Category Archives: Counseling

Wait … I have a blog?

I’m not dead.

Or maybe I am, and someone has hacked my wordpress account and gone rogue.

Of course, posting on the site would draw attention to my untimely, and maybe unknown until this point, demise.

Well, I’m not dead.

I’d be lying if some days I didn’t feel that way.

A lot has happened since my last post (waaaaaay back in February).

A lot of interruptions.  A lot of sadness.  A lot of stress.  A lot of change.  All smashed up in about 30 days.

A lot can change in 30 days:

… You can think that your home is under contract and will sell … and then it doesn’t.

… You can think you have a wonderful job close to your home … and then your landlord gives you 30 days notice because he wants to try and sell the house.

… You can settle into a career path that you know will, in good time, give you the space to prepare for your dream … and then you get accepted into a life-changing academic program that may just ask you to give up that security.

… You move towards the last month of a year-long adventure into changing yourself … and then you see –  in the thick of it – how much you might not have changed.

… You can be pregnant … and then you are not.

I have been absent – things this last 6 weeks or so have not been what I wanted them to be, but something else happened today:

The sun rose.

And while I know that there is no guarantee that it will, it did.  Signalling the chance to take another day and beat out of it what I can for my good, the good of my family, and others around me.  The sun doesn’t know about what yesterday was like.  The sun just keeps doing what it was purposed to do, and it will keep doing that until it’s purpose is concluded.

I find peace in that.  I think at times, it is one thing that I am pretty good at – and something that will occasionally drive Summer crazy.  I am good at the mundane, the routine, the pattern of life, even in spite of the torrential storm around me.  Alas, that is the thing about your purpose, dream, meaning  – whatever you want to call it.  It never stops.  It never gives up.  We may have trouble in seasons of our lives discovering what that purpose is, but it always, always finds a way to push itself into a new day.  We, in our lesser selves, can stifle it, smother it, try to keep it from escaping – even so much that we don’t recognize it anymore.

But, the sun rises.

So … I am back on the wagon … or horse … or whatever euphemism you want to use there about getting back to the business of what you were built to be.  As far as this blog, I hope in the next weeks to share with you some of my lessons from my 30th year, and what I plan to do with those lessons – and where this blog will go after that.

If you’re there, thanks for still being there, even through the drought!


The lie we love to believe about why we fail at our goals – #FinishYear 2012

Photo courtesy of graur razvan ionut via freedigitalphotos.net

This week, you are likely reading a variety of posts about how to follow-through, commit-to, or stick-with your New Year’s Resolutions.  You will also likely read posts about the pitfalls to our plans that cause many “resolvers” (is that even a word?) to “give up” by right around Valentine’s Day (a third won’t even make it to the end of January).

We are really good about making ourselves feel better about that failure.  We tell ourselves lots of things in order to soften the sting of not being able to do what we said that we would do, especially in the presence of such an overwhelming body of knowledge and expertise in the world on goal-setting and follow-through.

There is a lie that is being overlooked, and it is a lie that we tell ourselves every day – so comfortably, so naturally, that the perceived truth of this lie permeates most ideas about time management in general.

There aren’t enough hours in the day.

This is a lie. Continue reading


30 While 30: Day 272 – Getting kicked in the pants by Yoda, and why we all need it once in a while. (how I ran my first half-marathon)

Sometimes old sayings bite you in the rear, just when you need them, or just when you’re putting together a post about something very, very big.

While taking a look at my reader yesterday, checking in with some of the folks I have been following lately, I came across a most serendipitous post from Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt on Twitter).

… and I just wish I had been the one to write it.

But I didn’t.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it.  HERE it is.

“Do … or do not.  There is no try” – Yoda Continue reading


How to simplify your “stuff” in 2 simple steps.

