Have you ever considered a career in counseling?


Can you believe that the New Year is fast approaching? It honestly feels like it was just summertime. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. Sigh…

This is the time of year when most people (myself included) look back on the year and take stock in where they stand in life. Are you happy with your job? Did you hang out with your family and friends enough? Did you tackle any of your health resolutions? There are a lot of questions and reflections that come to mind.

I don’t make resolutions. Instead I prefer to look at the as goals.

Once thing I’d love to do in 2020 is go back to school and finish my degree. I need about 4 or 5 classes to complete my bachelor’s degree.

I was going to school to be a Forensic Psychologist. I’ve always been fascinated by the criminal mind. I’m curious to know what makes them “tick,” and what causes seemingly “normal” people to do criminal acts.

Originally, I was going to school to become a counselor. In this day and age, I think there are a lot more counseling jobs available than Forensic Psychologists.

When I was in high school, I liked the idea of being a school counselor. I like the idea of helping children.

I work with children (9-12 year old). Some of the children have pulled me aside to talk to me about things that are upsetting them. Most of the time it has to do with things that happened during school (and not with our program). There are times issues do arrive between children in our program. Regardless of when the events occurred (during school or during our program), I do my best to help the children.

I believe that it’s important to let the children express their thoughts BEFORE offering suggestions. I feel like children need to be “heard.” In this day and age when people prefer to communicate via text message, I think children are often not being truly heard. I think if parents took the time to sit down with their children as ask them out their day is going; it might help resolve some issues children are experiencing.

Just the other day one of the kids at work approached me and asked if she could talk to me. I pulled her aside and she told me (while crying) about a fight she was having with her best friend, and how her friend was spreading untrue rumors about her. It broke my heart to see her crying (she’s such a sweet girl).

It made me feel good knowing that she trusted me enough to talk to her about what was bothering her. It made me feel even better when we came up with a viable solution (having her and her friend meet at the school counselor’s office to mediate their disagreement). She was also laughing and smiling after our chat. That made my heart smile.

People have always come to me for advice and suggestions. I think it’s because I am a good listener. I also don’t judge people. We’re all only human and no one is perfect.

I think people like to come to me when they are having problems because I also think “outside of the box,” and I’m able to come up with ideas from another perspective.

Helping people makes me feel better about myself too, so it’s a win-win situation.

I do hold a degree (Associates) in “Community Mental Health Assisting.” To be honest, I don’t think that degree is worth much. Exactly what is a community mental health assistant?

Maybe my degree, and the classes I have taken thus far toward my bachelors degree, could help me redirect my current degree path (Bachelor’s) to one of these options instead;

  • School Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Career Counselor
  • Marriage and Family Counselor
  • Rehabilitation Counselor

One of my favorite symposiums I took in college was about art therapy. I loved it. Maybe I could work that into a counseling career too.

Changing my career path is just one of my goals for the new year. I also want to do the usual ones – drink more water, get more sleep, eat better, move more. I also want to be more organized and come up with a better routine when it comes to keeping our condo clean. Instead of spot cleaning during the week, and doing a “deep clean” ever two weeks, I want to do a bit more to avoid having to do the deep cleaning and wasting a whole Saturday that could be spent doing something FUN (I hate cleaning).

So what are your plans for the New Year? Do you have any goals or resolutions? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.


“No New Year’s Resolutions” with Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Joe Taravella



We’ve all been there, setting unrealistic resolutions that come back to haunt us. Yes, I’ve been there…multiple times. However, Dr. Joe believes on setting no-resolutions and focusing on creating positive change to reinvent yourself.

Below please find Dr. Joe’s tips that are as easy to follow as A-B-C!

A – A Plan of Action.   Create a plan of action with manageable goals that are broken down into smaller steps.  One of the biggest obstacles we face is setting up unrealistic goals that are not sustainable.  The grander the plan, the less likely we will achieve it, so focus on short goals and how you can accomplish them.  Take note of your progress the first few days, and re-adjust your goals according to how difficult or easy it was for you.  You want to challenge yourself with a healthy competition, as you can’t jump to the top of the mountain in one giant leap.  Reward yourself along the way and go public…you’ll be more apt to hold yourself to it.

