20 reasons why I choose to not go to my 20 year reunion

This evening is my 20 year high school reunion from BTWHSPVA. In case you don’t know what that stands for: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, the Most Unique School in Dallas.

I am not going. I have had people tell me I should go, ask me why not and share with me great stories about their last reunion.

Since I have found myself feeling I have to justify my position here are 20 reasons why I choose to not go to my 20 year high school reunion:

  1. I just don’t want to. From the second they started planning it I have had Zero interest.
  2. I still talk to who I want to talk to from high school. That is 2 people in case you are wondering, 2.
  3. I could not decide what color of lipstick to wear. 
  4. Frankly, there are people I have no desire to see.
  5. I choose to focus on my like and friends now. This is more my “glory days” than high school ever was.
  6. All the babysitters are booked.
  7. Downtown Dallas – TX/OU weekend – need I say more?
  8. Since high school was not my “glory days” why would I wasn’t to reflect on that? 20 year reunion
  9. Social media already gives me highlights of those I would like to see.
  10. Just seeing the social media build up to the reunion looks like the same cliques still exist. No Thank You.
  11. High school was a social experiment I barely survived. I don’t need the social experiment of a reunion with the same crowd.
  12. The only memories I have of our 10 year reunion is a lot of drinking, cliques and hearing who is cheating with their spouse as he is prowling on old high school flames.  
  13. I can’t find my Doc Martins. This actually sucks because they are coming back in style.
  14. I was so disconnected in high school so I really don’t have much connection with many from those years.
  15. When I think of high school I think of my eating disorder, depression and thoughts of driving my car into White Rock Lake.
  16. A youth group reunion sounds more fun because more of my good memories from those years were from there.
  17. I think I would remember about ten peoples names. 
  18. In no way do I consider high school as my glory years. For those who did, I am sorry those days ended for you, enjoy rehashing old stories tonight.
  19. I’d rather watch Netflix and Chill.
  20. oh, and I never lost that 30 pounds.

Sure, a little piece of me wants to go. To say I went. To see my bestie from elementary school. To see the show because I am sure there will be something amazingly creative happen. We are talking about a reunion of artists, dancers, actors and musicians. Hubby said we would be going if Nora Jones had RSVPed. To my knowledge she hasn’t.

Instead, today I choose to live today as I do these days. 20 years after the ending of the worst social experiment ever. I am relaxing at home with my hubby watching the TX-OU game from my couch, cooking dinner, clothes in the wash and my boys outside playing with friends in the street. This evening will probably just be a regular Saturday night here at the Johnson house. Chill.

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Enough

How many more ? How many more precious souls will be lost before we collectively seek to understand and heal the underlying causes of mass murder in America?

As a mental health professional, I wish I could say I was hopeful about finding a solution but unfortunately, I am not.  If we did not make this horrific problem a priority the day 26 innocent children & teachers were senselessly slaughtered in their classrooms, I fear we never will.

enough Continue reading

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Mothering a Newborn: Tips for the Criminally Exhausted Mommy

5 weeks. 5 weeks of being an official mother of 3. 1 newborn, 1 preschooler, and 1 kindergartener. How do I feel? Probably the most common question I am asked, right before “Are you getting any sleep?” Both of these questions can and should be answered the same: It changes every day.

Today I am tired. Tired from several sleepless nights due to a recent discovery that my newborn is lactose intolerant, which apparently equals to painful feedings, screaming, crying, and incessant toots – those being painful, too. Poor baby. And yes, poor mommy.

Then the morning comes, always too quickly, and my older two children need to be fed, dressed, and out the door before the tardy bell rings. The tardy bell – that’s a whole other story… who knew kindergarten teachers could be so scary! To me, not to my kid. He loves school. I’ve already managed to get in trouble for messing up the car pool line, forgetting my car pool sign, being too early to school, too late, buying the wrong color binder… geez! Get it together, mom! I should have done a little more research on mom expectations before the first day. But, oh well. We will survive. And, we’ll all be okay.
These first weeks of mayhem are reminding me of 1 very important lesson I’ve several times learned and frequently forgotten…

Let go of at least one thing that doesn’t have to be done today.

I find I often want to do a lot of things and accomplish a lot of tasks. Clean the house, fold the laundry, put away the laundry, go to Target (because that’s what all home bound moms live to do) cook dinner, eat dinner, bathe myself, bathe my kids, sit down, sing nighttime songs, read bedtime stories, spend time with my husband, wash my face, brush my teeth, go to sleep, get some sleep! Before waking up and doing it all again.

Seems doable, right? On a “normal” day, sure. But, with a newborn? Not so much. Doing any one of these things can feel like an accomplishment when you’re bartering with a tiny human for food, sleep, and comfort.
 
When I’m approaching that danger zone of “If one more person asks for me for one more thing, I’m going to freak out!” I must ask myself, which of these “must-do’s” can I erase off my list? Better yet, maybe best to just trash the list all together. I’d rather have a little extra calm while wearing a spit up stained t-shirt, feeding my kids pb&j for the 5th day in row (trust me, they love it!) than be frantically squirming back and forth between laundry piles, burnt food on the stove, and kids crying because “mommy keeps yelling at me”.

I mean is that what I want my life to look like?

I think not.

 So, I ask myself, what can go un-done today? What can I let go of? What can I put off until tomorrow. What can I ask for help with? Epiphany! You can ask for help!

Maybe for today it means I let the dust collect a little more. (I reeeaaaallllyyy hate dust, but it will not kill me to see it for one more day). Maybe it means ordering takeout or eating soup for dinner. Maybe it means not making it to the gym, which is a luxury these days anyway. Maybe it means greasy hair (for me and my kids) or maybe it means getting to school after the tardy bell rings. Shocker! Life will go on. And by the way, no kid was ever sent to therapy because his mom got him to school late one day (or a few). It will be okay.

You’ve got to make sure you are okay. Cancel plans. Stay in bed. Forget the dishes. And the laundry. There will be another day, if we are so lucky, to do it all again.

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I AM THAT GIRL

GIRLS MATTER.

Girls receive over 3,000 messages a day telling them what they aren’t and I AM THAT GIRL exists to help them celebrate what they are.  I am that girl is a movement inspiring girls to love, express, and be exactly who they are.

My Girl…You have a beautiful heart and a beautiful mind. I love you! Mom

They have several local chapters of forward thinking girls & women on High School and College campuses. These chapters work to shift girl culture in America, by raising the standards for how girls treat themselves, each other, and the world.

When I spotted this noble venture on line, I was reminded that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is rooted in exploring and challenging negative core beliefs individuals have about ourselves,  others, and the world. This type of therapy teaches the skills necessary to overcome negative & destructive patterns of thinking.

Cognitive behavioral therapy also helps to identify which factors are playing a role in maintaining a negative body image and works to address each one by teaching the skills necessary to allow healing to occur.

Once the negative thoughts have been identified and evaluated for truthfulness, it is time to replace them with positive, productive thoughts that create a favorable outcome. this involves practice and dedication but has been demonstrated to be extremely effective in breaking the cycle of negative thinking.

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” Maya Angelou

If you or someone you know suffers from body image problems, low self esteem, or body dysmorphic disorder, I would encourage you to contact a counselor in your area for guidance and support. Please take a minute today to visit I AM THAT GIRL.COM and take the pledge today!  I have done it…Now it’s your turn. http://www.iamthatgirl.com/

I, Angie Glancy, am that girl…

I have a brilliant heart and a beautiful mind. I am me, an amazing work in progress, and perfectly flawed. I promise to lift other girls up, have their backs, and make it safe for them to be exactly who they are. I’m on a mission to raise the standards for how we treat each other, how we treat ourselves, and how we treat the world. Every time I look in the mirror I’ll remind myself that I’m not alone, that my voice matters, and that I am enough.

 

https://instagram.com/iamthatgirl

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Good Bye High School, Hello College

So nice to hear from someone who recently went through this big transition. She shares what helped her the most when it was time to go. Written by my Summer intern Karley Knight who spent the first half of her summer studying abroad in Ireland and the second half helping me get more “put together.” She offers parents a few hints as to what your budding college freshman really need from you as they get closer to move in day.

The big transition…

          Consider two fruits- apples and bananas. They’re both fruits, nutritional, and have the same goal- to fulfill hunger. However, they differ in crucial ways. They’re different colors, taste differently, have different benefits, and so on. Compare the similarities and differences of apples and bananas to high school and college. Both high school and college are forms of schooling, have the same goal of educating students, and so on. However, they also have defining differences that make them seem like two completely different concepts.

going off to college

            Almost every high schooler can’t wait until they can finally escape the immaturity and monotony of high school to flee to the magical idea of college. They’ve enviously eyed college students and their wild parties, autonomy, and seemingly glamorous lifestyle from the confines of their dreary hallways for the last four years, and they’re more than ready to join the cool crowd. Although dreaming about their idealistic future can be exhilarating, their excitement can be easily squashed when they realize the other, more sobering factors that go along with leaving home. They have to think about the less fun realities of college- harder classes, doing their own laundry, having to shop for groceries, and other things they’re used to having their parents do for them.

