August 30, 2010

Stopping Activity!

Many times we talk about wanting things to be different. If we really want different outcomes, oftentimes that means we have to have different behaviors. That isn’t always easy. Perhaps, not because we don’t want to change, but time and again I find that is because we don’t really know how.

One of the places to begin is to take a look at a behavior you would like to stop. We all have those. Maybe you want to stop smoking, eating chocolate, having wine with dinner, or even end that dysfunctional relationship.
Once you have made a commitment to stopping the behavior and are beginning to move forward, it is likely you will have a desire to engage in the behavior again. When this occurs, ask yourself these questions:

1. What is the behavior you would like to do that you know is unproductive?

2. What would this behavior look like, in detail, if you were to follow through?

3. What are you hoping will happen if you engage in this behavior?

4. Based on past experience, what is the likely outcome if you engage in this behavior?

5. How will you likely feel when this happens?

Playing the situation through from beginning to end will likely assist in your making a healthier choice. Desires to engage in unproductive behaviors will pass. This stopping activity is valuable in supporting the discontinuation of behavior.

© Paula Heller-Garland, Conscious Life, 2010

Band Aid

In the aftermath of a recent relationship loss I was in a tailspin for nearly two weeks. The sadness overwhelmed. The idea that I would no longer have this friend to lean on was crushing. I found myself in tears and in fear more often than felt congruent to the experience.

So, if not this loss, then what? All those before….and as I have blogged many times in the past, there have been many in the last couple of years. An epiphany!

While I am sure many around me could see it, until this morning it hadn’t hit me. And it blew me away when I heard myself say this out loud, “I know it isn’t about this loss…it is about the many before…” and I candidly admit the main reason for becoming so heavily involved in the pursuit of keeping this friendship alive was in order to keep from having to feel those feelings.

So, this has been a band aid. And it has been ripped off.

August 24, 2010

Not Ready Yet?

This thought just occurred to me as I processed many recent events. There are so many times in my nearly twenty year career in and around counseling that I have heard counselors, therapists, and educators say “I guess they aren’t ready yet” when a client fails to make a change. What change, you might ask? The change the aforementioned counsel decided the client needs to make, of course.

Do we really think a person doesn’t want to change when they say they do but fail to follow through as we prescribe? I do not believe that anymore. The reason for this epiphany is simply the road my own journey has taken. Twenty years ago I did not know, perhaps, could not know, what I do today. Does that mean I did not want to change? Not at all. I recall wanting to make changes as early at six years old (really, six).

Sometimes I was not ready to make the changes suggested. There are a multitude of reasons for not being ready to make certain changes. There are times that I honestly did not believe I had the ability to make the change. There are times I in all probability could have made the change but simply didn’t want to. Often there was still a payoff attached to the behavior that outweighed the consequence. Another possibility is that the change another thought I needed to make was attached to their own beliefs and not mine.

So, I write this as a word of encouragement to someone in a transition. Do what you can do and are willing to do and experience will assist with what remains. I also say this as a word of support to the helping professional who is frustrated because the changes aren’t coming as rapidly as you had hoped. They will. But they will be the changes the person wants to make and in the time they are ready to make them. Keep trudging. Keep offering the assistance, being the lighthouse. When someone hits the rocky shore because they did not do it as you would have had you been them…..don’t get discouraged. Failing to change and feeling pain is useful, too.

Feeling encouraged.

If it Walks Like a Duck.....

So, the book I read last week, (yes, again with the book), my dear friends, and my therapist all have told me the same thing. And I live by the theory that if more than seventeen people tell me it is a duck, it just might be. And all in my gang tell me it is walking like an A-hole, oops…I meant duck.

And now they are telling me that in order to grieve a loss I must first feel angry. Well, I don’t really want to feel angry. Anger is my typical “go to” emotion. It is felt with passion and I demonstrate it though being passive-aggressive. And it gets me into trouble...and I don't mean I hit people and punch holes in walls. I mean that I understand that I am really not angry when I usually say I am. When I am passive-aggressive I think I am angry but am generally, if I get honest, hurt. So the battle in my mind right now is about deciding if allowing myself to be angry is a good idea.

