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The Other Courtney

One of  the most influential counseling sessions with my therapist, Ken, was one where he asked me a short and simple question. Well, simple for him to ask, not as simple for me to answer. On a chilly day in January, I sat on Ken’s leather couch proud of the strides I had made in the past few months of therapy. I could sense that I was nearing the end of my counseling journey with my recently acquired confidant and lifesaver.

“Would you rather be loved or accepted?” My answer was a 60-second “deer in the headlights” stare. Ken laughed and rephrased his question, “If you could only choose one, would you rather have your parents love you or accept you for who you are?”

Now I was the one laughing. “This is a trick question, isn’t it? If my parents love me then they automatically accept me for who I am. And…

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The Other Courtney

No, it’s not Mother’s Day. Yes, this is an interview with my mother. Why? Because she is funny and has some good perspective on life. She raised four daughters and lived to tell about it. She once had major brain surgery because my sisters and I literally made her lose her mind. Okay, not really. She had Chiari Malformation, but I secretly believe her brain was trying to escape the insanity that was our household.

I love the idea of interviewing loved ones whether it is video recorded, taped, or typed. The website Story Corps gave me the idea a few years ago, so here it is. My first attempt at building my own Story Corps with important people in my life. 

Four kids. Are you crazy?

Yes, that is an easy one. Is that the whole interview?

How did you keep from going insane when we were…

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Remembering Aaron…

“I will always love you and keep you in my heart till the day we meet again.” – Josie Pena

Aaron Noel Longoria

In Memoriam

With you a part of me hath passed away;

For in the peopled forest of my mind,

A tree made leafless by this wintry wind,

Shall never don again its green array.

Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,

Have something of their friendliness resigned;

Another, if I would, I could not find,

And I am grown much older in a day.

But yet I treasure in my memory,

Your gift of charity, and young hearts ease,

And the dear honor of your amity;

For these once mine, my life is rich with these.

And I scarce know which part may greater be,–

What I keep of you, or you rob from me.

-George Santayana

Even With Time Passing By…You Will Always Live In My Heart!

AARON NOEL LONGORIA EDINBURG/MISSOURI CITY, TEXAS – Aaron Noel Longoria,

24, died Thursday, November 26, 2009 at his residencein Edinburg. Aaron was born

in Missouri City, Texas and had lived there all of his life, he was a member of St.

Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Missouri City. He graduated from Lawrence Elkins

High School in 2003, and attended The University of Texas-San Antonio. Aaron is

preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Elias Longoria and maternal

grandmother, Josefa Garza. He is survived by his parents, Luis and Noelia

Longoria; a brother, Philip Longoria; a sister, Julia Longoria all of Missouri City,

Texas; paternal grandmother, Maruca Longoria; maternal grandfather,

Noe Garza both of Edinburg; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. A

prayer service was held Friday, November 27, 2009, at Memorial Funeral

Home, in Edinburg. Funeral service will be at 10 am today, November 28,

2009, at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church in Edinburg. Interment will

follow at Valley Memorial Gardens in McAllen. Funeral services are under the

direction of Memorial Funeral Home

Grief

“Letting go has never been easy, but holding on can be as difficult. Yet strength is measured not by holding on, but by letting go.” Len Santos

Grief: Coping with reminders after a loss

Grief doesn’t magically end at a certain point after a loved one’s death. Reminders often bring back the pain of loss. Here’s help coping — and healing.

By Mayo Clinic staff

When a loved one dies, you might be faced with grief over your loss again and again — sometimes even years later. Feelings of grief might return on the anniversary of your loved one’s death, birthday or other special days throughout the year.

These feelings, sometimes called an anniversary reaction, aren’t necessarily a setback in the grieving process. They’re a reflection that your loved one’s life was important to you.

To continue on the path toward healing, know what to expect — and how to cope with reminders of your loss.

Reminders can be anywhere

Certain reminders of your loved one might be inevitable, especially on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other special days that follow your loved one’s death.

Reminders aren’t just tied to the calendar, though. They can be tied to sights, sounds and smells — and they can ambush you. You might suddenly be flooded with emotions when you drive by the restaurant your partner loved or when you hear your child’s favorite song. Even memorial celebrations for others can trigger the pain of your own loss.

What to expect when grief returns

Anniversary reactions can last for days at a time or — in more extreme cases — much longer. During an anniversary reaction you might experience:

  • Sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Pain

Anniversary reactions can also evoke powerful memories of the feelings and events surrounding your loved one’s death. For example, you might remember in great detail where you were and what you were doing when your loved one died.

