Quieting the Mind: Some Tricks that Work for Me

So….without a doubt the last 12 months have been pretty different for me.

I quit my full time job and joined a private mental health practice, started and stopped seeing kids in a school setting prior to and after a local shooting at a school, had some back/feet issues, and joined the ranks of the uterus free.

Oh yeah, and I moved from my hometown state of Indiana, where I had lived all of my years except the 2 where I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to McKinney, Texas, to be closer to my husbands work area.

Shoo. Sounds like a lot even when I write it.

I am a fairly structured person.

I have a routine when I wake up (love some hot tea in the mornings), a general routine throughout the day, and a time I go to bed most nights. I’m an early-bird, so falling asleep comes earlier than I wish it did sometimes, but it all works out.

During the last 15 months, I have brushed up on my counseling skills and become a little more current in my knowledge.

One area I find super important both to me and to my clients is using mindfulness to quiet the mind. Like many, I am a really good thinker, which can turn into worry. I can think about what is coming up, imagine what I should or could say in that situation, and then, after it occurs, think about what has been said and what might have been done differently.

When I am working with someone in therapy, we talk a lot about being in tune with their own feelings. We talk about what senses they use to calm themselves down.

I have found that for most people, they have a sense that they are more likely to utilize when their thinking starts to ‘take over’.

For some, that sense is hearing. They may become overstimulated by too many sounds, for instance, which can be a source of frustration for them. They may also be the person who says ‘when I get upset, I put on music and listen to it’.

I find it interesting how some people are calmed by calming, peaceful music. I am an acoustic girl myself. Some acoustic guitar, or some classical piano music, or anything by Peter, Paul and Mary are instant calm-downers for me. If it is really bad, out come The Carpenters. When Karen C and I sing together, it really calms me down.

For others, more intense, loud music with a strong beat is calming. When my husband and I were first dating, we had a constant battle over volume and type of music in the car. One of my friends joked that she liked to watch us constantly turn up and down the music on the radio, which we both did absentmindedly. He is more of a ‘layers’ person, and loves the grunge music of the 90’s. I find that music quite agitating, but for him, it is calming.

For others, their sense of what they see is their go-to for relaxation. They may be the person who looks out the window at the green trees in the summer. They may love to stare at a lake, or a picture of a lake. They may be able to close their eyes and envision a sandy beach and the sunshine beating down, or a forest with the sun peeking through the trees.

For those candle lovers out there, your sense that may be most calming may be your sense of smell. As a person with several seasonal allergies, I am more drawn to food smells in a candle, or the smell of fruits. For others, a clean, cotton smell, or the smell of cookies baking, or lilacs may be a very calming sense for you.

Taste and touch are the last two senses that can be drawn from when you consider the 5 senses.

For me, my clothes are really important to me, for my comfort both in temperature and in being comfortable in my clothes. I do not enjoy tight clothes, or clothes that are rough. For others, they may hate having a tag, or love to wear comfy pants.

Some people carry a rock in their pocket as part of their faith. The smooth edge of the rock can be a calming moment for them. Others wear bands around their wrists, and will snap them as a way to stay calm.

Many of us have all kinds of memories around taste. The taste of sweet may remind you of childhood in a positive way. The taste of something bitter may be how you wake up in the morning, and associate that taste with the smell of coffee.

Our senses are really intertwined-it is hard to imagine a taste without having a smell associated with it, and some things we see are very associated with what we hear.

I encourage you to use some time, as you finish reading this, to think about which senses help you quiet your mind and slow down from all of the tasks that are required of us.

Now imagine that you are seeing that thing that is a favorite, or listening to that sound of the waves crashing, or smelling the smell of cookies baking.

As you imagine hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, or smelling, think about things you have fond memories of. As you are imagine those smells, touches, etc., now breathe in for a count of 4.

Now wait for 2

and breathe out for 4.

and wait for 2 again.

As you do this continue to imagine you are hearing the familiar sounds that are helpful as you quiet the worries and the stresses in your mind.

Now look around you for something you can see. As you look, look at every piece of it. Notice the outside edges, the colors, and how the shadows surround it.

Continue breathing in and out, waiting for a beat of 2 in between each breath.

For me these steps are helpful in quieting some of those stressors, whether they are about work, family, the weather, or things we cannot or do not want to change.

Enjoy your day!

