Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Story Telling


I once heard someone say “all we really have to share with each other are our stories.”  Since hearing that statement, I’ve reflected upon it quite a bit.  Sharing your full life story with another person takes willing vulnerability.  It is a powerful act.  At every age, we learn through stories.  They teach us core life lessons – values, why people act the way they do, the importance of character.  They appeal to both sides of our brain and help our mind work in an integrated way.  They stick with us and help us remember the facts of a given situation, as well as the way we felt at the time.  It is no coincidence that stories fill the air at family reunions, as the older generation reminisces and somewhat unwittingly passes along to the next generation the essence of what it means to be part of this family. 
Story telling is often something we do as parents without giving it much thought.  We read stories to our children.  We ask children to tell us the story of their day.  We can help children develop emotional intelligence by discussing feelings, both their own feelings and the feelings of characters in a story, and linking those feelings to concrete bodily sensations as well as actions.  We can engage in imaginative play with our children, giving toys voices, characters, and dialogue.
Mutual story telling can be mutually fulfilling in a parent-child relationship.  It’s as simple as taking turns making up sentences.  Here’s a sample dialogue:
Dad: “There was a tiger walking through the forest…”
Child: “…and he was friends with a dog.”
Dad: “And the dog had stripes like the tiger…”

Or it could be a little less nonsensical than the above sample, and more focused on emotional content, such as:
Dad: “There was a little girl who lived in a blue house…”
Child: “And she loved her pet dog.”
Dad: “Yes, her dog made her very happy.  What other things made her happy?”
Child: “Swimming, riding her bike, and ice cream.”
Dad: “And what things made her sad?”

Give it a try!  You may find that you love the “dance” of engaging in mutual story telling with your child.

Contributed by Heather Colby, M.S., LCSW

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Decisions

So many times in our lives we have to face what seems to be tough decisions.  I know for me, there are always 2 things at work - emotion & logic.  Although I try to constantly find the balance between the two, there are times when one seems to outweigh the other.  During these times there still seems to be a war that brews between my head and my heart.  I must remember to take a step back and try to detach emotionally for a few minutes in order to try to get a grasp on the emotions. Unfortunately, the one thing to remember when taking a logical look at emotion is that emotion is often not logical.  Sometimes it is, meaning there is some sort of catalyst for the emotion, but sometimes it doesn't make sense.  Therefore, taking a logical look at emotion sometimes leads to more questions rather than to answers.

Recently, I had a few issues pop up that left me wanting to throw up my hands.  It happened to be at the end of a vacation day I took just to relax.  I had managed to have a fantastic vacation day as I had convinced myself not to look at my laptop nor think too much about work.  That is until around 9:00 pm when I had finished watching America's Got Talent.  I sat and watched some incredible acts and some not so good acts.  I also watched people's dreams appear to be shattered as they were sent home.  I felt for most of those people as some of them simply had a bad day and I feel we all have bad days from time to time.  After the show I logged on to my email and I had only one work email.  The email touched on an issue that I had yet to resolve, which led to a discovery of a new meeting on my calendar that I had not seen before.  One thing led to another and all of the sudden I was stressed and ready to throw my hands up.

My wife was away at work and as I sat in the dark I thought to myself I needed to relax.  I decided to put in a music CD, but it didn't do the trick.  I then decided I needed to utilize my old faithful coping skill.  I went to what was once the music room and I uncovered my piano.  I then sat down and played for over an hour.  As I sat and played, thought and vented, I began to calm down.  I began to get a handle on my emotions and I began to think my logically about the issues and various outcomes.  I also re-evaluated my thoughts and dreams to make sure I was still on track.  Although everyone is different, I find personally that quite often the decision itself is not difficult.  Oh, sure, there are times when we have to decide between 2 or 3 things and it can be difficult.  But I have noticed in my life that it is a choice I make that makes the decision difficult. 

Earlier tonight I was putting my 2 year old and 4 year old to bed.  As I was reading a book, my 4 year old kept touching the 2 year olds hair.  The 2 year old was bothered by it.  I asked him to stop and he did, for a few minutes at least.  Then I turn around and he's doing the same thing.  I spoke with him that ALL he needs to do to NOT get in trouble is simply do what Mommy and Daddy ask him to do.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just do what we tell him to do, the first time.  As I sat in the dark I realized that there are way too many times when I hear God telling me what to do and I choose to put it off, thinking it doesn't fit into MY plan.  THEN the decisions become increasingly more difficult. 

So what is this decision that I need to make, or the direction I need to follow?  Oddly enough, I'm not sure.  You see, the more I try to steer away from His leading, the less I discern that same leading.  I believe it's time I get back to my roots though and re-evaluate His calling and direction.  My encouragement to you is to just give in.  Choose His way . Don't sit in indecision due to your own choice.  Instead, listen and follow.  That's all we have to do.  Listen and follow.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adventure Based Counseling Group

We are excited to announce that we will facilitate 2 groups this July.  The groups will last for 4 weeks and will be an hour in length.  We are currently looking to fill two groups of high school students.  We need at least 6 people signed up for the group to make, with a max of 12.  We are looking for a group of students who are Freshman and Sophomores and then another group who are Juniors and Seniors.