Grief: Coping with reminders after a loss

Tips to cope with reawakened grief

Even years after a loss, you might continue to feel sadness when you’re confronted with reminders of your loved one’s death. As you continue healing, take steps to cope with reminders of your loss. For example:

  • Be prepared. Anniversary reactions are normal. Knowing that you’re likely to experience anniversary reactions can help you understand them and even turn them into opportunities for healing.
  • Plan a distraction. Schedule a gathering or a visit with friends or loved ones during times when you’re likely to feel alone or be reminded of your loved one’s death.
  • Reminisce about your relationship. Focus on the good things about your relationship with your loved one and the time you had together, rather than the loss. Write a letter to your loved one or a note about some of your good memories. You can add to this note anytime.
  • Start a new tradition. Make a donation to a charitable organization in your loved one’s name on birthdays or holidays, or plant a tree in honor of your loved one.
  • Connect with others. Draw friends and loved ones close to you, including people who were special to your loved one. Find someone who’ll encourage you to talk about your loss. Stay connected to your usual support systems, such as spiritual leaders and social groups. Consider joining a bereavement support group.
  • Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions. It’s OK to be sad and feel a sense of loss, but also allow yourself to experience joy and happiness. As you celebrate special times, you might find yourself both laughing and crying.

When grief becomes overly intense

There’s no time limit for grief, and anniversary reactions can leave you reeling. Still, the intensity of grief tends to lessen with time.

If your grief gets worse over time instead of better or interferes with your ability to function in daily life, consult a grief counselor or other mental health provider. Unresolved or complicated grief can lead to depression and other mental health problems. With professional help, however, you can re-establish a sense of control and direction in your life — and return to the path toward healing.

Anxiety – Caming the Beast

The Other Courtney

Irrational fears are something I spent a good portion of my time in therapy talking about. After a few months and several hundred dollars, my irrational fears no longer caused panic attacks and I was even able to laugh at them! Sometimes I catch myself slipping into my old way of thinking, which is to worry about every little thing. I have often wondered what life would be like if I didn’t worry so much. I know there are people who just don’t care what others think about them or what tomorrow holds, but I can’t fathom what that would feel like. I have been known to even worry about whether or not I’m going to be worried about something! It’s just part of who I am. 

The most important thing I learned in counseling, regarding anxiety, was the skill of observing my own thoughts without judgment. Ken (my phenomenal therapist) would…

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McCown et al: “Experiencing one’s self in a conscious manner–that is, gaining self-knowledge–is an integral part of learning.”

–From Self-Science: The Emotional Intelligence Curriculum

Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while other claim it is an inborn characteristic. A number of testing instruments have been developed to measure emotional intelligence, although the content and approach of each test varies. The following quiz presents a mix of self-report and situational questions related to various aspects of emotional intelligence. What is your emotional intelligence quotient?

Take the quiz to learn more.  You may return your answers and receive a response with your score. Thanks!

Question: In my group of friends, I am generally aware of how each person feels about the other people in our social circle.
Strongly Agree
  Agree
  Disagree
  Strongly Disagree
Question: When I am upset, I can usually pinpoint exactly why I am distressed.
Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Question: While there are some things that I would like to change, I generally like who I am. Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Question: When I make mistakes, I often berate and criticize myself and my abilities.
Often
Sometimes
Rarely
Almost Never
Question: I feel uncomfortable in emotionally charged situations
Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Question: I tend to avoid confrontations. When I am involved in a confrontation, I become extremely anxious.
Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Question: I am generally aloof and detached until I really get to know a person.
Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Question: I tend to overreact to minor problems.
Often
Sometimes
Rarely
Almost Never
Question: I feel confident about my own skills, talents, and abilities.
Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Question: I would describe myself as a good judge of character.
Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Question: When I am facing an unpleasant task, I tend to:
Make a plan and work on it a little each day
Get it over with as soon as possible
Put it off until the last minute
Don’t do it at all
Question: During a heated argument, I am more likely to:
Stop the fight and agree to a short break before resuming the discussion.
Shut down and stop responding to the other person.
Give in and apologize in order to quickly end the argument.
Question: When making an important decision, I tend to
Follow my instincts
Rely on direction from other people
Go with the easiest option
Guess randomly
Start insulting the other person.
Question: When making an important decision, I tend to:
Follow my instincts
Rely on direction from other people
Go with the easiest option
Guess randomly
Question: Which of the following statements best describes you?
I have an easy time making friends and getting to know new people.
I get along well with others, but I have to really get to know someone before they become a true friend.
I find it difficult to meet people and make friends.
I cannot make friends.
Question: You have invested a lot of time and energy into a project for one of your classes. While you feel confident about your work, your instructor gives you a C+ on the project. How do you deal with this situation?
Decide the class is stupid and stop putting forth your best efforts.
Berate and criticize your own work.
Confront the professor and ask for a better grade.
Think about ways you could improve the project and apply these ideas to future schoolwork.
Question: One of your best friends has suffered a miscarriage. How do you respond?
Allow your friend to express her feelings and offer your support.
Spend time with her, but avoid talking about her loss.
Convince her to go out with some friends to get her mind off it.
Give her some time to herself.
Question: One of your co-workers has a habit that annoys you. The problem seems to be getting worse each day. How do you respond?
Tell your co-worker what is bothering you.
Make a complaint about the behavior to your supervisor.
Talk about your coworker beind his back.
Suffer in silence.
Question: You’ve been feeling stressed out at work and haven’t finished projects as quickly as you should. When your boss suddenly assigns you another large project, how to you feel? Anxious about getting all the work done.
Overwhelmed by the task before you.
Angry that your boss hasn’t noticed how overworked you are.
Depressed and sure that you can never finish it all.