same psychological effects are present in men and women victims of domestic violence. If you are a victim of domestic violence or if you are a provider and a client reports past or present domestic violence there are some short-term and long term interventions that can be used to help them.
Short-term interventions include making a crisis plan intervention, making a plan for safety. If you are a provider, following your agencies policy for reporting, complete a crisis intervention plan with the client, provide them with resources/psychoeducation about domestic violence, and also giving them resources on domestic violence shelters and hotlines they can utilize until they see you again. Other interventions may be planning for departure, making a plan for your children to be safe, contact the authorities and obtain a protection order to ensure safety. As a provider, it is important to attempt following up with the client in between sessions if able.
Short-term interventions can also be offered to the batterer through therapeutic interventions for them to deal with their own traumatic content that prompts them to offend. Referrals to education and emotional management programs or other appropriate interventions. This may help them develop appropriate ways to express their emotions other than doing things they probably don't want to do anyway. Along with these immediate or short-term interventions, you can also utilize EMDR interventions to process the trauma.
EMDR is a very effective way to reduce the maladaptive behaviors at the source. It helps to resolve painful experiences for the victim and the offender of domestic violence!
I feel as someone who is recently graduated from a Masters Level Mental Health program, it has is important for me to continue educating myself as a new Mental Health Clinician to make sure I continue educating myself about new interventions that can be used to process trauma so I can be effective in meeting my clients where they are in their process. A good rapport between the clinician and the client is so important for the victim to feel like they have a safe place to share their experiences. But most important it is important to take care of yourself!
Contributed by Nicole Reedy, MA
Debra Younger LMHCP
Mental Health Therapist
Good Enough Parenting
I wonder how many of us have bought the lie that infants and children prior to the age of 5 are too young to really be affected by events in their lives. That a baby or toddler is too young to understand the loss of a parent, either through death or divorce. That the ways we treat them aren’t that big a deal as long as we don’t abuse or neglect them.
The reality is, it is exactly the opposite. The interactions that an infant, toddler and young child experience, form the foundation of their sense of self-worth and value, for good or bad. Through the use of Attachment Theory is how we addresses this topic.
A simple way of understanding this, is that every human being is born with a potential to be. This potential involves our genetics, but it is shaped and developed or not developed, in response to our environment. So a child might have the potential to be a wonderful singer, but if that child is raised in a home where that gift is not appreciated, but rather belittled and put down, that child will most likely never realize their potential and actually come to believe that they can’t sing. On the other hand, if that same child is raised in a home that accepts and honors their gift, they might be like 4 year old Kaitlyn Maher, who wowed the judges on America’s Got Talent.
The important message here for all parents and parents to be, is that you are critically important and have an unbelievable impact on who and what your child will become. It is in your interactions with your child, starting at the moment of their birth, that they begin to form their very sense of self; who they are in relationship to the world. This is an awesome responsibility and a scary one at the same time. One that as a parent of two children I understand.
The good news is you don’t have to be a “perfect” parent to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. As Winnicott put it, you just have to be “good enough”. But what does it mean to be good enough?
As a psychotherapist who specializes in attachment work, and has two grown children, I wish I had known then what I know now. I can easily look back and see all the ways in which I would have done things differently, if I had only known, but I didn’t. This article is about honoring the fact that we are all doing the best we can, in the moment we are doing it, with the skills we have, until we have better skills. My hope is to point out some ways to grow new skills.
What are some ways you can gain the knowledge and skills to make you a better parent?
1. Take a parenting class. Learn about normal childhood developmental tasks and how you can support your child in accomplishing these tasks.
2. Educate yourself about attachment theory and its critical importance to your child. There are many books and resources that will help you gain the knowledge that you need, (these are just a small example):
Attachment Parenting Book by Laura Carrilton
Beyond the Sling: A Real Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving children the Attachment Parenting Way by Mayim Bialik, PhD
The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby by William and Martha Sears
3. Participate in a parenting group that supports and encourages healthy parent child attachment.
4. If you find yourself struggling to be the kind of parent you want to be, reach out for help. Many times our inability to respond in healthy ways to our children is because we have issues from our own childhood that get in the way. Find healing for yourself, so that you can offer your child the parent that you both deserve.
