This time of year sickness, depression, and lack of motivation can take over more than any other time of the year. Often, we fight against Winter ,which can make us all feel more miserable. What if you embrace this time of year instead? The holidays are over, we survived another year. Allow yourself time to sit in a warm cozy spot and reflect on what you have learned and how you have grown. Taking time to get things in order around your home on those long winter days when it is too cold to get outside. This is a time of preparation and self-care. Instead of wishing the remaining winter months away, embrace them. Allow yourself to rest and relax, this is not being lazy. Planning a garden for Spring, cleaning out closets and reorganizing, reading those books on your to be read list, learning a new skill while spending so many days indoors. Wintering is a time when nature is resting and preparing and we can learn from this process. Allowing ourselves time to slow down and be still in both mind and body. Cozy, calm, and quiet moments can be spent journaling or shared with family and friends over a hardy meal. Accepting that Winter is necessary for our minds and bodies give yourself this time to slow down and just be in the moment.
Everything that crosses our path in life can have an impact. A book, a song, a warm fire in the fireplace, a cozy blanket, a smile, a good meal….I could go on and on but I think you get the point. It has been about 6 months since my last entry. It was not by choice but more that life has just pulled me away from writing. I have missed coming here and sharing what I have learned about myself and the world around me. I have had many wonderful adventures in the last 6 months and had my share of personal struggles. Probably the biggest struggle came earlier this week. As a fairly new therapist I have navigated my internship, then my practicum but only been under my supervision as full time therapist for about a year now. In this first year I have experienced all types of counseling, from children to elderly and the full spectrum of diagnosis. I work with only the Medicaid population so I have had the opportunity to learn from people of all walks of life.
This last week I had a moment with a client that shook me. I am strong and have a pretty clear idea of my morals, values, and beliefs but when a person threatens you for the first time after months of working with them, it can cause you to question some things. When you watch a person literally become someone else in front of your eyes it is hard not to ask…is this controlled or uncontrolled, is this a choice or are they not aware of what is happening and what they are saying and doing, do I stay and sit in this moment or should I remove myself from this situation….I pride myself on my ability to stay calm, cool and collected under most circumstances. On the surface I was able to in this situation, but it did have an impact bigger than I even realized in that moment. I know these experiences in my first year as full time counselor will teach me many useful things moving forward in my career. Seeing up to 8 clients a day for an hour at a time and listening to trauma and sadness, and worries day after day can take a toll. I felt that toll to the fullest the day I was threatened in great verbal detail and watched a client talk and behave in a way he had not for the 6 months before. A deeper understanding and knowing was awakened within me. Knowing that I can help and I can guide and I can listen and we can prescribe all the right medications but if the individual does not want the help, guidance, listening ear or the medications we have to be willing to set boundaries and let them go. All choices have consequences.
Each event or situation will illicit a thought, with each thought there is an emotion, and with that emotion you have a choice on how to respond, and with your response comes a behavior. Often I see people responding from an emotional mind instead of a wise mind which can lead to saying and doing things we regret. We can easily identify the emotion or feeling and the automatic response but what happens when you start identifying the thought behind the feeling and what happens when we start evaluating alternative choices instead of automatic behaviors? This awareness is when change can begin. Unfortunately, there are times when other things must be factored in that go beyond unhealthy habitual responses. Mental Health is a vast and complicated subject that can take on so many forms. Mental health is unique to each one of us and I realize no matter how many clients I see, books I read or seminars I attend….I will never be able to understand or help everyone. Trusting my own gut instinct and setting my own healthy boundaries is me practicing what I preach to all my clients. Deciding to no longer see a client feels wise in some aspects and heartbreaking in another. Still learning and growing in my craft…
Recently I have encountered a situation that caused me to really reflect on myself and how I handle conflict. As a counselor I think about all types of conflict on a daily basis, from family, relationships, and especially internal conflicts. In this particular situation I had a family member contact me through messenger on Facebook about a post I had made days before. This family member rarely ever speaks to me and we have not seen each other in person for years. So when I when I first read the message I was confused by the question because it was about a humorous post and where I got it. They did not ask how I had been or what had been going on in my life. This person started off the message with “hey cuz”, and had contacted me in this manner before in reference to a book I had shared on social media. I remembered the song and dance of how they just wanted to question me and tell me their views on how I was wrong for liking the book or the author of the book because of their personal beliefs on the author. Speaking in condescending language, and this time was no different.
