Mama absolutely did not say there’d be days like this.

‘Your normal methods of coping may not be enough right now. You had found effective ways of coping with life as normal, but this is not normal.”

When I wrote my last blog entitled “Change is a comin'” I had no idea of all the changes we would soon be facing. So many changes. Most of them rather abruptly with an unknown duration. I’m now seeing all my clients through telehealth, meaning I no longer go into my office and sit with my clients face to face. We are doing video calls and some of them phone calls. It’s not the same as sitting in the room with my clients, but it’s been okay.

I miss hugging my children and grandchildren. We have been using Zoom to have virtual family time for all of us. The other night I read a book to the littles using Zoom and they got to talk to their cousins. We are planning a talent night soon and they can all share a talent with the rest of us. It should be very entertaining. My 87 year old mom lives with my husband and I. She has enjoyed video calls with our relatives.

I recently asked friends to post positive effects of staying at home.  Here’s some of the comments:

Cooking more.

Dinner and game night at the table every night.
I’ve taken time to get things done instead of “lounging and recouping “ when I’m not at work. I’m more driven

Those quiet moments when the dishwasher is humming because it’s full from another meal we enjoyed together, kids are reading or doing school work, and I’m drinking coffee and moving about the house kissing my husband on the cheek in passing.

I sat on my patio and enjoyed the beautiful day. I felt thankful.

It has forced me to slow down! And I have enjoyed EVERY second of it! No complaints here!!

And I’m so happy for them. I’ve found all these things to be true as well. We’ve done DIY projects that we probably wouldn’t have had time for. We are slowing down, being intentional about connecting with family, spending time outside. But, not every one has it so good.
I’ve talked to a number of my clients in the last couple of weeks about adjusting their coping skills. Your normal methods of coping may not be enough right now. You had found effective ways of coping with life as normal, but this is not normal. This is the opposite of normal. You need to adapt the skills you already have, or maybe you need some new ideas. Here’s some things I’m suggesting to clients:
1. Get outside every day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Preferably several times a day. Breathe the fresh air deeply. Look around you and try to notice 5 things you haven’t noticed before.
2. Connect with someone either by phone or video, but preferably video. As humans we need to see facial expressions. Remember Tom Hanks painting the face on the volleyball in Cast Away?
3. Eat healthy.
4. Have some structure in your day. Get up and go to bed around the same time each day. Get up and get ready for the day. Don’t lounge around in pajamas all day. Wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair and put on deodorant at the very least.
5. Limit the time you spend watching the news and social media. Don’t drown yourself in COVID-19 information. Check it maybe twice a day and that’s it.
6. Reach out when you are feeling sad or lonely or overwhelmed. We all are feeling it. Reach out to someone and talk through that.
7. Remind yourself each day that this is a temporary situation. This will not last for the rest of your life. This will come to an end and life will go back to normal at some point.
8. Practice being present and grateful. Without the distraction of future thinking (ie. what time to pick the kids up or drop them off, appointments, ballet lessons, sports practices, church activities, etc.) that we usually have, allow yourself to be fully in the present. Intentionally use all five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing) to experience your world. Each morning and evening find 3 things to be grateful for.
9. Do something that makes you laugh every day. Watch a comedian, a funny video, family videos, play a silly game, have your kids tell you jokes, look up tongue twisters and try some of them, etc.
10. Reach out to someone else to make sure they are alright. Text, phone, video, email, snail mail…so many options. Checking on others gives us a sense of purpose and value.
I know that some of you are in terrible situations. For some, staying at home isn’t a welcome change. You may be home with an alcoholic, an addict,  or an abuser.  You may have lost your job or the provider in the home has, causing you to worry about if you will lose your home, your car, or be able to buy necessities. You may be home with a new baby and no support. You may be a caregiver of someone and have no support. You may be grieving the death of a loved one all alone.  You may be dealing with a difficult diagnosis alone. Please reach out. Please ask for help. Ask for support. Most mental health professionals are doing telehealth like I am. We want so badly to support anyone that we can. Ask friends. Ask people in your church. Ask anyone, please just ask.
Here’s a list of US numbers that may be helpful to someone:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK
Trevor HelpLine / Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ+ Teens — 1-866-488-7386
Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741
IMAlive — online crisis chat
National Runaway Safeline — 1-800-RUNAWAY (chat available on website)
Teenline — 310-855-4673 or text TEEN to 839863 (teens helping teens)

Child Abuse Hotline — 800-4-A-CHILD (800 422 4453)
National Domestic Violence Hotline — 800-799-7233
Missing & Exploited Children Hotline — 1-800-843-5678

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — 1-800-662-435

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

Change is a comin’

Accepting does not mean approving. Just because we accept the reality of the change, doesn’t mean that we approve of it.