            I was just like the majority of overly enthusiastic students whenever it was my time to depart for college. After graduation, I was so excited to finally exchange my all too familiar small town for a new, diverse college environment. I was so busy planning how I would decorate my dorm room, constructing my class schedule, and picking out school supplies that I didn’t leave any time to think about anything else but the pros of moving away. As the summer drew to a close and move in day crept closer, my blind enthusiasm slowly began to be replaced by a growing realization of what I was leaving behind. I had been waiting for move in day for so long that I’d forgotten that it was actually going to happen. I now thought about how drastically my life was about to change, and had the same worries that most college freshman have, such as the first week of classes, dorm life, a new social scene, and so on.

what i needed from my parents            My parents were a huge help in assuaging my newbie college anxieties. Their support helped my transition from high school senior to college rookie smoother. There were three main things that my parents did in the time leading up to my farewell that really encouraged me:

  1. Constantly reminded me that my core social support (my family) would always be there for me with unwavering love
  2. Advised me that I wouldn’t be 100% successful, and that it was going to take me a minute to get used to my new situation, but that it was okay to not be perfect at everything right away
  3. Always demonstrated genuine confidence in me and my ability to adapt and thrive in college

            By having a secure, supportive backbone to fall back on, I felt less alone in my journey to college. In addition, by being told that I wasn’t expected to automatically be perfectly established in college alleviated the pressure I put on myself to prove that I could be successful on my own. The third, and probably most important one, was the way my parents responded to me whenever I expressed my apprehension about leaving. Both my mom and dad always assured me that they had no qualms concerning my capability to do well in college. They constantly told me how proud they were of me for going to college and how excited they were to see me flourish in the coming years. By hearing about how others believed in me helped me believe in myself, which was crucial in assuaging my fears. I encourage parents with kids preparing to leave the nest to practice these same strategies to help their children feel better during this time.

            Parents shouldn’t expect their kids to be perfect, but instead expect them to learn from their experiences and become a greater person because of those opportunities. And although they may want to, parents can’t do everything for their kids. They can support and advise them, but ultimately adolescents must learn for themselves how to manage their affairs on their own.

college transition

This progression period is a tough time filled with conflicting emotions of excitement and anxiety, but the transition from home to college is a very important time in a person’s life. College helps develop one’s true identity and realize what they really want in life. It seems daunting in the beginning, but after acclimating to college, life becomes much more exciting.

Written by Karley Knight

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NEW SCHOOL YEAR AHEAD! Preparing Your Child for Change: BEING POSITIVE

Last week I sent my daughter off to a new preschool. All anxiety, trepidation, and fear (on my part) was laid to rest as she went bounding into the room with a smile on her face, ready to take on the new adventure. In that moment I became very aware of two possibilities: either I am a very overactive nervous mommy OR I did a sufficient job preparing her for the change. Maybe both.

In my previous post we talked about preparing your child for the new school year through proactive prepping. Today we will focus on being positive in the face of change and all things new.

Now you might be thinking that in order to be a positive thinking parent you must be a positive thinking person. I am here to tell you, this is not true. You may, however, find that through some practice you will become a more positive person, and who doesn’t want that? I, by nature, am a skeptic. I’ve trained my brain to believe if I consider all the things that could go wrong I will then be able to prepare myself to handle it more successfully. Faulty logic, here. What actually ends up happening is I turn myself into a worrying, stressed, and irritable mess who’s actually less capable of handling the circumstances gracefully. Maybe a little positive, hopeful thinking is a worthwhile alternative to consider… I decided to give it a try.

Being positive doesn’t mean you ignore the negative. It means you include both potential pitfalls and potential successes by addressing them with a solution focused mindset.

Since we are talking about beginning a new school year, let’s take my son for example. He’s turning 5 next week and will be entering elementary school 4 days later. He’ll also be partaking in welcoming a new sibling within this exact time frame. 3 big milestones here!

My son happens to be a bit of a skeptic himself, thinking of what could go wrong before what could go right. Preparing him effectively takes a lot of positivity while still paying careful attention to his concerns. Again, we are not seeking to discount the supposed negatives here. How do I go about this delecate task? Let’s take a look…

How to be a Positive Parent when Facing Change


1). Listen Fully


As I reminded my son this morning that we were going to his kindergarten school to talk with the teacher, I could see the nerves creep up on him. “But why, mommy? I don’t want to. I don’t want you to leave me there. I will be scared.”

