Category Archives: adoption

Make this an Action not Re-action Year in your life.

By Paula Randant,  LCSW  1/25/2011

Often we spend our life in reaction mode.  We react to the words of others.  We react to situations.  We react to opportunities.  When we react we put the presenter in charge of our life and our plans.  The original stimulus/action/thought are not ours, we are REACTING.  Taking action to plan what we want to participate in or achieve in life gives us control over our life.  Being in control requires dreaming, thinking, self evaluation, planning and then goal setting.  Reacting is often easier.  It requires no advance work but it denies us achievement under our own terms.  It also often leaves us not going after personal dreams.  To ‘shoot for the moon’ you have to dream of some achievement first.  Often we set aside our dreams because they seem far off, too difficult or others don’t agree with them.  There are many excuses:  it takes too long, it won’t pay enough, other’s are smarter, it costs too much, I don’t have the time to study, going to school is hard, I’m too old, I’m too young.  I’m sure you can think of even more excuses.

Dreaming is critical.  What do I want to be, to do, to experience or how do I want to live opens up our imagination and the scope of possibility.  Dreams can be personal.  Should I marry?  Do I want to have children? Should I buy a house? Should I go to college?  Where should I go to school?  What type of life style do I aspire to?  I want to play football.  I want to play golf.  I want to write a book.  I want to dance or sing.  I want to garden. I want to join a church.  Be a politician.  Be a Senator.  Have a good job.  Have a career.  Be the best attorney.  Be the best mom.  Be President of the PTA.  Travel the world.  Make home made bread.  Be an astronaut or be a professional athlete.  Our dreams can change over time.  As we become more mature and have more life experience we may change our dreams and expectations of life and ourselves.

Thinking is next.  When we think we are in the evaluation and gathering information phase.  We learn about our dream in practical terms.

Next we need to self evaluate.  What are our gifts, talents and personal resources that we bring to the table?  Am I intelligent, how hard am I willing to work to achieve my dream?  What will hinder me?  Not enough money, illness, and responsibilities that already exist in my life may play a factor in my success.  Can I overcome the challenges that could get in my way?  This phase is very important and needs honest methodical consideration and possibly some outside consultation.

On we go to planning and goal setting.  I want to become a baker and open my own business.  Goal stated now you need to plan and set interim goals.  What do I need?  A license, education, training, financial help to achieve my long term goal.  Steps that can be short term goals come next.  I need training, what is it, when would I start how much does it cost?  How much do I need to know to move forward to the next step?

Does achieving the goal of owning my own business as a baker mean that I am done?   Achieving my stated goal is just the beginning.  Now I live my dream and set knew short and long term goals.  Most of us have many goals not just one.   I’m now living my dream, my goal but now I have to work to get good at my dream.

The growth and excitement of life comes from setting goals, achieving goals and becoming better and better at what we do and at who we are as individuals.

What successful people do in the morning!

What successful people do in the morning

IncBy Jessica Stillman | Inc – Thu, Jun 14, 2012 9:24 AM EDT

The day may have 24 hours of equivalent length but author Laura Vanderkam says not every hour is created equal. Drawing on her own research, surveys of executives, and the latest science on willpower for her forthcoming ebook What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Vanderkam argues that making smart use of the early morning is a practice most highly successful people share.

From former Pepsi CEO Steve Reinemund’s 5 a.m. treadmill sessions, to author Gretchen Rubin’s 6 a.m. writing hour, examples of highly accomplished folks who wring the most from their pre-breakfast hours abound in the book. What do they know that the average entrepreneur might not have realized yet?

“Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself before you pay your bills. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen,” Vanderkam writes. “If it has to happen, then it has to happen first,” she says.

But what if you’re a night owl by inclination and you go pale at the thought of setting the alarm for even five minutes earlier? Vanderkam explained to that there is hope for nearly everyone.

Around 10% to 20% of folks are confirmed night owls. Screwing up your schedule is not wise for these folks–and they may have to choose professions and ways of working and ways of dealing with their families accordingly. Everyone else is in the middle–and my thesis is that there are real advantages to training yourself toward the lark side,” she said.

