Sunday, December 31, 2006

Funny "Professor Review" Comments Left By Students

This is kinda funny. We had teachers in my graduate program that sounded like this guy...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What to Buy for the Person that Has EVERYTHING...

Okay, so I stole this off Mike Cope's blog because I REALLY liked it!

Tis the season to be giving...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My, How Times Change...

There's nothing quite like doing some reflecting on how times, people, and life changes with time...

One of my best buddies just wrote a blog about this today.

With time, things are bound to change...

Sometimes the change is good (just ask Tony Romo, the Cowboy's new starting Quarterback--I mean he's got Jessica Simpson now).

Sometimes the change is bad (just ask George W. Bush when comparing his "approval rating" today with a year ago).

But whatever the case, change occurs.

For "Dub-ya" it was a gradual process, but for Romo it was stardom discovered over night.

With Romo the change was immediate and positive, but change can also occur immediately and negative at the same time. Just ask the Dixie Chicks following a concert in London back in 2003...

I'll never forget my first introduction to the Dixie Chicks...

It was my senior year in high school, and I was over at my best friend's house doing what many high school girls around that time did--having a lot of fun going through each other's cd collections.

My friend had just recently gotten the Dixie Chicks newest cd at that time--"Fly." I remember saying, "What cd is this?" When she told me it was the Dixie Chicks, I asked, "Who are they and what the heck kind of a name is 'the Dixie Chicks?!'" All it took to come out of her mouth was the word "country" and I was already disgusted!

Country music?!?! SICK!

NO BODY listened to country music from where I was from. Let me explain...

In Texas there are 4 country music radio channels for every "ghetto" radio channel. In St. Louis there is 1 country music channel on the entire radio air frequency! I'm not kidding!

Country music was a "no-no" in my opinion.

It wasn't until months later that I saw the Dixie Chicks performing their song "Goodbye Earl" on one of those music awards shows on television that I was like, "Wow, now that is one funny song...and I LOVE the music video for it (which they had playing in the background behind them as they performed the song)." So probably a month or so later I found myself the proud owner of that very cd--"Fly."

So what happened to my views of the Dixie Chicks when the fateful news of Natalie Maines' comments made in London reached the United States? Not much.

Without getting into my opinion on free speech and her making those comments, I can say that even today I am unable to discuss the topic with one of my best friends because we stand on such opposite ends of the argument that we both agree not to discuss it with one another (plus we are both pretty hard-headed)...HA!

Today, I still claim the Dixie Chicks as one of my two favorite bands of all time. And believe it or not, the other band is also a country group (Rascal Flatts).

I look at the Dixie Chicks "controversy" the same way I do the Michael Jackson "controversy." Michael Jackson has always been, and still remains as, one of my top favorite musical artists of all time. Whether he molested children, had 6,000 plastic surgeries, or turned "white"--none of that affects the fact that the man can make AMAZING music! He is naturally musically gifted, not to mention naturally gifted with the ability to dance better than just about everyone else!

Yes, Natalie Maines made a comment that shifted our country--it divided the group's fan base, but at the same time, it did not paralyze the group's singing voices. It did not erase the group's musical abilities pre- or post-comment. The Dixie Chicks are naturally gifted with voices and instrumental abilities. How can a musically-entertained individual NOT appreciate a group that uses instruments other than the guitar and drums?! I think every country song could use a little banjo, fiddle, chello, etc.

So times change...

The Dixie Chicks concluded their "Taking the Long Way" tour this evening in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, I did not get to attend, but I can admit to sitting on the computer a matter of two-hours before it started SERIOUSLY considering driving to the arena and looking for ticket scalpers and attending...HA!

So yes, this tour represented the least profittable tour for the STILL lead-selling female group in music history.

Maybe the group will never regain the following they had prior to the Dub-ya comments made in London. But still they can rely on the fact that if they continue to put out albums some will still be waiting anxiously for the release day to pick it up, as I did with the "Taking the Long Way" cd. What can I say? "Not Ready to Make Nice" is STILL the most played track on my iPod, currently standing with 357 times played.

So times DO change. You can see the "change" for the Chicks in their recently released documentary film called "Shut Up & Sing." I went and saw it this past weekend with a friend and I found it interesting. It supplied me with everything I expect from a good documentary--one detailed side of the story. That's what you get in a documentary, SOME side to a story. This was the Chicks side and I appreciated it. It was good to see more to what happened than just what the media was giving us as the "comments" played out over that dreadful time for the Chicks.

What else did I learn from the documentary? Well, Natalie says the F-word a lot more than any friend I would care to hang around with. None of the Chicks come off as the most intelligent ladies in the world (to me), but Natalie definately takes the top prize for leading blonde. And their manager--well, I just love his accent! ;)

But does a lack of intellectual character change my opinion on them as a musical group--ABSOLUTELY NOT! These women are naturally gifted with music, and that is respectable in my opinion. They still write their own songs and THAT is what I will ALWAYS give respect for with musicians (Michael Jackson included).

So maybe a few years ago I was disgusted by the thought of country music, especially the thought of listening to anything by someone with a name like the Dixie Chicks. But like it has been said...

Times change.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Secret for Psychotherapy

A little over a month ago I was compiling my "final paper" for my masters degree. This is a paper that is written as a substitute for writing a thesis. In the process of researching in order to write it I came across many reminders of what my years of education in the counseling realm was all about. I was reading quote after quote from textbook or journal article that would sum-up many areas of my learning.

When considering the direct practice counseling area I couldn't help but be engulfed in a feeling of "THAT'S IT" when I was reading a section in a textbook from one of my undergraduate courses. The more I thought about these few sentences, the more I thought to myself that if we as the human race could understand what is being said here, and truly live our life in a way that is guided by our understanding and acceptance of what is being said, life would be entirely different.

I truly believe this is one of the major underlying goals in counseling MOST clients--to get clients to see and understand this. If more people were aware of this and able to embrace it in their lives, I truly believe 80-85 % of clients coming to counseling would no longer need counseling, especially when considering the counseling given to the "worried-well."

Let me preface the MOST important quotation with this quotation:

"Almost every minute of your conscious life you are engaging in self-talk, your internal thought language. These are the sentences you describe and interpret the world with. If the self-talk is accurate and in touch with reality, you function well. If it is irrational and untrue, you experience stress and emotional disturbance" (p.107)

Understanding that leads me to the "MOST important quotation." What I like to think of as the secret to counseling. The quotation that I believe holds so much power and control for our lives in it's meaning and understanding:

"At the root of all irrational thinking is the assumption that things are done to you: “That really got me down… She makes me nervous…. Places like that scare me…. Being lied to makes me see red.” Nothing is done to you. Events happen in the world. You experience those events (A), engage in self-talk (B), and then experience an emotion (C) resulting from the self-talk. A does not cause C—B causes C. If your self-talk is irrational and unrealistic, you create unpleasant emotions" (p. 115)

Does it make sense to you? Can you see how using this understanding to guide our daily "being" could change our life?

The above quotations were taken from:
[Davis, M., Eshelman, E., & McKay, M. (2000). The relaxation & stress reduction workbook (5th ed). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.]

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Who We Become (and the Humor in It)!

I agree that it is very important that with any profession you learn to leave work at work and not take it home. That is important for all realms of health. But at the same time, I am becoming more and more aware of how we truly do become our profession.

Have you ever noticed how in casual after-hours conversation with a working adult you can still get bits and pieces of their profession intertwined with their conversation? Maybe it’s in their words. Maybe it’s in their body language. Maybe it’s in their tone. There is different ways in which our professions can shine through. Whichever way it might be, the individual sometimes can be oblivious that it is even occurring.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends say to me “stop analyzing me.” Many times it is said in a joking manner, and in most of those accounts, I am going about the conversation with no intentions of “analyzing” anything. Questioning has just become an important part of how I try to understand life and issues better; therefore, I question when my friends are trying to explain something to me and it can be interpreted as “analyzing” in a “bad” form, I suppose.

[Side Note: You know, now that I think about that. I suppose what it comes down to is the bad conatation that “analyzing” gets when someone has the thought of “therapist” lingering in the back of their mind. I suppose when I’m simply questioning to understand, people think I’m questioning in order to analyze. With analyzing they are anticipating that once my questions subside I’ll be spitting out something like an awful sounding diagnosis at them. Would it benefit me to inform my friends that social workers do not typically “diagnose” mental illness!? HA!]

