Tanya Younce, M.Ed., LPCC


Your Majesty

Wayne Dyer, self-help author and motivational speaker, once said that there were two types of people in this world — ducks or eagles.  Ducks are content to sit on a pond and calmly paddle in the water, surrounded by other ducks, not really going very far.  Eagles, on the other hand, are meant to soar and move great distances, surrounded only by the air that holds them and their own sense of majesty.  

For the most part, I am in my element as an eagle.  I love the idea of taking flight, of moving forward, and of feeling empowered by my own inner resolve.  At the same time, I know that there are times in our lives when we need to be ducks — surrounding ourselves with family or friends, treading time and feeling rooted.  

As many of my clients and loved-ones know, I have been holding down a full-time “duck” job for the past eight years, while I’ve done my private practice on the side.  For two nights a week and every Saturday morning, I’ve enjoyed my “eagle” job, connecting and working with my clients one-on-one, feeling a great sense of mastery and fulfillment from what I know in my heart I was truly meant to do in this lifetime.

But what I realized, over the past few years, was that my ratio of duck to eagle life was way off.  The eagle in me was trying to spread its wings and take higher flight, but it was weighted down by too many other responsibilities.  I was accumulating a variety of ideas for empowerment workshops, relevant blog postings, e-books and other services and products I could provide my clients.  There was also the stack of books I wanted to read, to learn from and recommend to others.  I’ve had to pass on trainings and networking opportunities, learning more about social media, life-coaching, marketing, etc — all because I haven’t had the proper time and energy to fully engage in them.

Sometimes we need a strong catalyst to move us from duck-life to eagle-life, and that is exactly what happened to me this past month.  It was the perfect storm of stress: six months of trying to sell our home, then quickly having to buy a new one, changes being made to my duck job that I inherently  disagreed with, lack of professional and personal support, the many responsibilities of raising two teenagers, and then the physical toll it was taking on me with weight gain, poor eating/drinking habits, and restless sleep.  It hit me one day that if I was to keep going under this pressure, things would just get worse. 

โ€œIf we never had the courage to take a leap of faith, we’d be cheating God out of a chance to mount us up with wings like eagles and watch us soar.โ€ โ€• Jen Stephens, The Heart’s Journey Home 
So I took my own leap of faith and quit my duck job…and guess what?

An inner sense of calm has taken over.

For some of my clients — and for my other readers — this leap might mean leaving the same security of a job into one that reflects your true nature, or a leap to write the book you’ve been thinking about, or just jumping onto a new path of life, no matter what it is!  If you are an eagle (and I believe we all are, in some respect), you are meant to soar.  To stay a duck out of fear, only cheats God, the world, and yourself out of seeing you discover and embrace your fullest potential.

Coincidentally, this is the very experience I love working on with my clients — transforming their lives from the old to the new.  I help those who want to reinvent their marriage, their career path, their physical health, or any maladaptive beliefs that are keeping them from truly soaring. 

But I can talk the talk all day.  This latest adventure on MY path shows that I’m willing to take the risk I ask so many others to do, trusting that God and the energy of my truest Self will carry me.  Just as the wind supports the eagle’s flight, we all will be carried when we release our inner sense of majesty.

Wake Up!!

Most of us live in a state of samsara, which in Buddhism means “wandering on,” or what I would call being on “auto-pilot” or “asleep at the wheel.”  We go through predictable daily routines, right?  Groggily offing the alarm, getting ourselves prepped for work, pouring coffee into our commuter mugs, making said commute into an office (or other), then spending the day engaging in pretty much the same professional activities and interactions at least five days a week.  We then travel back home, fix and eat dinner, do whatever else needs to be done with chores, children, or other choices, then we lay our weary bodies down on the Sealy Posturepedic with yawns and eye rubs, only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.

Sound familiar?

Some people take comfort in samsara — it numbs them and keeps them from feeling too many highs or lows in life.  They like being able to just put one foot in front of the other, day by day, with nothing too dramatic occurring on their path that they’d have to get worked up over.  Fine.

But auto-pilot living can lead to Depression.  It deprives us of a sense of real purpose and effort.  It keeps us from being awake and aware of where we are, who we’re with, and what we’re doing.  And sleepwalking through each day takes us away from experiencing a richer and more vibrant life.  It’s basically settling for black and white TV when you could opt for High Definition color.  Seriously.

