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Dear twentysomethings,

Have you read The Defining Decade by Meg Jay?

No? You should! I always thought that 30 was the new 20. My twenties were supposed to be about traveling, exploring and finding myself. Thought that too? Well, according to psychologist Meg Jay, that’s not exactly 100% true. The twenties are supposed to set you up for your thirties and forties and so forth.

There are some things I wish I knew in my twenties, and hopefully sharing helps in yours.

1. Finances

Start a savings account for literally anything. Start saving in your twenties for a house, for a vacation, for anything you think you might want in your thirties. Trying to save for those things, later on, is really hard! I have an emergency saving and a vacation. Just in case I want or need either of those things.  Have a retirement plan and put in as much as you think you can 3% or higher if possible. I was not in a position in my early twenties to put a lot of money towards retirement. And it’s biting me in the butt now. I wish I had at least put in a small bit consistently so it saves you from putting in 10-15%, later on, to catch up. Also, check your credit score, it might not mean a lot when you are 21 but it will when you want that house, car or another big-ticket item.

2. Relationships

What about love? Dating in your twenties may seem like it’s about just meeting a lot of people and going on dates. That might be true. But dating should be to look at what you would want in an ideal partner. The partner whose tardiness might be endearing at 25 might make your blood boil at 35. Getting married is not the switch that puts people into gear for change. That really happens in your twenties when your mind is in the best place to grow and change. It’s hard to be surprised about our love life at 30 if we were making poor dating situations in our twenties.

3. Work

Work in a place that invests in your future. Working an office job at a company you believe in will create a network for you when you are looking for other jobs vs being a barista waiting for that dream job to appear. It’s called identity capital. Identity capital which is “the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships.” Instead of throwing our twenties away in jobs that don’t move us forward, find jobs that will help get you where you want to go. You don’t want to be starting your career at 30, you want to be taking steps that make your career at 30 thrive. Be intentional in your twenties.

4. Invest in your friendships

Quality over quantity. Really take the time to find the people who bring out the best in you. The ones who invest in your friendship as much as you do. This isn’t about having the most friends but finding the ones that are supportive and inspiring. They should be people who want you to be the best version of you but also accept you. It’s important to have a strong support network and building that in your twenties will help tremendously later on.

5. Health

We all know we should be working out and eating better. The longer you take to work on this, the harder it will be later. Over time, our bodies will take more time to recover from an injury (and even hangovers). Things that used to be super easy like losing weight, become even harder as your metabolism slows down. Create healthy habits when you are younger and then you can maintain them as you get older. We need our bodies to last longer than ever before so there’s no time like the present to work on our health.

What we do in our 20s really outlines what the rest of our lives look like. The twenties should be about investing in yourself. In work, in love, in your friendships. Building these things in your twenties will help you create meaning in your thirties and beyond.

Sincerely,

Your thirties

Avoid the quarter-life crisis, get the book here!

About the Author

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

The post Life Lessons for Twentysomethings appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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It’s important to keep growing and we grow in so many ways. Whether it’s interpersonally, professionally, or sometimes even physically.  As I continue to grow and learn more about myself, these are the things that continuously come up that people should know about themselves. I cannot take any credit for these ideas but I can tell you why they are important for your own growth.

When we know these 3 things about ourselves, we can adjust our expectations accordingly. It helps us be better workers, friends, and partners.

1. Love Language

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman explores how we give and receive love. This is important to know because it impacts our relationships. How we communicate our love to our partners and how they communicate it can at times cause miscommunication.

The 5 Love Languages are:

  • Quality time: this language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.
  • Words of affirmation: this language is about using words to affirm other people
  • Gifts: what makes a person feel most loved is to receive a gift.
  • Acts of service: for these people, actions speak louder than words.
  • Physical touch: for this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.

If I feel loved by spending quality time together but my partner feels loved with gifts, we have to make an effort to show them love based on how THEY feel loved not by how we do. So, it’s important to know how you feel loved but also how your partner, friends or children feel loved so you can make sure needs are being met.

Take the quiz here!

2. Tendency

The Four Tendencies is a book by Gretchen Rubin. It discusses the way that we manage internal and external expectations. I am a classic upholder which means that I meet internal and external expectations pretty well. If you know your tendency, you can create habits or change habits based on knowing your strengths and where you struggle. I listed the tendencies and linked them with one of my favorite shows (Parks and Recreation) to show you what it can look like.

