Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I really want everyone to consider this perspective on eating disorders.  How do you define an eating disorder?  In an earlier post I linked you to another blog that spoke about the images women are expected to live up to in order to maintain their career in modeling.

I find a striking similarity in the television/cinema world as well.  How many times do we hear about this or that celebrity who eats "clean", "organic", or "raw".  The term "orthorexic" describes an obsession with healthy eating.  The behaviors actually become disordered, and therefore compulsive behaviors and control begin to take over.  Check out this website to read more about orthorexia and to read about all the other topics it has to offer.  The site is more or less an eating disorder 101 site.  Helpful perspectives and links.


Ophelia's Swim Team: What if...

I could not have said it better myself, which is why I'm not going to try. This was written by a friend of mine. Her blog is on my Google Reader and should be on yours too!

Ophelia's Swim Team: What if...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays, What Do You Have To Be Depressed About?

It has been a week of shopping and wrapping. I totally soaked in the holiday season, and like many other people felt complete joy just picking out that perfect gift, didn't you?

Truth is that the holidays only bring about more stress and anxiety than the rest of the year. So when sitting around the fire sipping on your choice beverage, or in my case staring out the window at a palm tree with cold punch, use these tips with your family members who are less than enthusiastic about the holidays.

What not to say to a depressed person from an article by Therese J. Borchard:

1.Snap out of it! -- "...depression is not something patients can turn on and off, and they’re not able to respond to such pleas. Instead, tell your loved one that you’re available to help them in any way you can."

2. What do you have to be depressed about? -- "You can’t argue someone out of feeling depressed, but you can help by acknowledging that you’re aware of his pain. Try saying something like “I’m sorry that you’re feeling so bad."

3. Why don't you go for a nice walk? -- "By definition, depression keeps you from wanting to engage in everyday activities. But you can show your support by offering to take a walk, go to a movie, or do some other activity with your loved one. How about: “I know you don’t feel like going out, but let’s go together."

4. It's all in your head. -- "Suggesting that depression is imagined is neither constructive nor accurate...Try saying instead: 'I know that you have a real illness that’s causing you to feel this way.'"

What then can you say? Try this:

"Seeing a therapist is probably a good idea." -- "You think your loved one could benefit from talking to a mental health professional. Should you say so?"  


Full Article

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Better Late Then Never...

I really want to bring awareness to the following topic of "Fat Talk".  This can occur when referencing disordered eating patterns and/or body image.  Talking to your girlfriend about her food choice, announcing the reason for your own food choice, and even being "brutally honest" in the fitting room in order to make yourself feel better about your own body.

Delta Delta Delta Sorority has developed a website and program dedicated to the reduction of "Fat Talk" and the improvement of body image.  Body Image Program is a great resource in order to find information on this topic.  Even though Fat Talk Free Wekk was in October, it is never too late to discuss this issue.

I am going to share a video for you to enjoy, and ask that you please become more aware of your words and your environmental influences as you journey to find your own healthy sense of self.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Maudsley Method

There is a new method for treating eating disorders out of London called the Maudsley Method.  It incorporates the family into the daily living and therapy of the individual struggling.  It involves the family with the decisions at meal time and allows them to contribute in a way that most programs leave to their own staff. This sounds great right?  

A success rate for remission twice that of a normal modality.  Well what if the parents are the primary cause of the eating patterns?  What if the caretakers consistently use "fat talk"?  This modality will be great for families who are desperate to help the individual recover.  

In the cases of sexual abuse, post traumatic stress, and social pressures the individual may not be willing to share their deepest secrets with their family or even willing to work through the therapy--as mentioned in an earlier post "Stuck Like Chuck".  Also in cases of very young children this type of treatment could give caretakers the answer and motivation to participate actively in the treatment, which can often create a better home environment on the whole.

The Maudsley Method will be another great option for treatment, but I challenge professionals and programs to really take the time to understand the dynamics of the situation before jumping in.  A success is only as good as the motivation driving it, and when that lacks (in the case of "fat talk" or other psychosocial elements regarding the family unit) it can be very difficult to maintain.  Hence, the reason for the low percentage of success when treating eating disorders.

Please read this article, it is a great introduction to the method and what it can do for you or someone you may know.  Bringing in Family to Combat Anorexia

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Facing Cancer...

There has been so much talk this week about the positive spin that Elizabeth Edwards put on her final days after succumbing to the medical complications of her breast cancer.  But friends claim that "Elizabeth did not want people to say she lost her battle with cancer.  The battle was about living a good life, and that she won."

So what then about a person's sense of self, mental health, while dealing with this chronic illness?  What does cancer look like?  We perceive cancer as a solemn, painful, desperate disease that takes the best of our loved ones.  Yet these photos of Elizabeth show a different side of cancer.  The side that reflects personal choice to live in a positive environment.  The side that encourages independence for her future (her children and her life without her husband).  The side of inner strength so bright that reflects an outward shine. 

An article reflects the little known focus of many therapists who work with cancer patients.  Mental Health and Cancer: The Often Over-Looked Connections

The "power of positive thinking" becomes such a generalization that it loses its impact.  It is suppose to reflect a healthy outlook on the process of disease.  The stages of grief, anger, denial, sadness, etc.  Stabilizing the mental health during this time can actually provide the patient with the tools to improve their quality of life, and therefore their outcome in some cases.

What is interesting is that many patients are not even aware that therapy can even help with their treatment.  I think Elizabeth's story is a great example of what a healthy outlook on chronic illness looks like, and how it can ultimately benefit the individual and their family.  It did not extend her life, but it paved the way for a fuller life for her children, and a solid understanding of her peace that will bring comfort to all who mourn her.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Not Just For Girls...