I made a choice in that moment to simply not engage, at least not in the form of debate or confrontation. I tried to change the subject and ask how he had been and how was life and explain that I prefer not to have those types of conversations on social media or through messenger. It was so odd to be asked such a random question and I wanted a family member vibe, not to feel like I was being trolled on social media. I figured if they were only going to reach out to me a couple of times a year and both were to engage in confrontation then maybe it was my job to respond differently if I wanted to feel better about it. Sadly, this attempt to connect backfired and I was left feeling misunderstood and realized this person did not care to know me. Even though this person is family, they do not know me, my character or my values and beliefs, and they made no attempt to know me. It was obvious they were making assumptions about me and had just set out to judge and teach a lesson. By the end of the brief interaction I was left defeated and a bit shocked. This is when I reflected on the many sessions I have had with clients on toxic people.
Often I have clients who encounter toxic people and too often these toxic people are their own family members. I have helped many work through the idea that sometimes, for our own mental health, we must make the choice to remove or at least distance ourselves from certain individuals and that includes family. It hurt my heart that my efforts to connect were rejected, but I quickly realized there would be no understanding or reasoning with this person. Two previous encounters had proved that the only effort made to connect with me was to teach me a lesson and talk down to me. The realization within myself left me feeling conflicted at first. I found myself reading over the conversation and questioning if I could have handled myself better. Finally, I realized that I had trusted my gut and in the end it had been right.
I knew from the beginning the intentions were not from a good place. Too often I see people trying to teach others a lesson from a place of superiority, without forming a connection first. Even as children we quickly learn that we must trust and feel safe and comfortable with a person before we can learn from them. What makes us think that will change as we grow older? I spend hours getting to know my clients before we transition into the homework and learning process of counseling. Any good teacher knows they must start as a student. To know a person is to love them and once the love is established then the meaningful conversations can begin. I feel fortunate that this is the first and only time I have encountered what I consider to be a toxic family member and I made the hard choice to remove them.
If you find yourself holding your breath in dread at the thought of being around certain individuals, or feeling drained and frustrated after encounters, then I encourage you to ask yourself if it is worth it. Setting healthy boundaries may be necessary at first, but if the negative vibes persist it is not worth your mental health to stay in an unhealthy relationship with anyone, even family. I hope by sharing my own experience that others may see that staying in it is not always necessary. I was able to walk away knowing I had tried my best but ultimately I have goals and vision for the type of life I want and those types of interactions are not a part of my vision.
With love, health, happiness (and strength to remove yourself from toxic relationships)
I have been hesitant to sit down and write for the last week. The level of change that has occurred in two weeks feels like a heavy wet blanket laying over me. Some grief has caught me in moments but I feel as if I am holding my breath, waiting for the full realization to wash over me and I want to be fully alone when it does. In the last 10 days I have experienced a wonderful vacation to Gatlinburg Tennessee that I planned weeks before. I was able to secure my first Airbnb and with my birthday just two days after Christmas, it was going to be the perfect 4 day weekend! A Smoky Mountain Christmas! Just 5 days before me and my new love were to leave on our trip I was notified that my last long term boyfriend of 4 years had died.
I was driving down the road when I read the news through a text message from a friend who was probably too scared and emotional to call me in person. He was only 54, and had just had a birthday in November. He worked out regularly and by all appearances look to be a very healthy guy. I was shocked and heart broken. We had broke up at the end of 2019 and finalized things with a trip to Gatlinburg of all places, in October of 2019. It was a friendly and mature breakup by most standards but the truth is, I was heart broken. I loved him and really struggled with the break-up. Over the next year life was full of struggle for me. I was completing my masters degree and trying to date as I watched him show up pretty quickly with someone new on his arm.
Let’s just say 2020 was not good. Between the pandemic, multiple failed attempts at moving on and dating someone new, and struggling through work and school… I was exhausted and just trying to heal. In 2021 all the change I had prayed so hard for in 2020 came in like a wrecking ball! I graduated with my masters degree, met a great guy from my home town, got a new job, moved back to my home town, sold my house, and watched my daughter get engaged. All the changes happened so fast but even the stress of it all was good stress with many positive outcomes. I was finally at a point in my life where I was not thinking about him on a regular basis and I had fully began to embrace the new life I was making when the news came.