And luckily, you don’t have to rely on sheer force of will to make the switch to earlier mornings (though some of that is, no doubt, required). In the book, Vanderkam lays out a five-step process to help you make the change with the minimum of pain:

Track your time: “Part of spending your time better is knowing exactly how you’re spending it now,” writes Vanderkam, who recommends you, “write down what you’re doing as often as you can and in as much detail as you think will be helpful,” offering a downloadable spreadsheet to help.

Picture the perfect morning: “Ask yourself what a great morning would look like for you,” suggests Vanderkam, who offers plenty of inspiration. Shawn Achor uses the early hours to write a note of appreciation. Manisha Thakor, a personal finance guru, goes in for transcendental meditation. Randeep Rekhi, who is employed full time at a financial services firm, manages his side business, an online wine store, before heading off to work.

Think through the logistics: “Map out a morning schedule. What would have to happen to make this schedule work? What time would you have to get up and (most important) what time do you need to go to bed in order to get enough sleep?”

Build the habit: “This is the most important step,” writes Vanderkam before explaining how to gradually shift your schedule, noting and rewarding small wins along the way.

Tune up as necessary: “Life changes. Rituals can change, too.”

Check out the short-but-useful ebook to learn more details on becoming more of a morning person, as well as additional ideas on how to put those reclaimed hours to use.

What’s your morning ritual?


Removing stigma of mental illiness so important

By The Daily Herald Editorial Board

It was one of those special days when the black clouds part for people suffering from mental illness. For people who care for and about people with mental illness. For all of us.

On Monday, President Obama called for the hushed conversation about mental health to be drawn from the shadows and be brought into the national consciousness.

In opening a White House conference on mental health, Obama said those affected by mental illness should know they don’t have to suffer in silence.

“Struggling with a mental illness or caring for someone who does can be isolating,” he said. “It begins to feel as if not only are you alone but that you shouldn’t burden others with the challenge.”

He trotted out actors Bradley Cooper and Glenn Close, both of whom have played memorable mentally ill characters, to give the discussion some Hollywood cachet.

Closer to home, how serendipitous that Myers Place — a long-anticipated 39-unit apartment building for people who are disabled, mentally ill or formerly homeless but have the ability to live independently — opened the same day in Mount Prospect.

And that the village of Wheeling on Monday night settled with the developers of PhilHaven, a proposed 50-unit building for low-income residents who have mental illness but can live independently.

The Wheeling village board had fought PhilHaven’s construction by rejecting it twice — overruling the recommendation of the village plan commission. A judge, however, called the village’s rejection discriminatory after the developers sued and gave village leaders no confidence they could prevail.

Myers Place is the first supportive housing development in the Northwest suburbs, and residents will begin to move in this week. With all 39 units filled, there are still more than 300 people on a waiting list, said Jessica Berzac, with the Daveri Development Group, which built Myers Place, will build PhilHaven and has plans for similar projects in Palatine and other towns.

In Washington, the administration laid out an agenda that includes discussion of insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse, recognizing the signs of mental illness in young people and improved access to services for veterans.

Local news stories here continue to illustrate how acute the problems of drug use and suicide are in the suburbs.

Nationally, the overarching goals are to reduce the stigma of mental health problems and encourage those who are struggling to get help.

Let’s hope that as time wears on, prejudices and fears about facilities like Myers Place and PhilHaven ebb.

“These are individuals who desire the same things we all do,” Berzac said. “A safe place to live that they can call home.”

9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier


9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier

IncBy Geoffrey James | Inc – Thu, Dec 20, 2012 6:39 PM EST

Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it’s almost impossible to make others happy if you’re not happy yourself.

With that in mind, here are nine small changes that you can make to your daily routine that, if you’re like most people, will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:

1. Start each day with expectation.

If there’s any big truth about life, it’s that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: “something wonderful is going to happen today.” Guess what? You’re probably right.

2. Take time to plan and prioritize.

The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do.  Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.

3. Give a gift to everyone you meet.

I’m not talking about a formal, wrapped-up present. Your gift can be your smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod. And never pass beggars without leaving them something. Peace of mind is worth the spare change.

4. Deflect partisan conversations.

Arguments about politics and religion never have a “right” answer but they definitely get people all riled up over things they can’t control. When such topics surface, bow out by saying something like: “Thinking about that stuff makes my head hurt.”

5. Assume people have good intentions.

Since you can’t read minds, you don’t really know the “why” behind the “what” that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people’s weird behaviors adds extra misery to life, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation.

6. Eat high quality food slowly.

Sometimes we can’t avoid scarfing something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate. Focus on it; taste it; savor it.

7. Let go of your results.

The big enemy of happiness is worry, which comes from focusing on events that are outside your control. Once you’ve taken action, there’s usually nothing more you can do. Focus on the job at hand rather than some weird fantasy of what might happen.

8. Turn off “background” TV.

Many households leave their TVs on as “background noise” while they’re doing other things. The entire point of broadcast TV is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you’ll buy more stuff. Why subliminally program yourself to be a mindless consumer?

9. End each day with gratitude.

Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh or something as huge as a million dollar deal. Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again.

Childhood mental illness

sad child image

By Kelli Miller
WebMD Health News

Childhood mental illness is a public health crisis that needs increased awareness and intervention, according to a report released today by the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on mental health care for children. “The Children’s Mental Health Report” reveals that more kids are living with a psychiatric disease than cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. And yet, few are getting the help they need – making them more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and get tangled in the juvenile justice system. Harold Koplewicz, MD, the institute’s co-founder and president, talks about the key findings and what parents can do to keep their kids healthy.

Q: What is most significant finding in the Children’s Mental Health Report?

A: It’s the number of children in the United States who are suffering from these disorders. The fact is, 17.1 million young people up to the age of 18 have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. These are the most common conditions of childhood and adolescence. To give you some reference, there are 7.1 million American kids who have asthma. There are 200,000 American kids under the age of 20 who have diabetes. There are 7 million American kids who have peanut allergies. And yet we have 17.1 million young people with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. This is a true public health crisis. I think the other important issue is that more than two-thirds of these kids don’t get help.

Q: Are there more kids with these illnesses than in the past?

A: No, I don’t think so. Let’s take obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example. (It) was thought in the 1980s to (affect) 1 percent of the children that came to a psychiatric clinic. So that’s 1 in 100 of psychiatrically ill children. Today, we recognize it’s 3 percent of the general population, or 3 in 100 of children in general. How did that happen? Did it go into the water? Is it something in the electrical wires? How could you have such a massive increase?

What happened were two things. A medication came out called anafranil that turned out to be incredibly effective in treating kids with (mental health) disorders. Then, a group of psychologists developed a treatment program called exposure response prevention, which was incredibly effective in treating OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) symptoms. Then people started talking about it. A woman named Judy Rapoport from the National Institute on Mental Health wrote a book called The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing. So, all of a sudden, you have two effective treatments and some public awareness, and people came out of the closet. When they were told they could treat it, they were no longer ashamed of it. With a lot of these diseases, people try to keep to themselves. They are holding back. They don’t want people to know how much they are suffering.

Q: Why do you think stigma remains around mental health?

A: One of the biggest problems we have is that we do not have a blood test or an objective test that finds that someone has the illness. We still make the diagnosis the way we did for years with heart disease. We take a history — we say if your chest hurts and the pain is radiating down your left arm, you might be having a heart attack. Now, we have measurements and tools that can measure (heart problems). In psychiatry, however, we are looking at behavior. We look to see if kids are behaving in a certain way that is different from normal. We ask, ‘How severely different is it than what we consider normal?’ I think also as parents, when we don’t understand something, we are ashamed of it, and we feel guilty about it, and so we deny that fact that our kids have it. We are so willing to say ‘Oh, they are just being a boy,’ or, ‘They are just a moody teenager.’ We are not embracing the fact how real, common, and treatable these conditions are, which is contributing to the public health crisis.

Q: How can parents recognize that their children have a mental health disorder?