Please take the time to read this story about a young man who struggles with exercise addiction and an eating disorder. Beginning at the age of 11, Eric struggled with his disorder. From 1999-2006 the rates of eating disorders in kids under the age of 12 increased by 119% Reference article

Eric's Story

Starting at age 11, Eric weighed 79lbs at his lowest weight.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stuck Like Chuck...

Ever wonder why anyone in your life, maybe even you, have trouble completely freeing themselves from the emotional entrapment of a past experience?

I was watching the movie "Thin" last night.  It is a documentary focusing on the journey through treatment for an eating disorder.  One woman in particular admitted in her counseling session that there were things deep inside her that she shared with no one.

That made me think about her ability to control whether or not she unlocked her past.  In many cases: deep dark secrets, painful events, sinful thoughts, devastating tragedies, and thoughts of ill will towards the self or others are the very pieces of the puzzle that most clients refuse to discuss.  They are often ashamed, angry, uncomfortable, or just flat out do not trust the therapist or themselves enough to even begin to entertain the thought of divulging that information.

How then can you actually provide adequate treatment to any client?  If you want to get better, but you aren't willing to do the full scope of the work, then can you really want help?

I guess the point of all of this is that we are often have too much control of ourselves, so much so that we do not even realize how we are holding ourselves back from the very things we want most in life--or at least what we think we want.

The hardships that you have faced, must be dissolved in order for you to heal.  If you are unwilling to hit the rock hard bottom of your emotional state, you will never fully recover.  Eating disorders are amongst the hardest mental disorders to overcome, and I suspect that many of those who wrestle with their disorder are not really fighting food, they are fighting to control of their deepest thoughts and feelings. 

Food is in a way the manifestation of their mind.  It is controlled, and it controls you.  With it you live and without it you die.  They feel as though without control of the depths of their mind they might as well be dead, and so they walk a fine line where uncomfortable becomes comfortable.  Being totally honest is a nightmare for an ED patient.  Giving up 100% control is their version of death.  Why would you need food when you feed on your own control?

If you feel stuck in some way in your own life, to this extreme or not, I invite you to at least have a conversation with yourself about the depths that exist in your mind.  It is only with a sense of self and a willingness to share that self that we are able to truly let go of the control that we have.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who Do You Collect?

"I have been collecting addicts all my life...starting with my mother."   

This is an excerpt from an article that did more than grab my attention.  It actually spurred on a whole new thought process.  Do we collect people?

I find that I tend to collect people with less self-esteem or a misguided self-concept.  I would venture to say that is because I am passionate about finding my own Sense of Self so that I can maybe share my story with other women on their own journey.  I am a firm believer in the influence of your social environment.

What do the people in our life reflect about us?  It has long been said that you can not choose your family.  I believe that you can not choose your bloodline, but you can choose your family.  I struggle with my own family relationships on a daily basis, and I know that I am not alone.  Everyone has a different dysfunction they characterize to their own family.  The holidays even highlight many of the idiosyncrasies.

You may find that you collect different types of people to compliment or challenge parts of you.  At the end of the day, what is the point if we don't understand why we need them?  Do we need them?

"That’s one of the biggest lessons I learned about those of us who choose addicts: We Don’t Notice. We’re just not that aware or self-actualized. I think back on some situations and wonder how in the world could I think that was normal?"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Speak Up and Speak Out

I am a huge fan of Mary J. Blige. Her music, her philanthropy, and of her sense of self.  She first came onto the music scene years ago, and she has made a complete turn around in her life since then.

From my earlier post today about gearing information about abuse and other topics toward teens, I am reminded of a great site affiliated with MTV U.  A station dedicated to campuses that often plays in student unions across the nation.  They have an interactive site that reached out to troubled youth across many different topics that are found to be trending: eating disorders, violence, drinking and drugs, mood disorders, etc.

Half of Us utilizes real life youth and celebrities who are willing to share their story. On theme with abuse and violence I viewed Mary's story. Watch her video below, and check out the site to find a topic that relates to you or someone you know who is struggling.

Mary J. Blige video  

How Much of the Proceeds...?

We are very familiar with the marketing towards products that benefit charities during the holidays.  This week I participated in a virtual vigil in memory of a victim of domestic violence who was only a college student when she passed.  Members of Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs took the time to change their picture to a lit candle in her memory.  The same night of the vigil, I watched the program "16 and Pregnant" on MTV and witnessed dating violence.  I became frustrated and rather disappointed in our youth, because this wasn't the first time I had seen it on a related program "Teen Mom".

MTV promoted the website and so I checked it out.  It turns out this is not the website I would expect to see.  It is actually a promotional tool for a helpline.  I couldn't help but think, what teenager is going to call a helpline?  After all, these are not the days of Saved By The Bell.  Teenagers spend hours blogging, tweeting, and updating their status while catching up on the latest viral videos online.

So I searched the site for PSAs and tools that would attract a teen, I came up pretty short.  That is not to say that a teen in an abusive relationship should not use this site, but it is not as user friendly as I would have hoped for.  The website does link you however to other resources.  The best one I found is where teens engage with social networks and even has a promotion of an upcoming made for TV movie.

I am NOT saying that they should not read these sites and engage in any way that they can to prevent abuse, but perhaps we should promote this cause in other ways as well to cover all of the bases.  I have been using a brand of makeup for years now and they have created a program that does just this.  The company is mark. by Avon, a cosmetic and lifestyle line geared towards youth.  They have a great movement for dating abuse m.powermentHere they have videos and links much like the other sites.  

