Triggers and Trauma

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Triggers and Trauma

Trauma and its aftereffects can resonate through a person’s life.  Something that happened to you years or decades ago can rear its ugly head and shake you up like the intervening years had never occurred. I recently went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. From the second I walked in, the sounds and smells and feelings— the sound of scraping, the smell of disinfectant, the anticipation of pain— all sent me reeling. The dental hygienist was as lovely as she was kind, but her kindness did not stop my white-knuckled grip on the armrests. By the time she finished, my heart was racing, my hands were numb from clenching too tightly, and I needed a minute before I could stand. 

Even though I knew for a fact that bleeding gums were the worst I could expect from this visit, my brain refused to believe it. I was sent all the way back to my childhood, where I suffered under the hands of a not so gentle dentist who was not concerned with the comfort of a child. I was experiencing the aftereffects of trauma. 

The nature of trauma is a state of helplessness. Trauma is an overwhelming emotion to a threat or harm, the longer and more impactful that threat, the more disruption to our ability to think, plan or even speak.  That's why offering the language of kindness is so important for someone experiencing or re-living a traumatic event.  What's important is to find a safe place and person who can help you engage your trauma. Your trauma does not look like my trauma. Each of us has a unique story with a unique set of circumstances we have encountered.

Your trauma doesn’t need to be “big” or “devastating” for it to be valid. Your trauma can be as simple as hating to go to the dentist. But you need to know this in the deepest part of your heart: big or small, trauma affects the body, and that makes it a legitimate source of pain that you are more than allowed to seek help for. 

Diane Mitchell, LCC

 

 

What You Can Learn From Your Favorite Shoes

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Think about your favorite pair of shoes. You know the ones, the ones that you’ve had for a while. Maybe you save them for a special occasion, because they make you feel invincible. Maybe it’s because they fit exactly how you want a shoe to fit, and it is impossible to find something that feels that good again. My favorite shoes in high school were a pair of yellow converse. Sure I have had other converse in my life, but something about these yellow ones made me feel like I could tackle anything that the high school drama might throw at me. Like most shoes you buy, they had that shoe store smell. The ends were white and the yellow was bright and sunny. This didn’t last long for my faithful yellow converse, and never lasts for other shoes either. The laces start to fray, the memory foam wears down, maybe eventually the sole starts to rip from the upper, but there is something about those shoes that you want to wear them regardless. You love the shoes, and no matter how dirty they get you are going to wear those shoes. Now relate this to yourself. You at one time were new, shiny, and full of potential just like your favorite pair of shoes. As you get older and you start to go through messes, you may find yourself believing you are dirty. You may feel as if you are not worthy of being cared for because of the dirt that you have been treading through. You are sure that maybe you should just be thrown out, because afterall who wants a dirty human? The problem is that we often look down and see all our own dirt and forget that friends, family, and strangers are all walking through dirt too. We love them regardless, just like I loved my yellow converse. I wore them proudly with their frays, tears, and stains. I saw them all as something that told a story. Our dirt and our scars tell stories. We love our best friend’s scars, their dirt, their baggage. Why is it that we do not give ourselves that same treatment? Today when you think of your dirt, treat yourself with self-compassion. Care for yourself regardless of the dirt, and realize that it just makes you part of a really big club, the human race. 

Love Letters for our Future

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February brings up thoughts of romance and love for our significant others. Every magazine you see in the super market check- out line reads in bold letters: how to spice things up in the bedroom, or how to plan a perfect romantic evening for your better half. But what about your kids? One of my favorite marriage authors likes to say that teaching your kids about good healthy relationships starts the minute they are born. The same is true of romance. How you treat your spouse teaches your kids how to treat their own spouses in the future. When you make your wife a priority ahead of your kids you are teaching your kids that not only do women matter, but that their mother matters and has great worth and value. When you make your husband a priority you are teaching your kids that their dad is worthy of respect and has great value as well. So, tell your kids 'no, because I have date with your dad'. Tell your kids, 'you'll have to wait until I'm not done kissing your mother.'


Let your kids learn what is normal physical touch. By holding hands and being close, you are modeling a healthy relationship. Let your life and your marriage be the love letter that inspires your kids to write their own love letters.  As your children grow and develop their own relationships, they will rely on what they know to be true about their own value and worth. Right now, they will think they have the grossest parents ever, but in the end their own marriages will thank you for it.