Change is hard. I hear this a lot. Clients come in, sit on my couch, and say, “Change is hard.” I can’t argue. Change is hard. There are changes that we anticipate and plan for and then there are changes that we didn’t see coming. Change that is forced upon us or change that has taken us by surprise. Change is inevitable, unavoidable, and happens whether we choose to fight or be a willing participant.

Some changes we perceive as positive (welcome) and some we perceive as negative (unwelcome). In changing our perception, we can change how we feel about the change. But, this doesn’t always make it any easier. In fact, some of the changes in my life have had to drag me, kicking, screaming and crying into the new. Other changes I have joined hands with and joyfully skipped into the new.

Lately, there have been a lot of changes in my life. Some I initiated, and some I fought against until my knees were blistered from praying and my eyes were swollen with tears. The changes still came. I could be angry and anxious and depressed. So many ways to respond to change. But in the acceptance of the reality of the situations, I find I’m stretching, growing, finding a new perspective.

You can choose your response to change. Even if it is initially an unwelcome change. Even if it is forever an unwelcome change. They way you think about the change is the key. Change doesn’t have to be the enemy or your friend. Change can be neutral. It already is, right? A change is simply something different than what we are used to. It’s inanimate, lifeless. Simply something different. The way we respond to and think about the change is what gives it meaning.

Even though I’m stretching and growing, I’m also groaning. When you work out muscles that have been doing nothing, it hurts. And it hurts for a long time. Finally though, you work out one day and nothing hurts, it actually feels good and you feel strong. Right now, some of the changes in my life hurt, some of them feel beautiful, some of them feel scary and some of them are causing me to stretch muscles that are unused. The change itself is not hurtful or beautiful or scary. The change is simply life moving, ebbing and flowing. The change is neutral. My feelings attached to the change give it the meaning.

Change is coming. Change is all around. Life is not static, it is dynamic. It is always moving, always changing. See the change as neutral. Choose your feelings about it. Fight and claw and refuse to accept the reality and you will never be happy. Adjust and adapt and accept it as a part of life and you can ride the waves. Accepting does not mean approving. Just because we accept the reality of the change, doesn’t mean that we approve of it. But that acceptance moves us into a place of finding a solution or adaptation so we can move forward. Sometimes it takes time. Be compassionate with yourself. Don’t expect to accept everything easily and readily. But know you have choices.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

Best shower scene ever!

When people are hurting, we need to ask nothing from them. They have nothing to give.

Yep! That’s the title. That’s the content of what’s on my mind today. The best shower scene ever made. Also, people are more likely to read if there is a provocative title, so whether you are here because you’re a perv, or because you are a fan, let’s talk about this.

James Bond movies. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl. I think it started because my dad loved them, and we bonded (see the pun there?) watching them together. Bond had the coolest gadgets and cars and got to go to the most exotic places. (When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, “A spy.” Which breaks the number one spy rule of not letting anyone know you are a spy.) James often found himself in compromising positions with beautiful women. He’s never been a poster child for monogamy or for love. He’s been more of a “love the one your with” kind of fellow. But, things have changed.

In a recent 007 movie, Casino Royale, there is a two minute moment that is so beautiful. I show it to couples that I counsel. I use it to teach people how to love each other in a more meaningful way. (I probably should have titled this post “The Best Love Scene Ever” but some of you wouldn’t have clicked, and it’s probably you pervs that need to hear this the most.) So in Casino Royale, Bond (Daniel Craig) and Vesper (his love) have just been attacked by a gaggle of bad guys. Bond kills all of them. This is nothing new to James, but for Vesper, she is clearly traumatized, not being used to watching blood splattering and people being killed. James sends her off to tell his henchman where he has hidden the bodies and to get rid of them. He then goes back to a poker game with the ultimate bad guy.

