The Mason-Dixon DIY Diva: The Prequel.

Whenever I do an introduction of myself for a bio or a class, I always mention that I am also a mental health therapist. Then as Autumn was beginning to come to a close, I did a show on WSLS10 that I thought was imperative to get the information out: Getting help for depression. (Oh how I wish people could know how much better they could feel!!)

This blog could be titled, “The DIY Diva Starts her own Counseling Business” but it sounds a little long and boring. I don’t do boring; automatically puts me in nap mode πŸ™‚

Here’s the scoop: I AM opening my own practice. I HAVE been working as a therapist the entire time I have been The Mason-Dixon DIY Diva. I LOVE helping people empower themselves. Love it. Am I still the DIY Diva? YES. Am I still a Therapist? YES. Nothing has changed… except I am opening my own practice πŸ™‚ So… that is actually pretty exciting. Being a DIY Diva and doing a TV show is something I never envisioned that I would do- not even in my wildest dreams. Nope, not even then. And all those years ago when I was pursing my degrees, certifications, licensures, etc., I always said I didn’t want my own practice. (It is easier to work at someone else’s! LOL!) But here I am, with these doors swinging open, and I feel no fear for moving forward, only excitement to see where God takes this. I am along for the ride! πŸ™‚

Hurt Counseling Center is the name of the new practice. My husband and I met in graduate school and he too has his degree in Professional Counseling, along with being a Certified Life Coach. He is in this venture with me and will be available for appointments as well. (And we may or may not have a few more fun surprises up our sleeve this year!)

We are officially opening our doors January 2nd, 2019, so now is the time to call or text for an appointment (540) 765-7881. My new office is located at: 402 Hershberger Road Roanoke VA. Below is a picture.

I specialize in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship issues, though I have worked with most all mental health and co-occurring disorders. There is no shame to mental health. We don’t shame someone for diabetes or cancer, so why in the world would we do that for depression, anxiety, addiction, etc.? Our bodies need support. Our brains need support. The sooner we can accept this, the sooner we can get people finding out how much better they can feel. Did you know that you don’t have to live your life feeling blah, nonstop stressed, or miserable? Most people are so used to feeling crappy that they don’t even know there are alternatives to feeling how they do. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, have thoughts that go-go-go and don’t seem to stop, feel completely lethargic, exhausted and don’t feel like you have the energy to do what you need to, or if you keep doing the same thing that you don’t want to be doing over and over and over and…. maybe you should come see me. From someone who is constantly working on becoming a better, healthier version of herself, I can honestly say that peace of mind and relief from all the mental pressure we put on ourselves is priceless. Healthy physical and mental health is immeasurable in a numerical value. I don’t know about you, but these are two areas I “spare no expense” in because they are the cornerstone to all we do.

I want counseling to be accessible to each and every brave person who is willing to come in and admit that things are not perfect and perhaps feeling a little stuck, down, overwhelmed, etc.. If you want to feel better, well, as they say on the Price is Right, “Come on down!” πŸ™‚

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Bust Out of The Winter Blues

Winter is coming, the temperatures are dropping and so is the amount of daylight we receive each day. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work into our Upstate New York living room, stomping the snow off his boots and taking off his layers of added warmth, and would say, “I feel like a Mole; I leave when its dark and I get home when its dark.” As a child this just produced giggles- thinking of my dad as a Mole πŸ™‚Β  As an adult, I realize that this is the reality of many people. 😦

There are a lot of studies showing what produces the winter blues and the SAD effect in a percentage of the population. As a psychology-research-counselor person, I really enjoy them. But for the purpose of sharing tips on how to break out of the blues- probably not necessary to get into all of them πŸ™‚ Please be sure to read the bottom of this blog though to discover a bit about the differences between the blues and depression! It could save a life-seriously. One is like having a small cut on your leg that needs some cleaning and a band-aid. The other is like having your limb hanging off and trying to convince yourself that it’s fine. BIG DIFFERENCE.