They are:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations ( think Leslie Knope)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations (Think Ron Swanson)
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves (Think Jerry, Larry, Terry or Gary based on which season of Parks and Rec you are on)
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike (Think April Ludgate)

This is good for your relationships but also very helpful at work. Let’s say you are a manager who readily meets expectations but your employee is a questioner. Learning how to get that person to reach an expectation is going to be beneficial to both of you. If you are an obliger, having external accountability is going to be important for you to stick to expectations. On the other hand, a questioner needs to know why they should meet an expectation. If you learn to adjust how to approach these types of tendencies it can really help the way you live and interact with others. It can help create better habits for yourself and for others.

Take the quiz here!

3. Introvert vs Extrovert

Being an introvert or extrovert is not about how you interact socially, which is a common misconception. It’s about where you get your energy or how you recharge. People often think I am 100% an extrovert, but I am actually an ambivert.

  • Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
  • Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.
  • Ambiverts have both extroverted and introverted tendencies. This means that they generally enjoy being around people, but after a long time, this will start to drain them. Similarly, they enjoy solitude and quiet, but not for too long. Ambiverts recharge their energy levels with a mixture of social interaction and alone time. (This is 100% me! I get stir crazy if I am alone too long but can also get burned out if I am too social. It’s important for me to have balance.)

It’s important to know if you are introverted or extraverted because it tells you how you need to recharge. For example: if your partner is an introvert where you are extraverted they might need alone time which has nothing to do with how much they like you. They just need to recharge alone and that’s okay. If you are the extrovert, you need to be more social to get recharged. It’s good to know this so you can adjust expectations accordingly. Leaving someone alone isn’t a sign that you don’t love them, to an introvert it can be a huge gift to have that alone time.

Think of it as more of a spectrum more than just one or the other. Knowing where you are on the spectrum can give you an idea of what your needs are as well as the needs of others.

Take a quiz here!

Hopefully, these 3 things help you figure out how to create habits, feel more loved, and figure out how to recharge!

About the Author

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

The post 3 Things to Know About Yourself for Personal Growth appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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Setting boundaries is an important life skill.

We all need boundaries because they help protect us, but they help out the other people in our life too.  A boundary marks a limit and we all have limits. Boundaries come in many forms in our lives and it’s important to know what your boundary is, so you know when you are over your own limit.

We have to let people know what is and is not okay to do. It’s not fair to always expect someone else to do something all of the time. It’s healthy to set expectations and know the limit.  For example, A parent might set the expectation of a curfew going past the boundary means there is a consequence.

Boundaries can be Material:

things you lend or buy

Physical:

how you want to be touched or not touched, personal space

Mental:

thoughts, values, opinions (including expectations)

Emotional:

how you feel about something, identity, choices

Time:

what you want to spend your time or energy on

Social:

who you want to spend time with

Sometimes when we do not set these boundaries, it can leave us open to feel taken advantage of. If we continue to do everything for other people in our lives without them doing the same for us, it can create resentment, frustration, and create enabling behaviors.

It’s not fair for one parent, friend, person, self to take 100% of the responsibility of a situation. When we also give people the chance to solve their own problem at times, we give them the opportunity to use their own critical thinking skills. If we continue to do the things other people in our life do not want to do, then how will they learn that skill set?

Here are some of the boundaries I have set for myself:
  • I will not bring work home with me on an emotional level
  • I will take time for myself every day
  • I will not pick up the phone when I am with my friends or with my partner
  • I will not buy something from someone whose values I disagree with.
  • What are some of your boundaries? Or what boundaries can you do better with?
Side note: I saw this on social media and thought it was fantastic and true. What do boundaries feel like:
  • It is not my job to fix others
  • It’s okay if others get upset
  • It’s okay to say no
  • It is not my job to take responsibility for others
  • I don’t have to anticipate the needs of everyone
  • My responsibility is to make me happy
  • Nobody has to agree with me all of the time
  • I have a right to my own feelings
  • I am enough
About the Author

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

The post Boundary Basics appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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Knowing what to do when your child or teen is having a difficult time managing their emotional responses and behavior is stressful and challenging.  Having a pocket full of tools is beneficial for you and for your child. It is always important to remember that there is a reason for the behavior and to try not to take what they say and do personally.  Typically your child is trying to avoid something, want control of a situation, want attention, want something, or are having difficulty managing their sensory system.

In my experience working as a school social worker and as a therapist, I found a number of strategies very helpful in de-escalating the situation.

