All posts in Windward Blog

Try to Be an Orange Rhino and Not Yell So Much

One of my favorite books for real life parenting was written by Shelia McCraith entitled, Yell Less, Love More. Sheila is a mom of four boys that from time to time in order to corral her gaggle would resort to yelling. I was never fully a yeller until I started to hear, “But mom, she’s not…..” After enough rounds in the car or in the house of hearing this and I turn into Grumpy Cat. While it is not at all my children’s responsibility to begin or end my own action of my yelling moments, the concepts of the Orange Rhino mom really come into play.

Sheila mentions that you should not yell at your kids, but occasionally and rarely for your kids. So yelling at my daughters to “Stop Arguing,” in a loud guttural tone is not best but if one were about to be in real danger like the tree branch they are swinging on is about to crack, then yelling is permissible.

The reason I wanted to write about this is because I hear from moms that they are tired of the kids arguing, and that yelling is the only thing that gets them to stop.   It for sure isn’t the only thing, but after enough rounds of your head ringing it’s an innate action that comes to mind and mouth. Even with decades of child development training under my belt and a round working at a preschool at Yale, I too am working on not being as my kids have called me, A Grumpy Cat.

For me it’s trying as best as I can to prepare for the moment. Have I had enough to eat or have I drunk enough water that day? Did I need a 10-minute break somewhere in my day that I never built in because I would just do 1 more thing? Did I encourage the family to stay up later last night because we were all having fun, not reminding myself that when the kids get the sleep they need they are happier in general? These are some of the questions I am in the process of answering at my own home. I would encourage you to create your own list. If you find that you are yelling more than you would like, pick up a copy of Sheila’s book and find some moments to laugh and cry with another mom who has been there.



Belief vs. Hope and the Pain in Between



Belief vs. Hope and the Pain in Between
By Dr. Robin Norris

I thought that this would be an interesting topic that many of you could relate to. While I have written hundreds of papers over the 22 years of school I attended, this is one of the first truly open-ended opportunities I have to create my own topics. It’s exciting and scary all at once. I hope it turns out ok and I believe it will be a worthwhile journey.

When I think about my passion for counseling, it is that I have a true desire to help people to reduce emotional and sometimes even physical pain. Early on in my training about Addictions I learned about the HALT concept. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired are the states in which a person should take a moment, step back from his decision making and think through the feelings involved and the next course of action. This is a solid group of words and really gets to most of the core of when we need to stop, but none of them take into consideration P for pain.

What about if you are scared, worried, have post surgical neuropathy, or have joint aches from an unknown illness? How do you then step back and make your best action oriented decisions. It is quite the challenge and for some can feel insurmountable and may lead to an early death. You simply can’t get beyond the feeling of pain to have a clearer thought. It’s as if you want to put pain on the shelf for 10 minutes, get the clarity, and then take it back if you must. This is not a fun way to exist, let alone live.

Pain is real. Pain sometimes goes away and sometimes it doesn’t. I want to help you to turn chronic suffering and discomfort into triumph. In athletics when we have a goal that we so badly want to reach sometimes we don’t realize we are actually in pain and the body takes on a whole new level. That is where hope and belief come into play full force. I am action oriented and hope is but a mere noun. Hope is something similar to a wish of which it may come true. But belief is an action. It is how we work on giving the wish that best possible chance of survival. I believe people can live a less painful life and that when that belief becomes integrated into the core of who we are it too turns into action. Some actions items common when we believe that we can have reduced pain someday are to change our habits, to meet new people, listen for guidance from others or to read more in order to become as educated as possible. We keep seeking out the answers until our pain subsided.

That is my lofty goal. I want you and I to be action-oriented partners along this journey of life. You are worth it!


Hopefest: Suicide Awareness Panel



HopeFest 2016

–  by Anthea Isaacs  Marymount University Forensic Psychology Intern

Within smaller communities it is harder to receive information on mental health resources.  That is why in Loudoun County, VA, the first annual Hopefest: Health and Wellness Fair 2016 was held.  The fair included various mental health organizations within the are so the community could learn more about them.  A few centers that took part included Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS), Loudoun Citizens for Social Justice, Windward Optimal Health, and Boulder Crests Retreat for Military & Veteran Wellness.  These organizations and 37 others set up exhibits with information and fun activities for children.  There were also panels, which consisted of mental health professionals, law enforcement, and political influences that provided information on why there is an increased need for mental health awareness.

Guest lecturers discussed drug use within the community, eating disorders, and helping veterans after they returned home.  The suicide awareness and prevention panel which included Suzie Bartel, Dr. Sherry Molock, and Susan McCormick was of most interest to me. Suzie Bartel is the president of the Ryan Bartel foundation created in honor of her 17 year old son that committed suicide two years ago.  Dr. Molock is the director of clinical training in the department of psychology at George Washington University and works with churches to increase the awareness of suicide among teens. A short video that displayed several teens who shared how suicidal thoughts can affect an individual was shown.  Being supportive and listening to people may be way to help prevent a suicide attempt.

Ms. Bartel explained that she started the organization to prevent other parents from going through what she went through.  She explains there may be signs, especially with teens, that adults must pay attention and not dismiss as a phase.  Dr. Molock explained the importance of the church in being more accepting and less condemning of those with suicidal thoughts.  She explained how she works with churches to incorporate more open talks among teens about how they may be feeling.

The group spoke candidly about how parents and others adults could speak to those they believe are considering suicide.  They explained that many who want to talk to those they believe are suicidal, think asking them if they are suicidal will put the thought in their head. It would not. Many do not ask their friends or love ones if they are suicidal because they are afraid they will make them think they are.  Asking an individual if they are suicidal can be helpful to the individual.  It can give them an outlet to express their feelings and not feel alone.  It can be easy it is to hide from family and friends when you don’t feel good.  I have seen how damaging the shock can be to family and loved ones when the choice of suicide has become final.