A: The most important thing is, the parents have to know their kids. They have to recognize what their appetite, sleep pattern, social activities, and academic performance are like. When there are changes in that behavior, that should be a red flag. It’s important to consider that there is a general discrepancy between a parent’s and child’s report on the degree and nature of the illness. Children report more illness about themselves than their parents report about them, particularly if they are anxious or depressed. Parents don’t see the symptoms as often as the child does. That means if a parent sees a change, they shouldn’t wait. It’s most likely more severe than they suspect. (A child does not naturally talk) about how worried, sad, or irritable they are.

Q: What happens when a child with mental illness is not treated?

A: I think the worst thing that that can happen to a child is they can have damage to their self-esteem. They start feeling ‘less than’ or inadequate. That happens if they are put in situations where they don’t have the skills to succeed or to thrive. If we pretend that a child doesn’t have a problem, and yet they can’t sit still or pay attention as long as other kids, or they can’t pick up the language the way everyone else can, or they’re so anxious that they can’t concentrate, we put children into a real-life situation on a daily basis where they are feeling truly inadequate. They become demoralized. They want to avoid that situation.

That, in my opinion, is what contributes to the high rate of academic failure and school dropouts that occurs with kids who have a psychiatric diagnosis. Seventy percent of the youth in juvenile justice settings have a psychiatric diagnosis. We know that left untreated, kids start feeling bad, and when someone feels bad in a situation they try to avoid it. Once you start avoiding school you are more at risk for bad things happening to you.

Q: Your report recommends using medications in combination with psychotherapy as the most effective way to treat mental illness in kids. What would you say to parents who may be reluctant to put their child on medication?

A: I think if you read the report very carefully, we are talking about medication for very specific disorders. We are talking about medication for ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders. What’s really interesting is we are using data from national studies that compared medication to other things, whether it’s a placebo or specific talk therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of talk therapy with medication. So parents who read this will be better informed about how well this works.

For instance, look at the treatment for anxiety. We show that combination therapy effectiveness after 12 weeks is 81 percent using Zoloft along with cognitive behavioral therapy. Therapy and Zoloft alone are about the same, 60 percent and 55 percent. But at 36 weeks later, each one (is about the same) rate. Combination therapy, behavioral therapy alone, and Zoloft alone come to 83, 80, and 82 percent. So a parent looks at this and says “OK, my kid can get better in 12 weeks if he uses the medication and the behavioral therapy. If we wait long enough, behavioral therapy alone will get us to the same treatment (success) rate.”

But how much longer do you want your kid to suffer? During the first few weeks when the kid isn’t well, he won’t be attending school (and) he might not be able to sleep in his own bed. At least now, parents have the ability to look at this report and understand the effectiveness of … evidence-based treatments. The Child Mind Institute doesn’t accept money from the pharmaceutical industry, which I think puts us in a very unique position. So when we are telling you some of the most effective treatments are medicine, we, as physicians and clinicians are talking about what we know from nationally federally funded studies. Not studies funded by the drug companies.

Q: What else should parents know about mental health treatment?

A: Sometimes, a child will need more than just therapy and one medicine. You might need two medicines. Some of these are hard conditions to treat. I think for parents who are concerned about using medication, they need to have an understanding of medicine works. Medicine seems to give a quicker response, and gets your kid less symptomatic, faster. But by no stretch of the imagination is medicine a magic bullet. Cognitive behavioral therapy can really make a world of difference in the long run for these kids.

Q: Finding help for a child can be difficult, time consuming and expensive, as many providers do not take insurance. What can be done to make this easier for parents?

A: We have produced a guide online called Parents’ Guide to Getting Good Care. I wouldn’t hire an architect, for example, without a guide. And yet parents are so worried and distressed when they finally decide to get mental health care for their kids, they don’t do the due diligence process that we think is necessary. So we’ve created a guide that gives parents the right questions to ask. It describes the difference between the types of mental health professionals. The guide also helps them find the right person to help their child in their neighborhood. There is also a symptom checker on our web site that gives them some idea of what may be troubling their child. This is where parents really need help. They need to understand when their child is in trouble and they have to make sure they are getting their kids truly effective treatment.

Parents have a hard job. Definitely part of the requirement of being a good parent is to not to deny when you see symptoms. In the hopes that you want your kids to be healthy, sometimes we tend to look the other way. But this is really one of those times when looking the other