I come from the belief that we were all born with a specific purpose that is stitched very uniquely into our DNA.  We each have the ability to be a conduit for something quite special, whether that is to create some work of art, build something of use, start a new business, invent a cool product, be an agent of change, give birth to and care for children, or to help those in need.  Depression can really suck us into feeling worthless and soul-sick if we don’t pay attention to whether what we’re doing each day is moving us toward or away from our intrinsic desires and talents.  It’s that pull that we all should sense deep within ourselves when asked “What would you reeaaally want to do with your life?”

But even if you’re not yet aware of that inner calling, becoming more awake and aware in your daily life is the best way to tap into it.  It’s what they mean by the admittedly threadbare phrase “Be Here Now.”

Pay as much attention to your interaction with the world today as you can.  When you catch yourself in a walking coma, find a way to shake yourself out of it so you can make better choices and move toward becoming a more authentic person.  That’s what this is about — being true to who and what you really ARE.

Wake up right now and ask yourself:  Who am I with?  Where am I?  What am I doing?  Am I happy?   What do I need?  How am I feeling?  What would keep me awake today?

Then when you hit the Sealy tonight, make sure you’ve done more things on purpose than on auto-pilot.

You ARE What You Tell Yourself

If I was to have you stand up and put one arm out to the side and have you repeat “I’m weak, I’m weak, I’m weak,” I could easily push that arm down.  But if I had you put it back out and say “I’m strong, I’m strong, I’m strong,” your arm would naturally give more resistance when I tried to push it down.

This is an old therapeutic example of Cognitive Therapy, which supports the theory that our thoughts govern what we believe about ourselves and therefore, how we behave.  

It sounds weird, but your brain doesn’t really know the difference between what’s “real” and what’s not, when it comes to self talk.  It responds to whatever it’s being told.  As another example, if I had you close your eyes and imagine that I’ve just handed you half of a lemon, had you smell it and then put it to your mouth and take a bite out of it, your salivary glands would activate immediately (is your mouth watering now?).  Are you really biting a lemon?  No!!  But your brain was told “I’m biting into a lemon” and it responded by saying “OK, salivary glands….ACTIVATE!”

So what do you tell yourself throughout the day.  What have you believed for years and years that your brain has responded to over and over again, proving that belief “right?”

“I’m terrible at making decisions.”

“I’ll never be able to lose weight.”

“I can’t afford anything nice.”

“I swear, people are out to get me!”


“I’m so excited about this!”

“He totally likes me.”

“I’ve always been good at math.”

“My body looks pretty damn good for my age!”

Any of these messages, if said with enough conviction, will prove to be true, one way or another.  So what DO you tell yourself?  How would you LIKE to talk to yourself and what do you want your mind and body to fully believe and respond to?

People will tell me “But I don’t believe what I’m saying — I’m basically lying to myself.”  

Yeah….kinda.  For now.

But just as if you tried to part your hair on the other side (and it immediately wants to flip back), or if you’re in another country and have to drive on the left side of the road….IT’S NOT GOING TO FEEL NATURAL AT FIRST!

You’ve developed negative ways of thinking of either your self, your partner, your job, your lifestyle…whatever….for many years!!  It’s going to take a while to learn to think differently.  But the difference is that you’re paying more attention to your thoughts, taking time to change them, rather than just going with your knee-jerk reaction.

Believe me….your brain and your body will THANK YOU for feeding it more positive thoughts.  Negative thinking takes a huge toll on you mentally, emotionally, and physically.  

Affirmative beliefs and attitudes, on the other hand, release all kinds of endorphins and keep serotonin levels higher, making you look and feel happier, calm, and actually more attractive!

Change starts with what you tell yourself about the change:  

“It’s going to improve my life.”  

“It’s worth the effort.”

“I can do this.”

“I want this!”

Your brain kicks in and says “YESSSS!!!” and responds by helping you see your potential and your life through a much clearer lens, then lighting the path toward change as you move forward.

 Go for it!  I believe in you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Healing Power of Connection

One of the best parts of being a counselor is developing a therapeutic relationship with each of my clients.  In our ever-growing technological culture, I see an almost ‘learned helplessness’ in knowing how to actually interact  

genuinely face-to-face with family, friends, or even strangers.  We’ve cocooned ourselves and become so self-sufficient and have acquiesced to sending virtual greeting cards, posting words of encouragement on Facebook, or texting one- or two-liners, instead of coming into live contact with others.  So to have someone sit with you, without any distractions and fully listen to you and connect, is worth its weight in gold.  Do this on a regular, weekly basis, and you are well on your way to improving your mental health by simply feeling like you, your thoughts, and your feelings matter.