On some occasions I have had friends who have gotten upset with me to the point that they will state, “I just want to talk to a friend and not a psychiatrist.” Not that I’m a psychiatrist or anything, but we know what they mean…

So I admit. When you get into a profession that you enjoy and you’re passionate about it is easy to take on that role with your whole being. I mean think about it. Think of your friends that are really passionate about their careers: do they constantly blog about that topic? Do they make jokes related to the profession? Does their conversation revolve around the profession? Do they frequently tell stories in an enthusiastic manner relating to their adventures while on the job? [You’ll find that you are able to quickly answer “yes” to some (or most) of these questions if your friend’s line of work is one that you typically are not interested in…HA!]

So is one “taking their work home” if they have taken on the behavioral or conversational styles of their profession to the point that they are noticeable in their everyday lives? I would argue no. As humans we mold in ways that we are accustom too. If one spends years in academia absorbing a particular behavioral style (or way of thinking or conversing), one is going to have a difficult time separating from it. It goes the same for one who has spent several years in any type of working atmosphere. Teachers will frequently find themselves bringing out the “teacher voice” in chaotic arenas other than the classroom. Preachers will quote scripture from stances other than behind the pulpit. Therapists will question for better understanding whether the person is lying on a couch or not. Politicians will lie whether they are…

…okay, so you get my point.

I guess it comes down to the realization that this sort of thing will occur and does occur. With this being the case, why not accept it and use it to your advantage. Sometimes the best it is good for is a hardy laugh! HA! I’m not kidding. Let me help you to see the humor in it…

If you do not see how it can be humorous take your career path and begin to pay closer attention to your casual interactions with people in your same field. You’ll notice how their conversations or behavioral gestures or whatever it might be are patterned after their experience with the field.

For those in a therapeutic field allow me to share some humorous observations I’ve made over the past month. For those not in this field, feel free to read on in order to educate yourself on how you can tell if you're conversing with someone from our field without even being told of their professional background…

I personally had a conversation probably a little over a month ago with a friend of mine. Recently, as I’ve given that conversation some more reflection I’ve noticed how my end of the conversation was so therapeutically influenced.

It was late at night and I was feeling down. I had been feeling down for a couple of days, so I wanted to talk to someone. I picked a friend that I felt would listen to me and give me encouraging responses [it’s important to note that the friend I chose was someone who does not share the therapeutic background]. So I was telling this person how I had just been feeling down and stuff like that. But what is interesting is how I would follow up almost every “feeling down” sentence with something like “but it’s not like I’m suicidal. Nothing like that. I promise.” HA HA!

Okay, so if you are not getting why I find that so funny now as I look back on it, allow me to explain. Okay, without going into detail about what my “feeling down” sentences were, I can say that they weren’t anything like “I don’t feel like life is worth living” or anything to that extent. So when you think about it, it’s interesting to see that I would follow any “depressed” sounding sentence up with a statement that I am not suicidal…HA!

Besides a therapist, who naturally finds his/herself immediately thinking about assessing for suicidal ideation when someone makes a statement at all relating to feeling down?!!? Only a therapist. HA! Most people would be like, “dude, chill out…I wasn’t even thinking you were suicidal!” HA! I mean I kid you not, I kept saying it…HA!

[Side Note: So besides it being a therapist thing—to assess for suicidal ideation following depressive statements—I’ll admit, I am very sensitive to the topic of suicide. What I mean by that is that in our line of work, suicidal clients scare me the most (not the “crazy” people or the psychotic ones, but the suicidal ones). This is because I worry about making a mistake (i.e. not asking the right questions, not recognizing a sign that I should have, not taking the proper measures in a situation, etc.) and being liable for someone having committed suicide when I could have possibly prevented it. Now THAT’S scary stuff! I mean, honestly, how many professions can truly say that their mistakes flirt with the line between life and death? And don’t immediately spout off with physicians unless you are willing to pay a therapist anything HALFWAY close to what we pay physicians…HA!]

So as I’ve reflected back on my conversation with this friend, I find myself finding humor in how I conversed and openly shared my “suicidal assessment.” That’s just funny to me!

A second think to note when conversing with therapists, which is the obvious one, and the frequently shared joke, though it is true is the “how did that make you feel” line. Okay, so SOMETIMES we’ll say that, but what is more frequent is just something along that same line. Some response back to your stated situation that involves connecting your feelings to the actions or the situation. “How did you feel then?” “What were you feeling?” Therapy revolves around connecting feelings to actions/thoughts/behaviors/situations.

Finally, this one I noticed when I was having a casual sit down talk with some friends/co-workers that happen to be in the same therapeutic field. I noticed it when it happened, but I thought more about it later and thought it was funny…

We were talking about counseling techniques and one of the other ladies was like, “A little self-disclosing, but…”

If you ever hear someone use the word “self-disclosing” or “self-disclosure” they probably are from our line of work! HA! I mean, seriously, think about it. With most people, when they are going to share a personal story about his/herself they don’t preface it with “a little self-disclosing, but…” HA! Most people just tell the story! HA! In the counseling field we find ourselves constantly studying when to self-disclose and when not to. With this being the case, when we are presented with an opportunity to relate a personal story of our own in our everyday conversation, we find our selves routinely going through the processing in our mind of “okay, this is self-disclosing if I share this story” so we’ll unconsciously label it “self-disclosing” in prefacing the story…HA!

Okay…so those are just some funny things I’ve been observing and thinking about lately. I wouldn’t be surprised if you said you have had some similar experiences involving your field and people in it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Camping 101

What a load of fun I had this past weekend getting to camp with 9 of my friends from my undergraduate college experience. Each of the nine women were women I had met through my social club which I spent three years active in. What a great bunch of women I have been blessed to know from that experience!

I got some AMAZING pictures from the weekend (I LOVE pictures)! And another of the women even got some funny videos which we posted on YouTube. The camping experience would not be complete without all the laughs, jokes, and reminiscing we did about past times and pranks. We often times found ourselves together doing things such as skipping rocks in the lake, playing catch, roasting hot dogs, taking hikes, singing karaoke, and shining our flashlights up in the woods behind us at night thinking there were animals coming down the hill into our camp site!

At night if we weren't laughing about past experiences we had had with one another, we were laughing at our neighboring campers at the park. We had our large group of heavily intoxicated partiers directly across from us, and then our Bob Marley singing, marijuana smoking, dog losing couple diagonally across from our site--who could have asked for a better bunch of neighboring campers! ;)

All that said, I think I speak for everyone that a GREAT time was had during our camping experience! I wanted to end with some of my favorite quotes from the weekend. Feel free to add any additional ones that I might have left off, fellow campers!

  • Did someone say something about shots?! ~ Ellison
  • What the hell?! ~ Witcher (coming from inside the small tent filled with 4 people)
  • Did anybody bring the teabags?!? ;)
  • I was looking for a little lap action! ~Ellison to Janaye
  • Oh, there's our dog again. And he's with the same people and he has his leash this time. ~the neighboring campers who were high and singing Bob Marley (their dog KEPT getting loose and wondering into our campsite)
  • I'm glad my first time was with you all. ~Rawlings

Tee hee hee! We had some fun times....what can I say! HA!

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

This Monday I can't help but revert my readers back to last Monday's post because once again, the election which takes place tomorrow is going to produce the most important numbers for this week.


Take advantage of the freedom and right we have to elect our own leaders! It truly is a blessing!

I saw a segment on a recent Oprah episode about North Korea...MY GOODNESS! Those poor poor people that live there! The dictator in that country is EXTREME! Talk about citizens not having any rights!


Monday, October 30, 2006

SPECIAL EDITION: It's Monday! YOU Do The Math


That's right...DON'T VOTE...

...(that is) until you've done your homework!

It's real simple. I figure in a little over a week we'll have PLENTY of statistics to analyze and compare with the up-coming elections. So, this week I want to dedicate this entry to the up-coming numbers of the November elections which will be held on November 7th in your friendly neighborhood.

I did my homework and I early voted this past weekend. If you still haven't voted, and are registered to vote, you need to make sure to do your homework and then hit the poll on the 7th!

To do your homework, I advise you to go to DON'T VOTE and you can find out there who is running in your area for which elections. Then, you can click on each of the candidates campaign websites from there and see where they stand on the issues that are important to you. THAT is the homework that you need to do before you vote--DON'T VOTE without it!!

I end with these numbers: the "DON'T VOTE" link is now on here 5 times. 100% of the people who read this who have NOT voted yet SHOULD click on one of these 5 links and at LEAST visit it to make sure they know all the elections that are going to be presented to them when they go to vote, even if they think they know who they're voting for already in all the elections. One quick stop can't hurt 'em!