For those of you who have already raised your children and are thinking it is too late, don’t! It is never too late. There are many opportunities to heal in relationships with your children, with your parents and always a delight to help your children love their children! Many of you have grandchildren, and while your role is not normally as pivotal as the parent’s you still have an important role to play, and can be a wonderfully positive influence on the child! Don’t under estimate your role in your grandchildren’s lives and your continued role in your children’s lives.
We work hard at MOSAIC FAMILY Counseling Center to help heal the relationships, enhance understanding and help families in whatever need they have, from where ever they are! I encourage you to seek a little help if you find yourself in relationships that are not as rich as you would like them to be!
*MOSAIC FAMILY Counseling Center is The Center of Excellence in the healing of life's challenges.
Creating Realistic Expectations
As the new counseling intern at Mosaic Family Counseling Center I am in a constant state of transition and learning. I am spending most of my time in trainings and the orientation process, which isn’t always as clear cut as we think it is going to be. Like many people, I find myself frequently frustrated because I don’t feel confident in what I’m supposed to be doing, or even how it’s done.
As a way of managing our lives, we often set expectations for ourselves and others, but rarely do we take a minute to think about how accurate our expectations are. Instead, we get frustrated with ourselves and those around us when our expectations aren’t met, even if what we expect is unrealistic! Our expectations can be related to a variety of things, from performance and achievement, to behavior or personality. Often we create expectations based upon fantasy rather than reality. Consider the example of starting a new job; would most people like to walk in on the first day knowing everything about the company and how it operates, sufficiently impressing everyone in their path? Of course! However, the reality is that learning something new is a process that we don’t allow ourselves to appreciate because we are too busy measuring ourselves next to John-who-had-all-of-this-figured-out-by-such-and-such-day.
What if we practiced reflecting on creating realistic expectations based on who we are, where we have been and what we have to offer, and doing the same for the people in our life that we create expectations for? A quote from Ram Dass articulates this well:
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
What if, even just for today, we pledge to think harder about the expectations we create. Practice turning yourself and others into a tree and creating expectations based on how you or the other person “grew.” As you are considering your expectations, think of a tree that is an inch shorter than the tree next to it. Would we expect the short tree to grow an inch in one day because the tree next to it is taller? Probably not. So why do we create these types of expectations for ourselves?
For example, if I were to recreate my expectations for my first weeks at a new job, I wouldn’t expect myself to know everything by the end of week one. If I set my expectations to be consistent with my abilities (knowing that I am human and, of course, humans make mistakes) I will be able to be more confident in my development because I know it is possible to meet my own expectations. And because things are often easier with support I hope that you will join me in turning yourself and others into trees. Let’s take some time to think of how we have grown. What can we do with our abilities?
Hopefully we will all create a little more room to allow who we are, and set our expectations on what we can do instead of what we should do. Imagine how a seemingly small change can impact our daily life! I can’t wait to hear your experience with recreating your expectations, make sure to come back to comment and let us know.
~ Contributed by Kyla Loucks
Do One Thing Different
I’ve lived long enough to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with negative behavior patterns, lack of organization and perpetual procrastination.
I sadly assumed writing a simple blog post would be relatively quick and easy. To my dismay I couldn’t focus on a topic to save my life. Randomly, I picked up a book called Do One Thing Different by Bill O’Hanlon, which has been sitting on my nightstand for months. Chapter two begins with this quote:
When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount
-Dakota tribal saying
Turns out I’ve been riding a dead horse for many years. I won’t bore you with a book report, but I encourage everyone to read Do One Thing Different. Instead, I want to share a very simple example of how to execute this simple concept with the issue of procrastination. O’Hanlon offers a strategy that includes identifying the problem and then focusing on behavior patterns that essentially fuel the fire.
Problem – The feeling of being chronically overwhelmed and exhausted. Constantly feeling busy, but never feeling any sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
How does an individual “do” this problem – Staying up late at night, sleeping in as late as possible each day, taking personal phone calls throughout the day, checking social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc.) numerous times throughout the day, playing online games and watching hours of television.