But what's different?  They sell jewelry and makeup to young women that not only benefits their cause, but that donates 100% of the net proceeds to their foundation.  We always see 10%, 20%, 50%, but 100%?! Their products can be found here: m.powerment products.  Look to the bottom of the page to see just how much per piece goes to the cause.  Those numbers are amazing, especially for a seemingly smaller cosmetic company as compared to your drugstore favorites.

This movement is the type of thing that I feel gets the word out.  Girls wear the products, talk and discuss, and also contribute to a philanthropy as well.  They have engaged in the cause and now promote it in a positive way in their social circles.  This company appears to understand exactly how to reach their customers in a way that benefits their cause, and promotes this cause in a healthy way by encouraging a healthy self-concept.  Makeup is fun during these years and appearance is so important to most girls.  Why not make them feel pretty and offer a healthy dose of education as well?!

Check these products out this holiday season for a young woman, older woman, or even yourself this season.  It actually makes a difference.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Help Yourself to Some of You

So I know I am forever linking you all to articles online, but seriously there is just too much good information out there. We are all pretty aware at the moment that the holidays are fast approaching. For many of us the holidays often = stress! Where to stay? Who to buy for? Where to eat? How long to stay?

Granted some families have a status quo that that we try to emulate within our own families, but perhaps the real issue is within us. What kinds of pressures are we placing on ourselves in order to fulfill the needs of others during this giving season?

I was reading a great site and found an article about Self-esteem for the Holidays, Part 1. I never thought about viewing the season from that perspective. Could our feelings of pressure, inadequacy, failure, apprehension, etc stem from our own self-esteem and confidence during this time of year?

The article discusses two fictional characters who go out of their way for others during the holidays. We all know the wiehgt our society places upon doing for others during these few months, but does it mean doing so at the expense of ourselves? Is going into debt to please your friends and family really what they want from you? Is spreading yourself so thin that you are no longer enjoying this time really worth the work to please others, when a the end of the day you are so stressed out and tired that that you can't even give them the quality time they are actually looking for in your presence?

The article says it best:

..."We feel responsible for “getting it right” by making others happy. And if we don’t put everyone else ahead of ourselves, we’re not doing it right.

We worry that if we focus on our own needs at this time of the year, we are being selfish, or at best, we’re not in the holiday spirit.

Here is a thought to consider: Doing things to meet your own needs this holiday season will not only NOT make you selfish; it will help you communicate clearly with loved ones, and will give them permission to meet their own needs too. "...

Yes, there can be a fine line between narcissism and meeting your own needs.  However, could it be that the narcissistic individual would be worrying about this right now?  Do yourself and your family a favor this season and take a moment to give to yourself.  If you really are that people-pleaser that everyone says you are, then you have worked far to hard all year long to not be able to at least reward yourself as well.  Treating yourself with the same love and care that you exude to others will in fact do more for them in the long run, and isn't that your goal?

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's your "unhappy" place?

An article caught my attention this weekend.  I don't know about you, but my mind wanders a lot.  I am a daydreamer.  I am constantly thinking about the "what if" and the "would've been" and don't forget the "will be".  More often than not, these are positive thoughts that involve my analysis of an event and the solution that will maximize the best result.  Or these are scenes playing in my mind over and over again of people, places, and things that I would like to experience--my happy place.

Here is the kicker...this study says that wandering minds do not necessarily have a positive impact on us.  Essentially, our wandering minds are leading us into negative territory i.e. our "unhappy place".  Most people who were surveyed in this study reported being unhappy after their daydreams.

Pay attention to this study; you'll be happier

I do not want to discount or fully support the study, but I do think it is a great topic of conversation.  How do our thoughts impact our daily lives?  Many many many books have been written about the power of positive thoughts.  But is this really realistic way of life?  We are plagued daily with anxieties, fears, and so many other emotions that leave our glass half empty. 

So I just want to leave you today with these questions to ponder: Do you live in a world of scarcity or abundance?  Do you feel that there is enough for you to attain, or do you feel like you are constantly fighting to win?  What personal values and mantras do you hold onto that impact your daily life in a positive or negative way?

I am inviting you to take a look at the foundation of your life and how it is reflected in your inner and outer self.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If not for you, for them...

One of my passions in life, is the advocacy for healthy eating patterns.  The hard part is, our society is inundated with mixed messages 24/7.  For example, the E! network has many programs that highlight the insufficiencies of many of our role models in the celebrity culture in terms of their style, physical attributes, and activities of daily living (what is on their plate, what kind of food or beverage they enjoy, how they do or do not stay fit, etc).  However, this network also has a new show called "What's eating you" that has been developed to call attention to disordered eating patterns and health.

This is such a strong mixed message.  And with that, I begin to think about women who have disordered patterns of eating and their capability to understand how to begin to heal.  And on top of that, would we know how to exactly help them through this process?

NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association), has published a  two page document to help with this.  I am linking it below:

Sharing with EEEase

Essentially it focuses on the individuals quest for healing, but I do think that it can be helpful for a friend, family member, coworker, or simply just a bystander to understand from this perspective the most effective way to address these issues.

First, it is important to understand the general idea of disordered eating.  Not all eating patterns fit into anorexia or bulimia.  I tend to think of disordered eating as a range beginning at the lowest level of your conscious eating choices (for this reason or that) to the diagnosable eating disorders outlined by the American Psychiatric Association in their DSMIV-TR (Google it!). 

As it is helpful to be able to understand and recognize if someone has disordered patterns, it is equally if not more important to know what to do if they reach out for help.  NEDA uses three E's: Establishing a Safe Environment, Explain the Situation, and Educate with the Facts.

