The Bait: Do Not Take It!

Perhaps, like me, with the start of a new year, you begin going through a list of stuff that you “should” or “shouldn’t” do.  For example, I should clear out the clutter of random and unnecessary papers that have been occupying my bookshelf for the most part of the last year; or I shouldn’t spend so much time online looking at the random and unnecessary aspects of online life.

Well, I think you get my meaning.  Either way, the start of a new year, oftentimes, means a break with the old and an incorporation of the new.

So, what have I decided to keep or to let go this year?

First, I decided to keep my spirits up. 🙂  How?  By continuing the new part of self-care journey that I started towards the end of 2013.  That is, I am going to continue to work on achieving holistic self-balance.

Why?  Because I realize that I have a tendency to abandon my self-care when something or someone “more important” comes along.  As therapist, I know that this is a big no-no.  Still, in my personal life, it has not always been easy to practice what I preach.  Thus, it leads to my second decision.

"Not the self-destruct button" found at  I had to include this image... It was just too funny not to do so.

“Not the self-destruct button” found at I had to include this image… It was just too funny not to do so.

I have decided to let go of the bait(s).  Nope, really, I won’t take them, no matter the form.  Not interested. Zero percent, nada, niente, zip, zilch.  None of it!

Now, you might be wondering what I mean by bait.  It’s very simple:  it’s anything that depletes you emotionally, physically (in a negative way), mentally, or spiritually.  So, how can you spot it?  Well, here are four examples:

  • Always being a “yes” or people-pleasing person.  Think about it.  Are you the type of person, who when asked to do x, y, and/or z, you immediately say “yes”?

“Under Pressure” photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Well, I like putting it this way:  if you are saying “yes” to someone, then you are, oftentimes, saying “no” to yourself.  And just why would you do that?  So, the next time someone calls you up and asks you to sit through a 10 hour back-to-back special of a watching grass grow nature show just say “no”…unless you are into that sort of thing.

  • Always being a “fixer”. Yes, really.  Do people (friends/family/acquaintances/random strangers) like to come to you with their problems?  And if they do, does your mind transform into a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It mentality.


"Zed" photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

“Zed” photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Because the reality is listening might just be what that person is seeking, rather than your intervention.   Or better still, ask yourself this question:  Do you have the emotional space to manage listening/dealing with someone else’s issues?

If the answer is “no”, politely back up and say, “You know, I am really sorry to hear about that, but I am not in the best (emotional/mental/physical) space to listen/discuss that with you.”

It may seem callous.  It isn’t.  The reality is that there are times when things are beyond our capabilities to manage them, and it is better that we acknowledge or limitations rather than jumping blindly into fixing someone else’s life (before they ask), especially when we have our own lives to manage.

  • Always being “right” or coming out on top.  You know what I mean. 😉 Were you ever in the debate club in high school or really enjoy being contrary just for the heck of it…or rather for the thrill of being “right” in the end?
"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

“The Revenge of Pride,” photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.


If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Do you have any idea of how much mental and emotional energy (read: capital) goes into making an argument?  Seriously, picture it!

Now, imagine using all of that energy to plan your future rather than arguing over whether something is black or white.  Find the grey already and move on with your life already!

  • Always being the “victim” or “martyr”.   It happens to all of us at some point in our lives.  You look around you and your life feels empty and desolate.  Or perhaps you are in a relationship or job that is sucking the very life out of you.  Do you find yourself looking at your life and asking yourself or anyone available questions like “why me?” or “why does my life have to go this way?” Seriously?
Breaking the Circle: Failure, Photography by Dolores Juhas (

Breaking the Circle: Failure, Photography by Dolores Juhas (

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Because it is time for a reality check.  Yes, your life may not be what you want it to be in the moment.  But you know what?  Asking those types of questions won’t get you out of the place you are in!

Instead, challenge yourself to pick up the phone and call for professional help if necessary (therapist and/or life coach).  If you believe that you don’t need that, then grab a planner and start writing down the ways in which you are in control of your life…and then what steps you would like to take next.

So, that’s my start for the New Year:  taking care of myself and not taking the bait.  After all, it is when you are most true to yourself that you can be most authentically available to everyone else.

"Black Health Is..." Found:

“Black Health Is…” Found:

Also, please, remember that you are never alone.  Someone out there is walking a similar path or has walked it.  Someone out there is willing and available to help you.  You simply have to want it and reach out to accept it.

Until Next Time,


Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue. 

You can visit her website at or email  She has her own blog at

Footprints in the Sand..

Sometimes we need some words of encourage…Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

Footprints in sand, Vero Beach, Florida.

Footprints in sand, Vero Beach, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Footprints in the Sand
        One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
             Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
                  In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
                       Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
                           other times there were one set of footprints.
                                  This bothered me because I noticed
                                that during the low periods of my life,
                             when I was suffering from
                         anguish, sorrow or defeat,
                     I could see only one set of footprints.
          So I said to the Lord,
      “You promised me Lord,
         that if I followed you,
             you would walk with me always.
                   But I have noticed that during
                          the most trying periods of my life
                                 there have only been one
                                       set of footprints in the sand.
                                           Why, when I needed you most,
                                          you have not been there for me?”
                                 The Lord replied,
                          “The times when you have
                  seen only one set of footprints,
          is when I carried you.”
                                                   Mary Stevenson


Until Next Time,


“There are only the pursued,…

the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”

―    F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

To begin again, or perhaps to find a graceful end–isn’t this what so many desire?  The possibility to erase our mistakes, to free ourselves from regret, to return to the things that once gave us pleasure, or even to take the chance to do the things we once thought reckless?