Carl Rogers, the father of Person-Centered Therapy, coined the phrase “Relationship.  Relationship.  Relationship” when it came to the key to helping all clients. He was convinced that human connection was one of the most healing gifts you could offer to another.

My grandmother used to shake her head, when I was a kid, and say what a shame it was that our generation was so self-centered.  She talked about all the benefits of people knowing and relying upon their neighbors, back in “her day,” which was during The Great Depression.  People were interdependent, sharing not just material items with each other, but emotionally supporting one another in order to survive.  She’s right — it is a shame, and I’m a full-bred member of the Me Generation, too.  I don’t go over and see how my elderly neighbors are doing.  I don’t ask the family behind us to water our plants if we go on vacation.  And I’d feel too shy to cross the street to borrow a cup of sugar from the people with the nice landscaping (whoever they are)!

But this is what a lot of us have become — so socially awkward that we no longer recognize the essential need for human connection until we’re in the midst of a tidal wave of grief, or a roller coaster of anxiety or worry.  We look around for help and no one is physically there because we haven’t nurtured those types of relationships.  Instead, we turn to posting a feeble status on Facebook or Twitter, hopeful for responses of support.  And we may, in fact, get that support — but we may not.  I think we could benefit greatly from bringing back the simple effort to periodically get together with a close friend, to make a pot of coffee, curl up on a couch and share what’s really going on in our lives.

The point is, I’m struck by how much angst is relieved by simply giving my clients 100% of my attention for an hour a week.  Listening is becoming a lost virtue, in our relationships.  I actually have to teach couples how to listen to each other, which is really hard for some!  But whether you’re single, dating, or married — every human being has a need to be heard and accepted.  It fosters our inherent need for emotional safety, which then builds intimacy in our lives.

Most of the time, we don’t feel emotionally safe to be that vulnerable with our loved ones.  So we edit what we say (or not say), what we do (or not do), and become overly concerned about how they’d judge us or somehow hurt us.  It leaves us with few outlets for the stress that swirls in our bellies and keeps us up at night, or the pain and anger that lies just below the surface of our social facade.

This is why talk therapy works.  Having a trusted, nonjudgmental, and confidential relationship to talk to openly is a gift and human salve for the soul.  I truly recommend that we climb out of our cocoons and take the time to nurture our relationships so that we have strong alliances if Life presents prickly paths. Humans are wired to be nurtured and enjoy intimacy with others.  If it isn’t there, then we will certainly wither, in some way, shape or form.

Relationship, Relationship. Relationship.   It heals.

Your Big Reveal

I’m a sucker for makeovers.  I love looking at ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures, whether they’re haircuts, or kitchens, or wardrobes, or landscaping — I get giddy whenever I see that “big reveal” of the beauty that lies beneath people, places, or things.

Don’t judge me, but two of my favorite TV shows are “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Biggest Loser“.  Nothing captivates me more than seeing the transformation that people go through, from beginning to end, that I (from the comfort of my couch) vicariously experience with them.  To me, shedding a significant amount of pounds on “The Biggest Loser” actually is about melting layers of guilt, shame, abuse or something else. On “Dancing With The Stars,” the contestants get the chance to develop an otherwise untapped ability that they never knew their bodies could achieve, not to mention the special bond they develop with their professional instructors because of the trust and vulnerability they literally need to put in their hands.

These are just a few examples of a beautiful, though often intense and gut-wrenching, experience of self transformation and discovery.  There are many more.

I heard somewhere that Michelangelo was asked how he was able to create such beautiful sculptures from marble, and he said he believed the sculpture already existed inside the marble, and that it was simply his job to chip away at the excess.

God, I love that!  And I truly believe that to live authentically, it’s important to believe that we, too, have magnificent sculptures within us. 

If you were to just pick one area of your life that you knew needed some “trimming” or other radical transformation, what would it be?  Freeing yourself from whatever “weight” you might have — whether it’s body fat, an abusive relationship, a dead-end career, or harbored anger toward anyone — will take time, commitment, and determination.  The same goes for learning something new and pushing yourself to undiscovered limits.  But most of all, it will take a great deal of self love, because this type of sculpting requires you to value and love your life enough to reveal its true essence.  

