Thursday, August 1, 2013


Listening to the sounds of Mickey Mouse, watching my 2 year old run around the house, waiting on hold with our bank for what seems like forever, I read a blog post titled Going The Distance.  The author is celebrating her 36th wedding anniversary.  In today's day and age of starter marriages and quickie divorces, 36 years may seem like a lifetime. 

I've noticed a trait among successful marriages that I think the author does a good job of touching upon.  People who are happily and successfully married put their spouses first.  They spend the time to make their spouse feel important.  They go out of their way to tell their spouse they love them and they tell them often.  They don't hold grudges.  They learn to hold their tongues and they hold them often.  They praise their spouse.  They are partners in all areas of life. They recognize that loving their spouse and loving them publicly teaches their children how to grow up and have their own happy, successful marriages. 

On the flip side I've noticed a trait among those people who appear to be unhappily married.  They disagree or fight publicly and in front of their children.  They hold grudges.  They give each other the silent treatment.  They don't let go of past mistakes.  They put themselves and their own needs first.  They complain about their spouse to anyone who will listen.  They never praise their spouse.  They treat their spouse like one of their children.

The kind of relationship you have with your spouse directly correlates to the kind of relationship your children grow up to have with their spouses.  It's never too late to change the relationship you have with your spouse.  Each day is a chance to show your spouse how much you love them and cherish them.  Don't let today end without your spouse knowing how important they are in your life.      

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


You would never tell a friend she was fat or he was stupid or that they couldn't do something and yet many people spend a majority of their day telling themselves exactly those kinds of things.  We walk around with all this negative self talk clogging up our heads.  If we wouldn't tell our friends those things, then why is it acceptable to say them to ourselves?

It shouldn't be acceptable.  Negative self talk can hold us back in life and keep us from pursuing the kind of life we truly want to lead.

Positive affirmations can turn that around.  It may sound silly, but standing in front of the mirror several times a day and repeating positive affirmations out loud can combat that negative self talk.

Write down 3 to 5 positive affirmations and tape them up on your mirror so that you see them as you get ready for work and bed.  Say them out loud as you look at yourself in the mirror.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

I am smart.

I am kind.

I can be anything I want to be.

I am worthy of love.

What affirmations will you use?  What kind of person could you be without negative self talk clogging up your head?  Serenity Counseling Online wants to know.  Comment on this post on our Facebook page

Saturday, July 13, 2013

If I Loved You

You don't get married expecting to get divorced.  When you are young and in love you can't even imagine the fairytale ending...unless you go into marriage knowing you are marrying the wrong person.  

My first husband is a good person.  He was a good husband.  He would've been a good father.  There was nothing wrong.  

Except that there was.  

I know that he didn't understand what the wrong was.  If I had been a stronger person I would've called off the wedding.  I wasn't at that time in my life.  I knew what a good person he was and I thought that the love would come.  

I went to counseling.  I cried.  I rebelled and basically acted like a teenager.  At 25 years old I wanted to go out with my friends.  I wasn't ready to be married.  He was.  

The more he tried to connect with me, to be the person he thought I wanted, the worse I acted.  I drank too much, I cried too much, I was mean, I hated myself.  

For a long time I blamed myself.  

Delta Rae's song If I Loved You is the music to what I went through and wish I could've voiced during my first marriage.  If I had those words then maybe he would've understood.  

It is better to hurt someone you care about then to spend years with the wrong person.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Weight Loss After Baby

I just had a baby 3 weeks ago.  I didn't work out during my pregnancy and my body has lost muscle tone.  My stomach is flabby and covered in stretch marks.  I've been eating like my only job in life is to consume sugar and fat and as a result my toddler has not been eating as good as she should be.  I don't want to be an overweight mom with overweight kids.  I want my kids to be healthy.

Last night I had an epiphany.  I only had a baby 3 weeks ago.  I can't work out yet.  I don't have to hate myself or talk negatively to myself or feel bad about myself.

But (and this is a big but)...

I can make better food choices.  I can be kind to myself.  I can eat fruit for breakfast and stop eating cookies every night after dinner and eat more vegetables and stop buying junk food.

And (and this is a big and)...

I have been eating more fruit and vegetables and not eating cookies after dinner and, although I haven't given up my Starbucks, I have been using less sugar in my coffee and I have been practicing portion control and I have been kinder to myself.

I've found in doing these small things that I feel good and that makes it easier to say no to that cookie.

What changes are you making to lead a healthier lifestyle?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Post Partum Anxiety/Depression

According to the Center for Disease Control 2008 PRAM report approximately 15% of post partum women will experience post partum depression, post partum anxiety/OCD, and post partum psychosis.  Given that there are approximately 6.4 million clinically recognized pregnancies each year that means approximately 950,000 women will experience some form of PPD.

How many women experiencing some form of PPD don't ask for help?  After the birth of my first daughter it took me more than a month to recognize that what I was feeling wasn't normal.  Only after talking to a close friend who had gone through PPD did I contact my doctor for help and I was so glad that I did.  She put me on a low dose of Zoloft, which we increased when my husband deployed, and I stayed on it until my daughter was about 10 1/2 months old.

With the recent birth of my second daughter, I didn't want to take any chances.  I know that there is a greater risk of experiencing PPD a second time as well as the added stress of having a second child.  I spoke with my doctor before my daughter's birth and she started me on Zoloft right in the hospital.

