A Side of Love, Forgiveness and Patience

   You're at your favorite date night restaurant, and you've been looking forward to it all day. You order the salad with dressing on the side and wait patiently as you sip your glass of wine. Finally, the waitress comes over with your delicious salad bowl, and you dive right in! It takes you about a minute to notice...she forgot your dressing. A little dismayed, you flag her down when she's near, and politely let her know. She's is so sorry! She was buzzing around and it simply slipped her mind, she asks that you please forgive her. You tell her it's no big deal at all, you just wanted to remind her. You offer a reassuring smile as she scurries to go get your dressing. Within seconds, it's on the table and you go right back to your meal. It is delicious and you are once again reminded as to why this is your favorite place. 

     So why when your significant other doesn't listen to what you're saying or forgets something, are you not as forgiving and friendly as you were with the forgetful waitress? Surely you love them more than the waitress, so what is keeping you from being just as kind? Maybe because it's a common thing, and you feel as though you are constantly reminding, and repeating yourself. If that is the case, ask yourself this: when is the last time someone had to remind me of something? In today's world, I can guarantee it wasn't that long ago. 

    Communication comes in two primary forms. Verbal, and non-verbal. It seems that in times of frustration or stress, many of us remember our verbal communications well, but what about the non-verbal? Have you ever said something was 'okay' with your mouth, but your face and that long sigh said something else? "It's fine, I'll just run to the store myself and get it." You say, as you snatch the keys and shove them in your pocket, marching towards the door. Body language says everything when your mouth doesn't, and it can be one of the main roadblocks to proper communication. Reactions like this can bring such unnecessary stress into your relationship when one of you feels they have to walk on eggshells and have the memory of an elephant. The solution to this is something that must be practiced, and it involves three words. Love. Forgiveness. Patience. 

   There are many times during our day that I am sure we wish we had more patience. At the minimum, can we try to give our loved ones the same courtesy as we do our waiters and waitresses? All of us know what it is like to be human, and we should try to remember that the next time we say something without saying it. Do we want to be sure that we aren't doing this all for a show, right? Let's not smile through the conversation, and lament in our heads for the rest of the evening. Forgiveness not only releases the person, but it frees you as well from the burden of agonizing over it. The most important of the three is love, and it is my favorite. No matter what, you should always speak to your significant other out of love. This is a great way to keep yourself in check, and in times of frustration, you will be shocked at the results. Their reaction to being spoken to out of love rather than irritation will not only ease them but bring you both happiness in solving the issue together. Try it. Practice it. And be kind to everyone you meet, waitress included! 

Your First Semester at College Survival Guide

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As a high school senior you were on top of the food chain. You probably knew your school like the back of your hand and best of all you were comfortable. August is finally here and the fall college semester will begin soon. Some of you are heading to schools where you will be one of thousands of students, others are heading to small schools in which you will be one of hundreds. Either way it is a BIG change and college anxiety is real. 

Here are some ways to ease your mind and look forward to your first day of college: 

1. Purchase the essentials: Aside the typical dorm items, remember to purchase school supplies and your books. Show up to class prepared and ready to take notes (even if it is the first day of class). In college professors will expect you to always be prepared to learn, there is no movie day or freebie. 

2. Go explore the campus: Learn where your dorm is, the nearest dining halls and where your classes are. Learn to take the bus and time how long you take to reach your destination. This will help you plan how much time you have between classes. 

3. Get to know your professors: No, you do not have to take them to lunch, but introduce yourself during a class break and research their ratings on www.ratemyprofessor.com or a similar website  (this will make you aware of their teaching style and personality).  

4. Get to know your roommates: Spend time together, talk, go out to eat and learn what you have in common. Your roommates can be a great part of your college experience (they still are a great part of my life). You will be living with them so make the best of it and work on building a friendship. 

5. Have a schedule: Write down and plan out your day (from start to finish). This will help ease your stress and increase your timeliness. You can add lunch, time with friends, work out time, study hours and quizzes to all fit your schedule. 

6. Have fun: Take the time to join clubs and make friends. College is not just about your studies. It is a great opportunity to make social connections (future work connections are always great) and explore the things that really interest you. This will help you find your identity, which can help you choose a career that aligns with who you are. 

Prepare yourself for a year of learning, fun and exciting new ventures! College is what you make of it. Remember to take one day at a time. Patience is key to learning your way around, adapting to a new environment and surviving your first semester.  

