Summer break has been going for a bit now and I have suffered some parental growing pains as my teenagers have stretched their wings of independence just a bit more. The summer began with me feeling excited that my children would get some rest from such a busy school year. I had ideas of all of the fun they would have and the things we would also do as a family. It all looked so beautiful in my head. But I forgot something pretty important. They also have minds of their own and plans of their own!
The first area that had to be addressed quite quickly was “rest”. Their social life and sleep schedule did not align very well with our (the parents) work-life and sleep schedule. It seems all of the fun stuff happens between 8 pm and midnight! I am someone who needs a good 8 hours of sleep so this new schedule was quickly causing some issues.
The second area that had to be addressed was a “schedule”. Our kids are athletes so there are some sports practices throughout the summer but other than that, consistency is not part of our weekly routine. At least in our home, summer jobs are not scheduled neatly into an 8-5, Monday-Friday time slot. With two teenage jobs, it becomes more of a puzzle of times. Dinner plans? Um… that went right out the window.
Family activities have also become much more of a challenge. I rarely work on Fridays and have saved that time to spend with my girls this summer. I had beautiful visions of days at the pool, walking through Old Town together and getting ice cream, perhaps a hike up to Horsetooth. It is July 8th and we have not been able to find a time that works for all of us to do any of the above-mentioned things.
So, here is where my parental growing pains come in. At the beginning of the summer. I was really trying to get us organized. I was working hard to make this family work like a well-oiled machine. I had all of these beautiful plans, and I was determined to somehow make it fit. When I realized that we just weren’t spending time together as a family, I sat down with my youngest teenager to apologize to her for working 4 days a week. Perhaps I needed to be more available for her. She chuckled at the apology and said, “Mom, you know I love you. But even if you were here, I wouldn’t be home. I have plans with my friends.”
I suddenly realized I was trying to “control” my family. I was trying to make us all fit into my expectations. I was not enjoying my summer and I was finding a feeling of disappointment more often than I would like to admit. At that moment, I got on my knees and gave my family back to God. I also got a great book called, “Losing Control & Liking It” by Tim Sanford.
Things have gotten a lot better at our house. We had a great family talk about late nights and how we all need rest. The late nights are more intermittent now. Although we haven’t had an entire day together, there have been pockets of time where we do happen to be home at the same time for dinner. Their friends come too and we have enjoyed getting to see our kids and their friends. We have some weekend getaways planned ahead of time and I know there will be larger pockets of time for us to spend together. We make church a priority for our family and with Saturday and Sunday options, we come together for that.
Once I let go of the control I was trying to have, everyone relaxed a bit more and we were able to find our new groove. My husband and I are intentional about knowing the kids’ work schedules and making sure we are around for a quick chat or check-in. We are planning for our daughter’s senior year and we are gradually preparing for college next fall. Sometimes it is difficult to relax and trust that everything will be ok. Sometimes, we just have to give it to God and trust that he will take care of things much better than we can.
If you find that you are trying to control your family and cannot seem to relax, perhaps its time to come in and see one of us. It can help to work through what is really bothering you when it comes to control.
Boundaries are drawn all around us. Physical boundaries are drawn for us: earth’s atmosphere, shorelines, national borders, state and county lines, city limits, property lines. Regulated by government and mapped out in detail, they show the extent of ownership and who’s responsible for maintaining that which is owned.
However, in relationships, we share the task of drawing the lines of relational boundaries for ourselves. Neighbors, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances operate in a changing cloud of expectations, assumptions, personal commitments, and beliefs. While HOA covenants or office protocol may be predetermined, other boundaries in these relationships are best set via direct communication and negotiation. Those who have faced burnout, compassion fatigue, abuse, or rejection have all encountered boundary violations since both parties in a relationship share both ownership and responsibility for the health of that relationship.
From birth to death, boundaries help us learn where we are, define areas of safety, illustrate our freedom to explore, limit our ownership, and remind us of responsibility. In addition, they provide a context for learning who we are as individuals. This is especially true within the intimate relationships of partnerships, extended family, marriage, and parenting. As adults, we each carry the responsibility for determining and declaring our own personal boundaries. The edges of identity are formed gradually, piece by piece, from conception to death.
Besides genetic information that shapes our bodies and determines mental strength or weakness, our parents also provide the nurturing that either activates healthy growth in all the areas of our lives – or not. What we believe about ourselves and how we interact with the natural world and the people in it come from the personal boundaries learned from our parents. During our lifetimes, we learn and define, over-reach and shrink our personal boundaries.