These tips are for the Blues Only. Here are some ways to shake out of that cabin-fever feeling:

  1. Sunlight! Get out during the brightest part of the day- for AT LEAST 10 minutes with bare skin so you can absorb that amazing Vitamin D! Good mood food!
  2. Exercise. 35 minutes/day for 5 days a week is recommended but just do what you can! If you can walk for 10 minutes at lunch, do it! Walk to the mail box, park farther away at the grocery store or coffee shop, etc. Endorphins come from exercise and those are feeeeel gooooooood chemicals for your brain! More Good Mood Food!
  3. Remember that you’re not really hibernating. This is my hardest one in the winter because it is waaaaaay too easy to cozy up with some tasty snacks and Christmas movies! However, too many simple carbs and too much sugar does not necessarily do a body – or a brain – good. Bummer, I know.Β  :/
  4. Happy music! This has been shown to uplift your mood and light up some feel good portions of your brain! My current favorite is “Grace Got You” by MercyMe. Check it out and tell me if you can keep your toe from tapping!
  5. Hydration! It is so common to overlook this in the winter because we don’t feel as thirsty. (And cocoa tastes better than water, amIright?!) But we must remember to nourish our body to keep the energy flowing! (And hello… winter dry skin? Water can help that too!)
  6. Plan a trip! Pick a fun destination and get to planning a fun time for you and your family- or just you! Whatever πŸ˜‰ The point is to have something fun to look forward to! When you finish one, plan your next adventure!
  7. Herbal it up! Get yourself some Happy Teas that have organic ingredients like St. John’s Wort, Lemon Balm, Lemon Myrtle, etc. Make sure they areΒ  the beneficial parts of the plant in there πŸ˜‰
  8. Essential Oils! Gaaahhhh, such an overused word right now and you know what? It drives me crazy! All these crappy oil companies coming out of these unknown dingy underground tunnels, with greasy long hair and dirty chipped fingernails, putrid breath and holding out a bottle of “oil” from the sewage system and people are actually reaching for it. SMH. I can’t even. Get some good oils that aren’t so dang cheap and shady so they can actually help uplift your mood! Citrus oils, Lavender, and my BFF Frank are always good choices to soothe the soul!
  9. HELP OTHERS! I love this one. Probably because I “get my kicks” from helping others. You know what’s cool though? This is truly the pay-it-forward effect because not only does the giver receive feel good chemicals for doing the kind deed, but the people that witnessed it get a chemical boost too! Good deeds = Good moods πŸ™‚
  10. Don’t be Scrollin’! Say what?! Yeah you heard me. Only get on social media for short, purposeful moments of time. Why? Well here’s the long and short of it- you get on social media, you post something. You know your cats the cutest, so it’s going to be a hit. You get a bunch of “likes” and tons of “hearts”. Woo, feel good chemical rush! Just like Pavlov’s dogs, we go back because we want the rush (the brain treat) again! But when you posted that awesome pic of your new haircut, barely anyone commented or “liked” it. Instant downer. Instead of feel good chemicals, how about feelings of insecurity, anxiety, etc.? Oh and let’s not forget that little comparison game that people like to play on social media. JUST. DON’T. You’re comparing someone’s highlight reel against your lowest moments. Yeah, that’s an idea for the trash can. There is a direct correlation between time on social media and depression. Interesting, isn’t it? … you gotta save yourself and look up and out at the rest of the world . There’s some really cool stuff out there. πŸ™‚

Okay, I could go on but it is almost 1am and I need to go get my butt on tv in the morning so I should probably jump in bed! Say you’ll join me and give me a dopamine rush for the show, would ya? πŸ˜‰ In all seriousness, knowing that you all like the show is the entire reason why I do it. I mean, it’s hard to stay in hibernation season when you get pulled in front of the camera! LOL!

