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Next Steps

In thinking about next steps, it occurred to me recently that I have not blogged on here for almost one year.  ONE YEAR.  A year ago I completed the NYC marathon, many hours after it had started, well into the late hours. Project finish was there and is a wonderful thing for back of the packers as I was when I was running. (or shuffling👣). https://www.instagram.com/projectfinishnyc/ I would encourage you to check them out if you are not familiar with them as they do amazing things and were wonderful as we crossed the finish line after many hours of shuffling our way through NYC.

In Any Case…

I was shocked by not having blogged in so long and yet at the same time not shocked.  I have to be in a certain mental space to get my thoughts out on paper, let alone share it on the internet.  That can be daunting enough.

I set out to first think about blogging again.  What would I blog about?  What interests people?  Will people want to read anything I have written when we have far more pressing issues going on in the world today?

Today I took a leap of faith and I took the first step.  Here I am.

A lot can change in one year.  I decided to take a good look at what was important to me, what my background consists of, and where am I.  I mean, I’m not getting any younger.😁

Where To?

With all that in mind I took some time to really think about what my first steps could be.  Above all, I had already gotten thinking so that to me was a good first step.  Then, I had to think about next steps.

What Now?

With this in mind, I decided to go back to doing some teaching.  Having taught at various universities in the past. I am now an adjunct once again at Montclair State, where I graduated from and met my husband many years ago (I told you, I am unsure of who reads this so I can’t say exactly how many years.) 😊 

I also decided that I wanted to go back to my Correctional routes and listened one evening to a podcast by Dan Slepian called Letters from Sing Sing.  https://www.nbcnews.com/letters-from-sing-sing-podcast It was here that I heard an incredible story (I would highly encourage those of you not familiar with this podcast to listen.)  It was here that I learned of Hudson Link https://hudsonlink.org/ and took a chance and reached out to them with a very earnest interest in teaching in Sing Sing Prison. 

Putting it Together…

The next steps evolved and I became an adjunct with Mercy University /https://www.mercy.edu/ and now teach in Sing Sing prison.

With that in mind, I am continuing my practice https://imagineyourbestself.com. I revised some hours.  The roots of my career were thought about.  Time was spent thinking about what would happen if I took a chance on my past experiences. They could mesh together.

My next steps have been pretty unbelievable.  When I go to Sing Sing and teach, a part of me comes alive.  A resurrection of parts of me which I thought were over, a part of my past somehow.  All from listening to a podcast, hearing one man’s life story, and taking a chance on the many years of practice I have been in and building on my strengths.

Summing up, you don’t have to write the whole story, taking the first step can make the difference. 

All the best,

Alicia

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Persevering Through Hard Things

I decided to write a short blog about a recent accomplishment of mine.  I have written about it before and have been transparent with my clients in https://imagineyourbestself.com/ about me attempting to complete the NYC marathon, which was something I really wanted to do but was unsure of if I could do it.

In a nutshell, I went into the race blistered and with a swollen ankle from training.  I was however, medically cleared and decided to set forth on the journey.

As with many things in life, the marathon did not go as I had hoped for.  However, I prevailed, and I finished it.  In the dark, many, many, hours after the start and with the help of Project Finish, https://www.villagevoice.com/2022/11/08/project-finish-cheered-the-nyc-marathon-runners-until-the-not-at-all-bitter-end/ who were complete rockstars and made the final finishers such as me feel worthy and special and absolutely amazing.  (I would highly encourage anyone in the tri state area to consider taking part in Project Finish, I can’t imagine what it would have been like without them there.)

We set out on our own paths for different reasons.  Some of the paths are harder than others.  Some travel similar paths and have similar experiences, some have very different experiences.  I think that what makes it special is the journey, the act of knowing that something special is on the horizon, trying your best to achieve your goal(s) and if it doesn’t happen, chipping away at it again.  Slowly and surely, in whatever way is right for you.

I had so many reasons to give up.  I decided not to.  It was not in my journey that day. What will your journey be?

Here’s to more journeys for all of us.

Keep the faith,

Alicia

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Fear

Recently the idea and topic of fear has been emerging.  It is one of the emotions which I believe people tend to shy away from and are afraid (no pun intended) to acknowledge it.

