Camouflage Smile

My smile may look like everything is okay; but, it is only a mask. A mask which hides  pain, disappointment, disillusionment, and loneliness.  What you see  is only a camouflage smile that disguises how I truly feel.

You take a moment to ask me if I’m okay and I answer yes. I really do want to be okay; yet, something inside just doesn’t seem to be able to break free from the pain, disappointment, disillusionment,  or loneliness. Why doesn’t anyone ask me the right question that will shake loose the shackles of this heaviness.

I’ve spent years with this camouflage smile.  It’s worked you think of me as happy one;  I’m exhausted. My body keeps the score and I’m losing. It takes me longer to recovery in my private darkness. I have been able to recovery; although, one day I may not be able recovery. Then what? Please listen not to what I say but to what I don’t say. I want to tell you; help me tell you. Don’t judge me.


Does anybody see the real me hidden behind  my camouflage smile?



The Trifecta Mind

You choose: The Emotional Mind, the Reasonable Mind, the Wise Mind.

The Emotional Mind’s modus operandi  is feelings, or if you will instincts based on experiences.  Experience, after all, is the sum of our  perceptions based on what we have observed, encountered, undergone and thus remembered.  Our past encounters become embedded within our conscious and unconscious creating instinctual, and at times  impulsive life styles. Intense devotion or desire is the where the emotional mind is most beneficial as the intensity keeps one on course and even triggers sacrificial choices. Think of the film Manchester by the Sea where, acting on an emotional impulse, a depressed uncle takes in his teenage nephew out of love for the young man and his father. On the other hand the same passion and intensity can lead to addictions, unsafe and unhealthy actions. Think of the Intimate Partner Violence. The victim often stays in the relationship because of the emotional ties including the hope for change or the fear of leaving.

The Rational/Rational Mind: This part of the mind where we plan, evaluate, and make decisions based on perceived facts. The rational mind provides understanding to  aspects of our lives. Sounds like a smart way to live, being able to make decisions with focused attentions or an organized, calm demeanor.  The danger, however, is that we live so emotionless that we miss out on the most important aspect of life, human relationships. Additionally, our experiences are not the totality of all known experiences, our experiences and memories are subjective and cannot predict the future.  Just as in investing, where past financial gains are not a guarantee for future financial gains, past performances are not guarantee of future performances.

There is a time for the Rational brain, especially in times of crisis.

The Wise Mind’s modus operandi is a mixture of the emotional and the  rational mind.  The Wise Mind is rooted in the consideration of feelings and the use of logic. The Wise Mind using both the left and right sides of our brain.

Most often the healthiest mind set is the wise mind. I’m not so emotional that my decision is clouded by sentiments of love or hate. My rational mind is not overbearing, allowing me to see the benefits logic and at the same time seeing the impact of emotions and human relationships.

You get to choose what mind set you want to live in at any particular moment instead of the mindsets dominating. You are and can be in control.  There are a few things in our lives that are outside of our control; however,our mind is our choice. When we aware of our mindset we are free to live up to our true potentials.

One great tool which aids us in getting to our healthiest mindsets is Mindfulness. Mindfulness guides us to our awareness of the moment; truly, that is the only place of true living. Below is an exercise which anyone can complete in order to feel more in tune with themselves.

Learning how to live being aware of our Mindset:

Breathe in through your nose holding the breathe  for 4 seconds and release gently and slowly through your mouth. Follow your breath.  Notice any tension in your body starting from the top of your head and slowly scanning your entire body until you get to your toes. Notice the tension without judgement.  Any thoughts that come into your mind are only thoughts, accept don’t dwell on the thoughts only accept without judgment. Focus on your breathing. Do 5 sets of breathing. Keep your eyes closed for one minute.

You’ve done it, practiced Mindfullness and are creating a wise mind so you can choose what mindset for this moment at hand.

Salus Vita,


Suffering in Silence

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Trauma but not traumatized.

When our trauma experiences over time cause physiological and psychological distress we become traumatized. Being traumatized  derails our quality of life. Trauma is subjective; therefore, the objective facts don’t matter as much as the sense one of feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with the situation(s). Time and Human bonds are as essential as they are  powerful in  curtailing trauma from becoming traumatizing. The sooner we experience the human bond of support after the trauma the less likely they will be traumatized.

