Taking My Chance

“To Risk”

by William Arthur Ward

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

The pessimist complains about the wind;

The optimist expects it to change;

And the realist adjusts the sails.

Mr. Ward beautifully penned the fortuity in being human. A dance of longings mixed with gambles taken to feel, to love, to belong, to in essence be free. The freedom to self-actualize. Maslow considered self-actualization as the top tier in the human needs rungs. Unfortunately, our emotional scars often make us afraid to take a risks.

Childhood often is the breeding ground for emotional scars that loom over into adulthood. Adulthood is filled with opportunities for an array of predicaments. How shall we self-actualize with these quandaries?

Accepting yourself; which is no small task. Forgive yourself understanding that mistakes are simply growth opportunities. Grant yourself time to mourn over the unrealized dreams. Quite the your inner critic. Offer yourself and to others compassion.

Living mindfully aware. Awareness ushers a sense of realism.  Realism in being in the moment, fully present and in tune to the here and now.  Realism that becomes an art in not being judgmental but opening up the door to  curiosity.

Live true to your values. Make a list of what is important in you life along with negotiable and nonnegotiable.

Laugh. Endorphins hormones are secreted  when we laugh signalling our brain to tell our bodies, relax. Endorphins are associated with exercise; perhaps, we can take the liberty to say laughter is a type of exercise.

To Risk or To Risk Not. The challenge is on  to take a chance toward being  Our Best Selves Yet.

Note: The risk identified in this writing is not one of recklessness, for to live as such is a contradictions to freedom.

Carpe Diem,



Desperation of Loneliness

Where does loneliness take you? Does it take you to on line dating? Does it take you to overusing substances? Does it take you to isolation? Does it take you to depression? Does it take you to low-self esteem? Sitting with the sene of desperation often drags you down to places you would rather not venture. We are after all social creatures who desire, no need social interaction.

Brain science informs us of that the need for social interaction is real.  Deprived of human contact, many individuals  begin to feel rejected, empty, abandoned,  and emotionally distressed.  Research has uncovered  a neuron located in the back of our brain called the Dorsal Raphe Nucleus (DRN). DRN happens to  be a Dopamine neuron. Dopamine we recognize as a neurotransmitter that  helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. And then we have good old Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and his insight suggesting the human need to belong and love. So what am I saying? The feeling of loneliness is real. It’s not just you being needy!

So what path has loneliness taken you? It took me to on-line dating. I do know of two couples who met on line and married. Another couple is engaged. For me, I end up feeling rejected or judgmental. I find people don’t read the profile and or lie. I don’t get it. Why post a picture of yourself 20 years ago when you are going to meet that person in person!  Or they start talking to you and ghost you. Where is the courtesy? My favorite has been the one, after I reached out to end the contact telling me that it seemed I wanted a traditional relationship and that’s not what they wanted. Wait? Did you not read my profile? That’s enough venting. Someone should write a book on the protocol of on-line dating. Perhaps someone already has and I have not read the book.

Paths I have taken to overcome loneliness have been many. I have learned I don’t like waking up the next morning with a hangover and throwing up because I drank to fit into the crowd or numb the loneliness away. As you can tell I have taken some not so smart paths.  However, I am awake now and in the awareness for human connection I want to feed my DRN.   I have uncovered the best way to feed my DRN  is with self-care and compassion. Yes, I have the longing to connect however I will not allow myself to go down the path of desperation. Desperation gives undertones to hopelessness.  I am not hopeless. I have value. I have gifts. I have talents. I am worthy of respect and to be loved.  If that amazing person should come into my life that will make two amazing people. If they don’t show up there still remains one amazing person, me.

Carpe Diem,




The Pain in Being a Helper

Who is not in the business of impacting another’s life? From the cashier to the pizza delivery person. We all impact another’s life. Yet, those in the front line often experience what in the mental health field is called vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, or secondary victimization. We will go with compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue  is characterized by the  some of the following symptom (not an inclusive list):

• Free floating anger and/or irritation, over-eating or under-eating,
difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, dreaming about their clients/their clients’ trauma experiences, diminished joy toward things they once enjoyed, feeling trapped by their work, diminished feelings of satisfaction and personal accomplishment, feelings of hopelessness associated with their work/clients, blaming others, overwork, irritability,  exhaustion, staff conflict, blaming others, poor communication, withdrawal and isolation from colleagues, apathy, blaming others, lack of appreciation,  lack of interest and caring, worried about not doing enough.

