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Allowing Ourselves to Feel

Note from Hannah: I’m pleased to feature this guest post by Jennifer Barbour of anotherjennifer.com as part of the New Perspectives Series on mental health, wellness, and just being a human. Enjoy! I could feel my eyes start to sting as I fought back tears. Should I be crying? Is this professional? “Denise” read a letter from her then nine-year-old son, begging her to stop taking drugs so that they could be a family again. It was heart wrenching to hear. The three of us spent the day shooting a video for the treatment facility I worked for. I glanced at the filmmaker. He was concentrating on the shot. And while he was visibly affected by the content of the letter, he did not flinch. Earlier that day, Denise told me how she would bring her twin girls to the     . . . read more

Hopes for Myself as a Mother

It’s an odd place to get parenting advice, but the best story regarding mothering I ever heard was from Penn Jillette on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. Penn talked about how his mother’s philosophy was that she loved and cherished her children for who they were, from the moment of birth, and never for what they did. She delighted in their joys, but it was never about accomplishments. According to Penn, she was once offended by a producer who asked her if she were proud of her son for receiving a positive New York Times review. She was horrified at the suggestion and put him in his place by affirming it was not his accomplishments that made her proud, but who he was and had always been. That’s the kind of mom I want to be. Like Mrs. Jillette, I hope     . . . read more

What Does it Mean to Be Self-Assured?

Can being self-assured help us to go boldly into unknown life territory? This is a question I’ve been thinking about lately. But what does it mean to be self-assured? To me, it seems like a very desirable quality, something to cultivate in oneself and in our children. In my curiosity, I did some research. According to Merriam-Webster Online, the term means “sure of oneself: self-confident.” It says that related words include: vain, egotistical, pompous. I partly agree, but I have some issues with this definition and with the “related” words. I guess this begs the questions: Who am I to take issue with the dictionary? Am I self-assured or really pompous after all?! In my mind, being self-assured means having a sense that one can make it through what life throws our way. It means cultivating helpful self-talk and being     . . . read more

Letting Go of Outcomes

I’ve learned, mostly the hard way, that I don’t know what the best outcome is for another person. That probably sounds weird for a therapist to say. There is a general sense that you go to therapy for someone to tell or “guide” you to a particular outcome. But that’s not really the best use of therapy. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it is not what the outcome is that matters, it’s how people get there and how they ultimately feel about it. Does it fit into some unhelpful old framework or does it represent a new and stronger narrative? I don’t know if you should stay married or get divorced. I don’t know if you should major in neuroscience or engineering. But I do know that what you tell yourself about this decision and what it means     . . . read more

(Not So) Great Expectations

I was invited to do my very first guest post on the fabulous another jennifer blog. Here it is: My daughter is a young toddler now. On a recent family outing around town, she decided to keep in her hand, through a few stores and the intervening car rides, an oversized red fork from a toy picnic set. Sometime after this outing, I got her a set of sand toys. She loved this set, but not for the reasons I’d imagined. She had a particular fondness for a small blue sand shovel. That night, she brought it with her to her highchair, right along with the big red fork. Suddenly, my perspective changed. That was not a sand shovel, it was the big fork’s long-lost spoon friend. What I love the most about children is how uniquely they see and     . . . read more

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