Nobody prepares you for a loss like this. First of all, I know you may find this amazing, but at 43 years old I had managed to live my life without losing anyone really close to me. I mean, I have heard about school friends passing but they were not super close to me at the time of their death. This was someone I had shared pretty much a daily connection with for four years and we had only been apart for 2 years. I felt like I was losing him all over again. I also felt this weird sense of guilt because I have a wonderful new man in my life but here I am grieving and looking through all the memories of this man from my past. The mix of emotions is overwhelming and so hard to explain to someone who has not experienced it. The grief comes when I allow it but I have not fully allowed it yet. The services will be next week and I am trying to prepare myself for what I know will come.
It was bitter sweet and so very ironic to be vacationing in the last place I vacationed with him. It wasn’t planned that way but it felt almost like a tribute in my heart to say, yes I remember, even though it didn’t work out we had many good times. All the traveling we did together was amazing and he taught me a lot, in some ways about how I wanted to be and in others how I did not want to be. He wasn’t perfect but I think I am realizing that he loved me the best way he knew how. It feels ironic that he died from complications in his heart. It was easy to see in the four years that we had together, he was not always good at expressing deeper and more loving emotions. The heart chakra was definitely a bit wounded and blocked for him and I tried hard to figure out why with only bits and pieces revealed by him about his childhood.
After celebrating Christmas overlooking the Smoky Mountain tops and turning the big 44 sitting at a rooftop bar overlooking downtown Gatlinburg, I realize what an amazing adventure life can be. Every single person who touches our lives makes an impact and some even steal a piece of your heart forever. So today I am thankful…thankful for all of you who read my words, all who have touched my life, no matter how big or small. Thank you for making my life amazing and please remember to tell those you care about that you love them often. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I love you all!
I have been practicing law of attraction for a while now. The art of allowing, being grateful, tipping the scale of positivity to just 51% each day, and learning to ask for what I want and then believing. The focus would ebb and flow and I would find myself going through moments feeling stagnant, then feeling as if I was going backwards, but the real proof in the pudding was in the large leaps forward. I am a big believer in signs and have come to understand that trying to plan everything out or force it is not always the best way. We don’t have to know the details of when, where, or how because the universe will find a way. When the details start to unfold and the path becomes more clear it is almost surreal.
All the years of practicing, believing it is in process and already done, but when it starts falling into place it really is kind of hard to believe. I didn’t realize how each decision over the past year has lead me to where I am now. It amazes me how it all has come together. So many aspects of my dreams for the future from the time I was just becoming an adult woman at 18 continue to unfold for me even now, more than 25 years later. Have you thought about the dreams you had as a young person, the house, the job, the hobbies, the car, the things you wanted to have more of in life, the experiences you wanted to have, the type of person you wanted to be when you would imagine your life as an adult? Some things are not exactly how I expected and for that I am actually grateful, but in other areas of my life they are weirdly familiar and accurate.
I have often read (or heard) that law of attraction is like the law of gravity and it is constantly working regardless if we believe it or understand it. I think I am realizing this to be very true on a personal level because many of these dreams I had before I had even heard of law of attraction. I am excited about how my life has unfolded and even with all the ups and downs and struggles along the way I can say that there has definitely been more lessons learned, more growth, and more joy than anything. I am really at a point of self growth at this point in my life and enjoying everything life has to offer. I navigate struggles, stress, worry and heartache with a lot more understanding and grace than I used to.
Everything that I have learned in my education and career as a mental health counselor, along with my years in holistic healthcare, are now coming fully circle with my training to become a yoga teacher. All of my interests and practices compliment each other very nicely and help me realize that each point in life has truly been preparing me for the next. The ability to look back over my life and appreciate all the lessons and growth has brought a sense of peace to my heart and soul. I know that I am on the right path and everything I have worked so hard for is really starting to pay off. I feel truly grateful and content in this moment and time and I am looking forward to this new year to see what I am attracting into my path. I hope you all are able to reflect and find much to be thankful for as well.