The simple task of writing this out reveals a laundry list of things done daily that are completely unproductive and time consuming. In an effort to break some of these unproductive behavior patterns a person decides what they’re willing to “do differently”. This starts with literally doing just ONE thing different. It’s that simple! Here are some examples:
o waking up each morning early enough to exercise/meditate
o making an attainable checklist of things to accomplish during the day
o allow timed breaks during the day to check social media/socialize with friends
o limiting the amount of time in front of the television each night
Challenge yourself to do one thing different! My hope is that you see progress and begin to end each day feeling a little more satisfied with your efforts at mastering this thing called life.
~ Kristen Peterson LMSW
A Parent's Response to Teen Suicide
As a parent of two teenage children, my heart sinks when I hear about the events that have occurred at Urbandale Middle School in the past several days. What I want to do is snuggle on the couch, with my children on either side of me, and never let them out of my sight again. Never let them encounter pain. Never talk about doubt, fear, anger, hatred, feeling alone. As wonderful as I envision that to be, in all reality, it’s not reality. My children have encountered pain, they have struggled with doubt, anger, hatred, feeling alone, and they will again in the future.
Suicide is such a difficult topic to address with our children. It is difficult to know the right response.
Where does that leave me as their parent? Right where I need to be. As scary at it may be, it’s my job to call out the elephant in the room and open that dialogue with my children. Ask them what they think about these two events, what emotions they are experiencing. I will plan to share with them a time when I have experienced similar thoughts and emotions. I will tell them they don’t have to guard their language, emotions or beliefs. I will encourage them to share their doubts and fears. I will not judge them in our dialogue, and try very hard to resist my natural urge to solve all their problems. I will resolve to be honest with my own emotions, and then take a deep breath, and listen.
Contributed by Diana Bonus MS, LMHCP
A Necessary, Scary Thought… Child Sexual Abuse
I am a member of a team presenting information about protecting children from sexual abuse. This community education program is called Protecting Our Children – Advice from Child Molesters. Prior to being a therapist here at Mosaic Family Counseling Center, I worked as a Prevention Coordinator at the Center for Advocacy and Outreach at Blank Children’s Hospital. My prevention focus was child personal safety specifically in the areas of sexual abuse, bullying, and stranger abduction.
I realize child sexual abuse is a topic that most people would rather not think about – that’s what child molesters are counting on. By working this issue through programming at the schools I came to know a lot about it. I know how often it happens. I know the impact it has on victims. I know protecting children is the responsibility of adults. I know how to talk with a child and report the matter if a child discloses information to me. Lastly, I know – or I thought I did - how perpetrators operate. Yeah – that last one about how perpetrators operate - I now realize that what I know is just the tip of the iceberg. So – let’s review what I know (or thought I knew).
First off, what is child sexual abuse? Basically, any sexual act directed toward a child. The act is done solely for the pleasure of the perpetrator. The child is a victim, the power and control dynamic is ever present and fully active. The perpetrator may also be a child; in such cases the child perpetrator has more power which maybe in the form of knowledge, age, popularity etc. And, last but not least, child sexual abuse is never consensual as children cannot consent.
How often does child sexual abuse happen? The numbers vary but research shows approximately 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will experience sexual abuse by the time they turn 18 years old. The lowest number I’ve come across is 1 out of 10 kids. This research did not differentiate between genders and did not consider non-contact abuse. I’m not sure what the point of that was because exhibitionism and voyeurism are certainly victimizing acts. Since estimates in the field are commonly 1 out 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys, let’s do the math here. In a classroom of 25 children, that is about 2-3 girls and 1-2 boys. Even if we use the research estimate of 1 out of 10 kids that is still more than 2 kids per classroom. Yep – it’s that common.
What impact does child sexual abuse have on victims? This is a traumatizing event, to say the least. If you’re familiar with ACES research, (Adverse Child Experiences). Consider that only about 5% of the incidents of child sexual abuse is done at the hands of a stranger. So that means the child victim usually knows, usually loves and trusts, the perpetrator. Think about that – this is a violation down to the core! After such a violation, victims have trust issues. They feel guilt, shame and responsible for what has happened. They have low self-esteem and self-worth. They go on to have relationship problems. They turn to any number of things to cope and feel better – alcohol, drugs, food, and delinquency. They are often promiscuous. They suffer from depression and anxiety. Honestly, the list goes on and on.
