Simplify to Care

Here in St. Louis spring is in full bloom. Many gardeners are tilling the soil, pulling up old roots and planting new seed. Spring is a time when we can create new visions for our home and family life. What do you want to plant in the garden of your life? This is a good time to reflect on caring for ourselves and others by simplifying our lives.

Simplify to Care

We live in a materialistic consumer oriented culture. Often the focus has been on money and stuff. We believe that our things reflect our importance in the world. The deeper truth is that who we are as persons has a much more powerful impact. Let this spring be a time to acknowledge the gift that you are. What are the gifts and strengths within yourself that you can now begin to express? What purpose would you like to serve? When you acknowledge the gifts that you have and that which gives you meaning, it is easier to let go of material items that no longer serve you.

Honor Your Relationships

Research over the last years has shown that our relationships bring a greater sense of well being and joy than status or the accumulation of stuff. Releasing your extra stuff allows you to share your compassion and feel connected to community. It gives a renewed sense of appreciation for others and yourself. It helps you feel connected to a broader purpose. Enjoy your community celebrations. Take a moment to acknowledge your value as a person, connect with your strengths and share. Happiness comes from connection.

Appreciate Nature

Take time to get out and appreciate nature. As we enjoy the sun, the air, the blooming flowers and the trees, it helps us to slow down and become more grounded. As we appreciate nature, we are reminded that we are a part of a much larger whole. Nature can give us a sense of awe. It helps us to reduce stress and put things in perspective.

You Matter, Take Action, Make a Difference

You Matter

Many of us have good ideas. We want to make a difference, but the action needed seems too big and the ideas get tucked away. Then we feel frustrated, angry and depressed because the problems did not get solved. Today, more and more people are taking action to make a difference. It is spreading like wildfire.
More and more people are waking up to a deeper truth. Ordinary people taking action has an effect. When our actions stand for our deeper values and principles, as justice, opportunity, fairness, and dignity, it serves a critical purpose. It helps to define and defend who we really are. Then ordinary people become heroes and heroines. This e-newsletter focuses on the importance of everyday heroic acts, and what you can do.

Inspired Action Counts

Taking action to make a difference is important. With the many challenges before us, global warming, unemployment, declining resources, we cannot always wait for an expert or leader’s permission to act. Sometimes, you just know what you have to do and may have no other authority than the good intentions and caring in your heart. It may not be the most perfect solution. Still it is the best you can do. You face disappointments and setbacks and still, you find the courage to keep on.

You may not even be aware of the impact that it has. Yet, when aligned with your deeper character strengths it has an impact because it serves the greater good. When you do so, you access a higher power for life and you become a hero for just being who you are. It enhances the happiness and well being of us all. This is much better than complaining, feeling overwhelmed and depressed. I call this a heroic act

Story Power

When you take action it is important to share your personal story. Often we hear statistics and information on the need to make a change, only to find it overwhelming. Other times we may feel guilty for not doing anything. When you take action and tell your story, it is important because it shows it CAN be done. Even more it gives concrete ideas on HOW to do it. This inspires and fuels the action of others.

I once worked with a lady who came to me for serious depression. When she discovered her strength of generosity, she decided to help with volunteer projects at work. At first only a few volunteered, but soon it caught on, and many others began volunteering too. She got over her depression and made new friends. Her efforts and those of her co-workers helped to create a more humane environment.

We learn and become inspired by each other’s actions. When we share our stories, it amplifies our efforts. It gives us ideas and opportunities to reflect on the deeper truth. This creates more opportunities for change and builds the grass roots community.

You matter. Your story matters. Make a difference.

Dr. Alice

Holiday Gifts: From Pricy to Priceless

During this time of the year we are all thinking about gifts. So many times we associate gifts with material items. We search the catalogs, malls, and stores to find the perfect gift, only to feel drained and tired. Shopping for gifts may not be as attractive as we thought.

Actually, it may not be the material item that is most important, but what it means to us. We want to express a grateful heart and love. There are many ways of sharing our joy for the loved ones in our lives. For example, Gary Chapman has spoken of five languages of love, of which material gifts are only one. The other love languages are acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Watch your loved ones and see if you can
determine language that resonates most with them, then give a gift in that language.

You might want to consider the following:

Physical Touch – Pass out hugs and kisses. They are very easy to give. It lets children know you care about them and is one of the fastest ways to show it. Even cool teenagers appreciate a quick arm around the shoulder and a squeeze when their friends aren’t looking.

Acts of Service – How about cooking? Try baking some foods you remember as a child and tell the family stories that go with them. You might want to note your children’s favorite foods and have a meal around those items. Or, you might want to have a cooking party, when your children or friends gather together to bake and have fun. This is also a great time to give and help out in the community. Check your local organizations for those that need help.

Quality Time – Spend time with your loved ones doing an activity you all enjoy. It could be reading a special book, taking time to listen to their favorite story, or going through photo albums. Your undivided attention is something that often is not put on a list. Nonetheless it is one we all appreciate and enjoy.