If we were denied the opportunity to learn and the permission to choose healthy boundaries as children, we may develop default settings that mirror our parents’ survival skills, rather than finding the boundaries congruent with who we really are. Some problems do come at us from the outside and are not anyone’s fault. Other problems are definitely our fault or someone else’s. When we choose to assign blame for every problem, however, our default settings and personalities can lead us toward internalizing(“It’s my fault — I’m the only one who can fix it”)or externalizing (“It’s their fault – and someone else has to fix it”).
Life inevitably hands us pain, discomfort, and disconnection in the relationships we most care about. The resulting anger, sadness, and loneliness resulting from such a disconnect require us to identify which boundaries have been violated. Only then can we may an informed choice.
1. Will we accept the fact that this problem resulted from living in a broken world?
2. Will we forgive the one at fault, whether or not the relationship continues?
3. Will we forgive ourselves for stepping outside our own boundaries, or over another’s boundaries?
Discerning where we are in this process can seem complicated, painful, and even impossible when we attempt it alone. Finding a counselor to work with through the process can make all the difference. Gather your courage and start looking for someone today!
Summer brings so many great memories and fun plans to spend time outdoors. Being outside in Colorado has always been something brings out positively in me. I wanted to challenge myself and anyone else that loves summer (or even if you don’t) to seek out intentional ways to manifest that positivity. I started with the basics of simply looking into the differences between the words joy and happy. The Merriam-Wenster definitions are…
Joy: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
Happy: enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment
In doing that I realized that the outdoors brings be contentment and peace which evokes joy.
What evokes your joy? And how can you intentionally seek that this summer?
It seems people have gotten lonelier than they used to be.
Many studies have shown in an age where we are more connected than ever, we tend to be more lonely.
Often times, when things begin to go poorly in our lives, we start thinking of ways we can self-improve. Maybe we go to the gym, start eating healthier, go to counseling, sleep more, etc. What if instead of only looking inwardly at the things we need to improve, we started looking outward?
Now, I am not suggesting that we start making a list of improvements needed by our loved ones, (so don’t quote me on that!) What I am suggesting is that what if part of our self-improvement plan was to try to improve the environment around us?
What if we woke up each day with the intention of making someone else’s day a bit better?
I am part of a great organization called the Kindness Initiative. Our intention is to encourage all of us to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Here are some simple suggestions of things we can add to our to-do list as we are working on self-improvement.
1. Put your phone down. There are so many times in our lives when we have some time to pause and possibly make a connection with a stranger. Whether it is in the waiting room at the doctor, at lunch, or even at the DMV. The other day, I had a lovely hour long conversation with a woman from the east coast at the DMV. When our numbers were finally called, I was actually disappointed we had to end our conversation. It was so much more fulfilling than an hour of scrolling through facebook.
2. Set a goal to make a difference each day. Some of us try to drink 64 ounces or walk 10,000 steps. What if we were that intentional about uplifting another person each day? It could be a small gesture like opening a door, making eye contact with a stranger and saying hello, a free coffee for the person behind you, or sending an encouraging note in the mail to a friend.
3. Give Grace. Let a person cut in front of you in traffic, speak kindly to someone who is being incredibly rude, remind yourself that you don’t know another person’s story and perhaps this could be one of the worst days of their lives.
The truth is, each one of us has a lot of power. Collectively, that power is exponential. My encouragement for all of us, is as we are making changes to feel less anxious and less depressed, caring for others is another excellent way to help get to a healthier way of living.
Of course there are times when we feel incredibly stuck and cannot seem to get out of that hopeless feeling.
We are here to help you get out of that place. Dondi Gesick sees clients in Greeley and Fort Collins, call our office to schedule an appointment. 970-490-1309
Certain watershed memories involve the soul’s need for a larger perspective. Watching the passing scenery through the windshield instead of a single side window, seeing the next horizon from the top of a hill, drinking in the distance visible from a building’s top floor, being stunned into awed silence by summiting a pass – these watershed vistas momentarily satiate the soul’s need to see out.
At times, however, we find ourselves looking at life with limited vision. What pieces form this box that traps the soul?
Wall 1 could be an obligation to match the preferences of authority figures in our lives. (What would my parents say?)
Wall 2 might be the expectations of those whose approval I seek. (What about my friends?)
Wall 3 involves worry about the needs of other generations. (What would my children say?)
Wall 4 may be a perceived duty to help others. (What do those in my community think?)
The floor of the box often consists of our inadequacy in the face of life’s challenges. (Do I have what it takes to keepstanding?)
The lid is often fear of some sort. (What keeps me inside the box?)
When our primary thoughts circle around “I want to be safe,” self-protective fear exerts the pressure of suspicion necessary to hold the walls of the box in place.
When our decisions are driven by obligation, expectations, and duty to others, thoughts of “I need to be right” create a life ofjudgment. This inner life of suspicion and judgment not onlypushes away the very people with whom we long to be close, it also blackens our self-worth with condemnation.