Okay here’s the part that melts my heart. When James comes to the room, he finds Vesper sitting in the shower. He goes to her and…okay wait. You should watch this clip before we go any farther (skip to 2:15 to just see the shower part):

 

Did you see that incredibly unselfish display of love? She is sitting in the shower, fully clothed. He goes to her, without her asking, and sits with her, in the shower, fully clothed. Here’s the part I explain to my couples; he sees her, clearly upset, and without requiring her to do anything to receive his love, he joins her right where she is. In fact, he asks if she is cold and makes the water warmer. He makes her more comfortable in her space, without asking her to do anything. I’m tearing up writing about it. Do you understand the significance of this action? How good would it feel, when you are hurting or scared or broken hearted, to have someone come to you, right where you are, requiring nothing from you to accommodate them, and just sit with you?

He could have said so many things. “Let’s dry you off.”, “Let me take your dress off.”, “Come in the other room.”, “Stand up.”, “Come here so I can hold you.” He could have asked her to accommodate him so he would be less uncomfortable, but he didn’t. When people are hurting, we need to ask nothing from them. They have nothing to give. We need to go to them, accept where they are and stay beside them. Who “sits in the shower” with you? Who would you do this for?

The people you love need you to do this. Your children, your spouse, your friends. They need you to go to them and sit with them, accepting their feelings, not minimizing, not trying to cheer them up, not silver lining them, just being with them while they experience sadness, anger, loss, hurt, and letting them feel what they feel. We all just want to be accepted and understood in our dark moments. There is a time to help people move on, but there is a time to just “sit in the shower”. Who knew that cad Bond would teach us such a beautiful lesson about love?

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

 

Cracked and Broken

“…the very things that helped us heal, if relied on for protection too long, can cause reduced function and eventually permanent dysfunction. “

Broken. The dictionary defines it as 1. reduced to fragments; fragmented. 2. ruptured; torn; fractured. 3. not functioning properly; out of working order. Have you ever seen a sign that says “Temporarily Out of Order”? It gives you the hope the object will be working again at some point. If something is fragmented, sometimes the fragments can be put back together and it’s fixed. Sometimes not.

Cracked. The dictionary defines it as 1. broken without separation of parts; fissured 2. damaged; injured. Not as severe as broken. The parts aren’t separated, and it can be fixed easier. Damaged in some way, but not fragmented. If we apply this idea to a bone in your body, both can be fixed, but a broken bone sometimes requires additional material to help it fuse, something to isolate it while it heals and/or a longer time before it’s back to normal functioning. A cracked bone usually heals quicker, and may require a splint or cast for a short time to protect it as it heals.

There have been things in our lives that cause cracks. We are injured, but not fragmented. We can mostly function, but there’s a crack somewhere that keeps us from fully functioning in some way. We need time to heal, and we figure out how to protect that part of ourselves until it does heal. Sometimes we are worried that the same injury will occur, so even after it’s healed, we continue to protect or isolate that part of us. That’s when it becomes unhealthy. Can you imagine wearing a finger splint or a cast for the rest of your life? When used properly it aides in healing, when overused, it actually reduces function and could cause permanent dysfunction to the formerly injured part.

For some of us, there have been things in our lives that broke us. Reduced us to fragments, tore us apart, rendered us out of working order. We cannot functio

broken

n. We need lots of time to heal, we need to protect ourselves to heal, and we may need additional help to fuse our fragments back together. After a break, we have the instinct to over protect that part of us. We remember the pain, the confusion, the sadness, all the feels we experienced, and never want to feel that again. Again, the very things that helped us heal, if relied on for protection too long, can cause reduced function and eventually permanent dysfunction.

Let me tell you a story. When I was four years old, I was riding a motorcycle on Thanksgiving, with my brother driving, me sitting behind him, and my cousin riding on the seat behind me. We were in a field across from my house. The motorcycle fell over on it’s side. It fell on my tiny leg and broke my femur. My brother carried me home. My parents took off my little snowsuit and my leg was SWOLLEN. The doctor came to the house, and sent us off to the hospital an hour away. The bone was broken so high it couldn’t be in a cast. I was put in traction for nearly a month. My ankle was in a sling that was hoisted up, and attached to a bar above my bed, 24 hours a day. Not easy for a four year old. Then came a wheelchair at the hospital and physical therapy. I had to re-learn how to walk. My foot turned in for awhile, and my leg was weak, but eventually I went home on crutches. In time, my bone healed and I ran and played like any other little kid. It never bothered me again.

healing

When we have been emotionally broken or cracked, we are very aware of the injured part of us, it’s “swollen”. Sometimes we let others know that we are out of working order by pushing them away with anger, sarcasm, withdrawing, or other overt means. Sometimes we isolate ourselves, turning inward and protecting ourselves. Maybe we have “crutches” and figure out how to outwardly function, but inside we are scared or in pain and no one knows.