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Moving to McKinney! Pain Free Acupuncture Clinic, Office Space, but first…… Ranch in Argyle

At about 4:30pm Central Time on June 6th we drove into McKinney, Texas; well I drove into McKinney.

I had our puppy, and my husband went directly to the AirBNB ranch, in Copper Canyon, Texas, where we would be staying for three weeks until we got possession of our newly purchased home.

Matt went to check in, meet Pam the owner, and drop off a couple of things.

After 2 days of driving, and one full hour of Oklahoma rainstorms where we met for lunch at two separate Chick Filas, we had made it to our new-to-us home in time for our final walk. The next day, we signed the papers to purchase it.

Earlier in the week, prior to leaving Noblesville, Indiana, we took some pictures of our previous home.

Just as we were about to leave Noblesville to stay in our first hotel, Matt came through as photographer-suggester. He suggested we take a selfie at our home in Noblesville before we left.

I agreed with that suggestion, and took several pics through the home, including our view of the beautiful grass we grow so easily in Indiana.

View from the front porch

Our Noblesville home had been cleaned, all of our belongings that survived the purge had been loaded onto a truck, and we had put the final remaining items into our 2 vehicles so that we’d have clothes, some chairs, and some food/hygiene items for the coming weeks.

When we arrived in Texas for our final walk through, we walked around, and I took pics of the home with the previous owners’ belongings in it. I enjoy their decorating style, and wanted to be able to replicate a couple of things once they had their things out of it.

Wayfair Floor covering in kitchen 🙂

It was a great relief to see our home again, and then to close without incident on it on 6/7.

Even better, the ranch our realtor had connected us with in Copper Canyon, Texas, is an Air BNB that is lovely.

Sitting poolside at Sparrow Ranch

We became Texas landowners on 6/7/2019, and settled in to enjoy our stay in Copper Canyon and to begin preparing to move into our home at the end of the month.

My childhood friends, Cara and her twin sister Sara, live in the area to which we are moving.

I have been communicating with them about re-connecting, particularly asking for help with finding a hair dresser, help with mental health office space, etc., and help finding medical/chiropractic care.

They definitely came through for me. Cara and Sara have been advising me from Texas through many of our decisions, and had told me in 2016 that they could work to connect me with people they knew. They both were true to their word and I really appreciate it.

I am excited to say that on June 18th, which also happens to be our 25th wedding anniversary, I signed on the dotted line and began renting space at the Pain Free Acupuncture Clinic in McKinney (Craig Ranch) Texas. I am writing this blog from the desk that I share with Gail, the clinical manager.

new office door
Office door, Pain Free Acupuncture Clinic

We wrap up our stay at Sparrow Ranch later this week, our 21 year old boys come over the weekend, and the furniture truck arrives late next week.

When I think about all of the anticipation and the change we have had, I think about new beginnings.

I think about my opportunity to work alongside those who help with physical pain, as I work to help from the mental health side of both emotional and physical pain. I am excited for new and old friends, new opportunities, and new beginnings.

I think about heartfelt ‘see you soons’. I think about the friendships I have in Indiana and beyond, which I will continue to have. I think about relationships I have through the work I have participated in, and I think about my close relationships with family members. I am excited to be able to continue to travel home and to accept guests into my home to continue those relationships.

I think about so many new opportunities

Now I’d like for you to think about changes you are considering in your own life.

Think about things you like just the way they are. Think about things/people that cause you a bit of discomfort. People you may wish to reconnect with, and those you wish for a little more separation from.

As you think about changes you would like to make, or changes you have made, think about things you love, things that make you unsettled, and your plan for change

Think about ‘how can I improve what I have and love, and what can I do to make things better and sometimes harder’, at least in the short term. Think about how you can make decisions, like starting over in a new state, opening a business, drawing a picture of what you envision, or even reaching out to an old friend.

Now…think of something you can do this week, or at least in the short term.

Can you commit to it? I know I can. These changes are here, I’m excited about them, and every day is kind of like wearing a new outfit, which is something I like to do.

Change isn’t easy….but it sure is exciting! Good luck with your commitment to change, and I’m so glad you were able to think about things you love and wish to alter in your own life.

Sunset in Grapevine

Parenting with Fierceness: Moving from Pre-Teen to Teen, or Toddler to Pre-Schooler (Hint: It Is Pretty Much the Same)

3rd Grade School Pics

When my kids were about 12, I was in a meeting with a woman with adult children.

She said something wise, which has stuck with me since then and proven true time and time again.