However, we have options! When the curiosity of “I want to know what’s true” becomes our motivation, the lid of fear is loosened. Climbing the walls of the box to position ourselves at their top allows us to scan, not only what’s in and around us, but also what’s outside and above us. Combining curiosity withcourage enables us to see out from the ramparts of discernment. Living on the heights is not easy — but it is crucial for growing into the full expression of the persons we were meant to be. As author James W. Goll has said, “We must maintain the inner life to be effective in the outer life.“
If this change in perspective appeals to you, here are some ideas for climbing the walls of the box.
■ Watch one of Brené’ Brown’s TED Talks.
■ Journal about others’ obligations and expectations of you, as well as your duties, worries, and feelings of inadequacy.
■ Talk to your counselor or spiritual advisor about your questions and concerns.
Do I hear wedding bells, wedding songs and fretful brides? Well, if you and your fiancee are about to “tie the knot” this article is right for you.
Have you considered some “pre-marriage education”.
If not, allow me to share a few facts, figures and realities with you before you take that all important leap into the wonderful relationship of marriage.
A study of 3,334 couples conducted by Stanley, Markman, Amot and Johnson revealed that couples that attend a pre-marriage program were found to reduce divorce by 31%. Additionally, Participants of pre-marriage programs had higher marital satisfaction, higher levels of commitment and lower marital conflict.
The following is a list of potential advantages derived from pre-marriage education:
1. It provides an opportunity for personal EVALUATION. Healthy individuals make
healthier marriage partners.
2. It provides a couple the opportunity to honestly EVALUATE the current relationship.
Sometimes couples will benefit by postponing the wedding.
3. It enables a couple to establish a REALISTIC VIEW of marriage. It will enable you
to take off the ROSE COLORED GLASSES so often associated with pre-married
4. It will enable a couple to create an actual relationship BLUEPRINT. Know what you
are building before you start building.
5. It will better prepare couples for the inevitable PITFALLS of early marriage. There is
NO substitute for marriage PREPARATION.
6. It will increase the chances of LONG-TERM success. No body marries expecting to
fail in the first 7 years, but many do.
7. It will better prepare couples to HONOR the Institution of marriage.
8. it will assist couples in avoiding the DREADED PAIN of relationship failure.
I would whole-heartedly encourage any couple about to become husband and wife to consider
the following quiz.
I call it: The 7 musts of a healthy marriage.
1. Have you made peace with your past? YES____, NO_____, Somewhat______.
2. Are you able to effectively communicate your thoughts and feelings?
YES____, NO_____, Somewhat______.
3. Are you able and willing to compromise? YES___, NO_____, Somewhat______.
4. Are you capable of finishing what you start? YES____, NO____, Somewhat_____.
5. When you are hurt or offended are you capable of forgiveness?
6. Are you trusting and trustworthy? YES____. NO____, Somewhat____.
7. Are you willing to honor God as the architect of your relationship?
Well, how did you do on the quiz? Hopefully I have stirred your interest in better preparing yourselves for the challenging and rewarding journey of marriage.
“Be brave strong and courageous; seek adventure and truth, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
My wife put this verse up in our son’s bedroom. I honestly had never heard it before, but I love it. I am moved by how empowering it is to hear, and know, that God desires for us to live confidently and in the freedom of knowing he loves us.
Often our past experiences or current circumstances feel like they drag us away from living in freedom. Freedom to live out our dreams. Freedom to experience and share of our gifts and talents. Freedom to experience heathy intimacy with others. Freedom to seek adventure. Past disappointments and hurt can hold us back. Fear can quickly move in and scare us to the point where we doubt ourselves, become passive or or even feel enslaved to our current circumstances and feel frozen.
Consider how agreeing with fear devalues our worth. Consider what your life would be like living in freedom. What would it look like?
God desires for us to live in feedom because it brings Him great joy as a Father. He wants us to know He is there to comfort us when we hurt, protect us when in danger, reassure and defend us when afraid, and there to help us up when we fall down.
Most commonly he does this through other people. We need support in our lives to help us move through fears to freedom. Processing with somone we trust and to reframe past experiences, more centered on our true worth, aids in that journey.
However, when we find ourselves lacking in support it’s important to remember that God hasn’t abandoned us or stopped caring. It’s doesn’t mean we have no worth. We may just be at an intersection in life. We may need to give an old wound attention because the pain is now too much to bear. We may be needing some space to grow and rediscover or reunite with who we are meant to be.
In these times it is also important to remember we are valuable. If I am valuable then my needs matter, because I matter. This helps with voicing the need of support, because if I matter, then my needs matter.
This is why the option of counseling can be so helpful. It offers a safe space to vulnerably share and process our fears, confusion, grief, sadness, and worry without being judged. In our most vulnerable times it’s important to be heard, to be understood, to be seen and feel valued.
