April 25, 2010

I Needed to Struggle

I was thinking back to more than five years ago when I decided to open my own addiction treatment center. I felt ready to move from the safety of a program where I had been director for seven years and try it myself. I didn’t have any idea the undertaking and rushed out of the nest with optimistic enthusiasm. A New Beginning. That was the name of the program I bought. And it was. It wasn’t long into the running of the business part that I began to encounter lessons safely hidden behind locked doors, fancy checkbooks and even the nighttime darkness of my own bedroom. Owning a business never goes away. It never sleeps. It is a living, breathing, and sometimes blood sucking organism that screams to be fed your time, attention and money.

It was a huge struggle. But I did it. And I needed to. I even needed to struggle. What is life without attempting things you dream? As I reflect back further, even as far back as childhood, I think of things my parents were teaching me that slid well in line with examples of this caliber. The ones where the moral of the story was, “And one day you will be grateful for this even though you don’t understand it now”. Some of my favorites were driving a 1975 Chevy Nova that was used when it was bought for my sister five years earlier than I had access to it in 1987. Or not getting the newest gizmos and gadgets each time I wanted them. Instead, waiting for a birthday or Christmas to receive one (yes, just one) of them. And that dreaded awful “work” word they used when I didn’t always want to get out of bed on a Saturday morning. We all went to the farm together to spend the entire day working on something….picking up pecans, clearing brush, feeding cows. Or at home we worked in the garden or the yard. And I didn’t always like it. Sometimes it was a struggle. But I did it. And I needed to.

I was spending a few moments in the past this morning with an epiphany waiting at the end….seeing the bows of a beautifully wrapped gift being tied together. The struggles of the past, the pain of the past, or the losses from yesterday were all so necessary. I learn the most valuable things from struggling through. There will be other business opportunities. There will be other decisions that weigh on my mind. There will be more loss. There will be more of life…..And the knowledge that there is more education to come does not necessarily lessen the heartache that can accompany but it certainly puts life in a bite size perspective for me.

Ready or not.

April 22, 2010

Being Present

Excerpt from Conscious Life: © 2010

When our history speaks to us we react. That is further evidence of not living consciously. When conscious we are present. We are aware because we have examined the debris of our history and its’ profound impact on our today. Some people in recovery from addiction often are heard saying that in order to recover they must live in the “now, now”. That is a perfect example of staying out of the reactions to history. But not only do we need to be present, we must also be aware of the factual data that is our history. This cannot be done without examination. We must, even when it is difficult, exhume our history and take a look.

Are you ready to dig?

April 21, 2010

Counselor Self-Care

From one of my first and still favorite counselor books.....Help for Helpers Daily Meditations:

Self Love (February 4)

If my basket is filled with plums
I can't give you apples

If my heart is filled with self-hatred
I can't teach you self-love

If I can't forgive myself
I can't grant you forgiveness

If I'm obsessed with perfection
I can't teach you tolerance

If my body trembles with anger
I can't teach you serenity

If I can't love myself
I can't love you

Let me remember today that, especially as a counselor, charity begins at home.


Growth Opportunity Delivery!

Excerpt from Conscious Life: © 2010

Consciousness is unique to the individual. No one else has your experiences, perceptions and beliefs.

How is this true for you? Where is it helpful? Where is it hurtful?

Time to journal?

April 20, 2010

Risk Vs. Reward

What risk is too great to get to your goal?

We all know "them" or maybe we are "them". Willing to do anything to get what they want. I sometimes think that translates to willing to risk anything to get what you want.

While I am a firm believer in everyone living their dream and to their fullest potential, isn't there a line? Might it be a better idea to be more calculated? To look at what I might risk if I do, in fact, go for what I want?

While this list isn't all inclusive of what I look at, there are three very important things (to me) I tend to look at when attempting to "go for it". They are:

1. How will this impact my family?
2. How will this impact my career?
3. How will this impact my health?

There are always positives and negatives...yes, always. But, sometimes when going for what we want we can only see the positives. We put blinders on and pretend the negatives don't exist...and then one day when the sun and moon line up just right.....Pow! The negatives come into view and we wonder how we got there.

What are you willing to risk today to get what you want? What is too big to risk?

Risky question, huh?

April 15, 2010

Thank you, thank you very muuuch!

Tomorrow (bright and early) is another travel day. This time I am on my way to Memphis...to see the king! I can't wait. I am certain he is still there...in a donut shop somewhere. I haven't been to Graceland since the year he died. And I was a wee little child back then.

This will be a fabulous journey down memory lane andI look forward to it with the excitement of that child!

Elvis will be leaving the building before sunrise!

Curriculum Update

One of the best things about creating this curriculum is two-fold. Not only is it based on experience it is also being tested for results!

Having worked in most levels in the counseling field and with multiple modalities, I have had the opportunity to see what impacts people. I have collaborated with other professionals through the years and get feedback from many perspectives. Most importantly, perhaps, is that I have watched people grow and change. This curriculum is designed around what we have seen actually effect a change.

As we write the curriculum I have the opportunity to work it through with two different groups currently. Each time I have the privilege of receiving real time feedback from the actual participants. I walk away from the groups and we polish it a little more. So the words tried and true may have never been as "true" as with this curriculum.

There are so many reasons I am excited about the development of Unconscious Life. Watching the pieces of twenty years of work and experience fall into place is an incredible reward.

Are you working toward something today?

