Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and while many people have loving mothers, many others had to spend the day without theirs because of death or distance.  Many people, however, have toxic relationships with their parents, which makes Mother’s Day a painful day.  I would just like to remind you that:

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”
          –Richard Bach

Family can be blood, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you haven’t already done to this weekend, make sure you take time out this week to appreciate someone with whom you have that mutual bond of joy and repect.

Feel Good Friday

Hey everyone, it’s Friday!  Here’s a bunch of news stories I came across this week.  Let’s change the focus and make sure we take a look at all the good things in the world.

This is my happy place.   Photo Credit: Doree Weller

This is my happy place.
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Grieving mama cat gets to foster 3 newborn baby kitties.  The article has pictures attached!  Who doesn’t want to see a mama cat with kitties and a happy ending?

Are you in the mood to cry a little?  Then watch this video about Caleb as he recovers from a Traumatic Brain Injury with the help of canine therapy.

A man notices a homeless guy and offers him work.  I like this story because it shows that not everyone who is homeless is there because of drugs or laziness.  People are individuals, NOT their situation.

Old Men Grooving on Britain’s Got Talent.  This is such a fun video.  Five adult men who look like average dads or middle aged working men show their stuff doing a street dancing/ hip hop routine.  I love this because it shows that when you enjoy doing something, you’re fun to watch.  Plus, it’s never too late to do what you love.

Cop dressed as Superman spends the day with a child.  A police officer from Texas saw a story about a 7 year old.  He’s part of an organization I’ve never heard of but now think is awesome: Heroes, Cops, and Kids.  He drove to Illinois to spend the day with the child, who reportedly said “wow” over and over.

German Shepherds more accurate than a machine when it comes to detecting prostate cancer.  Is there anything those amazing canines can’t do?

Hope you enjoyed your dose of happy.  Go forth and prepare for an amazing weekend.

Lies The Fitness Industry Tells Us

Cedar Park, TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Cedar Park, TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Now, I’m not a nutritionist or an exercise-ologist.  I’m not thin, and I have high cholesterol.  (My doctor tested me; apparently I will always have high cholesterol, unless I eat carrot sticks and celery only for the rest of my days- true story.)  So you can take or leave what I have to say.  But several things occurred to me the other day, and I thought I’d share them.

I was out walking in the woods near my house, sweating like a pig and out of breath.  My legs were tired, and I didn’t want to walk one more step.  And I was having a great time.  In fact, I was figuring out where I could explore next, and assessing the concrete (yes, there’s a concrete path in the woods) for rollerblading potential.  As I walked, I realized two things.  1.  This is exercise.  2.  I’m having a good time.

I’m very pro-body acceptance.  At my thinnest, I’ve never been thin.  And I have skinny friends who can’t gain weight.  Our sizes say nothing about our character, and I’m tried of having weight be made to sound like something important.  So here are some of the lies that the fitness industry tells us.  In no way is this a comprehensive list.

1.  No pain, no gain.  Bear with me for a second.  Yes, exercise needs to be a little strenuous in order to work.  Yes, done well, you might have some sore muscles.  But for me, this always meant that if I wasn’t torturing myself, I wasn’t exercising.  I hate: running and weightlifting, going to the gym (inside!  ick!) and doing pushups.  If it’s exercise, I can almost guarantee I hate it.  But if it’s fun, I don’t mind moving my body.  For me, walking through the woods is fun!  Skating is fun!  Yoga is fun!  Kickboxing is fun!  Running is horrible torture, invented by skinny people for sadistic reality TV to watch me jiggle.  Which brings me to my second point.

2.  You have to work hard to call it exercise.  I kind of stopped skating for awhile because I read on some website that you only burn a lot of calories skating if you’re going full out.  If you’re just kind of cruising along, you’re not exercising.  While I love skating, I need exercise.  I want to take off a few pounds.  So I put my skates away and did nothing.  Effective, right?  Here’s the fundamental flaw with that whole “you’re not exercising” thing.  For anyone who isn’t good at skating, they’ll tell you that it’s hard to stay up, coordinate your feet.  They’ll tell you how much it hurts their leg muscles.  I never understood that, but now I do.  Even cruising along, you’re activating your core muscles.  And I’d rather skate than do sit-ups.  Something is always better than nothing.

3.  A cheeseburger is “better” for you than a salad because that salad has too much fat/ salt/ calories.  You know what I’m talking about, those websites that call out different restaurant foods.  They talk about how unhealthy certain salads can be for you, and that you shouldn’t eat that high calorie/ high fat/ high sodium dressing.  Yes, and we should all be eating organic foods and cook everything from scratch in a blissful, chemical additive free lifestyle.

See, I fell for that too.  I thought, “well then I might as well eat the cheeseburger.” (Back when I ate meat.)  And somehow, in my mind, that worked.  I tried to force myself to eat tasteless, low-fat dressing.  But then I didn’t want to eat salad and made excuses why I should eat something else.  Here’s the thing.  The salad is healthier.  It’s got fiber and vitamins and all that good stuff.  If I use unhealthy dressing, I can just use less because it tastes better.  None of us are perfect, and life is all about harm reduction.  Just do the best you can with eating.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  In a choice between the salad and the cheeseburger, I still think the salad is better for you.  Even if the veggies are drenched in bad for you stuff.  Where’s the redeeming part of the cheeseburger?  The tasteless tomato slice they put on top that almost everyone takes off anyway because its’ mushy?

4.  Certain exercises are better than others.  Yeah, this is true.  But you know what the best exercise is?  The one you’ll do consistently.  That’s the best one.  You can work up to something better later.  But if you’re doing nothing right now, a 5 minute walk is better than thinking about running 30 minutes and putting it off.  5 minutes every day is better than a half an hour once in a awhile.  I live in the real world.

5.  Exercise is something you have to do; no one enjoys it.  We’re talking about average people here, not people who have body smarts.  (I’m talking about the kind of intelligence where people are actually good at moving their body.)  Actually, if you don’t like exercise, you probably just haven’t tried the right one yet.  My husband loves bike riding, and I hate it.  I love to skate, and he thinks the only thing he should ride on 4 wheels is a car.  We both enjoy walking/ hiking.  He likes going to a gym; I think that going inside a building to exercise is crazy.  The only exception to that is DDR, which is the most fun I’ll ever have while sweating.  The point is that if you need to get more exercise, try a few things.  Don’t get stuck in the gym rut or think it has to be one particular type.  Google “exercise for people who hate exercise” or something like that and see what you come up with.  Remember, if you do something weird to get moving, the exercise police aren’t going to come get you.

6.  Weight is a good indicator of health.  Nope.  Disagree.  It’s a lie.  Here’s why I say that.  First off, I’ve been trying to lose weight forever.  I’m a whole foods vegetarian.  Which means that I eat my daily dose of veggies and grains and all that stuff.  And I’m still fat.  Why?  My doctor put it best:  “You come from German farming people.  Being able to keep weight on and be strong was an asset.”  Yep.  I just don’t lose weight like some people.  I could starve myself and exercise excessively, but why?  I have more stamina than my thinner friends (as evidenced by the fact that I can keep going longer when we go places).  I can walk for miles and my body does all the activity I want it to do.  I feel pretty good, sleep pretty well, and am happy overall.  So how am I not healthy?

Like I said, I’m just a person trying to get healthier myself.  I’m also a therapist, and something I’ve noticed is that mental health and physical health are tied together.  If you feel good mentally, it’s easier to get moving.  And if you feel good physically, it’s easier to feel good mentally.  So do yourself a favor; if you’ve been putting off positive change because it’s overwhelming, start teeny tiny.  Babies learn to roll over before they crawl, and they pull themselves up before they walk.  Apply that to your own stuff and remember that even if it seems really, really, really slow, a little progress is better than none.

Oh, and don’t forget that you should probably ask your doctor before starting any kind of exercise program.  Because, you know, I’m not a doctor.

U is for Unusual

“That proves you are unusual,’ returned the Scarecrow; ‘and I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones. For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Land Of Oz

Photo credit: Doree Weller

Photo credit: Doree Weller

I’ve always prided myself on being a little different.  In my senior class yearbook, I was voted “most unique.”  I just never really wanted to fit in.  I never saw what all the excitement about wearing the right clothes or having the right hairstyle was all about.  I liked what I liked, and that made me somehow unusual. I tend to gravitate toward people who are different, just uniquely themselves.  After all, I figured that once I knew one of the cool kids, I kinda knew them all.  And how is that interesting? Back in high school, I deliberately tried to be weird, not necessarily for attention, but just because “unusual” was part of my identity, so I wanted to be as unusual as I could be.

I don’t do that anymore.  Most of the time, in fact, I try to tone it down just a little, mostly so I can blend in at work.  There are always a few who say interesting things, and then the real me jumps out and says the things I’d normally keep to myself.

In stories, I enjoy unusual characters with interesting traits.  In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett is about as unique as it gets, which is, in my opinion, why she’s such a lasting character, and why I, and others, are still reading this book 201 years later!

When Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay came out, there was no other character quite like him.  The serial killer raised by a police officer to be ethical was something that hadn’t been done in quite that way before.  Dexter was such an unusual character that TV got 8 seasons out of his escapades.

And of course, I have to mention that there’s no one else quite like Tyler Durden/ The Narrator from Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk.  The first time I saw the movie, I was pretty blown away, and rushed out to read the book.  I was even more blown away by the book.


From a writing standpoint, unusual and interesting characters, once developed, can take on a life of their own in plot.  The writer has to be willing to sit back and watch what’s going to happen, rather than direct it.  I’ve had that experience.  I wrote half of a novel with an unusual character, and it felt like I was fighting the plot every step of the way.  When I finally stepped back and asked the character some better questions, I realized that the story started in the wrong place, and when I went back to start over, it went much easier.  Unusual characters are fun for readers and fun for writers.

Who’s your favorite unusual character, either in books or on TV?

G is for Greatness

Photo credit: Doree Weller

Photo credit: Doree Weller

I have a lot of different books, and enjoy reading a lot of different types of fiction.  I might enjoy a book a lot, but that doesn’t mean that the author achieved any greatness.  So what’s the difference between a book that achieves greatness and a book that I merely enjoy?  Note: these are my opinions, and I don’t like literary fiction, so I’m only talking about genre fiction.

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” -Hebbel

1.  It makes me feel, deeply.  If a book achieves greatness, I’m probably laughing out loud in spots and/ or crying in others.  It’s a book that makes me connect with my own humanity and the humanity of others.

2.  It entertains.  I know that some people think that entertainment is overrated, but I don’t.  I don’t mean that there has to be juggling clowns, but just there’s a story.  If there’s no plot, I’m not interested.  It’s why I’m not a fan of literary fiction.  Maybe The Red Pony by John Steinbeck is a classic, but it’s also BORING.

3.  The language flows and there is a distinct style.  This one probably is one of the most basic tenets of writing, but it’s important.  Maybe most people won’t know why what they’re reading moves slow or even though something is interesting, it just doesn’t keep them reading, but the reason is probably the writing.  Writers have distinct styles, like flavors.  They use words in a certain way, and that certain way has a melody to it.  A writer can be technically correct, and still not have that flow and distinct style, and I think it takes practice rather than teaching to learn it.

4.  The writer is willing to take chances.  Great writers don’t just write the same stuff over and over again.  They write the different and the unique.  They write what they have to write, and not what others have told them.  Dean Koontz talks about how early in his career, he was told that he needed to stick to one genre so that he didn’t confuse readers.  He gave us more credit than that, and the result is some books that break the rules and that I’ll never forget.

5.  They don’t give up.  No matter what.  Writing is hard work, and people who tell you it’s not have never sat facing a blank screen and then poured themselves out onto it.  Even for writers who have achieved greatness, it usually takes getting through rejection after rejection after rejection.  But a true writer has the words inside, and nothing can stop the flow.  They might get discouraged or angry or depressed.  But the words have to come out, so they keep writing and keep submitting.

There’s no recipe for how to achieve greatness, but every book I think qualifies has these qualities.  What are your thoughts?

C is for Crazy

Jerome, AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Jerome, AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I have an interesting relationship with the word “crazy.”  For those of us who consider ourselves unique, idiosyncratic, and not-followers, the label can be a badge of honor.  When people call me “crazy,” I feel complimented rather than put down, no matter how the label was meant.

I try not to use the word in my day job.  As a therapist, used at work, the word can be incredibly stigmatizing, especially when used in front of someone who’s been called “crazy” because of their mental illness or substance abuse problems.

I was reminded of this recently when one person in my group made a comment about “crazy chicks” and someone else said “I find that incredibly insulting.”  I sometimes forget how much words can hurt people.  I have thick skin and am not insulted by many of the things other people might be, but that doesn’t mean that some words don’t hurt.

People in the gay population took back the word “queer” and use it in an empowering way.  Can “crazy” ever be a badge of honor for people living with mental illness?

Crazy is a label that others put on those who stand out, as a way of dismissing them or keeping them down.  But being crazy only begins to describe me and really doesn’t capture the essence of me.  It’s an imprecise word.  So call me quirky.  Call me a know it all.  Call me irritable and scary.  Those words describe me so much better than that one word.  But if you can’t find anything else to call me, call me crazy.

I’m in good company.

“Being crazy isn’t enough.”
― Dr. Seuss

“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”
― Albert Einstein



by The TV Guy

The pilot for Intelligence aired this week to extremely good ratings. The CBS series follow an ex-green beret who has been implanted with a computer chip that allows his to tap into databases and satellites with only his thoughts. The series is new so I am not quite sure what to make of it yet. I enjoyed the pilot and Marg Helgenberger looks quite good. I am not passing judgment as of yet until I see the second episode. As we all know sometimes the pilot is often quite different from the following episodes. I look forward to next week and the second episode so I can make a case for against. If you like sci-fi shows give this new drama a The TV Guy


Endings and Beginnings

Dead Horse Ranch State Park: Photo Credit Doree Weller

Dead Horse Ranch State Park: Photo Credit Doree Weller


“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”  ~Harold Wilson

I’ve worked in Mobile Crisis for 3 years, and it’s time to move on.

That may not seem like a long time to most people, but this is a job where it’s not uncommon for people to do a ride along, or work one shift, and then never come back.  It’s clearly not for everyone, but it’s in my blood, and I love it.

I’m sad to move on.  The hours are awful.  I go into all sorts of homes, with bedbugs (and other bugs).  I stand outside in the intense heat, and sometimes the cold.  I also meet wonderful people.  People who are struggling, and they call because they don’t know what else to do.  I’ve met vets.  Mothers and fathers.  Children, teachers, doctors, lawyers.  I’m going to miss it.

I’ve been talking about moving on since the day I started.  You see, I’m a Licensed Associate Counselor, and in order to get my Professional Licensure, I need to have a certain type of supervision and a certain type of counseling experience.  Although we meet everyone with every type of issue in crisis, we don’t do intake assessments or treatment plans.  I can’t get my Professional Licensure if I stay.

I could stay at crisis.  It would be easy.  I love it there.  I love the people I work with, and especially the TV Guy.  I could see myself staying on at this job forever, but that would mean leaving my long term goals behind.  I didn’t want to wake up one day 20 years from now and wonder what happened.  I didn’t want to stay past when I was happy there.  Why wait until I wasn’t enjoying it anymore?

I think this sums up my feelings:

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”  ~Anatole France

I have to buy new clothes.  Grown-up clothes, I’m calling them.  At crisis, we wore jeans or shorts and our uniform polo shirts.  At my new position, I’ll be wearing business casual.  I tried on dress pants, and I swear, they felt like pajamas.  Everything is going to be different.  Different clothes, different co-workers, different commute (shorter!), way different hours.

I don’t like change.  Change is hard.  But, I want the end result, so that means I have to do the work to get from point A to B.  So, I can choose to complain about it, or I can move forward, determined to enjoy the next leg of my journey.  No matter what, it’s a wild ride!