The Couple That Gave A Valentine To The Earth

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Have you ever felt stressed about what to give your spouse or romantic partner for Valentine’s Day? Have you ever felt pressured to find the right gift, the perfect bouquet of flowers, or the best restaurant, without breaking the bank? Have you ever longed to do something out of the ordinary, more meaningful, and long lasting to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone? Read on to see what one couple did and how they deepened their relationship bond through a common desire to be good stewards of the earth.

This particular couple—I’ll call them Rayanne and Greg—are both in their early forties and have been married for thirteen years. They have shared many wonderful, passionate, and memorable Valentine’s Day celebrations together.  

But one Valentine’s day a couple of years ago they wanted to do something really different. Instead of spending money on things that would only be consumed and discarded—like an expensive dinner, a bottle of fine wine, and a dozen red roses—why not do something together for the good of the planet, something that others could experience and appreciate too?

Rayanne and Greg both regularly enjoyed the outdoors and had spent many a day hiking together, going bird watching, mountain biking, and having picnics at the beach. For years they had talked about finding a way to volunteer in one of these settings that they loved. But how? Greg had the perfect idea: they'd spend a day restoring parklands through their state parks association.  Rayanne loved the idea and took it a step further. Seeing that Valentine’s Day was coming up, why not dedicate their efforts as a kind of valentine to the earth?  

They met the volunteering qualifications for this particular gig: able to traverse a steep 1-mile hike up a slope, able to carry 15 pounds, able to plant seeds along the way, able to use ordinary gardening hand tools.  It was a hard day’s work, and not everyone's cup of tea. They loved the idea of getting involved in something greater than themselves, an activity that could have positive and lasting effects.

Tending the earth together reminded them of the common values that drew them together in the first place.  Rayanne had grown up on a farm, and Greg had worked for his dad’s nursery while attending college. There was something about seeding, planting, and pruning for the good of the earth that gave them great interpersonal satisfaction.  Seeing the joy it brought to one another made their efforts all the more meaningful and special.  Their labor of love for the land was like a vow, witnessed by other volunteers who chose to be stewards that day too.

You may be wondering whether Greg and Rayanne ever celebrate Valentine’s Day in more traditional ways.  Yes they do—but flowers, wine, and candlelight dinners often happen on the other 364 days of the year. "Less pressure and more spontaneity," Greg says. And best of all, Rayanne says, "you can give the earth a valentine any day of the year too, not just on Valentine's Day."  

To find out more about my services as a marriage and couples counselor, click here Couples Counseling

Diana M. Pash, MA, LMFT is a certified Solution-Focused therapist in private practice in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. To find out more about Diana click here: Diana Pash Therapy

How I Became A Solution Focused Therapist

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A funny thing happened to me on the way to becoming a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. While I was in graduate school, I took a course in Solution-Focused Therapy (also known as Solution Focused Brief Therapy). Wow. This approach was so different from what I had been learning, I remember thinking. In SFT, we didn't delve into the details of client's problems. Rather, we asked about clients' best hopes for therapy and what they wanted for their future. Wait. What? I became really curious. I asked my professor a lot of questions. I wanted to know everything about the approach. How did it start? What motivated the early Solution-Focused scholars and practitioners to develop it? How did this approach help clients change? How could I learn it?

Little did I know at the time, but my curiosity and question asking would plant a seed in me. Throughout my career as an MFT intern I learned a lot of different approaches to therapy. Once I became licensed, I did a lot of soul-searching about who I was as a therapist, what my values are. I dusted off my textbooks on Solution-Focused Therapy. I began formal study and training. I started connecting with a community of Solution-Focused professionals all over the world. I found my home in SFT and I realized that my training and education in SFT practice would be ongoing. What a gift.

And my curiosity is entirely Steve de Shazer's and Insoo Kim Berg's fault! Though they are both gone now, they remain the pioneers of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Steve and Insoo and their colleagues began the early work of developing SFBT in a lab in Milwaukee, WI in the 1970's. They spent countless hours conducting therapy sessions. They observed the sessions and discussed findings with their colleagues. They didn't stop there. They kept on refining their work and rethinking their assumptions. They learned what questions and activities led to client progress, and which did not.  