It’s so hard to gather all the fragments of you and put them back together by yourself. It’s so hard to know when you can stop using your splint, your cast, your crutches, because you are the one in pain. Sometimes, we have used the thing that was to protect us so long, it’s become a part of us, and we don’t even realize we are using it when we don’t need it.

I want to encourage you to ask for help. Often, a crack properly treated, can prevent a break. If you are feeling cracked, could you ask someone to help you so you don’t break? If you are broken, could you ask someone to help support you while you heal? It doesn’t

crutches

mean you are weak or lacking or less than. It takes courage to ask for help. It’s takes strength. I want you to feel whole again. I want you to be rid of all your protective devices so you can live your life in freedom. I know it’s hard. I have an appointment this week with a new therapist. I’ve been feeling a little cracked lately. I don’t want to break. But, just making the appointment was hard. I kept putting it off. My anxiety about going is high, and I’m a therapist! If I can do it, you can do it.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous!

Jules

So it’s important…

“Don’t give anything so much significance that if it doesn’t go well it destroys you, or invalidates who you are.”

When I was in my 20s…and 30s…and maybe a little in my 40s….it was very important tobirthdaycake-R6noC1o5Vnp61fOlQCj9sZI-680x383 me that things were celebrated on the right day. If my birthday was on Tuesday, I wanted to celebrate on Tuesday. If an anniversary was on a Thursday, I wanted to celebrate on Thursday.  I didn’t want to celebrate on the weekend, which would have been easier and given us more time. It needed to be on the exact day of the significant event.

Then, a few years ago, I stopped. My family of 6, had turned into a family of 17. My children had become parents and in-laws and step parents. There were A LOT of people that wanted to see my people on holidays. This resulted in my kids being overwhelmed every holiday, trying to get to 4 or 5 “celebrations” and not enjoying any of them. In addition, I only got them for a short time each holiday before they had to head to their next destination.  I decided that we needed to change something, so we did.

This year my family of 6 is a family of 20! We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. I get more time with my people and they get to enjoy our family time.  I stopped giving the day on the calendar significance, and instead, I have started placing the significance on the time with my family, whenever that gets to occur. This year we are moving our family Thanksgiving celebration to the Saturday after.

SignificanceThis caused me to begin thinking about the importance of, well anything really. A day, an event, a person, etc. all only have the amount of significance that we choose to assign to them. We’ve all been in love and assigned that person top priority in our life, only to break up and that person now has little or no significance in our life.

Do you see what I’m saying? Any day, is just a day, until you decide it’s more to you. Any person is just a person, until you decide they are more to you. Any event is nothing, until you decide it isn’t. I was talking with someone recently who had worked for months to do well on an assessment that could result in a promotion. They told me that if they fail, all their self-esteem would fall to nothing, and they didn’t know if they could recover. They were thinking of quitting, to avoid the possibility of failure. I told them, “Don’t give this one event the power to invalidate everything you have accomplished.” Don’t give anything so much significance that if it doesn’t go well it destroys you, or invalidates who you are. Not a wedding, not a holiday, no test, no interview, no person. You choose how much power you assign to anything in your life.

What are you giving significance to? You can choose. Do you need to examine the things you hold so tightly (rigidly) and see if the significance is misplaced? Is there something  that you fear failing at because you think that means YOU are a failure? It doesn’t.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

 

So I’m welcome…

“Maybe that’s what I was missing when I was lonely. A deep acceptance of my presence by someone.”

Have you ever felt lonely? I have. I’ve felt lonely when I was alone and lonely when I was with hundreds of people. Loneliness can be deep in your heart or it can be a momentary missing of someone. The dictionary definition of lonely is: sadness because one has no friends or company. From my experience with loneliness, I don’t feel like this definition is very accurate. I had friends, I even had company, and yet I still felt lonely. How then can we define loneliness more accurately?