  • Try to intervene early:
    • Be aware of the verbal and nonverbal warning signs (tearful, pacing, balled fists, fidgeting, shaking, clenched jaw, talking faster or in a higher pitch, grunting or making sounds).
  • Remain calm and take care of yourself:
    • Remember to take deep breaths: inhale deeply and then slowly exhale.
    • It is important to remain calm.  You cannot control everything that your child says and does but you have control over your own reactions.
  • Model the behavior and actions you want to see from your child.
    • Talk in a slow and calm voice.  Yelling may escalate the situation and can cause your child to get more upset.
    • Be aware of your verbal and nonverbal body language.  More than half of what we communicate is through our body language, facial expressions, and the tone of our voice.
    • Be aware of your facial expressions.  Try to be nonreactive and stoic.
    • Position your body in a non-threatening manner.  Try to avoid positioning your shoulders square in front of your child, provide your child with plenty of personal space, and attempt to get physically down to their same level.
    • Be aware and mindful of how you model your own feelings of anger or frustration.
  • Provide a distraction:
    • Change the subject, comment on something you know they are interested in, ask about their favorite book or show, start a conversation with another family member that may interest your child, or use humor if you know they respond to and understand it.
  • Decrease the number of people in the room and create a calm environment:
    • Minimize the number of people in the room.  The smaller the “audience” the better. If your child will not leave the room ask other family members to go to a different location.
    • One person should talk to the child at a time.
    • Lower or turn off the volume of electronics and dim or turn off lights.
  • Label and validate their feelings and empathize with your child:
    • “It seems like you are feeling angry.”
    • Acknowledge that the situation is upsetting.
    • “I know that it is frustrating to stop playing the game to come to dinner.”
    • Let them know you are willing to help them with the problem once they are calm.
  • Redirect, provide choices, give prompts:
    • Lower your voice while you speak.
    • Tell your child what you want him/her to do, not what you don’t want him/her to do.
      • “Please talk to me using an inside voice.” Instead of “Stop yelling!”
      • “I want you to sit down” rather than “Stop jumping.”
    • Provide short directives.
    • Use ‘first/then language’.
      • “First pick up your toys and the then we can take a walk to the park.”
    •  Provide two choices and give plenty of time for your child to comply.  Repeat the choices and provide more time. This may take a while but it is worth the wait.
  • Wait it out and ignore:
    • Ignore behavior you do not approve of as long as it is not a safety issue.
    • Avoid eye contact or looking in your child’s direction.
    • Monitor the child from as far away as safely possible.
    • Find something to do to make you look busy.
  • Reinforce the positive and consequence at a later time:
    • Focus on the positive things that your child might be doing during the meltdown.
      • “I like that you are taking deep breaths to calm your body down. I am proud of you for using your words to express your feelings.  I like that you are now using a quiet voice.”
    •  You do not need to consequence behavior at the time it happens.  Discuss at a later time when everyone is calm.
    • Give yourself time to think of an appropriate consequence that you can live with and follow through on.
  • Return back to a normal routine:
    •  As soon as it is safe, return your child back to the normal routine of the day.
References: https://www.heysigmund.com/how-to-respond-to-tantrums/ https://www.bradleyhospital.org/tantrums-meltdowns-and-kids-acting-out-what-do http://blog.optimus-education.com/using-de-escalation-techniques-effectively
About the Author

Denise Gulotta, LCSW, is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Denise works with children, adolescents, and parents. Denise’s specialties include stress & anxiety, mood disorders, behavior problems, self-esteem, school issues, and family changes + life transitions. If you’re interested in working with Denise, send an email today!

The post De-Escalation Strategies:  Responding to Meltdowns & Tantrums appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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As an outpatient therapist, I love every opportunity to connect with schools’ staff.  When I was a school social worker, I valued the opportunity to coordinate and speak with my student’s private therapist.  Many parents ask if there are pros and cons of telling the school that their child is working with a therapist. In my experience, there are many benefits of collaborating with student support personnel such as a school social worker, counselor or psychologist.

Here are some important tips: What is a release of information?

A release of information must be signed by parents and by the student if the student is 12 years old and older before any communication between therapist and school personnel can take place.  The information shared between a therapist and school social worker, counselor or psychologist is confidential. School mental health providers hold the same ethical and legal standards when it comes to confidentiality.

Why is the direct contact between therapist and school beneficial?

It is helpful to speak directly to school personnel in order to get a better understanding of your child’s academic performance, behavior and relationships with adults and peers in various settings.

The school can share information that parents and therapist do not see regarding academic performance and relationships with peers.

Two heads are always better than one!

Collaboration and continuity of care, working on the same issues and focus, is beneficial to connect the link between home, school, and therapy sessions.  Your child’s therapist and school service personnel can brainstorm options and resources that can help your child at school if they are struggling. As an example, creating an informal or formal plan that can help your child feel more comfortable at school if they are refusing to go in the mornings.  School staff can also identify specific areas that can be focused on during therapy sessions.