Like a good book, we do not want to conceive of the end, yet we yearn for a conclusion:  one that provides answers for the questions that have arisen along the way.

What if we were to give up on the notions of beginnings and endings?  What if there were only the process of moving through our experiences?  What if there were only this moment, continuous?

The young woman who wishes to become more than she is, but does not understand that she is already so very much.  The young man who sees a handsome face reflected in the mirror, and believes it is his only tool by which to carve out a life, but does not realize that this is done through authentic relationships.

The woman nearing middle age who frightens herself with each new line on her face, peels away her skin in efforts to reach juvenescence, but does not see the lessons of self-loathing that she is teaching to her daughter.  The man who sees himself only through the youth of a woman, and fails to recognize that he is simply a mockery of all that he could never be.

The old woman who mutters in disgust at the teenage girl wearing a miniskirt, while staring through eyes encased in heavy mascara and sneering lips painted an embolden red.  The old man who calls to young girls as they pass by, ignoring the fact that he could be their grandparent.

For what do we yearn? Is it merely to be seen and to have seen?  Is it merely to remember and not be forgotten?

We are pursued by the dreams that we built so very long ago for ourselves.  Dreams that sometimes mock us, or give us courage, or simply remind us that we are not yet dead.

We cut our way through life, carving out paths by which we can continue pursuing our dreams or someone else’s–perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter which.

We keep ourselves busy, moving, get through our time here…until we are tired, and we yearn no more.


These days have been filled…too filled, but rewardingly so.  I am glad to return to my blog.  I thank everyone who has taken the time out to visit me, especially during the times when I have not written.  Thank you again.

Until Next Time.



In Absence of Loc’s…

Almost two years ago, I sat on the floor in my bedroom, staring at a propped up full-length mirror.  My eyes were red and stinging from crying.  My ex was staring at me with concern.  I am not sure where the dogs were, and it’s quite possible that they were there too.  It was Thursday.  It was evening.  It was Thanksgiving Day.  It was also the beginning end.October 1999.  Stanford-in-Berlin Program.  It was the day before we left to travel as a group to Weimar to visit Buchenwald and to see the Bauhaus School of Art & Design.  I sat in the darken closet space in the library/loft bedroom that served as my home for a semester.  My hands were moving silently and quickly trying to unravel, trying to untangle the part of myself that was false.

They weighed 2.5 lbs.  My dreadlocks.  Long, black, streaked red, interwoven with the hairs of those whom I had loved and still loved.  I placed them in a large wooden box, buried them with the things that once belonged to that which was now lost.  I buried the box under boxes, the memories hidden from my sight, my head free and light, even if my heart was fully empty.

I shoved the engineered strands that once formed plaits, that once gave me an image of who I wanted to be but was not.  I decided then, thirteen years ago, to accept the image of myself that stood:  dark circled eyes, lips too big, cheeks puffy, pimpled face, brooding, always too hungry and never fully satisfied even after consuming anything and anyone.  I had been living in a vaccuum catering to my illusions and fostering my disillusionment with the world around me.

The screaming voice, terrified in its inaction, broke my heart.  The words did not make sense, but then again they did.  Drop everything and run.  Dropped everything and ran to my car, open the door and drove speedily on curved roads.  It wouldn’t have changed anything.  It changed nothing.  Death happens sometimes in an instant.  There is nothing to be done. Whether it is the warmth of the cooling body that lays still beneath touch of a palm roughed and ruined by age and care.  In absence of signs of either life or death, there is neither hope nor grief.

“Bend or Break,” photography by Diedré M. Blake (2010)

Going against the grain.  It’s what I do best.  After I came out to my mom in 1996 as a lesbian, I immediately started dating men, resulting in memories best forgotten and the decision that all men were bigs…I’ve changed my mind about that…somewhat.  It’s doing the unexpected that make life worth living.  At least, you know that you are choosing and not someone else.So, I decided to resign from my job just when I was eligible for indpendent licensure.  I decided to leave the country that served as my home for twenty-odd years to move to place where I didn’t speak the language, had nothing and no one.  I decided to cut my hair just when I began to recognize myself in the mirror.

Until Next Time…



Emotional Capital: It is what it is…

"Zed" photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Entering into the world of academia again, although enlightening, is quite time-consuming.  Thus, I find myself overdue to write my blog.  Beyond my frantic search for time, being a student has reminded me once again just how costly education can be (I am thinking about the numerous books each student must buy… After all, we are told not to share.) Whether spending in euros or dollars, the process of unnecessarily parting with my money leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.   This is not dissimilar to how I experience unnecessarily parting with my emotions.

In previous blog postings, I have discussed repeatedly how emotions are triggered or caused by our thoughts or perceptions.  Thus, if one is able to have awareness of one’s thoughts and to reframe one’s thinking successfully, then ideally one should be able to adequately manage one’s emotions.  Right?

Well… I believe even the best amongst us might not be able to pull of the feat of always successfully managing his or her emotions.  In effect, at some point in our lives, we will all struggle with being emotional spendthrifts.

Now, this is when you might say, D., what do you mean by ’emotional spendthrift’?  To put it bluntly, we waste our time (read here: ’emotions’ and ‘energy’) on people and/or situations that are nonbeneficial to our self-growth.  And why exactly do we do this (and you know that you do…)?