The nature of job demands your all. Essential to the field is the ability and capacity of self care. Self care is often spoken about;yet, I often fail to see implemented. Three suggestions for self care. 1. Get a massage or some type of body word done. 2. Eat a healthy diet 3. Keep your perspective. The three points appears simple, however, the reality is that they are seldom practiced.
I encourage you reading to put into practice exercise that will keep your mind fresh and not bogged down. Share your load. You were not meant to carry the load alone. I recently saw Justice League interesting is that the team was not as effective without Superman. Find your superman and let him help you carry the load. You’re doing a great job; but, the load is getting heavy. Just as we want to see those we help grow strong we have to be the proverbial strong to be able to give. We cannot give from an empty vessel.

Se si pude, but why would you want by yourself. We are better together!

Carpe Diem

Emotional Baggage

These days with the airlines charging us for luggage we have become more selective in what we pack and how we pack. Interesting that we are not so selective on the emotional baggage which carries a greater personal cost. The baggage conceals itself wrapped with words of justification or behaviors that ushers in the past. When the worlds of past and present  collide manifestations of  disruptive behaviors, poor frustration tolerance, depression, anxiety, poor concentration, apathy, relationship problems, addictions, medical problems and other struggles in our future.

Trauma is a subjective horrific event either experienced or witnessed that appears to impair the individuals capacity to deal with the event. There are some “things” that happen to us that are not traumatic; yet, the events can have trauma like impacts. Either of these or both of these are what are often found in our emotional baggage.

At the airport the baggage is weighed.  I have seen where the baggage is too heavy and the traveler tries to lighten the load by taking things out and stuffing items into other bags.  Our emotional baggage gets heavy and we get triggered and act out  without knowing why we are reacting with intense emotions.

What helps lighten the baggage? Social support, Personal temperament, Survival orientation,  and of course therapy. I have met with many courageous clients with amazing triceps and somatic sensations and or physical aliments because they have been  carrying around their over stuffed bags.

It is uncomfortable when we start unpacking. In fact it is at times it feels overwhelming. Maybe it’s better carrying around the load? No. It is not.  The pain of discomfort is worth the process of unpacking with the end result  of living free from the past and living free to embrace the best life yet!

Carpe Diem

That Thing

What’s “That Thing” that gets in the way. “That Thing” in which your pride exudes with luster. “That thing” that you just don’t want to re-experience. Most likely it has to do with people. What I have observed most often it is that in them which reflects back as insecurity or judgement.

I was speaking to a individual , let’s call him Edwardo, who at least in his eyes is  accomplished. I certainly would not challenge Edwardo on that subjective aspect.  Edwardo feels a sense of pride that he has become all this and more on his own merit. Possibly. His family is distant both geographically and emotionally. The distance I understood as mutual.

Edwardo speaks of his family as dysfunctional and with disdain. My question is who would Edwardo be without his family? Having a family without our consent creates emotional ties and patterns that influences one another’s behavior. Family systems pioneers such as Dr. Murray Bowen, Salvador Minuchin, Jay Haley, Milton Erickson and or Cloe Madanes,  would have their perspectives on the dysfunctional family interlocking dynamics.  I sum them up humbly in saying, our family influences our character.

We don’t want to give family members that credit, I understand. I have a few cutoffs in my family with triangles being form to create a bands of unity. I have read quotes that families are blessings, how important they are, how family is a unique gift. Let me tell you, not all family are blessings or gifts. Some are cruel and heartless. In that hardness one finds tenacity and creates resiliency.  Would we go up to those in our family that have hurt us and say; “Thanks your lack of love or the pain you caused in my life made me this person I am today.”

Who would Edwardo be without his family roots. Edwardo could not be who is is if not for his family with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I appreciate the quote by Steve Southerland that reads: I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.

Edwardo grew. I too have grown. I have grown in the way that although my childhood was filled with dysfunctional inclusive of  alcoholism,  sexually abused, emotional cutoffs, parentification and other not so great happenings I have chosen to grow and hold grudges. My parents were good enough parents despite the mayhem. My siblings, well let’s say we each had to protect ourselves – and that we did.

I do believe if forgiveness. If  possible forgive. Forgive not the actions; more so, forgive the person, they were trying to survive (however dysfunctional). That forgiveness does not have to mean placing yourself back in situations that were harmful before and have capacity to be harmful today. We are adults today with the capacity to choose to live beyond the memories of yesterday that we had stored behind the wall for protection.

What’s that thing that gets in the way? Oh, it’s me! It’s how I think that influencing how I feel that is impacting  my behavior and many times my health. I invite you to explore “that thing” and be free to live you best life yet.

Carpe Diem.