Why recreate the wheel?

If your therapist is working on an effective coping strategy it can be shared with the school mental health provider and reinforced at school or vise versa.

Advocacy.

Your child’s therapist can help advocate for your child’s needs and suggest specific strategies that can help your child’s social and emotional needs in the classroom and school environment.

IEP and Section 504 Plans.

 If your child has special education services through an Individualized Education Plan or accommodations through a Section 504 Plan, your therapist can provide suggestions for services, accommodations or modifications based on work that had been done during individual sessions.  You are allowed to invite your child’s therapist to these meetings.

About the Author

Denise Gulotta, LCSW, is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Denise works with children, adolescents, and parents. Denise’s specialties include stress & anxiety, mood disorders, behavior problems, self-esteem, school issues, and family changes + life transitions. If you’re interested in working with Denise, send an email today!

The post How Your Therapist Can Help Your Child in the School Setting appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

You may have heard someone saying things like, “my OCD is kicking in”, or “I’m so OCD”, but does that person really have OCD?

Being particular about where you like things placed in your house or being picky about your appearance or food etc. are preferences, generally not OCD. Significant disruption to your life is key to the characterization of OCD. It involves a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that cause intense anxiety and distress. The obsessions are thoughts or images that occur and the person feels these are out of their control to do anything about, the compulsion then kicks in to help the person make the obsessions “go away” or counteract them.

There are common obsessions, such as harm, perfectionism, religious, losing control and others.

Some common compulsions include washing/cleaning, checking, mentally going over things, repeating patterns. There can be many other themes as well. Some people may experience more mental compulsions and not outwardly engage in behavioral compulsions.

A common question people want to know is what causes OCD? The short answer…many factors! It can be inherited, or can involve disruptions in brain communication, or a number of other factors.  Adults and children can develop OCD but it is NOT caused by something the person did or didn’t do.

Many people can find help through medication and therapy.

Therapy for OCD involves many behavioral and cognitive techniques, such as Exposure Response Prevention, and can improve the lives of people who have OCD.

(Source: International OCD Foundation)

About the Author

Jill Patano, LCPC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Jill works with adults. Jill’s specialties include anxiety, OCD, panic and phobias, stress management, perfectionism, CBT, ERP, coping skills, and life transitions. If you are interested in working with Jill, send an email today!

The post What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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What is Exposure Response Prevention (ERP)?

This is a behavioral technique used to treat anxiety, OCD and other related disorders. Simply put it involves doing the thing that’s being avoided or the situation you fear. It may sound scary at first, but it is done with the guidance and expertise of a therapist.

It works like this: You purposely engage in the thoughts, mental images or situations that cause anxiety. While doing this, you then choose not to engage in the response that you normally would to take away the anxious feelings. For example, someone who has contamination fears may feel the need to wash their hands 10 times after they touched a doorknob. During an exposure they would touch the doorknob and make the choice to only wash their hands 7 times. During repeated exposures the person would continue to reduce the amount of handwashing.  The goal of all this is to reduce the anxiety levels by not giving in to the compulsions.

This isn’t just being told to go face your fears, a therapist will help you develop a hierarchy of fears or a list of behaviors to tackle. You will work together on this and do some exposures at home as well. ERP is not meant to put you in danger and it’s important to speak up and tell your therapist if you feel an exposure is causing extreme stress. Remember though, you will feel some anxiety during the exposures, you are doing the thing you’ve been avoiding after all!  But after repeated times, the anxiety levels will drop.

(Source: International OCD Foundation)

About the Author

Jill Patano, LCPC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Jill works with adults. Jill’s specialties include anxiety, OCD, panic and phobias, stress management, perfectionism, CBT, ERP, coping skills, and life transitions. If you are interested in working with Jill, send an email today!

The post What is Exposure Response Prevention? appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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108 years passed until the Cubs won the World Series in 2016. That’s a long time. More than a lifetime of waiting for most. Years of struggles, crushed hopes, and many transitions all match what each and every one of us go through during day to day living. A few standouts are:

Dealing with disappointment

Everyday something generally doesn’t go right. As many Cubs players and fans had to deal with another losing season, the range of disappointment was paramount and frustrating. Learning to pick yourself up when all bets are off is a skill in itself and takes a lifetime of practice.

Possible results of not dealing with disappointment: Anger and rigid thinking can develop. Depression.

Changing the way you think tip:  

Say to yourself, this won’t last forever! Look at the bigger picture. Live less on the spectrum ends of all or nothing thinking and reach more of a middle ground.

