Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Perspectives…

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Boys carrying spaghetti in a macaroni factory in Naples, Italy. 1929

Psychological and philosophical point of view, brought to you in plain language…

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/10/9-mind-bending-epiphanies-that-turned-my-world-upside-down

 

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5 Mistakes that Destroy Weight Loss

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Cherry Blossom Tree

Cherry Blossom Tree

I know what the calendar says, but it doesn’t feel like the first days of spring to me. I live in the Northeastern mountains of Pennsylvania and it is taking every bit of restraint for me not to push the thermostat up.

Having said that, I need to take a long hard look at where I am with regard to my weight loss goals for the year and I am not proud of my results. Although they aren’t disgraceful, my weight is not where I wanted it to be. And to be perfectly honest, I have to admit, I haven’t kept to my plan the way I should have if I really and truly wanted to achieve these goals.

That is what today’s blog is about…not just weight loss and goal setting, but I will delve into some of the excuses and justifications I have been telling myself (all of them untruths in some way or another.) These ‘untruths’ are the head games I’ve been playing that have kept me from reaching my weight-loss goals so far this year.

1. I can have this now. It isn’t like I do it all the time:

The damage here is quite devastating. First I am lying to myself that I can have it and ignoring the fact that somewhere within me, I believe maybe it isn’t a good choice to begin with. Let me explain. There would be little or no need for me to convince myself that I can have it, if I believed from the start that it is something I should be having.

This is damaging too, because it is wide-spread. It may be an extra amount of a particular food…or it could be a certain food that I know triggers me and increases my likelihood for more choices of this kind. What I mean here is that for me, some of the food choices I make may not be ‘harmful’ foods for weight loss at all. But they may be foods that carry emotional attachments for me that get me to feel entitled to other foods or different ways of eating that, in time, can set me on the wrong path.

In fact, it may even be something like eating too little or even missing a meal and then becoming extra hungry and more likely to choose something in a frenzy or when my frame of mind is nowhere that it should be prior to selecting foods that are best for me and my goals.

Sliver of Cake

Sliver of Cake

2. Just this little bit won’t hurt:

Once again, I am feeding in (pardon the pun) to my sense of entitlement that most likely will present itself at a time when I need to remain mindful and true to myself and my goals. When I start to let myself feel as if I ‘deserve’ or am entitled to certain things, I am truly coming from a perspective of feeling deprived. But if I am in the right frame of mind, the truth is that I don’t deprive myself when I eat well and make good choices. In fact, it is just the opposite. I am doing more good for myself and treating myself better with the health food choices and I know that to be true. I nurture myself better when I eat healthfully and mindfully. I enjoy the meals I take the extra time and care to prepare. I put more effort into selecting foods I really enjoy and savor and I feel great about my dedication and conviction to my overall well-being.

If I am able to recognize this head-game as the huge damage it can do and the major step it causes me to take in a direction that is bad for me, then I will not fall prey to the major harm this teeny little statement can do.

3. I can always work it off later:

Wow, is this one a crock! If you’re like me, making time to consistently keep to a regular workout is tough enough let alone actually adding in the extra day or extra time for the workouts. There’s no way I’m going to put in EXTRA time and energy; not realistically, anyway. And since this is about being honest and truthful so I don’t trick myself into making mistakes that sabotage my efforts.

Here’s the reality. If I am telling myself that I can work it off later; I am very well aware of the fact that it is not something that is on my ‘should choose’ list to begin with. By seeing it for what it truly is, I can then make a very mindful decision of whether I want to include it in my daily intake or not. If I do; then I have a much better chance of truly paying the price at the gym or on the treadmill, whatever it takes.

Monday Morning

Monday Morning

4. I’ll start over again next Monday:

This is killer! Even if I am truly willing to start over again when Monday comes around again, I’m giving myself permission to let myself go for the rest of the weekend and for any remaining days of this week. But in addition to that, I’m also looking at my commitment to eating healthier as a very temporary endeavor rather than as a lifetime improvement or decision. This is not about just losing the weight. This is about living a healthier lifestyle and taking better care of myself through better nutrition. It is not a Monday through Sunday event.

With the proper mindset from the beginning, I am much more likely to see full-time, life-lasting results and improvements. I also don’t see this a period of deprivation or doing without. I see it as something I can keep doing and building upon; something I can get better at and improve and work into my everyday life.