Please contact us at 817-812-2880 for more information and to get signed up !!  If you've never participated in an Adventure Based Counseling group you are missing out.  It's not traditional talk therapy, it's hands on experiences, games, and activities.

Call us today !

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Adventure Based Counseling

We are excited to begin offering Adventure Based Counseling as an alternative or in addition to traditional talk therapy. Adventure Based Counseling is therapy using games, activities, initiatives, and peak experiences to facilitate the development of group process, interpersonal relationships, personal growth, and therapeutic gain.

We are currently seeking Teens ages 15 - 16 & ages 17 - 18 who would like to be a part of these groups. Groups will be held at the Keller Logos Services office to start. We will meet once per week for one hour. The groups will be 4 weeks long and will begin in July.

For more information or to sign up please contact the main office at 817-812-2880.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dream Your BIG Dreams

In 1980, Christopher Cross released his debut album, on which was a #1 hit aptly named "Sailing". If you've never heard the song it's worth finding. It's a magical melody mixed with poetic lyrics that speak of the joys of sailing. The lyrics are:

"Sailing" by Christopher Cross

It's not far down to paradise

At least it's not for me

And if the wind is right you can sail away

And find tranquility

The canvas can do miracles

Just you wait and see

Believe me

It's not far to never never land

No reason to pretend

And if the wind is right you can find the joy

Of innocence again

The canvas can do miracles

Just you wait and see

Believe me

Sailing

Takes me away

To where I've always heard it could be

Just a dream and the wind to carry me

And soon I will be free

Fantasy

It gets the best of me

When I'm sailing

All caught up in the reverie

Every word is a symphony

Won't you believe me

It's not far back to sanity

At least it's not for me

And when the wind is right you can sail away

And find serenity

The canvas can do miracles

Just you wait and see

Believe me

In the early 80's things had become very busy. Even the clothes and hairstyles were "busy". Society had begun an inevitable change that meant our lives would become more and more hectic. In the middle of all this "busy-ness", this song was released that reminded us of the simplicity of relaxation. The song talks about fantasy and allowing our minds to freely wander. In todays society, we take medication in order to keep our minds FROM wandering. Our creativity is stifled and we no longer dream grandiose dreams. Our methods of relaxation include addictions to drugs and alcohol and/or prescribed medications. We rarely play sports for fun, instead we play to win. We don't write music and sing for the joy of singing, instead we do it so we can be the next American Idol. We are so driven as a society, but to where are we driving?

This year, I encourage everyone to take a moment and relax. Free your mind and allow it to wander. Dream your big dreams again and fantasize about how you're going to achieve those goals. Enjoy playing sports because it's what you love to do. Listen to, sing, write, and play music because it's your passion. Then go and share your dreams with people who will support you in your dreams. You already know who they are.

Create time each day to clear your mind and relax. Just be still. Psalm 46:10 (NIV) says, "Be still, and know that I am God". This same verse in New American Standard says, "Cease striving and know that I am God". The Hebrew word for "still" here is Raphah, which means to relax, let go, or be quiet. This year, learn how to relax and be quiet. Allow the peace of God to come over you and speak to you. Allow your creativity to run free, and allow yourself to dream your dreams and chase after them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stress Relief 101

The year was 1986 and I had just entered my Sophomore year in high school. Although I was a fairly smart kid, there were tons of really smart kids in my class and often times I felt a bit inferior. I was very blessed to have an amazing group of classmates that were smart, athletic, and incredibly talented (Yes, it is possible to be smart AND athletic at the same time). Anyway, one of my classes my Sophomore year was Biology. My teacher that year for Biology was one of the coaches. Now don't get me wrong, my father was a coach and I think many coaches are great teachers. This coach was also a good teacher; however, he had a VERY dry delivery. It also happened to be at a time during the day when I would rather be sleeping than sitting in any class. The coach had pre-written ALL class notes to be used on an overhead projector, which he simply read through and turned to the next page.

The first few weeks of class I became mesmerized by the hummmm of the projector, the bright light, the warm room, the full stomach, and the smell of formaldehyde. I fought sleep almost daily and the days that I didn't fight sleep I fought day dreaming. Out of desperation I decided to try something that would at least keep me awake during class. I decided to simply copy down the Coach's notes exactly as is. This seemed to work. It helped me to stay focused during class. It wasn't perfect, but it was a vast improvement from fighting sleep and day dreaming. In addition, I found that these notes came in very useful while studying for tests. Although I did learn Biology in the class, I believe the best thing that Coach taught me was the proper way to organize and take notes. This skill took me through several degrees and is still used today. By the way, I ended up minoring in Biology in college.

