Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wellness in the New Year - Step One : Letting Go of Stuff...

"The first wealth is health"  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

With the New Year here, many of us are already stressing about what new resolutions or expectations we should place upon ourselves. That is typically followed by the dread of how quickly we will break them or not measure up to them.  I have a suggestion - let's greet the New Year by letting go of stuff.

Lots of Stuff!!

By stuff, I mean anything! It could be letting go of....
  • a person or persons- a toxic relationship, an unhealthy partner, a dysfunctional family member, a negative group...
  • a place or thing - the memory of or a tangible reminder of an environment or person that is harmful or unpleasant...
  • an idea or thought - negative life messages, worry, pessimism... 
  • an emotion, attitude or feeling - regret, guilt, grief, anger, blame, self-doubt, disappointment... 
  • a behavior or habit - rescuing unhealthy individuals, over- committing, working too many hours, not eating right or exercising enough...and so on.
In order to get started, it is important is that we spend some time thinking about how we are feeling. Give yourself permission to take a brutal and honest inventory. Ask and answer these questions.

1. What is working for me in my life? What or who is contributing to my well-being - augmenting my wellness, enhancing my sense of worth and of self, and fueling me in healthy ways?

2. Along with that, what is not? What or who is depleting me - taking away my energy, draining my resources, and diminishing my capacity for inner peace, balance, and joy? 

Take your time, but do spend time completing this exercise.  This is Step One in letting go of stuff. I know from first hand experience that this can be hard - really hard. Let me explain...

A few years ago in October 2013, I started hosting my own weekly radio show. I had prepared long and hard for this opportunity and was excited about this new leg of my professional journey. After the first two weeks, I felt over-worked and over-committed. I was spending anywhere from 30 - 40 hours a week preparing for each show. My other professional obligations were suffering, and I could feel the stress taking its toll on me. After two months, I was feeling depleted and resentful of the entire process. To add insult to injury, I began beating myself up for making such a huge commitment and felt extremely guilty for wanting to give it up. I worried how others would be disappointed in me or how I might be letting them down. Taking a few weeks off for the holidays allowed me to clear my mind and to feel the relief of being released from the burden of the show.  I realized what I had to do - I had to let it go. And, as I did, I felt the Holli I know myself to be return to being herself.  

So, I do understand that it is hard to self-examine and to make changes. However, wellness - like anything else - takes hard work. Let's start today...let's start  now.

                                           Letting Go of Stuff!!

Homework:  This exercise is so important. Over the next week, take your self-inventory and write down what or who is not working for you. You are not being selfish - you are taking care of you. Let's start the New Year off by letting go of stuff!

Remember - we are only as good FOR others as we are TO ourselves.

Next time, we will move on the Step Two - Ways of Letting Go of Stuff!

For more wellness tools, visit Holli Kenley & Author Holli Kenley @ Amazon

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Celebration Saboteurs? More Stress-Reducing Keys for the Holidays!

As the holiday celebrations continue over this month and into the next, let's remind ourselves about the two most common celebration saboteurs - our expectations and our losses.
  • Although expectations are a natural part of who we are and are an outgrowth of the norms of families, if we cling on to them too tightly, they can cause us to be uncompromising and unforgiving. Also, because of past unhealthy experiences within families, unrealistic expectations can lead to more disappointment, hurt, and further complicate family dynamics.  

This all causes stress!

Honor our losses in healing ways.
  • Secondly, whether memories surface of loved ones who have passed and whose presence is missed deeply, or there are reminders of relationships which remain unrepaired, or the emergence of personal or inner personal wounds are re-opened because of the triggers that accompany family gatherings, the profound and poignant presence of loss creates a stress that is deeply entwined in grief. 
The good news is - there are steps we can take to reduce holiday stress!  The hard part is....we have to be willing to make the changes!  I will share briefly a few keys for making change.  For more healing information, please take a listen to Got Holiday Stress?.

When tackling those naughty expectations, consider the following:

First, ask yourself - "Am I willing to re-adjust my expectations?"  Be honest!  If you are, great!  If  not, right now, make an attitude adjustment!  Let go of 'needing to have it one way - your way - or the right way! Be flexible.  Communicate your feelings, but then, be willing to compromise and go with the flow of the family's needs! (If there are hardships, please see below.) 

Secondly, if you are hosting over the holidays, clearly communicate what your expectations are and if there are any changes!  Make sure you do this with plenty of advance notice, giving others time to re-adjust their expectations!  

Thirdly, if there are other stressors or changes that your family is dealing with - expenses, hardships, travel, gifts - and you are finding that the rituals and traditions of your family are not working for you, communicate your needs to your family, again with plenty of advance notice. Honor your situation and circumstances so that resentment does not build.   

When confronting painful personal and inner personal losses, consider the following:

First, in dealing with the loss of a family member, it is important for family members to communicate their individual desires as well as the family's needs in honoring the passing of a loved one. Although this is extremely difficult to do, holding onto private expectations and then being hurt when those are not met intensifies your grief and compounds levels of stress.

Secondly, if you are a family dealing with estrangement issues, broken relationships, or division within your family, it is important to practice releasing what you cannot change and of letting go of the heavy weight of emotion that accompanies those dynamics. (For ways to release, please listen to Got Holiday Stress?) Do these releasing exercises well in advance of holiday gatherings.

Thirdly, the holidays can be reminders or triggers of past painful experiences and of personal as well as inner personal losses. Holidays are also times where individuals are at risk for relapse and/or regression into a myriad of unhealthy behaviors, again because of triggers.  It is critical to be aware of your triggers and how they impact you.  Then, implement the following exercise if you feel triggered, at risk, or unsafe.

1. Catch the thought and identify your feelings (connect them to the trigger).
2. Stop the thought and contain the feeling.
3. Calm yourself.  Breathe....slowly.  Inhale and exhale.  If need be, give yourself a short time out.  Leave the room - go to quiet place or go outside.  Relax.  Breathe.  Honor honor your feeling and release them. Return when you are ready.
4. Replace the thought with something positive and healing; and/or redirect your conversation or actions.
5. Reassert your present reality.  Work on staying in the present - focusing on what is now.  Remind yourself that you are safe...and you are strong.  Continue releasing any residual pain.