Teens can take breakups with friends or relationships very hard. Listening to them and being aware of changes in behavior can be helpful in noticing when something is wrong.  Like teens, adults can display a change in behavior when depressed or contemplating suicide.  A common behavior that can be noticed is the giving away of sentimental objects and being withdrawn.  An individual may find a sense of peace when they have decided to commit suicide, which can be confusing for loved ones.  The acceptance of the act seems to create a sense of calm for the individual.  Those who were once irritable can all of a sudden be easygoing once they have decided to commit suicide.

I have seen how depression and the lack of communication can lead to losing someone unexpectedly.  Some conversations can be very hard and sad, but showing a little support can be the difference between someone believing they shouldn’t live or they should receive help.  Losing someone very close to you can be very hard to move on from.  Many do not know how to ask for help and support.  Being aware and there for that individual even if they may not want it could make the difference.  I enjoyed how honest and up front the panelists were about a topic that many are uncomfortable to talk about.  They created an awareness in me that no one should be ignored or left to go through something alone because you never know how hard it is for them.



Back to School



Well it’s that time of year again. The weather in the morning is starting to be cooler kids are all starting to rustle about school supplies and new to them clothes. As a mom I’m excited and sad all at once. I’m excited because it’s a new opportunity for my daughter to make new friends and to have her try out the skills that she’s been working this summer. I am excited for her and her new venture of first grade but I must say I’m a little sad because I enjoy being with my daughter. She’s a cool kid. I like the way she interacts with her younger sister. Like just last night she dressed her up as a ladybug and then as a butterfly, and then as a baby all the things a toddler likes to be.

My first grader will be gone about 40 hours a week between the buses and the classes. 40 hours is a lot of time.

40 hours to socialize, to sit, to run, to play, to do some more sitting. I can only hope as her mom that the things that she continues to learn from my husband and I are the things that transfer over to school such as, being the kind kid, not the bully. Being the person to reach out to the new person when they may not have any new friends. Being the person to share her things as she has plenty of things. I hope she has challenges and that she learns to fail gracefully and success happily. 40 hours – I will miss her and think about her for most of it.

This summer was a different kind of summer for her. While some of her friends may have been going off to far off places and seeing Disney World, my daughter got to learn what a Staycation looked like. She got to use local pools, go to local parks, learn to cook more, learn to negotiate with her sister, learn to take walks in nature. My student loans for my doctorate are absolutely daunting, so my daughter got the opportunity to learn what it was like to have to make choices and to continue to save up for the things that she thinks someday she might really want.

If I had it to do over again I’m still very glad I have my doctorate. A part of me wishes that the timing didn’t collide while I had my children. That’s the part I can’t do over. The nights that I studied that I can’t get back, the weekends that I wrote, the time I now need to work to pay it all off. I value education very much and am thankful that my first grader has access to a safe, wonderful, fair environment to launch her education with as well. I can’t begin to instill in a first grade girl how neat it is that she has the opportunity to discover whom she is becoming in as much of an equal environment as humanly possible to provide to her.

So that’s how I feel about first grade starting next week. I already know she will not be on the same bus as her best friend. She will not be in the same classroom as the other three kids she knows from last year. I’m going to let that unfold and for her to discover on Friday so that she can see who she can become without me influencing everything. The hardest part is the letting go as our kids grow. I watch and listen to parents sending their students off to college. It is about really remembering we are there for their guidance, we are there for mentoring, we are there to give them boundaries, but really the rest is all theirs not ours. I’m so lucky to be a parent and so lucky to be a parent of two very cool kids.

Happy School Year!


Addiction Recovery and God

Once someone decides to seek addiction treatment they may look for AA/NA/MA/SA meetings. Surrendering to what is now called “the higher power” is considered highly effective in overcoming the struggles of an addiction. In the early stages of Alcoholics Anonymous God was the higher power.

In 1961, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous sent a letter to Carl G. Jung, an eminent, Swiss psychiatrist. In it he described meeting a man who was a patient of Jung’s in 1931 who struggled with alcoholism and felt hopeless and distraught over relapsing.  Jung felt his only chance for full recovery was to seek a spiritual or religious experience and have a genuine conversion. In other words, seek God, have a relationship with Him, experience a heart change, and surrender weaknesses.  When Jung’s patient did this, he did not have a relapse and felt freedom from the addiction.

God’s grace is offering what we are not worthy of receiving. Many times when speaking to someone struggling with an addiction they feel shame, unworthy of forgiveness, and it paralyzes them. God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, because He knew we were sinful. Accepting God’s unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness, while surrendering the addiction, offers a great freedom to those who feel a bondage to their addiction.

If you are struggling with an addiction, have you let God into your life? What would it look like if you did?forgiveness alchol


Trust, Faith and Motivation

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This was the verse I read each day as I went through my graduate courses at Liberty University while dealing with a multitude of challenges. Many times I wanted to give up. God’s calling was stronger. I needed to be obedient to God and keep my eyes focused on His promise, His plans, and look toward hope. Each day was a struggle, but I made it through.

I recall my first client in August 2011. I was fearful of “messing her up” as the appointment date was approaching. I prayed a lot, especially on the day of the appointment. Suddenly, I realized I needed to put my trust and faith in God that He would be there to guide and direct me. My anxiety quietly slipped away.

It was such an amazing feeling as I sat in front of my first client and felt God’s presence. God indeed “prospered” me as promised. I was rich in feeling his comfort and guidance. I knew this was where He wanted me. As I completed the first appointment, I thanked God for giving me motivation through His words and His presence.

What verse motivates you?