June 27, 2011

Decisions, Decisions....

While working this morning I tuned the TV into Joyce Meyer, a Christian minister. Apparently, I was supposed to hear that message. I generally don’t have the television on while working. Lo and behold! She began speaking about something a friend and I were talking about just this weekend. Decisions.

I had an epiphany this weekend. And realized I had actually been working up to it for several weeks. In the past I have made many decisions based on emotion. And that doesn’t bode well for me. Many decisions have been in order to keep from feeling pain. Unfortunately, in the long run I feel more pain; stay stuck; become resentful; and miss opportunities to grow.

It occurred to me over lunch in a conversation that in the past I would get angry with people who made decisions I found “heartless”. I recalled that I would often say to myself, “how can someone who says they care about you hurt you”? I realized that sometimes, even when you do care about someone, the best decision is to move forward….even if that means without them.

I am the only one who truly knows what is right for me. And I have people I turn to and trust who help me stay accountable for what that is. (I don’t go it alone in my big dark head)! Hmm…so even when it might hurt, I will likely better be served to make decisions based on fact. Leaving a relationship that no longer works, leaving a job (even a career) that no longer serves you, or moving to another city…..decisions we all face…..while they involve emotion, I have to ask myself, “who am I living for”?

Hopefully me and my God!

June 22, 2011

Checked Baggage

I was fifteen years old the first time I said to my mom, “I think I am going crazy”. That resulted in my beginning a self-introspective journey. Someone recommended a therapist that worked well with kids. I went.

I learned that I wasn’t “going crazy”. I was actually going through adolescence. I learned many valuable lessons by seeing that therapist. And a few thereafter. In addition to a few programs….you get the picture? I have spent more than half of my life in a process of healing.

I am ready to begin living.

In the course of becoming whole I was able to identify issues and areas that needed to be examined. A great deal of those problems sprung from low self-worth. I pinned it on being chubby and Chubby became a great excuse. Chubby and I became buddies – partners in crime. Not only was she a sympathetic companion but a place to lay blame.

I found many other “issues” to manifest and comfort myself as I moved through life. Chubby and I would fight, I would ex-communicate her for periods of time but invite her back and embrace her as we cried over a pan of brownies.

Today must be the first time I truly understand Chubby. I realize what I needed protection from and how rational it actually was that I developed my comrade. Today, as I live in the now, I recognize – not just in theory, that baggage has no place in my today.

As a clinician, I still hold fast to my favorite counseling theory, Cognitive Behavioral. I do believe our past shapes us (and very non-clinically, I interject) it will bite me in the butt IF I remain unconcious of it. Sure we all have issues! Don’t pretend I am the only one…..

I have recently discovered – nix the word discovered, I’ve known it in my head a long time! – I have recently begun to live at the height of awareness of the impact of my behavior today. When I’ve remained unconcious of my actions and simply said, “oh, there go my issues again” I have taken no responsibility. Sarcasm has been a favorite of my deeds. Easily, when hurt, I pop off something rather witty, but usually cutting and spiteful. Then say, “oh, I was just joking”! But the person I am aiming for is harmed nonetheless. I am responsible for that. You know the old saying: HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE!

In review of this ideology and the daily practice of concious behavior, I have discovered that others don’t deserve my baggage. Not even me.

Happy travels….no baggage to check!

June 20, 2011

TAAP State Conference

We hope you will plan to join us for the Thirty-Seventh Annual State TAAP Conference on Addiction Studies, "The Age of Recovery: Let the Sunshine In!" Pull out your bell bottoms and tie-dye and meet us in San Antonio for this unforgettable conference.

July 28-30, 2011

Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade


25.5 CEUs

Workshop Sessions on
Ethics, Clinical Supervision, HIV/STD,
Prevention and Criminal Justice, plus many more!

Age of Recovery Dance

Polly Parsons

Daughter of legendary 60s singer-songwriter Gram Parsons, formerly of the band The Byrds, shares her father's story ranging fromHarvard University student, featured artist at Woodstock, and one of Rolling Stones' Top 100 Influential Artists, to his addiction and untimely and tragic overdose at the age of 26.

Sponsored by Hickory Wind Ranch

Candy Finnigan, BRI II

Board Certified Interventionist and star of the award winning A&E show Intervention.

Sponsored by Origins Recovery, LLC

Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S

Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute - Los Angeles, an outpatient sexual addiction treatment center, and accomplished author of several books on sexual addiction.

Sponsored by Elements Behavioral Health

Keynote Panel: There is More Than One Way To Advocate

Paula Heller-Garland, Texas Recovers!, Mimi Martinez McKay, Chief of Staff, Legislative Liaison, Mental Health & Substance Abuse, TXDept. of State Health Services, Cynthia Humphrey, Association of Substance Abuse Programs, Joe Powell, Association of Persons Affected by Addiction

Sponsored by Summer Sky

First Annual Community Health Fair
-Designed especially for the regional clinician & vendors

-Ancillary support services for client referrals

-Holistic Medicine, yoga & massage therapy

-New Age Spirituality, acupuncture, 12 step alternatives

-Dozens of vendors, giveaways & demonstrations

-Food, music and networking

Visit www.taap.org for pricing and registration. Register by June 27thto receive early bird discount rates!


1005 Congress Ave., Ste. 460

Austin, TX 78701



Today I am filled with gratitude. Even though things didn't work out in my marriage, my son has an incredible father.

Focusing on what I have, instead of what I don't.


I received this via email and wanted to pass it along to those of you who pray!

