Oak City Psychology

Serving the City of Raleigh and Surrounding Areas

Author: oakcitypsyc

Love Your Body

When I practiced in Atlanta a local charity group focused on raising eating disorder awareness sponsored Love Your Body Month every February.  I got used to thinking of February as a time to not just honor relationships that we value but to also work on valuing our relationship with our own bodies.  As a female in our society, and more often as a male as well, it can be hard to love the body you’ve been given.  We receive messages from the media about how our bodies are toned enough, aren’t wrinkle free enough, aren’t young enough, aren’t beautiful enough, aren’t sexy enough, and on, and on, and on.  As busy professional women, wives, mothers, daughters, and friends (and in some cases all of or a combination of those) our own self-care can get lost in the shuffle.  Time alone, time to exercise, time to prepare delicious food, and time to relax all take a back seat to work projects, house projects, kids projects, and friend projects.  All of those identities scramble for attention and we forget to take care of the vessel that carries us from place to place and interacts in a physical way with the world.

In Baroque art the female body was beautiful.  And the more curves you could see the more beautiful the body.  As women moved from being only a prop for art and into a more active role in society, the image of a beautiful woman’s body also began to change.  We have hit extremes in these areas – Twiggy in the 60s and Kate Moss in the 90s – but it seems that at least some areas of society are finally starting to recognize the damage we have done to women and girls by placing unrealistic expectations on their bodies.  We are starting to see that deadly eating disorders are wreaking havoc on the lives of girls as young as 8 and 9 years old.  We are starting to see that women’s hatred of their bodies leads them to over exercise, restrict their foods, and stop enjoying life.  We are starting to notice the woman who has been punishing herself on the elliptical for over an hour.  And it’s about time.  I work with so many women and girls who’s desire to be thin has outweighed their desire to be alive.  Women who see themselves only as a number on the scale or on the tag in the back of some clothes.  Women who measure their worth by the width of their waist.

It’s time we moved past those incomplete measurements.  It’s time we started measuring a woman by her intelligence, her kindness, and her wisdom, and not by her waistline, her weight, and her BMI.  My wish for every girl is that she is able to say with confidence that she loves her body.  My wish for every woman is that she is able to say with confidence that she is learning to love a body that has been abused by our society for too long.  It’s time we all loved our bodies, our round, curvy, thin, lean, overweight, pregnant, infertile, scarred, and unscarred bodies.  They are beautiful as they are.  They are perfectly imperfect, just as they are.  This February, I hope you focus on building a healthy relationship with your own body and learn to truly love the body you have.

Five for Friday – 5 Reasons for Oak City Psychology

I thought I’d do a less “waity” topic for this 5 for Friday (see what I did there?  If not then you need to read my last 5 for Friday)  Folks who are North Carolina natives probably understand the reference to Oak City in the name of my practice but I thought I’d give my reasons for choosing Oak City Psychology as the name of my new practice.

  1.  Raleigh is the City of Oaks.  That’s right, Raleigh is known as the City of Oaks because of the number of oak trees both in the city and surrounding areas.  On New Year’s Eve, they drop an acorn.  In November, they host the City of Oaks Marathon.  Students from college campuses talk about getting hit with acorns thrown by unruly squirrels on campus.  Oak trees are to Raleigh as peach trees are to Atlanta.
  2. Trees make for awesome metaphors.  The image of a tree growing is, to me, one of the most powerful images to use in therapy.  I constantly talk to clients about growing strong roots, finding time to shed their old lives (or leaves) to make way for new growth, the struggle to grow strong regardless of their environment, and being part of a community (or forest).  Trees have symbolic meanings related to strength and protection, as well as support, loyalty, and wisdom.  What better image for a therapy practice than a tree?
  3. Oak trees symbolize endurance, strength, stability, and success.  Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Celts all recognized the oak tree as a symbol of strength, even wearing oak leaves to signify powerful people in their society.  Druids considered the oak tree to be the bearer of good luck, fertility, potency, healing, and good health.  Oak trees have been and continue to be awe inspiring natural wonders.  As cheesy as it sounds, I often think the same thing of my clients.  I am constantly amazed by the trials they can withstand and the strength they show.
  4. All the other names sounded wrong.  I literally came up with about 200 other names for this practice.  I looked at every NC state symbol, geographic feature of my area, meanings for different colors, gemstones, and flowers, imagery that I liked, words that described my philosophy of therapy, words that represented my name, and on, and on, and on.  This went on for weeks.  My friends and family became annoyed with me.  But I just kept coming back to Oak City.  Which leads me to the fifth reason . . .
  5. Sometimes the right name just comes to you.  I’d love to say that I consciously sat down and pored over books on symbolism, studied the history of Raleigh, and then chose the perfect name.  But honestly, sometimes a name just comes to you.  Being a native North Carolinian, I knew that Raleigh was the City of Oaks.  And, I do love to use trees as metaphors.  But that’s not what was top of mind when I thought of this name.  As soon as I knew we were moving back to NC, I knew Oak City Psychology was going to be my practice someday.  Sometimes you just know.  Hopefully, that’s a sign that Oak City Psychology is meant to be here, that it will provide support for clients who need to find their strength, and that it will be a place for growth and healing for years to come.  For now, the seed has been planted.

Welcome to Oak City!

As many of you know, I recently moved with my family back to our home state of North Carolina.  I will admit, this has not been the easiest transition for me personally or professionally.  Change is hard.  Waiting for things to happen is hard.  Trusting that you are making the right decisions is hard!  Luckily, I can say that the change and the wait and the trust has paid off, and Oak City Psychology officially opened today!  While it is still a work in progress, this new office has wonderful energy.  It has truly been a labor of love as my family and I painted, shopped for furniture, assembled furniture, designed rooms, redesigned rooms, shopped for more furniture, and were finally satisfied (for now) with the finished project.  Oak City is not the large building that my last practice was.  It is not full of other therapists and support people (yet).  Right now, as I type this, it is just me.  I’m back at the beginning.  Dreaming about the wonderful things I hope to accomplish in this new place.  So it’s time to step into the new, embrace the change, and trust the process.  Welcome to Oak City!

 

Five for Friday: 5 Things To Do While You Wait

So Tuesday’s blog was about how difficult waiting can be.  It’s so hard to mark time while we wait for something exciting or something we’re afraid of or something we’re worrying about.  So in this inaugural Five for Friday, I’m going to share some tips for waiting.  These things are not going to make waiting breeze by.  There are still going to be times when you feel uncomfortable or frustrated with the waiting, but hopefully it will make waiting a little easier.

  1. Focus on the present.  This is a good time to learn some mindfulness skills and use them!  Do things to bring you back to the present rather than living solely in the possibilities of the future.  If you do yoga, this is a good time to brush off those skills.  Try to focus on the good things happening in your life today.  Use your journal to document things you are grateful for each day.  I know, I just went all therapist on you, but research shows people who keep gratitude journals report more satisfaction with their life and higher levels of happiness.
  2. Research the future.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT do this if you are waiting on medical test results.  All you will do is increase your anxiety and make yourself miserable in the process.  Google does not have a medical degree and really can’t provide you with the personalized information you will need.  However, if you’re opening a new business, wanting to create a healthier lifestyle, getting ready for a move, or a multitude of other things we wait on, the waiting time is a great time to research the things you’ll need for your new endeavor.  Whether it’s researching the schools in the area you’re moving to, finding a new social group, learning the business laws or licensing laws for a new business, or finding the best deals for a big purchase, you’ll be ready with the best information when the time comes.
  3. Learn from your last book.  Use this time to look back on what is ending to make way for the new in your life.  This is not a time to assign blame or beat yourself up for perceived mistakes.  BUT, it can be a time to think about how you would do things differently now that you have the additional experience created by time.  I have yet to meet someone who made what turned out to be the wrong decision on purpose.  In general, we make the best decisions we can with the best information we have at the time.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes the world around us changes.  Now that you’re waiting for something new, it’s a good time to think about what you may want to do differently this time around and what worked really well that you’d like to replicate.
  4. Get Organized.  Often when we’re waiting there’s a lot of down time.  This is the time to get yourself ready for the upcoming changes.  Are you accepting a new position that will limit your time?  Maybe you want to focus on putting meals in the freezer, simplifying your cleaning routine, or hiring a cleaning service.  Are you waiting on health news that might mean a lot of doctor’s appointments?  Maybe you want to use this time to planning who will pick up your children or take them to events, setting up a room that will be comfortable for you if your mobility is going to be limited, or getting other appointments or big projects done.  Regardless of the change that is coming, there are things you can do now to make the transition easier on yourself and on your family and friends.
  5. Have some fun.  There’s only so much planning, learning, and organizing you can do.  You will eventually run out of things related to whatever you’re waiting on.  Rather than continuing to obsess about the waiting, go have some fun.  Spend a little extra time with friends, work on a hobby you enjoy, or even learn something new.  The only requirement is that it’s fun and it helps you take your mind off waiting.  And that’s it’s not unhealthy or damaging to you of course.

So there you have it.  Five things you can do to make the waiting a little easier.  Again, there will still be times that you feel uncomfortable, antsy, worried, afraid, and a multitude of other feelings.  This is normal and expected.  Sometimes we just have to feel uncomfortable.  That’s life.

The Difficulties of Waiting

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately.  Waiting for interviews, waiting to hear about jobs, waiting on people to send me paperwork so I could wait on other people to approve the paperwork, waiting for the right office to appear, waiting, waiting, waiting.  Let me tell you, I am not a good waiter.  Waiting makes me antsy.  Waiting makes me feel like I don’t know what to do next.  Waiting makes me feel like I want to skip over several weeks until “the good stuff” starts happening.  It makes me feel . . . stuck.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this feeling.  I talk to people all the time who are waiting for things they can’t control.  Waiting on the call from a doctor with their test results, waiting on their partner to change, waiting on their kids to work through their stuff or get to the next developmental shift, waiting on themselves to work through their own stuff.

Waiting is hard.  It is not for the faint hearted.  It makes us question whether we’ve made the right decisions.  It makes us anxious with the possibilities of what is to come.  But it is also hopeful.  It lets us dream.  It lets us create fantasies of what could be.  It also allows us to find closure.  Often the reason we are waiting in life is because something has just ended.  We’ve just finished the last book in the series, and we can’t wait for the next one to be released.

Writing that next book is hard though.  It takes preparation and reflection.  If we jump straight into the next without finishing the last we don’t allow ourselves to learn, to grow.  So yes I’ve been waiting, as I’m sure many of you have been.  As a therapist, I often find sitting with the waiting to be one of the most difficult aspects of a session.  I often find myself wanting to help my clients find a solution.  I have a feeling this may be related to my own discomfort with waiting.  So, in this period of waiting, I challenge you, and myself, to sink into the waiting.  Let’s allow ourselves to truly learn from our last book, to let it’s teachings seep into us.  That waiting is hard and uncomfortable.  But that’s life.  Sometimes the good things are worth waiting for.

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