The 4 W’s of Coming out of the Proverbial Closet

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First, Let me just say, if you have already gone through this process, congrats on the steps you have taken to get where you are today. Also, if you are not gay, but don’t know how to respond to those who might be planning to come out, hopefully this article will offer some encouragement, no matter which side of the argument you may be on. For those that are not sure of their own sexual orientation yet, that’s okay.  It’s okay to say that you are in a process. Lastly, if you are questioning whether you want to come out or not, I want to commend you for struggling through a difficult decision in life at a difficult time where acceptance still isn’t totally ubiquitous. But take heart, the movement towards acceptance, hope, and healing is happening. There are people, groups, and organizations that will welcome you with open arms.

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So lets talk about the 4 W’s of coming out.

To WHOM: make sure you first come out to someone you trust and also whom you really feel will accept you. Fear of rejection and anxiety are both things that homosexual individuals face and wrestle with more than heterosexual individuals. Feeling totally alone is one of the worst feelings, especially when you are embarking on this difficult road. Therefore, I ask you to pick someone who makes you feel safe and will hopefully accept you fully. Then, by having that one person’s full support as you choose your other audiences, it will make the responses good or bad, something you can deal with and process with someone who believes in you. You should prepare for the idea that some people still might respond how you had hoped, but not everyone is on the other side of history yet. I hope you know how brave you are!

(note to the responder: Please be Kind… Warm, Safe, Welcoming, Loving… Celebratory, Encouraging? All the better: but even if you don’t agree with their choice in life, they did choose you as a person they trust and important enough to tell you even if they thought you would reject them. I encourage that my role as a CHRISTIAN is to love others as God loves us. I also believe that our role as HUMANS is to love. There is already enough pain, hate, and strife in this world. Please don’t add to it.)

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WHAT will you say? Coming out is difficult, so figuring out the right way to do it will probably take some thought and consideration. I encourage that writing it out first will be helpful to weed out the details that don’t matter, (who you kissed, what it felt like?) and make sure you say the meat of the story clearly. “I am gay”, or “I am bisexual.” Leave no room for confusion or trying to convince you otherwise. Prefacing the big stuff: Let them know why you chose them as a person worthy of such new and important information. Let them know that they don’t have to agree, but you hope for respect. Allow them to ask questions because they will have some for you.

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(note to the responder: First, feel honored. He or She wanted to be REAL and HONEST with you, so the least you can do is let them know “ I am glad that you trusted me enough to tell me.” If you really do disagree, judgment, animosity, and exclusion will not change their sexual orientation. Secondly, Ask questions. He or she just told you a huge piece of important information. If you need to, ask your questions, to understand better. Try not to make assumptions.)

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WHEN is the right time? The truth is there is never going to be a perfect time. So do it NOW!!! Just kidding! IT IS ESSENTIAL TO GO AT YOUR OWN PACE, so you can be true to who you are. when they can focus on you, not be distracted. Preface your invitation to talk as, I want to talk to you about something really important, so that they don’t invite anyone else along, or sit on their phone. Ask them to put all distractions away.

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(note to the responder: make time for him or her. If it is this important enough that they wanted to tell you this, the other stuff can happen/ be done at a later time. Focus in Now. Be present.)

WHERE is the right place? Somewhere with minimal distractions, but most importantly where you feel safe. Are you so scared of their reaction you fear your safety? Maybe in a public place is best, or maybe not at all. However, if you do feel safe, I encourage you meet in a place that feels neutral. A Neutral location will help the receiver feel comfortable so that they may ask questions, and you to feel safe to share as well.

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FOLLOWING THESE 4 W’s should help ease the process of coming out. Plus, I really hope that being truthful with those who are an important part of your life about who you are and what your sexual orientation is will help bring an increased sense of personal integrity, increased self esteem, and increased communication and honesty with others. Good luck!!

Aside: Self-acceptance is the first and most important step to this process. Coming out about your sexuality will be easier to do and easier to accept dissenting opinions if you are more solid and confident about who you are. I encourage you to see help and talk to a therapist, as I believe in our education and training to be neutral, good listeners, and question askers to help you become more aware of yourself and your wants/needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact me: Wendy.LMFT@gmail.com or my phone number (512) 649 1049. Another great therapist in the Austin area who works very well with these issues is April Owen who you can contact at: (832) 421 4968 or Dr_o@live.com .