First, I needed to remind him what was actually going to take place. “I am not going to leave. I will be there the whole time while you talk to the teacher. We will be there for a little while then we’ll come back home.” (Proactive Prepping in action). “Oh, okay.”, he stated as his nerves soothed a bit.

It is crucial to listen to what your child is telling you, verbally and non verbally, so you can effectively respond. Being positive does not mean discounting the concern through statements such as, “It’s fine. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Don’t worry. Etc.” This causes your child to shut their fears inside where they remain unaddressed. Encourage them to let it out.

2). Validate their feelings.


“Honey, I know going new places and meeting new people can seem scary. It’s all so new! Let’s think of what you might do when you we get there. (More proactive preparing here).

3). Consider the Positives


Help your child consider the good things while validating the supposed ‘not so good ‘. “I bet the teacher will be so nice. And the classrooms – ooh man, I bet there are so many cool toys and crafts in there. You will have so many fun choices! What do you think it will be like?” “I think there will be computers?! And games?! Lots of things to color with?!” “Oh yeah! I bet you’re right! I can’t wait for us to go and check it out together!” This convo sounds like it’s taking a positive turn.

4). Let go….


There comes a time where you may need to release the grip and let your child see for himself that it really is “okay”. If you have a particularly anxious child, seeing is believing. After all your preparations and positivity they may still feel nervous, and that is okay. Having your positive belief that it really is okay will allow them to step forward in trust. There may be tears and little fists gripping your shirt that you have to pry loose with the jaws of life, but they can, and most likely will see for themself that it is okay. Better than okay even.

Monitoring your own anxiety is critical. If you’re child senses that you’re afraid, they will feel afraid. Remind yourself and your child that THIS IS A GOOD THING! You wouldn’t be doing this, on purpose, if it wasn’t.

Change can be daunting, or scary, but there sure are a lot of exciting things to be experienced on the other side. Have fun!

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Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Earlier in the week I introduced you to the basic concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a direct approach to problem solving in counseling that focuses on identifying, challenging, and changing faulty belief systems and distorted ways of thinking…otherwise known as Stinkin’ Thinkin”.

My last blog post explored the powerful link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Today we will move beyond the CBT triangle and focus on distorted thinking patterns called Cognitive distortions. Quite simply, cognitive distortions are inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thinking, behavior, and emotions.

For instance, a mom who has just signed on for a new PTA position might tell herself she SHOULDN’T make any mistakes in this new role and MUST transition into the role seamlessly. These types of SHOULD/MUST thoughts cause anxiety & unnecessary emotional distress.

Below are a few more types of distorted thinking that can lead to what I like to call “Mommy-Manic Moments!!!!”

Magnifying or Minimizing: Exaggerating or minimizing the importance of events-discounting achievements or exaggerating mistakes. “Everyone noticed I left the date off of the school carnival packet. This is AWFUL & everyone will think I am incompetent.”

Overgeneralizing: Making broad statements from a single or a few events. “I wasn’t as prepared for the PTA meeting today as I should have been. I am always unprepared!” 

Magical Thinking: A belief that acts will influence unrelated situations. “I am a good person-bad things should not happen to me.”

Personalization: Believing that one is responsible for events outside of his/her own control. “My child is going through a hard time. If I were a better mom, my child would never have to face hard times.”

Jumping to Conclusions by Mind Reading: Interpreting the thoughts and beliefs of others without adequate evidence. “Little Johnny wasn’t invited to that birthday party, so that mom must think he is an awful kid!” 

Jumping to Conclusions by Fortune Telling: Expecting a situation will turn out badly without adequate evidence. “Little Bobby will surely fail 2nd grade because he isn’t reading at the same level as the other children in his class.” 

As you can probably guess, this type of negative thinking leads to anxiety & depression….Not to mention countless unplanned trips to TARGET for retail therapy!!!! In upcoming posts, we will explore a few more types of Stinkin’ Thinkin’ & begin the process of challenging and changing Negative Nelly thoughts.