Weight Loss

Weight Loss


5. Its all about the number on the scale:

This is perhaps one of the worst ways to measure progress, actually. Women know more than men, how the changes in weight, just based on water-gain or loss in just a single day, can blow an entire week of good choices out of the ballpark.

Scales don’t truly tell the tale in other ways as well. There are plenty of times when inches are lost and weight gets redistributed which is a clear sign that your life changes are taking hold the way they should.

And, if your scale is anything like mine, basically, the wind can alter the number. There have been times when I have gotten on the scale, weighed myself, gotten off the scale, weighed myself again; and there have been two different numbers, sometimes with a variation of 4 to 5 pounds. Needless to say; not the most reliable of measures.

Being Bad

Being Bad

But I believe the most harmful thing we do to ourselves when it comes to psychologically hurting ourselves regarding our weight-loss or healthful eating goals is we confuse our choices and our behaviors with our inner selves. We actually start to believe that ‘we’ are bad when we choose to eat foods that are not good for us; or we believe we are bad because we gained a pound. I know I felt this way at times if I gain weight when I’m trying to lose. I feel as if I’ve failed and I feel like I’m bad for making the choices I made.

We learn early on as parents, that when a child does something inappropriate, it is vital for that child’s self-esteem that we separate the behavior from the child. We make it clear that the child is not a bad child, just that the behavior choice was inappropriate. Good people make wrong choices all the time. It doesn’t make them bad people.

We are not our weight. Our weight does not define who we are. Somewhere, society has convinced us that if we are obese then we are ‘less than.’ How ironic is that? But in any case, our weight does not define who we are. In fact, the more negative our emotional connection is to food and our weight, the more likely we are to overeat or make wrong food choices. We need to work on shedding the excess baggage above our necks, not just the excess weight. Learn to know yourself and care and love yourself, and the battle of the bulge will not be as overwhelming.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

60 Seconds to a Stress-Less Life – Creating the Space

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The Now Effect is based on a very simple quote from a psychiatrist and holocaust survivor named Viktor Frankl. He said, “Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom.” But for most of us that space is non-existent as the speed of the day skips right over it. From the moment we wake up, the brain already has a routine preplanned that skips over the spaces where life is unfolding. It knows that maybe after we wake up, we make breakfast, drink our coffee, read news on our phones, take a shower, get dressed and the rest of the day unfolds like this. Sadly, for many of us our lives go on like this until some crisis wakes us up. But we don’t need a crisis, right now we can train our brains to break this pattern.

This article by Elisha Goldstein articulates the need for all of us to find that space…

Link: http://www.mindful.org/mindful-voices/on-mental-health/60-seconds-to-a-stress-less-life

 

How to Get From Distraction to Satisfaction…mindfulness

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Multitasking can leave us feeling disoriented at the end of the day. What’s worse, this frenetic shifting between two or more things can rob us of a sense of satisfaction.

Daniel Goleman looks at three ways we can reduce multitasking at work. See the link:  http://www.mindful.org/at-work/how-to-get-from-distraction-to-satisfaction 

via http://roldeschulte.wordpress.com/

The Food-Mood Link

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Citation: Newswise Life Wire

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Remember Peter Pan? He sprinkled some of Tinkerbell’s Fairy Dust on Wendy, John and Michael Darling and as soon as they managed to think happy thoughts, poof, they became light as a feather and were able to take flight!

Well, I can’t promise that you’ll grow wings and take to the skies, but according to a new report published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology called “Better Moods for Better Eating: How Mood Influences Food Choice,” you can start yourself on the path to becoming as light as a feather. https://cornell.box.com/MoodsAndFoods

Our moods absolutely impact the way we eat. The study indicates that not only do our moods have something to say about the type of foods we choose to eat, but also how much we consume.

Professor Brian Wansink, from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and co-author of the paper claims the study proves that people turn to food to feel good. This means we eat to keep ourselves happy and also to make ourselves feel happy. So, here’s the logic. If we are already feeling happy, we are more likely to eat make more healthful choices when it comes to food.

Mindfullness3

Just a quick plug for my previous blogs about mindfulness and eating: For those of us who deal with weight loss issues and struggle to maintain a healthy weight, we now know exactly what it is that works against us if we don’t practice becoming more mindful about what we eat. We want to feel happy and we believe that in some way, eating will help us attain that goal. We can intercept the cycle of reaching for foods that may not be the ‘smarter’ choice, through mindfulness.