Protecting children is the responsibility of adults – period. Adults are given the enormous task of keeping our kids safe and raising them so that they can take over and manage things long after we’re all gone. I was the person empowering kids with assertiveness skills in the area of personal safety. But that message and those personal safety programs are not meant to stand alone – ever. As a parent, you’re not free and clear once your kid has “the little talk” at school. And I’m not referring to the stranger danger message, the term “stranger danger” is not recommended by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, by the way. In my experience, parents are all too eager to discuss the boogie-man stranger with their kids. Things get a little more difficult and challenging when it’s Grandpa, the babysitter who’s come through in a bind, a coach, someone at church, or that nice neighbor kid two houses over. But it’s time to take up that challenge, folks, because as I mentioned above 95% of those 1-5 kids in that classroom who are victimized by child sexual abuse know their perpetrator. The odds of your kid being abducted and killed by a stranger are substantially lower than that – think winning the lottery. The tragic and horrific nature of stranger abduction crimes certainly grabs our attention and yes – our kids need to know what to do if they are approached by a stranger. But with this kind of data staring us in the face they REALLY need to know what to do if the person is NOT a stranger.
So now that I have given all this information direct, straight, and to the point. How do we deal with this awful reality in our world? How do you talk to kids about this sort of stuff?
First, planning out your conversation with your kids or children you love. Keep the following in mind.
Use simple language, be genuine, and be honest. One approach is talking about problems because we all have problems. Some big problems – some little problems. Some people lie so they have a lying problem. Some people spend way more money than they have so they have money problems. And some people have touching problems. You can then go on to say something like - I’m your parent and I love you more than anything. If someone ever touches you in a way you don’t like – you can tell me and I will believe you. You won’t be in trouble – ever. Start there and see where it goes.
That seems simple enough, right? Well, now I’m going to have you thinking about the back of a shampoo bottle… “rinse and repeat”.
Have you ever considered if we followed those directions we would never get out of the shower? But I digress – repeat this conversation in a developmentally appropriate manner with your child 3-4 times per year. Of course somewhere between age 5 and 8 all children need to have received basic sex education from their parents. If your kid is over 8 years old and they do not truly understand where babies come from – take care of that today. A good book to help you - Did the sun shine before you were born? Written by Sol and Judith Gordon.
Another way to look at it and I’ve used this analogy for folks who feel this subject is too scary for kids. Well, having their school blown away by a tornado or burning down in a fire is pretty scary too. Yet they have fire drills and tornado drills in the school. Now, in light of the number of school shootings our country has experienced they have lock-down drills. People – this is scary stuff and the school (my kid’s school anyway) just does it – they don’t notify parents or get a permission slip signed. Why? Because these things are reality – they happen – and kids need to know what to do if fill in the blank happens. I’m advocating that being victimized by sexual abuse be a fill in the blank issue. Yep – it’s that common – it happens.
With either of the examples above, the subject is being blended into a number of other like issues that children face – people have touching problems – safety issue akin to a fire – be creative and pick your way to talk to your child. But do it – don’t shy away from it.
Believe me, perpetrators steer clear of kids who know what sex is; they avoid secure and self-assured kids; and want nothing to do with kids who are well-versed in knowledge of what to do and who to go to if/when someone seems a little off.
So, as I mentioned above I knew the tip of the iceberg of how perpetrators operate before I joined the team doing Protecting our Children – Advice from Child Molesters. What I knew then was that perpetrators groom children. What I know now is they groom families, organizations, and communities (think Jerry Sandusky). What I knew then was that perpetrators seek vulnerable children. What I know now is they manipulate situations so that vulnerable children are even more vulnerable. They isolate their victims. They create situations so the victim and victim’s family are dependent upon the perpetrator. Make no mistake – child sexual abuse is a crime and child molesters are criminals. They have criminal thinking. They do criminal acts. And they are in our churches, our schools, our communities, and our families.
The most profound thing I have learned from Protecting Our Children – Advice from Child Molesters is to not insulate myself and think it is “those people – over there”. Even with everything I knew then, teaching this information directly to children myself, I still to some degree separated myself from it. I talked the talk but I didn’t walk the walk – not always. Now, at the end of the community education when the team and I are summarizing all the points there stands that bullet point - Be open to the fact that someone you know is a child molester. Yep – it’s that common. And once we wrap our collective head around THAT FACT, we will be in a better place to do more about it.
