Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What does the therapist do

when she's depressed? Well, there are all the wise and effective tools I teach my clients. I start by reminding myself that taking care of my physical health is the first step to managing emotional turmoil.

Have I been getting enough sleep? A really good question for me because I am not going to bed early enough to get as much sleep as I need. And then I ask my client: what's getting in the way of getting the sleep you must have in order to do the work you want to do? How come I can say all these smart words to my client and then not listen to them for myself? While that is a good question for myself, the real issue is that I am not listening to myself.

How can I be so smart for everyone else and not apply it to myself? It is so hard to change the way I behave. Isn't that the bottom line at this moment on my getting beyond these feelings of sadness, and in the big picture, isn't that exactly why getting better, (for any of my clients) is so tough. The benefit of experiencing my own bout with sadness is that I can more effectively teach my clients the simple and often effective tools for getting rid of the depression.

Now (to me) simply breathe. Fix some of that nice veggie soup you made and watch a little mindless TV and GET SOME SLEEP.

Breathe. It will all work out in whatever fashion it works out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

She's quiting. Again

That's what happens with my clients. It's hard work. They begin to feel a little stronger, better and even begin to experience a little joy and then life rears it's ugly head and it all feels too much. The desire to shop - not a little nickel dime shopping but some big thousand dollar splurges - or the urge to do some type of self harm - cut or burn - or the desire to break the three month sobriety all become overwhelming.

All of which is part of the process of getting better. Those urges will be there AND in order to continue the healing process my clients MUST sit with that awful feeling. The wonderful part of sitting with that awful urge is that they do survive the urge. Even when it is at its strongest and most painful, the client can choose to maintain her/his sobriety or her abstinence from the harmful behavior.

She or he is stronger for having sat with the urge and has even earned the right to be very proud of her or him self for taking such good care. Getting better is not easy and is not pain-free, but it can be very freeing and the client learns how to be proud of him/herself for such healthy behavior. Oh, yes, she got through that urge to break her sobriety and kept her next appointment.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Here we go again

New skills. I am in the midst of acquiring more tools for working with my lovely and challenging clients.

Maintaining the license requires getting continuing education units which is fun, interesting and really time consuming. The classes are always scheduled to conflict with my schedule. Right now I am missing the classes I teach on Thursday and Friday. Sigh. I do enjoy those classes.

This seminar is adding to the direction into which I can lead my clients as we work to decrease their pain. This seminar focuses on another means for connecting people with feelings so they learn how other people respond to them. Simple description for a really powerful skill.

In the midst of all these new skills, I am continuing to remind myself to breathe, absorb the information and take a moment to simply be present with what is happening right now, this very moment.

More to come.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The therapist needs help! Well actually two types of help.

Among the challenges this summer was the loss of a dear friend who was a long time support. This special person was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and I had to find someone else to provide support. A real challenge for someone who calls herself "the therapist of last resort". Don't I have answers to everything?

This experience has taught me that searching for answers is an indication that I am willing to understand my own vulnerabilities. A tough assignment and one that was not easy for me to learn; however, this summer allowed me to begin the lesson. I am actually excited about the new resources that I have found. The insight and skills I am forced to learn are increasing the support I am able to provide my clients.

On the other hand, I need help adapting to my newly acquired, "Rolls Royce of all computers". Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a fine, lovely Mac Book Pro and I am still overwhelmed with its power and functions.

More to come.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Summer's over and what a summer it has been.

No long military assignment; however, lots of short heartrending assignments. Wonderfully welcoming soldiers home. At those events I got to open my heart and greet the men and women who are safely home and the families who also came to the events. Then there were the hard gatherings for troops who were leaving in the next three days. Sigh.

Other activities for this summer included getting a new car, getting in a wreck the next day (on my return from a farewell event for the soldiers), dealing with my dog who hates little kids and breaking my watch. From the valuable to the silly. that was my summer.

Now on to a new semester, lovely new classes and more training.

Enjoy the Autumn. More to come.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summertime and the living is stressful

Anxiety is high. Expectations get in the way of simply being present with the gifts of today. I must remind myself and be willing to believe that everything truly is okay. My mortgage is current, there is food in the fridge and I can afford to put gas in the car. Sure, I'd love to drive a newer car - after all my car is almost 15 years old and it would be great to have that lovely remodeled bathroom but the things that matter are really alright.

Alright and okay are very powerful places to be. Fantastic and fabulous and spectacular are rare and not very comfortable. Alright, okay and tolerable are solid and enduring. These conditions last a long time and can carry you through times when you are struggling with the unpredictable and unknown future.

Know that you have gotten through times that are equally stressful or more so and you can get through the unpredictable events that lay ahead. Predictability is just as boring as perfection. Embrace the unknown and allow yourself to grow stronger in the experience of tolerating what you cannot control.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ten suggestions for find joy

We are surrounded by so many issues that take away from our joy it is difficult to remember there are simple tools for assisting us to find comfort and solace in this world. Below are ten suggestions as a start:


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes the limits of age, weight and height. Let doctors worry about them.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. Negative energy will most often pull you down.

3. Keep learning and stay inspired. Learn about the fine arts, geography, gardening, yoga - where ever your curiosity takes you. Never let the brain idle, keep challenging your brain. An idle mind is the devil's workshop.

4. Practice beginners mind. Enjoy the everyday activities as if they were experienced for the first time.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath…our lives can be so entertaining!