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Feeling Tired? How to Get Better ZZZZZZs

imagesSleep is just as important as food or water to our bodies. We can actually die from extreme amounts of not sleeping, so why do we honor the notion that babies need all of that amazing sleep,Sleeping-Baby

but don’t give it to ourselves as an adult when we work harder than ever and have acquired so much more emotional, mental, and physical cumulative stress over the day than we did as babies or children? The following tips will be a few helpful ways to get you those much needed Z’s to a happier, healthier, you.

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  1. Make sleep a priority. Friends, facebook, instagram, twitter, online shopping, the internet, work, chores, and stress will still be there in the morning. It can wait. If trying to fall asleep with an incomplete to do list will keep you up at night, I have found that writing a new list for the next day helps me get it off my chest. Plus, the number one I hear from clients for what they do for hours before bed, it’s browse social media. Sleep > Internet Gazing. If you are  better rested, you will actually be more productive with that to do list tomorrow.
  2. Use your bed for the following activities SLEEP, relaxing, partner playtime (if applicable at the appropriate age/maturity/time… I know I have teens who read this too), or meditation. Pick another place to catch up on work, watch tv, play on your ipad. I cannot stress this enough. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from your phones, ipads, tablets, and computers keep your brain thinking that you are awake. Let your brain sleep.
  3. A hot tub, steam room, or sauna. These soothing contraptions dilate your blood vessels and get plenty of warm comfy oxygen floating around, which helps you relax and sleep better. Don’t have the money to pay for a fancy gym membership where these are accessible? A hot bath with some epsom salt will do the trick just fine!
  4. Working out super late can re-jump-start your energy, so I would try not to work out too late, but working out a few hours before bed (say- right before dinner can actually help you de-stress and sleep better.
  5. You can learn how much sleep you body needs. The trick to find out? Try your very best to go to bed at the same time every single night for 4 straight nights. Don’t set an alarm- just sleep until your body wakes you up (I know you are thinking, “when do I have 4 days in a row when I can NOT set an alarm? But if you can get a vacation or a 3 day weekend and add a day where you go in to work late, I promise it’s a cool test to do). Also, for purposes of this test, don’t nap during the day. By the 4th morning your body should have reached it’s balance after catching up on not enough sleep, and you have a good idea of how much you need. On day 1 or 2, usually your body is either used to lack of sleep so your body will wake up early even though you really are tired, or you will sleep 11 hours+ because it is overcompensating due to lack of restful Z’s during previous nights. In high school and college I could thrive on 6, but now I find about 9 is best for me. It doesn’t always happen but I really do feel best when I have gotten ~9 hours. Listen to your body. Everyone is different. Also, after you know your number of needed sleep hours, try to go to bed around the same time every night. Your body is an intelligent and intuitive creation. Just as it learns to know when it’s hungry, it also will learn how to get sleepy when it needs to.
  6. Do you need to consult a doctor? Pain, sleep apnea, or some medications could be affecting your sleep.
  7. Don’t eat a huge meal right before bed. Most people tell me they experience weird dreams, have nightmares, or sleep poorer right after having eaten a large meal before bed. Going to bed on a hungry stomach will keep you up too though, so if you are hungry have a light snack. Toast with peanut butter, or a small bowl of cereal. No caffeine, chocolate, soda (no soda ever!), or apples right before bed as these are all energizers!
  8. Cut back on Alcohol. This one may seem counter intuitive as we have all heard of the famous night-cap as well as the party guy who passed out to a peaceful almost dead slumber, but Alcohol actually interferes with sleep. This goes for nicotine as well.
  9. Keep Daytime naps short and before 3pm-ish so you can go to bed sleepy and ready for bed.
  10. If you are so emotionally stressed that you consistently cannot fall asleep, please seek therapeutic help. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. You can contact me at wendy.lmft@gmail.com and I would love to help or find a referral for someone who can help. There are so many good counselors out there. You just need to find whom will be the right fit for you.
  11. Keep a room dark and cool as best as you can for sleeping. This may mean it is harder to wake up, since you are all snuggled sweetly under the covers. I encourage you, however, to invest in curtains- having something to pull closed and keep your room dark at night an open up to the sunshine in the morning! Having natural light can help you wake up peacefully and improve your mood ever so slightly.
  12. Try to keep kiddos and pets sleeping in their respective sleeping quarters. Just remember, not only you and your choices, but each and every person/animal in your bed affects your sleep as well. So while I’m not telling you to kick your partner out of your bed, the less bodies affecting you, the better your chances for a good night sleep.