Best wishes to you and your candidates in the upcoming elections!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Suicide (Part II)

Sunday I posted the first part of this series on suicide talking about a client I recently had who had suicidal ideation. Today I am posting the second part to this series, which was my main inspiration behind writing this series in the first place. The material used to write this entry comes from the ABC News 20/20 program I accidentally came across when flipping channels Friday night. A portion of that program was covering a controversial documentary which will be released to limited cities around the country on this Friday. The film is entitled The Bridge and it is the project of a man by the name of Eric Steel. Not only is the material with which the film is centered around being noted as controversial, but so is the means by which Steel went about getting the material to put the film together. Let me explain…

The Bridge is a 90-plus minute documentary centered about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. For those not too familiar with this bridge, it was opened in 1937, and it is over a mile long spanning over the San Francisco Bay. The roadway on the bridge skies some 220 feet above the surface of the water below. Quite a fall if you were to slip off, but unfortunately, more than 1,200 individuals have experienced that 4-second fall since the bridge opened. This number represents the number of individuals who have done more than “slip” off the edge—in their minds it was a jump.

The Golden Gate Bridge has been a popular means for suicidal individuals completing their plan for ending their lives. As mentioned, more than 1,200 have taken advantage of the near-guaranteed death. With the 220 foot fall taking a mere 4-seconds, the body is calculated at hitting the surface of the water below at going approximately 75-miles per hour. At speeds like that, death is only a splash away. So, as a glorious monument that tourists by the thousands visit on a regular basis, it also has it’s dark hidden secret—or at least hidden until Steel decided to shed some light on the matter…

The Bridge was Steel’s project inspired by his drive to get a better understanding of “the human spirit in crisis.” So, after years of planning, he and his crew set up cameras in January 2004 at the park located near the bridge. They kept their cameras rolling for 365 days, gathering the “activity” that took place on the bridge for the full year of 2004. When they had shut off their cameras, they had footage of 24 suicides.

He had footage of individuals who paced up and down the bridge for more than 30-minutes before making the move to end their life.

He had footage of individuals who sat on the railing for minutes before making the final gesture over.

He had footage of individuals who walked up to the edge and simply climbed over immediately like there was nothing left to cross their mind.

He even got footage of a man up on the bridge taken photographs when a lady climbed over the railing in front of him and before she could step off the ledge, the photographer grabbed her and pulled her back over and sat on her until authorities could arrive. A life saved, for the moment at least. The camera crew caught the same woman coming back to the bridge multiple times after then. It was then that the crew would make the call to the bridge authorities their selves.

This was one of the rules Steel’s crew had, and that was if they noted an individual who seemed suspicious in the sense that they believed the person might be there to commit suicide, they would call the bridge authorities immediately. Unfortunately, some people’s last moment behaviors are not predictable.

So, after recording the actual footage of the deaths, Steel’s next step was to talk to the families who were left behind after the suicides. He recorded interviews with these individuals questioning them about the behaviors of their loved ones leading up to the suicide, as well as asking about their feelings toward the act that is noted as selfish.

So Steel gathered his footage—individuals taking their own lives and family and friends reactions to the behaviors.

Many have argued that it is unethical and wrong to video people taking their own lives—and even worse to make it into a documentary for others to witness. The talk about this film has already begun, but the controversy only begins there…

As previously mentioned, Steel took methods for gaining the footage in what is being viewed as controversial as well. First, when Steel got the permit to set up his crew to tape the bridge in the park, he was not clear about why he wanted to film the bridge. There was no mention to the filming purpose being to shoot a documentary about suicides committing at the mercy of the Bay below. If that did not raise enough questions from his critics, his choice to interview the friends and families left behind without mentioning to them that he had the suicides recorded inflamed the questioning.

To the questioning Steel has consistently responded with his defense that he did not want word to get out during the filming of the project about WHAT the project was about in fear that it would give others an encouragement to go ahead with their suicidal plans in efforts to be a part of the film.

So, does what will the country make of this documentary film? Will the suicide rate at The Golden Gate Bridge increase? Will it raise awareness to friends and families about individuals at risk of suicide and possibly help professionals and others in better assessing for at-risk suicidal clients; therefore, causing the suicide rate to decline? Will suicide prevention increase? Will America take a closer look at the issue of suicide and talk surrounding the subject will become less taboo?

Who knows what will happen, but one San Francisco native and Golden Gate Bridge jumper and SURVIVOR supports the film and is featured among the interview footage…

Kevin Hines, now 25 years old, is one of the FEW who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and has lived to tell his story. Suffering from a depressive state due to his bipolar disorder, Kevin made the decision to jump back in September of the year 2000. He remembers backing away from the railing and running and jumping and then in the beginning of the 4-second fall thinking to himself, I don’t want to die. In the remaining time he immediately threw his head back, hoping to not hit the water head first and remained conscious after hitting the water. Though suffered two shattered vertebrae as a result of the impact, without the aid of his legs, Kevin was able to somehow swim up toward the light with just his arms. Six years later, Kevin reports he is living a stable live while taking his bipolar medications and makes a career with his father working on suicide prevention in the San Francisco area.

So who knows? Who knows what cities and places will be willing to show this documentary. Who knows how many people will pay to see it. Who knows how it will affect human behavior in San Francisco, as well as around the country…

But one thing that the 20/20 program ended the segment with is for sure—the lobbying that has been going on for YEARS to get the railing on the bridge raised to prevent suicidal jumpers, has apparently begun to pay off. Information was shared that a contract company has already been hired and is in the progress of drawing up blueprints and releasing a monetary figure to the Bridge authorities soon.

Could this film have been the straw that broke the camel’s back? Might preventive measures be taken now to save lives above the quiet and yet desperation-filled Bay?

Only time will tell…


So what do you think? Was Steel’s idea for a documentary going too far? Should individuals taking their own lives be recorded and played for others to see? Are the educational and hopeful-repercussions of this film worth the controversial stand? Is suicide a taboo topic that should remain that way?

I won’t share much of my thoughts at this point in time, but I will say this…

I already looked and the film is not schedule to be in the Dallas area anytime soon (if ever) as far as my knowledge. If it was, I would already have marked my calendar.

**You can check out more online coverage of this film, Steel, and the controversy surrounding it at this or this website.

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

This week's statistics I am taking from my television watching over this past week...

  • On Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 7:46 AM (eastern time) the population of the U.S. was believed to hit 300,000,000. This statistic is based on estimates of how many babies are born, how many people die, and how many illegal aliens move into our country per minute.
  • This statistic helped to arrive at the above statistic: Every 60 seconds 6 more illegal aliens join the U.S. population.

[The above statistics were stated on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on 10-17-2006]

  • 82% of Americans are on at least one medication.
  • 30% of Americans are on 5 or more medications.

[The above statistics were stated on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on 10-17-2006]

--The above statistics remind me once again at how dependent our society is on medicine. I've never been a big fan of medication. I personally have taken a VERY limited number of medicines in my lifetime. But I will admit that with my current internship I am believing more and more in the power of medications and the requirement of some medications in some instances (i.e. SEVERE mental illness)

  • The National Alliance for Caregiving states that some 1.4 million CHILDREN in the United States are living as the primary caregiver in their household.

[The above statistic was taken from the Oprah episode on 10-20-06]

--The Oprah episode that this statistic was taken from was very eye-opening. Many children are put in the position of raising their younger siblings. This occurs when parents are unable to provide and care for the children due to instances such as handicaps, medical illness, or drug addictions. And in some of these cases, the child is not only "raising" their fellow siblings, but also caring for the parent many times. 13 year olds get up a 6 AM to COOK breakfast, pack lunches, get younger siblings up and dressed and off to school. Then they come home and make sure dinner is fed and showers are taken and teeth are brushed. 13 years old! Some 9 year olds are taking care of their single-parent mothers who are deaf and suffer from cerebal palsy. Children taking on the responsibilities of adults are young, young ages.

The final statistics I gained this past week while watching television are linked to the most interesting television program I watched all week. This was not a scheduled program for me to watch; I just kind of happened across it Friday night, but for that I was REALLY glad. This final program and statistics will be shared tomorrow in the second part to my series on suicide. The statistics will be surprising, but the topic surrounding the statistics will be controversal and intriguing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Suicide (Part I)

It’s a touchy subject for some. Some reading this have had someone close to them end their life by suicide. Even more know someone who has attempted suicide.

I’ve been fortunate and my connections to the topic of suicide are less personal; however, I have had the opportunity to do a bit of studying through my academic career on the topic. It is a fascinating topic to human behavior analysts.

And while it is fascinating to me to study the human reasoning for leading up to suicidal attempts, at the same time it is a scary topic to be dealing with as a mental health provider…

It is said that mental health providers have the highest rate among career professionals for committing suicide. I find that interesting.

