Archive for the ‘Emotionally Healthy Life’ Category

Our Girlfriends—Our Anchors!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

We never know how our friends are viewing us, and we should not underestimate our ability to make a positive impact on others.

A few years ago, I was having lunch with one of my dear, longtime girlfriends.

She and I have shared the motherhood journey over the past many years, and she has been a true source of joy, validation, and support. We both happen to be mothers of four, and our paths in life have some similar twists and turns. Although she is considerably younger than me, we share many common ideals on life and raising children, and our conversations range from humor to more serious heart-to-heart discussions.

And, although we do not see each other often, when we do, we pick right back up where we left off the last time without missing a beat!

That particular day, we were laughing and catching up and savoring the sweetness of friendship when she placed a little gift in front of me. I opened this package, and to my surprise saw a beautiful gold chain necklace with a gold anchor. It was so lovely!

As I took this treasure in my hands, she looked at me and with a smile said, “This necklace is to remind you that you have been my anchor.”

I was speechless. I had to choke back tears as I told her I had no idea this was how she perceived me. I was humbled and honored to be an anchor for my dear friend, just as many others have been an anchor for me.

My takeaways from that special lunch were clear and profound:
• Never underestimate the effect you may have on those around you. We don’t always know the opportunities we have to be someone’s anchor during life’s storms.
• Remember to always think about your girlfriend connections and the responsibility they carry. Our lives are defined by the impact we have on others around us, and the charge before us to make someone’s life a little brighter, better, and happier, or to be an anchor when you are needed most.

***More on THE HEALING POWER OF GIRLFRIENDS coming in my new book, which will be released soon! Stay tuned for more details and follow me:
Twitter: @DeborahOlsonMA
Facebook @Galleria Counseling

Forever Changed by Connections

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

My husband and I have just returned from a week with dear friends on an Alaskan cruise.  To say that we came back refreshed and renewed would be an understatement.  In looking back on this most amazing get-away, I find myself once again connecting to the wild and wonderful landscape of one of the most idyllic places on planet earth.  Clearly, it is impossible to encounter nature in this untouched wilderness and not be affected.  Sharing these adventures with our friends added a special meaning to our experiences and has enriched our memories of an epic vacation.  And, most importantly, whether we realize it or not, we come away forever changed by the spectacular beauty of a faraway land and the amazing creatures that call it home.

Something happens when we immerse ourselves in the wild.  Time ceases to exist, we are one with nature, and for a brief moment we are connected on a soul level to unimagined splendor.   As I witnessed numerous humpbacks breaching in front of our tour boat, a beautiful Orca playing in the wake from our ship, and a young Black Bear munching on his breakfast of berries and grass a few hundred yards in front of us, I was overcome with emotion.   In the grandeur of these magical moments, I felt an indescribable connection to the wonder of God’s creatures and the wilderness they inhabit.  We experienced blue glaciers “calving,” the process of giving birth to smaller icebergs that dropped into the icy waters beneath us.   There was no doubt, the unmatched power of Mother Nature was front and center.  The sound of thunder was heard as this calving happened right in front of our ship’s deck.  It is a poignant reminder we are insignificant next to earth’s physical forces.

Our connection to nature is compelling and complete, not unlike our connection in friendship.  We are drawn in, and are touched by the magical moments we enjoy together.  Our life is enriched and enhanced by special times shared with friends.  Our time in Alaska with our dear friends exemplified this completely.   The gift of friendship is indeed a gift that keeps on giving.  We come away from these human connections, changed, renewed, and restored, comparable to the effects from our nature experiences.   Our hearts are full, and priceless memories are added to life’s treasure chest.

***** Please stay tuned for my new book coming soon on the gifts of FEMALE FRIENDSHIP!




Friday, January 16th, 2015

Happy New Year! Out with 2014 and in with 2015! A new year always promises new beginnings and a chance for making some changes to improve on the things we were not satisfied with from the previous year.  If there were projects we did not finish or “to-do” lists we could not get to, a new year provides a fresh start.   It allows us to feel empowered as we anticipate the year before us and the endless possibilities it holds.

For me and my family, our new year has started with new life, literally!
We are blessed with the safe arrival of our first grandchild a few days ago, a precious granddaughter! There is nothing more miraculous than holding a tiny newborn in your arms.  It is such an amazing feeling to see this new little human life who has just started her journey into the world.  As I hold my newest family member and watch her sleep, I wonder what her dreams might be someday for her life and where those dreams will take her. I want to tell her that there are no limits, and the possibilities are endless for her to pursue her passions and become the woman she wants to be one day.

As I have been focusing on this precious gift of new life in our family, I have also been contemplating the gift of a new year that now stretches before us with the beginning of 2015. We are able to put away the disappointments and unmet goals from the previous year and begin anew. With a new year comes the opportunity for fresh beginnings, new goals, and even “do-overs,” if that is necessary to move ahead.  It is a perfect time time to take an inventory of what we want to accomplish in the months ahead and then design our plans for how to get there. Whether it is business goals, health and fitness, home improvement, or personal relationships, we can craft our own personal road map for how to move forward to make each day count.