Note taking is a great way to stay alert and engaged during class as well as make the studying process easier. In addition, it can also be a good coping skill. Years and years ago we were a society that taught both print and also cursive or script hand writing. Studies have shown again and again that writing in a journal is a fantastic way to cope with the normal stressors of life. Many other studies show that hand writing in a journal has a greater effect than typing in an online journal.

We teach our kids and teens how to be "successful" in the real world, yet we have changed our definition of success. In many ways this has created a decline in society and also in our education system. We must change our definition of success if we want to raise children who will be happy and healthy adults. We currently measure success often by ones position in a job or by the amount of money that person makes. Instead, we should measure success not by what someone does or how much they make, but by who they are and how much they give back to society. In order to have a happy and healthy adult life we must learn how to cope with life. Instead of only pushing academia and athleticism, we should also be instilling in our kids valuable coping skills. More and more kids are turning to alcohol, drugs, and sex as coping skills to "feel better" about themselves and their life circumstances. We must teach our kids that alcohol, drugs, and sex are not the best coping skills. They have too many negative repercussions.

Good coping skills include journaling (by hand) how one feels during the day. You can also add what it is that made you feel that way. Note taking is a great way to keep the mind focused on one task at a time. Hobbies such as painting, building, working on cars or other projects are great at releasing stress. Exercise and being active in sports are also great ways of releasing stress.

Although there are tons of great ways to cope with stress there are also some things that are not a stress relief but rather entertainment. Movies, television and video games are often classified as "stress relievers", but instead they are "numb-ers". They don't release stress, but they numb us out for a while. Don't get me wrong, entertainment has a place in life, therefore video games, television and movies are fantastic. However, they should be classified as entertainment, not as a coping skill and therefore should be limited on a daily basis.

I hope you all will take time every day to relieve excess tension and stress. Then be sure and teach your kids how to do it by modeling what you are doing and encouraging them to try healthy ways of relieving stress.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The RearView Mirror

When I was 15 years old I was living in a very small Central Texas town. I was gainfully employed at the only office supply store in the town, or in the county, for that matter. Thankfully, my parents were also employed therefore they had to take off work in order to take me to work. This was difficult therefore I applied for a hardship license until I turned 16. I remember practicing driving quite regularly on the old back roads in my 1968 Ford. It was an old car, but it could run. I would practice everything, including parallel parking so that I would have no problems passing the driving test.


The DPS officer in that town (there was only one) was only there part time and we had to go through him in order to get our license. He was the typical officer who was rather gruff and intimidating. All of us kids were scared of him not just because of his intimidation but mostly because we knew he held the sole ability to grant or deny our license.


On the day of my driving test I went to the DPS office and waited in a stark white room with very little d├ęcor. I had already passed my written test and I had practiced driving enough to where I just knew I could do it. My name was called. I walked towards him and we head to my car. He gets in and basically tells me to do exactly what he tells me to do. Therefore, we take off. My nervousness level is absolutely through the roof, but I refuse to let him see my anxiety. I put the car in reverse and back out. Now to drive and off we go. My eyes were huge as I looked at every stop sign, stop light, road bump, pedestrian, basically anything that could keep me from getting my license. I went up the hill towards the town square. Now on to parallel parking in the Methodist Church parking lot. I did it, everyone and everything was safe. I didn’t speed, I didn’t hit anything, I had done it !! I was so happy. I pulled back into the DPS office parking spot and put the car in park. I turn the engine off and eagerly await the good news and the receipt of my license. The officer looked at me and said I had failed. I was aghast. Failed? Why? He said I looked in my rearview mirror to often.


This is a very true story. Unfortunately, there are many other people who are caught spending way too much time looking at the rear view mirror in their personal life. They spend their time looking at the past, at what lies behind them. Just like with driving, we should glance at our rearview mirrors. It helps us keep track of what is behind us just in case something back there is trying to creep up on us. It helps us stay aware so that we’re not rear ended with unresolved issues of the past.


Although constantly studying the past can be negative, so can spending too much time looking too far down the road. I must be able to see far enough ahead to navigate rough spots, but if that’s all we do is constantly look way down the road then we’re missing the most important thing in life. Now. Yes, the now is where we live. It’s the circumstances and situations that present themselves today, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today. Most of our time should be focused on enjoying this one day, whatever it might hold. When we focus on today then the beauty of it reveals itself to us. We are able to meet people where they are and help satisfy their needs. We also begin to enjoy our current relationships. Living in the here and now helps us to see our relationships and the people who make up those relationships much more clearly. The negative traits are diminished as we focus on the positive ones which help to build and strengthen the relationship.


Today I encourage you to stop worrying so much about your past nor your future, but instead decide to live today. Make your plans for the future and remember the lessons of the past, but live in the present. I’ll close with a song I remember my Grandfather playing and singing. It’s a simple song written years ago. The chorus reads simply:


One day at a time sweet Jesus

That's all I'm askin' of you

Just give me the strength To do every day what I have to do

Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus

And tomorrow may never be mine

Lord, help me today, show me the way One day at a time


May you live one day at a time.