10 Tips for the Perfect Therapist’s Office

Whether you have had your own office for a while, or are moving into a new space, you need to know how to make your office therapeutically helpful to your clients. Below, you’ll find my top 10 tips for creating the perfect therapist’s office. Follow these tips (and my Pinterest board!) and you’ll have an office that clients love walking into.

therapist's office

When I first started working as an intern after graduate school, I worked in a terrible office. If clients weren’t already depressed, they certainly were after walking into the waiting room. It was dark, dingy, and falling apart, and conveyed a message to clients that 1) they weren’t very important, and 2) we weren’t very professional. The fact is, when a client walks into your office for the first time, your office sends a huge message about you and the experience you’re offering. Sometimes, it can be a deciding factor in whether or not a client will come back to see you a second time. Don’t have an office that is anything other than professional, up-to-date, and comforting to your clients, and if you’re not sure how to do that, use my tips below.


10 Tips for the Perfect Therapist’s Office


1) NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, USE FLUORESCENT LIGHTING.

Research has shown that in therapist’s offices, “dim lighting yields more pleasant and relaxed feelings, more favorable impressions of the interviewer, and more self-disclosure than bright lighting.”  Fluorescent lighting isn’t comforting in the least, and has the feel of a doctor’s office or commercial space. Large windows are always a great choice for an office space – with curtains to adjust the brightness and provide privacy if needed  – but even an office without any natural lighting can feel cozy with the right lamps. The right lighting will make your sessions more productive and therapeutic for clients, so just leave the fluorescents lights off.

2) CHOOSE SEATING THAT IS COMFORTABLE, PLENTIFUL, AND APPROPRIATELY SCALED.

Your seating needs to fit your space, and be comfortable for both you and your clients. I once bought a beautiful, modern, leather club chair, and quickly realized that it wasn’t a comfortable chair to sit in more than a couple of hours. Choose furniture that you and clients can sit in for a long period of time without feeling uncomfortable. If you’re working with couples or families, make sure you have seating that allows for more than two people without feeling cramped. Also make sure to buy furniture that fits your space. If you have a small office, buy smaller-scale furniture (modern styles usually do well here) that helps your office to look spacious. If you have a large space, create “zones” for seating that feel cozy and not too distant from each other.

3) DON’T USE DECOR THAT LOOKS OUTDATED OR WORN DOWN.

How would you feel if, right before having a major operation, you were wheeled into the operating room and saw duct tape on the corner of the operating table, or a medical chart on the wall dated 1982? I imagine it might make you feel a little hesitant to put your trust in the doctor, staff, or hospital, right? If your office looks dated or worn down, YOU look dated or worn down. No clients want to go to a therapist who looks as though they might not be updated on current best practices, or who doesn’t seem to take care of their space. Investing in a new sofa, or chairs for your waiting room, is an investment in your clients and in your practice. It conveys the message that you take care of your environment, and so you’ll take care of your clients as well.

4) BRING IN GREENERY AND CANDLES IF POSSIBLE.

Every therapist’s office needs an element of life. Plants, candles with flickering flames, water features, etc., add movement and life to your space. These things help bland and boring offices to feel more inviting and alive. They add color even in the most neutral of spaces. Don’t have a green thumb, but need some greenery in your office? It’s totally fine to get fakes! Just make sure they’re GOOD fakes with lots of color. I have a fake orchid in my office that I get compliments on all.the.time. I’m often asked how I get it to bloom so well! The key is to find elements that help bring in texture, warmth, life, and movement, so that your office feels like a friend’s cozy living room.

5) KEEP YOUR OFFICE CLEAN AND UNCLUTTERED.

When a client walks into a therapist’s office looking for answers, hope, stability, or advice, what does that therapist project to their client if their desk is covered in papers, or there are stacks of books, magazines, files, etc., all over the room? Clients want to go to a therapist who looks like they have their “stuff” together. Keep your office space clean and free of clutter to offer your clients a more relaxing space, and show clients that you value the work you do.