B – Believe in Yourself.  Believing in yourself creates an environment of positivity around you.  Do not use your word against yourself or against others.  If you say, “I’m a failure” or “I can’t” you just created the negative space to not accomplish what you set out to change.  Stay positive and don’t allow “not” into your vocabulary.

C – Communicate.  Communicating more effectively will enhance all your relationships.  Communication is more than verbalizing what you want to say; it’s also about listening and reflecting (rephrasing what a person has just said to you).  Avoid interrupting or being judgmental and show your interest in what’s being said to you.

D – The Do Not’s.  Do Not put yourself in upsetting situations or say ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no’.  Do Not overindulge in alcohol and sweets – you’ll regret it later.  Do Not forgo your exercise regimen – it helps to keep balance in your life and burn off the extra holiday calories.  Do Not ignore the physical (lack of energy, insomnia) and mental signs (irritability, forgetfulness, lack of resilience, case of the blues) of stress – it will diminish your joyful spirit.  Do Not pin your happiness on how successful the holidays are – let go of perfectionist tendencies.

E – Energy.  If you’re overwhelmed, over-committed, over-spent, and over-tired, it’s ok to say NO to others and focus your energy on where and how you need to spend your time.  Don’t waste your precious energy on negative experiences and thoughts.  Think optimistically about your positive present purpose and where you are headed with passion.

F – Forgive.  Forgiveness is about letting go of resentment and negative thoughts that prevent you from moving forward with a healthy mindset.  Move away from the role of victim and from the control and power the offending person and/or situation has in your life.

G – Gratitude.  Begin and end each day with a “thank you,” and live with an appreciation for all the special moments (both positive and negative) you encounter in your life.  Finding a way to become thankful for your troubles also can become blessings.


ABOUT DR. JOE: Dr. Joe is a father to almost triplets, children’s book author, and clinical and family psychologist in private practice in Manhattan, Staten Island, and New Jersey.  For more information about Dr. Joe, please visit: www.drjoetaravella.com and follow him on twitter @drjoetaravella. 

Resolutions, Diets, Inspiration and Laughter… oh my!


Healthy lifestyle

Did you know that almost every day of the year has something special assigned to it? Most of these “holidays” and observances are unknown to most of us. For example, February 28, 2014 is National Pancake Day. This coming Saturday (January 4, 2014) is National Spaghetti Day.

There are also weekly and monthly observances. Bald Eagle Appreciation Day are January 18th & 19th this month. February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month and March 25th through the 29th is Termite Awareness Week.

Raise your hand if you celebrate Termite Awareness Week?

It would be very interesting to learn about how these observances began and how others got on board with it. Is it easy to do? Can I declare May 1st as National Love a Blogger Day? LOL!

I did a little research and found some observances for this upcoming week.

New Year’s Resolutions Week is January 1st to January 4th. I think most people are on board with this one. After all, the New Year is when most people declare that they are going to eat healthier, stop smoking, get more organized and better their life.

I don’t make resolutions. I used to but I stopped doing that years ago. I felt like resolutions don’t life up to all the hype. Instead I set goals for myself for the New Year. I realize goals and resolutions are the same thing. I just find it easier to accept the term goals more so than resolutions. I see things differently when I label it a goal rather than a resolution. Resolutions to me are “fluff”. Goals are more “meaty” and have ore meaning behind them. At least in my opinion.

I would list my goals in this post, but I’m still trying to hash them out and select my top five. Right now I have a lot of possible goals. Too many is not good. Having too many is only going to set me up to fail. Instead I need to pick out 3-5 realistic goals and stick with them.

Do YOU have any resolutions for the New Year? Feel free to share them with me in the comments section. Sometimes writing things down help you feel more obligated to see them through. It makes you accountable for your actions.

Healthy Food

It’s seems fitting that January 1st through January 7th is Diet Resolution Week. I HATE the word “diet”, don’t you?

I have been on almost every diet imaginable – Slim Fast, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Optifast, Cabbage Soup Diet, Atkins, Special K, laxatives, starvation, exercising like a crazy person, binging and purging… there is nothing I haven’t tried. I even have weight loss surgery (Roux En Y). I lost almost 200 pounds in two years but gained back weight when I got pregnant. I’ve been 100 pounds overweight for the past 17 years.

Don’t get me wrong, many of these diet plans (Slim Fast, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins…) ARE GREAT. Most offer delicious foods and much needed support. The problem is that once you go off them chances are you’ll gain back some of the weight (if not all) that you lost. No one can live on pre-packaged foods for the rest of your life. You need to learn to eat in the “real world”.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the fundamentals of losing weight – Make healthier food choices, watch your portion size, drink plenty of water and exercise. That’s it! That is what you need to do.

I tell my kids all the time they CAN have Oreo cookies, but it’s better to have two and not six. They CAN have ice cream every day, just have a little bit and there is no need to drown the ice cream in candy, cookies and chocolate syrup.

I feel blessed that my kids will often opt for raw baby carrots instead of cookies or chips when they get home from school. Or grab a yogurt instead of candy. I’m not saying they don’t enjoy chips, cookies and candy. They do. They just know that they need to balance the “bad stuff” with the “good stuff”.

I’m obese. I don’t eat bag full of chips and a ton of candy and soda. I just make wrong choices, I don’t watch my portions and I hate to exercise. I would rather have a bowl of cheese tortellini with butter and black pepper than a cupcake or slice of cake. What I SHOULD make is a salad and grilled chicken or tuna. I’m just lazy. It’s easier for me to boil water and toss in some tortellini.

As for exercise – I hate it! Walking is fine but other than that I hate to exercise. We do have a gym in our condo complex that my teenagers use a few times per week. I SHOULD go with them, or go during the day when they are at school. Bu do I? No. I need to change that. “Moving” is one of my goals. I can’t sit at my desk all day long and no move.


An interesting observance this week (January 2nd to January 8th) is Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week. There is a Facebook page set up for this week (I’m sorry but I can’t find the link – I did see it earlier today).

My husband was just at the Cardiologist a few days ago. He sees one every six month because heart disease runs in his family. His father died of a heart attack, as did his older brother. His mom had heart disease and had many surgeries as a result (she died from Pancreatic Cancer, not a heart aliment).

The reason why my husband went in to see the Cardiologist before his six month check up is because he was having an argument with our 16 year old daughter (teenagers, as you know, can be such a “joy” at times – mean sarcastically of course). He actually broke out into a sweat and had a tight feeling in his chest. The Cardiologist examined him and found him to be in great health. He said the tightness he felt was his esophagus spasming due to the stress of the heated argument.

What it boiled down to is that my husband is overly stressed out between parenting teenagers, his job, money worries and a few other things. The Cardiologist and I discussed with my husband ways to de-stress and how he needs to not freak out over the littlest thing. I have seen vein pop out of his head when the cat pukes on the floor or if the dog needs to go out late at night. These are not things that he should stress about.

Stress is a response to things seen as a physical or psychological threat. The cat throwing up is not something that would be seen as a physical or psychological threat, but our body and minds are weird and some how my husband’s body feels it’s a threat and he reacts by getting stressed out. It’s also due to a feeling of not having control over the situation.


The doctor told him he needs to “find his happy place” (to quote the doctor and Finding Nemo). Some place where he can mentally travel to when he’s feeling stressed to help him to calm down. He’s still working on finding such a place in his mind.

I also told him to “be a duck“. Duck’s feathers are some what waterproof. Water just rolls off of them. I want the things that would normally stress my husband out to just “roll” off of him. I also told him he needs to pick and choose what to stress about. Getting stressed out because we have no money to hold us over to the next paycheck IS a reason to stress out – stressing out because someone spilled a glass of water on the floor is not.

It has been proven that laughter has health benefits too. Some experts say it can help you to live longer. Laughter improves both your physical and mental health.

Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week is meant to remind people that they need to find more laughter in their lives, even if it means finding laughter in situations might not seem funny when they are happening.

Have you ever been in a situation where at the time it was not funny, but days, weeks or years later when you look back on it you some how find humor in the situation? That is what is meant by Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week – find humor in every situation.

What do you think about these “weeks”? Now that you know about them do you think you’ll participate in them?

What is the weirdest observation week/day/month that you have ever heard of?

Feel free to share your thoughts.