Remember you are not alone and there are people here to help support you through your most vulnerable times.
You have worth beyond measure and it’s never too late to live in freedom and experience your dreams and all that life has to offer.
As many of you know, or can learn from reading my bio. on our website, I work with girls and women. Because of the population I serve at Emery Counseling, there are certain topics with which I have become intimately aware. Additionally, I am a woman myself. I am friends with women. I have a daughter. I came from a woman. I came from another woman’s body. This sacred act of birthing brought me into this world.
Additionally, I have been blessed with the opportunity to birth my own two children. The first birthing, of my daughter Justice, was confusing. It’s odd how confusing it was.
I did all the things: I went to birthing classes; I read books (lots of books); I looked everywhere online, for all of the information, about birthing.
And then, it began. I went to the hospital to birth my first baby. There were no major complications in birthing my first child. Actually, the most prominent memory of birthing her that I have was when my mind hit a wall. That’s what it felt like…my mind didn’t know where to go from where I was at that point.
The pain was so intense, and my mind didn’t know what to do with it.
“How long will this last?”
“How do I plan for endurance at this juncture?”
“When will this be over?”
That’s when it – I hit a wall.
After that experience, I decided to prepare for birthing my second baby differently. I decided to learn to trust myself and to trust my body.
“Haven’t women been birthing babies since the beginning of time?”
“Isn’t my body intuitivelyaware of how birthing a child goes?”
“Can’t I actually trust myself to know what I need to have this baby?”
So, I decided to stay at home, and to trust myself, and to trust my body. (Don’t worry; there was also a safety plan involved, for going to the hospital, if that became medically necessary.) This experience was better for me.
Please note: I’m not trying to state that all women should have home births.
I don’t believe that I know what’s best for all women. That’s actually the thing of it, my passion actually.
My favorite thing to do with girls and women is to help shepherd them into their own knowing. To help them reconnect to the places, within themselves, where their wisdom lies. I mean, I can share lots and lots of intellectual knowledge, teach skills and provide psychoeducation by the boatload…and I do! But for me; to witness this magic happen, when a woman drops into this knowing, it’s like she’s found a map, a compass, and a companion, all within herself.
I love it when that happens! And, I’m grateful to be a witness.
Bree Emery works with girl’s and women’s issues primarily females ages 12+. Additionally, providing family counseling.
Issues of specialty include: identity issues, self-mutilation, behavioral issues, sexual assault, trauma, eating disorders, coping skills, anxiety, and depression. If you’d like more information or to book a session with Bree visit our website.
Back in the day, people used to write letters to each other. It would take 2-3 days or even a week before the message arrived. Knowing the time lapse that took place, I would imagine people might have taken a few moments to pen their thoughts. This would be especially true if they were angry about something.
The point is, I’m thinking there was probably more thought into the letters.
In the age of instant gratification where we can quickly write a cutting text, letter or social media post, I would like to encourage us to pause. I think it is something that we all know and are aware of, but when the infamous “button pusher” hits us just right, our inhibition goes out the window and the fingers fire up. You know who I mean, the annoying co-worker who throws you under the bus, the ex spouse, the unforgiving relative, I could go on and on.
I often see “button pushing” with divorced couples when they are dealing with issues regarding the children.
There is some emotional charge that often comes when the email is received. Perhaps your heart starts pounding the moment you see their name in your inbox. What is hard about these relationships is that one time, this person knew you really well. They have the power to push your buttons in a way other people might not be aware of. Remember you are in the business of raising your children. Try to treat these emails like business interactions. Keep to the facts and leave emotion out of the conversation.
What can we do to prevent the “button pusher” from affecting us so deeply?
Remember who you are. You do not need to prove yourself to this person if they are attacking you unfairly. Likely, their attack is more about pain or frustration they are feeling than it is about you. It is also important to remember who you are because often the “button pusher” might be trying to evoke an unpleasant side of you. Represent yourself well and prevent that from happening.
Does this email, text or comment warrant a response? If this person is trying to upset you, are you able to overlook it and just respond to what is needed? Or perhaps it may be best to ignore the email altogether.
Wait to hit send. You can write the email right away, but sit on it for 24 hours. Perhaps have a spouse, friend or co-worker proofread it first. Often times, if we respond too quickly, our emotions may cause us to write things we wouldn’t normally say or write. It may feel good to counter attack in the moment, however most of the time, it feels much worse after the fact.
Ultimately, let’s slow down. Think twice before quickly responding. Wait until the emotional charge is gone and consider the intent of the sender, if the intent is likely to get a rise out of you, take charge of your emotions and decide for yourself if it is worth it. Perhaps if the “button pusher” sees they are not able to get a reaction from you, they will likely stop playing the game.