So, again today, hitting my head against the wall but not with sadness…no this time I wanted to step it up a notch to sheer confusion. Umm, what do I feel again? Annnnddd….what am I supposed to feel again? I dunno.

I have that therapeutic grasp on the fact that all emotions are okay. They are just emotions. The demonstration of those emotions, however, is where we need to be careful. When I am passive-aggressive I have the ability to slice a person’s character apart with one quick-witted chop. Ah, yet again one of those little double-sided and golden traits. Wit works but hurting people does not. When I engage in the anger I feel a strong desire to hurt someone who has hurt me. And I would rather not.

Get angry? Maybe I am not ready to today. Maybe I am not angry. I am unsure. I watch a friend who seems to be living a parallel experience of the heart with me now, and we usually are, and yesterday he was angry. Frankly, I heard the story and felt he should be. And perhaps if he told me my story I would be angry. What a dilemma, what a quandary!

I am happy today and feel strong. I am going to hold onto that for this moment…because if I recall yesterday as an example, that feeling is sure to change at least fifty-five more times before lunch.

Speaking of lunch….I am wondering if it is wrong to have blue cheese dressing on top of shredded cheddar cheese for lunch (reference blog from yesterday).

I must get the duck out of here now.

August 23, 2010

Sweet Defeat

Sweet Victory or Sweet Defeat......

I have looked at my phone ten times this morning alone. I pick it up in my sleep to see if it has that light flashing telling me I missed it. The call, the text, the voicemail. None have come. I keep thinking if I just give it some time and space, as in the past, it will work out. But, I don’t think so this time. It has been much longer than it has been in the past. It was a week ago we last spoke. The cold words I still hear in my head, “we are going down different paths”….and I agreed. We are. But something inside reminds me that there have been similar words spoken before…and with time it will come back as it once was. After the bout of melancholy, when I am missed enough. After the emptiness fills the heart and I am once again needed. And I, not understanding how things can be so good one day and finished the next.

And I have tried to let it be. I have tried to embrace the idea that I cannot fight hard enough for someone who isn’t fighting for the same thing. I cannot make someone walk down a road they don’t want to walk. So I have resisted. Not always successfully. I have faltered twice since vowing not to interfere. I have text without response. And the sting of that rejection was enough to reacquaint me with the truth.

You can’t make someone love you. You can’t make someone accept you. You can’t make someone change their mind.

I know this road very well. The time we spent deliberately coming to know one another is enough time for me to know what is going on. There is running and escaping. And the experience is being stored in a time capsule in the mind. That is what happens. And I cannot change that. It doesn’t mean they care any less. It just means they care differently than I want.

Distance is what they want. And distance is what I need. Distance for me from the feelings. But achieving that is the struggle. Twice this weekend I had opportunities to run away emotionally and impede the sadness through setting something on top of it. While it seemed to be inviting and precisely the thing I did when I first started seeing my rock star, it isn’t what I want. A romance, another adventure, another scoop of golden brownie ice cream. None of those will help this come to an end.

Perhaps, the reason I have considered not moving on from my rock star, the reason I have considered taking up the flirtations of others, or the reason I have wanted extra chocolate on my sundae is simply because I am wholly aware of what is to come. When I begin peeling back the next layer that I have been all but stapling down in the last six months….there is pain. There is grief. There is Paula. And she is raw. Ready to explode, as if being shot from a cannon.

Ah, and writing is my liberating release. Yet, prose put me in danger of vulnerability. Something I too often guard against. The well meaning “suck it up and move along” friends who offer me counsel by telling me I deserve more and need to get happy are at my doorway offering hospitalization if I don’t come around in the next few days. Therein lies one more fear to face: Authenticity. I feel feelings. I feel them deeply and I lay them out in black and white for the world to see. This is who I am when I am real. And as frightening as that is, it is also cathartic.