Learning Curve of Personalities

People and Personalities. Every where we go we are wittiness to both people and personalities for after all personalities is a reflected from the person. At a meeting I recently attended I took inventory of the personalities in the room. Okay full disclosure at some point the meeting became, at least for me, unproductive so I had to entertain myself someway. Back to personalities.

The first individual, whom we will call Jose, sat taking it in what was being shared though obviously disagreeing with what was being said. Jose makes several comments about how things were becoming complicated. Several times during the meeting Jose would look across the room and make eye contact with another person and nod his head side to side as if exasperated. We shall  call Jose Cool Cucumber.

Another person, whom we will call Silva,  interjects respectfully; yet, does not hesitate to identify those with which they do not agree. Silva is passive aggressive  disposition comes to life when she can no longer make as if new demands are not bothering her and becomes verbally softly aggressive.

Teresa now, she can be different. Teresa appears confident in herself and for sure is one of the Alpha’s in the room. Teresa often does not let others complete their thoughts before interrupting because she knows best.  Teresa has good intentions though by many is seen as insensitive,  bossy, and unsympathetic.

Then we have Margaret who was suppose to be running the meeting. Although at times the meeting was being run by one of the Big  Three mentioned in this writing.  Margaret  know her stuff, no I believe Jose , Silva, and Teresa don’t have a vote of confidence for Margaret because of a managerial style.

I sat observing the dynamics within this group and came up with several take away:

  1. Be aware of where I am going to sit
  2. We all have a voice; it is important when to use the voice.
  3. Just because I have an opinion doesn’t mean I have to share
  4. Drink Water
  5. Respect is essential to listening and hearing
  6. Fidget when necessary
  7. Be Comfortable in your own skin
  8. Listening is easy
  9. Hearing is not easy when we are already thinking of a response
  10. Mindfulness shift thoughts toward awareness

The meeting ended two hours later. One hour to long for my liking; however, I learned my lesson well. What life lesson will you learn today?

“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The
willingness to learn is a choice.”

 Brian HerbertHouse Harkonnen

Carpe Diem,


Rescuing Self

Rescuing happens when recognizing the value of that which is in danger outweighs being a bystander. I think of the First Responders such as law enforcement, firefighters, our men and women in uniform and many others that stand in the front lines to help. Thank you for First Responders!

Who rescues those who quietly are in danger, in danger of losing themselves to drugs, alcohol, suicide, to an unhealthy relationship, to not being able to say no, to loneliness,  to food, to hopelessness?  You name the addiction and or the affliction?  I wonder what do you see when you look in the mirror or are you like an acquaintance  I knew who had not mirrors in their home because they couldn’t stand to look at themselves. I wonder who will rescue us if we don’t start the process of rescuing ourselves.

Far too often the courage to rescue ourselves doesn’t come until we hit the proverbial rock bottom. What keeps us living in this silent danger? Fear? Shame? Guilt? Repeated disappointment? Pride? I have heard people say, “Well the Bible says God helps those who help themselves.” As a Biblical Study major the Bible does not say that-just to set that record straight.  However a point can be made that  until “those” recognize they are in danger they cannot find the resources to help them out of the danger.

Rescuing Self

It takes courage to be a First Responder. It takes courage in being a First Responder for Yourself. I want to tell you that YOU HAVE VALUE AND THAT YOU MATTER. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress has been you  are still way ahead of those who  have stopped trying or those who have never tried.

Rescuing yourself first starts by finding that mirror and looking courageously into the mirror and asking yourself: What do I see?  When you get the answer no matter the answer offer yourself compassion. You have been resilient regardless of life’s curve balls (Baseball season just started).  Don’t give up on yourself. Remember when you…….and if you haven’t….. remember what you dreamed of doing.  Rescuing starts when you recognize value in the object that is in danger.

A nine year old client shared with me how they thought going to therapy was for crazy people. “I’m not crazy. I heard some adults say that. I am not crazy. I needed help with the sadness inside of me because my dad died.” That nine year has started rescue process. You can too….

Carpe Diem,



Observe don’t Absorb

Life is process and how to live out that process is becoming quite an art. So many people want to interject their ideals or what they call suggestions. So much nonsense in politics, at the job, in our families,  well in life!

Observe don't Absorb

Practicing the art of Observing versus absorbing could make the difference between living  encouraged versus  living  oppressed. Observing takes on the quality in being aware, watching, noticing while Absorbing is to take in or engross entirely.  If I can stand back, in a sense, and watch things transpire  without becoming so emotionally tangled in the web.  To  observe  is t strengthen the  boundary muscle.