Are anti-depressants fast acting?  Not really.  You have to wait for a therapeutic dose to build up in your system; however, each day I start to feel a little better.  This time there hasn't been the uncontrolled crying that I experienced the first time.  My anxiety occurs only in specific situations such as when the baby is in the carseat and I have to check constantly to make sure she is breathing.  Although there are times when I just plain feel anxious.  My heart races, my chest feels tight, and I just feel uncomfortable and restless.  For myself, I try to remain calm, talk myself through it, and wait for it to pass because it does pass.  Eventually.

PPD is more than the baby blues.  According to WebMD, baby blues are " A certain amount of insomnia, irritability, tears, overwhelmed feelings, and mood swings are normal during the first days after childbirth. These "baby blues" usually peak around the fourth postpartum day and subside in less than 2 weeks, when hormonal changes have settled down. If you have postpartum blues after childbirth, you're not alone-more than half of women have temporary mildsymptoms of depression mixed with feelings of happiness after having a baby." 

While PPD, "Symptoms of postpartum depression can follow postpartum blues. They can feel like more of the same or can feel worse than before. Postpartum depression can also happen months after childbirth or pregnancy loss. In some cases, symptoms peak after slowly building for 3 or 4 months. Possible PPD symptoms require evaluation by a doctor.
If you have postpartum depression, you have had five or more depressive symptoms (including one of the first two listed below) for most of the past 2 weeks, including:1,2
  • Depressed mood-tearfulness, hopelessness, and feeling empty inside, with or without severe anxiety.
  • Loss of pleasure in either all or almost all of your daily activities.
  • Appetite and weight change-usually a drop in appetite and weight but sometimes the opposite.
  • Sleep problems-usually trouble with sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping.
  • Noticeable change in how you walk and talk-usually restlessness, but sometimes sluggishness.
  • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, with no reasonable cause.
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
  • Thoughts about death or suicide. Some women with PPD have fleeting, frightening thoughts of harming their babies. These thoughts tend to be fearful thoughts, rather than urges to harm."

If you or someone you know is experiencing PPD please reach out to your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or someone you trust for help.  Having a baby is stressful enough without feeling your best emotionally and mentally.  

Serenity Counseling Online is also available to help support new parents manage feelings of anxiety and stress.  Contact us now for more information.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How to Say Goodbye to a Pet

Yesterday we had to take our 13 year old chihuahua Beast to the vet. I had gotten Beast from a breeder when he was a puppy. He was my baby before I had babies. 

Over breakfast we joked about getting Beast a tiny oxygen mask and tiny oxygen tank. We didn't know what was wrong with him, other than a hacking cough, but given his age I already had decided that we wouldn't go crazy with expensive treatments. 

We got to the vet and he examined both our dogs (our boxer has had some stomach issues). He heard Beast cough and initially thought maybe pneumonia, but after listening to his heart and lungs thought congestive heart failure. He wanted to do X-rays and we agreed. 

The tech said it would take awhile. It was 1:18 so we could go run an errand and be back at 2. We left to run errands. I didn't say goodbye. 

When we returned I ran inside to pick up the dogs and pay. The woman at the front desk led me back into an examining room and I knew something was wrong. I thought maybe the vet was going to say he suspected cancer. He came in and said how sorry he was, that Beast had died during the X-ray, that they had tried to revive him, but weren't successful. He thought that Beast had a heart attack or blood clot. My hands covered my mouth in shock as I started to cry. 

He asked if I wanted to see him and brought me in back. Beast was wrapped in a blanket. He looked relaxed, peaceful. We talked about cremation as I pet his head and cried. 

I paid and the tech helped me outside. my husband saw me coming with just Sasha and got out of the car. The tech told him. 

We got back to the hotel and my daughter kept saying, "Where's Beasty? Where's my Beasty?" She ran all over the hotel room looking for him. We explained that he was in heaven and she asked if heaven was fun. We said very. 

This morning she woke up and asked, "Where's Beast?" We told her heaven. 

Saying goodbye to an old friend is never easy. I can only remember all the times I've been impatient with him over the last 2 years. I know I gave Beast a good life. I wish I had treated him better since we had our daughter. Dogs don't ask for babies to come along. I need to remember that a pet only asks for our love. 

Telling your children their beloved pet is gone requires patience and repetition. Our daughter is too young to understand and that's okay.  Although hearing her ask where Beast is breaks my heart, I know that it's my job as the parent to tell her.  It's also okay that she sees me cry and knows that I miss Beast.  She is learning empathy.  It's okay to grieve the loss of a pet.  They are family.  As hard as it can be to let them go, sometimes you have to.  We decided to have Beast cremated and will scatter his ashes somewhere close to us.  The vet's office is also making a paw print for us.  Other pets I've lost I've buried in the yard and planted flowers.  Decide what is meaningful for your family and what works best for your situation.  Teaching your children have to grieve in a healthy manner is an important part of life.  Holding on to your grief, not dealing with loss is never healthy.     

RIP Beast. Mommy loves you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tragedy in Boston

As we watch the news tonight and hear the stories unfold of today's tragedy in Boston, let us not forget that we are resilient.  Let us use this tragedy to keep our own lives in perspective and to remain ever grateful for the blessings in our lives.

We can continue to move towards a better future, we can work to promote peace and hope in our lifetimes.

If you find yourself struggling, reach out to someone and let them know you need help.  There's no shame in asking for help.

Let us keep each other, and the people of Boston, in our prayers.