6. The tears will come. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us for our entire lives, is ourselves. Love all your emotions deeply.

7. Surround yourself with what you love; whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies. Your home should be your refuge and sanctuary.

8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you believe you can improve, seek the help of a skilled professional.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the park, to the next city, even to a foreign country; but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people whom you love just how much you love them… at each and every opportunity.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back to Basics

Vacation! What a concept! The military assignment at Ft. Lewis would have been a vacation of sorts - away from the stresses of clients and research reports and especially this home office phone.

So I am dreaming of sitting in the 70 degree sun at a lovely spot thirty miles west of Guadalajara. Today in LA the weather is damp, cool and cloudy and there is construction taking place outside with repair people discussing the project in loud Spanish.

So I remind myself: breathe. Make a cup of tea and enjoy the silence between the workers' comments. Maybe there is a vacation on the horizon. I'll aim for a mini vacation at one of the day spas in Korea town here in LA.

And I continue to think good thoughts about healing myself and staying in this quiet place for a few more minutes.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hangin' In while I'm Hangin' In

Still no travel orders! Sigh. However, there is a great event this weekend: the Yellow Ribbon pre-deployment and return support program sponsored by the Army for military families. These are wonderful events where individuals get to learn there are other families experiencing the same stresses they are feeling.

And I get to talk to them about ways to manage these feelings. Breathe. Yes, that is one of the tools I discuss at length. Simply slowing down sufficiently to experience a slow, easy breath can be one of the most healing tools anyone can use.

Breathing is the one thing I must continue to remind myself to do these days. On the one hand I am waiting to hear about my assignment and at this moment not even sure it will materialize. On the other hand, I am focusing simply on being right here in the present moment. The one benefit I have received from this uncomfortable waiting is the knowledge that my clients can see the tools I am teaching in actual use.

Breathe. You are fine, in this moment, in this very place. No words are needed only gentle silence.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Re-Up Now

When I was growing up in South Carolina I saw that bumper sticker everywhere. It refers to re-enlisting in the Army. There was a huge basic training post very close to my hometown and cars, baseball caps and even notebooks of friends sported that phrase. Obviously when I was growing up I was not about re-enlisting or even enlisting. Yet, here I am re-upping for another summer with the women and men who are preparing to go to Afghanistan.

I am experiencing a bundle of emotions and excitement about joining another group preparing to serve this country. I am eager to be with those individuals and their families - ranging from the littlest children through the siblings of the soldiers to their parents. It is such a satisfying experience being able to offer a kind ear and a warm handshake. I am also anticipating sadness, anger and fear for these soldiers. They will be part of the surge going to Afghanistan in the very near future.

I will focus on sharing my skills for breathing and staying in the moment. While I can't prevent the painful experiences these individuals will experience, I am hoping some of the tools I will share can be supportive.

Breathe. More to follow.

Coming into the 21st Century

Yeh! I have a new computer. I am re-connected and am eager to share all the events - both heart breaking and kind, challenging and gentle. Mostly I want to offer some insight into the skills gained from surviving the past three months.

Breathe. Yep, same old song but in a different place. Being willing to stop and take a deep breath prevented some potentially nasty encounters from becoming legal hassles and it also made tolerating some very challenging events possible.

So here I am with a new computer. Ready to connect on almost too many levels and ready to share all the excitement about some of the soon to begin new assignments.

I am off to a new job with military families in one week.

Much more to be shared about that experience in the coming weeks.

Breathe, the weather is beautiful, the mortgage is current and there is dog food.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rainy Day Soup

Perfect day for making soup and I have a fridge filled with celery, carrots and mushrooms as well as grains, onions and chicken stock.

Soup day! I made a sofrito (Italian for the soup or sauce base of chopped carrots, celery, onions and garlic) I added part of two dried Santa Fe red peppers, Israeli couscous, chopped canned tomatoes and chicken sausage and after the vegies had softened and the sausage released some of its juices, I added about 1-1/2 tsp of salt, the chicken stock, tomatoes and about 1/3 cup of red wine. Finally, after these ingredients had simmered for a few minutes I added about a pound of previously sauteed chopped mushrooms.

While it will be better after it is cooled (in fridge overnight) and reheated, I must say, this first bowl is quite good.

Make soup - it's a rainy day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dear President Obama

Daily I am listening to the enormous criticism raining down on you and your administration. I am angry that even the people who are ready and eager for change should be so disrespectful of the enormous job you have accepted.

Your willingness to tackle such nasty, huge and complex problems is not only impressive, but reassuring. Your ability to accept responsibility for taking each step to implement change is mature AND wise.

I support your desire for change and I am doing what I can to make my own small space more receptive to change.

Thank you for being so competent and willing to be such an incredible model for adult behavior. Thank you for being my President.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan T. Lindau, LCSW

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Catching Up

Where did January and February go?

How did I get so busy? Now I, the therapist of last resort must confront my own emotional overwhelm. I have just learned some very sad news about someone very important to me, a special friend who has been support, counsellor, advisor and, in many ways, more a mother than my own mother was.

How will I deal with her terminal illness? What can I do to help myself? I am feeling both the crushing pain of loosing her and the anguish of living without her support after she is gone.

I can only do what I tell my clients. Stay present. Remember the lessons learned from this relationship. Respect those lessons. I can honor our long relationship by sharing the lessons I learned from her. I can express my sadness in a way that teaches others how to manage their own pain.