Happy Labor Day!!!

New Year's Resolution

 

As you can see I enjoyed Labor Day, I forgot to publish this! Enjoy Thenessa’s blog – Megan R. Pickens, LPC-S

Labor Day is the day that we Americans celebrate working or being employed…… by taking a day off to not work….yay!!! Sure, my husband and I are thankful to have jobs and be able to provide for our family. So in this respect, kudos to Labor Day…everyone deserves a break. I guess I should not just say Americans as there are a few other countries that recognize Labor/Labour Day as a holiday such as Australia and Canada. Basically, it is a time to reflect how we the common people keep the economy going and America a great place to call home. I’m sure many find a since of pride and accomplishment in living the American dream……essentially doing their part to make America a better place for future generations. What do we normally, do on our day of relaxation and reflection? We prepare a great feast, which is quite American. This is usually the last bar-b-que of the year and is  a lot of work….but hey, it beats being at the office. And, it is an absolute fashion no-no to wear white after Labor Day. Although, I have never read when it is okay to start wearing white again???? Normally, we stuff ourselves and watch the U.S. Open, absolutely love me some tennis.  However, this year we will take time to aid others in need, As a family, we will be helping displaced families due to Hurricane Harvey that are in local shelters. The number of families in need is overwhelming. So we will use part of our day to be of service to others. Yes, the all mighty dollar does keep the economy going but love and compassion for our fellow man goes along way as well.  I encourage each of you to consider taking a hour or two to help someone in need,

Happy Labor Day

Resolutions!!!

Cheers, 2017 is here. Happy New Year to you all! At the beginning of each new year many of us make resolutions. Mostly, resolutions are geared towards your personal needs and/or preferences.  What is going to improve your current lifestyle, to aid in making you the best you, you could possibly be? Our resolutions are to assist us along this rocky journey of self-improvement.  Many of us dive in full throttle and we do great for the first few weeks but then we tend to not see the results we anticipated or we realize that our resolutions are to restrictive and we give up…. back to what we have become comfortable with.  I would like to suggest, instead of making unrealistic resolutions, sit down and come up with your long-term resolutions and then come up with some short-term resolutions that you can use to measure your long-term goals.  For instance, let’s say your long-term resolution is to lose 20lbs…….”now, you and I both know that you did not gain this 20 extra pounds overnight and we should know that you are not going to lose it in a matter of days”….you want to set measurable short-term goals to aid in reaching your long-term goal….like, I am going to exercise 3 days a week for a minimum of 20-30  minutes, or I am going to decrease my sugar or processed food intake weekly.  Giving up everything all at once, is setting one up for failure.  If you are strong willed and can give it up, then by all means do so. Most of us need to gradually incorporate these changes into our current lifestyles. Once you have reached a short-term millstone, reward yourself. You are on the right track and making progress. Now, by rewards I do not mean go and undo all the hard work you have already done to make it this far….just a small reward for reaching a goal. Continue on this path until you reach your long-term resolutions. The key, don’t give up…baby steps!!!

Wishing you health and prosperity in 2017.

Remembering Dr. King

This year on January 16, 2017 we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for his remarkable contributions not only for African- American but for all mankind. Dr. King was a true humanitarian.  His selfless acts along with others provide me with opportunities that most likely I would not have without their stance, blood sweat and tears.  If Dr. King were still alive he would celebrate his 88th birthday this year. Below is an abridged version of an article by the Huffington Post authored by Clarence B. Jones about Dr. King and what he might have done to deal with current issues:

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on His 86th Birthday

This weekend our nation will observe its annual commemoration of this great man’s life. It comes at a time when national and international events have provoked a lot of discussion about what Dr. King would say or do in response to those events if he were alive today.

An entire generation of Americans has grown up associating Dr. King almost exclusively with his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech (which I copyrighted; it is now one of the most valuable intellectual properties of the King estate). Few people today know of his opinions on issues like poverty and income inequality, or of his early support for Israel and his public opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Although I have no polling data to support my belief, I estimate that he enjoyed an approval rating of 80 percent or higher at the time of his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, but that his approval rating had probably dipped to 40 percent or lower by the time he was assassinated five years later.

This blog post addresses some of the important contemporary domestic and international issues that I believe would be of major concern to Dr. King if he were alive today. My statements are not based on what I have read or on what some third party told me. They are based on my personal recollections of conversations and discussions I had with Dr. King one-on-one, and of conversations we had together with third parties, over the approximately seven years I worked with him as a political advisor, personal lawyer and draft speechwriter.

The night before he was assassinated, Dr. King spoke at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, before a large gathering in support of a strike by sanitation workers for better wages and working conditions. Among other things he said:

We’ve got some difficult days ahead. … Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.

