AN OBSERVATION: Caring For Our Loved Ones

Families have changed so much over the years to the point where the non-traditional family IS the traditional family and is normal (as a relative term). But one thing remains, when the head of the non-traditional family falls ill the family must create a new tradition…a new normal. 

Emotionally this can be rewarding and difficult. To care for a loved one that has cared so much for their family can be a gift of repayment. To hold their hand, drive them all over the world, wait excessive hours with them for various doctors, encourage compliance as they once did their family member, and more IS love. For some it’s duty but what a better mental health reframe to see it as giving love. 

In the same instance it’s exhausting. The obvious of course is it’s physically tiring but also because loving hard and loving long is exhausting. 

I don’t have any amazing words of advice or mental health antidotes from this but I can say acknowledging the duality and parallel process is healing and transformative. Also reframing this idea of duty and physical exhaustion to giving love and being an example of the love that was given. 

Feeling tired in positive love for the non-traditional family system is “easier” on the mind and body than feeling exhausted physically. 


A very important person wrote this: 

“380 days ago I sat in the Zurich airport waiting to board my plane bringing me back home after coming face to face with religious extremism in Burkina Faso just 5 days prior. I was surrounded by African refugees wearing their nicest clothes, some in burkas others in suits. Some were with their entire families, some were alone. There were kids, men, women, all of them human beings, my brothers and sisters. They were all nervous and excited to begin their new lives in America, the greatest country in the world. I was damned proud to be an American that day! 

When I felt fear creeping up on me I thought back to a fresh promise I made to myself while hiding literally two feet from Al Qaida gunmen that killed 30 people. I conceded they won that night, but if I got out alive I vowed they would not win the following night or any night thereafter. I vowed fear would not cloud my judgment, I vowed not to sacrifice my humanity, I vowed not to hate. I vowed to love, to understand others and to fight for the rights of those oppressed and attacked by ignorance. 

Today as I look around at the racist and blatantly anti-Muslim actions of my government and the hateful ignorant rhetoric of my fellow citizens that support these actions I am ashamed. I am ashamed that we are allowing fear to dictate the policies of this great country. That we are actively allowing fear to tear apart the moral fabric of this country. Ashamed that American values of compassion, kindness and diversity have been replaced by hate, racism and fear. This is not strength. This does not make America better. This weakens us a Nation.

I stand in opposition to this administration and the values it promotes. They win tonight, but they will not win tomorrow.”

This young man, a dear friend’s brother was the victim of terrorist attack. While I prayed for him and my close friend and their family he prayed to live a life of acceptance, compassion, love, understanding, and respect for ALL people. Please read and ponder his words. 

Whatever your political view we all are a part of this diverse world. With so many issues in our world what do these words mean to you? How can and will you make a difference. “They win tonight but they will not win tomorrow.” 

When is your tomorrow!?

(Also posted this on my Facebook page

Relationship advice

Here is a well written article, not by me, about how men can be there for their partners. 

I would like to add that for men to support their partners while they are “falling apart” the partner must communicate what their wants and needs are. It is best to communicate these things when you are “whole” or before you “fall apart”. People can hear each other better when not in crisis. It’s also easier to communicate your needs before you become exhausted or in panic.

The power gift of physical presence

This week has been powerful. Powerful enough for me to post when I haven’t in months lol. 

Many of you know I teleconference many patients (Thank you Synsormed), some here in Georgia and some in other countries.  This week a patient I have never met, from another country made a special visit to Atlanta for two reasons. To see me being one of those reasons. I was humbled but anxious. The visit validated what I have always known.  “To be in the presence of another human being is a gift.” As she cried and I teared up I felt blessed. My patient has made amazing strides in this past year through all the work she has done. But I must say, in several hours over two days in my presence we dwelved into soome of her deepest issues because as she put it “my touch and being in this office brought up something deep inside [she’s] been wanting to discuss.” She has discussed these things briefly before but been able to run from the conversation easier when not in my presence.  

Technology is an amazing gift. Because of technology, I have been able to reach out and help someone that may not have been able to receive therapy over the past year.  Because of technology, she was able to get to me in a 3day notice.  However, with all the blessings of technology the ability to be in eachothers physical presence was the greatest. Which is why I moved to write this.

Never forget that energy passes between beings.  It passes without being in eachothers presence but is even stronger when we share the air between us behind  the same 4 walls. Energy is transfered when we smile but also when we touch. A hug is transformational. The ability to be physically there for someone is a gift.  It’s like a light switch.  Energy flows the the electrical lines like energy flows through the shared air we breathe and when we touch we turn on a light that will forever shine. Please spend the time and energy to to on someone else’s light and allow someone to turn on your light from within. 

Changing Our World Today


Playing golf has been a sanctuary to me.  Away from kids. Leaving the  phone in the car (8 text messages and 4 emails awaited me in 1 hour). Challenging my body and clearing my mind.  Connecting with my father and his loss in the sport he loved (I am not going to be gutting and scaling fish. One his other many favorite past times lol).

But Thursday everything in my game was off. After analyzing myself I realized it’s because my mind is upset by the world today. I can not stop thinking about the state of our world…how we are still racially divided even though we are not…I can not stop praying for my family…I CAN NOT STOP PRAYING FOR MY SON AND what his world will look like!  I am sure my father and mother worried the same and I know they both worked tirelessly to break down racism. But racism exists and the world is not color blind.