Associate Professor Meryl P. Gardner, Wansink’s partner and co-author from the University of Delaware’s Lerner College department of Marketing, believes “when we think about the future, it’s almost as if we are physically taking a step back, enabling us to see our more fundamental values – like health and nutrition. We can use that to make wiser choices rather than letting our moods dictate our behavior.”

Yep! That sounds like mindfulness to me.

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

So, here’s what we now have more reason to know…Being mindful about how we are feeling, checking in under our own hood, and thinking ahead a bit can really help us eat healthier and manage our weight better. The happier we can feel before its time to eat, the more likely we are to choose well and reap the benefits of feeling and looking better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

How to Think More Clearly: Beginning Steps

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Serenity

Serenity

We all need a little bit of time to ourselves. At this ripe old age of ??something, I realize how important it is to be able to find some time every day to just “be.”

That is a very long way for me to have traveled from the little girl who’s mother used to carry on like there was no tomorrow whenever I closed my bedroom door if I was upset and wanted to be alone. It was something that was frowned upon deeply – almost as if it were something I should avoid at all costs.

So here we are, and I’m a full, unadulterated convert in favor of the human need for stillness and a time of uninterrupted, undisturbed, untweeted, unnotified, unstatused…you get the point! I have grown to believe that it is an absolute necessity if a person is to be able to function even remotely close to their best throughout their day; something as necessary as brushing one’s teeth, combing one’s hair, showering, drinking enough water, exercising – all the various things we are now convinced are daily habits that are necessary to our overall well-being and health.

Sixty Thousand

Sixty Thousand

Do not despair if you find even 10 or 15 minutes of stillness every day a daunting task, because in the beginning, that is exactly what it is. I will not ramble on here too much about the continuous barrage of stimuli we all encounter in the course of a single day. Suffice it to go with one of my favorite researched facts which is that the average person experiences more than 60,000 (as in thousand) thoughts every single day. And on some level (not equally) every single one of those thoughts needs to be processed, someway.

Our brains must almost automatically identify the stimuli and compartmentalize it, making a determination, sometimes subconsciously, about what if anything we have to do with it from this point forward.

Sorting Into Categories

Sorting Into Categories

Once we make that determination, those thoughts that require action need to be further sorted into priorities that determine how we address them. And that is what we will be found doing in the order we have set our priorities.

If we learn to quiet ourselves so we can think (process) more clearly, we are more likely to set our priorities in proper order to be most productive and successful.

• Set your priorities better by taking time to think about them rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to things that “come at you” throughout the day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Mindful Recovery

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Volvo

Volvo

Did you ever make up your mind that you were going to buy a new car? One of the most amazing things happens when that occurs. After painstaking contemplation and consideration, you finally decide on the make and model you are going to get, maybe even the color.

It is always right after this decision that you become amazingly aware of just how many makes and models in the same color you have chosen are actually on the road. It is almost as if a magic car fairy has transplanted all these ‘imitation’ vehicles on the roads you travel, just for you to be able to see just how your new car is going to look on the road once you get it.

Not really, but it sure does seem that way!

Well, it’s sort of like that when it comes to me and the term mindfulness. I first ran across the word term when a colleague of mine who is very up on these types of things began using it in conjunction with regard to her working with her clients who were overly anxious. She didn’t define it, but I pretty much understood what the concept meant through the content of her description.

To be mindful means to be able to tune in without distraction – not only the type of outer distractions we are all so familiar with, but also anything going on within us as we are dealing with a given situation.

Yada Yada TShirt

Yada Yada TShirt

Time for a bit of honesty here – because we all do it. I know you know what I’m talking about – I am as guilty of it in my role as anyone – we are called upon by someone who has something to say to us, be it professionally or in our private lives – maybe our spouse or our son or daughter – and we start out attending to them and listening intently. But out of nowhere, we get walloped with the thought that we have to be at the field to pick up little Jimmy and there is bound to be traffic and dinner is going to be late enough as it is and yadda yadda….

Before we know it, our insides are shaking, our brainwaves are frazzled and we haven’t really heard the last 50 words the person speaking to us has said.

We are human. Our feelings are impacted due to all the thoughts that float in and out of our heads. I have heard most people averages about 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s an awful lot of opportunity for internal distraction, don’t you think?

It is clear that achieving a successful mindful practice is no simple feat. But before you throw in the towel, lets look at what’s in it for us if we truly give it the ‘ole’ college try.’

