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

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.

 

Unequally Yoked

What Is LoveSocial media is very entertaining for lack of a better word. I have witnessed today a couple break up over EASTER. Now being in the field of counseling I am sure that it was more than just the ‘Easter’ argument and more about being unequally yoked, but the break-up was played out on Facebook. The entire fight, though was over the relevance of the date. The gentleman was saying that Easter is just another holiday forced by the government. He said first of all Easter is supposed to be in April He also mentioned that it is a known fact that it rains on Easter and today was clearly sunny- I am not sure if this is a ‘fact’ but it does happen often. He finally ended it by saying that people keep saying it was three days when in actuality it was two nights and two days. His fiancé on the other hand, is a devout Christian and she found everything that he was saying to be blasphemous and embarrassing. Needless to say, since this argument played out on social media there were others involved, thus escalating the situation past what it should have been.

This argument reminded me of two things. One it reminded me of the importance of couples keeping their business private. Many relationships have been broken due to outside sources. It is a proven fact that when couples bring people into their arguments they are going to choose sides. Choosing sides can be detrimental because the other person becomes a target and it puts a rift between the couple; sometimes ending in a split up or a divorce. Two, it reminded me of the old saying about being unequally yoked (‎2 Corinthians 6:15). I can totally understand where the woman is coming from, yet as a Christian I have to wonder if this is something that she brought upon herself. The Bible clearly states that we are not to be unequally yoked. Had this couple been better familiarized with each other, this conversation may have been avoided. To make a long story short, when choosing a mate choose carefully, don’t be blindsided by love, and be open honest. Mates are supposed to be lifelong commitments. Relationships are hard enough on their own and as a result it is important that the playing field is equal as possible from the beginning.

Infidelity

Types of Infidelity

 

Infidelity, cheating and unfaithfulness has been around since the beginning of time; however it has become even more complicated by what constitutes being unfaithful in relationships. Traditionally, cheating was classified as having a physically intimate relationship with someone other than your partner.  But nowadays, cheating has many faces and colors.  Of course, this is not to say that physical intimacy with someone other than your partner is a lesser offense than any other type of unfaithfulness.

One type of infidelity is the texting and phone affair. Flirty, suggestive or sexually explicit text messages or pictures are sent to someone other than your partner.  You also can over share intimate information with this person as well. Another type of infidelity is cyber cheating. Again, this is flirting or over sharing with another person.  You may also be searching and/or posting on dating sites.  It can also include viewing porn regularly that negatively impacts your emotional and sexual relationship with your partner.  A third type of infidelity is emotional cheating that starts off as an innocent friendship with a “work spouse” and/or your best friend. You spend a lot of time with this person and, before you know it, you are confiding and sharing your thoughts, fears, dreams, and secrets with this person.  You have an affection for this person that is typically reserved for your partner.  Often times, emotional cheating can lead to physical intimacy.  And lastly, there is physical infidelity.  Simply put, physical infidelity is sexual intimacy with someone other than your partner.

No matter what type of infidelity it may be, it is equally damaging to a relationship.  If you are doing anything that you wouldn’t want to share with your partner (or God), or you know it would hurt your partner, then you probably are doing something that you should stop doing.

Listening Well

Listening Well

Listening well is a necessary skill as it impacts the quality of our relationships with others. How many of us have heard our children, friend, and/or partner say, “Are you listening to me?” or “You never listen to me.”  With the listening we do all day long, one would think that we all would be so much better at listening.  However, many times we are only hearing the other person because we are too busy performing several other tasks at the same time. Other times we are deep in thought about our own attitudes, thoughts, and feelings  about the subject. Then there are times we are just too sleepy to listen attentively. And of course, we are all guilty of selective listening.

Listening well isn’t just hearing what the other person is saying, but also paying attention to verbal and nonverbal messages as well.  So how can we listen by concentrating on how and what they are saying as well as what they are not saying?  It’s interesting how the lessons that we learn in childhood prove to serve us well in adulthood.  Below is a song that some learn in preschool.  Next time you really want to practice listening well, try implementing the words of this song.

The Listening Song

Eyes Are Watching

Ears Are Listening

Lips Are Closed

Hands Are Still

Feet Are Quiet

You Should Really Try It

Listening Well, Listening Well

 

From Reacting to Responding

from reacting to responding

 

Being able to move from reacting to responding can be a challenging feat. Honestly, both seem pretty comparable because we often use the words interchangeably; but when using in practice, they are quite different.

Reacting is usually an impulsive, emotional action.  For example, your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (react) retaliate by having an affair of your own. You are out on a date with the Mrs. Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry and feel disrespected. You (react) punch the dude in the face.

Responding involves simmering your emotional action with logical, critical thinking. Your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (respond) take some time to yourself to figure out and explore what you need for resolution. Then you communicate this to your husband. You are out on a date with the Mrs.  Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry; you feel disrespected. You (respond) by letting him know she is with you.

Moving from reacting to responding is much easier said than done. But we are all accountable for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others. The more you practice responding in little every day stressors, you are training your brain to be able to respond instead of react to greater stressors.

Some things that have been helpful to me:

1) Be aware of my body and thoughts.

Are your palms sweaty?  Are your teeth clenching?  Do you have balled up fists?  Are your thoughts racing? Or you can’t think at all? These are all precursors that whatever comes next is probably a reaction and not a response. Resist doing anything when you notice these signs. Take deep breaths.

2) Take a “time-out”

Walking away or ending a conversation is not weak or giving up control.  In fact, reacting often leads to being out of control and living with regrets. Taking a time-out allows for you to explore options and decide what is going to be best. Then you can respond accordingly.

3) Ask yourself, “what do I want the end goal to be?”

After reacting, we often reflect , have regrets and say “hindsight is 20/20.”  In the moment, if we take time to transport to the future, we can determine the best response.

 

What else may be helpful?