In closing, the holidays can indeed be a time of joy - 
if we choose to readjust our expectations and to release our losses in healthy and healing ways.
 And, it is our choice.  No one can do this for us.  We  must do it for ourselves. 
 It is time to let go of those celebration saboteurs and start rejoicing!!  

Start Rejoicing!

For more informative & restorative guidance, visit 
Holli Kenley 
Author Holli Kenley @ Amazon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Got Holiday Stress? Readjust, Release & Rejoice!

As the holidays are approaching, I am hearing the sounds of stress all around me!  This week on W4CY Radio, I will be discussing "Got Holiday Stress? Readjust, Release and Rejoice!" But, for now, I wanted to share a true story about expectations - or what I call celebration saboteurs! 

Great Expectations?

After hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family and my sister’s family for a dozen or so years, both families decided that we needed to make some changes. Our kids were in college and it was becoming harder and harder for everyone to get to one place. In 2001, my husband and I did not host Thanksgiving dinner; instead, we were invited to my husband's niece's home with all of her  family. We were excited to see everyone and it was not too far of a drive, only about an hour away. After inquiring about the number of people and the time of dinner, I asked how we could contribute. We were asked to bring a ham. 

When my husband and I arrived around two in the afternoon, I was surprised at what I found.  In fact, I felt disappointed and really confused.  My initial expectations were far from being met.  First, all the women (my sister –in-law and my three nieces-in-law ) were no where in sight.  I quickly learned  that all the ‘girls’ were out shopping for the day- a family tradition of theirs.  My thoughts were, 

“This is rude.  Why aren’t they hear to greet us – to welcome us?  Didn’t they remember we were coming?”
As I looked around the house, everything seemed so surreal to me.  Nothing was like ‘I” would have it! All the guys (my brother-in-law and husbands of nieces) were glued to the TV's with sports blasting from multiple screens.  It was so loud that everyone had to yell to hear what someone was saying.  And the five young grand-children were galloping through the house like wild horses – more loud noise.  After quickly judging the situation, I mumbled to myself, 

“This is not what would be going on  in my home!  My children would have been playing games outside or creating musical performances for our enjoyment later.  And, the noise - yikes!! My brother-in-law would be playing his guitar, softly serenading us while my sister, my husband and I cooked!"

I looked around to see if there was any evidence of a family dinner taking place that day. Putting the ham in the refrigerator, I noticed that nothing was prepared or even cooking, except for some rolls that were thawing.  I peeked into the dining room – nothing. Again, my expectations quickly reared and roared in my head .

“I can’t believe this!  The table is not even set!  I would have had my table set the night before!  Where is the turkey – why aren’t the potatoes peeled?  Why isn’t there anything ready? I would never do this!!” 

I returned to the den with the blasting TV’s and the noisy kids, sulked and continued to pass judgment on the entire situation.  This was certainly not the way I had ever entertained guests or how I would do things.  I continued to wallow in my righteousness,

At around four o’clock, my husband’s sister and her three daughters finally arrived home!  Their arms were full of packages and bags filled with goodies. Entering the house, their happy faces filled the room with love and laughter. The kids went running as they saw the piles of gifts, screaming with excitement.  After everyone had settled down,  my niece Katie (whose home we were in) sighed and casually suggested, “Well, I guess we should get started on  dinner”. 

As I sat slumped on the couch, still festering in my rightful resentment and utter bewilderment,  I cautiously asked, “Would you like some help (still wondering how on earth a turkey could be ready in two hours)?”

My niece replied with a huge smile, “That would be great!  Follow me”.

Over the next two hours, the kitchen started to buzz. As Katie took control of the side-dishes, I set the table for sixteen, peeled and mashed a giant pot of potatoes (with one beater), made a strange mud-like gravy from their family recipe (which was not easy to do without Turkey juices ),  crafted together an unusual mixture that resembled dressing, and prepared the ham. As Katie and I gabbed and cooked, I found myself beginning to loosen up and let go of all  my unmet expectations. And, I started to laugh and have fun.  Then, as Katie’s husband attempted to deep fry the turkey, we all watched in horror as the oil overheated, spilled out onto the cool decking of their pool, and basically petrified the turkey!

After the burnt carcass was retrieved and everyone was relieved no one was hurt in the process, we all
laughed hysterically at the site of the bark-like stump resting on the platter.  For just a moment, I could hear myself think these thoughts,  

“I would never try something new like deep-frying on a holiday dinner!  What is wrong....”

And then I stopped myself.  My expectation was simply a judgment on them.  I stopped and readjusted my thinking.

As I was leading the charge of cleaning up the massive mess of dishes after dinner, with the TV’s still blaring, with kids still wild from the sugar highs of dessert, and with  the ‘men’ conveniently snoring away in their recliners, I reflected upon the evening.

This celebration was theirs. It was filled with chaos and joy and over-flowing with love. And, yes, it was not the way I would do things, but it didn’t mean that mine was any better or that mine was the only way - mine was just different. 

For more on "Got Holiday Stress?"  Join me this week  on W4CY Radio as we discuss  Readjusting expectations, Releasing losses, and Rejoicing in the present! 

* Note - on this broadcast, I reference several exercies for "releasing" . For more explanation and application, please consider "Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within".

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Environments of Betrayal: What Victims Need To Know and Do

Tragically, over the years we have heard about horrific cases of abuse, trauma, bullying and other acts of violence. Typically, these inhumane injustices are carried out within familial systems or are random crimes committed by disturbed perpetrators. However, in my lifetime and over the past several decades, we are hearing more and more about assault and abuse cases within professional organizations, as well as social, political, and spiritual institutions where the culture of bullying and of extreme cases of abusive conduct have not only been cultivated and condoned, but they have been concealed by the very leaders and/or members who serve within them.

It is within these Environments of Betrayal, that victims are frequently blamed for the aggressive acts imposed upon them, they are seen as being 'less than or cowardly' for not being able to endure the culture of violence, and their personal and professional lives are in jeopardy for speaking out against the very organizations or  institutions that have perpetuated these normative abusive behaviors.

Over the past couple of years, our attention has been drawn to high-profile bullying cases within professional sports organizations and educational systems as well as to horrific abuse cases within our spiritual and university   institutions.  More recently, we are being made aware of the wave of sexual assault, abuse, and rape that is sweeping through our military ranks.Within these Environments of Betrayal, it is a wonder that many victims find if difficult - if not almost impossible - to heal and to move forward with their lives.