Recovery

Recovery

Some benefits of linking mindfulness practice to recovery are:

• More control
– and better equipped to deal with the ups and downs that are a natural part of everyday sobriety in life. Early recovery can be one of the most challenging emotional rides a person will ever be on. If you can carry mindfulness along on the roller coaster ride with you, you’re one step ahead of the game.

• Easier management of interpersonal relationships – since no man, or woman, is an island, we all have to play well with others in order to avoid unbelievable press and possible triggers that can send us back toward the very path we’ve sworn to stay off of.

• More pleasure and joy in life – by learning to stop and notice some of the smaller, simpler things in life, we also get to notice some of the more glorious and beautiful things in life.

• More tuned in with cravings
– and if we recognize it for what it is when it arrives (and believe me, it will arrive) we can avoid being swept up by it. We learn to accept them for what they are, not attempt to butt heads with them or overpower them.

• Relapse avoidance – similarly, by learning to recognize the warning signs of relapse and face them for what they are, we give ourselves the best possible odds of being able to live ‘this too shall pass’ and miraculously, it does.

There are even more benefits to living a more mindful life that will make themselves known to you the more you are able to focus in on them. You will be astounded and more at peace, happier and less fearful of tomorrow…something every one of us deserves and most definitely can achieve.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

M & M: Its not just Candy

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How Are You?

How Are You?

We hear it practically every single day of our lives and sometimes more often than once or twice during the day. When we see each other in person, when we call each other on the phone, maybe even when we text each other, one of the most common types of questions involves how we are feeling.

I’m not looking to be controversial, but I have to wonder, how many of us really knows the answer. It seems, in my experience at least, I find myself on ‘automatic pilot’ as I go through my day unless I made a very conscious effort to show up to my own life. I not only go through the physical activities such as waking up, shutting the alarm clock, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, kissing my spouse, reaching for my morning coffee (you get the picture,) but there are even more internal things going on within me that I hardly am present at.

Sometimes it feels as if my brain is just keeps on going and going, like the Ever Ready Bunny, never slowing down at all, just whirring on, like the processor in my computer. The only thing is that my computer always lets me know when it is overheating and needs some time to cool down. Not so with my brain and my emotions. It is such a natural thing for me to just keep going non-stop, without coming up for air. I have to consciously remind myself to get up and move around and reacquaint myself with the moment of life I am in.

Multi-Tasking

Multi-Tasking

If you asked me, I would tell you that I’m doing quite well, I’m okay…I’m fine and more than okay because I am not “feeling” the stress that is piling up all around me. I’m dealing with it, from multi-tasking moment to multi-tasking moment. I am deluding myself into believing I am being highly productive because I am getting ‘all this stuff’ done.

Not really. It may seem as if I am doing more, but actually, I’m not focused and truly accomplishing and producing less. I’m focusing on external distractions (and believe me, there is no end to them). So when the time comes for me to reign myself in and focus on the one thing I really need to do, it is harder and harder all the time.

Meditation

Meditation

What’s a gal to do? Enter the double “M” solution. The combination of mindfulness and meditation is something quite remarkable. It helps me isolate the times when I need to focus on what is going on with me internally, my emotions or my thoughts, giving them a time and a place in which I pay particular and intensive attention to them. I acknowledge and accept them by tuning into what is going on with me internally. I become extremely aware of how it feels to breathe and take a deep breath. I become focused on how it feels when I tighten and then release muscles in my arms or legs. I allow myself to devote my energy to myself without having my attention pulled in countless directions.

This 1:1 is just what I need to refresh, rejuvenate and keep my ‘stuff’ in the right place, leaving me with the ability to dedicate all I have to give to the tasks I have to face. I am able to apply myself to what needs to be done and still honor the parts of me that get ignored when I falsely convince myself I am getting so much done. Not only am I freeing myself up to be all I can be, but I’m also teaching myself a new way to honor who I need to be. . . no judgment, just making at least as much time for caring about me as I do for all the things I feel I need to care about.

Such a different way to treat myself than what I’ve known! And it appears to be working out for me because the more I practice this, the more alive I feel and the more I find I am able to check off on my “to do” list each and every day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Happy Mastercating!

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Horace Fletcher

Horace Fletcher

I am very carefully typing the nickname of Horace Fletcher. Mr. Fletcher lived during the Victorian Era and was a health food enthusiast who believed that one of the best ways to experience healthier eating was to take more time chewing the food that we ate.

He was nicknamed “The Great Masticator.” And now almost a century after his death, that we are discovering reasons to believe Mr. Fletcher may have been quite right.