Until then…

Image result for keep calm and cognitive distortions

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New School Year Ahead! Preparing Your Child for Change: Being Proactive

http://happymindhappyhome.com/new-school-year-ahead-proactively-preparing-child-change/

“I want to go to my new school!”, squeals my (almost) 3 year old. In a few short days she’ll be transitioning to a new daycare . My husband and I have been prepping her for this change for a couple months… and prepping ourselves as well. Due to multiple changes occurring within this month ahead (hello baby number 3, kindergarten here we come) we figured why not just throw in one more thing. Changes all around! No man left behind! Let’s go all in!


If you’ve read any of my most recent posts you understated that for me, change usually brings anxiety. But, we are not here to talk about anxiety today. I’m taking a break from anxiety for a while. Instead, I’m focusing on being proactive, positive, and peaceful. I’m keeping in mind that I can only control so much. The rest I must leave up to faith, hope, and trust. I have come to realize I really do know very very little about predicting the future. Psychic readings are not my calling. <huff>

Let’s take some time, shall we, to focus on these 3 “P” words: Proactive, Positive, and Peaceful. Given that there is much to be said on each one of these “P” words I am going to break it down to 3 separate posts over the next 3 weeks, which will be just in time for most of you as you get ready to send your kiddo off to a new school year. We’re going to start with the first, and most important, in my opinion –

Being Proactive:

Though I cannot know for certain how my children will adjust to their new schools, new friends, new teachers, new sibling, and all other things new, I can, however, prepare them for what to expect  (as best as I am able).

Let’s take my daughter for example. She has gone to the same daycare her whole life. This makes it difficult for my husband and I to move her somewhere new where she doesn’t know anyone. Somewhere new where we don’t know anyone. ** Now these two sentences here are important. Important because as parents we may have the tendency to project our feelings (anxiety or otherwise) onto our children. I may be feeling anxious, my husband may be feeling anxious, but my daughter, well that’s a maybe. All I know right now is she feels excited about going somewhere new. She likes new. She is an adventurous soul in this way. Me – not so much. All the more reason not to assume that I know how she’ll feel. I can know, with a little therapist background in my pocket, that preparing kids for changes is crucial no matter how fluidly they adapt to changes or not. We all like to know what’s ahead.

Proactive Prepping

So what is the best way to proactively prep your child for change? The number 1 rule I share with the parents I work work is:

Paint a Mental Picture for Your Child.
 

Not an actual picture, a mental picture. Children function through images. They develop understanding through seeing and doing as opposed to hearing. Learning through hearing is an acquired skill that develops more through development and growth. When children are young, they need to see and do in order to fully grasp ahold of a concept. This helps them feel empowered and in control.


With my daughter we’ve been driving by the school regularly, we made a visit to the school so she could see the classrooms, see the actual space she’ll be going to each day to play. This will help her feel a little safer when we return on her actual 1st day. Now, lucky for me I have the opportunity to bring her there for a trial morning in which she’ll get to return home with me after a couple hours versus a full day. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is more for my peace of mind or hers. Like I said, this is a change for everyone. I don’t know these people either!! I digress…. back to being proactive. If you don’t have the opportunity to physically see a change before it takes place, you can still very well assist your child in creating their mental picture. Most important is you want to speak your child’s language – play. Remember, they learn through seeing and doing.

Here are 3 simple ideas for how to do this:

  1. Draw a picture together
  2. Enact a scene using dolls and other toys.
  3. Dress up and act out a scene together of the first day.

How to get started:

  • Start out by reminding your child about the upcoming change.
  • Tell her that today you’re going to draw a picture/play a game together about the first day of school.
  • Allow her to select the materials to get started.
  • Ask questions along the way to help shape her mental picture, such as what will it look like, what colors will the room be, what will her teacher be like, what will she play with, what will she eat, etc. There are no limits really to how imaginative you can become. *It is important, though, that this picture be one grounded in reality. You want her mental picture to closely reflect what will actually happen.
  • Also helpful to include here is a play by play. “Mommy will bring you to school and walk you to your room where we’ll meet your new teacher. I’ll get you settled in your room then mommy will leave for work. After work I will come back to pick you up. I’ll be so excited to see and hear what you do on your first day!” Always great to end with something you can both look forward to.

All of these help shape your child’s understating of what will take place when this change occurs, aiding her in feeling masterful over what’s the come as opposed to feeling at the whim of the changing tides ahead.

Helping our children feel in control in a healthy way is the best way of preventing them to look for control in unhealthy ways. These little people deserve this help from us. And hey, you will likely find that it’s quite helpful for you as well!

I look forward to hearing how proactive prepping helps you and your child grow through change together. Please share. And come back next week for tips on a being a positive parent through change.

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