I wanted to spend some time sharing some of my own thoughts on fear.  In doing so I decided to look it up. The definition is https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear As we move through life, there can and will be so many things to be fearful of.  Life is hard as we know.  There are moments where we can feel up and be feeling great, and there are moments where we are full of fear and uncertainty.  The question is, what do we do with fear?

I like to think of it as having healthy doses of discomfort.  I like to think of fear as getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Not so uncomfortable so that we feel incapacitated, however, don’t we have to have a healthy dose of fear to navigate through life?  Otherwise, we would all be touching things such as hot coals, or jumping out of airplanes without a parachute (please know this is something you will never find me doing!) 

A baby who has learned to crawl learns to walk.  Watch them as they navigate with holding onto things, one step at a time.  If they stumble which they will, they sometimes fall.  Do they experience fear?  My guess would be yes.  However, they get back up and try again.  That is what we can ask of ourselves, be the baby learning to navigate across the room.  Stumble, even fall, but try to get back up.  And sometimes a little help can be needed as well.  Embrace it and move forward. 

Be well,

Alicia

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Doing Hard Things…

One of the things I have been thinking about lately and which is on my mind today is doing hard things.  What do you think of when I say that?  To me, the meaning can be subjective, but I will share some thoughts on what it means to me and see if any of it resonates with you.

When I think about doing hard things I think that we, as humans, are capable of doing so much more than we give ourselves credit for.  Take a person who is going through depression.  Perhaps getting out of bed is a good day for them.  Maybe taking time for themselves to do something they enjoy is a good day for them.  Maybe spending time just being in the moment is something to give themselves credit for.

One of the practices I have been trying to do for myself is to wake up in the morning and remind myself that I am grateful.  What am I grateful for?  It can depend on the day.  Some days when I am struggling (yes, us therapists struggle too!) I am grateful to have another day here on this earth to exist, and be the best person for myself, for my family, and for my clients that I can be.  Some days I am grateful for my ability to move, the list can go on and on.

Today I am going to do a one mile time trial for my marathon preparation which I am in the process of.  Me being the #turtletrotter that I am goes into things like this sometimes with trepidation.  Will I be faster than I was the last time that I did this?  Will my body struggle in the heat (likely yes because heat and I don’t get along!)  Again, I can go on and on.

Reminders…

However, I am reminding myself as I am going to remind you dear reader, that we can do hard things.  And whether I am faster, slower, or just struggle my way through it, I am going to give it my best chance.  Isn’t that all I can ask of myself?  Isn’t that all that we can ask of ourselves?

I would love to hear your thoughts on doing hard things and about having an attitude of gratitude.  Feel free to contact me at https://imagineyourbestself.com. And if you are not comfortable sharing, I challenge you to try to think within this mindset.  I bet you are capable of so much more than you believe you can do.

In peace,

Alicia

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I Did a Thing…a Comeback

What kind of thing…

Sometimes I sit back and take stock of my world and how the things which I choose to do can effect others.  Now I am going to tell you about something which recently happened… I did a thing…a comeback…

At the beginning of April I completed my fourth half marathon.  It was a pretty big deal for me.  This was the first time since the loss of my mother where I chose to train, put the effort in, (anyone who knows me and my sense of humor knows I call myself #turtletrotter because I am SLOW!)  Doing this was part of what I have been calling my comeback.

What am I coming back from?  I am coming back from a pandemic which has taken so many.  Heartache which has left me brokenhearted from losing faith in people I had believed in and loss of some faith in the world in general. The sense of realization that I am now a person without either parent living.  Feeling lost without a parent.  Feeling lost amongst so many others who are hurting but not knowing what to do with their hurt.

Some of the past…

In 2019 my family and I decided to do the nine plus one program through New York Road Runners to run the NYC Marathon in 2020.  https://www.nyrr.org/ We completed nine plus one and I thought off we go!  For obvious reasons, the 2020 NYC Marathon never happened.  We deferred our placement until 2022.

So now the time is here.  Doing the half marathon in April gave me a sense of purpose.  A sense of knowing what it is like to comeback from the feelings which can feel way too vulnerable, way too hard to ever express to anyone.  For me, being out there was a feeling of I am going to make it.