Backing up a little, that day I was at a meeting with providers (which means people who work as professionals with families) discussing how to help encourage a family with a teenager to provide a safe environment where the child could either continue to live or that they could return back to living.

At the time, I was providing Home Based Therapy in Marion County, Indiana.

My role as a therapist was to work with the children and adults in a family to help the adults provide a safe, stable environment to the teens or children which had not been provided one at some point.

The families in this program had experience abused or neglect in some way.

Her words of wisdom went something like this:

‘Toddlers and Teen are just the same. A two year old and a four year old are bursting with the independence that they are trying to obtain. We expect it, and we allow for it.

They are small people, so they can be relatively easy to contain in general.

Teenagers are bigger versions. A 12 year old is like a 2 year old, and a 14 year old is like a 4 year old.

They are much bigger in size, are not nearly as easy to control physically, and are also generally bursting with ideas for their own independence as well’

One of my favorite things about this supervisor was her ability to get her team to provide quality work.

At that time, I was providing direct service (therapy) for 18 months, which was a break from supervising staff. I have supervised staff for the majority of my career, so this experience allowed me to learn from her a little differently than if we were peers.

She supervised her staff in a way which encouraged reliability, communication, and caring for the families they worked with.

She supervised people who worked for the Department of Child Services, which is a very difficult role to be in.

We know that anyone who has gone through their adolescent years, or early twenties, or whenever we ‘broke’ away from our parents in some ways, that it is part of adolescence.

Adolescents have the job of establishing independence. They are more interesting in their peers and their friends, developmentally. Their parents are trying to advise and guide them to making safe decisions.

One of the norms that i have noticed changing a bit in the last few years is about perceived safety and how do we deal with teens and those computers in their hands.

When I was a teen, back in the 80’s, I had some pretty emphatic boundaries. My parents were stricter than many of my friends’ parents in some ways, so if I went on a date in high school we stayed in Tipton.

Keeping my location local helped my parents with a sense of safety, while also extremely limiting our movie and dinner options.

We had one movie theatre with one screen, and a few places to eat but not many of them involved sitting down and ordering.

We were beginning to learn about typing on computers at school, but personal computers would come out a few years later.

How does this apply to you?

Think about how you parent your child, particularly if they are a teen.

I was able to hear Dawn Crossman speak on Saturday at an event called ‘SHIFT’, which was put on by the Peyton Reikoff Foundation.

She discussed some things about parenting intense teens that I have found in my experiences as well.

As teens work to establish that sense of self and figure out who they are, we need to protect them when we can and allow some mistakes, just like we do with our 2 and 4 year olds.

If a two year old is still struggling to walk well, we don’t tell them to stop walking.

We encourage them to figure out how to walk better through those falls where they plop down. I love to watch early walkers run, and just lead with those giant heads.

The same is true for 12 year olds and 14 year olds.

Let them make mistakes they can learn from, while staying aware of their own tendency to, as my husband coined ‘run with the bad ideas’.

He was talking with my son at dinner one night at during those pre-teens years and mentioned ‘you get a ‘bad’ idea, you think it is good, and then you run with it. You just run faster and faster with the idea’.

I tend to avoid using the terms good and bad, but think about this how it relates to you.

My son loves people, loves to have fun, and loves to spend time with friends. We worked, in high school, to encourage him to complete his home work at a pace possibly slower than 100 mph, but we did not monitor it.

Having academically strong children comes with its own sets of perks and balances, and for us one reality was that we never monitored their homework closely.

We did look at their power school, or the school website where grades were listed, and my guess is this conversation either had something to do with hanging out with friends longer than allowed him to have sleep, or it had something to do with turning in an assignment he had missed.

Either way, the example was used that day, and for years to come. Eventually it got shortened to ‘just keep running! Keep running with those ideas’, with a smile and some arm motions imitating running.

As we parent our children, we want to establish a sense of trust when we can.

We want to hold our children, pre-teens, and teens accountable to help motivate them to make decisions that will ultimately help them grow into accountable adults who are productive citizens.

Making it work:

Think about who you want to motivate, who might be acting like a temper tantruming toddler.

How do you encourage them, as they are demonstrating that independence so willfully, to continue to be persistent in ways that help them and to give-in in ways that are holding them back?

I encourage you to think of a way to use that accountability and knowledge of their developmental age as you make rules, consequences, and motivate those in your care.

I hope you enjoy your weekend! Basketball is everywhere if you enjoy watching it.

Podcast 5: A Team Success Story: Managing with Trust

Click below to listen to a Podcast about a successful team experience at a social service agency. Happy Listening!

www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-e23mv-ac3010

Managing with Trust: A Success Story

I love to lead staff.

I really enjoy building relationships where staff who are working begin to be able to do more and more on their own.

I also enjoy meeting with staff for what I usually call individual supervision where we  (the verb) ‘staff’, which means discussing the people they are working with and working to improve the skills the employee has, while at the same time I hear their perspectives on things that are going well and ideas they have to help the families make change to reduce the stresses in their own lives.

A few years ago, I had what I commonly refer to as ‘a really strong team’.

We were a group who enjoyed each other, which her its own perks and drawbacks, but for this team, it was a perk.

We had a group staff meeting each month.

At that staff meeting, I pre-printed an agenda which had pertinent information on it, such as processes that were changing or being updated, upcoming events where they had the opportunity to work at, and we staffed clients.

One of my staff referred to the staff meetings as a gathering where all of the kids come home.

For this group, we covered 4 counties in Indiana. One of the counties, Hamilton, has a huge number of people living in it, and 7 public school districts in it. Four of those are among the highest populated schools in the state, and one of them is among one of the most rural areas of the state where the closest grocery store is a 15 minute drive from the center of town.

The other 3 counties were very individualized as well. Madison County has one of the highest number of people in poverty and using illegal/non-prescribed drugs both in the state and nationwide.

Hancock is what is commonly referred to as a ‘bedroom’ community, with 4 school systems of its own ranging from just outside of Indianapolis (Marion County) to quite rural communities as well.

The final county in our area, where I was brought up, is Tipton. Tipton is historically a farm community with some of the richest soil in the nation where many of us who grew up there in the 80’s detassled corn.

So on these staff meetings, the 6 staff who served the 4 counties, our administrative assistant, and our safe sleep coordinator gathered with me to discuss upcoming events, things going well, and things to work on.

Recently, one of my staff from that time period posted a picture where she and her co-worker dressed as our male co-worker in his football jerseys.

Anytime you have a group that is cohesive and works well together, I think it is important to look back at what went well to try to re-create it.

For this group, I am listing below some of our strengths and areas that creative a positive work environment:

1. The job in and of itself is a hopeful job that allowed us to help people. We worked in prevention, which allowed us to work with families on a voluntary basis.

2. There was a whole lot of trust.

Three of the staff primarily worked in Madison County, and they developed a very close friendship with each other. They had a group chat where they were able to bounce ideas off of each other as they worked with some families in some extreme poverty.

3. Availability of office space.Three of the 4 counties had offices in them, which allowed the workers to have a place to land and decompress. The most isolated person was definitely based out of our Hancock County office, which was two rooms in a building with several other individual offices in there. This allowed her to get to know the services in the community on a closer level as she spent time in her office.

4. Each person who worked in the community cared about their community. Tipton, having about 16,000 people in the county and about 5,000 people who live in the town of Tipton, was always the hardest to hire for. Since I grew up, went to high school, and have worked in the community for most of my professional career I was able to help that along.

Each of the other counties had staff who worked in them who either lived in or near the community, which helped with the driving around the county and with their own sense of community.

5 Those staff meetings we loved? We ate at them. We started with having a bagel breakfast at our 10:00 meeting, but eventually switched to an 11-1 meeting time with lunch included and paid for by the agency to allow us to eat lunch. This allowed the staff to see clients prior to the meeting if they wanted, and it also gave us some casual, get your food time to discuss some of the ‘softer’ skills of their work.

6. It was a great team with great staff. I had hired, with the help of the VP above me, well and had a group that was skilled in many areas and helped each other.

The take-away from this article is this: think about how can you work well together with your team.

What can you do, that you have control of, to improve your work environment?

As in all situations, things evolve and change, and people who work in entry level positions who are pretty skilled in their role sometimes want to move up or move on.

How can you help staff who are in a place where they are ready for more challenges incorporate those new challenges or ideas into their role or be able to incorporate those skills into their next role?

As an employee, what can you do, in your role, to improve morale with your own behavior?

Recapping, my success story is not about one employee. It is about a work environment based on trust, workability, and good humor.

I hope you find some fun in your tasks today! It is sunny here, which always starts my day off a little better.

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