6) NEVER SIT BEHIND A DESK FOR THE SESSION.

I once worked within a group where more than one of the therapists conducted their sessions while sitting behind a desk, with clients sitting across from them in small, waiting-room type chairs. This type of set-up creates an uneven power dynamic between client and therapist, with the therapist being positioned as more of an “expert” who is “in charge” of the session. Having a desk in front of you literally creates a barrier between you and your client that can easily affect rapport. It’s fine to have a desk. It’s even fine to sit behind it to schedule appointments, bill for services, and write notes. But DO NOT sit behind a desk when talking to clients about sensitive, emotional issues.

7) MONITOR THE ACOUSTICS, AND ADJUST ACCORDINGLY.

Can you hear what people are saying in the offices/room next to you? That’s a problem. Confidentiality is the cornerstone of what we do, so take steps to protect the confidentiality of your clients. Use a white noise machine, turn on a fan with a low hum, or have a water feature in your waiting room or office. Do anything that creates some background noise and prevents others from hearing what is being discussed. You also don’t want a room with an echo of any kind, so bring in curtains, rugs, and upholstered items that will absorb sound.

8) OFFER REFRESHMENTS.

You want your clients to feel like they are treating themselves to something wonderful when they come to your offer. You want what you do to feel valuable and exclusive. Offer refreshments to your clients – something besides water – to make your office stand out from the rest. Joe Sanok of Practiceofthepractice.com wrote a great post about setting up a drink station and how this helped grow his practice. In my office, I offer coffee, tea, water, and canned sodas like Fresca to my clients.

9) THINK “LIVING ROOM,” NOT “DOCTOR’S OFFICE.”

Combat the stigma of therapy as being only for “sick people” by avoiding the feel of a doctor’s office. We don’t want clients to come to our office only when they are in crisis. We also want clients to come when they’re feeling pretty good so that we can do some work together while they’re in an energetic, motivated, and optimistic place in their lives. Cozy furniture, rugs, pillows, tissue boxes, candles, plants, curtains, and artwork help you to create the feel of a home – a safe, trusted place to explore thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

10) MAKE YOUR OFFICE A REFLECTION OF YOU.

Do you work with kids? Love the color blue? Have a huge garden at home? Then bring these parts of you into your space! Create a children’s corner with a small table, children’s toys, and art supplies (neatly arranged, mind you). Paint the walls a soothing blue or buy a beautiful blue rug. Bring in plants to filter the air and add life to your space, or choose artwork that reminds you of your flowers at home. If you aren’t design-savvy, I will tell you what improvements you should make, and then put you in touch with an interior designer who can help you pick out specific items. Your office shouldn’t just be a place where you work, it should be a place where you actually like spending time.


Do you need some help with your office or practice and aren’t sure where to begin? I offer professional consultation and would be happy to work with you.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Did anything surprise you? Leave a comment below and tell me what you like or don’t like in a therapist’s office.

Maybe you don’t need therapy: how coaching can fill a void

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You’re struggling with whether or not to stay in a relationship. You hate your job but feel there are no other options. You are scared to take on a new opportunity or feel “stuck” in a situation. It seems like everyone around you is more confident and more successful than you. You’ve talked to your mom or dad, your brother or sister, your best friend, and none of them have advice that seems to click. Should you go to a counselor or therapist?

Sometimes people aren’t clinically depressed or anxious, don’t have serious mental health issues, are generally feeling okay, and still don’t feel like everything is fitting together quite right. You might not feel like “therapy” is a good fit for you, or may not feel that what you’re going through is “serious enough” for a counselor’s office.

That’s where coaching comes in.

What is coaching?

Coaching is action-oriented and is usually short-term. Coaching helps you to gain clarity, understand what is holding you back, put together a plan, and encourages and supports you as you follow through.

People think of counseling or therapy as a way of examining the past, healing emotional traumas, and sometimes acquiring a diagnosis, and there is no doubt that this is exactly what some clients need. However, it might not be the right fit for everyone.

