Thursday, November 29, 2007

Give Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

OK, I can't resist. With Christmas approaching, please allow me the indulgence of being "the therapist" for a few moments.

I am already hearing people talk about how much they are dreading the holidays. They are worried about finding gifts, dealing with family members, time crunches, etc.

Losing my mom on Christmas Day really put this holiday into sharp focus for me. Now, it is much easier to decide what is REALLY important and what to let go of.

Some suggestions:

1. If the gift giving has gotten out of hand, talk to family members about paring things down. There will usually be a whiner or two about this. It is OK to tell them that you just can't continue this for financial, time, etc. reasons. Let them pout if they want to. They will get over it. Seriously!

2. KNOW that when a family gets together, members are going to fall right back into the patterns of childhood to a certain extent. If this is NOT a good thing, you can CHOOSE to react differently, not spend as much time with them as you think you need to, etc. It is OK. The world will not end, no matter how much of a fuss they make.

3. Don't over commit. Different people have different tolerances for how much they can physically and emotionally handle during the holidays. You DON'T have to accept every invitation, singing gig, etc. Again, the world will not end if you say NO.

4. Take time for yourself. This is NOT a sin. If you feel overwhelmed, find SOME way of carving out space and time for you. Even if this means staying home while the rest of the family goes to an event. If staying home from the annual Christmas Eve brunch with people you don't particularly enjoy will make you more rested and able to enjoy Christmas with people that you DO enjoy, do it.

Give yourself a Merry Christmas. You deserve it.

Lecture over.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This year, my Thanksgiving was spent with my husband's family. My husband is the middle child of 5 and their birth order traits are so typical, they are textbook.

Alice is the oldest child. She is a typical high achieving, responsible first born. Shopping list in hand, it is Alice who usually the first to arrive. Wal-Mart on the Wednesday before Turkey Day? I wouldn't do it for all the tea in China. Alice charges in and finds creative ways to get her groceries despite the crowds and people blocking the aisles to chit chat.

Mike is the next child and the oldest boy. Sweet, handsome, and secure, he is the epitome of the first BOY born to the family. He has a way of asking for things so charmingly that the women wait on him without resentment. It's a gift.

Bill, my husband and the middle child is typical in that he craves attention, and guards his resources. He lights up when I make cookies for him to share with the guys at work or go out of my way to make a favorite meal or find some little something that I think he might like.

Jerry, the youngest of the boys is the family clown. He is funny and tends to see the lighter side of most things. He takes life's difficulties in stride.

Becky, the youngest child, is cheerful and sunny. Not much ruffles her feathers. Because she is 5 years younger than Jerry, she has taken on many traits of an "oldest." Becky was one of my best friends in High School and introduced me to Bill.

I am truly blessed in that I like all my in-laws and their present spouses. We have no feuding or fussing at family gatherings. I'm not saying that everything is perfect, but we all try to be tolerant of our differences while enjoying our similarities.

And that is something to be thankful for!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Turning it Off

My name is Karen. I am a counselor.

I try very hard NOT to be a counselor when I am with family, friends, or acquaintances. I have to admit, sometimes it is hard. When someone has a problem, there are still times when I want to swoop in there, clarify the problem and help find solutions. But, when I am not on the job, that is not my "job."

But, it is not always that easy. Ethically, I have to take any threats/thoughts of suicide or homicide seriously, whether the person is my client or not. This is in my code of ethics and I have no problem with this. And, if asked specifically for advice by a non-client, I will give it. It is not my job to give advice to clients.

However, I find that I DO use my skills in less obtrusive ways. Selective inattention is a counseling tool that I use to avoid reinforcing maladaptive behaviors. I seldom respond to fishing for compliments. I will not beg someone to come back after he or she has expressed a wish to leave my company. I don't excuse behavior that is "pseudo" thoughtless.

A quote I read once said: "Be chary of giving advice. Fools won't heed it, and wise men don't need it."

Words to live by.

Especially if one is a counselor.

Thursday, November 08, 2007



This thin catalog I got from Sears today? Surely not!

I remember when the Sears Wishbook was thick as a big city telephone book. My siblings and I would grab it from the mailbox and crowd around it as we looked at pictures of the toys we wanted Santa to bring us. My brother usually wanted things like chemistry sets. My little sister wanted a rocking horse.

Me? I wanted BARBIE. Not only Barbie, I wanted the Ken, the Dream House, the clothes, the carrying case...

You name it. If it had to do with Barbie, I wanted it. My first one, no doubt ordered from the Sears catalog, had three wigs. On any given night, Ken could sleep with a blond, a brunette, OR a redhead. My favorite gift ever from my maternal grandmother was a box full of beautiful handmade Barbie clothes. She had made evening gowns sparkly with sequins, satin evening coats, you name it. And NOBODY else I knew had anything like them. They made the commercially available Barbie clothes look like things Stacey and Clinton would toss in the garbage can.

So, I took a look in this "excuse" for a Wishbook. Barbie was in there, but relegated to half a page and only as one of those "sit on the shelf and look pretty" dolls. What's the fun of THAT?

It looks like the big, thick, luscious Wishbook is a thing of the past. More's the pity.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Geaux Tigers!

Whew! LSU just pulled a CLOSE one out against arch rival Alabama! It was an ugly win, but it was a win!

I have to admit that I am even happier about this win than usual. Les Miles has had to put up with comparisons to Nick Saban, claims that the only reason he has had any success is due to players being recruited by Saban, etc.

Now granted, Saban has done a remarkable job with Alabama this year. But, he is hamstrung by having to deal with the lesser players recruited by HIS predecessor.

But, I think now, having won head to head, Miles can at least claim SOME credit for the development of the talent, even if he did not do the recruiting. And maybe at least some of the monkey is off his back.

There is talk of Miles taking off for Michigan should the opportunity arise. This would be close to "home" for him and I would not blame him if he took it.

If this is his last season, at least he is making it an exciting one for Tiger fans. And, for that, I thank him.

Mystery Meat

I have recently become reacquainted with a substance I have not voluntarily encountered since my school years.  Mystery Meat  I brought ...