What are your goals for 2015? Where do you want to focus your time and energy as you work towards improving your life? The time is NOW to take an inventory of where you desire to bring “new life” into your status quo. Decide how you want to prioritize your time and resources and then, design your road map of how you plan to work towards your new goals. When 2016 rolls around next year, you can feel empowered as you look back on the positive changes you made and the fabulous productivity of 2015!  The gift of a new year is here, it is time to follow your dreams and seize each day!

“Perfectly” Imperfect

Friday, October 17th, 2014

My husband and I recently took a “bucket list” trip to Sanibel Island, Florida. For many years I have been reading about this unique barrier island famous for its outstanding shelling.  This island is rather unique due to its east-west orientation (rather than north-south like most islands)and it has a reputation around the world as offering some of the best shelling on our planet. Since shelling is one of my passions, I felt these Sanibel beaches were calling my name, so off we flew to Florida to search for some special treasures that the oceans were ready to give up and share with us!

Our arrival to Sanibel just happened to be at sunset that night, and just in time to watch the brightly flaming orange sun slowly sink below the western edges of the Florida gulf coast outlined by purplish-hued waters.  I quickly snapped a picture with my cell phone as my husband and I both gasped at the raw beauty of the the multi-layered sky that went from shades of violet to pink to bright orange in an explosion of tropical splendor.  With the palm trees in the foreground to complete the frame of this “slice of heaven” photo, I quickly snapped several more pictures to make sure I had successfully captured this moment filled with awe.

As we later learned while on our island vacation, the sister islands of Sanibel and Captiva are famous for their breath-taking sunsets and thus, there is a predictable late afternoon ritual of folks flocking to the beaches to stake out their favorite perch.   Since we are major fans of sunsets, especially when they involve the ocean, my husband and I quickly became members of this sunset crowd and witnessed some spectacular “grand fireball finales”  while there.  We were amazed that each night’s sunset was unique and different from the one that had preceded it.  Some looked like a perfect painting that an artist had created from a diverse palette of colors, with brilliant hues of the rainbow exploding before our eyes.  Yet, other sunsets were marked by layers of clouds that refused to give up hiding this sought-after fiery planet and teased us with a fleeting glimpse of yellow rays as the sun quietly slipped below the horizon.  We concluded by the end of our trip that no two sunsets were alike, and although some were definitely more spectacular than others, they each were “perfect” in their own way, however imperfect they might actually appear.

Our shelling on the beaches proved to be a glorious treasure hunt each day with a search for the perfect shells.  We collected many varieties of shells in assorted shapes, sizes, and colors.  Some were unbroken and perfect with their intact edges and outlines, while others had a chip or a tiny hole that would definitely qualify it as a “broken” shell.  As the week unfolded and I examined my new treasures, I soon realized that some of the prettiest finds were those that were not perfect, the shells you would put in the broken pile.   In cleaning my new treasures after I returned home, it was obvious to me that many of my favorite new shells were not whole, were not intact, and most importantly, were not perfect.   Yet, they were “perfect” to me in all of their imperfection.  They still had value, worth, and their own story to tell.  If we only knew the thousands of miles these shells had traveled, the storms they had survived, and the waves they had been carried by, to finally be deposited at this beach at this moment in time.  It did not matter to me that some of them had arrived with scars from their journey to get here, that they were chipped, cracked, and broken.   In its own right, each and every shell was still beautiful, and was to me “perfectly” imperfect.

Much like the sunsets and the seashells, we as humans share the same imperfections.  We go through our lives being tossed about by the rough waves of life and come away from these events with some rough edges, a wound that causes brokenness, and at times a hole through our entire soul.  Imperfection is a common thread in our human condition.   It does not reflect weakness, but to the contrary, it displays our strength of character, of our struggle to survive the storms of life.  Our imperfections help to shape us and move us forward.  Embracing this imperfection is the first step to celebrating being “perfectly” imperfect in all we are and all we do.

So, our bucket list trip to Sanibel Island was worth every penny and did not disappoint us.  We came away feeling a sense of connection to the waters, the people, and the coastal nature.   We had the pleasure of watching brilliant sunsets, dining on amazing seafood, and exploring new beaches and the shell treasures they held.   What we came to understand and appreciate in a new way is that whether it was the sunsets or the seashells, we learned how to value and celebrate the “perfectly” imperfect in the world around us. And, even more importantly, we have a new awareness of how unique and valuable we all are as human beings in our own perfect imperfections.

3 Tips to Survive Curveballs in Life

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

I think we would all agree that part of the human experience is dealing with the “unknowns” that are lurking around the next corner. Unfortunately, we cannot always predict these circumstances nor prepare for their arrival in our lives. Dealing with these “curveballs” in life can be stressful, exhausting, anxiety-provoking, and overwhelming, to say the very least. They are capable of completely tapping us out and even making us depressed over time. So, how can we navigate through these waters and survive with the fewest battle scars? Here are 3 tips that can make a difference and promote a faster return to total wellness.