The contemporary issues that I believe would be of primary concern to Dr. King today, issues that challenge the coalition of support he enjoyed at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and threaten our ability to get to that Promised Land, are (in no particular order):

Systemic and growing poverty among a significant segment of the population.

Dr. King would regard systemic poverty in the United States as morally indefensible and unacceptable. He would publicly align himself with Pope Francis, who, in an address to the students of the Jesuit schools of Italy and Albania on June 7, 2013, said:

The poverty of the world is a scandal. In a world where there is such great wealth, so many resources for giving food to everyone, it is impossible to understand how there could be so many hungry children, so many children without education, so many poor people! Poverty today is a cry. A few weeks later, in an address to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on June 20, 2013, Pope Francis added: A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.

Dr. King would closely examine the amount of money expended on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the cost of maintaining our military bases around the world and compare those expenditures with those allocated toward reducing poverty, increasing affordable housing, and creating employment opportunities. He would put forward an updated version of his “bill of rights for the disadvantaged,” which he proposed as early as 1964. In November 1967 he wrote:

[O]ur country must undergo a revolution in values. The billions of dollars now directed toward destruction and military containment must be redirected toward a bill of rights for the disadvantaged. Such a bill of rights should provide an adequate education, income, home, recreation, as well as physical and mental health care.

Ubiquitous gun violence.

This year firearms are expected to surpass automobiles as the leading cause of death in the United States. Nationwide, young black men have the highest firearm mortality rate; the overwhelming majority of these firearm deaths were from homicides perpetrated by other black men. Dr. King would be forceful in speaking out on the reality of gun violence among young black men.

Efforts to limit voting rights by the U.S. Supreme Court and various state legislatures.

Dr. King would initiate a national campaign to restore the enforceability of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires that certain states and local governments get permission, or “preclearance,” from the federal government before enacting any change to voting laws or practices. As of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County vs. Holder on June 25, 2013, which declared Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act (the section containing the “coverage formula” that determined which states and local governments would be subject to the Section 5 preclearance requirement) unconstitutional, there is no way to enforce Section 5, and many states that would have been subject to the preclearance requirement have since enacted laws restricting voting. In those states Dr. King would seek to mobilize mass support for removing such restrictions.

Continuing police shootings of unarmed black men.

Dr. King would respect, applaud, support, and join the new generation of young people who are forcefully but nonviolently calling for an end of the disproportionate use of excessive force against young African-American men by police officers. He would participate in relevant demonstrations in Ferguson and elsewhere as long as they remained nonviolent. He would say not only that black lives matter but that all lives matter. He would declare that police shootings of unarmed black men require not “negotiation” but immediate cessation. He would say, “Stop killing our young people! They are the most sacred and precious asset we have as a people.”

Mass incarceration of black youth.

According to legal scholar Michelle Alexander, in some inner-city communities four out of five black youths can expect to be incarcerated at some point in their lifetimes. Alexander elaborates in her 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness:

The mass incarceration of people of color is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born in slavery. … More black men are imprisoned today than at any other moment in our nation’s history. More are disenfranchised today that in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

The above statements are not intended to be definitive claims regarding what Dr. King would actually say or do today. They are intended solely as projections of what I believe he would say or do today were he alive to celebrate his 86th birthday.

Martin, we miss you.

 

FORGIVENESS

forgiveness-is-unlocking-the-door

Forgiving others is a hard thing for people to do. One may ask, why is it so difficult or why do we find it hard to forgive? All of us have different reasons, but one of the reasons is that some of us don’t have a full comprehension of what true forgiveness is and how it functions. When we gain the knowledge of true forgiveness, we might find it easy to forgive ourselves and those who have hurt us.

Since we do not have a full comprehension of forgiveness, our first reaction to someone hurting us is revenge. Revenge comes more naturally than forgiveness. Even though it is difficult to forgive others, it is also important to forgive for many reasons. First, we are commanded to forgive others if we want God to forgive us of our wrong deeds. Second, forgiveness is vital for one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. In other words, it brings healing to oneself and releases the offender. The importance of forgiveness is not only releasing a person who wronged you, but brings one’s self-healing, wellbeing, and health. Third, forgiveness allows you to release the burdens. Fourth, forgiving helps individuals to grow, free an individual from the past and to move forward to a healthier present and future.

Matthew 18:21-22 states that “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times I shall forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Forgiveness does not only bring healing, but it also empowers individual(s) and helps them to gain their power back. It assists any individuals in releasing themselves from the effects of bondage and opens the door to the Lord to bring a total healing their lives. “And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12).

Lastly, forgiveness is crucial for any person because it assists an individual in a reduction of physical symptoms of stress, decrease depression and increases self-confident. Among other things, it assists an individual to be healthier.

