December 09, 2014


I received a phone call this morning congratulating me for the success of the Collegiate Recovery Program at UNT.  I appreciate of anyone thinking of me, but this CRP has nothing to do with me.  I have simply watched a group of students come together (with the tireless help from one of the DAR staff) and build something that was missing.

One of the students told me it was selfish.  They needed the CRP at UNT so they helped create one.  I don't see selfishness in any of the efforts.  The work the students in and supportive of recovery are doing today is laying a foundation for students they have never, and may never, meet.  This is how a legacy begins...and what an incredible inheritance they will offer the future of the university. 

If you haven't stopped by their recovery center on campus or attended one of their meetings yet, make time soon.  No matter your relationship with recovery, there is something there for you...and who knows..there is probably someone who needs what you have to offer, as well. 

I am humbled by their service. 

November 25, 2014

He does notice

My Sonshine is 13.10.  I am so grateful to have a close relationship with him and be able to share important and mundane moments in his life.  Today is the annual Thanksgiving Feast at his school.  I will go to enjoy lunch with him.  There are times I am not certain he notices how I value our time or if he wants me to take part in these events.  This morning my heart melted and I don't even think he realized. 

Me:  I look forward to the Thanksgiving Feast with you today at lunch.
Sonshine:  Me too mom. 
Me:  I am grateful I get to attend so many of your events.
Sonshine:  You've only missed two since I was born.  But were both sick the day of my Halloween party in the second grade so that one doesn't count. 

He does notice. 

October 30, 2014

We have to leave too

Written by Jeff Brown:
It's hard to let go when we don't know why they're gone. It's natural to want an explanation, an understanding, something that puts their leaving into perspective. It's hard to move on when there is nothing but silence, or worse, a strangely formal way of relating, as though you made the whole thing up. But we can't put our lives on hold, waiting for an answer that may never come. Maybe they will tell us one day, or maybe they will never understand it themselves. It isn't that important. What is important is that we don't abandon ourselves in the heart of loss. That we don't make another's presence more important than our own. That we don't lock ourselves in a prison of our own making, waiting for an external liberator to set us free. If they have left, we have to leave too. We have to let the pain through the holes they left behind so it can find its ultimate destination. Because we have so much left to do. Our precious life waits on no one.

September 21, 2014

Mindful Max

Last week in class I discussed Mindful Meditation and it's contribution in the decrease of relapse. I've noticed how many opportunities I've had to practice being mindful since.

The most simple definition of mindfulness I find is from the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:



1.  the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
"their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"

2.  a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

What is the benefit? Being mindful allows me to remain present. It is in the present I find happiness. In the present I am free from worry, anxiety, and other emotions that disrupt my joy.

This is Max.

The past few days have been out of routine. We haven't had as much time together as I like. This morning he climbed in bed beside me and put his head on the pillow. He was simply present with me. Then I pet him. It was then I saw Max in Mindfulness. He lifted his head and fully enjoyed being pet. He wasn't thinking about the squirrel he likes to chase in the yard; his food and water bowls; he wasn't resentful that I'd been away more than usual. He was in the moment, simply enjoying being pet. 

I strive to be more like Max. 

September 11, 2014

I'm Listening

I was uncharacteristically angry this morning. It was anger born by hurt and disappointment. I was ready to "lose my cool". I convinced myself it was okay to take my anger out verbally on the offender. I'd gone down my checklist. They deserved it. They had it coming. They were wrong. They knowingly hurt me. They were selfish. They are selfish. They haven't know?

Then I went to mass with my son. On a Thursday. I even rearranged my schedule to accommodate the service.

And I heard:

“To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?..."

Thank you. I'm listening.

June 29, 2014

The Coast

What a wonderful weekend. I'm so grateful my parents found this little bay side community when I was a teen. There are so many wonderful neighbors and cherished memories held in that little house on the bay. I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to pass those memories to my son.  

This weekend Max ran free without a leash, Caleb lit fireworks for the first time, we enjoyed a community fish fry and got an up close view of the volunteer fire department running a fundraiser and fabulous fireworks display. I've been renewed, recharged and inspired.

March 30, 2014

Running After a Rainbow

Loving you can be
Like running after a rainbow

From a distance you are beautiful
An attracting force

I can reach out my hand
And almost touch you

I see your majesty
Your full impact

As I come closer
You almost vanish

Like a mist
Of something I dreamt

A crazy-making experience

Knowing it is there
Right there in front of me

But gone when I get too close

PHG, circa a long time ago

March 20, 2014

Trash in the ladies room

Today I was washing my hands at the sink in the ladies room when I noticed someone dropped a paper towel that missed the bin and landed on the floor.

No big deal, huh?

I thought about it, in the way I think of things.

I used the paper towel I was drying my hands with and picked it up off the floor and put it in the bin.

No big deal, really.

But it caused this thought to stir…

If I didn’t, who would?

The janitor tomorrow morning? One of the next four people who saw it? The next twenty-seven?

And that is the way of the world.

If I don’t, who will?

Pick up the trash on the floor?

Give a stranger a helping hand?

Give back as much as I take?

Smile at someone as I walk by them just because?

Collectively, we all likely want a better world.

Where is it going to start? I might not be able to contribute wealth, change a law or move a mountain, but I can do something. We can all do something. Who wants to?

I do. So I will.

February 24, 2014

Student Questions

I truly enjoy the group counseling course I get to teach.  The students have some incredible questions.  I don't have all the answers and aside from black and white ethical or licensure issues the answers are subjective.  They asked some great questions yesterday that I answered from the Book of Paula (BoP) and would love to have input from others on additional thoughts or insights. 

The Q& A this week is not textbook. These answers are from the Book of Paula, simply based on my opinion and experience. What do all of you think? Add your thoughts.

1. Is it common to feel like running out of the room when it comes to our first co-facilitation group?


2. I have a tendency to add my opinion or advice when leading a group. Is that okay? Or do I always want to refer to a group member and ask them to weight in on a comment or issue?

There is no black or white answer. Sometimes offering what we are observing is important (that could be an opinion) and sometimes our ideas for problem solving are helpful. I don't believe always giving our opinion is appropriate. Many times it is in the delivery and frequency of advice giving that makes it okay or not.

3. How would you handle a problem with a certain classmate in which you have a personal conflict that has been ongoing for over two months?

If it is bothersome enough for you I would address it outside the classroom directly with that individual.

4. How do I hone in on one aspect of perfectionism?

I am not clear on the question. Maybe provide me specific examples.

5. What experiences/things cause a person not to trust? Addicts especially? What are some tools that a counselor can use to help expose the source of things within a client? Tools?

Many things can cause anyone not to trust:

Inconsistency in childhood

Broken trust from others

Not being trustworthy ourselves can cause us to project that others aren't trustworthy

Having put your trust in unsafe people

The best tools is to allow the client to explore and get to the root of the first trusts broken and often they can begin to see patterns across their lives where they have been hurt by broken trusts; teaching them to trust safe people helps them build confidence in trusting again; always be a safe person for them to trust and be consistent; have them explore things about them self they don't trust and how they have hurt others through breaking trust.

6. Where does self-doubt come from?

My initial response is: self-esteem and experience. One could doubt their ability until they have experience to back up that they can do something. A way to combat this is through positive self-talk. Tell yourself you are successful and can accomplish the thing you doubt. What we tell ourselves has more control over us than what others tell us a majority of the time.

February 07, 2014

Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy

I have little desire to be involved in or create drama. Learning what is my business and what is not has been the best blessing of living long enough....

In Poland, there's an idiom, "Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy . . ." which translates to "not my circus, not my monkey." 

I love it! For me this embodies peace. Have a peaceful weekend.

January 19, 2014

See it through

“No truth can cure the sadness we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness, can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning.” 

― Haruki Murakami