More importantly however, the document lets you know: who to tell and what to say.  I believe that for anyone who is struggling or for someone who is trying to help ridding yourself of those anxieties associated with not having complete control can often discourage the individual from acting.  If you are working hard to control your eating, not having control over your healing is a horribly scary event that may in fact encourage to further control your patterns.  Educating yourself, creating a plan, and securing a support system will allow the individual to still exert a level of control of their life that may pull them from their bubble even for a second.

And for the outsider, fear of making the situation worse can often lead to a failure to act at all.  Identifying the most probable option for success will at least provide some comfort and security that intervening is the right thing to do.  Again with that word "control".  Being aware that not all methods are 100% successful is another realization that must be actualized in order to really understand the depth or the range of the patterns.

In whatever manner that you chose to address this situation, keep in mind that support and genuine love are the real patterns that matter.  These patterns are not of a weak nature, and do mask various deep-seeded issues that plague the mind.  For this reason, take care with your mission and your decision.  Remember to also maintain your sense of self and only act in ways from which you are truly motivated to do so.  Become the change that you want to see, and utilize the resources that are available. 

My dad once gave me a soccer statue that said "You miss 100% of the shots you do not take" and though I missed quite a few times, I always succeeded eventually--I just had to make it worth the wait to myself.  And that gave me a sense of self that is worth more than any goal or any win ever was.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A new kind of bully

Is your daughter a self-loathing "body bully"?  I really encourage every parent and every young woman to read this article. It does focus on the parent-daughter relationship, but I feel that this article translates amongst all relationship levels.

Whether its a close friend, significant other, relative, or just an acquaintance, be mindful of your words and actions and how they might impact those in your environment. Be mindful as well of the environment that surrounds those in your environment: school, work, sports, organizations, family, and friends.

Is your daughter a self-loathing "body bully"?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Should've Called

I went out of town this weekend to Gainesville, FL to support an organization very close to my heart.  During my time there, I realized just how dependent we are on our smartphones and especially on social networks.  Case in point:  I arrived at my destination on Sunday afternoon, and instead of calling or walking upstairs to greet a person, I texted her.  Within 5 minutes she was downstairs and in my room.  We conversed like two normal people from that point forward.

Why couldn't I just call?  I can tell myself that I didn't want to disturb her, or that it was just easier to text.  However, after pondering this action of texting, I don't really believe myself.

I spent most of my day yesterday updating my personal facebook page in celebration of a milestone in the organization, yet I did not actually talk face to face with more than five people about it.

There is a fantastic website Half Of Us that addresses many of the issues facing our youth (by this I mean from your adolescence through early adulthood).  I found that video about social media and how it is impacting college students.  Since my trip was to Gainesville, FL home of the University of Florida, I felt that it fit in with this post.

This video brings a whole new perspective to the table, or I guess it is safe to say the message board or mini-feed.  These media oultets are making a huge impact on the mental health of our future leaders.  There is such a wide range of emotions associated with the use of these mediums leading to depression, anxiety, and a lot of times euphoria.

  • How did you feel when you realized you had the most recent text message?
  • How many times a day do you update your facebook, and are the statuses positive or negative?
  • What is the real reason behind not calling and sending your next text?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Apple: Do you mean the fruit or the computer?

Lately all over the morning TV shows, there has been a ton of talk about the absence of civility in our society. Due to the advancement of cell phones, iPads, Kindles, and the like, our society now finds it practical to walk down the street with our heads facing downward into the abyss of social networks and text messages.

So you wonder why this is even an issue if everyone else is doing it? I can tell you that although people are totally checked out of the world around them, they still remain ill-tempered and apathetic to it. And what the heck does that mean?

Hypothetical: You are walking through the mall this holiday season and not one but two people in a row bump straight into you. Now this is not your typical bump, this is a sideswipe from a mom who is texting her daughter to meet for lunch in the food court, and t-bone from a 50-something single businessman who is tweeting how much he loathes the mall aside from the fact that he can strike up a convo in the linen section.

Now, I don't know about you, but I myself would say "excuse me" while trying to suppress the flat out impending temper tantrum that is imminent upon my next breath. But needless to say, the offenders fail to suppress their feelings and lash out before you can blink. What the crap is their problem?

They bumped into you. They failed to engage in their environment. They displayed a complete lack of civility. And so you are then left to wonder the age old question of "what has this world come to?"--and yes you are now officially of the age to ask such a question (speaking to my fellow peers in their late twenties and early thirties).

During my time of unemployment, I have had plenty of time to utilize the social networks for subject matter for this blog. About a week ago I came across a post from a "friend" who linked this page:

George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
*Read the rules and see what your missing.  If only there were an app for that.

Yes, our forefather GW--of the apple kind not Texas, is the patriarch of our country and our social structure.  We have failed him America.  Granted some of these rules are a little out there because lets face it they didn't have toothpaste in those days (read the rules and that will make sense), and it was a much simpler time.

But I ask you, does our presently complicated society mean that we can excuse bad behavior?  I think not.  I really try to make a conscious effort to treat others the way I would like to be treated.  I consider myself pretty self aware, and because of this, I intend to create an environment around myself that lends to happiness and positivity.  By this I mean: I don't blare my headphone music on airplanes, I hold doors open for others when entering and exiting a building, I say please and thank you to service employees, and I let random strangers know if their outfit is cute or if they have TP on their shoe (insert pat on the back).