I will put my feelings first. I will absorb the nature of that which I am dealing. I will realize the lessons and I will continue to move forward. For me part of the process is acknowledging the sadness of something that will not be the way I wanted. And I will salute the victory in the fact that I recognize the many lessons that lie ahead.

Onward, but tears are allowed.

August 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Poetry Session

I found some incredible poetry at and these three hit home today.....wanted to share the link and the poems....hope you enjoy!


I look into your face
And wonder what you want with me
‘cause everyone wants something
no one hangs around for free

Your eyes are so sincere
And in your lovely smile I bask
As I wonder all the while
What’s behind your pretty mask?

What underneath do you conceal
Devil, demon, angel, sprite
Are you needy, angry, vicious, lost,
Apathetic, filled with fright?

There’s so many ways to suffer now
And life is so confused
Its no wonder that the bulk of us
are sure we’ve been abused

So why don’t you just spit it out
And lay it on the line?
Take off the guise that hides the truth
Be honest just one time

But the world revolves on bullshit
We all balance on the fence
To risk a fall with honesty
I guess just makes no sense.

by: Amneris

The Perfect Man

The perfect man is gentle
Never cruel or mean
He has a beautiful smile
And keeps his face so clean.

The perfect man likes children
And will raise them by your side
He will be a good father
As well as a good husband to his bride.

The perfect man loves cooking
Cleaning and vacuuming too
He'll do anything in his power
To convey his feelings of love on you.

The perfect man is sweet
Writing poetry from your name
He's a best friend to your mother
and kisses away your pain.

He never has made you cry
Or hurt you In any way
Oh, fuck this stupid poem
The perfect man is gay.

- Unknown

Can I Awaken

Can I awaken your heart from it's sleep.
To arouse inside those passions you keep,
with a feeling of closeness too hard to deny,
that your heart will openly and willingly comply.

Can I awaken your soul just once more,
with the colors of love and all it's decor.
To bring back those memories of love that did exist,
the feelings it held with all of its bliss.

Can I awaken your eyes to see,
this love I can offer that will always be,
full of kindness and gentleness too,
with a sprinkle of thoughtfulness, to offer you too.

Can I awaken your arms to feel,
a tight embrace, that is oh so real.
To close all doors to the world outside,
to bring out your love that you so desperately hide.

by: Katie Klopfer(c)1997

August 19, 2010

Rock Star

I fell in love with a rock star. His presence was larger than life. He filled a room to the brim. As he stepped out of his sports car and took off his designer shades and put them into their case. I breathed in his charisma and the world felt bigger.

A golden boy….intelligent….articulate…well dressed…polished…mesmerizing. I was awestruck and hung on every word. I watched him on his stage and was captivated. I was charmed by his words and enamored with his poise….and I became vulnerable.

I watched while his calls were screened, questions unanswered, emotions censored. I listened to the others who had been backstage. They were unimpressed.

Then he invited me backstage.

He invited me backstage and took me around the world. I was part of his rock star life. The travel, the glamour, the fun where nothing was off limits. I felt bullet proof. My head whirled and I believed every sweet word that came from his gorgeous rock star mouth. He took me away from the truth and pain of my life for a while as he spoke the lyrics of his life.

The rock star was passionate, warm, loving and tender. He allowed me to see a side of him that he didn’t share with the world. Because he loved me, too. I was his. He was my silent romance novel.

The rock star life gave him all the rights.

And I stood with the responsibility.

And as all rock stars do….he moved on…..leaving me with lingering thoughts, memories and many questions I forgot to ask.

I never even asked for an autograph.

August 18, 2010

New Understanding

Balled up in the fetal position, if not actually, then emotionally. I picked up this book in the airport last week because a friend recommended it months ago. I read half of the book during my flight. And as tears streamed down my face I made a note to call him and tell him thank you. That isn't what I said to him, though. It went something like this:

Me: You bastard

Him: What?

Me: I am reading the book.

Him: You are?

Me: Yes, on the freaking plane.