Well, the reasons are many.  Oftentimes, they stem from repetition compulsion, i.e. the unconscious act of reenacting past traumatic experiences, perhaps with an unconscious hope of a different outcome.  (Please note: the word ‘trauma’ is being used in with a more generalized denotation.)

Take a look at your past (and perhaps present) romantic relationships.  Are there any similarities in the personality types of the people you have chosen to share your intimate time?  Is there something familiar about the way in which each of your significant others have treated you?  Do you ever find yourself wondering at the end of a relationship, “Why in god’s name do I keep doing this (i.e. date the same type of person, get into the same kind situation, etc.) to myself?

"Percy Shelley..." photograph by Diedré Blake (2011), Rome, Italy.

Emotional Capital: Keep on keeping on…

It took many years for me to understand my behavioural and thinking patterns (a.k.a. repetition compulsion) in relation to others as well as to myself (and I continue to learn…. Trust me!)  😉

Throughout the years, however, I began to recognize and acknowledge that I spent a great deal of my time in emotionally futile conversations and situations to my own detriment, physically and emotionally.  In essence, I was allowing others to lure me into conversations and/or situations that ‘took away from’ rather than ‘gave to me.’  I had a just keep on keeping on mentally towards myself and the person in my life.

I believed that if I continued to endure, then I might be able to change (read: danger! warning! achtung!…) the situation, person, and/or myself for the person.  I was unwilling to accept the reality of my relationships, and thought if I gave more of myself, then all would be well… And so I gave and gave and gave.  It took me a long time realize that I did not examine whether or not the other person was giving too, or rather whether or not I understood myself to be receiving.

So, you might ask at this point, What did you give, D? Well, I thought I would make a list and even ask for suggestions for what other people have given in their relationships that has left them feeling/having/being a lot “less than,” rather than basking in the wonders of feeling/having/being “more than.”

Ten Things That I Gave That Increased My Emotional Deficit:

  1. Energy
  2. Time
  3. Money
  4. Friendships
  5. Physical Space
  6. Interests
  7. Hopes/Dreams/Goals
  8. Principles
  9. Pride
  10. Physical Self

Ask yourself, what have you ‘had’ (chosen) to give (up) in the name of a relationship? What are you giving (up) right now?

It is what it is….

I may have mentioned this before in a past posting, but when I first arrived at McLean, I made a sign for my office (a.k.a. the expressive therapy studio).  The sign wasn’t an artistic masterpiece, it was fairly simple and on it was the sentence, “It is what it is…”  In general, I believe this sentence summarizes well how to look at and to accept reality.  It’s basically that old idiom “There is no use in crying over spilled milk,” but in plain speech.

Do I regret having given the ten things listed above? No.  The reality is that in any relationship one has to learn how to strike a balance with the other person.  It may mean giving more of yourself at times, or for the other person to give more.  And the fact is having given so very much of myself (perhaps to an extreme), I had to learn how to achieve a balance-I am glad to say that I am solid path to do so and I am enjoying balancing my emotional checkbook.  Especially, when I realize that there is a surplus of positive emotional experiences. 😉

What I am writing about is when you are the only one who is giving and you know it or sense it.  It can also be about when both people are giving, but neither gives what the other person needs or what the relationship needs.

Like all creatures, human beings are given an enormous amount information through their bodily experience.  For example, if your skin becomes too hot, your brain understands to send the appropriate signal to get the body to move away from the source of the heat.

Finally, information can also be gathered from the body in emotional situations.  For example, when you feel constantly and inexplicably tired (or get headache, or some other suspiciously psychosomatic ailment ;)), when dealing (e.g. having to talk, confront, spend time, etc.) with your relationship(s).  Your body allows you to know what ‘it’ (the situation/ the reality) is for you.  Your body tells you simply if the situation that you are in is either…


After that the issue is simply one of choice.

How wisely will you spend your emotions?

To whom will you give them?

How will ‘it’ (the situation, etc.) benefit you?

To what end?

Well, I leave you to it here… but a small gift of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone.” –Best of regards, D.

“…Oh, Well hold up
Listen partna
I ain’t no cheap thrill
Cause Miss Badu is always comin’ for real
And you know the deal
Everytime we go somewhere
I gotta reach down in my purse
To pay your way and your homeboys way
And sometimes your cousin’s way
They don’t never have to pay
Don’t have no cars
Hang around in bars
Try to hang around with stars
Like Badu
I’m gon’ tell you the truth
Show and prove
or get the boot…”
( Lyrics from “Tyrone” by Erykah Badu, taken from

Next Time: Men… and other thoughts. 

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at

Divide and conquer…

"Vrijeme po mom satu," photography by Dolores Juhas (2008). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how we sometimes allow “life” (a.k.a. other people and/or things) to get in our way of actually living.  That is, we devote our time to making sure that we are “doing the right thing” by others, or simply “doing the right thing” in general, based upon some internalized impression of societal expectations (this, I believe, is especially true for women).

In so doing, we may be opening ourselves up to an onslaught of external and internal psychologically damaging attacks.  You might be asking yourself at this point, “How might this be so, D.?”

