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Waddington TracyTherapist's Corner:
Showing Gratitude (Even When It Isn't Thanksgiving)

     Most people associate "gratitude" with "November" and "Thanksgiving." However, gratitude is a feeling for all seasons. Webster's Dictionary describes gratitude as a "feeling of thankfulness and appreciation." In thinking of the word gratitude and how one applies a sense of meaning and purpose to it within our lives, I want to ask you to take a moment to ponder these questions: What are the things that you appreciate most about you, your family, and your life? What are the things that truly fill your heart?  
     The answers could be very simplistic things that we take for granted, such as a smile, a warm hug or embrace, or verbal signs of caring ("I love, you," "Drive safely," or "How was your day today?"). These are just a few of the many ways we can show we have gratitude for others.
     In my work with individuals and families, we start out small by learning how to weave gratitude into our lives on a daily basis, and like most anything that we are learning and working to make stronger, we must practice it daily so that we can do it with ease and confidence. Gratitude can be so enlightening, empowering, and enriching within our lives; the wonderful thing is it can also be free. Free through our words and our kind gestures. 
     Many of the families that I work with receive an assignment to help them learn how to practice gratitude. My assignment is that their family is to come together for a meal, where there is to be no TV or electronic devices at the table. All that is present is the food we nourish our bodies with and each other. Each family member is to take a turn to go around the table and say one positive thing about each member of their family that they are grateful for, as well as one thing that makes them grateful for having their family as a whole. I encourage you to try this and to practice it daily.
     When we learn to voice our gratitude for those around us, amazing conversation begins to just happen, and smiles and laughter begin to fill the room, not the sounds of the TV. We begin to experience the joy of celebrating each other and strengthening our relationships with one another. Soon, we find we have filled the heart and soul of our inner being!

~ Tracy Waddington, Therapist

Elder Leanne

Therapist's Corner:
Helping Others While Coping With Your Own 

How do we as therapists separate our grief and life stress from helping our clients with theirs? That is a good question and difficult at times. I don’t believe there is one particular answer. It depends on the individual and what coping works best for them. Some of my grief and life stress issues follow, as well as ways I coped: 
1) Over the last year I got together with some classmates to plan our high school reunion for this summer. It was fun to be with classmates I had not seen for a long time, or even hung out with in high school. We had the reunion and it went well. Some of my best friends were there and it was fun to reconnect with some other classmates as well. As something begins it also comes to an end. It was bitter sweet; we had many compliments on the work we went to which was great but I may not see my friends/classmates for a very long time, perhaps not again. That is difficult to think about especially since after our last reunion one of my good friends took his own life, and another good friend died of pancreatic cancer.  You just don’t know what will happen.  
2) I have a very good friend from Kentucky who was with one of her sons in France doing some kind of race in conjunction with the Tour De France. She was in a terrible bike accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I didn’t know if she would live or die. Thankfully, she is slowly on the mend. It is still a trying time, and being so far away I can not visit her. 
3) As parents we give our kids unconditional love and “wings” to fly the “home nest." We are so very proud of our son for all he has accomplished and will continue to accomplish; however, it remains challenging as he lives hours away from home. We love him and miss him so very much. In addition, I feel lucky to have one of my sisters in town to spend time with when we can, but another sister lives out of town, and aging parents who live out of town and other family members that are so very important live far away. It is difficult to see time pass and not be able to see them or spend much time with them. 
     All of these things cause either grief and/or life stress for me, just as others have their "list." As “best practice” is necessary in doing therapy with individuals, how do therapists handle this in a healthy way?  First and foremost we need to be self-aware. I process my own level of stress to see if I need to take a short break from work. I ask "Is that necessary or what’s best for my clients?" Therapists may decide to chose a positive coping skill, like talking to someone they trust, taking their dog for a walk, color, organize or start a project they have been wanting to do.   These are just a few of the things I utilize in times of stress. 
     Grief and life stress comes into play with all of us, in many different ways. Are you self-aware? Do you take care of yourself so you can care for others? What are your positive coping skills that help you deal with trying times?
     These are important questions. We are all human and have difficult times in our lives. How do we handle that to be as healthy as possible for our clients/family members/co-workers? Please consider this as you work with all those wonderful people out there that need you. 
     When I think of my work with individuals of all ages, I think of so many positive things that keep me motivated to be the best “me” I can be. Go out there and celebrate “life” and all the wonderful things about it like special people and pets, spring rains, rainbows, mountains, lakes - and if/when you need to utilize your positive coping for any reason, do it. You will be glad you did. Thank you and have a “good coping” day.  

~ Leanne Elder, Therapist


From Our EAP:
Back-to-School Balance

     It's August and most schools have started, or will be starting soon. As parents, we have a love-hate relationship with school. We love that our kids learn and get to spend time with friends. We hate being away from them so much.
     Yet, for many parents, the love-hate relationship extends into the seasons. During the school year, we love that our kids get to go to school. We hate being away from them. During the summer, we hate that we can't wait for school to start because they are "so bored!"
     Jobs add to the chaos and many of us find ourselves running around, possibly yelling or getting frustrated because we are late. It never fails that our children can't find their shoes (when they're standing on them), homework we didn't even know existed even though we went through their bags, lunchbox, etc.
          Here are a few ways to make life simpler for you, the working parent (even work-at-home parents!): 
     1) Get homework done right after school. Oh, sure, give them a snack break or 30 minutes of "down time" but get it done. Even on Fridays. Don't let them get into that "I'll do it later" habit because we all know how that works out!
     2) Plan your meals. If you can do a whole month of meal planning and grocery shopping...well, I need to contract you for my house. If you can do a week, you're awesome. If you're like me, I eat leftovers for lunch and get supper ready then, too. However, planning will keep you from stressing after work/school, allow you to spend more time with the kids, and make for an easier evening. Of course, this isn't always possible, so keep easy meals, like pasta, on hand for those really crazy evenings. This also works for snack time. If your kids are old enough to get their own food, keep a snack area in the pantry or kitchen with foods you want them to eat.
     3) Get ready the night before. Seems easy, right? Lay out the outfit so the kids (or you) can put it on easily the next day. Take it a step further, if you dare, and let them sleep in their clothes for the next day. Set out what the kids need to take and what you need to take.
     4) Make time for family each night. I know it's difficult in our crazy-busy society, but give it a try. Spend time playing a game, doing a puzzle, reading, even helping make supper. Let watching a TV show as a family only "count" as family time twice a week or less.
     5) Everyone pitches in. Dishes? Everyone helps by clearing the table, loading the dishwasher or washing/drying by hand. Laundry? Even little kids can sort socks and fold wash cloths. If you are too controlling to give up how your laundry is folded, you can either 1) fold and they put away or 2) look at the state of clothes in their dresser and realize you really don't have control anyhow. Cleaning? Everyone gets to help pick up, tidy papers, gather trash, etc.
     6) Keep a routine, yet be flexible. Children (and parents) thrive with routine. Yet, as we all know, things come up. Still try to keep a semi-routine when the unexpected happens. This is important for mornings and evenings. Make it work for you and your kid. For example, maybe your kids get dressed immediately after getting up and going to the bathroom. Then again, maybe you have a messy eater, and he/she gets dressed after breakfast.
     7) Organize sensibly. Keep things where you know they belong. Backpacks go by the door with done homework in them. Shoes go next to the backpacks. Lunches are stacked in the fridge. Car keys, cellular phones, laptops, etc., go together or in specific spots so you aren't looking for one or all in the morning when you're rushing out the door (because none of us has ever done that). Have ONE spot for important papers from the school, like releases and travel plans.
     8) Keep a calendar. There are a LOT of apps out there that let you sync your schedule and kids' activities. Utilize them. It'll streamline your planning ability and make for less confusion. 
     9) Take time for yourself. We love our children but you need time for yourself, too. Get up earlier and have 30 minutes of quiet. Go to bed a little later and have 30 minutes of quiet. Exercise and eat healthy. Spend time with your significant other or talking to a sister/mom/brother/father on the phone. Whatever works for you! 
     10) Get rid of stuff! The less stuff you have in your home, the less places there are to hide it, cover it, throw it, etc. It also means your kids will take better care of the few items they have, as will you. Less clothing means less to go through when you or they are deciding what to wear. Besides, we can all use a good closet cleaning several times a year.
     Remember, be flexible and make things work for your family. No one knows your family better than you (and them). Don't let others dictate how you SHOULD be doing something, especially if that SHOULD causes a lot of stress and frustration. Take with your boss - perhaps you can come in a little late, or maybe the school has a morning program. Most businesses understand the challenges that come with having kids. Maybe you and several friends could take turns watching kids when adverse weather conditions cancel school; then you don't all have to miss work at the same time. There are so many options out there! Be creative! If you still need help dealing with your kids, workplace, and/or the stress, give us a call at Family Resources of Greater Nebraska, P.C.

~ Lana Lenz, EAP Administrator (written by Jessica McCaslin)

FRGN Spotlights!

Linda Seanne GreatPlainsConf


Seanne and Linda introduced the power packed EQi 360 leadership assessment tool to United Methodist ministers in the Great Plains conference via live video streaming on August 23, 2016. 



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