In my oh so humble opinion, I feel that you do in some way create your world and we know for sure that the very environment that you live will impact your life.  So then I ask, why the heck would anyone want to be so disconnected from society that they now blame others for their discrepancies?  Their connection to Facebook and twitter have become more important than manners, and then they get mad and post about it.

I will give some people the benefit of the doubt that they simply were distracted and are polite people, but then there are the citizens that actually use their mobile device as a divider between their internal and external worlds.  We have even become so detached that we can't even call someone on their birthday because a public acknowledgment on Facebook give us more satisfaction because others can see that you made the effort.

There are arguments for both sides, and I have weighed both.  I would still like to advise everyone to Sign-in to their real social network every once in a while, you know the one that works without wi-fi?!  Or at least sit down on a bench and update your status to include how many people you see walk by in a 2 min period with their heads down--double points for collisions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Giving Season

November marks the beginning of the giving season.  As the stores transform their color scheme to red, greens, silvers, and golds, we tend to focus on the impending shopping season.  We can all agree that the breast cancer foundations do an amazing job of publicizing awareness of their cause, and many people do their "good deed" by contributing to a cause that everyone recognizes, or that is close to their heart. 

November also serves as a month for awareness and on the eve of the 2010 holiday season, it might be nice to take a second to look at how you can impact these causes as well.  Who knows, you may even find a way to give to a cause while you try to think of the perfect gift for someone else.

Check out this site:

November Awareness

Why do we feel the need to give anyway?  I can speak for myself, and possibly others, when I say that giving of yourself is a great way to set an example for the change you want to see in the world.  Whether it is your time, money, etc. giving something will impact your environment.

Something I want you to think about comes from the tv sitcom "Friends".  Joey claimed one episode to Phoebe that there were "no selfless good deeds".  That phrase can mean many things to many people.  I tend to view myself as a selfish person with wants and needs for the world that I live in.  I am not trying to change the world that I live in to only make it better for you, because who says that you would agree that it is better?  I am working to foster the change that I want to see happen, so that I can nurture my Sense of Self, and foster positive changes in my community.

My foundation will work to serve my interests, just as your contributions this month will work to serve yours.  Poof!  Change.  So yes, there are no such things as "selfless good deeds" because if their were, nothing good would come of it. 

Some might argue that not everyone cares enough to contribute to anything, and to those individuals who cant find it within themselves to foster change for their world, I invite them to begin or continue on their journey to nurture their Sense of Self.  At the end of the day we are only as good as our environment will allow us to be, and if you want better you must do better.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Planting The Seed

Many of you may know that I am working to establish a Foundation to benefit the lives of young women in their search for their Sense of Self.  Essentially, I want to improve the overall wellness of young women so that they may break the cycle of negative self talk.  Our society breeds negative self talk in our media, family units, and social circles--I could do an entire blog on that subject and probably will very soon.

In the mean time, I have been doing some research on foundations and nonprofit organizations.  I have figured out that I want to initially develop a privately funded foundation that will provide scholarships to women who are working to improve and further develop their Sense of Self.  I can easily tap into my Sorority to get started and begin to fund women who are working within our organization.  Not to mention, college is a time where pressure and stress can often reach a breaking point, and I feel that this foundation could foster motivation and essentially help to fulfill the mission (which I have yet to develop and will discuss with you in the near future). 

Once I have successfully developed this foundation, I intend to slowly step into the world of a publicly funded nonprofit organization complete with programming and counseling services for young women and families.  That would be in the 10-15 year plan once I have my PhD and some money ;)

So here is my timeline/list, and something to hold me accountable:

  • Create a name for my foundation--I have essentially come up with this and will play with it a little more here and there
  • Obtain the correct paperwork and materials to submit to the government--hopefully my lawyer friends can hook a sister up with some legal advice *wink wink*
  • Complete and file with enough time to create the foundation for the 2011 year so that I can work towards delivering my first scholarship to a woman for the beginning of the 2011 academic year.
Ideally I would like the foundation to fund a scholarship for four women each at a different point in their formal education.  Therefore the mission would translate across all ages of the late teens and early twenties therefore benefiting a wide range of women who can set an example for their peers = creating a new cycle.

I am listing my resources below just in case anyone else in considering starting their own foundation or a public nonprofit and just for a general FYI.  I for sure did not realize exactly what the differences were, and that it really comes down to a government distinction and semantics.  Enjoy!


Nonprofit is a tax status not a philosophy
Drawbacks in starting a nonprofit organization
Foundation Center

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Did It On Purpose!

I figured that I would update before the weekend because I am returning to Gainesville, FL to attend some events and have a good ol' fashioned time.  I am an active member of a sorority, and some very important changes will be occurring this weekend.

Upon working to spread the word about these events and recruit more women to participate, I became frustrated with the different commitment levels amongst the membership.  Now, granted I am a "diamond in the ruff", a member who is far more involved than most alumnae members ever wanted to be.  However, I think that fact more than fits me as a person.  I am a driven person who more often than not becomes the commitments that I have made.

We all make promises and vow our loyalty to various things in our lives.  What within us changes that impacts our level of involvement?  At one time or another these commitments were our identity: marriage, clubs, sports, politics, etc...

I think it equates itself to a failing marriage or a losing season.  Something within you changed, your priorities changed, your life circumstance changed.  Whatever it was, it happened, and now what?  Do you yearn  for something to replace it?  Are you relieved that you no longer have to "deal with it"?  Whatever the reason for leaving, and the whatever the result of that change, have you taken the time to fulfill your life in another way?

We are loyal to the things in life that nurture us, that flatter us, and more importantly give us a purpose.  My involvement with the sorority gives me purpose.  I want to serve as a positive role model for those young women as they navigate young adulthood.  I want to serve as their advocate when the world challenges them.  I want to foster their personal growth and help them to develop a healthy Sense of Self.

Identifying your purpose serves as a motivator for you to become involved in the world, in our society, and on your own journey to discover your Sense of Self.  If you don't feel like you have a purpose in your current life, I would invite you to really take a moment to reflect on the best times and worst times in your life.  Where were you?  What were you doing and who was there?  Did the experience have a positive or negative impact on you, and what would you have done differently to create the most ideal result?

Find your passion,  or for some the place where you can just simply feel safe with yourself.  Keep this place sacred for you and you alone in order to work on finding a genuine purpose, one that you can continue to remain loyal to, one that give just as much back to you as you give to it.  Find wellness.  Find Peace.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Did You Know?

Did you know that this month has so much more going on that Halloween and football?  October is National Disability Awareness Month.  For the entire month, various organizations work to educate the public about the issues facing individuals with disabilities.

It has been twenty years since the Americans with Disabilities Act has been passed, and believe it or not there are still barriers that must be overcome.  Many of the barriers that exist wouldn't necessarily cross the minds of most employers who have yet to explore applicants who may need accommodations.  But just for reference, we are talking about: accessible buildings (can you believe that not all public buildings are fully accessible?), non-negotiable essential job duties--employers unwilling to modify or redistribute some of the tasks for a certain job, inability to modify office space and equipment to compliment the needs to each employee, and corporate culture.

The reason I think that it is important to touch upon this topic is just to:
  • bring light to the topic
  • educate my readers on the different types of barriers
  • offer a new outlook on the stigmas that exist
Most people in society think of disabilities as the physical result of some form of trauma or developmental difficulty, but clearly there are so many other forms that remain to be seen-at least at first glance. For example,  a visually impaired individual would need accommodations to improve their viewing ability on the job such as magnifiers or large print or perhaps a simple software program that allows the employee to dictate and listen to emails.   Aside from visual impairments: mental illness, learning disabilities, and hearing loss or difficulty can also impact the company environment. 

What the issue tends to be is that employers are nervous about hiring individuals who disclose their disability because of their own perceptions and worries.  How much will I have to spend to provide these accommodations?  What are the liabilities that come along with hiring this person?  How much attention will I have to give to this employee to make sure that they are doing their job correctly?  Many of these concerns stem from a simple lack of education about the various disabilities that exist, and the only way to change that is to advocate and inform.

I am attaching an article about paralyzed veterans to shed light on the growing population of citizens who will need accommodations and should be given the same opportunities now as they had before they served our country-"Here today, gone tomorrow" rings true in this case in more ways than one.  I find it fascinating that we have to develop programming within our military to improve the chance of a positive vocational outcome for these veterans.  The article is more of just a "for your information" article that sheds a positive light on their efforts to improve our economy.

All Americans deserve the right to work and contribute to this country.  Could part of the unemployment crisis could be due to the fact that many employers are unwilling to consider or inadvertently dismissing qualified applicants?  Think it over.

Vocational Programming For Veterans

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's Your View?!

This morning while attempting to complete the 1000 piece puzzle on the dining room table (life of the unemployed), I heard a ruckus coming from the tv.  I have a list of shows that I turn on each morning for news, entertainment, and to really stimulate my brain.  During The View, some thing happened.  Words flew in both directions from the hosts and guest Bill O'Reilly.

If any of you know anything about the show, you are not surprised that most of the hosts did not agree with him on 99% of his points.  There is a strong presence on that show of a democratic belief system, and Bill O'Reilly is the antithesis of liberal politics.  Needless to say, he made an extreme statement in the heat of the moment prompting two hosts to walk off the stage in rage. 

What I want to know is: How do you know why you believe in what you do if you can not challenge those beliefs in a rational way?  Bill O'Reilly was in the hot seat and handled himself far better than the hosts of the show showing me, the observant counselor type, that he was comfortable and confident in his take on the topic.  Now granted he did make some very extreme statements, and perhaps thought twice before speaking further, but he did not let his other opinions go unheard. 

I like listening to both sides of an argument because for the most part each side has their own exaggerated opinon, and you find the actual truth somewhere in between.  My job as a counselor is to listen and facilitate healthy discussion and expression.  And truthfully, I would rather just enjoy a nice BLT and a beer while everyone else dukes it out.  I am not a competitive person either, and I think that helps with me not having to "get the win"...we'll discuss that later.

The reason I wanted to address this topic is because I wanted to challenge you to take a look at how you handle your political conversations.  When speaking about "sense of self" like we have before, can you really know what you truly believe if you don't even know who you are and why?  Why is it that you actually believe what you do?  Do you share the same view as your family, or has your generation acculturated you into the opposite view out of the need to be different and foster change?  Do you choose peers who challenge you, or a circle that simply you know you can get along with?

I often wonder where the notion of "scream louder and you will be heard" comes from?  My thought is that if you are arguing and trying to win for the sake of "being right" and your opponent is doing the same, the actual content is falling on deaf ears and then what?!  Neither of you were successful, and now you are both more likely hold some kind of animosity, because lets face it you don't really let it go--who would?!  It is not in our nature to do so, hence the reason why we have political parties and terrible political adds every year that attack and smear for the sake of the win.

Behavioral Therapy is a general term for the most popular theories of counseling used today.  We all have irrational thoughts that lead to behaviors as an expression of the disturbances in our mind.  We live under these "musts" and behave in ways in order to meet our needs.
  • I must do well enough to gain the approval of others.
  • I must be treated by others the way I think I should be treated, otherwise they are no good and must be punished or condemned.
  • I must get what I want when I want it, and if I don't, it's terrible.
So if blaming others is at the core of these disturbances, how the heck can we have a real relationship?  You will never be 100% satisfied if you live beneath the "musts", "shoulds", demands and commands.  That is so much pressure which then leads to your anxieties, depression, anger, and flat out dismissal of reality as we saw today on the show.  By this theory, whether or not you agree with Bill O'Reilly politically, it is fair to say that he is more rational in his behavior when compared to the hosts of the show.  He won today, because he didn't come there to win.  He stated his opinion with passion yes, but he also stood his ground.  The other opinion left the stage and was not heard from for minutes.  Its like playing a man down-often not in the team's favor.  

I challenge you to really examine your behavior in a recent heated conversation.  What about that conversation was not satisfying to you?  How did you behave irrationally as a result--yell, scream, walk away, ignore, blame?  How can you benefit from actually listening, without forming a response, to the other person?  Understanding why another person feels the way they do, will challenge your mind to do the same.  It is then that you build the foundation for your belief system, based on your ethics, your opinions, and your feelings as a result of hearing what they had to say whether you agree or not. 

Leave the "shoulds" and "musts" behind and you will win without even trying.

This is the link to an article about the show with a video clip.  Enjoy!

It's Their View or No View

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm Not Policitcal But...

I think that it goes without saying most of your friends know your political views, or at least if you are interested in politics.  There are arguments both ways as to whether or not you should actually discuss issues in a social setting.

I line with Mental Illness Awareness Week, some changes in our laws have become a focal point of the movement to integrate treatments into medical care.  In an article by Michelle Andrews, New Laws Expand Mental Health, Addiction Treatment,  the current and future changes are highlighted.  In short, The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Treatment Act just took effect this year and puts mental health and addiction treatment coverage on the same playing field as medical/surgical needs. 

Before this year, insurance plans would typically: limit your therapy visits, increase your deductible, and change your co-payment.  Even with the new law, an insurance plan is not mandated to even provide a plan of care for mental health or addictions, nor does the new law apply to companies with 50 or fewer employees.  Basically, if your plan offers this type of care, it has to offer equivalent coverage for mental health and addiction treatments as it would for medical/surgical care.  However, keep in mind that the insurance company can choose which disorders they are willing to cover.

With the health care changes happening in the next few years, the plan is to provide coverage to those small business and to also streamline the plans that offer mental health and addiction treatment.  What roadblocks can you foresee coming about?  Some of the blocks that come to my mind are:
  • Along the lines of preventable disease:  Is addiction a disease?  Who should decide?  Is mental health a medical condition?  Should it be covered by medical insurance?
  • Pre-existing conditions: Should insurance cover the treatment of mental illnesses deemed a pre-existing condition?
  • Children: A child born with addictions or a mental illness will likely receive treatment under the insurance plan of their caretaker or the government.  What should happen to their care when they reach adulthood?
  • Scope of disorders:  What body should determine the scope of coverage?  Should the government compile a list of disorders or should it be up to the insurance company?  Should the DSM-IV TR or the newly revised version in 2013 be involved in the identification "insuarable conditions" or should we consider prevalent and "treatable conditions" only?
I am positive there are so many more issues that will arise in the coming years, and it is then that we can decide whether or not to elect candidates who have the same views and value systems as yourself.  In terms of my future non-profit, would lack of care even be an issue by the time it is up and running?  2014 is just around the corner and these changes will impact the services I will provide to my community.

I'm no political but...I would hope that you are willing to really examine the changes that are happening, and become educated enough to truly understand the impact of your vote on these issues.  Mental Illness is not something we can always predict, prevent, or fully recover from.  It is a struggle for many Americans as a result of many different environmental factors: disease, socialization, genetics, etc.  This week leads us into the heart of this years political season, and is just another reason to actually find out what your favorite candidate thinks.  Mental illness does not discriminate, and when or if ever you need treatment, I hope that you are all able to maximize your care.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is It The Chicken or The Egg?

It is safe to say that most people would agree with this statement:

"The self is a function of its environment."

This can go a few different ways.  First, the environment that creates the mold for the child, thus creating a predictable product.  For example, a child of an alcoholic indulges in their substance of choice and becomes an addict.  Second, the environment is perceived by the child as being so unfavorable that they become the exact opposite and "break the mold".  Along with the first example, the child rarely consumes any alcohol in order to prevent a similar lifestyle of addiction.  Lastly, we find a combination of the two.  Growing up in a home environment with pressure to be one thing or the other in order to satiate the "social norm" of the family.  This is where we find most children.  

Our culture is moving in many directions, and one that has always fascinated me was the pressures on our society to look a certain way.  In the 80s, we saw the birth of fitness.  Aerobics classes were the norm for all adults, especially women, and a community of fitness was born strip malls all over America.  Into the 90s we saw a change in men focusing more and more on achieving that buff/chiseled look Arnold Schwarzenegger style.  Us women, we still attended our classes, but began to discover the world outside Jane Fonda.  The millennium has brought to us many new ideas about what you can do to look the way "we" think you should.  Gyms are still popular, extreme sports have come into play, and a spiritual side of health via yoga and pilates has really become the norm for many.  

What is scary is that many young adults and teens do not prioritize fitness, though they want to still look as though they do.  Yes, many children and teenagers are involved in some type of sport, and yes you can exercise without joining a gym--there are a million exceptions to every claim.  Generally speaking though, many young Americans are just trying to survive their life.  They have school, the media, friends, and their family to balance all at once and frankly in most cases each is pulling them in a different direction.  How to they cope?  Do they become the mold, break the mold, or crack somewhere in between?