Words of Affirmation: You might want to create a poem, or just write up a story of what you have noticed and appreciated over the last year. It helps all to better appreciate who we are.

Physical Gifts. Gifts do not need to be pricy to become priceless. Many small items are meaningful. For example, for very young children, one of the most popular toys are blocks. They are fascinating to children because they can be used to create so many other structures. As we become older a small physical representation of a deeper quality of love can be most meaningful.

Once we become aware of the many ways in which our loved ones can appreciate our gratitude and love, we have many more choices than just shopping. Now isn’t that attractive?

Warm Regards, Dr. Alice

Create Peace and Harmony – Be Kind

Today more and more people are simplifying their lives, reducing their material consumption, developing a sense of place, and investing in restoring a healthy balance with the earth. Rather than continually consuming more stuff, people are building their relationships with family, community, and nature. When we act considering the needs and well being of all, it becomes deeply gratifying because it serves a deeper purpose.

In a world menaced by all kinds of destructiveness, loving kindness is a necessity. Loving-kindness, whether in deed, word, or thought is the only constructive means for promoting accord, peace, and mutual understanding.
Loving-kindness is a source of well-being and safety. To promote one’s own self interest is a primitive motivation of human nature. When transformed into the desire to promote the interest and happiness of others, the basic urge of self-seeking overcome, and the mind becomes universal by identifying its own interest with the interest of all.

Doing so actually promotes one’s own well-being in the best possible manner. Here are a three ways you can be kind.
To Yourself – Take to time to appreciate the things you do well, to care of yourself, and rest. Pace yourself, reduce expectations, create meaningful experiences. It will bring you happiness and joy.
To Others – On a daily basis, let others know what you appreciate. It builds your relationships and good will.
To the World – Consider donating to charity or giving a helping hand. Serving a purpose larger than yourself is deeply gratifying and lasting.

Psychologists estimate, on average, that more than eighty percent of your happiness comes from relationships, health, spiritual life, friends, and work fulfillment. Only seven percent is about money. Take time to be kind.


Dr. Alice

Celebrate Your Strengths

What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, build deep lasting relationships with others, feel pleasure, and contribute to the world? What is it that allows you to develop a sense of well being? We all have character strengths that empower our lives. When you tap into your strengths, it leads to a solid foundation of self esteem and increases your optimism, enthusiasm, and joy. Here are some ways in which they show up.

During the day, when do you feel the most strong, enthusiastic, and deeply absorbed in your work? These are the times you are in your strengths. Your strengths are the areas where you can become deeply engaged. When you use your strengths more frequently, it increases your happiness, sense of well being, and joy.

Look around your surroundings. What aspects of your home touch you the most deeply? Do you have favorite pictures, favorite sayings? What about your plants? Take a moment to connect with them and savor them. You will discover that they relate to your strengths. When placing items in your home, take notice how you connect with them. Do they make you feel stronger? Keep those items that give you meaning and joy. Other aspects of your surroundings you may not enjoy. Clear those out. It will make you much happier and help you to get things done.

When faced with challenges, what strengths bring you through? Is it your sense of humor? – Your ability to put things in perspective? – Your ability to learn new information to solve your problem? All of these reflect your underlying character strengths. Acknowledge them. They will help you to accomplish your goals.

Watch for the qualities you appreciate in others. Notice when your friends get excited and what gives them joy. Then ask them to tell you more about it. These are the areas of their strengths. When you give others feedback, it helps them see their strengths. You will discover it builds your relationships.

What gives you a deep sense of purpose and meaning? Are there institutions that give you deep sense of purpose? When you get to together with your family and friends, what are the activities that give you the most joy? Honor these moments. It helps you connect in a positive way and also helps you appreciate your ancestors.
Celebrate Your Strengths

July is the month when we celebrate the Declaration of Independence. It states that we are all “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is the character strengths that help us to exercise these rights. Take a moment this month to discover and celebrate them. If you would like to take a survey to help you identify the strengths you use most frequently, take the VIA survey of character strengths at www.authentichappiness org.

Do I Need Counseling?

Every day millions of people search online for help with their problems, wondering if it’s finally time to reach out for direction and support to handle sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, fights with their partner or spouse, and family issues, among others. Here are some of the questions and mistaken beliefs we encounter as therapists every day.

Can’t I just talk to my friends about my problems?

Talking to a friend about mental health or personal issues may bring you temporary relief, but will make the problem more deep seated in the long run because you become more identified with the issue the longer you complain without intervention. Remember, you get what you pay for, and zero-cost advice is pretty much worth zero!
Nobody can change my situation, so why pay to see a professional about it?
There is a saying that “your world changes when YOU change.” A professional, licensed therapist is trained in ways to help you respond to your world differently. We have at least two college degrees and extensive supervised training thereafter. There are thinking patterns, usually formed in childhood, of which you are completely unaware. I can show you how you are holding yourself back and perhaps help you find insight and freedom. It’s often a cage of your own making!