An Invitation

Dear Reader,

Perhaps you have come across this letter because you have been considering talking to a therapist. Maybe this is not the first time. Perhaps a concern or problem has come up recently, or maybe there’s an old problem that won’t go away. Maybe it’s been getting worse and worse lately, and you find yourself running out of ways to fight back. Or could it be that this problem has told you that it’s your only friend, promising to give you support and comfort while it actually works to rob you of your life?

I know from my meetings with other people struggling against difficulties in life, that sometimes they are not enthusiastic about seeing a therapist. I'm afraid to say that’s what I am, but I am also someone who is very interested in helping people reclaim their lives from the grip of their problems. I have no intention of scrutinizing you to find the ways you don’t measure up, nor of convincing you to go along with my own ideas or perspectives, nor of converting you into a lifelong patient. Effective therapy is about meeting your needs and attaining your goals, and therapists strive to serve their clients in all aspects of their work.

It can be very difficult to decide whether to reach out to a therapist. It may seem strange to share of yourself with someone you don’t know, who might share little about their story in return. Additionally, the time and expense of therapy can be significant, or they may even seem to be impossibly high costs. These are important considerations, and we at Lantern Lane Farm take them seriously. We aim to provide a welcoming space for our clients, and we work hard to make sure that as many people as possible are able to afford our services.

If you are trying to decide whether to make an appointment with a therapist, I think there might be other considerations worthy of your attention, the kind which can be easily overshadowed by concerns like unfamiliarity or finances. Perhaps it would be helpful to consider these questions:

• If you were to take the step to consult with a therapist, what would you be giving value to in your life? What would that step say about what is important to you?
• If the problem(s) in your life got to vote on whether to take that step, how would it/they vote?
• Sometimes it can be difficult to imagine how therapy may be of help to you. I’ll admit, I often have a tough time describing it in a general way, because the process of therapy holds so many possibilities that simple descriptions tend to be either too limited or too vague. Here’s a starting point though: How might life be different if you had more say in how things go, instead of the problem calling the shots?
• Here’s another question in a similar vein: If a therapist could meet you as a person, instead of as a patient to be cured or a problem to be solved, what would they get to know about you? If you were only a patient in their eyes, what would they miss out on?

If you are ready to meet face-to-face, we would love to hear from you. Any one of us on the team at Lantern Lane Farm would be happy to answer any questions you may have about walking together awhile on the journey.

Yours sincerely,
Aaron Karr, MMFT

www.LanternLaneFarm.org

info@lanternlanefarm.org

(615) 973-5454

#mentalhealth #therapy #counseling #lanternlanefarm #Tennessee #equinetherapy #help

 

 

Making Lasting Change

Making Lasting Changes

“New Year, New Me.”

We have all said it at one point or another, and when the clock strikes midnight we resolve to make lasting changes. Everything from eat healthier, to exercise more, to learning a new skill or language, resolutions tend to be quite broad and all encompassing. Whatever our resolutions are, they tend to revolve around the theme of “making healthy choices.” Which is fantastic! Yet, despite our best intentions on January 1st, July rolls around and we realize that we are nowhere near our goal. Maybe you’re even like me and cannot remember what your resolutions were way back then! Life happens, and we get busy, and as is often the case, we lose our momentum.

The most common resolution is to lose weight and it is that resolution I would like to help with. Now, what I’m going to say isn’t going to be anything magical, and it’s probably something you will not want to hear, but if you take it to heart, you will find that you are much more likely to accomplish the goal of losing weight and being healthier. Most of us tend to dive into the deep end of our resolutions, and if that includes weight loss we tend to do the following: sign up for a gym membership, go nearly every day, push really really hard, drastically change our diet overnight, and so on. All of those can lead to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, but there is a problem.

Doing all those things, all at once, is biting off more than we can chew. We simply get overwhelmed and burnt out, which is why we tend to give up around Valentine’s day.

So how do we make those lasting changes without getting overwhelmed?

Make one small change at a time.

That’s it.

Make one small change at a time.