Trauma Unavoidable

Life is filled with trauma; they can be  little t’s or big T’s.  Generally speaking little t’s are more common, everyday such as:  a move, starting a new job, having a baby, getting married, losing your keys, traffic on the beltway, rejection, arriving late, or a  divorce. Although big T’s can feel more earth shattering, little t’s overtime can become big T’s.

Examples of Big T’s are: rape, war, terrorism, a plane crash, a car accident, perceived threat of harm, a natural disaster, a major illness, death, and chronic child abuse and/or neglect.

Human Bond

As part of the Behavioral Health Response team (BHRT) for District of Columbia, our objective is to be present in times of big T’s in order to offer victims of such tragedies psychological first aid. When we think of traditional first aid, we think of chest compressions and AED machines; psychological first aid however, consists of offering an emotional connection with someone who cares, essentially breeding a human bond.

The  human bond is a beginning of a dynamic  relationship between individuals, one that is so deep, it gives each individual the ability to influence the other’s psychological and physiological (body’s) state. BHRT offers the emotional support needed to curtail trauma from becoming traumatizing in big T’s. We each have our own BHRT to help us with little t’s. These individuals are those whom we love and trust.  Don’t suffer in silence alone, the road to recovery is found in supportive human relationships.

Salus Vita!


“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”   Carl R. Rogers

So much of our lives are spent in a state of resistance. We exert an incredible amount of energy resisting facts like: “I’ve gained 10 pounds since the summer,” or “this relationship is not going anywhere,” or “that bad thing did happen to me,” or “I’m getting old,” or that “I’m not OK.” When we stop telling ourselves these lies and admit the truth, then we can start the journey to change and begin to live our emotionally Healthiest lives yet.

“There are two types of pains in this world, pain that hurts and the pain that changes you.” Author Unknown

Healthy lives demand  expression of emotions. When feelings are suppressed or denied all we end up  doing is pushing the pain into the unconscious. We don’t feel that pain, we can ignore the pain; that is until an opportune moment for the pain to resurface. He said after years with me he had wasted his time. His words hurt so deeply; why? I felt the relationship had run is course. In fact, I was looking for a way out but something kept me in the relationship? His words painfully penetrated into my soul.  Mindfully allowing for my pain, I was able to understand that it wasn’t his words that pierced my heart in as much as it was that I had been triggered. I was triggered back to when my father left, what I would consider for years, when my father abandoned his family (me). Pain that hurts. Pain that changes.

Confronted by pain I had one of two choices to make. I choose to face the pain of  abandonment.  It wasn’t my fault my father left. There was nothing I could have done or not do to make him stay. He made a choice.  I saw my father 30 years later on his death bed and forgave him.

Change. I accept that I am divorced,  10 lbs heavier, getting older, and yes bad things did happen in my life.  Now what? I am mindful that I cannot change the past , stuff happened and stuff happens. I am also mindful that I will not allow the past to define nor direct my future.

Salus Vita!


And this is my Job?

As I finished up with my last client for the day I sat wondering, “Could they have done this without me? ” The answer is a resounding, YES; it’s just that we get stuck (Most likely in the past). Sometimes we don’t know we are stuck, but we feel off or like life is off keel.  Other times we aware and just don’t know how to get up from under the heaviness. Other times, someone who cares about us confronts us about our behavior or attitude leaving us with the question, “What can I do about” followed by “What will I do?”

We each are resilient. Think about people you know and how they have bounced back from the harshness of the world, the abusive past that have left scars raw that reopen with unconscious reminders of the past, the organic mental struggles and conditions, the sense of abandonment that causes one to feel unloved or unlovable.  We are resilient and do and have done what we must to endure.

The hiccup that taints our resiliency and leaves us stuck,  is that we live in the present with the same defense mechanisms  that we used to survive the past, but doesn’t effectively serve us in the present. Defense mechanism of denial, repression, displacement, projection, sublimation ,undoing, rationalization, and regression served as  a survival tool, and you did survive.  Stop, take a deep breathe and look around, are you danger or do you feel like you are in danger?  If you are in danger,  please stop and call 911. Your safety is of the utmost importance. But, if you are not in danger and are still using the same coping skills of the past you may be keeping yourself from living a happier and more authentic lives.

That’s where I step in, as a psychotherapist. I am privileged  to part of the excavation of rediscovering  inner strengths that were buried beneath or that had not be previously discovered.  Together, my clients and I create a synergy that gives way to empowerment to live out our  Healthiest Life yet, Salus VIta.

And this is my job? I am privileged and count my blessing that I am a Psychotherapist!