Here’s how the International Coach Federation describes life coaching:

“Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources and creativity that the client already has.”

Who should utilize coaching?

Individuals who are having trouble functioning day-to-day, who feel like they’ve fallen into a deep dark hole, or who are concerned about diagnosable mental illness should always seek a trained mental health professional. But, what about everyone else?

Those clients who benefit from coaching are usually functioning within a healthy range,  but may also feel as though they aren’t reaching their potential or are stuck in a stressful situation. Coaching can help clients who are in difficult relationships, are starting a new business, creating a new life after divorce, pursuing a promotion, trying to figure out what to do with their lives, and an infinite number of other scenarios.

Coaching offers you an opportunity to talk things over with someone who is unbiased and outside the situation, and research shows that simply talking about what you’re feeling is good for your brain.

In essence, everyone should utilize coaching services at some point in their lives because being a human is challenging. You’re not supposed to know how to tackle every problem that comes up for you, and you don’t have to figure it out alone.

If you love the idea of talking to someone who can help you figure things out, and hate the thought of going to “therapy,” you’re not the only one. Give me a call at 423-822-2054.

We’ll talk and figure out what specifically you’re looking for. If I can’t help, I’ll point you in the direction of someone who can.

Joining a Women’s Group Changed My Life

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One year ago, I was working in a depressing, mismanaged counseling center where I constantly worried about my effectiveness with clients, and felt like I was just passing time until I could start my own practice. I relied on reassurance from my supervisors and peers, and constantly compared myself to the other counselors I knew. When I felt good about the work I was doing, it was always accompanied by a little voice in my head that whispered, “They’ll eventually figure out that you don’t know what you’re doing….”

Then, I joined a women’s group. 

Only a few months after joining, I left the job that depressed me. I opened a private practice. I stopped feeling as though other professionals were my competition. I started taking bigger steps to complete my licensure as a Marriage & Family Therapist. I updated my website and created my own branding materials. I got a parenting class proposal approved by a local organization. I hosted a documentary screening. And by the end of the year, I was running two of my own women’s groups – a dream I’d had for years.

Not only were there professional leaps, but I took some personal ones as well. I began the practice of speaking up for myself in difficult relationships. I started learning more about my family dynamics, and how they had helped, and hindered, me along the way. I learned to be my own advocate. I stopped giving power to my inner critic, and started recognizing the innate power that ALL women – myself included – possess. Some of these things were things I’d known for years – especially since doing graduate work in a counseling program – but which I still had trouble implementing in my own life. It’s always easy to give advice to a friend, right? It’s a little harder to listen to the same advice when talking about ourselves.

What changed?

The catalyst for my professional and personal growth was joining with a group of women who were feeling the same way – frustrated with themselves and/or life, stuck in a rut, unsure of what to do, maybe even a little lost – and who desperately wanted something to change. Initially, I thought that the change would come from our group leader, the assignments, the readings… all the “stuff” we were going to do. And while those things certainly helped, I realized at the end of the year that the changes in my life had come from a surprising place. Those things weren’t the agent of change in my life. The agent of change was me. 

 

I invested in myself. I gave time, attention, and money, to my own needs. And once I made that decision, all the other things I surrounded myself with – that group of women, that coach, those materials – supported me.

 

Those women became close friends. We shared our struggles, set-backs, and successes with each other, and even though the group closed in December, we continue to check in with each other to see how we’re all doing. Those women taught me how to have meaningful, authentic, supportive relationships again after the many times in my life where I thought other women were my competition.

You deserve it.

You deserve time, money, and attention. We all do. That’s why I will join another women’s group someday, and why I’m offering the same opportunity to women in Chattanooga. When you make the conscious decision to support yourself – to be the agent of change in your own life – the Universe brings together all the resources you’ll need to make things happen.

 

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” – The Alchemist by Paul Coelho


YOU are the thing you have been waiting for.