Teens’ New Year’s Resolution


New Year Resolutions

This is a guest post written by Folasade Lapite. I know a lot of readers have teenagers (or teenaged grandchildren). I thought this article could be helpful for them. A lot of this information could apply toward adults too.

New Year’s Resolution. Whenever hearing those three simple words everyone starts to write lists. Not just the ordinary daily to-do list, but lists that seem will take an eternity to conquer. These “New Year’s Resolutions” then morph into a nagging duty rather than a goal people set for themselves. Why? Because there are so many changes one wants to see, but who has time! Well for teenagers, it is no different. However, this simple little tradition can cause havoc in the mind of teens or can be the perfect remedy to improve their life!

Well, anyone can create a few resolutions. Everyone begins full force to achieve those resolutions. However, only a few will get legitimate results. Why? It is all in the execution people take. Some teenagers might want to improve their grades, while others might want to commit more to their extracurricular to build up their resumes. However, a lot of teenagers have tight schedules already without these goals. The average high school day has its toll on the average student—learning for about eight hours and then having to commit two or more (mostly more) to a random array of assignments. After finishing the “student life,” there are extracurricular, then where is the time to execute one’s New Year’s resolutions? Well, teens might think it was easy the first week; however, during that first week there was a major difference: NO SCHOOL.


Time Management: Time is a major factor in planning and doing a resolution. Teens have to remember that when beginning school again that maybe they can’t commit 4 hours at the gym to get those “washboard abs”. Time is a crucial factor that can bring anyone to reality that they won’t get any resolutions accomplished. Therefore, one has to “play by the rules” and do things that a practical and feasible to his or hers high school schedule.

Deadline: One flaw to the “New Year’s Resolution” is that no one ever thinks of how long his or her “time frame” is. Let’s say one wants to save up about $1,000 from their part-time job. However, how long is one saving for: the whole year or a set deadline? The deadline can be a great way to help push one’s determination in the right direction. Deadlines practically force one to complete his or her resolution because they cannot keep pushing it off.

Life Changers: Resolutions don’t have to be something drastic either. The best kinds are the ones easy to enact and can lead to “healthy habits.” For example: trying to eat five servings of fruit a day. Why not have a few easy resolutions that are not only beneficial but also can raise one’s spirits since one is actually completing his/her resolutions!

Teens are not the only ones victimized by New Year’s Resolutions. However, with their busy schedules, it becomes hectic to keep up with these goals. Having in mind what is feasible/practical in one’s personal schedule it leads to more resolutions that will actually be achieved. This can also help people create new habits they would like to see in themselves. Who knows, maybe reading fifteen minutes a night! However it plays out, new year’s resolutions are suppose to be goals one sets ahead of themselves to achieve. Rather than creating something that seems will be factitious later on, these new years resolutions are for fun. Therefore, this year when jumping back into the swing of school don’t let it be the things that makes one high stress.

This article was written by Folasade Lapite.


*The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect my own.

Q&A with actress Alison Sweeney on how to “Feed Your Better” and achieve your personal goals #FeedYourBetter



For the past few months I have written posts about Arnold/Oroweat/Brownberry’s Feed Your Better campaign, which encourages you to make personal goals and achieve them. You can check out all my previous posts by searching Feed Your Better or Arnold in my blog’s search box.

With the start of the new year fast approaching many people will be reflecting upon the positive changes they want to make for themselves in the new year.

Often people’s goals involve a healthier lifestyle, loosing weight, exercising more and saving money.

A recent national survey revealed that Americans seek self-improvement, but either they or their budgets get in the way of successfully achieving their better selves. The study shows that Americans think fatter wallets, flatter stomachs and better food are the keys to self improvement, and they would focus on saving money (21%) and increasing exercise (21%) to help them feel better, along with eating healthy (17%).

Do you agree with these findings? I do agree that feeling better physically can do wonders when it comes to achieving other life goals. After all, it’s hard to focus and have the energy to do things when you feel “blah” and sluggish. A healthy and nutritious diet can give you the energy you need to reach just about any goal you set for yourself.

The campaign’s spokesperson is Alison Sweeney. Alison is best known for her role of Samantha “Sami” Brady on NBC’s long running soap opera Days of Our Lives. She is also the host of The Biggest Loser. She is also a published author.