Ask yourself, “Is THIS is sculpture I want to present to the world?”  What new perspectives, abilities, beauty, or uncharted experiences do you want to reveal not just to the world but to yourself?  What is it….what beauty lies beneath all that has buried you?

An Open Letter to Men


Be careful when you tell your girlfriends or wives that you feel like the luckiest guy on earth to have her in your life, because there will be an implied message to her that you will earn that honor.  You will likely put her on a pedestal (as you should) but not so high that you can’t connect with her.  If you truly DO feel lucky that she has chosen YOU, and you want her to stick around for the long run, then be sure to attend to two things:

1.  Treat her like you would treat any valuable possession (not that she’s your possession, but this is to make a point, here).  If you had a Les Paul guitar, or a set of Magico M5 speakers, or a slick BMW M6 car, you wouldn’t think to neglect them.  No, you’d know enough about these treasures to know HOW to take good care of them.  This is what a woman needs, too — to feel like the most precious thing in your life that you know just how to treat and care for.  So take time to ask her what she likes, what makes her happy or relaxed, what turns her on, what makes her feel loved, and be attentive to what situations make her thrive.

2.  Be a man who deserves her, by also taking good care of yourself.  Be a man she would be proud of — whatever that might look like to her.  Work out and eat right, so you stay fit and active.  Take a shower each day, brush your teeth, and smell good.  Care about the way you look, because you want to look good by her side!  Also, keep yourself educated — on ANYTHING!  Be passionate about at least 3 things and develop those interests!  Have a good friend or group of friends who nurtures you (she can’t be your only source of socialization and support).  Be damn good at your job — whatever it is — because she needs to see that you’re a hard worker and can take control when needed.  And have some ambition to climb ladders when they present themselves, so she sees that you value growth and personal development.  

It’s all part of taking care of YOU and developing a strong sense of who you are, what you value, and what makes you deserving of this amazing, beautiful, intelligent, sexy, funny, and comforting woman in your life!

Pay attention and take care.  If you can do these 2 main things, she will appreciate and be in utter awe of you, and will never let you go!

What You Bring Home From Work

What do you do every day at work?  Sell merchandise or ideas?  Analyze data?  Design things? Organize people, events or information?  Lead projects?  Teach new concepts to others?  Where is your head, for a majority of the day?

Now think about how you bring that mindset home with you.  Those professional instincts, skills, and tendencies show up in your marriage, your parenting, or in your personal life? 

When I meet clients for the first time, I’m interested in what they do for a living.  It gives me a pretty good clue as to how they are accustomed to problem-solving.

The way you manage your work skills and mindset can either make or break your relationship at home.

I had a client, whom I’ll call Kevin, who was an X-ray technician at a local hospital.  He was one of only two technicians in his department, so his days were always fast-paced.  To add to this stress, his supervisor never praised him.  In fact, she would actually ask him to work harder and longer — often missing lunch.  By the end of the day, Kevin was wiped out.  He came home in scrubs and he remained in that tunnel-visioned mindset of getting as much done as possible, full-speed ahead, which was creating distance and tension in his marriage.  So we worked on developing ways he could grab 5-10 minute “refreshers’ during his workday — bringing healthy snacks and Vitamin water, learning deep breathing exercises, doing some basic body stretches — so that it wasn’t as draining as it usually was.  And we also came up with the idea that he’d bring a change of clothes to work so that he could get out of his scrubs before he even got in his car to drive home.  Finally, since he had a 45 minute commute, I had him create a calming playlist on his iPod to play in his car, so he could transition from “work mode” to “home mode.”

Another client of mine — let’s call her April — was an interior decorator.  All day long she looked at various rooms in homes and found what could be improved.  Her job was to identify problems and make them prettier and more functional for her clients.  Her husband was a nurse at a Hospice center.  He spent his days comforting patients who were dying, as well as family members who would come to visit.  His job was to take a sad situation and help people get through it with a hopeful and peaceful attitude.  At home, April and her husband tended to deal with various areas of their lives from their work mindset.  April looked for the flaws in situations first, and then tried to “fix” or “redecorate” them so they were easier and more pleasant for her to deal with.  She had difficulty dealing with situations that were confrontational, honest, or upsetting.  Her husband tended to have more confidence in dealing with tough situations and wasn’t as uncomfortable getting his hands dirty with unpleasant emotions.  On the negative side, however, he was susceptible to becoming sad, quiet and withdrawn around April, if he absorbed too much grief at work and couldn’t let it go.