Ask yourself, when was the last time you did something solely for you… without thinking about the impact that it would make on someone else, or something else in your life?  Now, mind you, I am not advocating a libertine anarchistic society here…  I am simply wondering, when was the last time that you asked yourself truly “What do I want from life?” without worrying about the what-ifs and the who-wouldn’t-like-its?
From an early age, we are taught societal expectations: the order of our cultural world and how we are to operate within it.  We are taught to act against our natural instinct and/or desires if our culture dictates it, in order to preserve what is considered society.   For the most part, this system has meant security and the endurance of many civilizations.  We have developed useful laws because of societal expectations, which come in quite handy at times (I tend to think about murderers being put in jail, etc.)
There are, however, other “laws” or expectations that are more implicit.  I could describe these expectations as insidious with the sole purpose of denying certain individuals the individuals the right to improved self-esteem and self-actualization.   These expectations can be as explicit as an individual remaining a member of his or her caste system (such as one finds in India), or implicit as a simple refusal of college attendance by parents to their child, because in his or her family it is expected that after high school everyone works (a good example is the movie, “Real Women Have Curves“).

"Arms Full of Words," photography by Dolores Juhas (2011). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

In essence we learn from the world around us that it is important to divide ourselves, between our needs and wants… and the expectations of “world” around us –  It is not surprising then that some people often feel as though “no one knows who they really are…”  We are expected to hide the sides and parts that bring about discomfort to others:

  • the side that shows too much sadness
  • the side that shows too much anger
  • the side that shows too much fear
  • the side that shows too much happiness
  • the side that shows too much love
  • the side that shows too much jealousy
  • the side that shows too much disgust
  • the side that shows too much surprise
  • the side that shows too much shame
  • the side that shows too much guilt
  • the part that is  the alcoholic
  • the part that is the drug addict
  • the part that is the sex addict
  • the part that is the verbal abuser
  • the part that is  the sexual abuser
  • the part that is the physical abuser
  • the part that is beyond our control
  • the part that is unknown to us
  • the part that is mentally ill
  • the part that is lost to us

I am sure there are more sides or parts that I could list and that you have thought about from your own life or from the lives of those you know.  My thought is simply, what if we were simply allowed to see ourselves holistically?  What would it mean to understand our multiple parts?  The parts that may be deemed “dark” or “broken” or “unsuitable” for our society as well as the parts for which we can and do express pride?

When we allow for others to say, “Hide yourself!” or “Deny who you are!” or “Forget what you have done!”  what good is this?  When we do not accept ourselves for who we are and for what we are capable of doing (both the good and the not-so-good), are we not simply allowing for a division of ourselves?  Are we not allowing for others to have the ability to dictate to us how we should live our lives?  Are we not allowing for others to have control over who we are?


"True Mirror Image," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

I have spent many years pulling together the many parts of myself, and as a result I am able to face my reflection in the mirror every morning and smile.  I no longer ask myself the question, “Who I am?” with a sense of foreboding and downright misery.  Rather, I am happy to explore my developing self and to understand that who I am is a dynamic entity, continually growing – This was not an easy process that simply occurred overnight.

 When I write about conquering, I am writing about this two-fold.  That is, how others can conquer us via our perceived and self-perceived weaknesses and how we can conquer our self-perceived weakness by making them into strengths, or by building new skills and thus creating new strengths.

It is my perception that is fairly easy to understand what a person’s weaknesses are within a short period of time.  In American culture, we usually reference our weakness(es) in some off-hand/joking manner, in order to acknowledge while simultaneously dismiss the severity of the weakness with believe we have.  After all, American culture is one that is strength-based and asks of the individual to operate independently – There is no place for weaknesses (perceived or otherwise)… At least, this has been the impression that has been made on me over the past two decades.

"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

In the American drive towards efficiency and effectiveness, it appears there is an ongoing “weeding out” process in many business and schools.  It something along the lines of the game show, “The Weakest Link”… and everyone fears that he or she will be “it.”  Thus, we blunt our affect, we deny our psychological difficulties, we overwork ourselves, and overindulge ourselves… all in the name of progress and societal expectation.  Then at age 65 or later, we say… “Perhaps I can stop now… Wait? Do I have Social Security? Is it enough?  Perhaps I should work at Wal-Mart.” Life has effectively conquered us… as we have not truly been allowed to live it… It has lived us, used up our years.

My point is that we need to live now.  We need to conquer ourselves now through accepting who are holistically.  It is in accepting the many parts of yourself that you will find inner-peace.  It is through inner-peace that time will be more in your command, and you will allow yourself to live your time… to build and live worthwhile and enriching life.

Monday, 26th of Sept.: Emotional Capital – Making an investment in yourself.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at 

Self-deconstruction and self-foundation

"Reaching You," photography by Dolores Juhas, 2011. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas, All Rights Reserved

“Generally, one’s sense of self is formed by observations of oneself and of others’ reactions to one’s actions.  Emotional consistency and predictability, across time and similar situations, are prerequisites of identity development.”  This quote by Marsha M. Linehan summarizes well the process through which each individual goes in constructing a sense of self, beyond the issue of temperament.  It begins from our earliest movements and continues as we move through our lives.  Ideally, our self-identity or self-construct is one that has developed from an initially positive foundation and continues to develop along the same lines, being reinforced by healthy relationships.  The reality, however, is that life may not have afforded many of us such an initial positive foundation and/or the positive experiences thereafter, which would have enabled us to have a current healthy and positive self-construct.

Why not deconstruct

In reflecting on the intricacies of my life history, I remember distinct moments, especially as a teenager and young adult, when I longed to have a kind of “rewind” or “erase” button, to redo or eliminate some experience that I thought should have been different.  This type of thinking kept me for a long time in, what I call, the “mistake” or “error” mode.  I was constantly looking for where or, how, or, when or, why I would make my next mistake…  After all, I knew that it was only a matter of time! 😉  And of course, with my thinking constantly and consistently in this mode, I constantly and consistently “believed” I was making mistakes and that everything was my fault.  After all, everyone else was perfect.  Who I was… was in error.  My self-construct was in the negative.