Studies that are being researched through the Harvard School of Medicine are providing data that not only suggests why learning to become more mindful and focused on the way we eat; not only the foods that we eat but the actual method in which we eat including what we devote our attention to as we eat and what we think about when we consume our meals.

Chewing food carefully and slowly as Horace Fletcher advocated more than a hundred years ago, provides us with a few benefits.

• The most obvious is that we give our body the time it needs to digest what we eat and to process the feeling of having had enough, satiation. Once we know that we’ve had enough, we are likely to avoid overeating.

• By breaking food down into smaller pieces, which is what happens the more we chew our food, we give our digestion system an easier job since the particles of food we are digesting are smaller. This puts less strain on our system of digestion and researchers are discovering this is a healthier way to eat.

Mindful

Mindful

It seems Horace Fletcher’s suggestion of chewing our food more also would provide us with more time to think…and now we are just tapping the surface with the research that is coming out in favor of practicing mindful eating as a method for weight-loss and eating disorders that may be more helpful than most extreme and costly methods.

I believe over-eating is in an entirely different category than most other addictions such as alcohol or narcotics or cigarette smoking. What makes it different is the word (and the meaning and behavior associated with the word “over” when we speak of over-eating.)

I remember the day the doctor told my father he needed to quit smoking. My father was a military man and he had an inner strength I haven’t seen very often in my life. He took the pack of Winston 100s out of his shirt pocket, placed them in the glove compartment in his car and told me he would never touch them again. Those same cigarettes were in the glove compartment of his car the day he died.

Over-eating is an entirely different experience. We still need to eat and sit down to meals and be around food. Nothing is intended to stop other than the “over-doing” part of the eating. It is as if we are suddenly and remarkably supposed to be able to exhibit a level of control that we have not successfully been able to find.

The idea of mindfully eating is something I will write about in the near future, explaining more about what it is and how it creates a healthier and calmer approach to eating, turning the feeling and attitude of desperation or anxiety that food produces for people with eating issues into a sense of serenity and a feeling of more self-control and balance, enabling more healthful eating habits to emerge.

The other thing mindful eating permits is moderation and a gradual, slow and achievable step-by-step schedule to improving eating habits and behaviors. By starting with just one day a week or one meal every other day or some other schedule that works best for you, mindful eating can be started slowly in an experimental way where you can see what works best for your individual needs.

The more we think about what we do, the more we can demonstrate conscious effort and energy toward it and the more focused and directed our energy and efforts are, the better we get at it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Double Your Ability with Mindfulness

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Dance with Sensations

Dance with Sensations

I heard an expression today in which a woman referred to there being a “dance of sensations.” That is something I have never heard of before but it provided me with an image that I absolutely loved.

It leads back to mindfulness and how wonderful it feels to connect to the moment with an awareness and a focus that I don’t get until I call on it. Along with it comes an amazing sense of peace and serenity that restores me and fills me with a renewed emotional energy.

For those of you who have practiced this type of self-care, you will know what I am speaking about immediately, but for those of you who have not, I encourage you to wipe away your doubts and predispositions and just try it. There is so much happening in our lives, the intensity of which ranges from small, insignificant moment to moment things, to major issues that are extremely important. And if we do not become actively involved in where we devote our focus and energy; we are subject to being pulled and shoved in countless directions and winding up feelings bruised and battered.

It is not anybody’s fault because nobody is trying to drain us of our resources and energy; it just happens because we allow ourselves to drift from issue to issue throughout the day, without setting aside a few moments of time for ourselves where we can tap into our own energy source and recharge.

Not only do the people in my life benefit from me being more fully present for the times they need me when I care for myself this way, but they are actually beginning to realize that my personal care time is where I get the energy from and they are respecting it. I heard one of our boys tell his brother “shhhh, she’s doing that quiet stuff she does so she has the energy she needs to deal with us later on.”

Energy Zapping

Energy Zapping

One of my hugest resistances to going along with the self-care regiment for so long was because I viewed it as taking my energy and time away from the things and people I needed to devote myself to. Now I realize it is the total opposite. It is the way I obtain that energy, not lose it.

The level of attention and focus I have because of this regime, is so superior to what I regularly have, is so amazing. Because I have restored myself and cleared away all the unnecessary emotions blocking my efforts, I can provide so much more of myself to handle the situation, it feels as if there are two of me, with twice the amount of energy. I am no longer burdened with other ‘stuff’ that gets in the way of me being a more productive person.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!