 

“Wherever you’ve been, and whatever you’ve done so far, your entire life was building up to this moment. Now is the time to burst forth into your greatness, a greatness you could never have achieved without going through exactly the things you’ve gone through to get here.” – Marianne Williamson

Join The Collective, beginning mid-March 2017, and surround yourself with women who want to be active participants in their lives, who want to support other women, and who want to learn new tools that will help them embrace and utilize the power that is already within them. 

women's group

 

 

New Mom Struggles (that no one talks about)

New moms inevitably receive loads of well-wishes, cute-baby stories, and more advice than they’d actually like to hear. But, for myself and many other moms I know, there were a lot of things that I WISH people had told me before I became a mother. The journey into parenthood – especially during those first few months – was awesome and miraculous and fantastic… and by far the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. There were a lot of bad days mixed in with all the good and no one seemed to acknowledge that aspect of being a mom. So, I turned to Facebook and asked a lot of moms to share what they wish people had told them about having a baby. You’ll love them, yes, but expecting to love every moment with them will make you feel like a horrible person when you are dying for a few moments of solitude. The following is a list of things that moms often struggle with in those first few months. Cut yourself some slack on the not-so-good days and revel in the fantastic days. It’s all part of the parenting journey.

**I would like to add that most of the following information is from the viewpoint of women in heterosexual relationships who have given birth to a biological child. However, I think that some of these experiences are universal in nature – no matter your sexual orientation, or whether or not you physically gave birth. Feel free to use only the info that resonates with you, and pass on the rest. XO**

It may not be love at first sight.

You have been growing a baby in your womb for the past 9 months. You felt every little movement, every hiccup. You’ve dreamed about how much you’ll cry when you deliver that bundle of joy and how you will melt as soon as that baby is laid on your chest. Then, however, the baby actually does come out and you don’t feel warm and fuzzy at all. In fact, you kinda hate that little thing that just came out of a hole that you KNOW couldn’t have gotten big enough to actually birth a baby.

Don’t worry. It’s normal.

When I had my first child, my epidural wore off right as I started pushing. By the time I delivered my baby almost an hour later, I was in shock (from pain), exhausted, and indifferent about even holding her. I remember looking over at her, hoping that I wouldn’t have to hold her yet. I didn’t care for her at all in that moment. What I did care about, however, and what was going through my mind, was that I was apparently going to be a horrible mother. What mom doesn’t fall in love with her baby right away?

It was several hours later before I felt any inkling of a bond starting to form with my baby, and the guilt lasted for months. No matter what anyone says, it’s okay if you don’t love your baby as soon as you see him or her. You are not a horrible parent. You just went through labor and it’s okay if you need some time to process, sleep, or just recover before falling in love with your new baby.

Even if you love being a mother, there are times when it will feel miserable.

When you do fall in love with that baby, you’ll fall hard. You will still love your partner, but if you have to choose between the two, you’ll probably pick the baby that looks adorable and feels warm and cuddly. Don’t be surprised, however, when you have moments in which you feel sure that your life is now over, you’ll never sleep again, your breasts aren’t normal, and it’s all that darn baby’s fault! And while those thoughts are going through your mind, you’ll be showering your baby with kisses at the same time. Loving and hating your life is part of being human. It doesn’t reflect on you as a mother. It has nothing to do with your love for your child. It’s all just part of the package.

Your life has just changed in more ways that you thought was possible, and your whole identity as a woman, wife, and individual, has begun to shift. It’s okay if you don’t like some of the changes that have taken place.

Adjusting to parenthood is hard the most difficult thing you will have ever done.

You can read all the books, consult all the professionals, gather advice from family and friends, and feel as prepared for parenthood as could one possibly be, but the sleepless nights, breastfeeding, crying, changing relationship with your partner, and general feeling of incompetence will be more of an adjustment than you realized. Every mom I talked to expressed this same sentiment: Being a mom is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and the most amazing – at the same time. Don’t feel guilty about feeling miserable at times. Every mom feels the same way. It might be the baby blues, or it might be postpartum depression. [If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, click here to review a checklist and contact me to start feeling better.] But it’s also just a normal feeling.  You’ll probably even feel this way at various times as your kids age. *Hand raised* They sure can make life difficult, but all the little amazing moments totally make up for it.