It took the encouragement of some older, wiser women and men (I call them mentors), during my undergraduate studies, to help me to realise my potential and to acknowledge to my positive traits.  With these new influences, I was able to begin establishing a positive self-construct.

It would be a lovely story to say that all one needs is the encouragement of some nice people, and wham! there you have your positive self-construct.  Having encouraging, supportive, and wise people around me was one part; the other part came later: I had to self-deconstruct.

"Not the self-destruct button" found at I had to include this image... It was just too funny not to do so :).

No… I didn’t write self-destruct.   Self-deconstruction is what I have chosen to label the process by which a person has chosen to thoroughly examine his or her life.  That is, to take apart one’s self: one’s memories, one’s beliefs about one’s world, one’s values, etc.  In essence, to go through the process of continuing to ask yourself the question Why? over and over and over…. Why do I believe this? Why is it so? Why must it be?  Until you have answers that are truly your own and/or that you can see more plainly why you believe as you do about yourself and about the world around you.

It is not an easy process – I will not say that the process can ever be completed, because I believe it is a process that should be ongoing… just like self-construction.  It is in my opinion a type of yin yang: Self-deconstruction and self-construction are interdependent and interconnected, enabling us to reach a state of self-actualization.

"The Sunflower View," photography by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

And what have you found?

As I mentioned above, self-deconstruction is a process of stripping away, and looking plainly at the self.   What is found there, however, may be deemed positive and/or negative.

In English, we often speak of “laying a solid foundation.”  You could substitute the word “solid” with “good” or “strong,” etc.  The point is that we believe that the start or base of something, whether organization or actual building, should be made of the kind of stuff  that will not be easily shaken, or fall apart.   I believe the same is important when laying one’s self-foundation.

In making the decision to undergo the process of self-deconstruction, with the inevitable self-reconstruction process to follow, one must consider self-foundation.  What type of person do I want to be?  How do  I want to be understood by and engage with the world around me?  Self-deconstruction offers the opportunity to lay a new foundation through acceptance of self and establishment of healthier relationships, both with self and others.

Acceptance of self means taking the core aspects of the self, i.e. both what is considered positive and negative.  The key factor is find a useful/effective application for all aspects of the self in the world.  Simply put, allow your strengths to continue doing what they do best, and work on understanding how your weakness (negatives) can become strengths.

Acknowledge who, what, and how you are


Challenge yourself to see the positive in all aspects of you.

It is a path to building your strongest foundation.

Best of Regards,


Monday, 5th of Sept, 2011: Strengths and weaknesses: How we let others divide and conquer us.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at 

Wait… Life is changing fast: Chaos meets patience…


Aum, photography by Diedré M. Blake


Stand still, say little

or better nothing at all

Stand still, stay little


why bother walk than crawl


Stand still, sway little

for whom do you stay alive

for whom shall you thrive


Stand still, say stay, never sway


New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake


sway never stay, say

say stay, sway, stand still – Still stand

or nothing at all.

-db (3.18.11)



I used to wait…

Days are ending before they even begin, and I am trying to find a way to simultaneously slow time down and move it quickly forward.

New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake

Waiting is an acquired skill.  Truly, it is not an easy task, especially when the unknown is that for which one is waiting.  I learned how to wait, however, during my childhood while I lived in a convent in Jamaica.

There were many months inbetween my trips to see my mother  (and then eventually also my sisters) in the United States.  There was nothing exciting about that waiting.  Rather it was quite terrifying as I often feared for the safety of my family because they were so very far away.

In those days, I did not find joy in the thought of going to America as many of my peers thought I would and should feel.  After all, what Jamaican child would not want to travel to see the wonders of America?  At least, that was their thinking… I did not, however, prescribe.  During those years, I could not have cared less about travelling to America –  All I wanted was to see my family… wherever they were.

New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake

Travelling alone as a child was equally terrifying, especially as I travelled by airplane for hours – Jamaica to Boston, Boston to Jamaica, Jamaica to Orlando, Orlando to Jamaica –  Time never seemed to move quickly enough.

Lately, I have found that I am still very much like my childhood self: a bit terrified of the unknown, but waiting for it nonetheless.  What is different, however, is that as an adult I am appreciative of each and every second that I have in the day.  Whereas in my childhood, I despised time, which seemed ever long.  I suppose the difference is that as a child I merely tolerated the process of waiting.  As an adult, however, I have simply become patient.


Life is changing fast…

I often express the fact that one can only change and control one’s self and no one else.  The same could be said for situations.

New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake

Presently, I stand amidst a flurry of activity and inactivity, over which I truly have limited control.  Then again, even if I could have control, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want it.  Why? Well, simply because I am a planner, who attempts to create order and routine wherever I go, and who is hyper-aware of time (in a sort social clock way).  Whether this stems from the uncertain structure of my childhood, i.e. living in multiple places and away from my family, I am not certain.  What I do know, however, is that I spent an inordinate amount of time creating a structured self and world only to watch both destruct and fall to chaos in a matter of few short years.