It isn’t popular and doesn’t sound all that exciting, but making one small change at a time builds momentum, and that moment will carry you through the entire year.

So it would look something like this.

Step 1: Identify how much weight you want to lose.

Step 2: Identify what “eating healthy” looks like for you (I follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of my meals are made at home and consist of whole foods, 20% of my food is whatever I choose.)

Step 3: Identify how often you will REALISTICALLY exercise in a given week.

Now, pick the most basic actions from steps 2 and 3.

That may look something like “this week I’ll drink 1 coke per day (instead of 2), and I will exercise for 30 minutes at the gym 2 days per week.”

Then, the next week you can do something like “Eat one less meal at a restaurant this week, and go walk in the park 1 day this week.”

And so it goes! Each week you make one small change, and those changes build on each other. After a few weeks you are exercising regularly, eating healthy, and will find yourself intentionally making healthier lifestyle choices. After a few months you will find that you have lost weight and feel like these new choices are just a part of your every day life. Then, by next January, you will have successfully met this year’s resolution.

Happy New Year everyone! If you need any further help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Blessings!

A Hallmark Christmas

   
  
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    An impeccable setting -  the perfect amount of snow and temperatures that allow beautiful people to sip coffee or hot chocolate on a deck that overlooks pristine views of mountains and ice-covered lakes for ice skating. Snowflakes fall on perfectly coiffed hair, designer coats, capes and cashmere scarves.  The snowfall is timed beautifully depending on the content of the conversation.     Carolers sing flawlessly in the background - perfectly balanced sound in four part harmony.  Evidently each caroler has been classically trained.  Their pitch is unwavering in spite of the winter elements.  The carolers are often accompanied by instrumentalists who must be hiding in the landscaping.     Lavish, sumptuous meals served in spacious yet cozy dining areas on tables decorated  by interior designers. Quintessential meals are enjoyed by handsome muscular men and perfectly built beautiful women.  Apparently, all the people who may have some minor physical blemish have stayed home for the day or maybe they are enjoying their meal in the adjoining dining room.        Imperfection is nowhere to be found in this scene because the scene is meant to depict absolute perfection - the ideal Christmas.  It stirs the heart, it gives that warm fuzzy feeling.  It allows one to step out of a very imperfect world momentarily into a land of flawlessness.  It’s romantic, magical and dreamy.     And then it happens, the credits begin to roll and  the realization that  two hours passed quickly while slipping into a place filled with fantasy.  It was enjoyable.  Even the commercials brought tears causing reminiscent thinking. The two hours gave some time to rest, get warm and maybe even catch a few short naps.  Now, yes, NOW!  Finally, there is that “Christmas Spirit”.  Where have you been, anyway?  Now, at last it  feels  like Christmas!     Where is the top section of the Christmas tree?  It was right here when the tree was put away last year.  Oh well, no one will notice once the angel is on top.  That will work perfectly, because there is no need for a  ladder.   The top is easy to reach.   Now that the angel is not so high it can be seen so much better.  Wait a minute, there seems to be a branch missing.  Oh yeah, that little accident happened when putting the tree away.  That open space can be remedied with just a little fluffing and a couple of oversized ornaments.     It’s raining outside creating some muddy slippery conditions making it very difficult to do the outdoor decorating.  What in the world happened to that favorite Christmas Sweater?  Apparently, it shrunk.  It certainly doesn’t fit like it did last year.  Looking in the mirror confirms that someone has been washing and drying Christmas sweaters improperly in this house.  And by the way, that wrinkle was NOT there last year.  Is that patch of hair thinning just a little bit?  No, it can’t be.     This Christmas will be different. Last year there was a lot of tension, but now that the divorce papers have been signed it’s beginning to feel real.  There have been so many losses over the past few years - the job, the death and now the divorce.  The realization that the massive changes, the lack of finances and life circumstances does not allow or foster the creation of the perfect Christmas.  The expectations, the dreams, the hopes for the ideal Christmas as seen on TV have been crushed.  Most Christmas movies seem to have an element of predictability, but there is no way predict “the ending” of this season.  Disconcerting, troubling, unsettling are words that don’t seem to adequately describe this moment in time.     Is this where you find yourself this year?  Have you created expectations for this Holiday Season that are unreasonable?  The movies, music, tv shows, magazines are certainly fun.  They allow us to use our imagination and dream.  We can reminisce of times past and dream of what we might like for our life to look like.  I will admit that when it comes to sappy, I win first place!  I love it all - the music, the movies, shopping, ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS!  But, often, I find myself experiencing Post Christmas Letdown because my expectations have been way too high and based on what the media suggests Christmas should look like.     Being an avid fan of Peanuts, I love the scene in the “Charlie Brown Christmas Movie” where Charlie Brown exclaims “Doesn’t anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?”.  Linus Van Pelt goes to center stage and quotes the account of the birth of Jesus from the Gospel of St. Luke.  He then finishes by saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”     As a therapist, I sit with many people who will struggle deeply this Christmas.  They have legitimate reasons for intense sadness and a plethora of other emotions.  If you are one of those people, I want to encourage you “feel what you feel”.  Allow yourself to step out of the expectations that you or others may have of you.  Often it will mean you allowing yourself to grieve well your loss.  Give yourself permission to embrace the feelings that come naturally with loss and hurt.  Then LISTEN!  Listen carefully in the midst of your darkness.  Can you imagine with me that voice from the heavens “Fear not: for, behold, I bring YOU good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.   For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)     I want to invite you to continue your journey.  Allow yourself to sit at the manger.  Engage all of your senses as you sit quietly in this very simple place.  Watch all the activity, listen to the voices as they whisper so as not to wake the baby.  Listen for the moments when the shepherds join the Angel Choir singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Rest there with me!  As you continue to navigate your sadness, I want to encourage you to allow this peace just a small place in your soul.  And as you do this, it does not mean that you won’t grieve anymore.  It does not mean that your loss is no longer a loss.  It just means that you are allowing the simplicity of that special night to bring light to those dark places in your soul.     Let me encourage you to be mindful of expectations that you place on yourself and this season.  Hoping that you will be intentional about being kind to yourself and others.   May you find rest and peace in this season of celebration.     Many Blessings!     Ralph Cook, LMFT