Why would I write about such a personal subject knowing that people who don’t even know me will read this and may wonder about why I chose to be vulnerable, open myself up in a way in which people may never understand?  Well, May in National Mental Health Awareness Month https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month and I have grappled with what to do for my small part.

Where I am going…

Perhaps this is my part in letting others know that it is ok to be vulnerable.  It is ok to have setbacks, and it is awesome to have comebacks.  Whatever happens at the NYC marathon for this #turtletrotter I can know that I chose to come back to things knowing I am not the same person I was when I did nine plus one back in 2019.  In some ways I am better, in some ways I am stronger, and in some ways I am unsure.  Life has changed me but I am who I am and I plan to keep on doing my best, even at a #turtletrotter pace.  If you are trying to comeback from something, anything at all, put one foot forward.  That is one foot further than you would have been if you had not taken the step.

In peace and light,

Alicia

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Thoughts on Perspective

I had been thinking of getting back into blogging more as I had in the past.  Sometimes I just need a push in the right direction.  I want to share with you what pushed me today to write my thoughts on perspective.

Sometimes in my work with clients things come up which seem to circle around certain themes.  The theme which has been coming up in my work at https://imagineyourbestself.com/ is the notion of perspective.  For example, I can take a white sheet of paper and place it between two people sitting.  One can look at the sheet of paper and say that the paper is white.  The other person can be looking at the same sheet of paper and say that it is yellow.  Both believe they are correct.  Neither will waver in their thought process.

Therefore, how is it decided who is correct and who is incorrect?  Do we have to make a distinction on correctness?  Or do we simply take into account that one person is sitting on a side of the table with light coming in through a window?  Let’s imagine a clear and sunny day and images are seen vividly, with the beauty of the light filtering in.  However, on the other side of the table the light is constricted.  There is a blind which was drawn which makes the light seemingly imperfect.  There is also a fluorescent light ahead which casts shadows and colors differently as they appear in the room.  To this person, this sheet of paper appears yellow and to them it is yellow. 

The difficult part and more thoughts on perspective…

What makes it difficult at times is to acknowledge that we are all “seemingly imperfect”.  We can view ourselves in one light based upon the day we had, and perhaps think badly of ourselves because of our actions taken in that one day.  We may discount our other days in which we reached out to a lonely neighbor, an old friend whom we had disconnected with or perhaps a family member with whom there are some cold feelings involved.  However, the person sitting across from you on the other side of the table is viewing you as the beautiful soul who reached out to them, helped them in their time of need, took the time to remember them or simply tried to make things right.

In conclusion, let us all do our best to attempt to see the perspective of the person sitting on the other side of the table.  We may not be able to do it today or tomorrow, but one day we can perhaps see the light in whatever image we view it in, as perfectly imperfect as it may be.

With hope,

Alicia

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Life Transitions

It has been a long time since I last posted.  I decided today that I would write and that I would talk about life transitions which is a part of what I work with people in my practice on. https://imagineyourbestself.com/other-areas/

The past year for me has been challenging.  I converted to a full telehealth practice instead of an office which I had initially been uncertain of.  However, I have come to embrace the convenience of telehealth, it is great for clients who can see me anywhere within the state of New Jersey, provides the freedom of not having to drive to and from my office, and Onyx (my black lab who is sometimes an Instagram star😊) loves being able to work beside me.

The biggest change however is one which is up close and personal.  All of us have had the experience of living through this pandemic and how it has altered our lives in one way or another.  I have seen ways in which people have been torn apart and then come back together.

On a very personal level, Covid took away my mother.  In fact, this is the first blog I am writing in which she will not be able to read it.  My mother would read my blogs and comment back to me.  My mother used to teach English as a Second Language before she retired so she was one to watch things in writing with the eye of a teacher.

The life transition for me has been living my life without my mother.  This includes going back to seeing clients after she passed away.  Also, seeing things about Covid on the news every day and pondering all the events which have occurred, continue to occur, and wondering how things will be in the future.

Why am I sharing this with you?  I think it is important as a therapist to “keep it real” with clients and with people in general.  In fact, that’s just the kind of person I am.  Clients go through life transitions and I do as well.  Somehow we go through them and find ways to cope and travel through muddy waters.  I have found that although my feet get wet, they can dry, and then sometimes get wet again. 