Often people think having a fresh start means making drastic changes like quitting a job or moving to a new town. In the choice to move or quit they see an easy way to escape their problems. Unfortunately, those problems often follow, and in time they pop back up, sometimes even worse than before. Truly accomplishing a fresh start means tackling the problems head on and then, if needed to heal, a move may be necessary. The key is actually taking action towards the problem first, instead of running away from it, sweeping it under the rug, or just hoping it all goes away if you get far enough away from it.
I made some big moves this year and I had to be honest with myself recently with some of the choices I have made. I started a new relationship, took a new job, sold my house and returned to my very small home town that I left over 20 years ago. To say it has taken some adjusting to the change is an understatement. There are pros and cons to every decision we make in life and it is wise to assess those very carefully beforehand. My choice to move and start a new job did feel like a choice to make a fresh start but in that choice I also had to mentally and emotionally make peace with my choice. If you are not making peace with the past and accepting where you are in the present moment, then you will most likely be dragging a lot of the same issues with you to the future. No matter what big changes you make in an attempt to get that fresh start, it is most important to mentally prepare.
I have been on many little trips over the years and often found myself having conversations about how I would love to find a little place near water and live the simple life. I often dreamed of this when I would stay at a nice cabin for the weekend in places like Gatlinburg Tennessee or a cottage near the beach in Panama City Beach Florida or San Diego California. I even imagined what it would be like to have a small apartment in Manhattan New York when I visited. I knew I wanted a change and always thought it would be someplace new and very different from any place I had lived before. I found myself continually looking at little cabins or farmhouses the most and the dream begin to unfold more over the years. I knew I enjoyed more of the freshwater access with kayaking, fishing, swimming, and areas to hike. For some reason I never seriously considered returning to my hometown until this year.
It was the logical choice, to be closer to my parents as they are now in their late seventies. My brother is far away in the big land of Texas and still raising small children, my daughter is living on her own, in college, and engaged to be married. So I was in a better position to move closer and be around to care for my parents when the time comes. My small town also has a beautiful river that runs right through the middle of it, with ample access to boating, floating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and camping. I had roots here and all the things I traveled and dreamed of along with a job opening in the local Family Clinic where I could give back to the small community I grew up in. The decision to move to the actual process of making it all happen has taken less than 6 months and as of the first of the year everything will be complete. I will have moved, sold my house, and be a licensed therapist in the small clinic of the town I could not wait to leave more than 20 years ago!
This is my fresh start, where I will probably retire and live out the rest of my days. I will still travel and dream of other places but this is home for me, at least as long as my parents are still here. My fresh start is literally where it all initially started for me, kind of ironic. I have made peace with the longer drive to the grocery store and missing other conveniences of living in a bigger town. I think it was well worth the trade off to live out in the country with no neighbors visible from my porch. Where I can start a hike right from own driveway. Drive 15 minutes and drop my kayak in the water. Pay attention to where your mind takes you when you are dreaming of the future, life has a way of bringing things full circle. It is possible your fresh start has been right in front of you all along.
I have really worked to overcome a lot of fears this year. Some were of the mental and emotional sort and others more physical. I have done a lot of hiking this year and heights are not always easy for me, but I have pushed through the fear and felt really proud on the other side of it. I have watched my beautiful daughter go through the loss of a pregnancy and realized for the first time that Mom can’t make all the pain go away as easily as I did when she was little. I have been forced to be more patient with life and trust the process, allowing everything to fall into place as the universe sees fit. I can honestly say, I have grown more in this year than I have maybe in my whole life. That is kind of amazing to admit considering I will be 44 years old next month.
I read in a book, (I believe it was Think and Grow Rich) that many people hit a point of increased wisdom, understanding, growth and success in their lives once they reach their forties. That stuck with me when I read it because it seems to be very true in my case. The book went on to mention many famous men and women who accomplished great things in their forties and beyond. It is never too late to learn something new, go back to school, follow a dream, or climb a mountain! Often, we put ourselves in a box after we reach a certain age. We create unnecessary boundaries for ourselves stating we are too old, or not as athletic as we used to be. We stop pushing ourselves out of the comfort zone and that is when the growth opportunities begin to wain. It is so easy to allow ourselves to get comfortable in life and just coast. However, eventually you will start to feel like something is missing in your life.