An impeccable setting -  the perfect amount of snow and temperatures that allow beautiful people to sip coffee or hot chocolate on a deck that overlooks pristine views of mountains and ice-covered lakes for ice skating. Snowflakes fall on perfectly coiffed hair, designer coats, capes and cashmere scarves.  The snowfall is timed beautifully depending on the content of the conversation.

 

Carolers sing flawlessly in the background - perfectly balanced sound in four part harmony.  Evidently each caroler has been classically trained.  Their pitch is unwavering in spite of the winter elements.  The carolers are often accompanied by instrumentalists who must be hiding in the landscaping.

 

Lavish, sumptuous meals served in spacious yet cozy dining areas on tables decorated  by interior designers. Quintessential meals are enjoyed by handsome muscular men and perfectly built beautiful women.  Apparently, all the people who may have some minor physical blemish have stayed home for the day or maybe they are enjoying their meal in the adjoining dining room.   

 

Imperfection is nowhere to be found in this scene because the scene is meant to depict absolute perfection - the ideal Christmas.  It stirs the heart, it gives that warm fuzzy feeling.  It allows one to step out of a very imperfect world momentarily into a land of flawlessness.  It’s romantic, magical and dreamy.

 

And then it happens, the credits begin to roll and  the realization that  two hours passed quickly while slipping into a place filled with fantasy.  It was enjoyable.  Even the commercials brought tears causing reminiscent thinking. The two hours gave some time to rest, get warm and maybe even catch a few short naps.  Now, yes, NOW!  Finally, there is that “Christmas Spirit”.  Where have you been, anyway?  Now, at last it feels like Christmas!

 

Where is the top section of the Christmas tree?  It was right here when the tree was put away last year.  Oh well, no one will notice once the angel is on top.  That will work perfectly, because there is no need for a  ladder.   The top is easy to reach.   Now that the angel is not so high it can be seen so much better.  Wait a minute, there seems to be a branch missing.  Oh yeah, that little accident happened when putting the tree away.  That open space can be remedied with just a little fluffing and a couple of oversized ornaments.