I had the opportunity to ask Alison a few questions about her involvement in this campaign.

1. Why did you want to become the spokesperson for the Feed Your Better campaign?

The campaign was inspired by the finding that self-motivation is often a barrier to success — 80% of men and women believe they are the biggest obstacle to meeting their personal goals! I loved the idea of Feed Your Better because we should all be inspiring one another to constantly improve ourselves. For me, I need to make an effort to stop and smell the roses despite my hectic schedule so I hope by sharing my Feed Your Better, others can identify where they can improve their lives and we can reward some of those plans with a million dollar purse from which they can feed “their better”.

2. Has the campaign inspired you to Feed Your Better? If so, how?

It has absolutely inspired me. By sharing “my better”, I’m now held accountable to myself and everyone else, so I don’t want to not follow through with my goal. And certainly reading about everyone else’s “better” goals has motivated me too!

3. As a busy woman, how do you find time during your hectic schedule to Feed Your Better?

I think you have to make a time for everything. Scheduling time for myself and my well being has to be a priority in order for me to be the best wife and mother to my family. I try to find a 20 minute window in the day to just stop, breathe and find quiet in my day. Sometimes it doesn’t happen but I just try again the next day.

4. How do you encourage your family to feed “their better”, especially your children?

I’m very lucky to have two children that care so much about each other that they encourage each other to be the best they can be. It’s so cute to watch. I love hearing them compliment each other – “Great job, Ben” or “I really like that picture, Megan.”

5. What have you learned from working on the Feed Your Better campaign?

Feed Your Better is about being better, doing better and feeling better. Feed Your Better is personal and can range from eating more nutritiously, to learning a new skill, to starting an exercise routine. I’ve learned so many great ways that people are working to feed their better, that I come up with other goals which I want to have for myself. It’s been really inspiring to hear people’s stories.


I really like her answers. I have to admit that I don’t give myself enough “me time” during the day. I’m always busy doing something, and 99% of the time it’s for someone else, not me. In the new year I will have to commit giving myself some “me time” so I can relax and de-stress. I also need to “stop and smell the roses” like Alison suggested. Too often I am too busy to appreciate the wonderful things in life like a beautiful sunset or a fluttering butterfly.

Alison also offers these additional tips to Feed Your Better.

Find ways to stay active in your everyday life. Some weeks, I exercise daily and others, I work out as many days as I can! During these busy times, I try to find ways to incorporate physical activity into my schedule, like running around outside with my kids or going for a family hike. Spending quality time with friends and family while staying active allows you to feed your better in more than one way.

Focus on the goal — what being healthy means to you. Making healthy choices isn’t just a one-time decision; it’s a lifestyle that will allow you to become an entirely better you. That’s why I love the Feed Your Better Campaign – it acknowledges that everyone has their own particular “better” that can lead to a lifetime of change. Whether it’s having more energy to keep up with your kids, getting your blood pressure in-check, or completing that 5K race, look at the long-term picture. Keep in mind the wonderful benefits you’ll reap once you start living well!

Prepare and plan. It’s easy to skip a workout or opt for an unhealthy meal when you’re unprepared or in a crunch. Sandwiches made on Arnold®/Brownberry®/Oroweat® whole grain breads are a perfect on-the-go option that never get boring, and allow you to create something different every day. Or, cut up your favorite fruits and vegetables at night so the next morning, you can grab a snack that holds you accountable to healthy habits and keeps you on-track – no excuses!

Alison has even more great things to share in the video below.


What are you doing to Feed YOUR Better? Are you taking the necessary steps NOW or are you waiting for the start of the new year. You don’t have to wait for the new year to begin either. Making improvements to your life is something that can get started on year round. You don’t even have to make big goals. Smaller goals are a great way to start.

For more information about Feed Your Better and to enter the promotion, visit FeedYourBetter.com. For further inspiration, visit youtube.com/loveyourbread to view an exclusive video from Alison about the Feed Your Better Campaign.

For more information about Arnold®/Brownberry®/Oroweat®   visit  their websites. They even have a great recipe section to  help  you Feed Your  Better.



*This post is written in partnership for the Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat Bread-bassador program. I  have been compensated however all opinions are  100% my own.