Archive for the ‘Joys of Life’ Category

AUGUST—It’s All About Our Girlfriends!

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Did you know that August 1 is National Girlfriends Day, or that August is National Girlfriends Month? Yep, it’s true!  This is the month we focus on what it means to share connections with other women.  Why is that so important?  Because our health, happiness, and our longevity as women depend on it!


When was the last time you planned a girlfriend meetup and actually spent time laughing, sharing, and feeling connected?   How long has it been since you sent a card, letter, or even a little gift in the mail to your gal pal just because you wanted her to feel special and loved?


Despite the myriad methods technology provides us today, research studies are finding we are  feeling more alone and disconnected than ever!  So what is going on with this?  Most likely, the reasons are multifaceted, but one of the danger zones seems to be created when we allow social media to replace real-life connections in real time.


The Downside of Social Media

Social media is a wonderful way to enhance our connections, but we must be cautious not to allow them to become the only way we connect with people. Talking on the phone, Skyping or Facetiming provide important elements of communication, but we still get the most benefit from being in touch face to face!  The physical and emotional health benefits from in-person meet ups cannot be matched.


The chemical releases from talking together, hugging, and touching help improve our moods and decrease cortisol levels, helping lower our stress levels and ultimately protect our coronary arteries.  Research at Brigham Young University in 2010 found that feeling disconnected is twice as dangerous as obesity.  They also concluded that having supportive and connected friendships improves our odds of survival by 50 percent.


So this August, how will you choose to spend time with your girlfriends?   Will you grab your calendars and deliberately plan some lunch or dinner meet ups with your tribe?  Can you make a commitment to improving your health by increasing your face-to-face time with your besties?   What does the research tell us you gain from your efforts?  Clearly, a happier, healthier, and most importantly, LONGER LIFE!  Who doesn’t want to sign up for that?


How I celebrated National Girlfriends Day

I celebrated National Girlfriends Day on August 1, by appearing on Houston’s Great Day Houston show with host Deborah Duncan to share the message of my new book,“The Healing Power of Girlfriends,” followed by a sunset cruise with more than thirty ladies on the FantaSea yacht charter on Galveston Bay, followed by dinner at the Kemah Boardwalk.  I will be spending the month of August planning and sharing special in-person times with my tribe!  My life depends on it, and so does yours!


Did you miss Great Day Houston with Deborah Duncan on CBS-KHOU TV?   Here’s the link:


Cheers to our Girlfriends! Celebrate with yours in August and begin a new healthier lifestyle habit!


Big hugs and Blessings, Deborah


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!



“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.

Summertime Bliss

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Ahhhh…at long last, summertime is here!   The backpacks are put away, the kids have put down their pencils, and the alarm clocks are turned off for a few months signaling that more laid back time of the year we greatly anticipate, called “summer.”

What does summer signal for you?  Is there a special significance or meaning you have attached to summer from your memories of childhood or from years when you were raising your own family?  What importance does summer play in our lives or do we view it as just another season of the year to endure the heat and humidity and look forward to the cooler days ahead when Fall arrives?

Actually, summer can provide some of the best opportunities to join in fun activities as a family and make memories that last forever.   Some of  the best memories I have as a Mother of four are of our family trips to the beach.   We would build elaborate sandcastles together—complete with deep motes, which we would take turns filling with our buckets of sea water.   Whether we were gathering sand dollars on the beach, boating and teaching the kids to water ski, riding the roller coaster at our favorite amusement park, swimming together, getting a frozen custard on a hot afternoon, or driving in the car to our favorite beach in Florida, we all relished in the bliss of summertime!

Summer provides us a natural pause in our crazy–busy lives to slow down and savor the joys of life.   Whether your kids are young and still in your nest, or older now with a nest of their own, take advantage of this most pleasurable season of the year we call “summer.”  Find new ways to enjoy and savor the beauty of summertime by slowing down the pace of life and finding the awe in the reddish-orange glow of a summer sunset, or in the millions of twinkling stars on a hot summer night, or in watching the hummingbirds enjoy your flowers.

We are happier people when we savor with gratitude the gifts that come with each new day!  Research has shown that people who live a life with gratitude tend to be happier and live longer in many cases.  Summer provides us with the opportunity to take advantage of  more hours of daylight  in which to be outside and enjoy nature or our favorite  activities, resulting in more savoring, more happy times, and more summertime bliss!

Do you want to be able to savor more in life, and enjoy the slower pace of summer while making memories with those you love to last a lifetime?  Do you want to experience summertime “bliss?”  Then, celebrate this season of summer and find the awe in the everyday life around you.  Slow down the pace, live in the moment, engage in activities you enjoy, and allow your soul to be replenished with the joys of life that surround you.

– Deborah Olson, M.A., LPC

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