I hope that sharing some of my personal life transition will be helpful.

Be well,

Alicia

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Covid 19-Depression, Anxiety and NJ Telehealth

Covid 19- Depression, Anxiety and NJ Telehealth, it is a topic worth discussing.

One of the blessings I have thought about during the pandemic is the amazing nature of technology and how I have been able to continue to see clients through telehealth. Telehealth has been one of the blessings of the past few months because without it, I would not have been able to safely continue to see clients.

It has been months since I have written a blog. The past few months have been tough. Who would have ever thought that this pandemic would be going on still, without certainty of when it will end. This is where Depression, Anxiety and NJ telehealth come in.

Telehealth is truly one of the best things which has come out of the pandemic. Not only has it allowed me to continue to see the clients I had when the pandemic first started, it has allowed new clients to access mental health services for depression, anxiety, and concerns related to not only COVID-19 but life in general.

Access:

To access telehealth, a link is sent to clients before the session. I use a HIPAA compliant platform. The platform I use for individual sessions is :

https://doxy.me/sign-in

For sessions with more than one person I sometimes use:

https://www.pixidoc.com/login

A client simply clicks on the link. We then see each other in real-time and talk with one another, just as we would if we were in an office setting. Clients have been amazed, frankly I have been as well, at the convenience of telehealth. Insurance has been wonderful about paying for telehealth and I am hoping that this continues, long after the pandemic ends. Those of you who know me know I am committed to serving people who have insurance I am in network with as well as those I am not in network with.

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Pride

This week my thoughts are on this word.  This one word takes on many meanings.  As with most things, I feel that the important piece is what does this word means to you?

I had the experience this past week of completing the seventh race for the 9 plus 1 series through the New York Road Runners.  Since the one volunteer opportunity was completed months ago, what this means is that after two more races which will be done in October, I will officially qualify to participate in the NYC marathon in 2020.

For me, having completed seven races out of the nine required thus far is a feeling of pride.  It has been believing in myself and my capabilities when I had to dig really deep.  This is something which not only does not come easily to me but in fact, is extremely difficult.  I call my runs the turtle trot for a reason.  I am slow, awkward, and consider what I do something between a walk, jog (shudder at the word!) or a run.  I have settled on the word trot as something to me which is meaningful. (It also brings some humor to what I am doing which I feel is very important!)

At this race I had many feelings stir in me.  As I stood at the start line looking down 5th Avenue in NYC, I once again had the mental fight within my head about what I am actually doing out here with all these accomplished runners.  Yet, I battled those thoughts and settled on being proud of my own ability, knowing that in the past I have had days I have been unable to trot and there will be days in the future I will be unable to trot.  However, today and the day I set down 5th Avenue was not that day.

What is it that you dear reader are proud of yourself for?  What are you doing in your life which is giving you a sense of pride and accomplishment?  What can be done for you to experience your own inner joy and combat those inner voices in your head which say “I can’t….”

I am here to say I believe you can.  And I am hoping you can believe it too.

Until next time.

– Alicia

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Keep on Dancing

I recently had the privilege of attending my mother in law’s 80th birthday party.  This was a party which she chose to have for herself, and threw it herself.

One of the themes which seemed to arise was her love for dancing.  It was on a gift which we chose to get her and several people at the party spoke of her love for dancing.

My mother in law called me this morning.  She said to me, “If someday my legs can’t do it I hope my spirit is always able to dance.”

OMG…

Doesn’t this make you stop in your tracks?

My mother in law has not had the easiest life.  I won’t go into details but believe me on this.   She could have thrown in the towel years ago.  However, at the age of 80 to throw a party for herself, to have people in her life who enrich her life so greatly…and then…..

“If someday my legs can’t do it I hope my spirit is always able to dance.”

I have written on here about my relationship with running.  I call my runs “trots” because I am by far, the worst runner in the world but somehow get myself from point A to point B.  Slowly.   However, isn’t it about the spirit and act of moving forward, to working towards a goal and crossing your own finish line, whatever it may be, the best part of it all?

I hope I am able to remember her words.  Keep that spirit.  And continue to think as she thinks at her ripe age of 80.

For you dear reader, I hope that your spirit is always able to dance.  Keep pushing forward.  It is worth it.

-Alicia