What skills you use and what attitudes you have at work are a big part of who you are.  Many times, they are also the things you bring to the table, when it comes to relationships.  You can choose, for example, to use your strength in organization to plan a weekend getaway, keep your kitchen pantry neat and clean, and/or stay on top of everyone’s extracurricular activities.  If you spend the day taking care of people, it could translate positively into comforting and caring for your loved ones better than anyone else could.  But those same skills could also become the root of your tendency to control things, or become resentful and stressed if things don’t go a certain way.  Or you might be so drained from taking care of others that attending to your spouse or children’s needs causes unfair resentment towards them.

Being aware of what you bring home from work helps each of you better understand the others’ reasons for their thoughts, feelings, and reactions.  

It starts there.  With empathy and understanding.  

When I treat couples, I help them tease out which of those need to stay at work, which of them need to be modified to fit their home life more effectively, and which need to not come home at all.

Below is a general guide to how certain key career traits can either make or break your personal life:

Make:  listen well, good at “reading” people, figure out how to make people happy
Break:  can be manipulative, have superficial interactions with others, have a competitive nature

Make:  gather information before reacting, identify patterns, intelligent, good problem-solvers
Break:  can over-analyze situations, have poor social skills, avoid impulsive/fun activities

Make:  help people understand, are patient, know how to manage potential chaos
Break:  can come across as condescending, too rigid with plans/goals, prone to stress/fatigue

Make:  creative in their approach to things, open to new ideas, easily inspired and forward-thinking
Break:  can be moody, self-absorbed, critical of others, disorganized

Make:  compassionate, patient, good in crisis situations, peacemakers, good instincts
Break:  put others before themselves, keep things inside, prone to low self-esteem

Make:  organized, leaders, good at communication skills, goal-oriented, encouraging of others
Break:  bossy, can be too practical, impatient, self-centered, condescending, easily distracted

Make:  task-oriented, dependable, hard-working, strong team members, proud of finished products
Break:  have difficulty with change, prone to anger and resentment, fatigue, physical ailments 

Take some time to discuss this with your partner and check out what they think.  Share your thoughts and identify what professional skills and thought processes are great and helpful in the relationship, and which ones are probably better off staying at work.  โ˜€

Top 5 Books I Read in 2013

Well, 2013 is now behind us and in reflecting on how things went for New Leaf Counseling, I can say that it was a year of “settling” or I guess I could even say “marinating.”  My normal inclination is to continuously grow, grow, grow — but this year seemed to take on more of a moderate pace, and I decided to take that as a sign that New Leaf Counseling needed time to take root.  And it DID!  I received more new clients than ever, and was happy to have worked with people from all over the northern parts of Cincinnati!

Over the course of the year, I also read several books, and I wanted to share my Top 5 and give a brief description of what I learned from each of them.  As many of my clients know, I often mention books that I’m reading (or have read) and share some of the wisdom from them, and even recommend buying them for themselves, at times.  So, here are the ones that resonated with what I was needing to learn and, often, share with others this year:

Is He Depressed or What?
What to do when the man you love is irritable, moody, and withdrawn?

By David B. Wexler, Ph.D.

This was a book I picked up because I was working with more male clients who were suffering from anger management problems which were primarily resulting in relationship problems — whether they were at home, at the office, or out in public.  I learned that male depression is quite different than depression in women because ANGER seems to be, more often than not, the better alternative to acting sad or depressed.  It’s even better to be apathetic or stoic, if you’re a guy!  

This made sense to me.

Despite some men appearing to be successful on the outside, they can frequently be masking underlying depression with workaholism, substance abuse, and being physically and emotionally withdrawn from intimate relationships.  They’re also more likely to be defensive when they’re confronted on their behaviors, rather than apologetic, and they talk more about physical symptoms, such as headaches, insomnia, and stomach upset, rather than emotional symptoms.

Dr. Wexler has suggestions for how to connect with the depressed guy and communicate with him, without being his punching bag or enabling any of his “bad behaviors.”  It give tips on how to get him into treatment, how to address intimacy issues (sexual and emotional), how to take care yourself (as their partner or other loved ), and then knowing when to leave.  So for wives or girlfriends out there who have a gut feeling that their partner is displaying any of these tendencies, this might a good book to start with.