In the mental health field I would compare it to being oriented times 3;  Oriented to person, place, date, and time. When  oriented observation becomes a catalyst to my awareness of the moment. A Buddhist quote goes, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. That process happens when we observe don't absorb. 

Absorbing on the other hand is  as if I were a sponge allowing the emotionality to infuse my very being. To allow  others to dictate how I feel or how I will act or my decisions.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapist  believe thoughts lead to feeling  feelings lead us to action.  I add on actions lead character. In my practice I work with clients to overcome the absorption of judgment,  abandonment, disappointment, of racism, of hurt and pain. The absorption (s)have robed life from far to many who have allowed the infusion of what others think matters or what others say matters.

I had a child, age six, come to session. On my desk I had a little yellow duck. The child was fidgeting with the duck and began to ask me questions of the duck. One of the questions was why does the ducks not get wet.  In my very limited understanding of ducks I knew enough that the oil  on the duck's feather makes them waterproof. "Oh," responded the young lad "We should be like the duck and not let madness get inside of us." I thought to myself  out of the mouth of babes: Observe don't absorb.





I watched the squirrel balancing on the branch on the tree outside my living room window. The squirrel , who we will call Maxie, wasn’t concerned about  balance, who is president or where his next nut will come from.  Maxie had no concern  that i was watching .  Maxie appeared not to be impacted by the cares of this world.  Maxie was just being and doing his squirrel thing.

In our present America, many individuals are living with cares. Cares of being separated from their families. Care of being stopped by the police. Cares of prejudice. Cares of rejection. Cares of being alone. Cares of not being believed. You fit in your care…..

What if we could live with equanimity. The English word equanimity refers to a state of being calm and balanced, especially in the midst of difficulty.  I am not proposing that we turn the other cheek when it come to our cares. I am suggesting that we offer equanimity instead of fear or anxiety.  Remaining calm in the care thereby cultivating a balance-an inner stability despite surrounded by turmoil.  Teaching ourselves not to be lead by our emotions and or biases. More so, that we notice what we feel without allowing them to drive or behaviors.  Once we reach the state of equanimity we can be generous to ourselves and others.

What would that generosity look like?  The generosity I speak of is not of a monetary value. The generosity I reference is one in which we give with compassion, conviction, attentively, and without negatively affecting others. We start by offering ourselves generosity of self compassion.

“You can search the entire universe  for someone who is more deserving of your love  and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”   Buddha

After we offer ourselves generosity we can offer  others generosity. I may not agree with “their” perspective; Yet, I can let you be and have your space.

I share from a personal viewpoint. I have family members that I feel are judgmental and hurtful. Despite their misunderstand  of my equanimity for apathy or coldness I know what I cultivating.  I am choosing to life a live of generosity. They choose not to see because of their own imbalance. Equanimity is a  process and others are welcome to join me on the journey or not. Thanks Maxie for lavishing my morning with equanimity.

Carpe Diem,


Moment by Moment Happiness

Yesterday is like a dream.  Yesterday cannot be duplicated nor reconstructed.  Yesterday is a thought, a memory, a distant today.

Today has been like no other. Cannot be duplicated. Cannot be reconstructed as today has been filled with intentional and non intentional moments. All the days of our lives till now has been  constructed to to unfold today

Tomorrow is too early to tell what the day shall behold. As much as we would like to foresee how the day will unfold or what will come our way we must wait.

Life happens in the here and now and that is where the wealth of happiness is contained..  Living in the past keeps us bound to memories void of life in the present. Living for the future keeps us un-rooted to the present.  Living in the present allows us to be emotionally aware, engaging,  and live with meaning.

Just this past weekend my daughter was married. The morning of the wedding my thoughts of yesterday’s flooded my mind. Yesterday when she was born. Yesterday when she first walked.  Yesterday when she was a gymnast.  Yesterday when she was commissioned as an Army Officer. My thoughts shifted to the future which made me anxious because so many scenarios are possible.

The wedding day afternoon I beheld the beauty of my daughter standing in her wedding dress. Yesterday didn’t matter, the future was not important. All that mattered was  the present moments of joy, tears, smiles, and celebration. There will be pictures of the event; yet, nothing can take the place of the feeling at that particular juncture of time.

Life is made of moments; moments are made for happiness. If we wait until happiness finds us we shall be waylaid by happenstance. Reality dictates that not all moments are happy filled; yet, more often than not happiness outweighs challenges of life.

This moment can not be duplicated nor reconstructed. This moment is to be cherished. All the days of our lives have brought us to this moment…

Carpe Diem