Him: Oh, don't read it on the plane.

Me: You think?

Him: Close the book. Step away from the book.

Well....maybe it wasn't that clever. But, close.
It is powerful. And it is killing me. It has my guts ripped out and on the floor. It has touched me at my core. And I don't enjoy being touched there often.

I enjoyed my weekend and didn't open the book again until the plane ride back home. During my layover I sat facing a wall and wept. Then I received a phone call and a relationship ended. One that would inevitably end. And the message in the book was milling in my head. The heartache was real. The pain was real...and very much still is. But the longing and the emptiness is about yesterday not about today. And there is so much more work to be done.

I got onto the plane and finished the book. And again I cried. There is so much loss that I must deal with privately, perhaps publicly.

As the plane descended upon DFW I looked across the city and didn't get that same feeling in my heart that I once did when I would land. Those open arms calling me home were not outstretched. Or maybe they were but the longing for their embrace has faded. I have much more searching and uncovering in this drive toward authenticity. While I have done so much to become a woman I love deeply and am proud to be, it isn't over. As if I am without a home.

When I woke to a feeling of finality yesterday I began crying again. And eventually it turned to sobbing. 18 hours of crying. 18 hours of letting go. 18 hours of embracing the fear it will take to move forward. Shaking and crying and sitting in front of a person with whom I believe I can be completely honest and....listening.....l i s t e n i n g.....listening. To that still, small voice inside. That is where to work. That is the core. That is the ache.

"We cannot make anyone love us. We cannot change anyone. It is not our job to hurt someone who has hurt us, to change someone who is self-destructive, to convince someone who doesn't love us to love us. As long as our well-being and self-worth are dependent on those around us, we are children hanging on our father's affection, waiting for our mothers to call us "darling", our teachers to tell us we are smart, our friends to include us in their clubs, we are waiting, waiting for enough kindness to break open the tight bud of our hearts". ~Roth, G. (1992). When Food is Love. New York: Penguin Group.

Losing and gaining today.

August 09, 2010

Broken Heart

My heart is a little broken today. A dear friend of mine has moved away and I miss him terribly. My friend is good at staying in touch and with the internet available it is much easier than it once was; however, it is not the same as having him here in person. I spent a great deal of time with them in the past and I miss the being together. This is a friend I am confident will be in my life as long as we are both alive. So I focus on the positive.

Accepting things as they are instead of the way I want them to be is difficult. I also know the bearing this loss has on all of those I have had in the past year or so only compounds the sadness. Regardless of the intellect, the heart feels the pain…..I wish him well on his new journey and look forward to a time in the future when we can catch up.


August 06, 2010


Not so long ago, someone I trust told me a story about how much an impact one person can have on the world around him. He told me that especially with the use of internet, we are able to effect someone we have never met on the other side of the world....that is powerful if you think of it.

What would we each learn if we realized that everything we do impacts others? I have the ability today to speak well of someone and effect them, in turn, myself. I have the opportunity to touch another simply by reaching out to help. So many times, as a counselor, I have heard people tell me that they are hurting no one but themselves with their choices; however, I assume it cannot be true. Each action we take has the potential to have bearing on another.

We can be positive or negative but seldom a neutral role model. Frequently, I tell clients that everyone is a role model to someone. Though, it can be positive or negative, someone is watching. Today I would rather be a positive role model. But just as easily, I can be a hideous caution for what one might not want to be. As long as I realize that everything I do and say impacts someone, I am learning.

The first time I heard Patrick Kennedy speak in person, he referred to his Uncle's famous quote that I call to mind each time I consider that my behaviors impact another....."Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others...he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance". ~Robert F. Kennedy (1925 - 1968)

Role Model

August 01, 2010

The Great Outdoors

I have been enjoying a new altitude since Colorado! There is majesty to behold in the great outdoors. Such inspiration for my soul found in mountains and rivers. Something has been stirring inside me that feels new and untapped since arriving. I anxiously await the opportunity to put it into words......

Some changes are good...

Haircuts aren't always......