Breastfeeding is HARD, and sometimes, not very enjoyable.

No one can argue that breastfeeding isn’t the most natural way to feed your baby. Babies (before the days of formula) HAD to breastfeed to survive. So, one can only assume that breastfeeding will come naturally to you and your baby… right? Wrong. Breastfeeding is hard as hell. You might hear, “Just make it past two weeks and you’ll be fine” and this is often true. I don’t know why two weeks is often the magic amount of time, but after two weeks, you’ve usually gotten the hang of it. During those first two weeks, however, you’ll wake up one morning to find you look like Dolly Parton. You’ll feel like a cow as you try to figure out how to use the breastpump. You will question if your baby is getting enough milk, if you are doing it right… if your baby is doing it right. You might even have those cracked and bleeding nipples that everyone tries to avoid. Sometimes, all the difficulties can be too draining – both physically and emotionally – and breastfeeding just doesn’t work out. Again, don’t feel guilty and worry that your child isn’t going to turn out as well as babies that are breastfed. I breastfed my first baby for 8 months and cried the day I gave her formula. I wanted to breastfeed my second baby longer, but only made it 4 weeks. I just knew I was ruining her, but she’s turned out as amazingly as her sister did (and is the least picky eater, I might add). Breastfeeding is amazing and wonderful and I truly wish everyone could do it. But trust me when I tell you that your ability to parent, and your baby’s development, is hardly dependent on whether or not your child has breast milk. 

You’ll lose some friends.

Some of you will be lucky enough to have a lot of friends with kids before you ever have kids of your own. You’ll have other people to talk to who will understand what you’re going through and might even be able to offer some parenting advice when you have no idea what you’re doing. If you don’t have a lot of friends with kids, then it’s time to make some. Close friends that I’d had for years are still very much involved in my life, but I found out I was having a baby right after my husband and I moved to a new city so that we could start medical school and graduate school. We were young, fresh out of college, and some of the first in our circle to get married. I had NO friends with babies. While I was pregnant, we made new friends – some single, some married, and all excited to welcome our newborn baby. But friendships with them became difficult when we became parents. Our friends would call to invite us out, but inevitably, only one of us could go because we were exhausted, the baby needed to be fed, the baby needed to go to bed, or we secretly wanted to go to bed too. After we kept politely declining invitations, the invitations eventually stopped coming altogether. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing, but just what usually happens. Friends who really matter will stay in touch, but it’s also a good idea to make some other friends who have kids of their own. Parent friends won’t think it’s a lame idea to stay in for dinner instead of going out. They won’t gasp when you say you’ve got to be home at a decent time because the baby wakes up early. And they won’t protest when you back out at the last minute because your baby is teething. They’ll be there alongside you when Friday night becomes just another night to rent a movie, and your non-parents friends will be there to buy you a drink when you can afford a babysitter.

You might feel resentful of your partner.

Even if you are blessed with a partner that helps out as much as they can, there will probably be times when you resent him or her. In families where one partner has given birth, or a partner has decided to be a full-time caretaker, life seems to change drastically overnight – maybe more so for one of you than the other. You’re probably up several times at night, you might be breastfeeding and/or pumping, and spending untold amounts of time checking and double-checking to make sure your baby is still breathing (trust me, you will do this). You will feel as though your life is now ruled by a tiny human being who never leaves your side and just getting a shower is the most productive thing you do all day. Your partner, on the other hand, might sleep peacefully beside you, enjoy an uninterrupted drive to work, and interact with other adults before coming home and snuggling with the baby before sleeping peacefully again. Especially in families with more designated roles for care-giving, you can and should expect to have these feelings. But this too shall pass. Your partner may NEVER truly understand what it is like to be a new mother in those first few months, but some of them may, at the very least, try to hear where you’re coming from. And that’s all you’ll really want anyway.

You will question everything you do.