[Story] One of the psychiatrist residents working on a mental health team with me this past semester in my internship had a close friend who also was a psychiatrist resident commit suicide during the time we were working together on the team. The resident on our team had to take a good amount of time off to grieve because of the loss. I mean this resident’s friend was a resident psychiatrist as well. There isn’t many better paying careers than being a psychiatrist, but this individual still reached the point of feeling like suicide was his/her best option. This sheds light on the fact that the act of taking one’s own life is not limited to any one race of people, or one career type, or one gender, or one socio-economic class. Anyone can be at risk of falling into this downward spiral of cognitive reasoning…

It is said that one of the most difficult situations to deal with as a mental health provider is the suicide of a client. This makes sense to me.

[Story] My most admired professor during my graduate degree program spoke to us in class one day about how he had a client who had met with him in a counseling session one day and was depressed. That evening the client ended up committing suicide. The client had mentioned my professor in a manner that was not so encouraging in the suicide note. My professor explained to our class how that was an incredibly difficult time for him following the death, and that he even had to take some time off from his private practice to cope. He mentioned that he had to turn to a fellow colleague during the trying time to help him to get through the situation.

Though I wish I did, I don’t have a statistic on what is the likelihood of a client committing suicide while under the care of a clinician. I imagine that the statistic is surprisingly high. I say this not because clinicians are not doing their job, but because sometimes suicidal clients are unpredictable. Many times a person will not give hints to their suicidal thoughts. They will choose to keep those thoughts to their selves. Yes, they might obviously be depressed, but is every depressed person suicidal? No.

At the same time, realizing the prevalence of depression among clients and the correlation between clients who commit suicide and their state of mood being depressed, I would be willing to say that my career in the mental health realm will put me in a situation where a client of mine will commit suicide. Unfortunate? Of course. But still likely? Yes.

[The Main Story] Over the past several months I have had my first experiences in the counseling setting. As an intern therapist, I would be providing intervention strategies with clients who were victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault—individuals who are at HIGH risk for suffering from depression. With this being the case, the topic of assessing clients for suicidal ideation/thoughts and plans is crucial. This was the heavy thought on my mind the whole first week of training. I hadn’t even gotten close to having my first client, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how to properly assess for suicidal thoughts and plans and recalling what the procedure for when you have a suicidal client was. My fellow interns were concerned about remembering which forms to use with which clients and how to best word the questions on the intake form when interviewing clients, but I couldn’t stop focusing on the possibilities for interacting with the suicidal client. It was the last day of training and I remember still having questions in my head on EXACTLY what to do in the situation with a suicidal client, so I broke down and actually spoke up in the training (which is very rare of me, as I’m typically real quiet when first getting to know other adults and professionals). I was given some answers and I was feeling more comfortable. Then my first client came the following week…

Would you believe it that this client had issues with practically EVERYTHING else in the book, but NOT suicide. Phew, it was a sense of relief! I had (somehow) survived my first client (who to this day has been one of my most interesting clients—way to start off with QUITE a character), and made it through the “Have you had any thoughts of hurting yourself or suicidal thoughts in the past” question. Phew. I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Four and a half months worth of clients passed with the closest to a “suicidal client” being the ones who had had thoughts weeks before, but had no plan (which is a “safe” client for release in a clinical setting, though precautions should still be arranged). I hadn’t had to deal with the client yet that we would have to have “hauled off” to the psych. ER because of his/her suicidal thoughts at the present time with plans and means available. But maybe my “luck” was running out…

I had had a good record thus far—hadn’t had a client yet that I was unsure how to handle their response to the suicide questioning during the initial intake assessment. But then my time came. I look back on it now and think at least I DID get this experience BEFORE I left the internship and was out on my own…HA! It was just recently and…

This client admitted to having suicidal thoughts that morning. ^^Thoughts in my head at the time: Geez, why did it have to be just this morning that you were having the thoughts?! Why not like weeks ago or months ago like everyone else?! Okay, be cool. Lets assess for if the client has a plan and/or means^^

I had a struggle with getting out of the client whether a plan did or didn’t exist, but the answers I kept getting from the client was that the plan that had been planned to be used months ago was no longer an option, so currently a plan did not exist. ^^Great, so does that mean the client is plan-less and safe to go?!?! How come these real client sessions go NOTHING like the role-play scenarios we do in preparation for the “real thing??!!?” Okay, let’s keep assessing and just make sure…^^

We had somehow gotten off the topic of suicide and were talking about narrowly-connected topics. ^^Why had I waited to address the suicide question until the last minute in the session?!?! Because you hadn’t had any issues with it arise in the past with clients, so you figured this one would go down just like the rest, but boy, were you wrong. Now look—your 45 minute session is pushing an hour and 15 minutes. You’ve got to figure out whether this client has to be “hauled off” or is safe to leave!^^

At this point, after talked around and about with the suicide question for approximately thirty minutes I was feeling like this client was going to be “safe” to let leave after establishing some safety precautions with the client first. But then at the same time, who wants the thoughts of “what if” looming over their head ALONE as a young student?!?! So I did what any good student intern would have done…lied. HA! I basically led the client to believe the session was over, when I knew I had a “second part” about to occur.

[Note to self: Way to encourage the trusting relationship between the therapist and the client right off the bat in the first session. We’ll see how the trust aspect works out if the client even decides to come back to see you now! Crap! HA!]

I took the client back out to the waiting room telling them I was getting their discharge paperwork following the session put together and then we would go to the secretary and schedule our next appointment together. This was when I made a break for one of my supervisors’ offices (hey, it was a new client—they had no idea where the copy machine was located in the building. As far as they knew, I could have been heading in that direction to get their paperwork ready…HA!). In a matter of a couple of minutes I was asking the client to come back into the counseling room with me. At this point, my supervisor joined us in session and we went over our concerns with the client about their safety. Within 3 or 4 minutes my supervisor had established a sense of the client’s suicidal thoughts/ideation and then my supervisor left the room, giving me the “okay” to release the client.

Phew! I had made the right decision in the first place (but it never hurts to have the supervisor’s stamp-of-approval when you’ve only been in the business for a few months). HA!

So there it was—my first “suicidal client.” Well, I suppose I haven’t had the client yet that I HAVE had to have “hauled off,” but this was close enough for me for now. After getting the approval from the supervisor and then scheduling the client an appointment to see one of our staffed psychiatrists, I felt a lot more comfortable with releasing the client on their way. Let’s just hope the psychiatrist can get this client on some medication that will help with the desperate thoughts they had been experiencing.

[Part II of this series on suicide will be posted on Tuesday. Please return then for a controversial talk concerning the topic]

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

This week I'm going to fill the "numbers" and "stats" from the events of this past weekend when I found myself visiting my alma mater for the celebration of Homecoming!

  • Out of the 12 individuals who were at dinner at some point with us on Friday night, all but 5 of us were or had been teachers at some point. And if you look at only the women in the group, which was 10 of us, only 3 of us had never been teachers!
  • Homecoming Queen Nominees: 4 Kojies, 2 GATAs, 1 Kai-O, and 1 DT. No Siggies!?!?! The DT won it.
  • The football team won by the score of 35-7. The other teams touchdown was not scored until the last few minutes of the whole game. This win put the team at their best start for a season (6-0) since 1950.
  • A reminder of why freshman should not be involved in pranking--they have a 1 o'clock curfew on weekends!
  • The number of times I sang the GATA fountain songs during the weekend: 3 times.
  • The number of times that I found myself watching the others around me to make sure I did the right moves at the right times during the fountain songs: 3 times!
  • The number of times I said my new commonly used phrases "You make me laugh" or "You make me smile": about a million.
  • The number of times an alumni of my senior asked me for pranking advice during the weekend: 4 times.
  • The price I paid for gas when filling up on Sunday to make my trip back home: $1.86.
  • The times I went to bed this weekend: 12:30 AM on Friday night, 1:45 AM on Sat. night, and after being woke up by a cell phone call I went BACK to bed again at 2:00 AM on Sat. night!
  • The score of the Cardinals playoff game on Sat. night that I watched with two of my siblings: 5-0 Cardinals won!
  • The number of pictures I took on my camera this weekend: 34.
  • The number of hours I spent studying for my up-coming mid-term while I was out of town: 0 (zero).

And last but certainly not least...

  • The number of memories I made this weekend: un-countable!

Thanks for the good times, friends!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It Isn't Easy Being One of My Close Friends...

...and your parents might not be too thrilled about it either!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of taking a trip to my alma mater and taking my focus off school, work, and internship for a couple days. I think it was a much needed break!