I hope these ideas have been helpful. I truly believe that sleeping better can improve your life. Being well rested definitely has shown to improve job performance, mood, productivity, workouts, and memory, not to mention improve all of the negative physical effects that your lack of Z’s can cause: baggy under eyes, dark circles, physical fatigue, and poor posture. Prioritize your ZZZZ’s and you will feel AmaZZZZing! Blessings, Sweet Dreams, and Sleep well!

8 Pieces of Take home Advice from 2014

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#1. Ask your questions when you have doubts, but ultimately listen to those who offer wise counsel.
My start to 2014 was difficult. I was suffering with symptoms of post concussive syndrome and had daily headaches, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, and feeling super low. I was in and out of doctor’s offices with many Doctor recommendations for medicine that I refused to take, mostly due to my own pride. Finally, I took their advice and took the medicine they had been recommending for months. Miraculously, I felt better! I wish I had listened to them way sooner, after a couple weeks I wasn’t in pain anymore, I could finally work out again, be in noisy atmosphere’s again, and work again. I had my life back.

#2 Patience is a beautiful virtue worth pursuing:
The concussion healing process took months. However, I learned a lot. I also have learned much about patience in my relationship with my fiance. We each had our own journeys to go through to make sure we were ready for our joint adventure. Now we are! But it did take some time, and it was for sure worth it!

#3 Plan, Plan, Plan! Getting Licensed, Moving, Wedding Planning, and Starting Your Own Business is a lot of Work!
In the last year, I have gotten engaged, planned and executed a move from California to Texas, been planning our wedding, and we started up 2 business: Therapy Coffee and Tea, a mobile espresso bar, as well as my own therapy private practice Wendy LMFT. Let me tell you, I am a right brain dominant person, but to get all of this done, takes a lot of logistics, planning, discipline, follow-up, and persistence. As I approach my 30th birthday, I am having to plan more than ever to keep things calm and sane for me with all the new changes. Since they are all wonderful changes for my benefit and the benefit of my family, it is definitely worth the work.

#4 Don’t Forget your Family and Friends
With all of the aforementioned stuff that is going on in my life, it’s easy to get sidetracked or just too plain tired to hang out. But I NEED MY FRIENDS. When life gets stressful or busy, do not let friendships become unimportant. Friends are the people you will call when you need to move a couch, celebrate the fun stuff, cry over the crappy stuff, or just get some advice you don’t pay 100 dollars a session for 🙂

#5 Have fun! Stay sane: Whatever that means you need to do 
For me, it’s exercise, baking, having a good cry, or being outdoors. For you, maybe it’s quilting, working on cars, reading magazines or a good book, going to therapy, training for a marathon, dating, cooking, traveling, or whatever it is you do. If you don’t have one of these fun relaxing activities, find one!

#6 Keep a Budget
When I have a little extra spending cash, I tend to stop looking at exactly what I am buying item per item, which means I buy more. However, when I have a budget and a shopping list written out, I am less likely to buy things that I don’t need. Given the current average person’s debt in the country, a budget might be a great idea for the new year. Ideas at: Cheapskate

#7 When it Comes to Money, Trust SLOWLY
With starting our 2 businesses, WOW, have we learned a lot. We have had people take our money for a job and then not do jobs we hired them for. We have also had people do terrible work and provide terrible service and refuse to give our money back at the end of the day. We have had people be dishonest with us. It’s been a frustrating process. I am learning that while I want to believe that everyone is good, it is not necessarily true, especially when it comes to money.Some people are really good at first impressions. Get references for people. Pay for satisfaction guaranteed- completed work.

#8 Soak up Love, Soak up your Abilities:
As I am getting older and newly feeling how slow the rehab process is after sports’ injuries, watching my parents getting older, and watching grandparents getting WAAAAAY older, I am realizing that the “Good Life” is precious! That goes for my body’s ability and the bodies of those I love. One of the things that is really important to my fiance is being able to spend time with his grandmother in Colorado as much as possible in her later years. When you have an opportunity to spend time with those you love, do something cool like a once in a life time trip, or train your body for a difficult task such as a triathalon, SOAK IT UP. These moments might not come around so often.

Feeling Beautiful at Every Decade of Life… Yes, It’s a Mental Health Issue!

When we were young, we saw magazine cover girls, Barbie dolls, and plastic surgery’d movie stars as our standard of beauty. These all have one thing in common- they aren’t completely real! Who can compete with that? imgres-1

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But here’s the deal, you can always tell when a person’s inner and outer beauty is authentic and genuine. I can still remember as a teenager, baking myself in tanning booths and laying in the sun thinking, “this is awesome… I’m gonna be prettier so fast!” Instant gratification was bliss and I didn’t even consider long-term effects. I know older women who have gotten Botox and plastic surgery and say, Don’t judge until you get to my age.” It’s hard aging and watching that supple, tight, plump skin become more elastic and wrinkled. I am less than 3 months away from my 30th birthday, and I must admit, starting to see the beginning of this downward movement in my body wears a little on my self-esteem. However, I try to remember some sage wisdom. I know that a smile and genuine inner beauty always has augmenting power for one’s outer beauty. A person’s inner beauty can remain a bit more stable throughout the lifespan and be perfected with age and maturation, but a person’s outer beauty changes more over time. Moreover, while that does give some comfort as I am starting to like my own inner self, heart, and soul a little more everyday, I still find myself at the stores spending money on beauty products, skin care, as well as dressing to fit in with the most current fashion trend. Even with our changing outer shell, we need to remember and stay encouraged that there are beautiful women who walk confidently and glow at every age. Take a walk with me and look at women of various decades and a here’s few tips on how to feel beautiful and confident at each stage of life.images-3

Teens:
Whew! What advice can I really give here? Just try to deal and get through it? Acne is normal. It’s okay. Every other teen is freaking out about the latest pimple they have and are likely not focused on yours. This is also the time that boys can basically eat what they want and unfortunately, ladies, our baby making organs are asking our bodies for more fat in order to be able to reproduce. I know this is difficult. What does this mean? It does not mean, go have a baby. You are emotionally and financially NOT READY. It does mean, it’s normal to start having some belly, hip, and leg fat. It means it’s normal to have our inner thighs touch. That’s okay. Listen to Megan Tranor’s “All about that bass” and fight the urge to compare yourself to the Taylor Swift’s of the world. Taylor Swifts are the exception. Females on average will have more fat than males during this stage of life, and this is very difficult, I know. It is a reason why more women suffer with body image and eating disorders than men. Please seek help from a therapist if you are having a hard time. You may feel that you have to work a little harder than the boys to be thin, have muscle, and in a general sense, this is true, I’m sorry. This is okay. Don’t sweat it. Your Teenage/Puberty years are when you are developing the muscles as well as the time when your hormones are going crazy, so working out can help regulate these. Also your teen years are an okay… no… a GREAT time in life to start working out and getting a routine or discipline of running, swimming, playing sports, cycling, yoga, dancing, joining an athletic group or competition, or going on daily walks with family or friends. Plus being a part of a group whose members share interests and values on a consistent basis, gives you a community, sense of purpose, increases confidence, enhances the chances of having a strong, lean, and fit body, and prevents depression. The habits you are starting now will help staying fit as an adult be an easier process. Speaking of habits, lastly, this is the perfect time to start getting into a really good routine of making sure you brush your teeth, put on a face lotion every morning and night, and wear sunscreen daily. I will admit that some of these are hard for me to do consistently because it was not a daily habit when I was younger. It may seem annoying now, but seeing my best friend now with perfect skin while mine is just starting the fine lines and eye wrinkling process, I wish someone would of told me then. She feels confident about her skin and is happy. You will thank me for this advice later, Promise! Listen, I know the teen years can be an emotional roller coaster, but you will make it! Pick one or two things that are good and healthy in your life, and go with that.images-5

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20s:
If you didn’t start your routine of skin care, deodorant, clean body, hair, and a clean mouth as a teenager, this is your time to shine! The age of dating has come, my friend- and I’m not talking about the “He’s the one!” “No, he’s the one!” “No! He’s the one!”-type dating of our teenage years. I’m talking about the “Okay, I’m learning who I want to be with and who I don’t, and maybe this person REALLY COULD BE the one!” and since we weren’t all born looking like Alex Morgan, (US Women’s Soccer Team star) images we need to put forth our best inner and outer beauty- for our selves and for others. What does this look like? Well, first you are still young and your body is as active as it ever will be. Join those social clubs, maybe something active or artistic. Want an added bonus? Extra blood flow from exercise helps bring nutrients, oxygen, and healing to your skin!
Also, try not to start your poor liver on a difficult trajectory by only spending time with friends drinking as much as humanly possible. One, you know it can be addictive, and two, it is dehydrating for your skin and brain. You don’t have to give up parties, just put a glass of water between each of those drinks, so it will slow you down. Next, Take care of your skin. All those age spots and wrinkles that you don’t have to worry about until your thirties or forties are seeded in dehydration, alcohol, and the occasional smoke. So drink water, Take your makeup off every night, wear a paraben-free moisturizer, and put on sunscreen every day.
Most importantly, wear your smile loud and proud and watch how much it attracts people to you. Then you can let that inner-self shine. Now if you don’t like your inner self at this point? Do some soul- work! Go to therapy, explore faith, get a life coach, or have friends that you can really talk the real-life stuff with. Your 20’s is the developmental period of life where you probably are starting to question everything your parents taught you regarding your political, moral, and religious beliefs. You are really starting to better know yourself apart from your the family of origin. It is good to question, doubt, and talk with other people about how you may be changing, as someone else can be a sounding board and help solidify your values and become more comfortable in your own skin.
Lastly, Don’t forget to take risks, have fun, laugh as much as possible, and still be young. Yes you are really becoming an adult, and there are responsibilities, but this is prime time for exploration, trying new things, traveling- the cheap backpacking way, developing friendships that will last, dating, volunteering, and playing. The more you know yourself through these experiences, the more comfortable you will be in your own skin. I hope this helps you discover a BEAUTIFUL, AUTHENTIC you.images

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30s:
As I am so close to hitting this point in my life, I had to go to research and other people’s life experience. But boy, am I (tentatively?!) excited to embark on this impending journey. The 30’s seem to be the stage of life where men and women are feeling more stable about who they are, their values, and their purpose in life. This is a time period of working in a career field of choice, looking for a life partner, spending time with deeply developed friendships, coupling with long-term commitment in mind, and possibly building families. Life can also be stressful during this time with so much going on, so try to get enough sleep. Unfortunately we get the added round-house kick to the face where stuff starts to sag, lines start to appear, and color spots can start to come around. On top of that, if pregnancy is a factor in your world, there’s the added fun of stretch-marks, hormonal acne, and hormonal discoloration. Remember all of that fun in the sun in our teens and twenties with no sun-screen? That comes back to bite us, which means, we need to get checked for skin cancer, and put on moisturizer both morning and night. While some sun damage is irreversible, wearing sunscreen is still essential and necessary. Drinking water instead of all of those sugary, diet, caffeinated drinks, is something that will brighten your skin, help you lose weight since you will feel more satiated, and give you more energy without all of those post sugar-high crashes. If you are feeling confident at this stage of life, wear it:images-2. If you are not, I highly recommend seeing what is going on? Ae you still stuck in comparison land? Do you need to develop some skills? Is a job, friends, or sour relationship holding you back, and would a change of pace be good for your soul? I really encourage talking to a therapist at this point in your life if you haven’t yet in order to get a fresh perspective.

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40s:
You made it! You are wiser, more sure, and more defined than ever. imgres-1 imgres
Your spots and lines however, are also getting a little more defined. Most women’s bodies have slowed down their production of collagen, which means that some of our structural support is starting to weaken. We would do well to keep working out and drink a lot of water (studies have shown how much water can help with glowing skin). Also, support bone growth by taking supplements and drinking milk if we are able since many women are becoming lactose intolerant more these days. Am I freaking you out yet? Please don’t get discouraged: images Thee are so many good things about this decade, and one great one is that you likely have at least one great and solidified part of your life whether it’s work, relationships, kids, or friends. Lastly, do a self-evaluation during this possible mid point of our lives. Are there any unhealthy patterns or addictions that you may be dealing with? If so, seek help, tell someone. It’s never too late! In the mean time, this might be a good time to mix it up. Try a new work out, a new recipe, a new wardrobe. If you are in a long-standing relationship, try a new type of date-night-out or maybe something new and fun in the bedroom. If you are single but in want, get out and learn something new about yourself and the person you would like to be with through dating, or if you are content being single that is okay too. I Just encourage you to try a new activity! As far as your skin care goes, why not splurge on yourself. You take care of other needs you have, and your skin is begging you. By now, you probably aren’t spending all that extra money on late night bar crawls, so take care of your skin by buying the good, natural stuff.

50’s and beyond:
So here you are. Everything I explained in the aforementioned decade I encourage times 10. Have fun. The only caution I give you is don’t overdo the all of anti-aging. images-2
Although I can’t honestly say I know what if feels like to be in my 50’s or older, I can say I imagine it is hard to feel like you are on the downward slope of your physical capabilities and in general, people you love may be leaving you on this Earth. May I suggest, however, a reframe for this negative worry? You worked so hard at this uphill battle of getting to know and like whom you are, so remember, you made it! It’s all down hill rom here! Be proud of who you are in life. Your lines tell a story: the times you have smiled or the times you worried. At this point, you know the good in life, and you also know the stuff you won’t put up with. Root your self in what is good: your strengths, your friends, and your faith. That hopefully makes for a little smoother ride.

Especially as we are ending 2014, and we’re about to embark on 2015, please know that you can be graceful, beautiful, fun, joyful, loving, kind, and awesome at every stage of life! Make some goals, Take care of yourself, and Live it up!
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Wisdom from a 10 year old

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Over Thanksgiving break I went home to visit my parents in a small town near Dallas Fort Worth. Since they were moving to a new home, they had boxed up a bunch of old ribbons, pictures, trophies, and books of mine. Included in one of the boxes was a folder full of finished projects. The folder contained this:IMG_0426
My little Texas Elementary School 5th grade class had been asked to come up with one sentence life lessons from some very popular children’s books. I wondered if my 10 year-old self would have any applicable wisdom for me today, so I perused “My Wisdom Book.” Why do we make things so complicated as adults? If only I could live as simply as my 10 year-old self preached!

Here were my simple life lessons. Here we go!
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“I learned that you need to use what you have in the best way you can.”

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“I learned that best friends will lean on each other and even if one moves or is lost, They’ll always love one another.”

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“This lesson taught me to always be determined and even if you feel you are poor. You are rich in a way.”

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“The important thing about this book was if you love something that much, you will try it and never give up.”

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“If you have it all, nobody is going to like you, if you are not nice about it.”

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“This book taught me that you don’t have to follow the group. You should do what makes you feel good.”

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“the perfect summary-moral of this story would be friends are the most valued posession in life and don’t take advantage of them.”

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“I learned that it’s not what people look like it’s what’s inside that counts.”

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“The handsome boy isn’t always sweet. And people should like you for who you are.”

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“I learned don’t judge someone by what they look like.”

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“Something I learned was friendship is more important than money. And some people don’t always realize that.”

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“In this book there was a lesson that says friends will appreciate you for who you are, not for what you think you can do better than anyone else.”

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Pretty smart advice if I do say so myself!
Now… to live… to LIVE is a-whole-nother question at hand.

The Importance of Being Earnest.. AND FRIENDLY…

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This past weekend I learned a few valuable lessons. Being Earnest is important. Doing it in a friendly (kind) way is maybe even more important! This necessity regarded not only the humanity as a whole, the business world, consumers, and friends, but also my romantic relationship.

I worked at Formula One with my fiance at his coffee truck. He owns his own mobile espresso bar business called Therapy Coffee and Tea. THERAPY
While it was fun weekend, it was also a lot of work, complete with its challenges.
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It was by far the biggest event we have ever had as a couple. EEEEEK! Exciting! and TERRIFYING! In hindsight, My fiance did a great job, and was up to the challenge, but that did not mean it was easy. Being earnest is a core value behind what we do. Without passion providing the quality and volume of service would not have been possible. It’s imperative in the business world, and some would say even be cut-throat, but I am going to tell you why the friendliness is just as important.

To make it simple, I’ll discuss the issues that came up in chronological order.
First, the prepping stage. Wow, who would have thought you work all of those unpaid hours picking up equipment, renting tools, homedepot runs for flooring and water piping, grocery store runs for milks/sugars/stirsticks/etc, getting the coffee/tea we needed, branding cups/menus/the truck, hiring the right staff, and lastly brewing all of the coffee/tea/lemonade etc. all in a time specific manner for its peak freshness for the weekend. Moreover, that didn’t include his already scheduled gigs for the week and my own personal schedule for my therapy office, workouts, social schedules, and planning a wedding. Least to say, the question had to arise. What is our biggest priority. I had my list, and my fiance had his list. We both have been earnest since we each started this journey of creating our own businesses. It’s been special to see our own passions be manifested in the recent era of our lives here in Austin. However, when the schedule becomes one much like the one I listed above, it is really easy to feel stressed out, stretched thin, and unappreciated by the other person who is hyper-focused on their own moneymaking venture. Thus on a very personal romantic-relationship level, I learned we have to be earnest in our pursuits, but also remember that we each need the support of each other, and that means sometimes setting aside our own STUFF in order to be a friend to the other and offer a hand where or when it is needed. I think it is easy to become resentful in our own romantic relationship if we feel we are often giving more than receiving, but if we can reframe this and see A successes or a loss as a team success or loss, then we can prioritize together which of our to do list might be the most fruitful (not most important) step we can take together for the biggest team success. Sometimes it’s my (our) stuff (which feels really good). This time, I had to swallow, the step with the most potential fruit and success, was on his (again- OUR) path. So I had to be more Kind and friendly to someone I love so preciously and dearly. As crazy as this sounds, sometimes it is hard to be kind to that person, because they can see your crabby awful side, and you know they are committed to not going anywhere. That is the person, however, that deserves that extra love when it’s difficult.
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Second, there was the execution stage.
I can not emphasis this enough: we could NOT have gotten through this alone. In 3 days Therapy Coffee & Tea made:
827 drip coffees
416 espressos
268 cold brew coffees
142 lemonades
104 cold brew teas
111 hot teas
1868 drinks served
A team of 6 very competent, fun people made all of those drinks. There was barely a moment where a break would have been a good time for someone to leave the group without it affecting our output. Our team was encouraging and we had each other’s backs.
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Each person in the group had a role: 2 baristas, 1 person on brewing/water duty, 1 person on a register, 1 person backing the register to fulfill orders, and 1 person splitting the last two mentioned roles as needed. On top of Earnestness in their work to make each person they interacted with smile due to quality service and fulfilling orders with quality product in a timely manner, each member was also friendly. They passionately worked and they also smiled and were kind, which as a team and company, helped us KILL IT at F1! We also could not have done it with out the friendliness of the staff at Circuit of the Americas where F1 was held, or without being friendly and honest when we needed help. My fiance kindly asked police to escort him to a place where he could replenish water for the truck, and while they didn’t have to, they helped us out. With a smile our staff was able to get rides back to their cars that were 4 miles away rather than having to walk after working all day. Also, with a smile and some friendly spanish speaking, I was able to ask a family if they would let me park my car at their campsite to save me money as well as having to wait almost and hour for a shuttle to the far away parking lot. The family’s friendliness and hospitality allowed me to do my work earnestly and with a smile all day.th-4

The future and Friendliness:
We could have earnestly pushed our company and cards on a lot of people, but instead, we decided to take the approach of just letting out product speak for itself since we are proud of it, and just go out and meet people with a friendly attitude. Who knows? Maybe we will make a great friend or connection, and strengthen our new Austin community? With this attitude, we met so many great people: a few guys who wanted to help us with signs and graphic work, someone who does delicious breakfast pastries to hopefully enhance our menu at a very low/wholesale cost, potential referral sources and catering clients, wonderful employees who we would trust and hire again, and new customers who love our product but mainly want to come back because of our friendly disposition that we can make their day better with a cup of coffee.

So LESSON LEARNED?
Take your busy life, and BE PASSIONATE … EARNEST… DRIVEN… Yes, sure.
But mostly???? Be Nice… Because Kindness. Friendliness. God’s Love. Service. Those are powerful things to put into the world. Let your attitude be your language to communicate.

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Passionately serve people with kindness, and LET IT GROW.

For Those All too Stressful, No-Good, Terrible, Awful Days: Some Ways to Take Care of Yourself

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Yesterday was just one of those days. I woke up in a bad mood. I didn’t feel pretty. I tried to buy a new couch and no one could help me move it. I felt lonely. Even if someone could have helped me, The couch would not fit up the stairs, or through the door. I had to leave the brand new couch waiting outside, and the sprinklers came on. I was a moody “bleeped”-out word I should not write online or say in front of children to my fiance. I was struggling with some financial stuff that day. Feeling totally incompetent. Just one of Those All too Stressful, No-Good, Terrible, Awful Days. And instead of sinking into a sad bath of “Poor me” with buckets of ice cream and writing hate mail to the world and making it worse, I took a breath and decided to write. I am challenging myself to try to do one of these encouraging feel better ideas the next time I’m in a terrible mood. I came up with the following happy therapeutic list:

• Try to remember that it was ONE Day. You make a choice about tomorrow.
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• Get Support from friends and Family- remembering that you are not alone can help increase your feelings of power. When we feel embarrassed about how we feel or what happened, we tend to not want to let people in, but try not to isolate yourself. Be with people who know your strengths and positive qualities.
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• Talk about it/ Express your feelings – You can choose how much or how little to share as well as when, where, and with whom to share the details, but please try and talk to someone: a therapist, friend, family member, or even a stranger who feels safe.

• Do something active- your body can soak in all of that stress, anger, and anxiety and manifest itself in mysterious ways: headaches, insomnia, muscle aches, panic attacks, or gastrointestinal issues. But playing sports, doing yoga, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, or even walking can help alleviate those nasty physical symptoms that creep up from stress.
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• Go to a safe place- be somewhere where you do not feel afraid. Then remind yourself that you are no longer in the awful moment.
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• KNOW THAT WHAT YOU ARE FEELING IS OKAY. After trauma or something bad happening there are some normal reactions that people have or grief stages that we may go through. Denial, anger, sadness, shock, feeling numb, forgetfulness, blaming others, self blame, difficulty trusting others, or bargaining. It’s okay. Really. Whatever you may be feeling. You won’t be stuck there forever. Just…
• Keep moving, keep doing something, keep hope- Don’t give up. It’s easy to just not want to get up in the morning when we feel awful. But take a small step. Call one person. Text one friend. Walk for 10 minutes.
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• Use your 5 senses to Reduce Stress- View something beautiful like a sunset, a painting, or the stars in the sky. Listen to some good music or an audio book. Smell beautiful flowers in a garden or bake/taste something that smells delicious. Get a massage or do something tactile with your hands like art, sewing, or build something. You’ll often forget about the bad when your senses are taking in so much good.
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• Take “timeouts”- give yourself permission to take a break to reflect, meditate, pray, or relax and rejuvenate
• Try journaling or Reading- try to finds short periods of uninterrupted quiet time
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• Release some of the anger and hurt in a healthy way- Write a letter to the person with whom you feel hurt, angry, guilty, or sad. Then it can be up to you whether or not you actually deliver the letter- if you do, try to also be kind and the best version of yourself. Draw a picture. Speak to an empty chair as if it’s the person you need to address.

• Remind yourself of the good qualities about you: you are strong, fun, kind, sensitive, playful, powerful, resilient, and taking control. Remind yourself of a time when you felt this way, and then make those traits present ones by saying them out loud about yourself (ie I am strong. I am playful. I am taking control. I am kind). This may feel really silly, but here’s an example of why it can be powerful. Just try and not smile.

I know it was a bad day. I’m sorry. However, I challenge you to make choices so that it can get better. Then, there’s always tomorrow!

The Art and Joy of Coloring

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Think crayons, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, markers, and finger paints are for kiddos?

Most of us have given up using our right brain for more practical functioning left brain needs when we are working a full time job, dealing with keeping the house clean, making lists for the grocery store, and taking care of kids or our partner. We are focused on our worries and more and more in this day and age, adults rarely make time to think creatively, unless it’s our profession- and even then, we have to do it to make money, not just for the pure joy of it. When was the last time you picked up your art supplies, your musical instrument, or your poetry book just for you- not to post on social media, but just for you? My guess is you can probably count one one hand in the last year. In the same sentiment as yoga and meditation, doing art increases imagination and makes us more playful.
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Adults who do artistic activities after work or after a difficult emotional conversation or altercation can lower their stress levels. It has us focused on the activity and not all of the worries of our day. It puts us in the role of a child, who usually encounters a lot less than your average adult. Here is an article highlighting some of these similar ideas:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/coloring-for-stress_n_5975832.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Also within the article the idea of the Mandala (pronounced ˈmən-də-lə) is discussed. The Mandala was an ancient Buddhist image and tradition to portray the universe in it’s metaphysical totality. The mandala was a symbol of wholeness and was in the shape of a circle to show completeness. Western Psychology picked this up under Psychologist Carl Jung and he encouraged using art and the Mandala for in times of transition and growth. It is a piece of art that can portray our true selves. The joys, fears, positives, and negatives. The artist and creative side of us encourages imagination and right brain activity, which in my opinion, makes us more whole, more balanced.
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So go to your job, make your grocery lists, do your chores, your workouts, and take care of the people you love, but I also encourage you to find 5-10 minutes a day, to imagine, create, believe in something bigger than you! Pick up those crayons because joy can be found in the quiet place.

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