Nowadays, there are research articles, books, blogs, websites, magazines, movies, (and a plethora of friends & family) to tell you the best way to raise a child.  If you have been lucky enough to have spent a lot of time around babies before having your own, you may have the upper hand when it comes to new-mom apprehension. But for many of us, having a baby was like stepping into another universe. You will probably question most of the things you do, wondering if you’re parenting the “right way.” The funny thing is, there is no singular right way to raise a child. Breastmilk or formula, cloth or disposable diapers, homemade baby food or Gerber jars, co-sleeping or crib-sleeping – all babies that are loved will turn out just fine. Don’t worry about what your mom, your grandmother, the Today show, or any book has told you. If you follow your intuition and do what feels RIGHT FOR YOU, you will be exactly the kind of parent that your baby needs.

Would you add to this list? What have I left out? I’d love to hear about your own experiences.

How to Cure Your Picky Eater

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Do you have a picky eater in your family? Do mealtimes cause you stress? Have you ever been frustrated when, after slaving over a healthy meal, your child turns up his or her nose yet again?

We have had several picky eaters in our house – some of whom are just picky, and some of whom meet diagnostic criteria for disorders characterized by avoidant and restrictive behavior, anxiety, and negative responses in social situations. It’s incredibly frustrating to try and cook healthy meals for your family, only to have that food go untouched.

When one of my daughters was a toddler, I literally had to leave the house and go for a walk because I was so triggered by her refusal to eat what I had made. And even with my clinical knowledge about what is going on developmentally, it’s taken me several years to better understand and respond to my own frustration when my kids are picky. I’m right there with you, parents.

We all know that friends and family have advice for parents about how to eliminate picky eating, but there’s actually a successful, research-based model that’s easy to implement and follow: The Ellyn Satter “Division of Responsibility.” (Click the link to be directed to the Ellyn Satter Institute and learn more.) Before I lay out how this division of responsibility works, however, I want to make two very important points. Unless you accept these points wholeheartedly, the Satter model won’t work very well for you.

1) YOU cannot change your child; you can only model what you want them to learn.

You cannot physically force your child to eat, and you should not use punishment, threats, emotional manipulation, or withholding of favorite foods to coerce your child to eat.

Your child is an individual under your care until they are an adult, not a mini-you for which you have all control. You cannot erase a child’s anxiety, but can teach them how to respond to it. You cannot chose the foods your child likes or dislikes, but can provide them with opportunities to add variety to their palate.

“When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”Dr. Shefali Tsabary, “The Conscious Parent”

Your child’s picky eating is not your problem to fix, but their problem to work through. You, as their parent, only need to be a role model and guide for healthy choices and attitudes.

2) Measurable success may take weeks, months or years.

As much as we’d like to see change immediately, change only comes when your child starts making different decisions, and becomes willing to challenge their own anxiety. A quick fix rarely leads to long-lasting changes. Don’t rush the process, and trust that your children will ultimately be fine.

 

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Satter model.

 

You are in charge of when, where, and what.

Your only responsibility to your child is to provide healthy meals, and a healthy atmosphere within the home. You, as the parent, choose when meals and snacks will happen (no eating between meals and snacks), where they will happen (in front of the tv vs. at the table together), and what is served. That’s it. Case closed.

You don’t serve one meal for some family members, and another meal for a picky eater. This type of behavior only enables the picky eating. If no new food is ever served, there is no motivation to try anything new.

You don’t police the choices your child makes. You don’t make them try every food on their plate, nor do you make them “clean their plate” before leaving the table. You simply make healthy (and varied) food available.

You also don’t serve ONLY new food. Make a meal with some new foods, but also include something your know your child will eat – a side of dinner rolls, for example.

Model the behavior you want to see in your children. Make mealtime pleasant, try new foods yourself, only eat when you’re hungry, etc.

Your child is in charge of whether to eat, and how much to eat.

Once the mealtime has been decided, the location of meals has been determined, and you’ve decided what food is going on the table, it’s time to step away (figuratively). Your child’s responsibility is deciding whether or not to eat the foods presented to them, and how much of those foods they will eat.