Though the numbers of my friends returning for this year's weekend of Homecoming festivities was less than normal, it was still an amazing weekend! I think with the numbers being down allowed for me to use this weekend to impact friendships in a quality effort, rather than the quanity effort that it sometimes seems like when I find myself returning to campus for events ("Quantity effort" meaning trying to see as many of my friends while I'm there in the limited amount of time that I have).

I found myself spending long periods of time with each friend and getting to really reunite! I loved that!

The reuniting extented into the early morning hours of Sunday when I found myself reliving some of my late-night activities of the past...

I had been asked about a week before coming into town if I would want to rekindle the olden days with some pranking. I was fully aware of out-dated-ness at the time, and new the camo pants would need some dusting off, but I accepted the invitation. Methods, victims, even which night was left up in the air. We figured things would just come together during the weekend, as it did.

With a different crew in town and people and places having changed over the years, I knew things would be different. It would even call for a new and creative method. I do not think we fell short in our expectations!

One factor to the confusion for the victims was who was involved. Yes, I was quickly depicted as an instigator, but was I alone? Was this a case of a sole-pranking effort? Of course not! Who pranks alone!?! ;) But who was with me?

It is then that you can easily become a "target" if you're a close friend of mine...

It doesn't matter if it's 12:30 AM on a church night...if you're a close friend of're a suspect... will probably get a call.

And a call my close friends in town got.

I tried to warn. I had informed my close friends, who I expected would be suspected, that I "was on the loose" (as it had been referred), but that wasn't enough.

There's nothing like being awoken in the middle of the night by your cell phone and answering it only to find yourself being accused of pranking. What makes it worse is when the cell phone doesn't only wake up you, but your parents too who are sleeping the same hotel room as you...

Oh the joys of being one of my close friends! If I only knew why these friends stick around! ;)

All in all it was a GREAT weekend! The football team won. I got to see some of my friends that I haven't seen in a LONG time! I got to spend some quality time with two of my siblings, as we watched our hometown Cardinals play some great baseball. I got to enjoy eating at some good ol' Abilene favorite restaurants. And I ended on a note of chalkin' one up for my "team" in our "pranking" efforts.

It was a great time! I look forward to my next returning trip. But apparently I'm not the only one...

I end with this. The poem I received at 2 AM as a voicemessage on my cell phone in response to my team's "victory." Though those of you not involved probably won't understand most of it, I can say this much...the revenge "threat" at the end is pretty clear. And upon that next returning "home" trip, I plan to be ready!

It's a GREAT poem! I must say! Way to go, girls!

You took the plate,
and messed with David's fate.
With the wise words of Abe,
we interpreted the dream.
Climbed the ladder,
and found the blue beam.

We went to get a late-night snack,
but had to tinkle,
So we went straight back.

We all had fun;
You thought you had won,
but 2007 Sing Song,
it will be back on

Pranking 101:

[P.S...I LOVE the "Pranking 101" part at the end! SO impressed with the tie-in to the Homecoming theme! BEAUTIFUL! Seriously! I LOVE it!]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


It barely takes two hands for me to be able to count the number of times I've drank a beverage from Starbucks. I say barely, because I think the one I drank today may have made my sixth time. It's that Pumpkin Spice Latte season. Besides that, there is only one other drink I've tried from there, and honestly, I don't remember what it's called...HA!

More and more I'm believing my lack of Starbucks consumption puts me in the minority. It seems everyone nowadays has to have their Starbucks, and if it isn't the's the product--coffee.

Is there anyone else out that that isn't a coffee drinker? If you don't do coffee are you a coke-a-day drinker? Or maybe a couple-cokes-a-day drinker? ;)

Our lifestyles nowadays seem to have so many individuals addicted (both physically and mentally, in my opinion) to caffeine.

So share with me. Are you a Starbucks frequent? Are you addicted to change and dollar bills so you can get your "coke" (or "soda" by my terms--maybe "pop" by your terms) for the day while at work?

And if so, how much? Are you a couple cups of coffee drinker a day? Three or four cokes?

Don't be shy...I wouldn't doubt you caffeine folks are the majority nowadays! ;)

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

I was asked on Friday to write a co-worker and friend of mine a letter of recommendation because she would be meeting with a representative from my alma mater on Monday to discuss future schooling possibilities.

I was honored to be asked to write the letter, especially for someone as distinguished as herself, as she was just crowned the 2006 Homecoming Queen for her high school this weekend as a graduating senior; however, at the same time I do not think myself to be someone with much prestige to be writing someone a letter of recommendation, but oh well.

I mention this to introduce this week's statistics because I chose to share some numbers I found on what are the Top Ten Toughest Schools to Get Into for college. Granted, I'll be quick to admit that I am in no way writing this letter to get my friend into one of these schools, but at the same time, my alma mater has its own distinguished qualities. ;)

So without further ado...

The Top Ten Toughest Schools to Get Into:

10. Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island)
9. Stanford University (Stanford, California)
8. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
7. Columbia University (New York, New York)
6. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)
5. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, Massachusetts)
4. Harvard College (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
3. Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)
2. Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

and the #1 most difficult school to get into...

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

So there you have it. Good luck applying! ;)

[The above statistics were taken from this article. More information about each school is available in the article.]

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Is It You?

Let's all dabble in a little psychology for a little bit. Come on...who doesn't like this kind of stuff:

Let's think about birth order. You might have heard before that there has been a lot of research studies completed that deal with the topic of birth order. I find this sort of information interesting (as do many people, who are not even all that into the psychology realm).

Do you believe in the birthy order characteristics? It's hard to argue it otherwise, as the studies continue to show similar findings.

I'm curious about your thoughts on the matter. Think about yourself and share if you think you fit the findings. Be honest, it's okay! ;)

If you aren't aware of some of the findings, you can go to some of these links (1, 2, 3,) to learn a little more about it briefly, then share your thoughts about how you think it applies to you.

Do you seem to fit the findings?

This is a preliminary post to one I want to follow it with, which is based on some thoughts I was having earlier today while I was drying my hair! [Oh the things you'll think about when you're performing the tedious/boring everyday tasks of life!] ;)

P.S....for added fun, think about your friends or family members and where they fall in the birth order and see if you think they fit the findings! ;)

Monday, October 02, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

Saturday I went to a very informative forum held at UTA. It was a forum for the candidates who are running for the Texas Governor position, which is do up for vote this November, to share their thoughts and ideas on Texas Healthcare. Three of the four candidates running accepted the invitation. The one who declined to attend happens to be the current governor. And you know what, when you read some of the following statistics about Texas' current healthcare status, I think if I was him, I would have chosen not to attend as well.

[You can read more about the forum I went to and see all four of the candidate's positions on Texas Healthcare at this link.]

Here is some of the information I noted from the forum that I found interesting...

Over the past few years, the cost of healthcare has increased more than 4-times the rate of wages. Healthcare has increased by 87% and wages by 20%.

The average healthcare premium in Texas is $1000 higher than the national average.

46.6 million Americans are uninsured. This is a 6.8 million people increase in the past 5 years. And many of these people are middle-class individuals.

5.5 million of these uninsured Americans live in Texas. This means more than 25% of the population in Texas is uninsured. This makes Texas the state with the HIGHEST rate of uninsured individuals.

Texas is ranked as the 47th state for providing for mental health and substance abuse.

Texas is experiencing an extreme nurse shortage. It is predicted that if things continue at the same rate as they are going now, by the year 2020, Texas will have a shortage of 220,000 nurses.

All of this is interesting to consider, especially when you consider this quote that one of the candidates pointed out...

We are the richest state in the country, arguably with California.
~Kinky Friedman

Hmmm...I think we have some serious issues to address in the area of healthcare, Texans!

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

I found this interesting...

The Top 10 Biggest Colleges:
(based on their 2004 enrollments)

10. University of Central Florida -- 42,465
9. Texas A&M -- 44,435
8. Michigan State University -- 44,836
7. University of Florida -- 47,993
6. Arizona State University, Tempe Campus -- 49,171
5. University of Texas at Austin -- 50,377
4. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities -- 50,954
3. Ohio State University, Main Campus -- 50,995
2. Miami Dade College -- 57,026
1. University of Phoenix, Online Campus -- 115,794

[the above states came from here]

Here are some of my thoughts when reflecting on the above...
--this is why Texans are SOOO obsessed with college sports. With those two schools alone they practically have more college students than the population of a lot of other states! ;) No, honestly though, I have never been that into college sports (prefer the pros), and I find alot of my friends down here are, so I think it honestly is a cultural thing.
--OH! So those BILLIONS of pop-up ads, spam emails, banner advertisements that the University of Phoenix (online campus, of course) puts out really DO pay off! People really DO read those and take action. Wow. I just though they were purposed to slow down web surfing! ;)
--who the heck is "Miami Dade college?" Is that the Hurricanes? I think it is that "Dade" that is throwing me off. You Daders out there help me out! ;) Isn't there some rule that if you are going to have THAT many students you automatically become a "university" versus a "college"?!?! ;)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Some Questions...

Some easily answerable...

Some who knows...

1.) Did you know Chick-fil-A is not open on Sundays?
--I did not know this until about a month ago. I went to one and was sitting in the drive-thru for a little bit and wasn't real sure why no one was taking my order, but then I just decided it was because their power much have been out, as it had just stormed and the power was out to the street signal next to the store. It wasn't until I went to a friends house and found out from their roommate who used to work at a Chick-fil-A in high school that she explained to me that all Chick-fil-A's are closed on Sundays. I mean I always knew the one at ACU was closed on Sundays, but it was closed all weekend, so I figured that was just a school thing. HA! You can see it for yourself on their website here. I actually think that is pretty cool that they do that. I respect that. A BIG fast food chain that is not giving into the TOTAL market--"we want money"--business format.

2.) Is it disrespectful to eat during the National Anthem?
Like if you're at a baseball game for instance and you're standing (of course) but you have like a hot dog or nachos already. Is it being sdisrespectful if you munch on your food during the anthem?

3.) What exactly happens to helium balloons that are let go into the sky?
--I could have sworn I learned growing up at some point that they eventually reach some point in the atmosphere where either they deflat due to the pressures or they pop--something like that. But if that is the case, does the balloon remains fall back down to the ground? How come you never find all the leftovers from balloons when LARGE groups of them are let out into the sky at different celebrations? And IF that is the case (that they remains fall to the earth), wouldn't that be littering? Shame on those people!

4.) Does EVERY major city have a "Kiss FM?"
--I think they must.

And my favorite question of them all. The one I've asked on my blog before, but no one has ever been able to answer for me...

5.) Does anyone know what the "air" is that they fill potato chip bags with?
--I mean how can they fill the bags with some substance of "air" that does not cause the chips to go stale over time before you open it, but once you open a bag, if you leave it open in the "outside air" it only takes a matter of hours for them to go stale. Is it that whatever the "air" substance that happens to be in the bag, when it mixes with the combination of the "outside air" that the combination causes them to become stale? This one has had me pondering for QUITE sometime now...

Monday, September 18, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

Recently I have been skimming through my textbooks from my last couple years of graduate school training. The purpose behind this madness is to find reference materials for my final paper I must write to graduate from my program. It was during this adventure that I came across some interesting statistics that I wanted to share…

The poverty threshold is a concept used by the U.S. Census Bureau “to determine who is poor. Poverty thresholds vary by family size and are updated annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index”…For example, in 2000 the poverty threshold was $17,463 for a family of four…The Joint Center for Poverty Research reported the following information related to poverty in the United States in 2001…

11.7 percent or 32.9 million people in the United States were poor

16.3 percent of all children under the age of 18 lived below the poverty level. This is the highest poverty level for any group.

26.4 percent of all households headed by women in the United States were poor

10.1 percent of elderly persons (65+) were poor

21.4 percent of persons of Hispanic origin were poor

22.5 percent of African Americans were poor

9.9 percent of whites were poor

39 percent of adults with disabilities have household incomes of $15,000 or less compared to 10 percent of other households

[Schriver, J. (2004) Human behavior and the social environment: Shifting paradigms in essential knowledge for social work practice, 4th Ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. p. 224]

I also found a chart with the following statistics that I thought were interesting as well, so I wanted to share them…

Death Rates Among People Ages 25 to 34 by Race/Ethnicity in the year 2000

Non-Hispanic blacks 3,500,000
Hispanics 3,400,000
Non-Hispanic whites 3,100,000

Non-Hispanic whites 1,500,000
Non-Hispanic blacks 1,000,000
Hispanics 800,000

Non-Hispanic blacks 4,400,000
Hispanics 1,500,000
Non-Hispanic whites 400,000

HIV infection:
Non-Hispanic blacks 2,900,000
Hispanics 700,000
Non-Hispanic whites 300,000

[Schriver, J. (2004) Human behavior and the social environment: Shifting paradigms in essential knowledge for social work practice, 4th Ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. p. 236]

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What We Are...

I LOVE this! Absolutely LOVE this! Holly came across it and shared it with me and I couldn't help but share it with y'all! Part of it made me laugh out loud! So be prepared! Enjoy! HA!

Just another day in the mental health realm...

…or for those of you not familiar with this area, welcome to a day in the life of an individual working with the severely mentally ill…

Jim and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Jim suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled Jim out.

When the director of nursing became aware of Edna’s heroic act, she considered her to be mentally stable. When she went to tell Edna the news she said, “Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you’re being discharged since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of another patient. I have concluded that your act displays sound mind-ness. The bad news is that Jim, the patient you saved, hung himself in his bathroom with the belt to his robe right after you saved him. I am sorry, but he’s dead.”

Edna replied, “He didn’t hang himself. I put him there to dry. How soon can I go home?”

I thought the above story was funny. I got it from a friend in an email. And though it might not be exactly how things tend to go in a mental hospital setting (because we restrict use to pools nowadays…HA), it really isn’t too far off from how some of our client interactions go.

My most recent experience was a group therapy session…

Time out (this is for those schooled in the mental health realm): imagine doing a group session with two major depressive clients (MDD), one bipolar client (BD), and three schizoaffective clients (SAD). We are talking some people with GAF scores under 50. Some of which, when they first entered the unit, were in the 30s.

Okay, so group begins with one individual (a SAD) who is experiencing grandiose delusions and introduces himself to the group as ______ Trump. He believed he was Donald Trump’s son. Immediately following group the participants’ name introductions, “Mr. Trump” decided to begin by begging on behalf of himself and another of the group member’s urges to have a cigarette.

In our locked-unit, obviously none of the clients are allowed to leave to go to a smoke area, and there is no smoking on our unit. So since this gentleman had been in the unit for about 3 days at this point he was experiencing some extreme withdrawal symptoms; though from the “show” he put on about it, I think more of it was a psychological addiction than as much of it being a physical/chemical addiction. Yes, I don’t doubt the man smokes at LEAST a pack a day, so I’m sure his body was chemically addicted so after having to stop cold-turkey for three days straight I’m sure he was experiencing some withdrawal symptoms, but his response was fun to watch, especially since my supervisor was running the group, so I just got to sit back and watch.

This gentleman who is SAD and was having grandiose delusions began to throw a temper-tantrum that we would not allow him to go have a smoke break. He proceeded to inform us about how he graduated first in his class from West Point; fought on the front lines in Iraq for our country, and so the LEAST we could do is give him a cigarette to show our appreciation for what he has done for our country.

Wow…I had no idea Donald Trump’s son was so involved in supporting our country! ;)

Now this gentleman was getting rather out of control because of his desire to get a cigarette. My supervisor did a great job to keep from escalating as the client was, and she was able to get him to calm down and focus his thoughts off of his nicotine craving and onto the topic at hand for the group.

I’ll be honest. This client was rather intimidating at times. When I first met him and he was following me and my supervisor around the unit as we gathered people for group session he introduced himself to me, and then asked what I do. I told him I help Christine, my supervisor, and then we proceeded to move on to another room. He then asked me, “What do you do? Just follow her around?” And I said “no, I help her out.” He said, “You are like her little elf! You’re her little elf! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

He proceeded to crack up at himself and repeatedly say “you’re her little elf” and then crack up again. I just smiled and walked on. I had no intentions of arguing with such a tall gentleman who is following me around the LOCKED unit. I have NO problem being an elf at that point in time! HA!

Not only did he have the characteristic laugh that some schizophrenics have, but he also had the stare. He would just stare with an uncomfortable stare at people—uncomfortable for the person on the other end of the stare. It looks like a threatening stare, though I want to clarify that many times the stares are not with threatening intentions, they just come off that way.

SAD (schizoaffective disorder) is an interesting mental illness to work with. For those unfamiliar with the mental health terminology, schizoaffective disorder is when an individual has schizophrenia and a mood disorder, which could be major depressive disorder or bipolar, for instance. Many times it is schizophrenia and bipolar that we have on our unit. That can be a difficult circumstance for the individual as well as those working with them. Either disorder is difficult enough to live with, but having both can be overwhelming at times.

So there you have it. A week with a VERY interesting group session! You can have REAL fun things come out of group session when you are working with such low functioning individuals.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The 3 Most Difficult Things to Say...

I got this in an email and I found it rather interesting to think about. So I thought I would share it and get your thoughts and opinions.

The three most difficult things to say are:
1.) I love you
2.) I'm sorry
3.) Help me

Do you agree? Disagree? What do you think?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Simple LOVES!

So there are the "simple pleasures," but for me, when I'm happy, I'm HAPPY! And when I'm HAPPY....I'm in LOVE! Love with life!

Lately, I've been getting so happy over some of the littlest things in life, and I LOVE IT!

I just want to share a few of the simple LOVES of my life lately...
  1. Singing loudly in my car to music! I LOVE it! And I have a playlist on my iPod right now that i'm TOTALLY addicted too! And lately driving to school, which is a good 25 minute drive I have been singing like NONE OTHER! LOVE IT!
  2. The Dixie Chicks!!!! I freakin' LOVE their music! I'm sorry to those haters out there, but these ladies have some AMAZING talent and then fact that they write their songs makes me love them even more! FREAKING IN LOVE with them right now! LOVE IT!
  3. The thoughts of my love for the Dixie Chicks right now has me TOTALLY into the idea of getting a group of folks to go to their concert here on December 5th (yes, it is a weekday, but who cares...HA)! Just thinking about seeing them in concert makes me SO HAPPY! LOVE THEM! and LOVE IT!
  4. Eating different foods that I haven't had in a long time. I have been SOOO burnt out on the same ol' same ol' lately that nothing sounds good, so I've been thinking of things that I haven't had in a long time. This weekend I made BLT sandwiches...FREAKING LOVED IT! It was just SOOO refreshing! And so much healthier than the pizza most of the rest of the family ate (but my uncle, he ate BLTs with me and LOVED it and was so glad I thought of it! We are the two NON-picky eaters of the house and healthy-conscious ones, typically). LOVED IT!
  5. Seeing my fellow interns at my internship! These ladies are SOOO much fun! We all laugh SOOO much! The past week and a half I've had a low caseload so I've got to spend more time with the ladies...LOVE IT!
  6. Gas prices coming down! Come KNOW you "LOVE IT" too! ;)
  7. Thinking about graduating! LOVING IT! The other intern that is graduating this semester with me...she is the best! She is SOOO on top of things with graduating and things. Anyways, she has me fired up about potential job options and looking for jobs and stuff. We chatted with one of our supervisors at our internship last week about potential jobs and it was GREAT! She is so going to help hook us up with several people she knows to help us get a counseling spot somewhere...LOVE IT!
  8. Thinking about having a career in something I love not too far off! LOVE IT!
  9. Thinking about not having homework not too far off! LOVE IT!
  10. Thinking about getting a place of my own not too far off! LOVE IT!
  11. Thinking about all the possibilities that stand before me! LOVE IT!
  12. Making new friends! Already made a really cool new friend that is in both of my classes this semester! Good times! LOVE IT!
  13. Talking on the phone with my best friends...LOVE IT!
  14. The new seasons of my shows FINALLY starting...House, Dancing with the Stars and Oprah (next week)...LOVE IT!
  15. Finding a couple more people that I'm friend with that do NOT have myspace pages! We are NOT among the 100 million who DO have myspace pages! Can you believe it?!?! 100 MILLION...crazy! You people! ;) Having more NON-myspacers...LOVE IT!
  16. Checking the Texas Lotto each Wed. and Sat. nights to see if I won the office lotto pot. I SOO wanna win...HA! LOVE IT!
  17. Emailing lately with some of my favorite folks from the church congregation I grew up at...LOVE IT!
  18. Blogging a lot more than I was in the summertime (because I have homework once again. Having homework = blogging! HA!) LOVE IT!
  19. Playing football with my cousins last weekend! I haven't gotten to play sports in a while and I've really missed it! But then the soreness the next few days also reminded me that it had been a while. That's okay because...I LOVE IT!
  20. Just thinking about how much I LOVE all the great friends that I have! I've been SOOOO blessed to keep in touch, and pretty good touch I think, with as many friends as I have from my undergraduate college years. Friends are one of the BEST things! AMAZING friends I have! I LOVE talking with them! GOOD people! LOVE IT and LOVE IT!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Charles M. Mills

It’s just a name to millions of people…

…but to some, it is the name of a loved one that passed through their life, and since that time, has passed on.

Charles M. Mills...

A son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle, a grandfather, a great grandfather, a friend, a mentor, a leader, an employer, an employee…

I don’t know the roles Charles might have fulfilled during his 61 years walking this world, but I do know he influenced the lives of others during that time—and it’s to those whom Mr. Mills touched their life in one way or another that I offer my deepest of sympathies…

On September 11, 2001, Charles M. Mills became one of the 2,996 victims in what is now known to be the worst ever terrorist attack on the United States. Mr. Mills was from Brentwood, New York, and had been in, or at, the World Trade Center buildings the morning of the attacks.

Having served many years in the police force fulfilling one duty after another, at the time of the attacks, Charles M. Mills was serving as the director of the Petroleum, Alcohol and Tobacco Bureau, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, located in the twin towers.

It has been said that “Charlie was lost while supervising the evacuation of employees from the World Trade Center.”

Charles M. Mills—a servant putting his life on the line day after day. I honor Charles for his duties of the past and I end with sharing the words of those who knew him personally…

Charles Mills, "Sonny" to me, was my cousin. It had been many years since I had seen him, but I loved him. He is missed by all who love him.
Karen Paulus 07/18/2002 1:50:04 PM

We will never forget what Charlie did for our City of Troy NY. He was a powerful influence, well respected, and will be terribly missed.
John J.Treski 09/11/2004 9:56:16 PM

Long before 9-11-01, before he worked for the NYS Dept of Taxation & Finance, before he was Police Commissioner of Schenectady, Chief of Police in Troy, and Director of Campus Police at SUNY-Albany, the Twin Towers and NYC I knew Charles Mills. When I first met Charlie, I was a rookie Transit cop, not very long out of the NYC Transit PD Academy (where a classmate was Charlie's brother, John.) Working that 4 x 12 shift out of District 33 (East New York) I was assigned to an RMP, and designated as the driver for the duty Captain. Now, having grown up in Rockaway Beach, NY, and not having need of a car, I had no driver's license, until I had to get one for the Transit Police job. Which meant, of course, that I was in no way familiar with the highways and by-ways of New York City, nor was I all that comfortable behind the wheel of a powerful un-marked police vehicle. After I managed to find my way to downtown Brooklyn, I picked up Captain Mills at NYC Transit Authority HQs on Jay Street. I explained my "newness" to the duty captain, and he calmed my nerves by telling me that it was okay, he knew where everything was we needed to see. He then proceeded to direct me to a restaurant in Brooklyn Heights, where we dined like gentlemen, and the Cap' picked up the tab. After eating our dinner, we began to ride around the city, to visit commands and whatever else the duty Captain has to do. When we overheard a radio call for an injured officer, the Captain directed me to proceed to that location post-haste. As you can imagine, it took me less that 2 minutes to get totally lost. I quickly stopped to ask directions, then proceeded on, only to slam on the brakes when the Captain calmly asked "Do you always sail right through red lights?". After he peeled his face off the windshield, and regained his seat, Captain Mills nonchalantly said to me "Officer, you have to know this - if you hurt me, MY WIFE WILL GET YOU!". The remainder of the tour was uneventful. But neither of us ever forgot that ride. (Charlie reminded me of it every time I ran into him for the next nine years). I left the Transit PD in 1982, moving over to the Nassau County PD. By then, Charlie was a Deputy Chief. And I had been hearing that accolade reserved for the best of us, "He is/was a good cop" and "He is a good boss". I heard he retired shortly thereafter, and moved north, as I later discovered, to make more law enforcement history in Albany, Troy, and Schenectady. Although I never really missed the Transit PD (took 6 months to get the steel dust out of my sinuses) I did miss the guys, and Charlie will always be one of those. If I ever get through the pearly gates, boss, I'll be honored to drive your chariot.
Chris McKeon 02/09/2006 5:27:43 AM

Charlie -- an intensely joyful man with startlingly piercing blue eyes -- had a very distinguished career as a cop. He is most fondly remembered for his service as Police Commissioner for the City of Schenectady where he realized his lifelong dream of commanding a police agency. Charlie threw himself into the life of that comunity. He was famous for going about incognito after hours as the legendary Caliph of Baghdad once did to take the pulse of his community. I am very proud of him, his service and his sacrifice. I wrote the following poem about him and shared it with many of his friends.

Schenectady had woes and ills.

And so, we hired Charlie Mills.
When Charlie took the town's commission,
He swore improvement as his mission.

He went to work at breakneck pace
To make an impact on the place.
No iv'ry tower for this Commish.
He cut his bait and caught his fish.