The Courage To Be Yourself
A Woman’s Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem

By Sue Patton Thoele

To the same extent that I was seeing self-defeating behaviors in male clients that were keeping them stuck and unhappy, I was also seeing a pattern of FEAR that was evident in a lot of my female clients, which was generally their reason for not moving past major obstacles.  This book served as somewhat of a pep-rally for all women who just never really BELIEVED in themselves, or who were conditioned to assume the position of “lesser than” in their family and culture.  Now in its 10th edition, first written in 1991, the book gives credit for many social, professional, and political changes that women have made since its debut.  But, there are some core beliefs that many women still hang onto that keep them from truly being themselves.  Instead, it’s a struggle to keep up with being whomever they need to be to make other happy or get the attention they crave.

Ms. Thoele writes a lot about how to develop and then nurture the courage needed to break out of comfort zones and declare new boundaries and attributes of yourself, including using therapy to rewrite your old scripts, putting new behaviors and boundaries into practice, and soliciting support from other women.  Ultimately, the book inspires one to “own your own excellence.”  This might be a workshop I’ll offer sometime this year, so stay tuned!

The Untethered Soul
The Journey Beyond Yourself

By Michael A. Singer

This was probably my favorite book of the year.  I’ve heard and read plenty about “the ability to be The Observer in your life,” but wasn’t really sure how I could explain such a complex concept to clients, in an effort to know the true essence of themselves and manage dramatic, and sometimes traumatic, events.  This book helped me wrap my arms around this essentially Buddhist concept, because it gave a lot of great analogies.

And I LOVE analogies!

So when Michael Singer talked about sitting in a movie theater and watching a move, and explained how some people are conscious of the fact that they are simply sitting in a seat as the Observer, while others are sitting there getting so immersed in the film that they forget they are in a theater and actually become attached to characters and events, becoming emotionally charged, as if they themselves ARE the characters — well, I got it!

He wrote that we are actually meant to be like colanders, moving through various people and experiences then letting them move past us so we’re ready for the next thing that presents itself in our lives.  But instead, we hang on to certain people or experiences (good or bad) and they cause blockages in us, which prevent the new “scenes” to come on our path.  These fester, over time, and become toxic to us, if they were painful.  And if they were pleasurable, we can become overly attached to that one person or experience as the only way to happiness or safety.  So he helps explain how to free yourself, by letting go of those blockages, in order to allow Life to present and teach your more.  A must read for people who are interested in learning and incorporating a more Zen-like way of managing stress.  Even Oprah put this on her Book List!

In the Meantime
Finding Yourself and the Love You Want
By Iyanla Vanzant

This book is about what to work on while you are waiting for the right kind of love to enter your life.  I know that sounds cheesy.  But there are a LOT of people out there who either haven’t found their “perfect mate” or they’ve gotten divorced and are in limbo, between relationships who don’t do ANY work on themselves to prepare for a better, more nurturing and fulfilling relationship when it DOES show up.  Iyanla is very clear that the “Meantime” is a time for you to do some introspection to discover what you may have done wrong in the last relationship that you want to do better in the next one (maybe you were too jealous, or demanding, or didn’t listen enough, or whatever).  But maybe you didn’t have the courage to ask for and seek out what you really wanted in the relationship.

One of the most interesting challenges she presented in the book was to ask yourself 3 questions: 
1) What am I feeling?
2) What is it that I want?
3) What am I feeling about what I want?

She says that what you feel usually determines what you want, what you feel about what you want always determines what you end up doing.  Do you truly believe you deserve love, attention, fidelity, and other qualities in a mate?  Have you been trying to get those needs met in unhealthy or passive-aggressive ways, or in constructive and loving ways?  There are a lot of questions to ask yourself and Iyanla does a great job of walking you through the process, getting deep, developing compassion for yourself, and loving yourself enough to build new awareness and strength so you’re ready for whomever shows up on your path, down the line.

Making Sense of Life’s Changes
By William Bridges

I honestly believe this is a must-read for all of you who are going through any major transitions in your life — either currently or in the near future.  It presented the process of moving from one way of doing things to another, in a whole different light.  The author first talks about all the normal developmental transitions we go through as human beings — all the stages of childhood, adolescence, and then adulthood — that subtly disengage us from various dependencies and lead us to more independent and interdependent ones. He reminds us that the term de-velop-ment means “unfolding” and that this continues throughout the course of your lifetime.