I’ve felt this way so long…

If you had a persistent fever, would you just say “oh well” and live with it? Or would you go to a health care specialist who could evaluate, diagnose, and treat it? The average person doesn’t realize how common mood and relationship problems are to the human condition, and that they can be (and are) identified and studied. Whole systems of therapy are developed for common issues, much as drugs are developed for physical ailments.

What will people think?

The people intelligent and mature enough to seek therapy realize that it doesn’t matter what people think! It matters how you live every day of your limited, precious life, and whether you can enjoy that to a higher degree and love more fully. Besides, you would be surprised how many of those “imaginary people” you think are judging you are actually patients themselves.
Is it time for YOU to feel better? It’s time!

Know Your Strengths – Build Your Self-Esteem

What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, build deep lasting relationships with others, feel pleasure and contribute to the world? We all have character strengths that empower our lives. When you tap into your strengths, it leads to a solid foundation of self-esteem and increases your optimism, enthusiasm, and joy.
Can you challenge yourself TODAY to make that list of what enjoy and when you felt the most enthusiastic and strong? These activities build your self-esteem. Whatever we focus on, increases. When you focus on what’s good about you NOW, you start to become your own “cheerleader” and best friend. Personal growth begins with a decision that you are worthy of the time, money and effort it takes to grow your self-esteem. I would be honored to be your guide.
Tips to Build Self-Esteem:
1. Watch your negative self-talk. Put a mental “STOP” sign up when you catch yourself being self- critical.
2. Write down negative thoughts. It helps to face the habit and change it.
3. Replace them with written, positive thoughts, such as “I am a happy person today.”
4. Surround your environment with positive thoughts (signs, notes etc.)
5. List five things that are good about you and read them often.

Dr. Alice

Healthy Self-Love

A Relationship Can Be Nice…

But learning to love YOU is the nicest gift of all. How can you expect someone else to treat you better than you treat yourself? What would your life look like if you set a goal of treating yourself in a healthy, loving, patient manner each day? Make a point acknowledging your special gifts speaking as kindly to yourself as you do to others!

Much of my work focuses on releasing the false assumptions about ourselves to discover the deeper truth which is much more positive. Take a moment to acknowledge your special strengths and the activities you enjoy. When you are in these activities you experience flow, feel enthusiastic, and excited. You also tend to create special projects around them. When you are in your strengths you are also more able to follow your vibes, honor your intuition, and take bigger risks.

This is your deeper connection with your essential self. When you invest your time and energy in these qualities, all of your relationships get better. Why? The more you discover the life sources within yourself, the more you will love yourself and the more you will see love in others.

Dr. Alice

Keep the Romantic Spark Alive

What is the best way to kept to romantic spark alive? Stay positive. Happy couples maintain a ratio of five positive comments to every negative one. One way to focus on the positive is to purposefully honor the good events that happen to your mate and family members as well. When you react enthusiastically to their good fortune, it enhances and increases the pleasure everyone feels. Often, individuals, couples, and families come to me for help because they want my help in removing what they consider unfortunate and undesirable traits in their mates and family members. However, I have not found it helpful to focus on the negative, but rather to change the mindset.

It may surprise you to know that research finds changing your focus to the positive is more effective in promoting enjoyable relationships. It makes it much easier to problem-solve and resolve the issue. By focusing on the unique resources we each bring to the situation, cooperation becomes much more enjoyable. It changes our mindset from “Me versus you” to “we are all in this together.” When you do face stress, consider the following tips:

Tips for less stressful communication:
1. Use a calm voice
2. Be direct and respectful
3. Avoid sarcasm
4. Use “I need” rather than “you should”
5. Ask for clarification if you need to
6. Take deep breaths
7. Call a time out if needed
8. Don’t assume they “just know”
9. Don’t use “you never” or “you always”
10. Take your problems to a licensed therapist if you find yourselves in the same arguments over and over, if names are being called, or there is any hint of violence.
According to, an average wedding costs $26,542. The average cost of six premarital counseling sessions is $800.

Dr. Alice

Do You Get the Winter Blah’s – Seasonal Affective Disorder

Could You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?
1) Increased desire to sleep
2) Craving high-carbohydrate foods
3) Sadness
4) Decreased energy levels during short winter days
5) Winter weight gain
Remedies include: exercise, increasing your exposure to outdoor light (even on cloudy days), using bright lights inside, light therapy boxes, postponing ambitious resolutions until spring, and other skills your therapist can give you for coping.
The use of antidepressants among Americans has increased 400 percent since the late 1980s, yet less than a third of those taking a drug have seen a mental health professional in the last year.* Taking medication for anxiety or depression without concurrent” talk” therapy is merely masking the problem without a long term solution.
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention