Category Archives: Education


What you should know about resiliency

  • Helps with overcoming adversity and adapting to change
  • Allows us to go with the flow
  • Mitigates stress, fear and self-doubt
  • Becoming resilient takes time and requires practice
  • Seek help if you aren’t making progress or don’t know where to start

UnknownWhat we know about the brain and how it works-these three are really mind boggling!

  • Empathy for others is experienced as pain – the same neurons fire and cause suffering whether by direct or indirect experience
  • Imaginary is real- the same nerve bundles fire whether you’re imagining or not
  • Brain can’t discern between broken heart and broken leg-it’s all pain

Why we need resiliency

  • Helps us rebound after loss
  • Develops healthy coping mechanisms and tools to handle setbacks and stress
  • Helps offset factors that increase your risk of mental health conditions
  • Improves your ability to cope
  • Improves inner strength and develops a stronger constitution

How to cultivate greater resiliency

  • History supports modern findings that inner contentment is found by a regular gratitude practice
  • Compassion for others also benefits the self by defeating fear and self-doubt
  • Meaningful and altruistic activities help you feel safe and worthy
  • Cultivating gratitude and compassion will serve you better than the pursuit of happiness

Additional helpful practices to cultivate resiliency

  1. Get connected-develop strong positive relationships, networks, and communities
  2. Set meaningful goals
  3. Recognize and learn successful skills and strategies from your experiences
  4. Understand that all things change
  5. Reach out for help when in crisis
  6. Develop supportive networks
  7. Take care of yourself
  8. Eat well
  9. Get healthy amounts of sleep, sunshine, and fresh air
  10. Practice relaxation, yoga, meditation, breathing practices, etc.
  11. Be proactive

Resources: Dr Amit Sood-Mayo Clinic

Designing Therapy Spaces: Part Two

We’re continuing our series on designing office spaces for health and wellness practitioners. If you missed part one – – we discussed the broad strokes that shouldn’t be overlooked. Moving on to specifics of decor, the important element is to not only empower you, the practitioner, but to also demonstrate empathy for your clients – their comfort and progress. So while no two spaces will look alike, keep the stimulation level at a minimum with muted neutral colors that allow you to add pops of color based on the season so that you yourself don’t become tired of the space you inhabit on a regular basis.

Charley's Staging- Spring 2008 026Warm, almost masculine color schemes that are organized and tidy are in order here. Start with what you have and pull out a color wheel. Try to keep to no more than 3 dominant colors, otherwise it begins to look chaotic. Let’s look at the office in the photo- the walls are a green and the furniture and window reddish-brown. Red and green are opposite each other on the color wheel. Be sure the colors have similar values/saturation levels – generally furniture, other than white, has deep saturation levels so mixing pastels with them can be tricky. Another approach is to go to the paint store and find the color combinations they provide on the sample cards, choosing what you already own and complementing from there. Then you have license to play with accessories you enjoy! Remember, don’t include anything you don’t absolutely love. Next time – lighting.


Depression in the Workplace

UnknownAlthough we’ve come a long way with brain science and we can now see the difference in a brain scan between a depressed person and a not depressed person, we have a long way to go. How does depression really manifest in different people? What does the depressed person act like? Why do we so often miss the signs in others and lose so many to suicide? I ponder these questions each time I realize that although I know myself, I know I suffer from seasonal depression, I know it’s winter and the light is low in my part of the world, I miss the fact that I’m depressed. If I miss it in myself, how likely is it that you’ll be looking for it in others? Until I find myself repeating the phrase “I hate my life” with my head in my hands, I often am clueless.  Why doesn’t it occur to me sooner? Why am I so surprised? But this is classic depression. The brain is still functioning but my heart has sunk a little deeper into my chest and the shades are drawn. It’s little wonder that the image above shows so much darkness in the depressed brain.

Apparently, emotions and logic are located on opposite sides of the brain which explains irrational behavior – emotions have taken over. As the human brain developed, survival depended on switching off one side of the brain (think emergency) in order for the other half of the brain to lead.

“So when we become caught up in our emotions, we actually become very stupid. We have lost the ability to step back and look at all the options and every thing is seen in black or white terms. Either everything is alright or everything is all wrong! This is a clear explanation for depression, which is a huge emotion. It also explains anxiety and panic attacks where the fight or flight system becomes permanently switched on. It also explains obsessions and compulsions like self harm, where the arousal and expectation produce adrenaline and other emotion-related hormones and chemicals, which feel as though they can only be dissipated by performing the ritual.” Frances Masters, BACP accredited psychotherapist 

So often, we humans have 20/20 vision when it comes to those around us yet we can’t ‘see the forest for the trees’ in our own life. You probably recognize when those around you are out of sorts, difficult to be around, but does it occur to you that they may be generally depressed? Instead of writing this off as a difficult co-worker, an over-stressed parent, or an impossible boss, a quiet lunch where compassionate concern is expressed may be all that’s needed to help them recognize that they need help.

So what are symptoms of depression?

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. …
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. …
  • Appetite or weight changes. …
  • Sleep changes. …
  • Anger or irritability. …
  • Loss of energy. …
  • Self-loathing. …
  • Reckless behavior

More importantly, for the purpose of this article, what does depression look like at work?

  • Uncooperative…
  • Unmotivated…
  • Bad attitude…
  • Low productivity..

…just to name a few. I want to suggest that everything you read about toxic co-workers is probably also what depression looks like at work. Untreated depression in an empowered person is hell – many of us know that scenario SOO well! But I want to suggest here that you can be some help. Just a concerned acknowledgement may be all that’s necessary to help an adult recognize the demon and take steps to get back to a better place. And since I am not an advocate of pharmaceuticals myself and have relied for years on safer alternatives, there are tools for everyone in this scenario. But recognition is the first step and all of us can be active participants!

Designing Therapy Spaces: A Series to Enlighten and Delight

Saul Robbins Photography

Saul Robbins Photography

You’ve finally snagged a great new office space and you’re ready to move in but your momentum hits a roadblock. There isn’t much research on what constitutes healing spaces and there is little training in the halls of higher education for aspiring therapists and healers entering the field of healthcare. So it should come as no surprise that designing physical environments where therapy is conducted is often left to chance. The frightening news is that the few studies that have been done find that the competence and character of a practitioner are often judged based on the physical office spaces they occupy! People actually had opinions about qualifications based on pictures of offices!!! So it appears important for those in the health care profession to take heed – your income and the success of your business seem to depend on how well you appoint your office space.

Apparently your clientele is basing their initial perception of your work on the formality of your space and diplomas posted on your walls – this is extremely important. Your professional space should also support and empower the service provider.

You would think that clutter needn’t be mentioned when discussing a work space that invites clients inside but apparently that isn’t the case. If you are one that has less than tidy paperwork habits, I suggest another space to spread out or a desk that can be closed off behind doors. This rates a giant ‘no confidence’ for clients and will likely lose you business. So comfort is defined as orderly, warm, nurturing yet formal.

This being the first installment of the series, we’re looking at the larger picture. On the macro level, the space should be a reflection of your values and your philosophy of caring for your clients. The space – the room itself, the building, and even the approach to the building should allow for client privacy.

The Feng Shui of the seating is an interesting dilemma – the power position faces the exit however that is also a safety concern for many so ideally both patient and therapist have the door in their sight line whenever possible. Being able to move the seating (non-fixed) is also a great advantage and every piece of seating needs to be supportive and comfortable.

Next time, we’ll discuss decor and by the end of the series,  we’ll also have looked at color theory, lighting, stimulation levels, and seasonal flair. Part 2 is here:

Seriously Kids – Pay Attention! A Dozen Reasons I’m Cranky

OK people, even if the term global warming is a semantics nightmare, we got a sick puppy on our hands and we better put on our grown-up pants and ALL do our part! I am so tired of the excuses, of the downright ignorance, and the apathy. And I’m calling on you – gen x, millennials, and boomers – especially those of you who have street smarts, are well-educated, know how to read, and are good at getting what you need in most areas of your life. I can’t believe how many Americans aren’t paying attention, not staying informed, and not doing their part. In all fairness, there’s plenty of blame to go around but I want to piss people off enough to rattle them into action.

  1. No – just because you’re buying your groceries at Whole Foods doesn’t mean you are doing all you can. There’s education, action, and leadership! Start somewhere.
  2. And no, the organics you buy at Whole Foods or the fact that you shop at Trader Joes mean nothing. Trader Joes (owned by Aldi) barely sells organics, packages all of their conventional produce and can claim nothing more than being a hip place to shop. It’s the same food as Aldi, higher priced, and repackaged in a way they KNOW makes people feel cool. The organics at Whole Foods are not owned by small, do good/feel good companies. Most are owned by multi-nationals who spend millions a year at present trying to defeat laws which enable you to know if you’re eating food engineered by laboratories that are not only messing with your immune system but raping the environment at the same time.
  3. Inform yourself – while it’s true that my generation did a big disservice by ignoring the patriarchy a long time as they pillaged the environment and stole from the mouths of babes, the rest of you will inherit this disabled planet for yourself and your children and will have to get your head out of the sand sooner or later. And folks- VOTE!! You know all those first generation immigrants in your city? Soon we’ll hear you whining that they’re getting all the breaks because, guess what? They’re exercising their right to vote because where they come from they had no power and they’re not repeating that lifetime!
  4. Your SUV is NOT good for the environment. Justify it any way you like- you need to transport the neighbors kids sometimes so you need all those extra seats even though it’s usually only you in that behemoth, your family likes to camp, you live on a dirt road- whatever! All these gas guzzling vehicles, millions of miles of tar, and the oil for it all – this is not a sustainable model. Do the calculations! And stop driving everywhere – walking and biking are good for you, good for the environment and you can spend some time with like minded people like your family- it’s a win win!
  5. Just because it says “all natural” on the front label doesn’t mean you don’t have to read the back label. If you can’t pronounce it, you don’t want it anywhere near yourself, your spouse, your kids, or your animals.
  6. Round up and fertilizers (unless they came from an animal source) aren’t harmless. Neonicotinoids are disseminating the insects in our environment that pollinate our food. It’s in the paper every day and on the news but some of my well-educated young professional neighbors have never heard of this- really??? The same ones who have the ‘professionals’ come poison their lawn and then let the kids play in it. “We’re not sure where he gets that skin condition.” Pretty sad.
  7. Get a life and start some sort of mindfulness practice. Running yourself ragged with shopping, socializing, drinking, is fine in college but then it’s a good idea to grow up and pay attention to what’s going on right now, right here. You’ll wake up at 50 and wonder where the heck your life has gone with “I was going to take the world by storm” regrets. Trust me, the people around you would love you to be more mindful. They might try it themselves. Everyone would be better off. Really
  8. And what the heck- would it kill everyone to recycle everything? Is it really that hard? Almost everything you use should either be recycled or composted except freezer containers. Do your part! My mom was doing this in the 60s and she wasn’t even a hippie!
  9. There’s no reason not to compost- you can do it underneath your kitchen sink! Maybe you don’t need the fertilizer and thus see #11
  10. Newsflash- we have a population problem! I know the Catholics and the Mormons would have you think otherwise but if your employer can dictate your birth control I can tell you  the planet is struggling to support all the people we already have here. Not saying don’t have kids, just not 5 or 6.
  11. What is it with the lawns??? Fertilize the bejeezus out of it, disturb your neighbors not once but twice a week mowing it, and, icing on the cake, use a louder than a monsoon gas-powered blower to take care of the clippings. And let’s not forget the daily leaf-blowing exercise that’s popular with my neighbors in the fall lest we have, god forbid, a leaf sitting on our turf over the winter! Enough already!
  12. I know clothes lines are WAY out of style but your clothes will last longer and it’s cheaper to not dry every piece of your laundry at the expense of the environment.

It’s true I’m frustrated – everyone who is keeping themselves informed is. You’ve heard ‘if you’re not mad as hell you aren’t paying attention’ right? And it isn’t that I want you to be frustrated, I’m just ready for a lot more people to inform themselves. This apathy is driving me nuts!

So for more on the three eyed fish below, don’t flush your meds…that hasn’t worked out so well for those lower down the food chain. Ask the frogs.