On Unexpected Joys

Summer in Texas can be hard. Really hard. There’s a song by the Indigo Girls that has a line in it that I have always loved and connected with. The line is:

“I could go crazy on a night like tonight, summer’s beginning to give up her fight.”

I love that line because it’s how I feel on that night in September or October, when the relentless Texas summer begins to give-way to the cooler temps of fall.

Living in DFW my entire life, summer has always been the hardest season for me because of how incredibly and relentlessly hot it gets here. In the summer of 2011, for example, we had an entire record-breaking summer of clear skies & over 100-degree temperatures. It was dry, hot and absolutely miserable. I remember getting into my car every single day from June to September and being burned by the door handle, steering wheel, my seats, everything was so hot it quite literally hurt. Even going swimming was hard that summer because the pools all felt like warm baths. And though that summer was hotter than usual, it is no secret to anyone in the USA that summer in Dallas is one of the worst summers in the nation.

But so far this year, that simply hasn’t been the case, and I have not only noticed it, but I have been absolutely reveling in it.

Last week, for example, the high stayed in the 80’s for most of the week, and the low was in the 60’s at night. It’s the middle of July and I slept with my windows open for 3 nights in a row! And even though it’s a high 90’s day as I type this, (and will be over 100 a couple of days this week), according to the weather calendar we are headed for another couple of days of highs in the 80’s next week.  It’s been raining here more than any other summer in recent history too. This summer has felt more like spring than any summer I can remember.

So a couple of weeks ago I mention to a friend how awesome this summer has been so far, and he quickly shushes me and tells me not to jinx it, totally squashing my happy little recognition. Then a few days later I post on FB that I’m so incredibly grateful for this cooler than normal summer, and 2 people, warn me to stop saying it out loud because Mother Nature might hear me and turn the temps back up. Now I know that they were joking, but it bothered me because I also know that this kind of “Don’t Jinx it!” attitude is really common when things are going unexpectedly well for us, and I honestly believe that it hinders our ability to be joyful in those moments

I cannot emphasize enough how much I wish this trend in our society would reverse itself. In 2011, I saw post after post about how miserable it was here that summer, but NOBODY told those people to stop complaining because pointing out the bad only seemed to make it worse. (Which it does!) Why did nobody tell those people to stop? Because in our society it is totally acceptable to complain about getting what we don’t like, but NOT to revel and enjoy the surprising things we get that we do like. And I think that if we switched that trend, it might actually contribute to our ability to be happier as individuals.

My amazing friend and Colleague Jessica Demla just shared a quote with me that I think perfectly sums up my feelings about why I wish this trend would reverse itself:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. – Mahatma Gandhi

How often do we hear someone say, “I don’t wanna jinx it” referring to talking about how unexpectedly good something is going, like a new job or a new love interest? But I wonder what consequences we might be unintentionally causing by stopping ourselves from thinking about, talking about, and really enjoying that surprisingly good thing. How might stopping ourselves from reveling in our happiness make it harder for us to enjoy it, because what we are saying is NOT in harmony with what we are feeling & doing?

My challenge for you is to completely revel in the good surprises life offers up, talk about them and enjoy them with purity. Speak that joy out loud, especially the unexpected joys that come your way.  Let your words be in harmony with your feelings and your doings, and recognize the positive impacts

You Are the Expert

If you are my client, and we are having a conversation in my office, YOU are the expert in the room, not me.

Not

Ever

Me

(Of course where safety and legality come in, there are exceptions to this rule.)

If you tell me that there is a little green woman on your shoulder, that only you can see and hear, that talks to you all day long, and you say that your hopes from our work together are to get along better with that woman so that you can get through your day productively, than that is where our conversations will be aimed. I will NOT argue with you about whether or not there is really a woman on your shoulder, I will not tell you that you are delusional and need psychotropic medications, I will simply try and find the next useful question to help you get to your preferred future. Because I truly believe that doing that is the most helpful thing that I can do for you. I will work with you in your reality and craft questions around helping you move forward in a way that is right for you.

Applied to the LGBT community, this means that YOU are the expert on your gender identity and expression, YOU are the expert on what’s right for you in your relationship, YOU are the expert about your spirituality and how you feel that plays into your life, if at all. My expertise is crafting useful questions to help you move towards the life that you want to live in the way that you hope to live it, and then getting out of your way as you move forward. And if what I’m doing isn’t working for you, YOU are the expert about whether or not you want to come back to see me.

I will NEVER have thoughts that you are ‘resistant’ or ‘hopeless’ or that I know better than you about what’s right for your life. A lot of other therapists might, but as a solution-focused therapist, I simply won’t.

What We Can All Learn From Michael Sam’s Teammates

Michael Sam coming out was the biggest news story of the day. It is an historic event that would have been a huge story no matter when it hit the news outlets, whether it hit this week or six months ago, as it absolutely could have.

Michael took a HUGE risk in August by telling a room full of college football players in the Deep South that he was gay. Those young men were given the opportunity to make this a story, and garner the national attention that would have come with outing a teammate who was seemingly bound for the NFL.

And how did that room full of young men respond? By following the unwritten rule about outing someone who you suspect or know to be gay: they kept their mouths shut. They let Michael be the author of his own story, by staying silent and showing maturity, respect, grace, and discipline.

The lesson here is simple, if someone you know trusts you enough to out themselves to you, remember that it is their story to share, and theirs alone, no matter how big or small the impact of their coming out might be.

Nice example Mizzou, here’s hoping that this precedent stands pat.

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW

#LoveWillWin

There is A LOT going around the last two days about some hateful and bigoted remarks being made in the media. It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in arguing the logistics of religion and freedom of speech and the actions that follow controversial statements. But in the same span of time, two major breakthroughs have occurred. New Mexico became state 17, (18 if you count DC) to allow marriage equality, and Utah, (yeah..UTAH!) just overturned their marriage equality ban. 

Love is winning…we are winning…and we get to watch it AS IT HAPPENS. It’s historic..and we are living in the middle of this amazing period of time when things are snowballing in the direction of love and equality. 

Focus on our progress, folks…find hope and solace in our forward movement.

From Texas with hope,

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW

DallasRainbowCounseling.com 

@LGBT_Counselor 

PAY ATTENTION

Life provides you with a blueprint of what works specifically for you, every time things move towards ‘better’. When you pay very close attention to those upswings, and remember the valuable information they provide you with, you are more armed and ready for the next challenge life may bring.

– Rebekka Ouer

www.dallasrainbowcounseling.com

The Expert

Sometimes clients come in expecting me, as the “expert”, to give them some specific advice about their particular conundrums.  

However, one thing that makes me quite different than some other therapists, is that I do NOT see myself as the expert in the room. I think that you, my client, are the expert here. You are the one in the room that knows you best, and no amount of training on my part, or getting to know you, will ever change that fact. Therefore, my expertise is in finding the right questions to ask, such that you don’t really need my advice, because the answers you give, provide you with the direction you seek.

It’s probably the toughest task that a therapist can be charged with, refraining from offering their opinions or ‘expertise’ to a client that’s having a hard time. But with the right questions, the client gets to figure things out on their own, and then they get to have ownership of the next right steps they will take.

I sometimes tell my clients that I have the dumbest business plan ever. My job, if done well enough, is to weed myself out of your life so that you can get back to the business of living it successfully. 

‘Help’, evolved….

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW

@LGBT_Counselor

Rebekka@DallasRainbowCounseling.com 

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