 Transitions of all types tend to be stressful.  Thus, as I experienced life-changing transitions and disruptions to my well-planned and well-timed established order, I experienced great amounts of stress (and we know just how good that is for fibromyalgia – Right?) .  Most of the stress I experienced was as a direct result of these transitions, but there was a good deal of stress that came from my own internal processing, i.e. negative self-talk – I engaged in emotional warfare with myself, berating myself for not complying with my mental agenda and achieving goals in a timely manner.  Fortunately, the process of battling an overly planned future and uncertain present led me to the following realization: at the end of the day, I simply want to be happy, regardless of the presence of either order or chaos.


New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake


There is beauty to be found in chaos.  Though, some years ago… perhaps even a year and a half ago, I would not have agreed.  Now, I find that chaos brings about opportunity for growth, which my own life has shown me, especially over that last few months.  It is in the deconstruction of one’s life and self that core truths can be found.   After all, once the masks have all fallen away, only the face remains, upon which the truth of one’s life is plainly written for all to see.  Sometimes, one has a choice as to when and how to remove the masks.

Sometimes, however, life simply tears them off one by one without any warning.  Either way, the removal of the masks and the resulting confrontation of the self is rife with uncertainty due to the potential unknowns about the self, with which one must contend.  These unknowns can be egoshattering, and can lead to an experience of internal chaos.

So, what’s the point of this rambling, D.? Well, I suppose it could be referred to as a moment of indulgence, i.e. for a bit stream of consciousness writing.   There is also this point: patience is a not just a virtue, it is a necessity, especially if one’s goal is to survive the unknown, to create order out of chaos, and to thrive during the process of it all.


New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake

The Phoenix

With each breath

comes reincarnation

like the sunrise of this morning,

finding solace in the fragility

of existence:


ashes can mean rebirth.

New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake

As I am


the phoenix,

wings burnings flame red, yellow, orange,

welcoming finality as a friend

long missed;

New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake

acknowledging that freedom


exists within

each moment experienced as the first

time with serenity and absent

rising sun.

-db (Spring 2005)







There are, I am certain, many ways in which patience can be defined, and perhaps more psychologically and scientifically-minded than what I am about to write.

It is my opinion that patience is the process by which one is able to repeatedly regulate his/her emotions in order to tolerate distressful situations.    It is about allowing for an adaptive experience of the cycle of emotion.  What exactly is the cycle of emotion?  Well, it can be described as the stages/process that one goes through in order to manage his/her emotions.  It might look like this:

Distressing emotion experienced  leads to two choices:

Deny or  Recognize:

  •  Deny ->React ->Supress -> Escalate now or later -> Explode -> Dump ->Incomplete Resolution

  • Recognize -> Accept  ->Release the energy by Expressing -> Clarifying -> Choosing an Action -> Resolution

 (Taken from the Conflict Resolution Network site:


 So, how does this apply to patience?  Well, patience is a choice.  Right?  Possibly, it would be developed during the stage/process of “Choosing an Action.”  The action would be, if you are trying to develop patience, would be do nothing/wait.  With every choice to simply do nothing/wait, one is developing patience.

New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake

Patience, in my opinion, is an extremely mindful practice.  It involves an acknowledgement of one’s thoughts and labeling of one’s feelings in the moment.  Thereafter, the goal would be to find an adaptive method of managing those feelings (e.g. deep breathing, taking a walk, talking to a friend) and reframing the thoughts, in order not to become reactive (which is just as good as saying “lose patience” in my world).   It has been my experience that reactivity and impatience tend to go hand in hand.  Thus, the less reactive one is, the more one is practicing patience.

I started this article discussing the fact that I used to engage in a great deal of waiting, especially during childhood.  I went on to write that I became patient as an adult, having recognized the importance of the now, of the present.  I suppose how I want to end is simply to state that I have learned the benefits of both being patient and of practicing the skill of waiting.  And even though I may have my moments of anxiety, I am enjoying the process of patiently waiting for the future that draws nearer and nearer each day and becomes the present I am living. 

Tomorrow is today as today is yesterday…

(Today is yesterday’s tomorrow)




New start: Self-portrait series, photography by Diedré M. Blake



“The past is behind, learn from it.
The future is ahead, prepare for it.
The present is here, live it.” – Thomas S. Monson

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein


  “…Now our lives are changing fast…
Hope that something pure can last…
We used to wait…”


The familiar, a foundation, and finding my path back…

I could make many excuses, and all would be equally reasonable, as to why I have not written in so very long.  What I have come to realize is that no matter what, none of these excuses change the fact that I haven’t been writing, and that’s that.

Snow covered ground now

bones stiff with age like dried tree

limbs for wildfire


Alice stepping through the looking-glass, John Tenniel (1820-1914)

So, what, pray tell, have I been doing with my time over the last week and a half?  Well, I have been learning what it means to be back in the Boston area, to be back with my family of choice, and to be around all that is familiar to me.  Somehow, however, the familiar has not been as comforting as perhaps it should be.  Rather, I find myself rather disconnected and jarred by the experience of being back…  I feel displaced as though I have landed in a version of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, where I have stepped back into a life that is quite upside-down, backwards, and surreal.

"Passage of Freedom", photograph by Dolores Juhas (

Each morning the snow on the ground shocks me, and stiffens my bones.  I spend my days perusing employment advertisements in English, Italian, and German.  I research immigration information, and download more and  more forms, and consider the challenges involved in moving to Rome.  It is in these moments that I think about the days I have spent there, and the people, whom I have met;  and most importantly,  the person who I have become because of my journey to Rome.  Thus, these challenges have become opportunities for self-growth in my mind, and I understand that it is only through perseverance that one can truly accomplish one’s goals.  For myself, the goal now is to be happy, and at this moment in my life, where I am happiest is in Rome.