April 13, 2010

New Normal

Saturday marked five months since my mom's death. It is hard to believe it has been that long. It is even more difficult to absorb how much happened in such a short time span. As I look at the last five months through more rational eyes I can see so many gifts. I am able to see the positive more each day and less of the negative.

The truth for me is that the first three months following her death and the loss of my job, I was far from logical. I don't even remember everything that happened during some of those days. I still have memories about her funeral that hit me as if they are new. I assume that is the protection the body offers from having to feel the intensity of the pain all at once.

Things are becoming different now and I am living, one day at a time, with a very new normal. I spent the past weekend at my house. I haven't done that much in over two years. I spent as much time with my mom as I could since she was diagnosed with cancer in January 2007.....time I value more and more each day....time I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I guess it is the small stuff I miss the most. I miss her sense of humor and her tolerance of mine!
This weekend I am making a "memory lane" kind of journey toward Memphis, Tennessee with some family members. It is a route I took several times with mom. When I was very young, the same year Elvis died, in fact, my parents took us to Graceland. Years later, after my dad was gone, my mom and three of my aunts drove through Memphis on our way to visit another aunt in Kentucky. We spent the night there and made some great memories.

One of the funniest memories I have of that trip (and there were many) actually didn't happen until I arrived home. When I travel I mail a post card to myself from the places I visit. I don't write anything on them....but this time...when I looked at my postcard from a town we stopped in Arkansas my mom had written on it "wish you were here"! I still have that card. And I still laugh every time I look at it. Those are the small things. The things she did everyday to brighten my life.

She was amazing. She still is amazing. And I am so grateful for the time we spent together. I think out of everything I walk away with is that lesson. Live for today. Love for today and don't let a day go by without doing something you want to do. I wonder how many weekends and holidays I would have missed had I just done what was easier by staying home, avoiding the travel or the truth, and not been with her.

Finding gifts in grief.

April 10, 2010

Another Counselorish Thought: Week Three

What is the reason others only believe you are okay if you behave as they behave?

Would the world be any better if everyone accepted each other for who they are (and are becoming) instead of who you want them to be? Don't each of us matter? Don't each of us contribute so much to the world because of our differences?

Are YOU withholding love or approval because someone won't act the way you think they should? What is your intention with that behavior? Are you intentionally hurting them so they will suffer or do you even realize you are hurting them?


April 05, 2010

Curriculum Coming out September 2010

Conscious Life: Understand who you are to begin changing your life!
The key to making true, long lasting positive changes in your life is by starting at the beginning.

As with most things in life….who we are is primarily a learned behavior. The fundamentals of our personalities, our interest, our curiosities, and our value system all come from our exposure to the world around us beginning at birth.

Step by step, block by block we have built our personalities and behaviors on a foundation created, in part, as unconscious reactions to events and changes in our lives.

Who we are today is simply the sum effect of our experiences…. Yet few among us take the time to examine how we’ve been changed or how we continue to change.

This exciting and new curriculum helps clients to make real long- lasting fundamental changes in who they are by uncoupling the life event from the person, to see themselves as not necessarily being only what they see in the mirror each morning and by using this new awareness to create the path that the client has always wanted for themselves and those around them…

Curriculum and workbook to be released September 2010!

$35.00 for Workbook
$1750.00 for Training on Curriculum

Reserve your copy today by emailing: Paula@PaulaHellerGarland.com

April 01, 2010

Recovery Today, April 2010

A link to my April 2010 article in Recovery Today:


Destination: Orlando

It didn’t occur to me until this morning while waiting to board the plane for Orlando exactly how many families take that flight to Florida over a holiday weekend. My son called me to tell me he loved me before he got out of the car for school. When he heard kids screaming in the background he asked me what was going on. After joking with him about all the other kids I had and never told him about he said, “April fool’s”. Smart kid. At that moment it entered my mind that I would be getting on a plane that for all intents and purposes was Disney bound. I have made this family flight myself.

Now, the idea of flying with kids doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I adore children. It is the parents I take issue with. Perhaps, I’m still unearthing childhood myself but when I hear a parent hurl shaming insults toward their precious cargo I have an overwhelming urge to smack them in child-defense. I want to instruct that parent on the spot. I wanted to ask the woman in front of me today, “Really? You really think he can sit still AND up straight for a two hour flight? He is only four!” Even I need to adjust or stand up during that amount of time.

I am a mom. I understand parental frustration. Lord knows I don’t handle every moment with my son as well as June Cleaver. And I am not going to be writing a parenting book or advice column anytime soon; although, if he makes it through medical school and never holds up a 7-11, I am not ruling it out.

I often wonder about parents who don’t allow kids to be kids. Kids squirm, talk and ask funny questions. I was sitting positioned well for some field research today. The mom in front of me was sitting with two children, about four and ten years old. The mom and dad behind me had a child about two or three years old.

The mom in front of me was in serious need of a valium. Her poor little excited kids did very little that pleased mom today. I think they heard the words no, quit, stop and don’t more times than I have heard in the last year. The mom behind me was talking about the plane and their trip the entire flight. So, guess which family deplaning included a full-blown temper tantrum?

So similar to most things in life parenting seems to be. Comparable scenarios but very different reactions…one of the responses pushed toward the positive and the other launched in the direction of doom!

I guess that really is a life lesson for me (and many)…my reaction is vital to the unfolding events of my daily journey. Today I am going to stick with an optimistic outlook and keep the negative at bay for another day. Even though my particular destination isn’t Disneyworld I will think of my life as an excursion to the happiest place on earth.

Cheers parents!