The Invisible War
The documentary, The Invisible War, depicts and details the narratives of numerous military service women and men (representing thousands) who have been attacked and traumatized by fellow military members and/or their superior officers. And within the culture of their military organizations, these brave service members' injuries and injustices are magnified by multiple betrayals imposed upon them by the very institutions in which they have served and have risked their lives.

In 2009, after I spent a great deal of time analyzing, researching, and studying the anatomy of betrayal, my findings were published in a recovery book entitled Breaking Through Betrayal 2nd Edition. As with much of work that I do in clinical psychology, it was critical that I give readers two key concepts when recovering from a betrayal - of any kind:

 First, understanding what they are feeling and why.
 Secondly, how to move forward - step by step.

For the purposes of today's blog, it is my intention to share a couple of key principles about betrayal and how they relate to the victims' degree of injury and impact. There is more information on today's show on W4CY Radio -  Environments of Betrayal: What Victims Need To Know And Do. I hope you will take a listen.

So often former clients would say to me, "Holli, I don't know why I feel so betrayed? I thought I was getting past this, but I can't seem to move on."  Or, "Holli, I was doing fine, and then....something happened and I feel re-betrayed all over again. What's wrong with me?"  This is completely understandable. Let me explain.

The first key to understanding is the following:

1.  We feel betrayed because we have invested greatly into someone or something, or we have trusted profoundly into someone or something, or we have believed strongly in someone or something. When that investment is rejected, when that trust has been violated, and/or when that belief has been shattered, we feel betrayed.

And, the degree of our investment, trust, or belief is a predictor of our degree of injury or impact. 

Watching the documentary The Invisible War, it is clear that the women and men who shared their stories were extremely passionate about their careers in the military. Several came from military backgrounds where family members had served for years. Most felt the calling to serve and joined with enthusiasm, dedication, and pride.And thus, because of their unwavering commitment to their profession, to their fellow service members, and to their chosen military branch, the victims' degree of injury - physically, psychologically, and emotionally - from their betrayals is deeply embedded and ingrained within the core. It is to be expected that their inner beings are breaking, their foundations are faltering, and their spirits are suffocating.

The second important principle of betrayal is the following:

2. We feel betrayed or continue to feel betrayed because often we are exposed to our betrayer or our betrayal environments, or we are triggered by events/memories/symptoms from our betrayal experience. In other words, if we experience chronic (or on-going) betrayal, or recurrent (or episodic) betrayal, or multiple betrayals, or the manifestations of PTSD from any trauma, we will continue to feel violated.

Remember, the degree of exposure to our betrayer and/or our betrayal environment is a predictor to the degree of injury or impact.

In The Invisible War, a brave young woman named Kori described her horrific betrayal.  She was assaulted by a fellow service member while she was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Not only was Kori's face injured during the attack but she was brutally raped.  Along with suffering the manifestations of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Kori - today - is in constant pain from disk and bone damage done to her face during the attack. Not only must Kori live with these chronic reminders and triggers of her assault, but she is still fighting the VA which continues to decline her medical claims. Her ongoing and multiple betrayals make it even more challenging to move forward and to recover.  However, it is possible...

With understanding these two principles about the anatomy of betrayal - how it works - I hope that readers will experience an initial level of healing. Because although the betrayers and the environments in which they cultivate their abusive cultures would like you to believe that you just need to 'toughen up' or 'be woman or a man enough to endure it' or that by 'voicing your betrayal you have turned against them', I want you to know that you have one powerful tool right within you - your truth.

Claim Your Truths
  • You know your degree of investment, belief and trust....that is your truth.
  • You know your degree of exposure to your betrayer and/or your betrayal environment....that is your truth.
  • And, you know the degree of impact that the violation of each has had on you....that, too, is your truth.   

 No one can take that from you....
Now, it is your time to honor your truth and use it as you move forward.

For a step by step process for recovery from any kind of betrayal, consider...Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within 2nd Edition

For today's show Environments of Betrayal: What Victims Need To Know And Do

For our women and men who have bravely served in the military (or who are currently serving),  please go to Protect Our Defenders for support and healing.

Remember, although we each need to to our own work, we don't have to do it alone.
For more healing resources, please visit Holli Kenley
New Release & Amazon Best Seller
 Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Soldiers Project - Part Two: "Helping Our Wounded Warriors, Their Spouses & Their Families Heal"

Although Veteran's Day is just behind us, I would like to continue acknowledging and honoring the sacrifices that our  military members and Veterans have made and are making. For those who have returned home and for those yet to return, many will fight on - battling their visible and invisible wounds of war.  One of the organizations which has been dedicated to providing free and confidential mental health treatment to military service members and Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and their extended families is The Soldiers Project.

The Soldiers Project (TSP) is a non-profit group of volunteer licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists who give of their time and services to help our wounded warriors, their spouses/partners, and their families heal. Although most couples and families face many challenges within their relationships, military members and their families are confronted with unique circumstances precipitated by the dynamics and demands of their respective careers and work environments.
Couples who have been together for even a short period of time know that is takes a steadfast commitment of mutual respect, patience, understanding, and selflessness from each partner in order to make a relationship work. Effective and timely communication is often regarded as a key in navigating through the stresses, struggles, and set-backs of daily living. For most civilian couples who are with one another on a daily basis, cultivating and sustaining a trusting, healthy and mutually satisfying relationship is hard, hard work.

With long periods of separation, with movement to and from high-intensity environments to home settings, and with a myriad of additional combat and civilian stressors, military couples or partners (and their families) are confronted with issues that can damage and destroy the most solid of relationships.  

In my interview with Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Lani Bain Stoner (who has worked with The
Lani Stoner, MFT
Soldiers Project for three years), she addresses some of the most common challenges that military couples and families face, and she provides healing strategies to work through them. I hope you will take a listen.
The Soldiers Project - Part Two: "Helping Our Wounded Warriors, Their Spouses and Their Families Heal"

Common struggles  include the following:
  • Trust for both the at-home spouse or partner and the away spouse or partner.
  • Problems coping with stress, for both partners.
  • Expectations each partner has about their spouse's role in the household, their duties, and other family responsibilities.
  • Cultural or belief differences.
  • Personality differences and communication styles.
  • Emotional and physical changes.
It is often comforting to know that most, if not all couples at one time or other, will need to work through these issues. However, military couples and their families often find they are ill-prepared to handle these issues which surface abruptly and under extremely stressful time lines, as deployment and command orders dictate schedules.

Although I have not had the privilege of working with The Soldiers Project, I have counseled numerous individuals (couples and families) who have served in the military or who have been first responders, and I specialize in treating abuse/trauma victims. Because of a culture and climate that often regards 'seeking counsel' as a weakness or that it is 'shameful' to admit suffering, I would like to encourage military members and Veterans to start by taking three healing steps:

                                                            First, give yourself the gift of time.  
Time, Healing, and Grieving
After leaving a high-intensity environment, no one can be expected to return to a home environment, transition, and quickly adapt.  This is not realistic, and it sets an individual up for failure and disappointment. Individuals may need weeks, months, or perhaps even years to adjust and assimilate into the home culture. There is no shame in that.  Go slowly - step by step. Go one day at a time; one breath at a time if you need to. But, give yourself time.

Secondly, give yourself permission to heal.
Although this may sound foreign, there is nothing shameful or cowardly about reaching out for help.  As long as individuals stay bound to their past, they remain in their pain. PTSD, depression, or self-soothing in unhealthy ways will not get better by itself.  Military members and Veterans - you are our heroes; you will always be. And, you are human. The bravest thing you can do right now - for yourself and your loved-ones - is to get the help you need. It's time you are your own hero.
Thirdly, give yourself ample opportunity to grieve your losses.
I have heard many family members and friends say about their loved-ones who have served, "Holli, he/she is not the same person who left. The person I know now is a stranger."  This is probably more true than most of us know.  Our service men and women have experienced tremendous loss - physically, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, professionally, spiritually, and the list goes on. They, and their loved-ones, must take time to grieve each and every one of these losses.  Our service men and women must work through the denial, anger, depression and bargaining in order to reach a level of acceptance. And then, our warriors can begin again - to reframe and reshape their lives, one day at a time.
Always A Hero
Remember....active duty service men and women and Veterans, you are always our heroes.  Take the time you  need to reintegrate back into your home life, rediscover your relationships, and to redefine and renew your body, mind, and spirit. 

For more information, please visit The Soldiers Project   National # 877-576-5343
For more articles written by Lani Stoner, please visit  The Soldiers Project Couples Therapy Series

For today's show and more information, please take a listen.  The Soldiers Project - Part Two: "Helping Our Wounded Warriors, Their Spouses and Their Families Heal"

For last weeks show, please take a listen.  The Soldiers Project - Part One

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Soldiers Project - Part One: "One of the Nation's Top 20 Military Service Organizations that Supports Military Families"

As with so many issues of social/political justice or of wellness, the designation of a given day or month of remembrance, celebration, or call to action sometimes feels so inadequate in comparison to the magnitude of the cause de jour. And certainly, Veteran's Day is no exception.

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to their respective conclusions and with the continual draw down and removal of troops from those wars, the physical as well as mental health needs of our military service members and veterans require an uncompromising commitment to and sustained support for our soldiers and their families. The Soldiers Project, named by the White House in 2011 as "One of the Nations Top 20 Military Service Organizations that Supports Military Families, was established in 2009 "to provide free psychological services to military personnel who have served during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and their loved ones". In addition to free and confidential counseling, The Soldiers Project also "educates the community regarding the psychological effects of war, and provides in-depth training on combat trauma to our volunteer therapists" (The Soldiers Project ).

I first heard about The Soldiers Project (TSP) several years ago when I had the privilege of attending an introductory workshop for therapists. The workshop was led by Becca Bettis - Director of the TSP, Sacramento, CA (Please listen to our interview on W4CY Radio  The Soldiers Project - Part One-). Not being from a military family and having limited contact with individuals serving in our military, I must shamefully admit that I was taken back by the degree of severity and longevity of injury - psychologically and emotionally - that our military service members and our veterans endure. The following is a quote from TSP:

"Hundreds of soldiers - men and women, most of them young, of all races, colors, and creeds - are coming home every day from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many are not coming home whole, ready to resume their lives within the family and in the workplace. Instead, they're coming home in pieces, shattered by the wartime experiences no other American troops have ever been forced to endure. While physical injuries may be horrific, the mental and emotional effects can be even longer lasting and more pervasive. They can take a toll not only on the soldier, but on his family members, friends, and even the community at large, as well."

Complicating the presenting issues of many soldiers is their reluctance to share their fears and doubts about their mental health well-being and/or to reveal signs of reduced capacity. Soldiers who are looking to advance their careers are justifiably concerned about disclosing psychological and emotional wounds, and in fact, feel a great need not to show vulnerability because of shame. Tragically, diagnoses such as Acute Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder do not resolve by themselves, and service men and women often suffer silently and severely for long periods of time before seeking and obtaining help. Although Acute Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are two of the many different manifestations of post-war adjustment difficulties, veterans and military members are at risk for depression, substance abuse, aggressive behavior problems, and the spectrum of mental illnesses precipitated by the stress of war ( Brohl and Ledford, 2013 *).  

One of the most healing aspects of TSP is that its services are confidential, thus removing the fear of superior officers learning of the military members involvement in seeking psychological assistance.  Also, as quoted from Dr. Judith Broder (Founder and Board President of TSP),

  "The most important component of healing is making a human connection with someone who can hear what the person has gone through. That human connection reconnects the person to other human connections"The Soldiers Project ).

The therapists who volunteer their time and their services to TSP undergo specific training to prepare them to work with our military population. Along with providing that vital human connection which honors that individual's voice and experience,  therapists are also qualified to address the unique, diverse and on-going needs of their military clients, their partners/spouses and their families. 

Veteran's Day will come and it will go.

 Let's acknowledge and remember that there are organizations such as The Soldiers Project who
remain committed day in and day out to the wellness of our service members and our veterans.

Let's remember that for many of our service men and women who have returned from war and who are yet to return, their physical, emotional, and psychological battles are far from over.  

For more about The Soldiers Project, please listen to my interview with Becca Bettis - Director of TSP, Sacramento, CA.
The Soldiers Project - Sacramento Chapter
For more information email Sacramento@TheSoldiersProject.org
Call 916-792-3728 or toll-free 877-557-5888

TSP National number 877-576-5343

Next time, we will discuss The Soldiers Project- Part Two: "A Therapist in the Trenches with our Wounded Soldiers"
The Soldiers Project: Part One

*  Kathryn Brohl, M.A., MFT and Rene Ledford, MSW, LCSW
The Returning US Veterans of Modern War: Background Issues, Assessment and Treatment (Elite Continuing Education Course, 2013)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Faith, Family & The Follies - My Sister's Brave Battle With Breast Cancer!

I could not let this month go by without paying tribute to all the women - and men - who have
Bravely Fighting Breast Cancer
fought or who are bravely confronting their battles with Breast Cancer.
I feel so encouraged that in my lifetime, I have witnessed incredible support, attention, and financial resources being directed towards early detection, effective treatments, and finding a cure for Breast Cancer. Indeed, amazing strides have been made. At the same time, women and men -and their loved ones - continue to be affected by this insidious disease.

With the diagnosis of Breast Cancer  or when an individual receives a life –threatening or life-altering diagnosis – of any kind - each person responds or reacts in different ways.  There are so many variables at play such as age and overall health issues, family members and their ages, financial resources and means, professional constraints, and personalities, just to name a few. And of course, there is the fear and uncertainty of what lies ahead. All of these factors can and do affect stress levels as well as one’s physical strength and mindset to navigate through the treatment process.

Over the years that I was in practice, it wasn’t uncommon for clients to experience life-altering or life –threatening diagnosis during our treatment time together, or because of a diagnosis many clients came for counseling to help assist with the emotional and psychological challenges that often accompany serious illness.  From my experiences with clients, I’d like to share a couple of keys that may help us in understanding some of those feelings or emotions that accompany a diagnosis such as breast cancer.

First, I remember clients who experienced tremendous grief.  This makes sense. There are  feelings of loss – certainly the loss of one’s health, loss of one's physical appearance, and/or the uncertainty of returning to a healthy state .  However, there can be additional losses as well: financial, relational, professional, etc. (as we have alluded to).  So, as with any kind of grieving process, it is understandable that individuals go through the stages of grief –  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  It is important to understand that these feelings are normal – and to give oneself time and permission to process them.

Secondly, another very common reaction or response to a life-threatening or altering diagnosis that I heard from many clients was,

”Holli, I feel like my body is betraying me. I’ve eaten right – I’ve exercised – I’ve done everything I was supposed to do. Why is this happening to me?”  

Again, my purpose here in sharing this response is to normalize it.  Yes, many individuals do experience a sense of betrayal and their feelings of confusion, worthlessness  and powerlessness over the diagnosis are real and they are deeply painful. And, it is critical to give ourselves time to honor those feelings and work through them, just as we would work our medical/physical treatment program.  

Performing At The Follies

When my older sister - Terry Peterson - was diagnosed 20 years ago with Stage Three Breast Cancer, I remember feeling one emotion - fear. We have always had an extremely close relationship, and at age 44, I was so afraid that she was going to die. Although there is much to share about her remarkable recovering journey (for more, listen to our interview Faith, Family & The Follies - My Sister's Brave Battle With Breast Cancer  ), for the purpose of this blog, I am going to share briefly how Terry battled Breast Cancer with grace and with courage - incorporating 3 Keys in her journey.

  • Faith - Terry's Christian faith is a guiding principle in her way of being and of living. Her unwavering belief provides her with an inner strength that serves her well in all aspects of life. Whether it was finding and securing the best medical care to treat her cancer, turning to her support system at church for help with food, travel, family  needs, etc., or leaning into her God for peace, promise, and for prayer - Terry's faith has been and is her source and her force. 

  • Family - When I think of a female who is the consummate wife and mother - who is good at anything she does or puts her mind to - but who always puts family first, I think of my sister. So, it was no surprise that when Terry became ill, she never complained and she continued to model uncompromising spirit and strength. I remember when she lost all her hair and when she was incredibly weak and horribly sick to her stomach - Terry made time for her children and her husband. She laughed with them, made memories with them, and she prayed with them. Terry's selfless giving to her family gifted her with healing in return. 
  • The Follies - After Terry had been taking Tamoxifen for two years (following a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatment), she knew she had to do something more to feel better. After attending a performance of the Santa Cruz Follies(a 50 plus theatrical ensemble),Terry knew she wanted to be a part of it. Although she was still too young to join, Terry immediately started taking beginning tap, ballet, and jazz. Even during her most difficult times, Terry was dancing up to 12 hours per week. In, 2001, Terry officially became part of The Follies. Today, she celebrates 15 years performing with them.  This year, Terry created, directed, and performed in their production of Those Were The Days"!
So proud of my sister - Terry Peterson!

Because there are other women in the ensemble who are also Breast Cancer Survivors, Terry openly shares,

"The camaraderie, encouragement, and understanding of one another's experiences is invaluable to one's perspective and healing."

Each person's journey through a life-changing or life-altering diagnosis is unique.  Although we should not make judgments or draw comparisons, it is encouraging to learn from the lessons of others. When I think of my sister - Terry Peterson - of her commitment to Faith, Family, and The Follies, I am in awe of her...

And, when I think of Terry's legacy, these words from the song I Hope You Dance seem to say it all...

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out  or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Domestic Violence - Peeling Away The Shame, Secrecy & Stigma

Domestic Violence is one of the themes of Awareness for this month. Sometimes, I feel like it is an issue that doesn't get the attention it deserves. Of course, October has other important causes - such as Anti-Bullying and Breast Cancer Awareness - but I also think that it is an issue that we are uncomfortable discussing. It often isn't until an individual has lost her/his life because of it or until a high-profile celebrity makes the headlines because of a domestic violent incident that it captures our attention.

Even though these tragic stories grab our interest for a short period of time, I
Shame, Secrecy and Stigma
believe it is hard to look deeper into the topic of Domestic Violence because although we have made strides in its awareness due to the ongoing work of countless individuals and organizations, Domestic Violence remains an issue that is shrouded in shame, secrecy and stigma.

Why does this continue to be the case?

First of all, there are many long-held misconceptions that surround Domestic Violence. Let's take a look at a few of them:

1. DV affects only women from low socio-economic and educational backgrounds.This is not true.  It crosses all barriers - age, gender, ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, educational, social and economic. No one is immune.
2. DV only affects a small percentage of the population.  This is incorrect. According to Domestic Violence Statistics , every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
3. Women who are battered deserve to be. Unfortunately, this mindset is quite prevalent as abusers displace their blame so as to avoid responsibility for their actions. Healthy individuals maintain an attitude in which every human being deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and human regard.
4. DV affects only women who are married. This is untrue. DV affects hetero-sexual couples as well as gay and lesbian couples. DV occurs within marriages, partnerships, and friendships.

Another common misconception is that "If a victim really wanted to leave her abuser, she would". This could not be further from the truth. There are personal, financial, spiritual/cultural/religious, and emotional as well as psychological reasons why victims are unable to leave their abusers. (I discuss this point in detail on today's show - link listed below). Most importantly, a female's ability to leave a battering environment is always contingent upon her safety and that of her children.

A final misconception is that "If a victim really wanted help, all she needs to do is call the police." At times, the police can intervene, diffuse the batterer, and in some cases, take the abuser into custody. However, when the victim calls for help (from any source), she immediately puts herself and her children at risk for retaliation and re-injury. And, typically, the degree of abuse increases in severity and lethality.

Because of these misconceptions in conjunction with the different kinds of abuse and the cycle of violence (see link below), victims of DV are not unlike other
No voice and No choice
victims of abuse and trauma who have experienced or continue to experience deliberate harm or threat of harm.   

  • They live in constant fear, for themselves and their children.
  • They are afraid to report.  Even if they do, they may not believed; the authorities may not be able to do anything; and they put themselves at risk for further injury.
  • Over time,victims begin to believe that they are to blame; they are at fault; if only they had done things differently; things will be better next time. Victims sense of identity and of self continue to erode, as does their esteem and worth. 
  •  Along with the fear, victims feel tremendous shame and embarrassment - especially as the cycle of violence escalates and  intensifies; and if they return to their abusers. 
  • Victims have no choice and no voice in their situations - therefore they are powerless to change their circumstances.  Many live in secrecy and in a state of hopelessness. 

In closing, I believe that whenever we look at any behavior that depicts man's inhumanity against man, it is our tendency to want to look away or even excuse it; to say that it is someone else's problem; and/or to judge it as being the manifestation of a lesser people. 

When, in fact, with Domestic Violence, it very well could be our own sister, mother, daughter, best friend, co-worker, boss, etc. who is living in violence and who is keeping it secret because of the very stigma and shame imposed upon the victim by us.

Let's work together.  Let's keep the conversation going - not just today and not just this month - but whenever we are called to make our voices heard. And, in our own ways, let's be available and present for those who may need us. 

More information:      National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 
 1-800 - 799-7233 or 1- 800 -799 - SAFE.

Today's show:
Domestic Violence - Peeling Away The Shame, Secrecy & Stigma

Note: In this blog, I have consistently used the female gender is reference to Domestic Violence victimization. It is important to note that males are often referred to as the over-looked victims. As previously stated, tragically, no one is immune.

                             For more healing tools and resources, please visit Holli Kenley.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Information Age Wellness - Keys For Being In Balance!

We live in a time (and have been for decades) of incredible advancements, discoveries, and inventions. Every day, we learn of new discoveries that will make our lives easier, safer, healthier; for the most part, they will enhance the quality of our lives. Just think for a minute about the strides being made in medicine, in Eco-friendly manufacturing processes, and in the fields of technology. It is indeed amazing! At the same time as these advancements bring about positive changes in lifestyle, health and well-being, there are times where we are also at risk of experiencing unhealthy, sometimes life-altering consequences.

Let me explain as we examine two behavioral concepts.  

Finding Balance!

First, over time and with repeated usage of any advancement, discovery, procedure or practice, we can expect to experience side-effects, consequences, unhealthy or unpleasant co-occurring symptoms. Sometimes we find this out right away such as when we take a medication that does not agree with us. Other times, we are not aware of the social, behavioral, physical, or psychological side-effects until longer periods of time have passed and the presences of additional serious issues make us aware. An example of this would be consuming processed foods for lengthy periods of time; then experiencing health related problems.

Secondly, as we continue to embrace or engage in various discoveries and advancements, we - as humans - begin to adapt and evolve to the changes that these very discoveries bring with them. Of course, this is only natural. This can be positive change; however, it can also be harmful or detrimental in nature. For just a moment, think of all the various medications that augment, enhance, and even save lives. And yet, over time and with repeated usage, we know that some individuals develop abuse and dependency issues leading to addictions. Our bodies change as they experience the unpleasant side-effects of tolerance and withdrawal.

These two behavioral concepts hold true with our relationship with technology, especially as our dependence and reliance upon it continues to increase. Although it may be happening slowly and subtly, our bodies, minds, and spirits are experiencing both the harmful side-effects as well as the detrimental adaptations and unhealthy evolution in our ways of being. A few of the more serious symptoms and manifestations of an over-reliance on technology (in all aspects of our lives) are the following:
  • Feelings of disconnection and detachment from others.
  • Feelings of disregard for others and an inability to feel empathy for others.
  • Feelings of autonomy, entitlement, and  empowerment that lead to bullying and other aggressive behaviors.
  • Internet Addiction Disorders:  cyber sexual addiction; cyber relationship addiction; net compulsion; information overload; computer addiction ( Dr. Kimberly Young - Founder and Director of Center for Online & Internet Addiction Recovery).
  • Personality Disorders: Exacerbation of narcissistic and anti-social personalities.
  • Other medical issues (where research is still needed): sleep disorders; developmental disorders especially in children.
  • Relationship and inner personal issues: losing sense of connection with partner; losing sense of self.
As I have written about in my cyber bullying no more blog, technology with all its wonders is here to stay. And it should be! However, it is important to pay attention to the 'warning signs' of an over-dependence upon its usage.

Just like most things in life that serve us well, we want to keep our relationship with technology in balance.
Achieving Balance!

I encourage you to take the following steps:

1.  Take a personal inventory of your relationship with technology. For one week, chart how much time you spend on all your devices.  Be honest!  
2. At the same time, take an inventory on how much time you spend in face to face interaction with others (with absolutely no technology around).  Also, write down how much time you spend tending to your self-care (without technology): exercising, journaling, praying, walking, reading, sports, hobbies, etc. Do this for one week. 
3. At the end of the week, look over your chart. Ask yourself, "Is my life in balance?" Again, be brutally honest! Start making changes right now...don't wait. Do a little at a time; then with each week, add more changes.  This helps to be more successful when changing behaviors. 

One of the aspects that I struggle with in my use of technology is that 'time just seems to run away' when I am on my computer or phone.  So, I do watch the clock when I am working or just playing around, and I monitor how much time I have set aside. I have 'start times' and 'stop times'; this really seems to help!  And, I feel better when I am making time for other activities or spending time being quiet and still... It is all about balance! 

For more healing guidance on how to achieve Information Age Wellness, please take a listen to my  interview with Nancy Ferrari. Nancy is the author of Discover the Essence of You; she is a new thought leader and inspirational speaker!
Information Age Wellness with guest Nancy Ferrari!

Homework:  Take you self-inventory!  Balance out your tech life with your real life! Start today....start now!  


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Let's Talk About Relapse - Day 18 - The Gifts of Relapse!

We have spent the past 17 weeks discussing relapse!  Wow! Every time I have sat down to write, I think to myself, "What I have to say today about relapse is so important! I hope I choose the right words, and I hope I get the message across!" Most importantly, because of our shared suffering from relapse, I also hope these blog posts have been a positive contributor to your recovering process by imparting healing principles and tools. And, as we bring this discussion of relapse to a close, for now, I hope you will take some time to reflect upon this final lesson - The Gifts of Relapse.

The Gifts of Relapse

It is often said,

 "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results."

Over the past several months, we have discussed the anatomy of relapse. We named and pealed away the layers of shame and we tenderly addressed the inner core of shame; we thoroughly identified internal and external triggers and assessed their impact upon us; we confronted the masks of denial, disguise, and detachment and learned how to remove them while reclaiming our truths in the process; and we revisited the practice of forgiveness - internal and external - and reminded ourselves of its necessary ongoing implementation. As we have done this difficult and demanding work, we have acquired The Gifts of Relapse - insight into ourselves and opportunity to redirect our lives.

If we want to experience different results and embrace physical, emotional, and spiritual renewal from relapse, we must learn from our past and we must implement new patterns of thinking, behaving, and feeling.  

What are your gifts?

When I look back at my relapse episode, I am so grateful for the gifts I received. Although there are many, I learned that when I am triggered, I often rush from one unhealthy behavior to another to avoid the pain I am feeling.  Relapse taught me of my need to slow down, to be quiet, and to be still.  I need time by myself to reflect and regroup.  Another gift of relapse is that I relearned the importance of trusting in my levels of healing and strength and of readjusting my boundaries and expectations when necessary. I also reaffirmed my right to protect myself and always to reassess my exposure to unhealthy people and environments. Relapse re-gifted me with the peace of mind that recovery is a process - with ebbs and tides- and that I am to remain open to it and trust in it.     

Depending upon our life experiences, each of us will receive gifts of relapse which are applicable to our healing journeys. However, what is most  important is that each of us takes the time to reflect upon and conduct a deliberate inventory of the lessons we have learned about ourselves. 

Some questions to ask and to address are the following:
  • Are you taking time to be still - to think about yourself and your journey? What are your areas of strength or of vulnerability? 
  • Are you giving yourself time to cultivate healthy ways of being? What patterns of behaving, thinking, or feeling are you readdressing and reworking?
  • Are you healing one step at a time - one day at a time- one breath at a time? How are you working your program of recovery?
  • Are you keeping a pulse on your current levels of strength and consistency? What is that teaching you? 
  • Are you assessing your choices of environments and reassessing their levels of healthiness? What are you learning and how is that helping you?
  • Are you recognizing setbacks and making adjustments where necessary? What are they and what changes are you making?
  • Are you taking ownership for your choices - both healing and harmful? What are they and what are you learning from them?  
As you ponder these questions and others, think about what you now know about yourself and your relationship with relapse.   Claim these lessons - Claim these gifts - And remember...

Claim your lessons - Claim your gifts - Do this now...

"Deep down inside, each of us knows what our truths are.  It is forgivable to lose them; it is unforgivable not to reclaim them." 

Until next time, be well...

Special note: Starting Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013,  I will be hosting a weekly radio show - Holli Kenley - Keys for Recovery - on W4CY Radio and the Intertainment Network at 12:00 pm ET. I hope you will join me as we bring you informative and restorative information on many different topics!  We will start with the topics of bullying and cyber bullying. Please email me your questions or share your stories or concerns at holli@hollikenley.com.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let's Talk About Relapse - Day 17 - External Forgiveness

In the previous blog, we discussed the importance of forgiveness in relapse recovery.  We also examined different ways to redefine the word forgiveness and  to re-frame its definition in order to facilitate its implementation into our recovery practices. Lastly, we discussed the concept of internal forgiveness - forgiveness of self - one piece in the process of letting go of unhealthy emotions which keep us bound in our relapse and tethered to our betrayal of self. Today, we are going to address the second part of the releasing process - external forgiveness - forgiveness of other people, places, and things.

With the understanding that we alone are responsible for our choices and
Severing the rope of unforgiveness
decisions that have led us into our relapse episode or period of regression into unhealthy behaving, thinking or feeling, it is also important to recognize that there may be destructive outside influences or on-going painful relationships that trigger us, contributing to our weakened state.

Thus, in order to experience a complete severing from the rope of unforgiveness, it is vital that we release those external sources of  injury and injustice. Let me give you a couple examples. (The names I am referencing are fictitious).

Many years ago, I was working with a wonderfully vibrant and talented woman in her late forties. Katie came into therapy after her husband of over 25 years left her for another woman. As Katie and her husband were going through their divorce, she started drinking more heavily. As we worked through her betrayal, Katie slowly began to heal and recover.  However, whenever she came into contact with her ex-spouse, or if she chose to contact him, she would be re-triggered and re-injured. Over time, Katie realized that holding onto her feelings of anger, resentment, and worthlessness was not hurting anyone else but her. It wasn't until she practiced external forgiveness - to let go of the bitterness and rage towards her ex-spouse and to release him and his betrayal of her - that Katie was able to embrace healing more fully, not only in relapse but in her ongoing recovery as well.  

Letting go of external triggers
So often, there are environmental factors that re-trigger us.  I remember an amazing caring, compassionate young man who I worked with for several years - Miguel. After an extremely painful and lengthy divorce, Miguel came into therapy to work on his rescuing or codependent behaviors. Because Miguel was so sensitive to  his surroundings and the memories they held,  he became easily triggered and slipped into a mild depression.  As we worked together, Miguel realized how much better he felt when he was away from his current living environment. However, he did not want to move too far away from his young daughter. After relocating to another area of town, Miguel began practicing external forgiveness - releasing the memories that certain places brought to mind and letting go of past routines and rituals that he held on to. It is important to note that Miguel was not running away from his previous surrounds; he recognized their strong negative influences on his being and their impact on his recovery. And, as Miguel continued to release the triggers of his previous environment, he was also able to navigate in and out of it     without risking relapse.

Whether it is our feelings of inner shame triggered by our own choices; or our  feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, or injury triggered by outside forces, I believe the practice of forgiveness - both internal and external -  is non-negotiable in the initial steps of recovery and in sustaining recovery from relapse. As I write in Mountain Air,

"I stepped out from underneath the canopy and was greeted by Father Sun. Feeling insignificant under His ever-reaching rays of warmth, I was grateful for this powerful lesson.  Our humanity is sometimes our most formidable opponent when it comes to fully embracing our healing journeys.  Letting go of our pain...  [practicing internal and external forgiveness]...is our greatest strength. It is necessary in order to move forward." 

Letting go of our pain

Homework:  As you practice your internal forgiveness, implement external forgiveness as well. Take some time but do spend time thinking about the external forces (people, places, and things) that trigger you.  Then, utilize the steps from the last blog as you practice forgiveness - of self and of others.

  • Choose a word or phrase that feels safe and comfortable - one that you can connect with.
  • Implement a practice(s) that feels natural, meaningful, and purposeful to you.
  • Schedule or set aside times for your internal and external forgiveness.
  • Repeat this process as many times as necessary.
  • Take time to relish in the renewal that you experience.

Next time, gifting ourselves with lessons learned...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Let's Talk About Relapse - Day 16 - Internal Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a practice that is commonly used in many aspects of our lives, and yet, I think it is one that many of us struggle with. Over the years working with clients in therapy, frequently I would hear the words, "Holli, why should I forgive him?  He doesn't deserve it!"  Or, "Why should I let her off the hook?   She destroyed my life!"  Or, "How can I forgive them? Look at the injustice that has been committed?" Or, "I know I need to forgive myself. But I can't. I don't deserve it."

Although  you may have heard this before, I need you to hear what I am about to say.  This is extremely important.

  Forgiveness is not about or for the other person or thing. 

 Forgiveness is about and for you.  

Forgiveness is about and for you.
As long as we hold on to our anger, resentment, bitterness, or disappointment towards other people and things or even towards ourselves, we remain tethered to them and to those toxic emotions. Most importantly, we sabotage our own healing! Unforgiveness is like a rope that connects our being to the betrayer's being and/or those sabotaging emotions, pulling us along and suffocating us. By severing that rope and freeing ourselves in the process, we position ourselves to further our healing and to reinforce our recovering. Forgiveness releases you - not anyone or anything else.

While re-framing the concept of forgiveness is critical to embracing it, for some individuals it is also helpful to change the word itself because they struggle with the meanings or feelings they attach to itWorking with clients, I would often search with them in finding a word or phrases that they could connect with. Some of the most common and useful terms were letting go, releasing, washing away, and giving it back to God, Higher Power, Source, or Being. Spend some time thinking about and choosing a phrase that resonates with you. Have this ready as we move into the practice of internal forgiveness in relapse- forgiveness of self.

Because of the very nature of relapse, we have in essence betrayed ourselves and our healing truths. As we have covered in previous blogs, there is tremendous shame that accompanies our choices and ensuing behaviors. In addition to shame (self-hatred and malignant embarrassment), there are other destructive feelings such as self-blame, guilt, self-doubt, disappointment, disgust, and resentment. In our humanity and reliance on self, we often feel that we can just ignore, deny, or brush away these cancerous emotions. This is a mistake, especially with relapse. We must let go of them. As I write in  Mountain Air 

"It is in our humility to release the past that we receive the grace to begin again."

It is essential in moving through and out of relapse that we not only connect with a meaningful concept of forgiveness but that we embrace a purposeful practice in which to do so. Whether it is meditating, praying, walking, journaling, or sharing in a recovery program or process, begin releasing and letting go of the painful past. Shed those destructive emotions that are holding you back, keeping you bound. If they return, release them again, and again.  Forgiveness of self is not a one time process; it is continual. Each and every time you wash them away, you will experience the gift of cleansing and you will make way for the grounds of renewal.

From Chapter Eight - Sheets of Rain, I write...
Ch. 8 - "Sheets of Rain"

"Although there are many venues which lend themselves to an internal washing, writing was the tool which came naturally and comfortably to me. Listening to the thunderous pulse within and waiting for the lightning to signal its urgency, I began to journal sheets and sheets of words as the storms of release moved in. When the pressure mounted and the bulky clouds opened up, the rains of residual anger, sadness, and resentment streamed out of my fingers and onto my paper. With each torrent came the washing away of all the remaining carcasses of grief, shame, and blame. And as the wall of words flowed from my soul to the tips of my fingers, I felt the remnants of the past dissipate and disappear; I felt forgiveness take their place. As each successive storm moved in and then out, the releases came more quickly and more easily as there was less and less brokenness to wash away. By the end of the summer storms, my body stood strong and erect; my  mind was lightened and refreshed; and my spirit was poised for renewal."


Homework:  If you have not done so already, begin practicing the process of self-forgiveness. 
  • Choose a word or phrase that feels safe and comfortable - one that you can connect with.
  • Implement a practice(s) that feels natural, meaningful, and  purposeful to you (praying, meditating, journaling, etc.)
  • Schedule or set aside times for your self-forgiveness.   This may sound strange, but we are more likely to do this if we  make a commitment to do so, and we plan it into our healing routine. 
  • Repeat the process, as many times as needed. 
  • Take time to relish in the renewal that you experience. 

Next time, we will address External Forgiveness ...


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