Contributed by: Renae Jones MS, LMHCP
The serenity prayer used in many recovery circles usually uses the first two verses: (see full prayer at end)
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Sounds simple enough, right? If only. First, trying to decipher what can be changed and what cannot be changed. This is a significant task in and of itself. How do we know what we have the power to control? Let’s consider this for a moment. The adage is “you only have control over yourself”. Taking this into consideration with the serenity prayer, I must have the courage to change myself and my perceptions, as I cannot control what other people say or do. It is unsettling to consider that my world is simply a makeup of my perceptions, my interpretations, feelings and responses, for which only I can hold myself accountable. Another cannot “make” me feel something, that would be giving them control and power over me and my behaviors, which I often refuse to accept. I strive to have courage to look into myself and acknowledge what I need to change in order to manage the situation. I feel this is important in personal growth for life in general.
How do we change perceptions? Perceptions are reflected through our actions and words as
our reality. We have to be open to looking at other angles, or viewpoints, perhaps studying the
perceptions of others, contrasting them with that of our own. We may find that our perceptions are not reality and give us a basis for which to practice that change we so desperately try to achieve.
Ok, so let’s look at that other part, the part about accepting the things I cannot change. I can’t
change another person. I can’t change their behavior, their thoughts, or their emotional responses to me. So how do I accept them for who and how they are? Often times people relate acceptance with approval, as if ‘because I accept it I must agree that it was right’. I strive to remember that to accept means to acknowledge that it is out of my control and that I will not allow it to have power over me or my emotions. To accept is not to approve, it is to let go and in some cases, go with it.
Sometimes there are things in life that are difficult to accept. But acceptance is so much less draining than fighting something I have no control over. I strive for acceptance of the things I cannot change.
I also have to try to remember that I don’t always need to be in control and that giving up control
over the details of life outside of me, things I can’t genuinely control, means to gain personal control over myself and my responses. That little bit, gives me more control even over the situations that arise. For example, if you are in a relationship that is frustrating and you respond every time to that person the same way, they have been gifted the control over your emotions, behaviors and reactions. But, if you decide that you will not respond in the same way, you will respond in a ‘seek to understand’ the situation better and not believe that what is going on is directed at you, you gain the control that you search for by responding as you want to respond. Gaining stability by practicing your values. You can then feel good about accepting the things you can’t change outside of yourself and taking ownership of what you can change within. This can give new motivation as well to make positive change, as we are motivated to change the things we believe we have control over. So, look in-ward, focus on ourselves instead of the outside circumstances that we have no control over.
Courage to change is the hardest thing to muster if we are focused elsewhere. So what about the wisdom to know the difference? How do we get that part? Life gives us wisdom. We learn through trial and error, often stating to ourselves “I wish I would have done...” Well of course you would have done it differently because your experiences allowed you to learn! You gained wisdom through the situations, the mistakes and the painful experiences. Think about this scenario: You go to school to learn how to achieve your dream. You read all the books, have access to all the theories and all the “wisdom” of the people before you. You graduate school feeling like you know exactly what to do in every possible situation. And then you go get experience, realizing through at least the first 5 years, all that reading was helpful but did not in fact prepare you completely for the reality of the world and people. You will make mistakes, you will have bad situations, and you will learn through the painful experiences. It is the reality of being human.
To sum it all up, I often repeat the serenity prayer to myself to remind myself that I control me, I can’t control others, and I will learn from every painful experience.
GOD, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,
Courage to change the
things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the
pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this
sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make
all things right if I
surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy
in this life, and supremely
happy with Him forever in
The Serenity PrayerThe full text of the original "Serenity Prayer"
written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
NOTE: This is the full prayer attributed to Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr reportedly written in 1926. Niebuhr was a Lutheran pastor and theologian. Usually his "Serenity Prayer" is quoted using the first 2 verses only
Children love summer! They have fantastical ideas about what they will do and dream of freedom. Parents worry about what children will do while parents are working. Summer programming is often expensive and for few hours. There are many opportunities in Des Moines this summer. Adolescents can volunteer, work a part time job or do projects with their friends to stay busy.
I remember the long summer days with little responsibility, it was freedom and a chance to explore!
Here is just one sight for you to check out: http://eatplaylovedesmoines.com/2014/03/2374.html