 

It’s raining outside creating some muddy slippery conditions making it very difficult to do the outdoor decorating.  What in the world happened to that favorite Christmas Sweater?  Apparently, it shrunk.  It certainly doesn’t fit like it did last year.  Looking in the mirror confirms that someone has been washing and drying Christmas sweaters improperly in this house.  And by the way, that wrinkle was NOT there last year.  Is that patch of hair thinning just a little bit?  No, it can’t be.

 

This Christmas will be different. Last year there was a lot of tension, but now that the divorce papers have been signed it’s beginning to feel real.  There have been so many losses over the past few years - the job, the death and now the divorce.  The realization that the massive changes, the lack of finances and life circumstances does not allow or foster the creation of the perfect Christmas.  The expectations, the dreams, the hopes for the ideal Christmas as seen on TV have been crushed.  Most Christmas movies seem to have an element of predictability, but there is no way predict “the ending” of this season.  Disconcerting, troubling, unsettling are words that don’t seem to adequately describe this moment in time.

 

Is this where you find yourself this year?  Have you created expectations for this Holiday Season that are unreasonable?  The movies, music, tv shows, magazines are certainly fun.  They allow us to use our imagination and dream.  We can reminisce of times past and dream of what we might like for our life to look like.  I will admit that when it comes to sappy, I win first place!  I love it all - the music, the movies, shopping, ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS!  But, often, I find myself experiencing Post Christmas Letdown because my expectations have been way too high and based on what the media suggests Christmas should look like.

 

Being an avid fan of Peanuts, I love the scene in the “Charlie Brown Christmas Movie” where Charlie Brown exclaims “Doesn’t anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?”.  Linus Van Pelt goes to center stage and quotes the account of the birth of Jesus from the Gospel of St. Luke.  He then finishes by saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

 

As a therapist, I sit with many people who will struggle deeply this Christmas.  They have legitimate reasons for intense sadness and a plethora of other emotions.  If you are one of those people, I want to encourage you “feel what you feel”.  Allow yourself to step out of the expectations that you or others may have of you.  Often it will mean you allowing yourself to grieve well your loss.  Give yourself permission to embrace the feelings that come naturally with loss and hurt.  Then LISTEN!  Listen carefully in the midst of your darkness.  Can you imagine with me that voice from the heavens “Fear not: for, behold, I bring YOU good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.   For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)

 

I want to invite you to continue your journey.  Allow yourself to sit at the manger.  Engage all of your senses as you sit quietly in this very simple place.  Watch all the activity, listen to the voices as they whisper so as not to wake the baby.  Listen for the moments when the shepherds join the Angel Choir singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Rest there with me!  As you continue to navigate your sadness, I want to encourage you to allow this peace just a small place in your soul.  And as you do this, it does not mean that you won’t grieve anymore.  It does not mean that your loss is no longer a loss.  It just means that you are allowing the simplicity of that special night to bring light to those dark places in your soul.

 

Let me encourage you to be mindful of expectations that you place on yourself and this season.  Hoping that you will be intentional about being kind to yourself and others.   May you find rest and peace in this season of celebration.

 

Many Blessings!

 

Ralph Cook, LMFT

Grief and the Holidays

Grief Blog Picture.jpg

by Carol Fancher, LPC-MHSP(temp)NCC

Have you experienced a loss of a loved one recently and wish you could skip the holidays? Everyone’s scurrying about with all this decorating and singing and shopping and parties, yet, you find yourself uninterested, even disgusted at times by it all! You used to love the holidays, so what is different? In his book, A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis compared the death of a beloved to having an amputation. I would agree, because the impact of losing a limb, as well as losing a loved one- profoundly impacts every aspect of one’s life-mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Other circumstances of the loss can also affect one’s road to recovery. So then on top of this, there are the holidays! Wish they would go away, or hope they will help you get your joy back? Whatever your thoughts, it may be helpful to focus first on self-care and grace! It’s important to take care of yourself with healthy eating, sleeping, and regular exercise. Next, take one day, one moment at a time and give yourself grace! It’s ok not to be in the “holiday spirit”! It’s ok to skip or take a break from a party or family gathering. If you do go, take some grace with you, because people say all the wrong things-even if they mean well! Let me leave you with one challenge for this holiday season: create one new tradition. It can be to honor your loved one, or for your fresh start, or both!