Challenge yourself to try new things and overcome fears. That feeling of something missing is our human desire to have adventure, grow and learn, be the best versions of ourselves. Sometimes life will force us to grow by bringing in loss or tragedy in some shape or form. Maybe a loss of a loved one, a relationship, or a job. These are all things that force us to grow in some way and learn something new about ourselves. Reflect on your life and what growth opportunities are being presented to you in this moment. Are you stagnant and just going through life like a hamster on a wheel or have you found new ways to challenge yourself?
Some down time is needed in life and we do not always have to be in challenge mode but it is never good to get too comfortable. Too comfortable leads to boredom and we all know the famous saying, idle hands is the devils playground. Choose healthy challenges in life before you succumb to boredom and start eating more, stay on your electronics for hours, sleep the day away, find unhealthy distractions like gossiping, social media, or an affair. Often these things come about when people say “something was missing in my life” and don’t take positive action to figure it out. Be proactive while navigating your path in life and continue to challenge yourself. Continue overcoming fears, pursuing dreams, and challenging yourself whenever the opportunity presents itself. The growth opportunities are endless and the rewards are great.
With love, health, happiness, and positive growth…
On this rainy November 11th morning I find myself reflecting on how much has happened to me this year. I think a friend of mine said it best, you have lived 3 years worth of life in this year. Completing my masters, starting a new relationship, moving, selling my house, starting a new job, traveling more, my daughter announcing her engagement and then her pregnancy, paying off debt and investing in my retirement more. I have worked hard to get to this point in my life. I am thankful for many things as I reflect over the year and watch the leaves float gently from the trees outside my window. Sometimes I find myself getting impatient and caught up in the end goals and I have to catch myself and remind myself it will all work out as it is supposed, when it is supposed to.
I believe one of the best things a person can do consistently in life is stop and take a moment to not just reflect on the past but ask yourself if the path you on is still the path you want. Maybe you have strayed far from the original path and haven’t even taken the time to notice. Maybe you never even had a path in the first place! Reassessing where you are in the present moment is important because our lives are constantly changing. You as a person are learning and growing and with that comes change. Your goals and hopes and dreams may not even be the same as they were a year ago. When a relationship ends, a job changes, a new relationship starts, you move to a new home or a new city or town, this can all change the plans you had before. So reassess what is important to you and rest with it for a bit. Ask yourself what feels exciting and speaks to your soul. It is okay to let go of old dreams and create new ones. It does not mean you failed in any way by letting go of dreams you had of fixing up a home or growing old in it because you decided to sell it and move. It does not mean you failed if you divorced or ended a relationship and now your dreams no longer include a partner. Clearing your head and heart of those hopes and dreams can be bittersweet sometimes but holding on to the past is not healthy. It is good to reflect on the good for growth and learning, reassess where you are in this present moment and then hit the reset button.
No wallowing allowed! After you reassess and start to gain a clear idea on where you want to go from here it is important to accept it and commit to positive action. I call this reset. When I reset I feel like I am hitting the reset button on life with a clear and conscious path. It removes all the clutter of the past and goals that may no longer be serving me. We often get stuck on auto pilot, pushing forward with dreams and goals that we set years ago believing that we are failing some how if we don’t see them to completion. The real question you should be asking yourself is, does this bring me joy? Am I still excited about this goal or plan for my future? Does this still fit my lifestyle and the person I want to be? If no, then let it go! A fresh start is something everyone needs every now and then and boy does it feel good!
I have been stuck in a pattern of what feels like “hurry up and wait”. Waiting on graduation, moving day, selling my house, closing on my house, waiting on my license application to process, waiting on my start date with my job….that hurried feeling of wanting it to be over and done with so I can get on with my life. I had to keep reminding myself to enjoy the present moment and that it would all work out in time. So as we move forward into the holiday season I encourage you to take inventory of your own life and ask yourself if you are fully present and fully invested in the goals you are working towards? Are you living the life you want in this present moment and if not, what can you to take action in your daily life to make changes to get you on that path? Reflect, Reassess, and Reset is a great way to start preparing for the new year!
Everyone has moments in life that bring forth feelings of fear. I have experienced fear a lot in my life, especially in this last year. I felt fear when taking all my final exams for college, licensure, and certification. I felt fear when I started a relationship with a new man. I felt fear when I decided to leave my job and accept a new one in a new town. I felt fear when I put my house up for sale and moved in with the new man in life. I felt fear while trying to complete all my paperwork correctly for my PLPC and the supervision application. I have felt fear in the waiting for everything to move forward and fall into place because I am not the most patient person. It is hard to let life flow naturally and not push or force it. The fear causes me to want to rush things and just get to where I think I should be in order to feel stable, but the truth is, sometimes when we push things it just causes the time to move slower.