They developed a set of principles that remain the foundation of SFBT to this day. These principles are guideposts for therapy as I practice it with my own clients. Some of these include:

·       Listening For What The Client Wants. Clients come to therapy because they want something to be different. As a result, they expect to talk about their problems at length. Why else would they be coming to see us? As a SFT therapist, I am curious to hear what has brought you to my office. I am even more curious to hear how you would like things to be different in the future.

·      Paying Attention To What Has Worked. When you walk through my door for the first time, I will assume that you bring strengths and resources with you. I will assume that you have resilience. How else could you have arrived at my door? You may be feeling so down or stressed that you cannot see these assets of yours. But it is likely that they are there, and I will be on the lookout for them.

·       Highlighting When The Problem Is Not A Problem. No matter how big or small the problem is that brought you to therapy, there are usually exceptions. For example, if things feel tense and distant in your relationship right now, chances are that hasn't always been the case. There are usually exceptions, and they may be difficult to see when you are feeling angry, sad or worried. In SFT, I help you notice these exceptions.

These are but a few of the key principles of Solution-Focused Therapy that have inspired me in the work that I do. I have learned to see therapy in a way that both honors a client's past and a client's preferred future. I have learned to see all my clients as amazing people with compelling stories. Solution-Focused therapy, then, involves the client's discovery of these qualities within themselves. Discovering solutions that work for you means moving forward. And if moving forward means you don't need therapy anymore, then the mission is accomplished!

To find out more about my services as a Solution Focused Therapist, click here Solution Focused Therapy

Diana M. Pash, MA, LMFT is a certified Solution-Focused therapist in private practice in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. To find out more about Diana click here: Diana Pash Therapy

Are You Suffering Because of Your Loved One's Drinking?

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Perhaps you've been dealing with a friend's or loved one's drinking for a long time. He's stressed out from work, or she's struggling to get through another crisis. That is what you tell yourself. You may have grown weary from the unpredictability, the unreliability, the worry. You may have taken on more responsibilities in the family due to your loved one's drinking. You may have even asked him or her to stop, to cut down, or get help. When all else has failed, you may have tried to bargain with them, to cut deals, if they would only stop. But they don't. You wonder what you have done to deserve this. You have made excuses too.

But you are sick of lying, and you wonder how long you can keep your integrity. She can't make it to Thanksgiving or Easter again this year. He's sick or working late, you say. Everyone in the family nods. They may know, or they may be in denial. But none of it matters to you because it doesn't help.

You are likely tired of sacrificing your life, of making compromises. You cannot count on two hands how many times you have deferred your own desires, put off your own plans. You focus your attention on taking care of your loved one because he or she cannot take care of him or herself. Your loved one has a disease of alcoholism; that is why they cannot stop. You likely remain on high alert because if you are not, well, the entire house of cards might crumble. Inside, you feel like you are the one crumbling. But what to do?

You Cannot Control Another's Drinking. This is the first thing you must accept, and it is not easy. Your loved one will need to decide on his or her own how and when it is time to stop. They will have to hit "rock bottom" before that happens.

You Can Change What You Are Doing. Even though your loved one doesn't have the power yet to stop, you can stop making excuses for them. You can stop enabling their behavior and regain control of your life. You can draw healthier boundaries for yourself.

Talk to A Friend Who Will Be Honest With You. Chances are that your friends and extended family know that your loved one is struggling. Talking to someone can help you feel less alone and less hopeless.

Take Inventory. Have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. Ask yourself, What am I afraid of? What keeps me in this relationship? What am I gaining from my loved one's drinking behavior?

Find a Community Who Understands. Locate an Al-Anon meeting in your community. Al-Anon is a 12-step organization for those whose loved ones are struggling with alcoholism. You will find welcoming people there who understand what you are going through.

Seek Therapy. Seeking a professional therapist or counselor can provide you with understanding and perspective. You can begin the healing process together and decide for yourself which path you would like to take.

Most of all, stay hopeful, and know that you don't have to suffer alone.

 

To find out more about my services, click here Recovery Counseling

Diana M. Pash, MA, LMFT is a certified Solution-Focused therapist in private practice in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. To find out more about Diana click here: Diana Pash Therapy