Please say this prayer, keeping in mind that over 1 million acres of Texas has burned up taking hundreds of people’s homes and several lives in the last 2-3 weeks. So far, we have been blessed in some parts of Texas but it is dry as a bone here and would only take 1 spark to set it off. Please say this daily and believe that God will Bless Texas.

This prayer was written in the1950's during an awful drought in Texas. The prayer was written by Father W. Schneider of
St. Marys in Fredericksburg, who also ministered at St. Francis Church in Stonewall. It has gone all over the world.

A Prayer For Rain

Almighty God, we are in need of rain.
We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky above,
what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is.
To think that so much water can fall out of the sky,
which now is empty and clear!
We place our trust in You.
We are sure that You know our needs,
but You want us to ask You anyway,
to show You that we know we are dependent on You.
Look on our dry hills and fields, dear God, and
bless them with the living blessing of soft rain.
Then the land will rejoice and the rivers will sing
Your praises and the hearts of men will be glad.


June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Father's Day of 1993 was the last my father was here. It seems like such a log time ago but his memory is big. It was only becoming an adult then. And at times I regret not having the opportunity to have had an adult relationship with him. The last time I saw him, even though I'd already been working as a professional for a year, he hugged me and gave me gas money. He always took care of me.

Being a helper was something that came naturally for him. I remember him for his strength. He was a very manly man. He embodied everything I saw as masculine. He worked for the railroad, farmed, hunted, fished, boated and provided for his family.

But he also showed love and a gentleness when needed. Anytime I hurt I know he wanted to fix it. He was a great dad. I just wanted to remember him out loud today.

Happy Father's Day daddy.

June 17, 2011

Words of Wisdom for Women

Wanted to share one of those incredible finds of mine.....from buying a used book.

Words of Wisdom for Women by Rachel Snyder


"Feel deep down inside the pain of missing someone or something so badly it hurts. Notice the empty spaces around your heart that need filling. Tune into other aches in your body. When your belly burns with a red-hot fire, pay attention. What is the true source of your ache? What are you trying to digest that's too large, too hot, too unfamiliar to handle? Ache for the friend who died of AIDS too early. Ache for the mothering you never received, the love you had and then lost, the love you never had at all. Ache to be held, to be touched, to be adored. Ache for the sad woman down the block, the frightened child upstairs, the grieving parents around the corner. Let your heart ache and break and ache again---until it grows stronger and more able to open with ease".

....embracing all feelings...

June 15, 2011


Please join us for your continuing education classes. We are offering CEU classes beginning June 21, 2011. Listed below is the information about the upcoming classes. For further information, please call 972-423-8727.

STD/TB/HEP C/Communicable Disease
DATE: 06/21/2011
TIME: 9am- 12pm
Access Counseling Group
2600 Avenue K, Ste. 102
Plano, TX 75074
COST: $30
PRESENTED BY: Paula Heller-Garland, MS, LCDC
Clinical Supervision
DATE: 07/07/2011
TIME: 9am- 12pm
Access Counseling Group
2600 Avenue K, Ste. 102
Plano, TX 75074
COST: $30
PRESENTED BY: Paula Heller-Garland, MS, LCDC
DATE: 07/19/2011
TIME: 9am- 12pm
Access Counseling Group
2600 Avenue K, Ste. 102
Plano, TX 75074
COST: $30
PRESENTED BY: Paula Heller-Garland, MS, LCDC
DATE: 08/02/2011
TIME: 9am- 12pm
Access Counseling Group
2600 Avenue K, Ste. 102
Plano, TX 75074
COST: $30
PRESENTED BY: Paula Heller-Garland, MS, LCDC
Please RSVP to 972-423-8727 as soon as possible as space is limited. All participants will receive a certificate of completionand LCDCs can receive 3 CEUs for each class!

Irene Little, M.S., LCDC, ADCIII, ICADC
Access Counseling Group

June 14, 2011


Instead of a family event my "shoulds" tell me I "shoulda" gone to this weekend, I went to the beach.

It had been several weeks and not a day passed that I hadn't thought of that twelve year old boy who drown the last time I was there.

This trip was about closure for me. It needed to happen.

And I was grateful when I arrived at the beach. I thought I might have been in the wrong place because things looked differently.

As I approached the end of the paved road there was a warning sign about rip tides. It had not been there before. And there was a lifeguard stand with lifeguards....and another, and another...with caution flags warning of the level of waves.

It is still sad that a life was taken, no doubt. But it feels like it wasn't in vain.

And the water sounded a little less harsh as I breathed in the ocean.

June 07, 2011

Texas Recovers

I am very excited about the organization I am contracting with currently to organize the first ever state-wide rally for recovery. Too many people still believe addiction and mental health issues are simply bad behaviors, choices, or moral failure. Those of us who know and understand it is really a brain disease are coming together to speak up. It is time that we END THE STIGMA.

If a diabetic ate too much cake they would still be treated in the ER. And they would not be incarcerated or looked down on by society for their disease.

Take a look at the website for more information.


June 02, 2011

Music Therapy 101

Music has been part of my life from day one. On the counter in the kitchen of the house in Heidenheimer, where I grew up, sat a black radio tuned to KASE 101. That was a country radio station out of Austin. Maybe that contributes to the stories I hear through music. Looking through the Billboard Top 100 from the year I was born, it was more difficult to find a song I didn’t love than my favorite….but I think I narrowed it a little:



And possibly my favorite of all….


Songs can take me back. Often when I hear a song I go to that, “I remember when…” place in my mind…..and I enjoy it!

And there are so many more years to cover.