My husband recently had an accident at work and his fall resulted in a broken hip!   Considering his age and physical build everyone was shocked that he would suffer such an injury from a simple miss-step.   He is doing very well in his recovery, thankfully, and is back to work after going to surgery for a new total hip replacement nearly 8 weeks ago.  However, the past two months at our house have been anything but normal!   None of us could have predicted this event, nobody saw it coming based on any risk factors, and in the flash of a second with one simple wrong step, our lives have been turned upside down!   This rather bizarre accident would definitely qualify as one of life’s “curveballs” and it has succeeded in creating havoc  for my husband and our family!  All of a sudden, things you have taken for granted like mobility and a monthly paycheck are taken from you in a heartbeat, and life assumes a “new normal” (even if only for a brief time).

So, what do we do to survive in these “darker” times of life when control of our lives goes out the window?  How do we find “normal” again and carry on?    Are there tricks that can help us get back in the game of life more quickly?   Why do some people seem to bounce back with a positive outlook more quickly than others?

There are 3 tips that can actually make a major difference in promoting a faster recovery and finding “normal” again:

1.  Adopting “an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE” in the midst of the crisis.   Although this is not always easy and can present quite a challenge for most of us, it is important to stop, look for the positive in the situation, and then adopt an attitude of gratitude for that positive.  This can help us see the brighter side of life again, and fight off negativity.

2.  Looking at the negative event in more of a “local,” limited,  and temporary way, rather than a “global” and forever framework.   This will promote feelings of empowerment so that the event does not color a person’s entire outlook on everything in their life and cause feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair.

3.  Reframing the negative situation by looking at it from another perspective in which the “new normal” can be defined as having some positive aspects.   It is not always easy in the middle of a “storm” in life to find the silver lining, but if we look at it from different perspectives, we can usually find something positive in the situation, even a small positive.

What we know to be a universal human experience is that “life—happens” for all of us!   It is not a matter of “if” a curveball is coming, but rather a matter of “when.”   So, employing these tools or tips to deal with stress, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and despair is paramount to promoting the healing process and wellness, both physically and mentally.

My husband and I are so relieved to have this “curveball”in life mostly behind us and we are seeing much brighter days ahead.  He has chosen to capitalize on this opportunity to focus on his health and improve his overall wellness.  A positive outcome of his accident and surgery is a new commitment to lose weight, exercise regularly, and make lifestyle changes to get healthy.   He is 8 weeks post-op and we are all seeing how this accident and broken hip has now morphed into his new attitude and behaviors about diet, exercise and making lasting lifestyle changes.   Our hope is that long after the events of the past couple of months are a faded memory on our life’s tapestry, my husband will be a brand new picture of health and wellness, enjoying all the things in life he loves most!







Celebrations DO Matter!

Monday, May 20th, 2013

This time of the year we are reminded daily of the importance of celebrations!  They are everywhere around us, graduations, weddings, showers, family reunions, and other important life events.    What is the significance of celebrating these life events?  Why should we spend the money, time and effort to mark these occasions, anyway?

Well, for several reasons, actually.  First, these celebrations bring families and friends together and serve multiple purposes, not the least of which is to bond us together by sharing in a joyous time and making memories that last a lifetime!    Our connections with friends and family are what keep us going and give our lives purpose and meaning.

Second, milestones in life are made even more special and joyous if we are able to celebrate them with those who share in our joy and love us!  Whether it is a backyard barbecue, a huge pool party,  a formal dinner party, or an intimate dinner for just a few, the point is, celebrations do matter, and they are important for us to engage in.    We recently hosted an Engagement party for our daughter who will be getting married in the Fall.   We had family and friends come from near and far (some coming from other countries) to attend our Engagement celebration!  It was an evening full of fun, joy, and making memories to always treasure!  My daughter and her fiance were pleased and very touched with with large number of people that came together to share their special evening and celebrate their Engagement.    As we know, people today are busy, they have lots on their plates, and too much to do with too little time.   But, in the grand scheme of things, what is more important than relationships?  Life is about relationships in a nutshell, and celebrations enrich our relationships.

Lastly, the memories we make together at these celebrations give us a way of holding onto these precious relationships we hold dear.   It is these wonderful memories that we add to our own life’s patchwork “quilt” and they provide us with warmth and smiles for a lifetime.  Long after the actual celebratory event is over, we cling to our memories and they fuel those connections we feel to our loved ones.

So, celebrations DO matter, and they are essential to living an emotionally healthy life that is connected to others and meaningful.   Celebrating important life events with those we love and care about does enhance our own lives.  Life is precious, and every single day is a gift from God.  Embrace life with gusto and celebrate the milestones with those you love and care about!

– Deborah Olson, M.A., LPC

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