**Notes on the Winter Blues vs. Depression: You NEED to be sure you are only experiencing the blah’s of weather changes and NOT something more serious, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other type of depression/mental struggle. A big indicator for the blah’s is that you may feel down and a bit lethargic as the weather changes, but it DOES NOT STOP YOU from enjoying life. On the other hand, if you are becoming uninterested in things that you previously enjoyed, are breaking off planned appointments and get-togethers with friends, etc., and are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, despair, frequent periods of crying or anger, deep sadness that won’t go away, increase or decrease of sleep, appetite, etc. than it may be more than the winter doldrums. In these cases, I highly recommend a counselor. There are very high success rates of overcoming and handling feelings of depression by seeing a counselor. If you need a counselor, I have an office in the Roanoke, VA area (you can find my info on psychologytoday.com). If you are out of the area, you can use that same site to find someone nearby that is suited to what you need. Please keep in mind that if you are experiencing feelings of wanting to hurt yourself, someone else, are feeling unable to take care of yourself and/or those you are responsible for, contact 911 right away. Do not pass go, do not collect $100.00. Make the call.

Whether it’s the blues, depression, or any other feelings that just feel overwhelming, please know that it CAN get better. There is help. Just call up a licensed counselor and get in the office for your appointment ASAP.

Make this Fall and Winter the best yet πŸ™‚ Come along with me, the best is yet to be…

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I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation

This thought has been nipping at my heels for awhile now. There are so many things that we think are “needs” when NEWS FLASH, they aren’t. Almost all of us in America live better than the Pharaoh’s did in ancient Egypt… let that sink in.

We think having to pass on a Starbucks means we’re paupers. Most of us have debt up the wazoo because we “needed” something. And of course I understand that there are true emergencies that can also put us in debt and in those instances, I am grateful that we can “charge it”.

I think of my Great Grandmother. She was born in 1911. She lived through the Great Depression. She worked day and night, saving every penny she could and never complained when she was exhausted with not much to show for it- that was just life. She always told me, “have a penny, save a penny.” But do I ever save a penny? Not really. I justify everything, thinking, well of course I “need” this… but do I?

My Great Grandmother worked so hard to provide for her family. She saved enough money to pay for multiple weddings and funerals in cash, as well as owned her home. She never drove, never had a license. She walked everywhere. She lived in a small little pink home with plastic all over the furniture and photographs. She preserved everything to make it last. She had a tiny stove. In fact, her whole house looked like a Barbie doll playhouse compared to what we live in today. She didn’t live beyond her means. In fact, she lived under them so that she could save for emergencies. She called it her “rainy day fund”. She didn’t have a closet overflowing with clothes or shoes and she didn’t waste anything. She, her husband and children did not go out to the movies or bowling for fun; they played cards at their small kitchen table and her kids read books from the library. My Great Grandmother even made her own card holders out of plastic food lids and a fastener in the center. She was the ultimate DIYer!

My husband’s Grandfather and Grandmother also lived in a humble home. Grandfather went to work and labored every day of the work week. Grandmother stayed home and took care of family and the house. There were no HGTV remodels. In fact, she didn’t even drive. It wasn’t because she was disempowered; it was because they were living within their means! They had one car and Grandfather took it to work. On the weekends, he would take his wife out to go peruse the town but they never got spend-happy. Grandfather and Grandmother saved all their lives and when retirement came, they decided to use ALL of their savings to build a big family home to grow old in with their only daughter and her family.

We live in that very home today. What a legacy to leave! There is so much to learn from the hardworking generations of the past. They weren’t frivolous. They didn’t have shoes to match every style and outfit and they didn’t order pizzas and buy subscriptions to Amazon Prime (guilty!) or Netflix.

I’m not saying any of this is wrong or right. What I am saying is that for me and my family, I want to go back to the basics. And it is going to be so stinking hard! I LOVE Starbucks! And Italian Restaurants! And Halo Cookie Dough ice cream! And movies! And going out on the town! And chocolate truffles! And Torrid!! And cute shoes! And ALL THE CLOTHES!Β  And books!!! Man do I love books! The list goes on and on because I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I love yum and fun!Β  I am always drawn toward glitz and glam and I DREAM of an HGTV home (the “after” not the “before” πŸ™‚ ).