I asked those who follow my facebook (Jules Kilson, LPC) to help me with a better definition. Here’s what some of you said:

“A feeling of isolation regardless of how many people you are around.” LH

“Not having someone to closely connect with.” PK

“A deficiency of human contact.” JK

“A void that seemingly cannot be filled, no matter who you’re surrounded by or the environment in which you live.” EK

“Walking into my empty house and going without human interaction.” LC

“A self-induced social hiatus.” KH

Feeling of isolation, lack of connection, lack of contact and interaction, a void, a social hiatus. I asked the author of the last one if that is refreshing or lonely, and they said both. In our culture, we can get overwhelmed with being constantly connected to others

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electronically. But, we are made to be in community. We desire connections and interactions. When we are deprived of these things, voluntarily or not, we are lonely.

I think that we desire authentic connection. We desire to be truly known and accepted by someone else. We desire interactions that are genuine and intentional. Interactions that are specific to us. We desire physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual contact with others that is deep and meaningful.

Both times I was in Africa, I was so impressed by a small gesture that is a part of their culture. When you enter, someone says,”You are welcome.” At first, I thought I was being chastised for not saying thank you for something. When was the last time you were told you were welcome somewhere? It feels good to the recipient. It felt good to walk into my office and have my friend Mgbechi tell me I was welcome with her, or my friend Michael say I was welcome in the car with him, or my friend Destiny say I was welcome in the kitchen while she was cooking. It made me feel noticed when my friend Rose in Uganda would say I was welcome on the patio with her. I knew they didn’t mind if I shared the space, but to hear them say it to me was a deeper acceptance of my presence.

Maybe that’s what I was missing when I was lonely. A deep acceptance of my presence by someone. Authentic connection, genuine, intentional interactions that were specific to me. Contact that was deeper than the surface and meaningful. Now that we figured that out, what can we do to manifest that in our lives and in the lives of others? How can we create connections, interactions and contacts that fill that void? I believe we can look at these things we have identified and see what is missing for us. Maybe we are scared. Maybe we are scarred. Maybe we are cautious. Maybe we can just start by saying “you are welcome” to someone else.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

So I’m faulty…

“… it’s like having a camera and ignoring it. Seeing obstacles but backing out anyway, running things over.”

“He’s never going to change. I’ve told him over and over what he is doing is killing our marriage, but he refuses to see any of his faults.”

“I can’t keep a job more than a few months. I get fired over stupid things. Bosses just want us all to conform. Who can work in an environment where you can’t be yourself?”

Is it possible that we have faults we can’t see? Faults that others recognize and bring to our attention, but we refuse to see? And if we changed, or even worked on these faults, could we save a friendship, a job, a marriage or a family tie?

In a recent post, I talked about worth. That if we are rejected, whether it be personal, professional, or romantic, it doesn’t diminish our worth. That is true. It does not however, mean that we are not at fault ever. Part of accepting ourselves is looking honestly at our whole being, good and bad. And just because we accept our faults, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work on those things to make them better. Especially if they are continually being brought to our attention and affecting our relationships.

In 1955, two psychologists, Joseph Lutz and Harrington Ingham, came up with a technique called the Johari Window. (Joseph + Harrington = Johari). The Johari Window has four panes: one is the part of ourselves that we and others see; one contains aspects that others see but we are unaware of; one is the private space we know but hide from others; one is the unconscious part of us that neither ourselves nor others see. Let’s put a pin in that for now.

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I drive a Challenger. It’s my dream car. I waited all through undergrad and grad school, got a job and worked there for two years, before I bought my car. My car is everything I wanted it to be. I only have one complaint, it has a terrible blind spot. The way the back windows are made, you can’t see when you back out. I usually have to back out slowly and hope for the best. That’s scary. When I can, I find a space I can pull through so I can avoid backing up. It’s really a hazard. I’m seriously contemplating getting a back up camera to help me out.

Okay, let’s go back to the window. The Johari window can help us with a number of things, but let’s focus on that pane that others see and we don’t. This could be filled with all kinds of positive adjectives that others see in us and we don’t recognize in ourselves. It can also be filled with negative adjectives that others see in us and we don’t recognize in ourselves. We have blind spots. Things in our lives that we can’t see. It’s a hazard to our relationships, no matter what the type.

The people in our lives are the back up cameras. They are trying to help us out. If I get a camera and never turn it on or ignore it, what help is that? If you never consider what others are telling you, or examine it to see if it is true, it’s like having a camera and ignoring it. Seeing obstacles but backing out anyway, running things over. You can choose that. It’s an option. But, it’s a reckless way to live your life. A destructive way that will end in you being alone. You can also choose to change, or get help changing if you don’t know how. Don’t let your pride keep you from your best life.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules