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Showing posts from 2013

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

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"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.


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 i…

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

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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! 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 …

Cyber Bullying No More with Recovery Expert Holli Kenley 12/03 by The Lifes Dash with Michele Mattia | Parents Podcasts

Michele Mattia is a verteran radio personality with a powerful voice and a compassionate enthusiasm for improving the quality of our lives...and the lives of our children. 
Please take a listen...

Cyber Bullying No More with Recovery Expert Holli Kenley 12/03 by The Lifes Dash with Michele Mattia | Parents Podcasts

Got Holiday Stress? Readjust, Release & Rejoice!

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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 …

Environments of Betrayal: What Victims Need To Know and Do

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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…

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

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

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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 coun…

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

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I could not let this month go by without paying tribute to all the women - and men - who have 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 factor…

Domestic Violence - Peeling Away The Shame, Secrecy & Stigma

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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 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…

Information Age Wellness - Keys For Being In Balance!

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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.  
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 …

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

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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.


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 o…

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

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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 ofinternal 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 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 e…

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

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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.   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! U…