He lasted but a brief few years;
But left with our regrets and tears.
Yes, o, this town did Charlie touch
And that is why we love him much.

Was there a time when Charlie quailed?
When of our trust that Charlie failed?
Never happened. There's no way
That he'd not rush to save the day.

In times of old did al-Rashid
Concerned with all his people's need
Go forth at night in beggars' clothes
To learn first hand the people's woes.

Thus did Charlie pound a beat
Like any patrolman on the street.
Thus did Charlie win our hearts:
Community cop -- was Charlie's art.

From far away beyond our town
Someone sought to strike him down
And take from us our faithful friend
Who with such heart did us defend.

They tried by such horrific crime
To set a-back the hands of time.
However they might hurt us much
There's something that they cannot touch.

For everywhere that cops walk beats
There's some of Charlie on those streets.
You cannot keep a good man down
And still he watches o'er our town.

Behold our man from flames arise.
Behold our Charlie's ice blue eyes.
Towering tall above Ground ZeroS
tands Charlie Mills, American Hero.

~Terry O'Neill

Charlie was a "cops cop". I worked for him when we were in the transit police in the 1970's. We became friends when I became a police chief and Charlie was police commissioner in Schenectady N.Y. Our paths always seemed to cross. We had dinner together many times at police functions, the last being in San Diego at the international police chiefs assc. Our paths crossed again when I retired and took a job on John St. My office looked out onto the twin towers and I could see Charlies building clearly. On 9/11 our paths crossed for the final time in this life. As I watched with horror the second plane hit the towers I prayed he or anyone else I knew was not there. I did not find out till later that he was indeed there in his office. I have since moved to Florida and became a cop again. The last I had heard was that he was never found. I believe Charlie is with God and wearing God's police uniform, still protecting as he always did in life. If I ever get there I hope we can patrol together again.Love your friend,Mike
*** Posted by Michael Clinch on 2004-02-24 ***

Blessings upon Charles’ family and friends during this time of remembrance and the days to come.

[I obtained the above references to Charles by his loved ones from the following websites: here, here, and here.]

Remembering September 11, 2001

Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong…

Words that ring out oh-to-familiar to most of us as we read them. It seems as if it were just yesterday that we watched our leader, President George W. Bush, address us as a nation with those very words.

For my parents’ generation it was the Kennedy assassination; for my generation it was the terrorist attacks on 9/11. A point in our crucial years of development that we find ourselves questioning—“Why?” and “What happened?” A time that will always be remembered for the uniting of a nation brought about by some of the darkest behaviors known by mankind.

It was a day that will never be forgotten. A day in which most all can remember exactly where they were at and what they were doing when they heard of the news. When they witnessed the towers—filled with business men and women, police and fire officials, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers—plummet to the grounds in a matter of seconds. Our teary eyes and dropped mouth demonstrated the sorrow and shock we couldn’t speak. We watched as image after image depicted the attacks on multiple buildings within the lands of our nation. Would there be more? Was this just the beginning? Had some brave and courageous souls not stepped up on United Flight 93, who knows how many more hundreds or thousands of lives might have been lost that day? The heroes aboard that flight sacrificed their lives for others—along with hundreds of others who entered the burning twin towers in efforts to save as many people from within as possible.

A great and strong nation we often pride ourselves as—but 9/11 reminded us that we are not invincible. As much as one nation may want to believe they are in the majority power and control across the world, they must remember that they can not change others. Even when a force so dominate and powerful exists, an Achilles heel can still be found.

On a day with such lose and darkness, heroes still emerged. On a day that was ignited by acts of terrorists, uniting among strangers prevailed. On a day when confusion ran high, clarity of the means for security began.

Though it only took minutes for the skies to be clouded with dust, it took hours upon hours for the smoke to clear and the wound to be processed…

Though today as a nation we may still fall short of serving justice to those responsible for the horrendous acts committed that day—at the same time we stand stronger as a country that has embraced our spirit once again as a community willing to stand forth for our freedom and beliefs. Though many innocent lives were lost that day, we stand firm in our promise to honor those lost by continuing to remember what they, as well as ourselves, believe in as citizens of this great nation.

Today the United States mourns the great loss we had five years ago. Might each life lost that day represent a presence of love that we, remembering today, might carry forth in our lives to come—showing gratitude and love toward those with whom we encounter.

I want to end by taking a moment to relive the events of that tragic day. Below you’ll find the timeline of the attacks. I encourage my readers to join me in moments of silence at the times in which the planes became weapons of mass destruction. I have highlighted the times the four planes “hit.”


8:46 AM Plane crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

9:03 AM Plane crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

9:17 AM The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shuts down all New York City area airports.

9:21 AM The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) halts all flights at U.S. airports. It is the first time in history that air traffic has been halted nationwide.

9:38 AM Plane crashes into the Pentagon. Evacuation begins immediately.

9:45 AM The White House evacuates.

10:05 AM The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

10:10 AM A portion of the Pentagon collapses.

10:10 AM Plane crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

10:22 AM The State and Justice Departments, as well as the World Bank are evacuated.

10:28 AM The World Trade Center's north tower collapses.

10:45 AM All federal office buildings in Washington, D.C. are evacuated.

1:44 PM Five warships and two aircraft carriers are ordered to leave the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia to protect the East Coast.

4:10 PM Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapses.

[The above timeline was taken from this website.]

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

[This is an entry in my Monday blog series. I use math in the title to refer to the numbers that will be present in each entry in this series. Each entry will revolve around statistics of some sort—typically some interesting statistics I might have happened across recently and wanted to share.]

This entry in my monday blog series is in reference to today being the 5-year anniversary of the worst ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

May the lives lost that day never be forgotten. The numbers are staggering...

  • Total number killed in attacks (official figure as of 9/5/02): 2,819
  • Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
  • Number of NYPD officers: 23
  • Number of Port Authority police officers: 37
  • Number of WTC companies that lost people: 60
  • Number of employees who died in Tower One: 1,402
  • Number of employees who died in Tower Two: 614
  • Number of employees lost at Cantor Fitzgerald: 658
  • Number of U.S. troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom: 22
  • Number of nations whose citizens were killed in attacks: 115
  • Ratio of men to women who died: 3:1
  • Age of the greatest number who died: between 35 and 39
  • Bodies found "intact": 289
  • Body parts found: 19,858
  • Number of families who got no remains: 1,717
  • Estimated units of blood donated to the New York Blood Center: 36,000
  • Total units of donated blood actually used: 258
  • Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks: 1,609
  • Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051
  • Percentage of Americans who knew someone hurt or killed in the attacks: 20
  • FDNY retirements, January–July 2001: 274
  • FDNY retirements, January–July 2002: 661
  • Number of firefighters on leave for respiratory problems by January 2002: 300
  • Number of funerals attended by Rudy Giuliani in 2001: 200
  • Number of FDNY vehicles destroyed: 98
  • Tons of debris removed from site: 1,506,124
  • Days fires continued to burn after the attack: 99
  • Jobs lost in New York owing to the attacks: 146,100
  • Days the New York Stock Exchange was closed: 6
  • Point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average when the NYSE reopened: 684.81
  • Days after 9/11 that the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan: 26
  • Total number of hate crimes reported to the Council on American-Islamic Relations nationwide since 9/11: 1,714
  • Economic loss to New York in month following the attacks: $105 billion
  • Estimated cost of cleanup: $600 million
  • Total FEMA money spent on the emergency: $970 million
  • Estimated amount donated to 9/11 charities: $1.4 billion
  • Estimated amount of insurance paid worldwide related to 9/11: $40.2 billion
  • Estimated amount of money needed to overhaul lower-Manhattan subways: $7.5 billion
  • Amount of money recently granted by U.S. government to overhaul lower-Manhattan subways: $4.55 billion
  • Estimated amount of money raised for funds dedicated to NYPD and FDNY families: $500 million
  • Percentage of total charity money raised going to FDNY and NYPD families: 25
  • Average benefit already received by each FDNY and NYPD widow: $1 million
  • Percentage increase in law-school applications from 2001 to 2002: 17.9
  • Percentage increase in Peace Corps applications from 2001 to 2002: 40
  • Percentage increase in CIA applications from 2001 to 2002: 50
  • Number of songs Clear Channel Radio considered "inappropriate" to play after 9/11: 150
  • Number of mentions of 9/11 at the Oscars: 26
  • Apartments in lower Manhattan eligible for asbestos cleanup: 30,000
  • Number of apartments whose residents have requested cleanup and testing: 4,110
  • Number of Americans who changed their 2001 holiday-travel plans from plane to train or car: 1.4 million
  • Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: 422,000

[The above statistics were taken from this website.]