So, I have a lot of stuff. (and no, this is not a photo of any room that I have lived in, nor the room of either of my boys, or of any child that I personally know)

I am sure that many people reading this blog might be able to say the same thing … and if you have any number of children, I am most certainly sure that you can say the same thing.  And if you live in America, you can say that as well, because by default you have more stuff than you actually need to survive, at least in comparison to the rest of the world.  Here are some facts about the “poor” in America (from recent US Census Data, and analysis by the Heritage Foundation). (Please note: “Poor” in this analysis is based on the US Census Guidelines): Continue reading


30 While 30: Day 205 – The eve of October – an update:

The short story?  I got my flu shot yesterday, and I don’t feel very well today.  If that shot gives me the flu … I will not be a happy camper.

Just wanted to throw a few blog/list updates out there even in my weakened condition so none of the 4 of you worry.

1. Next week, I think I have finally been able to devise a plan that allows for a more consistent writing pattern to make sure the blog keeps up to date.  I am on the downward slope of the year (we are past the 6 month mark) and lots of things are being done, just with my A/P class currently, my reading/casual time has been cut.  (I am strongly considering adding my textbook and lab manual to my reading list)

2. Tomorrow, I can eat meat.  But can I share a little secret?  There are times when I don’t even miss it.  Watched a documentary last night (Forks over Knives) about some interesting research about animal-based protein, and will be sharing a short review of that probably on Monday or Wednesday of next week.

(on a side note, I have realized that several times I have teased you about something upcoming on Monday or Tuesday, etc., and that it hasn’t always happened on schedule.  Rest assured, as of last night, if I say it’s coming, it’s because it’s already written.  Hope that will make me better at not counting chickens before they are hatched… now, back to point)

3. 5k #2 is in about 2 weeks.  I am feeling much better about this one than the one last month, and am aiming to be 5 minutes under last month’s time (which would place me at about 31 minutes or so).

4. Some upcoming topics on the blog (that are stewing around in my brain and in half-written posts):

-Lessons learned from being a vegetarian for a month (1st one was here – which was about Conviction).  Part 2 is about the Joys of Simplicity, and Part 3 about what it means to Crave.

The reasons why knowledge will trump education every time, as evidenced by recent reports in the Tennessean (local newspaper) about the increase in cost and relative decrease in benefit of a bachelor’s degree.

Addiction and brain chemistry (2 parts).  I am working on a couple of more professional writing posts, gearing up for #27 (Launch my Professional Entity Website).  This will be a 2-parter about how our habits impact our future, and now we know even more about the science of that.

I’ll see you all back here next week!

_Thomas


30 While 30: Day 166 – Sweet Interruption…

I feel I owe some kind of explanation to the folks that follow this blog.  While back in June, I would have thought I would have been able to cross off #26 (Blog regularly.), it seems that the months of July and August (at least so far) have been fraught with interruptions.  To be honest, I am into the meat of a lot of these things.  For example:

1. I am in the gym at 500am Monday-Friday, doing a myriad of things.  Having finished Belly-Off Diet, and Turbulence Training, for the last two months, I have been to the YMCA a lot.  I am doing interval weight training on my main days, and on my off-days, doing interval running to train for the races.  Days that I miss my morning routine, I generally am there in the afternoons, with the Family.

2. Weight loss has stagnated at right about 21 pounds.  I would by lying if I told you that wasn’t frustrated with that fact.  I can’t seem to figure it out.  I will admit, I have backslidden a few times in my eating plan, and paid the price, but I can’t figure out what’s going on there.  In leiu of figuring out, I am still pounding the weights and the treadmill, in preparation for my first 5k of the season, in September.

3. I have earnestly begun looking through the notes on my Paw Paw’s book (see #29 Finish my Paw Paw’s Book).  That is going to be a feat.  The story has some promise, but at first, I am working on copying the manuscripts outright.  My Paw Paw didn’t have the most elegant handwriting, so it is taking some time.

4. I am kinda stuck in my most recent book, Drive, by Daniel Pink.  About 1/3 of the way in, I am wondering how many different ways he can say how important activating people’s intrinsic motivation is (For the purposes of personal and business success).  I get it.  It’s just a slow read.

5.  I am prepping for September, which will be the month of no meat (for #24 Go vegetarian for a month.).  A post next week on that … but I think the month of September might just be worse than the half marathon, maybe even harder.

So …. I have been busy.  Busy doing the things on the list, and not so much been able to write much about what I am experiencing.

And then there are the interruptions.

-Two weeks ago, a friend from school passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  I wrote briefly about him here, but find the words lacking.  What resounds more is the overwhelming understanding of how short and how precious life is.

-On the morning after that event, I traveled to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, TN to be with my family as my grandmother passed away.  I was honored to speak at her funeral, as I had been as well for her husband, my Paw Paw, just 18 short months ago.

-In my line of work, I don’t often work in the evenings, or on the weekends.  There was surely a season of that in my career, but the occurrences are fewer and farther between.  The last two weeks has seen me working and extra 25 hours or so, due to special duties.  Some weekends, and some early mornings (as I tweeted about this past week).

. . .

So even the best laid plans are sometimes impacted by the gears of life turning.

It is easy to be frustrated with little interruptions in life.

The salesman at the door.

The unexpected traffic.

The phone call that you feel you should have just left for voice mail.

It’s easy to be frustrated by these interruptions, because we always seem to have the most well-laid plans.

Regardless of that, I was reminded by a post from a blogger that I follow, Rachel Held Evans, who shares that in our walks, we should embrace the unexpected moments in life.

You can read the post here.

We should embrace those interruptions because those unexpected moments are often the ones that contain the true purpose of that moment, or of that day.  Not only that, but if you read this and you are a follower of Christ, you also know that Christ often moved from interruption to interruption … and that’s often when he did his best work.  Countless times would he be summoned here or there, and if they couldn’t get Jesus to come to them, they would just bring the interruption to Jesus, even if it meant tearing off a roof, and lowering the interruption right down into Jesus’ lap.

You see, interruptions are at times the lifeblood of what makes life exciting, real, and engaging.  Think about how boring life would be if it all actually went according to plan.

Painful, that boredom.

Well, the fact is that I need to be more accepting of interruptions.  I need to be more open to the possibility that my path may be heading one direction, only to hit a bump and head the other way.  I need to be open to interruptions, lest I miss out on the wonder that today actually holds.

Even if that means the blog doesn’t get posted to, or a goal sets on the side.

Yeah, I said it.

Doesn’t make much sense when this whole year is about accomplishing all these important, amazing, meaningful, or silly things on this list.

Until you realize that it makes perfect sense.

Up until this point in my life, there have been idols, things that have taken the wrong place of importance in my life.  These have been (in no particular order): Work, entertainment, food, laziness, and ambition (and I am for sure I am leaving some out, and I count on my friends to share with me the ones I missed).

If I let this list (for the sake of the list) take up one of those same pedestals, I have missed the point of this entire exercise.

Life is a process, a “going through”.  It is not a checklist.  Granted, I know this seems odd coming from a guy who has openly committed on the internet to complete a list of things while he is 30, but the list was a jumpstart.

The list is me throwing interruptions into my own life.

So, I take no shame if there are gaps on the posting, if I fall off the wagon while dieting and exercising, if I have to walk a little bit on the half-marathon in December.  The story of this blog is not one of a “super-person”, a “biggest loser”, or other sensational story.  This story is the everyman.  The reality that we all face as we look to tomorrow and wonder where yesterday went.

So, tomorrow, I look forward to the interruptions … they are bound to make this story more exciting.

_Thomas


30 While 30: Day 145 – In the most unexpected of places ….

10:15PM, CST

A post at an odd time.  Many of you won’t even see this until the morning.  That’s ok.  This is a bit of a weird post.

That’s ok too.

You see, this was not the post I planned to make.  That one is saved for another day.

You know what else wasn’t planned?

That one of my most popular blog posts was about a little yellow bear, a bit out of his element.

The fact is, that little yellow bear has gotten me more traffic than any other single post on my blog.

Odd, isn’t it?  Also a bit unexpected.

The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.” – Eli Khamarov

What else is unexpected?

Well, today, of all days, of all times of my wife’s recent encouragement, I picked up my guitar today and played.  Not just played, but played ALOT. … and she isn’t even here, instead is out of town with the boys for a thirty-one party.

Unexpected.

Unexpected is defined as when you hide all the pacifiers from your two year old (when he really only uses one for sleep) and on his second day without one, he waddles downstairs in the morning with nothing else than a paci in his mouth.  Where did that come from?

Unexpected.

Unexpected is putting in your old 4-track CD that you made (in part) for an ex-girlfriend, and iTunes attempts to name the songs … then, somehow … it does … only the titles and composer (not me, by the way, according to iTunes) are in Spanish.  Um …. yeah.

Unexpected.

Unexpected is sometimes is waking up at 30 … or 15 … or 65 … and wondering how you got there and how you might just not be the person you imagined yourself to be all those years earlier.  It is the definition of mid-life crisis.  “Am I today who I thought yesterday I would be today?” … Confusing, I know.  Life can be that way.  Y’know, let me take off some of the burden for you.  Let me share with you who I was going to be at different ages.

Age 8 – In the third grade, we completed these little “life-books” about our interests and what we wanted to be when we grew up.  Me? (and I quote) “I want to be in the Army … and married”.  You must understand that when I was in the third grade, we were going through the first gulf war, patriotism was running high, and being in a military infused community (though my parents were not active duty), made it all more red, white, and blue.  Pictured on the cover, by the way, was an old Game Boy.  Not these new fancy ones … one of the old black and white ones.  Epic.

Age 17 – I was a smart guy.  I mean, in high school, I really didn’t take a book home … ever.  Well, maybe to study for finals.  School just came naturally to me.  I was ranked academically 4th in my graduating class.  Because I was naturally gifted in Math and Science, my Guidance counselor recommended that I go to Tennessee Technological University.  I was going to be an engineer.

Age 18 (6 months into my freshman year at college) – I get a D in Calculus.  Actually, I was sure I had an F.  I knew enough about math to at least do that.  I remember writing my Calculus professor a letter, pleading with him to give me a D, and with a promise to retake the class, seeing as if I made an F, my GPA would fall low enough for me to lose my scholarship paying for my room and board.  An F would have flunked a really smart guy right out of college in his first semester.  I slipped the note under his door after for sure, failing his final exam.  My professor surely showed me grace.  That next semester, I would take a Sociology class.

Age 19 – I would profess in front of my home congregation my desire to go into “full time” ministry.  I was going to be a pastor.  By now, I am leading worship at the Wesley Foundation, and am president of the same organization.  That year, I would fly to a conference in Dallas Texas for up and coming students with the “call to ministry”.  At 19 I was serious about marrying a girl attending school 4 hours from me.

Age 20 – I would apply to Southwestern Theological University … and be accepted.  I would travel with my then girlfriend (who was a keeper, and ended up being my wife) and actually visit the campus in Dallas.  That same year, I would turn down that acceptance.  That year, I would come to a crisis of thought.  I would beat myself up, thinking I was “going back on God” that I was “lying to myself”.  The decision was made, that the path to pastoral care was not where my talents would be best be used.  I would take a job at 21 with the Department of Children’s Services.  This is where my path would begin as a life of caring for the “least of these”.

Age 21 – I would apply to graduate school for counseling.  I would begin a job (at Youth Villages) that for the next three years would do two things: 1) Teach me more things in that short time than I have learned since about counseling, managing people, marketing, clinical supervision, and agency politics and 2) What my limits as an employee, a husband … and within that time, a father, were.  At age 24, I would be one of the youngest (maybe the actual youngest) person within the company to be a Regional Supervisor, being responsible for the implementation of our program over a 15 county area, supervising between 9-12 therapists and 2-3 clinical supervisors in my time.  But that job was not for me.

Unexpected.

Unexpected that today, I am a licensed professional counselor, working with children and families of active duty Army Service Members, that I continue to aspire to work and help those whose only church they might visit is my office (which doesn’t have a steeple, by the way), that I am married to an amazing woman and have the most amazing two boys.

Not to be too cryptic ….

but how unexpected is it that where I am “supposed to be” is right where I am right now?

This week, I encourage all of you, take joy in today.

Yesterday brought you to today, and tomorrow will be cast forward out of it.  What you do in the middle makes all the difference.

And sometimes you don’t know what that difference will be until many, many todays later.