If they want to ignore all food besides bread, or applesauce, or some other staple, that is their choice. If they try a new food, but only take one bite, that is their choice. They are in charge of what goes into their body.

If your child chooses not to eat at all, that is fine. Because you are in charge of mealtimes, they will have to wait until more food is served. And it’s okay for them to feel hungry (they will NOT starve, and YOU are not starving them). The goal of the model is to teach your child that anxiety should not dictate what they eat. When they are hungry and waiting for the next meal, their anxiety will have less and less power over them.


Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised, however, how difficult it is to resist making your kids TRY all the food on their plate, or to keep your mouth closed as they only reach for the side of dinner rolls you included in the meal. But keep your chin up, parents!  Give up control of what Ellen Satter defines as your child’s responsibility, and begin enjoying mealtimes again. Remember, the best thing you can do for your child is to model a healthy relationship with food that includes a variety of tastes and textures. You may not see improvement in your child’s picky eating right away, but Ellen Satter’s model is a research-backed way to make things better – if you’ll follow it.

The Best Thing to Do if Someone You Know Is Getting Divorced

getting divorced

Getting divorced, or know someone who is? How Will friends and family respond? 

I’m over at the Chattanooga Moms Blog today, writing about my own experience.

“The most difficult aspect of being divorced hasn’t been the co-parenting (and yes, that’s a tough one), or navigating a blended family, or even grieving the marriage that didn’t work out.

The hardest part is being happy, and having people tell you it’s wrong.

Click over to read the rest….

 

 

I’m Not Raising “Nice” Girls

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Do you ever tell your kids to be “nice”?

Maybe that’s not what you should be saying.

Today, I’m writing for the Chattanooga Moms Blog, and tackling the tricky subject of what it means to be nice vs. kind. Don’t think there is a difference? Check out my post before you decide.

“My daughter doesn’t want to go to after-school childcare. There’s a girl there that keeps telling her she can’t play with other kids, who makes her feel badly for having other friends, and who threatens to take away “privileges” like birthday invitations if she doesn’t follow orders. When my daughter told the childcare workers that she didn’t want to be friends with this girl, she was scolded and told, “We’re ALL friends, here.” But, they’re wrong. We’re not all friends, and we don’t have to be.”

Click here to read more….

Learning to Listen

There is always something to be thankful for.

Glennon Doyle Melton. Do you know her? She’s an author, blogger, and speaker, and a few years ago, wrote honestly and openly about a problem in her marriage that almost split them up. She allowed readers to follow along as she and her husband worked to repair their relationship, and, in her words, worked to heal each other.

Then, a few days ago, she publicly announced that after all the hard work, after getting back to a good place, and after writing a new book (set to release this fall) about that process… she is getting a divorce.

“You wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself back together completely differently. That you are whole, finally, and strong – but you are now a different shape, a different size. This sort of change — the change that occurs when you sit inside your own pain — it’s revolutionary. When you let yourself die, there is suddenly one day: new life. You are Different. New. And no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore. You are like a snake trying to fit into old, dead skin, or a butterfly trying to crawl back into the cocoon, or new wine trying to pour itself back into an old wineskin. This new you is equal parts undeniable and terrifying.

Because you just do not fit. And suddenly you know that. And you have become a woman who doesn’t ignore her knowing. Who doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know. Because pretending makes you sick. And because you never promised yourself an easy life, but you did promise yourself a true one. You did promise – back when you were putting yourself back together – that you’d never betray you again.”

This is what I want for everyone – men and women: to live a true life.

Sometimes, it takes years to figure out what your true life looks like, and sometimes you realize it in a matter of moments. Two years ago, almost overnight, I realized I couldn’t be married to my husband anymore. It was a terrifying revelation.