Say No to Bullies

Tis' the season of back to school shopping, open houses and new class schedules. This time of year many teens can be anxiously awaiting the new school year. For many teens this is a positive nervous, excited feeling of the first day of school. But for some it can be very stressful, nerve wrecking and even depressing. 

The topic of bullies is one that never grows old. Bullies can be found in all schools, all grades and in all cities. The population of teens that are in middle school who are bullied is ever growing. Many parents and teens are afraid, worried and simply do not know what to do. Teach your kids how to say no. 

For starters, bullies are weak. They are insecure, lonely, angry and fearful. They pick on kids and teens who are quiet, shy and mostly introverted. Bullies want to feel powerful and they believe they will gain this by controlling the emotions of another. But they could not be more wrong. 

Kids and teens who are bullied are actually strong, have their own mindset and independence. They have to be reminded that they are powerful and can stand up for what they believe in. Standing up as a teen is not always easy, but is possible. Empowering a teen who has been bullied is a step in the right direction. 

As parents, please take the time this school year to talk to your children about bullies. Your child or teen may not have the courage to approach the topic, but it is of upmost importance. Bullying is a serious offense and thus it should be treated as such. Talk to your kids about standing up for what they believe in and about saying no in difficult situations. The more they practice and role play the easier it will be, if they are confronted by a bully. 

What does domestic violence teach children?

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Domestic violence is a private matter that has been brought into the public eye much in part to the NFL and the poor decisions of some football players. Many of us have heard the story about Ray Rice's wife and about their troubled marriage. Much of the talk about domestic violence is usually spent discussing what the parents are experiencing and although this is important, I ask "what about the kids?" Many people do not realize how domestic violence impacts a child's physical, mental and emotional development. 

By witnessing domestic violence a child can learn.....   

that hitting or yelling at others is an appropriate way of communicating 
hitting or yelling equals respect 
by hitting or yelling other people listen to you
physical strength is more important than anything else
to have difficulty trusting other adults and parents
to fight peers at school and break things at home
that a foundation for a relationship is fighting 
in all relationships someone must be submissive
physical strength is emotional strength
that all men or women are violent (depending on who is the abuser) 
the poor ability to cope with stress or anxiety 
the poor ability to resolve problems without fighting or arguing 
to have low self esteem related to self blame for the domestic violence
to be afraid when other people are yelling around the 
to hide their problems in the face of fear 
to not trust mom and dad since they can barely trust themselves 
to be insecure with themselves and others 
and that all adults are violent people  


Domestic violence is violence against a family unit, everyone is impacted. Children are very much affected by what they see and hear at home. A simple verbal argument among adults can start a downward spiral in their young minds. If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence relationship, I ask that you please find help, maybe not for yourself but definitely for your children. 

How is humor a sign of depression?

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The tragic death of the beloved Robin Williams has everyone asking "how?" Robin starred in many magnificent movie roles and was well known for his on screen talents. As with any national figure who has passed, you turn on the TV, radio or search through Facebook and everyone is in mourning, trying to collect the pieces. The question remains, how could a famous comedian be depressed to the point of suicide?

This answer begins with our definition or stereotype of depression. If you ask most of us, a depressed person is described as someone who exhibits the following: shyness, loss of interest, speaks minimally, isolates, sadness, tears, anger, poor appearance, has trouble eating or sleeping, does not smile or even laugh. Even though the above is true for most depressed clients, it is only a generalization. Depression can be masked or hidden if we really try to not make it apparent. This hidden depression is extremely dangerous since family, friends and loved ones are unaware of possible underlying symptoms. 

Someone who is depressed does not necessarily have to be honest about it and may use humor to cover a very sad truth. Humor and laughter are emotions quite opposite from sadness or anger which are typically associated with depression. For Robin Williams laughter was his way of coping with his true loneliness and despair. Some depressed clients, believe facing true and uncomfortable emotions is too frightening and they would rather just avoid any sorrow. Unfortunately, Robin used humor as his coping skill and all too well. 

As grief stricken fans, now all we can do is learn, hope and become more aware of depression symptoms. Depression can lead to suicide and depression does not always fit a stereotype. Do not be fooled by those around you who may seem to have it all, many people hide their true emotions for their own self protection. Being vulnerable and learning to face our demons without humor can be a true feat in itself.