Bridges postulates that some people don’t really “come into their own” until their middle years, because they’re too afraid (consciously or subconsciously) of letting go of people, patterns, or beliefs that have served them so well in the past.  But, as Dr. Phil would ask these people, “How are these working for you now?”  It’s during periods of transitions when you shed old skin and grow new skin.  

Yes, it’s scary and unsettling in the midst of things.  But I explain it to clients like this:  If you wanted to remodel your kitchen so that it’s more attractive and functional for your way of living, there would be a period of time when there was demolition, right?  There would be holes in the walls, drywall dust everywhere, your water lines would be shut off and you may have to do dishes in your tub.  It’s a MESS!!  But this is where you need to SURRENDER and accept the way things are for now.  Little by little, you’ll see the transformation come together — the new cherry cabinets go up, the beautiful slate tile gets laid, the new island gets installed, opening up more counter space! 

So the book recommends asking yourself these two questions:  “What is it time to let go of in my own life right now?” and then “What is standing backstage, in the wings of my life, waiting to make its entrance?”  It’s a book that can be read many times over and have different meanings each time.  A definite “How To” for getting through life’s roller coaster.

So those are the books I read and recommend to you.  New years are good for new beginnings and awarenesses, so consider delving into one or more of these resources of wisdom for your journey.  ๐Ÿ™‚

Wanna Be Happy? Then Work It!

I know it sounds oversimplified, but if you want to be happy and you’re not, then you need to make the effort to change.


No one’s going to do it for you and no one is going to come in with a magic wand and make things all better.  So, it’s up to YOU.  YOU are in the driver’s seat and are in charge.

But here’s the excuse I hear.  “It’s hard!”

Yes, it is!  But anything worth having is worth WORKING for, right?  To the same extent that you work hard at something,  you will receive the same amount of satisfaction.

Think about that.

When have you worked hard at anything?  What did it take?

A.  Learning something new
B.  Self-discipline
C.  Focusing on the goal
D.  Consistency
E.  Doing it when you didn’t want to
F.  Blood, sweat and tears
G. All of the above

I was 36 years old when I had a total hip replacement.  I vividly remember the months I spent in physical therapy afterwards — I started by walking on a treadmill in a pool, then I did light weight-bearing exercises, relearned how to go up and down stairs, then finally I was able to ride a stationary bike.  It hurt like hell sometimes, I hated going half the time, I was mad at myself for not progressing faster, it was frustrating, and I shed many, many tears.  But what I was doing was BUILDING MUSCLE around the hip to help support it and make it work better.  And it’s the regular breakdown and repair of muscle tissues that make them grow bigger and stronger.

Today, I can walk, run, do yoga, ride a bike, and pretty much do everything I used to do — only this time without any pain.  Are there days my hip hurts a little and I need to ease up?  Sure!  You have to be forgiving and patient with yourself during the process of change — even AFTER you’ve accomplished it, sometimes (let’s call those “emotional aftershocks”).

Working hard at something, in and of itself, is something to be proud of.  Anyone with a good work ethic is worth their weight in gold these days.  There are too many ways to take the easy way out:

The toaster’s broken?  Get a new one.
Hate cleaning your house?  Hire a maid service.
Don’t want to stand in line for tickets?  Print them out from your home computer.
Bored with your car?  Trade it in!

It’s easier.

Our human instinct is to resist that which is hard and doesn’t feel good. And our culture has expanded that to include a strong resistance to discomfort and inconvenience.

It’s time to Man Up!  If you want to be HAPPY, then really CHANGE something!

Yes, it will be difficult.  You’ll feel fake.  You’ll forget and screw up and fall down the same rabbit hole at times. People might mock you or try to put you “back in your place.”

But ya know what?

The payoff is that there will be a new path that is paved.  And this new habit, or belief, or any other paradigm that you’ve created — that you’ve given BIRTH to — will actually change your entire life.  And you will experience the exquisite feeling of accomplishment and freedom that comes from being in that driver’s seat.

They don’t call this therapy for nothing.  So put on your big-girl panties, pull up your boot straps and let’s get to work.

How and When To Ask for Change