I was living overseas in a country I had grown to love, I was homeschooling and making motherhood my profession, I was studying Buddhism and meditating every single morning, and I would have told anyone that I was happily married. Then, out of nowhere, it literally felt like someone flipped the switch. I saw all the ways in which I was not happy – all the unhappiness I had buried for years out of fear, out of a desire to force the life I wanted. And I couldn’t live in that forced life anymore.

Leaving that marriage was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also the most wonderfully transformative. Suddenly, the small voice of intuition that had been there all along, whispering in my ear, was easier to hear. Instead of questioning that voice, or drowning it out, I started to listen. And it felt GOOD. It felt so good that it was impossible to ignore it any more.

Glennon says she is a “woman who has painstakingly learned that there is a still, small voice guiding her through this brutiful life one next right thing at a time. And that the only thing she cannot do – not ever again – is betray that voice. Self-betrayal is allowing the fear voices to drown out the still, small voice that knows what to do and is always leading us home to ourselves and to truth and to love.”

Listening to that voice was scary. It meant that people who had been with me – the me that didn’t listen to the voice so well – were going to get hurt. When I told my husband what I had to do, he hated me. When I told my children, they were devastated. And yet, somehow, it still felt right. I knew the voice was guiding me back to the path I had wandered away from – the path to my true life.

Sometimes listening to your intuition may mean the end of a relationship. It may mean a new career. It may mean moving to a new place. It may mean doing something that no one approves of. It will feel scary, but don’t confuse the fear of the unknown with the knowledge that you are making the wrong decision. Do you feel anxiety because you know you’re making the wrong choice? Or do you feel anxiety because you know you have to go down this path, and aren’t exactly sure how it will turn out? Those are two very different feelings.

This is also something you need to know: you can know you are making the right decision, but it’s possible no one else will.

Everyone thought I was crazy. My then-husband believed I was unstable. I had friends who judged me and withdrew their friendship. I wasn’t sure of how things would turn out, and I didn’t know exactly what life would look like in a year, but I knew this change in my life was the right one to make.

We like to tell ourselves that we can control things. We have ideas about the way life should go. Get a good job, make lots of money, keep people happy, stay in a marriage. Do those things, and you’ll have a successful life. But, what if we’re defining success in the wrong way?

“…Success to me is not staying in a marriage — it’s staying in my own peace. At all costs. And so, even when it’s highly inconvenient – even when it feels CRAZY – I will listen to the voice, and I will obey it.”

Want to be successful? Then learn to listen to that tiny little voice of intuition. It’s always there, but rarely screams at you. It quietly whispers, until one day, through all the noise, you hear it a little bit more clearly and ask it to speak louder. Success is not doing things in the prescribed way, but doing things the truthful way. It’s learning to trust yourself, and to trust that whatever is making the world go round has your back.

If you don’t think you can hear the voice, feel like it’s muddled with fear and anxiety, or have just started out on the path it told you take, I’d love to support you as you live a more intentional and authentic life. Shoot me an email, make an appointment, or connect with me online.

You’ve got this.

It’s Okay to Enjoy A Break

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Do you ever get a break from your kids, or wish you did? It doesn’t make you a bad parent, and it’s perfectly normal!

Today, I’m over at the Chattanooga Moms Blog, writing about the negative comments I got when I posted a picture on Instagram. In the picture, I was joking about how happy I was to have a break from my kids for two weeks.

Click here to read more about this experience and what I have to say about it.

 

How to begin giving an allowance

How to Start Giving an Allowance

I’m over at the Chattanooga Moms Blog today, writing about why and how to begin giving your children an allowance.

“Kids need to learn the value of money. Granted, it may take them awhile, but having their own money to save and spend is the first step. When you are in charge of what they can and can’t have, kids have no understanding of how quickly money can be used up, or how long it took to get the money in the first place. Having an allowance also allows you to set some boundaries about what you’re responsible for. Parents, for example, are responsible for food, shelter, clothing, supplies for school…things kids NEED. Other things – toys, trips, treats – are free to be bought as a parent sees fit. Your children stop seeing you an endless bank of money, and start learning to prioritize their own needs and wants.”

Read more over at CMB….