It has been amazing to me to hear the various responses when I say that I am planning to move to Rome.  😉  The conversations usually go something like this:

Me: “Yeah, I would like to move to Rome by the end of September.”

Person: “Wow! Do you speak Italian???!!”

Me: “Umm…. No, not really…  Surely, I can learn though.  Right?”

Person: “Yeah, I suppose…. Um… Do you know how hard it is to get a work permit to work in Italy??”

Me: “So, I’ve heard.  I am a pretty positive thinker though.”

Person: “Oh.”

"Fragments of Freedom," photography by Dolores Juhas (

I am often amazed by how easily others can be deterred by a seeming obstacle.  For myself, I recognize the challenge in getting a work visa, but it is not impossible – It is merely difficult.  If, however, I simply threw my hands up in the air and said, “Oh, forget it!  The Italian government won’t give me a visa!” then my cause is already lost, because I have already made the decision for them, i.e. that I do not want the work visa.  This is not my way, however.  I am laying the best foundation that I can, so that my application will be accepted, and if plan A (self-employed work visa) does not work… Well, there is always plan B (being hired by an awesome company who will do the paperwork for me)… And plan C is in development! 😉

Finding my path…

Thus, I begin by reaching out to all who I have known, asking for guidance and open to all ideas, and welcoming new persons and concepts.   All in the hope that this will lead me to further wisdom regarding the path I am creating to achieve my goals… And my goals are far more complex than the desire to go to Rome…

There, and back again

warmth of Rome’s winter sun now

cold snow of Boston



What if I told you… a Secret?

What if I told you that on Thursday, October 14, 2010 as I sat on an airplane travelling back to the U.S. from my very first trip to Rome, I wrote the following words,

“I want to return to Rome and stay for 6 months 1month very soon.”

At the time I had no idea as to how I would do this.  I had no money, no time, and no seeming way that I could make this manifest.  I just knew that I wanted to do it.  I knew I had to do it.  I believed that I could and I would do it, even if I didn’t know how.  From the moment of writing those words, a series of many things happened, both experienced as good and bad.  All moved me towards achieving the above goal. 

What if I told you that by October 27, 2010 I had bought my ticket to return to Rome for less than $500?  What if I told you that along with the above words, I had also written,

“I want to live alone while I am there.”

and that by November 11, 2010 I had met the man, from whom I would eventually rent my studio at an affordable price.


The Power of Belief and Self-efficacy

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a fairly popular concept in today’s society, but it can be traced back throughout the ages. 

The idea is a simple one: what we truly believe, we will manifest into reality.  Typically, the self-fulfilling prophecy has a somewhat negative connotation as it may be used in association with “bad” events.  For example, if a man continuously worries that his wife will leave him, and then eventually  she will.  The self-fulfilling prophecy, however, is a simply strategy of thought manifested into reality.  The manifestation, however, can occur in three ways: positive, neutral, or negative. 

A positive manifestation is simple enough.  It is when we desire something positive to occur in our lives and we truly believe that it will, and thus it does.  The negative manifestation is, of course, the opposite of the positive.  A neutral manifestation (and this is my own term) is when we want something to occur in our lives, typically positive, but we do not fully believe that it will – We end up with perhaps a type of “mixed” result, a neutralized experience. 

For example, you may have just been interviewed for a new job and believe you will be hired because you see yourself as the best candidate.  At some point, however, perhaps due to delay in response from the company, you begin to doubt yourself as being the best candidate… you still believe that you are a very good candidate and that there is no reason why the company shouldn’t hire you, but now you are not sure.  So, you get the call.  You are hired!  Yes!  There is a problem, however.   You are offered a lowered salary or a different position altogether, because the company believes you are not as qualified for the position as they would like for you to be.  Do you see?  The situation has been neutralized.  You are happy for the job offer, but unhappy because the result is not exactly the way you had hoped for it to be… It is exactly what you believed it to be – That is, perhaps you were not the best candidate, merely a good one – Why would a company pay top dollar to good candidate or give that person the position when they can hire the best?   

In psychology, we have been quite happy to latch on to the self-fulfilling prophecy to help people to change their thoughts and their behaviours, and thus ultimately their lives.  Regardless of the branch of psychology, in my opinion, the ultimate goal is to have people have better opinions about themselves and a more positive outlook on their lives, in order to live their lives more effectively and successfully.  As a practitioner of DBT, I am constantly asking clients (and myself) to keep themselves open to new ways of interpreting the experiences they have in the world.  Why?  Well, like I said in my post on Saturday (2.12.11), it is our thoughts that dictate our emotions, and our emotions that dictate our actions, and our actions result in direct and indirect consequences (some of which we may not like).  Thus, it is in controlling our thoughts that we have the power to control ourselves, and the impact of the world around us on ourselves, holistically.

What we think, i.e. our thoughts, is one aspect of the self-fulfilling prophecy.  It is, however, not enough.  Thinking something once does not make or break you (and thank goodness for that!  Or else, I would be in serious trouble!) – It is the pervasiveness of our thoughts, i.e. how much we believe in our thoughts.  How often are we thinking these thoughts?  Are they there in the back of our minds as we go throughout the day?  Are they the first of our day, or last thoughts before we go to bed?  Are they the instant thoughts we have in reaction to anything “bad” or “good” happening to us?  This is what I mean by pervasiveness… by belief.  How much do you believe in your thoughts?

There are many of us who would like to say, “Oh, I might think some negative things about myself, but I don’t believe them.”  Really?  Then, why do you say them to yourself?  Ask yourself. 

The truth is that we can see ourselves as quite capable individuals in many areas of our lives, and are able to say to ourselves, “Bravo, you rock!  You’re awesome!” (These are some of my cheering statements – Feel free to borrow.)  There are, however, other areas, where we may not believe ourselves to be as capable and may say things like this ourselves, “I can’t believe I am so dumb!  Why do always crazy crap like that?  Nobody else would have been so stupid!  I’ll never get things right!  I am such a mess up!” (These aren’t my self-doubting statements, but you get the point – Remember, D says, “Don’t use these! Bad for you!”)

I intentionally listed more self-demeaning/self-doubting statements.  Why?  Because, we tend to verbally beat ourselves up more!  That’s why!  Come on, think about it!  For how long do you keep yourself in a state of misery after something not so great happens?  For example, let’s say your boss, or teacher, or parent told you that you did something wrong, and they were angry with you…  I know this must have happened to you at some point in your life (and if it hasn’t happened, then bully for you, and just try to imagine it).  For how much longer after that conversation, were you upset with yourself, with them, with the situation?  Think about it.  No, really, try.  Perhaps, if you are trying really hard right now and remembering a very specific situation, you might even be experiencing the very emotions associated with the situation.  You might even feel a pang of anger, of embarrassment, and/or of fear.  And as I told you before… our feelings are a manifestation of our thoughts.  So, what are/were you thinking?

We are who/what/how we believe ourselves to be – Remember that I did not say “imagine ourselves to be.”  If you believe yourself to be “an incompetent fool” underneath your projected image of competence, then what you are is an incompetent fool.  Moreover, what people see is that you are an incompetent fool pretending to be competent.  (And if you don’t believe me, see the history of, thankfully, former American President George W. Bush.)  Think about that.


I decided to give self-efficacy its own subheading, in order to give this rather lengthy post a bit more structure.  

 I am truly a fan of the concept of self-efficacy.  It incorporates so many of the principles that I consider truly important in creating a meaningful and rewarding life.   To develop a sense of one’s self-efficacy is to begin understanding and, yes, believing in one’s capacity to create and accomplish one’s goals and other tasks in life.  These goals are not merely intrapersonal (relating solely to the self), but also interpersonal (relating to others).  It is sort of that idea that no matter what challenges life presents, you have the ability to tackle it! 

To go into the complete ideology of self-efficacy would be time-consuming and perhaps (somewhat) boring.  Thus, I will not.  I will encourage you, however, to look into it.  Also, think about how self-efficacious you are in this moment.  How do you see your ability to take on whatever life throws at you?  Remember, self-efficacy is not about “going it alone.”  It is about understanding your strengths, understanding where you may need help in order to achieve your goals.  It’s about using your smarts/intelligence/wits (however you want to put it) to get you where you want to go, but knowing/believing that your smarts/intelligence/wits will get you there no matter what!  You dig? 😉

A secret… The Secret

I suggested that I would tell you a secret…  And I shall. 

There are very few pop psychology book/self-help books that I really recommend that people read, or that I even read myself.  After all, most of my time is spent reading… well, psychology articles or books that are more strictly pertaining to my professional interests and background, which takes up a lot of time (as you can see… people in psychology like to write and talk… a lot ;)) – Thus, it’s nothing personal, and definitely not an issue of snobbery on my part.

As such… here is my secret:  I have been reading The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne from page to page.  Now…  I will tell you that when my mother bought this book for me back two Christmas’ ago, I was a bit nonplussed.  After all, I am a capable and competent (read “self-efficacious” here) therapist, what do I need with this pop psychology book?…Okay, maybe there was a bit of snobbery. 

I will tell you three things about The Secret: 

1. It is about self-fulfilling prophecy aka the power of belief  with an emphasis on the power of positive thinking (See, Positive Psychology). 

2. It is about believing in/developing a sense of your own self-efficacy (see discussion above). 

3. It is small enough to put in a small bag.

Mind you, I am not endorsing The Secret or any particular thing on my blog.  If, however, you decide to run to your local library, get a copy, read it and like it, then… the only other pop psychology book I have ever bought (besides ones about eating disorders, which is my specialization… so I ought to know what’s out there) is Bryn Collins’ Emotional Unavailability : Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap.  

Let’s just say, if you have ever been in a bad relationship, or if you are in one right now… or perhaps you are always in bad relationships… and you can never understand why… Well, Emotional Unavailability might help give you some perspective.  It’s a slight introduction to some basic DBT concepts on interpersonal effectiveness). 


Some thoughts on being a secret-keeper/privacy-holder:

As a therapist, it is my job to be a secret-keeper/privacy-holder for secrets/private thoughts that are non self-harming to my clients.  It is an important role and one that ought never to be violated.  I feel very honoured to be and to have been entrusted with the thoughts of so many who have come to me for help throughout the years.  There are truly not enough words to express my gratitude and humility.  

The title of this post, “What if I told you… a Secret?” though meant with some humour is actually a commentary on the fact that we may not often share with others what knowledge it is that we may have amassed over the years that has been truly beneficial to us in living our lives.  My secret is that I live my therapeutic practices every day of my life – I practice what I preach.  And it is truly my hope that in sharing these thoughts with you that you will benefit in some small way in your own life.

Best regards,


For the purpose of full disclosure: I am a registered Independent.