Happiness for others

Some teams are just better than others. Sharing in another person’s joy is so important. Curb your negative and judgmental thoughts about others’ and instead revel in their successes, accomplished goals, and awesome sunglasses they got on sale. Look on the bright side, or at least be able to see another perspective.

Possible results of not sharing in others’ happiness: Resentment and jealousy can take over your mindset.

Changing the way you think tip:

Tell yourself, what an inspiration this person is, I can reach my goals too! Challenge yourself to not compare yourself to others but be inspired instead. More gratitude less spite.

Role model

Looking up to someone can help carve a path for ourselves that we didn’t know existed. Inspiration alone can fuel mindset in a positive direction and create movement. Sports figures are often looked up to for their insane talent and rise to the top. The challenge for us every day folk, is to think on less of an extreme, meaning, find a way to share your strengths and kindness with others on an everyday basis. Be a good person.

Possible result of finding no one to look up to: Remain uninspired and stuck. Think you’re the only top dog around.

Changing the way you think tip:

Ask yourself, how can I take a healthy risk? How can I share my strengths with others? Challenge yourself to learn something from someone else.

Perseverance

Continued effort and hard work are needed in all aspects of life. One foot in front of the other, and repeat.

Possible result of not sticking with something: Give up easily on goals, no follow through, fear of failure.

Changing the way you think tip:

Ask yourself, What’s important to me? Set a plan with small steps to work toward a chosen goal or dream. Do this often.

Tradition and ritual

Popcorn and peanuts at the game? Or a hotdog and nachos? Memories are built upon this stuff, and values are the foundation for character and integrity. Take The 7th inning stretch and the National Anthem, it wouldn’t be the same without these traditional highlights.

Possible results of not engaging in or building traditions: Lack of established values. Loss of identity.

Changing the way you think tip:

Ask yourself, What’s important to me? Try new things, learn about stuff, step out of your comfort zone.

Patience

You have to ask yourself, how does someone stay a Cubs fan after 108 years of unpredictable seasons, let downs, and maddening almost wins? Most certainly a combination of many things, including understanding what is in, and outside of your control.

Possible result of overreacting: Fuming anger, and way too much energy put into trying to control everything.

Changing the way you think tip:

Think about how you can stay present in the moment. Not getting too far ahead of yourself or drifting too far back. Challenge yourself to make the best of the situation.

Community

There’s no better feeling than to cheer on those you love, with people you love. Sharing a common interest with others intensifies a sense of belonging and connecting with others. It can really give you the warm and fuzzies.

Possible results of never getting to know your “neighbors”: You become trapped inside your own bubble.

Changing the way you think tip:

Think to yourself, I am part of something greater, outside of myself. Volunteer, offer compliments, smile, hold the door open for someone.

Sense of humor

Laughter. The best medicine a person can ask for. How else could the Cub’s survive so many “curses.”

Possible results of never cracking a smile: Overthinking. Frequently absorbing everything on a way too personal level. Breathing negativity.

Changing the way you think tip:

Practice not taking everything so seriously. Remind yourself that the world does not revolve around you alone!

Passion

Dedication, devotion, fervor, hurrah, intensity, spirit. Find it! A pro athlete needs all of these qualities to excel and enhance their talent. What’s good for them, is good for us.

Possible results of lacking passion: No dreams. Frequently thinking you’re not capable of being good at anything. Fearful of taking a risk.

Changing the way you think tip:

Start small. Get to know yourself better and take mini steps toward reorganizing and/or organizing your space. Think about what makes you tick!

Hope

Without hope there’s little left. Hold the belief that something can be changed, and work toward that change. The Cubs kept building the team over time and came back every year with new motivation and inspiration.

Possible results of giving up hope: Depression, never making necessary changes, feeling as if the world is against you.

Changing the way you think tip:

Create and establish a personal “empathy bank” to share with others. Building a united front with others will make you stronger. Challenge yourself to become a problem solver and find a solution.

FYI fun fact:

A few pro teams that are still awaiting a championship:

68 long years and running for the Cleveland Indians, The Detroit Tigers 32 years, The Chicago Bears 31 years, The Indiana Pacers 43 years, The Kansas City Chiefs 47 years, The Milwaukee Brewers 48 years, The Minnesota Vikings 56 years.

About the Author

Andrea Picard, LCPC, ATR is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Andrea works with adults, families, teens, children, and moms/caregivers. Andrea’s specialties include art therapy, parent + child relationships, anger, addiction, and anxiety. If you’re interested in working with Andrea, send an email today!

The post Cubs Win and So Can You! Life Lessons from The Stands – Changing the Way You Think appeared first on Urban Wellness.

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