The attached article is about the family impact on anorexic teenagers.  These teens are working to achieve a physical likeness at the expense of their own health.  How do they even know this is what is "desirable"?  The media is an easy answer, and one of the most often used excuses in my opinion.  Do the parents themselves work to achieve this same physical likeness and therefore apply pressure to the child creating a seemingly impossible goal, or are the parents so far in the opposite direction (our country's growing obese population) that the child wants nothing more than to not look like that?  Is the child somewhere in between with supportive parents who can not identify with the pressures the child is facing outside of the home during this hormonally charged time?  

The study found that when families participated in recovery, the changes for a more solidified outcome were much increased.  I think that regardless of where the foundation for the behavior came from, a supportive and involved environment (preferably the home environment) with reduced pressures is ideal for recovery.  A stable home is not always possible, but if you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, become their "family" and share in their life.  Work with them and hopefully with their treatment program to find out where their illness stems from, and support them in building a new foundation based on their own "sense of self".  And if you yourself struggle in any way, I invite you to ask yourself:

  • What pressures do I feel from my family, friends, the media, work, school, etc.?
  • What behaviors do I engage in daily that give in to these pressures?
  • How do I really view myself outside of what others may say?
 Please take some time to read the article and examine your thoughts and feelings.  Do we make our decisions as a function of our environment (the Chicken), or do we decide independently to appease the self (the Egg)?  Start with what you like about your self, write it down, and put it somewhere where you can see it.  Add to this list whenever you feel like it, or discover something new that compliments your "Sense of Self".


Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week! Who knew?!

The first full week in October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Established by our Congress in 1990, this week sheds light on the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Otherwise known as NAMI, each state organization is encouraged to step up their efforts to achieve the NAMI mission which is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

I will have to be honest here and say that I did not have this even marked down on my calendar. However, that is not to say that I will not finish this post and add it to my planner pages so that I can remember it when I make my annual agenda information transfer at the end of the year.

NAMI has a number of options for you in order to help them achieve their mission:

  • If you are a political person, NAMI has non-partisan election themes that can be found here: Election

  • If you are religious, this Thursday is the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery

  • If you aren't political or religious you can still bring awareness to the cause. NAMI offers various downloads on their site offering activities and PR.

  • A documentary has also been filmed and will air on PBS stations. "Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia" was aired at the 2010 NAMI convention, and is currently being used to educate its viewers on the subject.

So what does all of this actually do for you? My goal is to introduce you to an organization and a cause that is becoming more and more popular in our society as the years go by. An article by DJ Jaffe discusses the issue of stigma as it relates to mental illness. The article is more of food for thought to coincide with this week. It can be found here: MIAW Diverts Attention from Serious Mental Illness

I encourage you to read it and at least think about the stigmas you have, if any, about mental illness. Where do they stem from? What limits you from educating yourself about the topic? What barriers are there in your environment to further your feelings about mental illness? How has the incidence of mental illness in your personal life impacted the way you feel about diagnosed individuals?


Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Inspiration

When I decided to start blogging again I asked myself two important questions:
  • Am I ready to do the work?
     Keeping up with a public blog can go one of two ways: first, you can choose to inform your public, or self, a number of times throughout the week and really make it part of your professional routine; second, you can remember to update the social medium every so often to engage the population that society says you should be reaching out to.  I want this work to actually benefit me, and at the ripe age of 26 I have learned that you must in fact put something in to get something out.  Some people benefit from a life of doing nothing, but I will step outside the straight line i walk for a second and say that they are paying for "doing nothing" in some way, shape, or form that our society chooses to overlook...if I have lost you, I am talking about their sense of self.  There is always a choice to be made in life, and always a result that could have been more or less meaningful.  Ponder that.  

     Back to it.  Since I would like to benefit from this work, I will have to make time to research and discover subject matter that benefits my mission and therefore my audience.  I have to work to remain present in intentions.  I have to pat myself on the back, and kick myself in the butt.  This is really more of a pep talk for me since I have yet to secure a reader.
  • Does this one actually mean anything?
     I have blogged before, once upon a time in 2003 when the social websites began to explode.  Much to my disappointment, i was too immature to have that blog actually mean a thing to anyone but me, and it became more of a passive aggressive way for me to discover things i don't like about myself, than to actually record something meaningful to someone else.  
     In a society of social networking, is it worth it for me to maintain a number of media sites on behalf of something that is not yet an actual reality?  In my 10year plan, there are many things that I want to do: go back to school for a PhD, become professionally licensed to add face value to my name, create a scholarship fund in the name of my organization (yet to be determined), begin work on actually creating this dream of a non-profit wellness center for children and families.  I am not sure if this blog will actually benefit anyone, or if I will even be using it this time next year.  I will say though that right now it seems like it could be a good idea, and the thought of developing the early phases of my future brand is motivation enough to at least play around for the rest of the days until I am employed.  (The first step in reaching many of the above goals)

     Without having done any research today, I would like to post the inspiration for the theme of this blog.  It is  a poem by Jane Taylor.  For those who know me personally, the reference to the violet makes sense for other reasons than given here.  But for those who know me only as the girl who writes that blog, the words speak for themselves and provide a bit of insight into my "sense of self".  Information about the author can be found here

The Violet by Jane Taylor

Down in a green and shady bed,
   A modest violet grew,
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
   As if to hide from view.

And yet it was a lovely flower,
   Its colours bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
   Instead of hiding there,

Yet there it was content to bloom,
   In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
   Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go,
   This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
   In sweet humility.