I know the universe knows what I want and the more I worry and doubt the more the resistance builds and the longer it takes. The struggle is rooted in the fear. So how do I let go of the fear? How do I trust that everything will move into place as it is suppose to? How do I let go of the worry and doubt and just enjoy life in the moment? It takes practice and self-awareness. When I start to feel frustrated or even panicky about things and the pressure seems to be building, I take a deep breath and repeat the mantra, everything is always working out for me. I take the time to meditate or write out a description of what life looks like for me after everything falls into place. I focus on how far I have come and give thanks for all the good in my life in this very moment.
It is easy to let your mind and body react to fear and if you just stay on auto pilot, the worry and doubts will take you down the rabbit hole. Then, before you know it, you are feelings anxious, depressed, and sick. Addressing fear starts with practicing good coping skills, self-awareness, and pulling yourself back into the present moment. Worry puts the focus on the past and the future, things we cannot change or things that have not even happened yet. Allow yourself to just focus on what you can do in the moment that pushes you closer to your goals and the type of person you ultimately want to be long term. Not a temporary fix or relief like drugs, alcohol, food, careless spending, random sexual encounters, gambling, or countless other escapes. Often these escapes feel good in the moment but only exacerbate the problem and take you further from your goals and the true self.
In what areas of your life is fear holding you back? Are you practicing good coping skills, self-awareness, and staying present or are you allowing yourself to go down the rabbit hole of worry and doubt? Take time to reflect on how you are feeling and what you can do to help yourself reduce the stress in life by attacking the fear through good practices. It is good to check in with yourself daily, mentally, emotionally, and physical and begin to keep notes on how you uniquely react to fear and stress because it can be very different for everyone. There are no cookie cutter symptoms. Once you become more aware, you can catch it earlier and begin a more preventative and maintenance protocol through the coping skills, self-awareness, and being present.
Many times in life we focus on what is right in front of us, which may include things we don’t want for ourselves. We become so focused on the misery of the moment that we lose sight of the bigger picture. The desired goal seems so far away. This is when we must be self-aware and remind ourselves that we are focusing too much on the negative and we must back away from the whole situation. Control seems to be a big issue with many of my clients. They want to know who, when, what, where, and how things will happen or change for them. This is not always possible. Learning to accept things in the moment and find something to be grateful for, (even if very small) is the best way to change the flow. Just tipping the scale to the positive side just to 51% is all it takes.
If you ask for what you want and then just sit there tapping your foot getting frustrated that it isn’t happening you are not helping the situation. Ask it, believe it is done, and then go on about your day doing things that bring you joy and don’t think about it again. I admit this has been a struggle for me and I am actually going through this process in my life right now. I am learning to just accept and allow and not have it all figured out. I am learning that the more I look for ways to find joy in my day the better my life will flow in my desired direction. I do my best not to talk about negative relationships of my past when I discuss dating with my friends. I do my best to only think of the things I enjoyed about each person and how I would like to have those things in a future relationship. I look for things I love, things I enjoy, people I care about, things that make me laugh and smile, and I just surround myself with feelings of comfort. Some days this is easier than others but when things do get hard I find that counting my blessings, no matter how small, that can tip the scale in my favor. From running water and indoor plumbing to my daughter and my pets, I am grateful for many things in my life.
We must learn to ask and then allow. Not try to force it, figure it out, and control it, and beg and plead, just have faith and allow it to flow to you. I often use the visualization technique called leaves on a stream. I picture myself walking down a beautiful hiking path and coming upon a stream. The colorful fall leaves float down from the trees and land on the stream. As thoughts of negativity try to creep into my mind I lay them on the leaves and watch them float away getting smaller and smaller. This helps diffuse my mind from the negativity of the moment and allows me to make room in my mind for more important and positive thoughts. Its accepting the thoughts and not trying to stop them but allowing yourself to have the thought and understanding that our thoughts are not facts and they do not define us. Acceptance and allowing life to flow while being flexible with your thoughts and feelings takes practice but in time you will start to realize that we are often making it much harder than it needs to be.