I have heard my friends tell me “I don’t see color” but how can you not? I’ve said I worry for my son and friends say don’t “it will get better” “color doesn’t matter like it used to.” Really? How are you so sure? I am positive color matters and I pray it will get better.

My mind cleared in last 15m of my game. I don’t know why but it’s grieving again and in a format like Facebook renewedserenityllc I’m sharing my personal thoughts and feelings, not just pictures of the kids, because we all have to stand for something. If I hide in silence so I don’t lose potential clients or referrals or piss off friends I am not being the woman my father and mother raised. A woman of conviction who stands for something, who knows if we communicate and open our minds to the experience of others things CAN and WILL change. Please lets talk but most importantly lets also listen to each other

PTSD and Scandal and the Sitcoms

I am tearful listening to and watching Scandal portray trauma and victims of trauma as weak and vulnerable and easily manipulated.  Trauma can cripple but trauma exposure can also make us stronger.  Not everyone has to stay a “victim.”  Not every survivor is a wounded, weak, easily manipulated person changed by time and experience.  There is so much research that trauma changes our brains and our ability to function but doesn’t always make us weak and easily manipulated.  Trauma is an event that challenges our spirit and our definition of ourselves.  It shapes our minds and shifts our core.  But it can also make us compassionate, intuitive, and deeply passionate.  Our minds can be sharp and strong.  Empower survivors.  Encourage survivors, uplift them for they have faced what so many cannot fathom.  Not to be distorted by media or manipulated for entertainment but celebrated in life and and the thriving that can come from surviving.

Understanding The Darker Side of Elsa in “Frozen”


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Patient sent me this and I thought it was pretty cool.

Well written and gets you thinking about how complex depression is yet if we open our eyes and minds it’s easy to see and understand.

What do you think? Anyone see the underlying mental healthy issues in this or any other movie like it?

The Darker Side of Let It Go.


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Patient sent me this and I thought it was pretty cool.

Well written and gets you thinking about how complex depression is yet if we open our eyes and minds it’s easy to see and understand.

What do you think? Anyone see the underlying mental healthy issues in this or any other movie like it?



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Patient sent me this and I thought it was pretty cool.

Well written and gets you thinking about how complex depression is yet if we open our eyes and minds it’s easy to see and understand.

What do you think? Anyone see the underlying mental healthy issues in this or any other movie like it?

Let’s talk about “Till It Happens to You”


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For those of you that know me, I am truly passionate about trauma therapy.  My specialty is my work with sexual assault survivors and combat veterans.  I am watching the Academy Awards and am particularly moved by Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens To You” from the movie “The Hunting Ground.”  I am moved to blog for several reasons. Number 1: Why haven’t I heard of this movie until now?!  I can’t wait to see it and I WILL seek it out.  It’s such an important subject and must be placed in the hands of mainstream entertainment so the topic can be discussed as a mainstream topic.  I looked up some statistics to make it more evident why the issue of sexual assault IS a mainstream issue.

According to RAINN ((Rape, Incest, Abuse, National, Network)

  • Every 107 seconds, another sexual assault occurs
  • There is an average of 293,000 instances (victims age 12 or older) of sexual assault each year
  • 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police
  • 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail
  • About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33— have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. From 1995-2010, 9% of rape and sexual assault victims were male. 78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.
  • 1 out of every 6 American womenhas been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization, 2010,National Crime Victimization Survey:

  • In 2010 there were 188,380 reports of rape and/or sexual assault in the United States.
  • More than half of rape and sexual assault crimes take place between 6pm and 6am.
  • Females are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault (182,000) than males (40,000).
  • Most victims of rape or sexual assault are females younger than 24 years of age.
  • Most rapes committed against women are committed by an intimate partner (spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend) or someone else they know (friend, family member, acquaintance).

These numbers are focused on the American population. But sexual assault is blind of nationality, race, and gender (although it was long believed only women were sexually assaulted).  What this means is we all need to be aware that it is happening and unfortunately continues to happen.  Also, it is crucial that we understand, sexual assault happens MOST often in familiar environments.  According to the above statistics most assailants are KNOWN by their victims.  This leads me to another reason why I need to blog. Number 2: It is a great time to educate what is sexual assault? And what do we need to know about it? Here are 2 definitions I like the most:

According to the US Dept. of Justice: Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition ofsexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

According to RAINN: Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.

My Definition: Sexual Assault is a crime of power in which the victim is violated by any type of sexual behavior without his or her explicit consent.

I can go further in my definition, leading me to reason number 3 of why to comment now: The violation can lead to arrested development, altering the ability to establish and maintain healthy and adaptive relationships, and can KILL a survivor slowly over time. With that definition it is pertinent to understand the role of social education and why a film such as “The Hunting Ground” and having a power house such as Lady Gaga perform “Till It Happens To You,” is important for mainstream society.  It will hopefully open communication about how to protect ourselves from becoming a statistic but also offer support to survivors.  In my experience as a clinician the second tier traumatizing that survivors experiencing in lack of support for survivors is a major factor in not helping victims. Making sexual assault a mainstream issue will hopefully help end victim blaming and ostracizing.  Sexual assault treatment is imperative in helping victims work through the traumas they have survived and go from “surviving” to “thriving” in their personal lives.  With support and validation and competent treatment sexual assault victims can become survivors and with this film and song we will talk about it for what it is:  A real crime occurring every 1minute 47seconds in America that needs to STOP and give meaning to the word “NO.” Where victimize stop being further victimized by being blamed and have their crime minimized and overlooked.