According to Rose Sweet from the Focus on the Family, “Granting Forgiveness” is as follows:

  1. Forgiveness is not letting the offender off the hook. We can and should still hold others accountable for their actions or lack of actions.
  2. Forgiveness is returning to God the right to take care of justice. By refusing to transfer the right to exact punishment or revenge, we are telling God we don’t trust him to take care of matters.
  3. Forgiveness is not letting the offense recur again and again. We don’t have to tolerate, nor should we keep ourselves open to, lack of respect or any form of abuse.
  4. Forgiveness does not mean we have to revert to being the victim. Forgiving is not saying, “What you did was okay, so go ahead and walk all over me.” Nor is it playing the martyr, enjoying the performance of forgiving people because it perpetuates our victim role.
  5. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. We can forgive someone even if we never can get along with him again.
  6. Forgiveness is a process, not an event. It might take some time to work through our emotional problems before we can truly forgive. As soon as we can, we should decide to forgive, but it probably is not going to happen right after a tragic divorce. That’s okay.
  7. We have to forgive every time. If we find ourselves constantly forgiving, though, we might need to take a look at the dance we are doing with the other person that sets us up to be continually hurt, attacked, or abused.
  8. Forgetting does not mean denying reality or ignoring repeated offenses. Some people are obnoxious, mean-spirited, apathetic, or unreliable. They never will change. We need to change the way we respond to them and quit expecting them to be different.
  9. Forgiveness is not based on others’ actions but on our attitude. People will continue to hurt us through life. We either can look outward at them or stay stuck and angry, or we can begin to keep our minds on our loving relationship with God, knowing and trusting in what is good.
  10. If they don’t repent, we still have to forgive. Even if they never ask, we need to forgive. We should memorize and repeat over and over: Forgiveness is about our attitude, not their action.
  11. We don’t always have to tell them we have forgiven them. Self-righteously announcing our gracious forgiveness to someone who has not asked to be forgiven may be a manipulation to make them feel guilty. It also is a form of pride.
  12. Withholding forgiveness is a refusal to let go of perceived power. We can feel powerful when the offender is in need of forgiveness and only we can give it. We may fear going back to being powerless if we forgive.
  13. We might have to forgive more than the divorce. Post-divorce problems related to money, the kids, and schedules might result in the need to forgive again and to seek forgiveness ourselves.
  14. We might forgive too quickly to avoid pain or to manipulate the situation. Forgiveness releases pain and frees us from focusing on the other person. Too often when we’re in the midst of the turmoil after a divorce, we desperately look for a quick fix to make it all go away. Some women want to “hurry up” and forgive so the pain will end, or so they can get along with the other person. We have to be careful not to simply cover our wounds and retard the healing process.
  15. We might be pressured into false forgiveness before we are ready. When we feel obligated or we forgive just so others will still like us, accept us, or not think badly of us, it’s not true forgiveness — it’s a performance to avoid rejection. Give yourself permission to do it right. Maybe all you can offer today is, “I want to forgive you, but right now I’m struggling emotionally. I promise I will work on it.”
  16. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It’s normal for memories to be triggered in the future. When thoughts of past hurts occur, it’s what we do with them that counts. When we find ourselves focusing on a past offense, we can learn to say, “Thank you, God, for this reminder of how important forgiveness is.”
  17. Forgiveness starts with a mental decision. The emotional part of forgiveness is finally being able to let go of the resentment. Emotional healing may or may not follow quickly after we forgive.

Are You Codependent?

are-you-codependentHas someone said, “You’re so co-dependent?”  “I can’t take it, you’re so needy!” and you begin to wonder “Am I?  What does this mean for me and my future?”  Simply put, being co-dependent means the relationship you are involved in is one-sided, as you are willing to sacrifice your happiness and emotional health for the benefit of your partner or child.

Some hallmarks of co-dependency are

  1. No relationship with self. You do not know your own needs, wants, and desires.
  1. Depends on others. You only receive total fulfillment and satisfaction from your relationships with your spouse, child, etc.
  1. Compulsive Helper. Helping others makes you feel in control and safe.
  1. People Pleasing. You will honor others’ needs and wants at the cost of your own needs and wants.

Co-dependents take on 3 roles in relationships with others – the rescuer, persecutor, and victim.

The rescuer’s survived a childhood home where where their needs were not met.  As an adult, they feel safe and at their best self when they are helping others.  They do not know how to set limits and make their well-being a priority.

The persecutor’s family was one where mental and/or physical abusive ran rampant.  They hide their pain by coming off overconfident.  As an adult, they cannot tolerate vulnerable feelings.  When vulnerable feelings arise, they feel weak and will develop unsafe ways to release their angry feelings.

The victim felt damaged and inadequate in their family.  They will allow others to take care of them because they do not feel capable of doing so themselves.

If you find any of these to be true, seek professional help through a mental health professional and or Co-dependents Anonymous.