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Going to the Dogs

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We have a 4-legged addition to the family!

Hubby and I adopted a Catahoula Leopard mix from a local rescue organization last week and it’s like having a toddler in the house!

(We’d never heard of this breed before, but are quickly becoming educated.  She’s a mix, so considerably smaller and calmer than a pure-bred.)

She’s one year old and full of vim, vinegar, and mischief.

(Except when she’s passed out, recharging her batteries!)

Tuckered Out

Tuckered Out

 

 

 

 

Learning to sit

Learning to sit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mommy’s Green Dress

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When I was a little girl, my mom had a beautiful green dress hanging in the closet of our guest bedroom. She’d worn the dress to parties in the post WW2 era. It was exciting just hearing her talk about the dances and parties.   I must have shown too much interest at some point, because I remember being forbidden from touching or playing with it.

Well, once it became taboo, it might as well have had a Denise-magnet sewn into the fabric. I really wanted to wear that dress. Green was my favorite color back then, so that made it all the more alluring. And that sheer fabric over the satin, oh how it beckoned me. Mom rarely got angry with me, but when she did, she meant business, so I only admired it from the closet door.

Until it became worth the risk.

The summer I turned seven More

Rocks of Reclamation

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Following a 14-year absence, my husband and I went to Alaska to visit my mom last year. Dad had passed away in those years, while I’d still been estranged. His passing allowed me the freedom to return to my roots and rescue my younger self in a very tangible way.

As part of my healing, I brought some rocks to leave behind.

 

 

For me, rocks symbolize strength and power.

Think David and Goliath, Alcatraz, Stonehenge, the Pyramids.

My rocks were that important to me. They would declare my presence, my survival; even after I departed once again. More

From Estrangement to Reconciliation

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Estrangement stories cross my path often lately.  It’s a painful and sensitive topic, for both sides.  Some people are hurting because they’ve chosen to estrange themselves, others because they don’t understand why a loved one has estranged.  Still others long for the relief of estrangement, but the pain of setting that boundary is clearly too difficult.

The journey of coming to terms with why we need to estrange ourselves can be grueling, depressing, and exhausting.  Desire for belonging to family is strong, and it took considerable pain – and 3 attempts – before I was finally able to definitively draw my line in the sand.  More

What’s Your Triad?

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There’s a pattern of dysfunction called the Triad many of us have without even realizing it.  This is one of many things I learned about myself in therapy. 

 

Triad refers to the way people Think, Feel, and Behave. 

 1. Self Activation -Think

This involves an action of taking care of ourselves.

 2. Abandonment Feelings -Feel

This is the result of taking care of ourselves.  If we have any ‘gaps’ from our childhood, they rear their ugly heads about now.

 3. Acting Out – Behave

This is our reaction to the abandonment feelings.

 

A simple example of the triad More

Change Of Plans

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In 2009 my husband and I realized time was running out for taking a family vacation –at least for our existing family unit.  Both kids were seriously involved with their significant others and we knew it wouldn’t be long before there would be wedding bells.  Change was fast approaching for family as we knew it Happy for our soon-to-be-growing family, the vacation would be a bitter-sweet and symbolic farewell to the existing family structure.

Thus began the plans for what seemed like a fantasy trip for 4 to Scotland and Ireland.  None of us had been to Europe and we all agreed experiencing a bit o’ Irish sounded like a lot of fun.

The planning was both exciting and stressful, as vacations are prone to be.  However, stressful took on another level when my dad died during the planning stages and my PTSD symptoms exploded.  His death launched an entire new wave of nightmares and flashbacks.

I struggled mightily to focus on planning the trip, not wanting to disappoint my kids.   My mental state became fragile, my work suffered, and I spent many hours crying on the couch trying in vain to figure a way to escape my anxiety and not give up on the trip.

Somehow we got our itinerary finalized and bought the airline tickets.  Three days later the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in Iceland.  The volcano may as well have been inside my head because my brain felt like it exploded too.  I hadn’t realized how close to the cliff I’d been until the volcano blew. More

Finding Healing in Unexpected Places -and a Book Giveaway

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The theme of adoption has always been of interest to me.  As a child I used to tell people I was adopted.  I always thought if you were adopted it meant you were wanted, therefore special.  It never occurred to me there might be pain involved in being adopted, or giving a child up for adoption.  Over the years I’ve spoken with people on both sides of the adoption picture and now understand it’s not the fairy tale I used to fantasize about.

**Spoiler Alert

The British movie Philomena caught my eye recently because of the adoption theme.  Then it captured my heart because of the healing and forgiveness in her story. More

How To Help Your Depressed Friend

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Friends and family were often at a loss of what to say or do around me when I was at my lowest points of depression.  Though it may have come with the best intentions, people would sometimes trivialize my feelings or give me a checklist of things to do ‘move on.’  They would also suggest I be more appreciative that things weren’t worse.  These responses actually worsened my state of mind.  The people who helped me the most responded far differently. 

The effects of depression/abuse/trauma trickle down to every layer of life.  In general, depressed people have great difficulty with relationships; this includes marriage, parenting, friendship, work, and church.  Those of us who have been abused have been taught that intimate relationships of all kinds, not just sexual, are dangerous.  We have been deeply hurt and instinctively keep our emotional distance in order to be safe.

Speaking from experience, though, I can happily assure you change is possible.  It’s because of a certain key people in my life that I’ve been able to make it this far.  I’ve been on both sides of the coin –the one being helped and the one trying to help –and I wanted to share some ways I’ve learned to help.  

Important Distinction

Some people respond to their depression by being very needy.  This personality type needs support, but they also need firm boundaries.  They need to be treated as if they are capable.  Do not rescue or coddle them, as this only enables them to remain victims.  It can also create caregiver burnout or resentment.  Help them learn healthy independency.

Other people respond by being very self-sufficient.  This personality is often very hesitant to ask for help.  If they do ask, it is a sign they may be feeling accepted by you.  No matter how small the request seems to you, it is probably a big step for them to ask.  Help them learn healthy dependency.

Here are ways to support either type of friend:

  More

The Power of Connection

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My heart is a bit lighter these days, all because a stranger connected with me.

Thank you, Alice!

Thank you, Alice!

A few days before Christmas, I went to a local store searching for some new jeans.  A helpful clerk named Alice was able to help me find some that fit well, and I even found a bonus purchase of a dress for half price. 

We chatted about all things Christmas, and I went home with my purchases.  I looked at the receipt and did a double take; the charge for the dress wasn’t anywhere to be found.  I wanted to wear it to an up-coming party, but also knew I needed to return to the store and pay for it.  I decided to just save the tag and bring it in with my receipt.

I wore the dress to one party, then another.  The days slipped by and I kept procrastinating about returning to the store.  I didn’t really want to go back.

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The Old Violin

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While joyful and exciting, the holidays can also be a difficult time of year.

There were many Christmases I bounced between having fun and enjoying the season with my husband and kids while struggling with deep-seated depression.

My lack of family-of-origin connection during the holidays magnified feelings of rejection and worthlessness; especially related to my dad.  A sweet and tender story about an old violin touched me many years ago during an especially difficult time of depression.  Though not a cure, it was balm to the soul.

If feelings of loneliness, worthlessness or rejection plague you during the holidays I offer you this story.  I hope it reminds you that you are indeed worthy and loved.

The Old Violin

~Myra Brooks Welch

‘Twas battered and scarred, And the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while to waste his time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile. More

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