Monthly Charla

When training to detect counterfeit money one becomes a master of real money. In spending time handling and examining real money counterfeits money stands out like a rose among thorns, a candle among the darkness, or a treasured story in a book of empty words. I took that analogy and ran with it at my  monthly “Charla” (Chat) at Bryia  Adult Public School in Washington, D.C. The topic this month is healthy relationships. So to explain healthy relationship I opened the chat to unhealthy relationships; Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

IPV does not discriminate based on gender, financial standing, education, or ethnicity. IPV is a form of abuse. Abuse is a learned behavior, not something you are born with or a caught pathogen. According to the Center Disease Control and Prevention, IPV can be physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression which  I believe also includes financial control.

In Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the brain get’s hijacked thinking it is in a state of danger; therefore, the automatic nervous system (ANS) is always reved high in a state of fight, flight, or freeze.  Cortisol,  “the stress hormone,” becomes hyper active.  Too much cortisol can cause  medical disturbance such as but not limited to: impaired cognitive performance, dampened thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, sleep disturbance, or elevated blood pressure.  IPV victims can suffer from PTSD.

I recalled my IPV days. Why did I stay, maybe it was the Stockholm syndrome that set in or that the chemicals in my brains were going haywire. I didn’t get PTSD, but I was traumatized. I recall the time I finally mustered the nerve to call the police and while the police was present he tried to go after me. The police offer looked at me and said, “If you don’t leave he’s going to kill you.” I left.

The Charla didn’t bring back the horrific days of living in IPV. What the Charla did do was to reinvigorate my  passion of empowering others to overcome life’s challenges and obstacle and press on toward their Healthiest Life yet. Si se puede!

Salus Vita, Gloria

The Art of Ending

The Art of Ending. Even as I type the word, end, there’s a feeling inside of me that cringes. Endings in my life have been painful and eventful. The divorce, the job, the relationship, the move, or the conversation. The pain unbeknownst to the bystander fills my being with an  ache that permeates my  entire being.  Was I right? Was I wrong? Does it really matter for it’s the end. I’m reminded of the Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe song: “Todo Tiene Su Final ,” Everything has an ending.

Just maybe though, faith in God would have me believe, that this supreme being  can make beauty out of ashes.  The end doesn’t have to be so painstaking. It would  be uncomfortable but not overwhelming as the promise of hope would usurp the sense of dismay.  

Perhaps not faith; Maybe Existentialism can give a weighted perspective on  Ends.  We are after all beings with freedom and capacity to make choices. The choice on how view the end.  We get to define our own meaning in life. Our meaning need not be dictated by others opinion or labels someone gave us like Bipolar (They actually don’t know what the word really means).  Much like Eye movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) we get to rewrite the narrative and give it meaning to  our existence.

Sartre’s challenge is to accept responsibility for our choices while embracing the inconceivable unknown. At times our choice is to end and other times ends are thrusted in our face. Regardless, with an end comes an unknown of a new beginning.  


“I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100.”

Woody Allen

New Beginning

"The manner in which we live and what we become are the result of our choices"  Gerald Corey

What would life be like if we started that business, that class, or let go of that old, stagnant relationship? One must decide what one's goals are and chase after them without hesitation. One has to make decisions, choosing at times to alter their lives in order to reach their desires which requires creativity.  When inquisitiveness and creativity fail us, embracing unfamiliar circumstances and opportunities becomes overwhelming and we often freeze.  In this case our decision making becomes like stale bread, worse even; stale bread can be made into bread crumbs; frozen decision making becomes more like stagnant water, breeding mosquitos or parasites! Without imagination as guidance, life becomes an exhausting cycle of "I don't know" or "I don't care." One becomes dull with no new ideas with little to talk about or share. Group thinking sets in, everyone agrees with each other and people lose their individuality, creating a  homogeneous society. Curiosity opens our minds to possibilities and the willingness to take a chance(s) on ourselves. With curiosity, one's ideas may prove untrue, though  failure should not be feared  because it is not fatal, only a growth opportunity. Curiosity is said to activate the dopamine in our brains, which is the happy chemical. Who wouldn't like to be a little happier? In addition to boosting happiness, curiosity helps us  learn. Why? Because it adds value to what we are learning and  signals our hippocampus, the area in our brain associated with memory. I challenge us all to become curious about one thing today and see if we don't feel just a little more invigorated and sharper  then we have in awhile.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.

—"Old Man's Advice to Youth: 'Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.'" LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64”
Albert Einstein