I think of organizations like World Help, Compassion International and the D. Gary Young Foundation, all with countless ways we can help those who TRULY “have not” . I am assured by trustworthy friends that have been onsite at all of these organizations and mission fields, that these are legitimate and 100% of all donations go straight to the people in need. If we don’t feed the starving and get people out of sex slavery, who will?

How often do we think beyond ourselves? And for how long? It’s sad, isn’t it? Most of the world still doesn’t have CLEAN DRINKING WATER (that’s right- they have muddy holes filled with animal poo and disease and they GET THEIR WATER from there because there are no other options. They try to “boil” it first but there are not many resources for them to have that “luxury”).

Yet here in America, people on government assistance have access to all the food, clean water, baby supplies, healthcare, help with electric bills and yes, even cell phones. We could split hairs and talk about what we think is working and what isn’t, but the point is, there is help from our country!

Did you know that most countries do not have those resources available for its people? Babies starve to death and die of preventable diseases while we scroll Facebook. That’s hard to hear, isn’t it?Β I sponsor a little boy who is 7 years old in Haiti named Dawens. He sent me a letter the other day talking about his home. It is made of blocks and has a piece of metal over the top. He is one of the blessed ones who gets food and education to get himself out of poverty because he has a sponsor in America helping him. He has hope and no price could ever be put on that.

We have all changed the channel when the “bleeding heart” commercials come on, asking people to sponsor a child and they show a hungry face with a bloated belly. We tell ourselves it’s a fraud or that we just don’t have the money (while sitting on furniture in a house with a roof and a remote in our hands). We tell ourselves whatever it takes to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

I am challenging myself as much as I am challenging you. What are your true needs? And what could we put aside to help others? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that life is all about you and your family and your comfort and your fun times. It’s not.

Don’t live inside the box of delusion or denial.

There is a world out there that needs us and if we won’t help, who will?

I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation. I want to be a product of selflessness. I want to forfeit my comforts to help others. I want to stop convincing myself that my needs are greater than your needs. I want to discontinue the story I tell myself that I don’t have enough money to ________ (fill in the blank) and that someone else will have to help those in need because I have too much _____________ (fill in the blank) to take care of. I don’t think I could ever be Mother Teresa. But I could say “no” to a few more luxuries to save the life of one more child in need.

You will leave this world one day. And you will find out that these few years on earth were supposed to be for much more than “building your Kingdom.” What short-sighted thinking we all fall for. “Just live for today”…. “Get yours”… “It’s all about me”… “I deserve”….

Yeah, whatever. Look beyond yourself. You may find that you feel a whole lot better when you’re not stuck on yourself. I know I do. We will never do this “perfectly”. But we can make progress everyday toward helping others in whatever way we can and making someone’s day a little brighter, simply by putting ourselves aside and thinking of others.

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Cancer… I Can’t Stop Thinking About It

All these people with cancer- friends, family… it’s breaking my heart on a most personal level and I know it is breaking yours too. We all know someone… I don’t know if it is 100% avoidable with all the radiation floating throughout our world and the hidden ingredients in our food and products. Labeling lies, false advertising, even the healthiest shoppers can unknowingly fall into some junk because of it.Β  “Organic” used to mean something important. Unfortunately, that word means less and less to me everyday. Companies interested in making money, not making a pure, healthy product, saw that they could charge more for the label and if you’ll follow this through to DC, you will find lobbyists and changes in what “organic” now means.

So many things in our food and in our products are linked to cancer and it’s still being sold and purchased liked candy in our stores (speaking of candy… huge linkage). Why? 1. We don’t know what we don’t know.

2. Affordability; yeah, we may know that the $20 bottle of shampoo is the best for us and will keep us the healthiest, but sometimes that price just isn’t feasible. But I promise you, we don’t “look smart” like one cheap shampoo company boasts, when we settle. No one looks smart when they settle for less than what’s best for them and their family. And lastly is:

3. We know and we JUST. DON’T. CARE. This one is the hardest for me to see, personally. We bury our heads in the sand because it is temporarily easier but the long term effects of that decision can be catastrophic. It’s the last one that breaks my heart the most.

If we don’t know, we can learn; if we don’t have the income, we can still find ways to live as healthily and affordably as possible. But if we don’t care? If we choose to ignore it because it is easier in the moment…. (or tastes better)….well, there is nothing that can be done for that person, except to keep loving them and hope for the best.

I get it. The junk in food makes the food taste way better. It does. That’s why companies use it- to sell more cheaply and get more sales. I get it. There is no tasty, healthy replacement for some of the foods we have grown to love because they don’t come from any natural source. These companies aren’t playing fair.Β 

It’s a lot of work to figure out what is and isn’t good for you, all the way down to your toothpaste and toenail polish. I get it. I do. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

And then another question comes to mind, “How do we know who is lying to us and who isn’t?” I totally see where the confusion lies. Advertisements and amazingly cute packaging consume us from all corners and it’s hard to believe that the list of ingredients doesn’t have to list the actual ingredients, right? I know. From someone who truly wants to believe the best in everyone, it is hard to hear about what is really happening because WHO WOULD DO THAT TO SOMEONE?! How do they sleep at night? Girlfriend, I have no idea. But I do know that there are thousands of chemicals in our food and toiletries that do not have to be listed on the “Ingredients” list in America.

This past week was an extremely hard week for me. And during this week, I fell off my farm-fresh, sunshiney. non-GMO wagon. And it tasted pretty good. I mean, I had one of those PB Squared Snickers… and some of those sugar-laden organic treats and… you know what? They all tasted pretty DANG amazing. But you know what else? I am paying for it with my health at this very moment.Β 

It started as a headache yesterday that just would not go away, no matter what I tried. Then overnight, it turned into a migraine that woke me out of my sleep. Then throughout the day, it hurt so bad I had to stay hidden in the dark with my eyes closed, etc. NOTHING would knock it out. And I still have it but it’s back to a just a bad headache again (thankfully). And you know what? Suddenly those unhealthy things that I chose taste like dust in comparison of how I have been feeling for almost 48 hours. My mood was way worse this week too. Tie together the up’s and down’s of sugar crashes and harmful chemicals that my body isn’t used to anymore, and it made for one crappy mood on top of an already difficult week.

The more detoxed you become from toxins, the quicker your body responds when they re-enter your system. Because it is foreign to our bodies and they actually don’t know how to process it. Because it’s not something natural that our body was created to recognize. Most of us don’t even realize how crappy we actually feel because we have accepted it as our normal. But what if it isn’t?

I’m just a normal person, guys. (In case you thought anything different! LOL!) I LOVE the taste of Reese’s (now switched for Justin’s brand) and I had to do A LOT of research to figure out why on God’s green earthΒ  I would pay that much FOR A BOTTLE OF SHAMPOO!! All I am is somebody who- because I was getting sick from everyday products- took my head out of the sand and figured out what was happening. And now that I know, it would be nothing short of wrong to not tell you too. …Even though I keep kind of wondering if some major company is going to come by and pop my tires! LOL! (Which, granted, would seem far-fetched if this little fish in a big pond hadn’t already received a 6-page letter from a huge company trying to dish me an [ineffective] rebuttal).

Ok. Well. I have already written a ton today and I know most of us don’t enjoy reading huge blogs and just skim for the “good stuff”. πŸ™‚ I will share in my next post and also inΒ  my class this Saturday the most affordable and doable ways to make better choices in the land of things so tasty, they kill. So next time you eat something and think, “This is to die for”, ask yourself… is it really?

DUN DUN DUNNNNNN……. (but seriously)