This morning, my beautiful, brilliant black lab Lola woke me up at 6:00 A.M. sharp. Her biological clock screamed “hungry,” and so did her “buddies,” of other colors and breeds of dogs.
Saturday mornings, after my “babies” are fed, I sip my coffee and turn on the T.V… This time has been one of my favorite moments for years. Simple and lasting: to see the gratitude and trust in my companions’ eyes, pet their silky furs, of ALL colors, makes my day. It is, after all, the small pleasures that make our lives better or worse.
Today’s morning was an exception! The “breaking news,” a 5.1 Earthquake in Southern California where my youngest daughter, granddaughter and family live! Having experienced a 7.8 Earthquake years ago, in Bucharest, Romania, makes my heart race just at the whisper of the word earthquake!
As if this news wasn’t bad enough, the second topic on the news was “BLACK DOGS SYNDROME!!!!!”
What??? I must be still asleep… somnambulism… I pinched myself. It hurt! Unfortunately I had to conclude my awake state!
The story on television continued, giving details about how black dogs, even puppies, beautiful, healthy and loving are being euthanized in larger numbers as compared to dogs of other colors, because they are BLACK!!!
Aside from medieval superstitions, the main reason black puppies are not adopted is because, apparently, they do not photograph as well!!! YES, I repeat, black puppies and dogs in shelters are not desirable because they don’t photograph well! and “humans” of high intelligence make the decision to rather kill them!
Our culture, as a whole, is still so biased and superficial that we would rather see a black puppy killed than adopt it.
Sad, stupid, heartless? No number of qualifiers would ever completely describe my outrage and disappointment. Frankly, it feels like a nightmare, one of those which is so bad, it requires consulting a psychiatrist.
I have a “thing” for all dogs and their unconditional love. However, I must confess this apparently politically incorrect “weakness,” of mine, (by whose standards?) was a major factor in 2012, when I adopted Lola. Yes, people, to be very, very clear, I adopted Lola because she was BLACK!!!
She is a gorgeous black lab mix and one of the many features I love most about her, is her shinny, silky black fur, which I thankfully pet daily. My high blood pressure goes down, probably more so, because her fur is black:)
She also has the nerve to photograph well and is so kind and intelligent, Lola has her own popular blog, http://lifewithbblola.wordpress.com..
BB stands for beautiful and brilliant, because she IS!!! Here she is, and for more lovely photos of Lola, and natural dog home-made treats and tips,please check out her own site.
In my household, officially, the color BLACK is IN!
I stand alone,
Strong and determined,
In the face of adversity!
We come on Earth with nothing,
but our bodies as covers,
and invisible souls.
We leave with nothing,
but shells eaten by worms or by fire,
and our souls…
Enriched by Earthy experiences
Crushed and heavy…
No one knows for sure,
What or where Eternity is,
Or if it exists at all!!!
Dedicated to all questioning minds and all those fighting an uphill battle that seems to never end.
Rodica Mihalis, M.S. Counseling and Clinical Psychology
Sadly, there is still a stigma on people who are aware in a healthy way, and understand that counseling is effective when one is NOT in a crisis!
Counseling will be less effective, or not effective, if one seeks it only when in an emotional crisis or trauma, when our minds’ are already confused and our hearts in pain! Why? Because we are not that crisis, that moment in time and space when something negative happens to turn our lives upside down! We are on a path which slowly, sometimes in ways we are not aware of, leads us to the moment of crisis. Thus, knowing healthy techniques to understand ourselves, our triggers, good and bad, our patterns, will help us to take care and go through a crisis smoothly.
Our health system, unfortunately, doesn’t make it easy to seek and stay in therapy until one truly is healed. As a result, many suffer in silence for various reasons:
Am I going to loose my job if it is found out I see a therapist? Can I afford to pay $200-$400 out of pocket and not go through my insurance! My insurance only pays for the first ten sessions… the first of two are paperwork!
Generally, unless a crisis occurs the person, or family will wait until the bomb pushed down in the darkness of the soul comes up and explodes, and here is the CRISIS! Many times too late!
I’d like to share a few thoughts that went through my mind, and perhaps through yours, concerning this topic:
Oh well, I really don’t need counseling because I have smart friends who advice me, they know me best!!! A counselor gets paid, he/she doesn’t really care. It’s a job! If they don’t pay, counseling stops!
It is too expensive!
I don’t have time. I have to get a baby-sitter, more money! It’s hard to get an appointment!
It’s too far and gas is expensive!
I really do not want to stir those childhood traumas, the abuse, rape, sudden death of a parent… what good would that do? It would just upset me more and hold me back in the past instead of living in the present and planning my future!
Many years ago, as a young wife and mother, coming to the US from Eastern Europe, a communist country at the time, I was faced for the first time with the need of family therapy. WE had a crisis!
Before the marriage crisis, back in Romania, psychotherapy wasn’t something I would have ever considered. In my young mind, it was reserved for the crazies. NOT ME!!!
Slowly, but steadily, my views changed and I understood, at last, that counseling is not for the people who are already in an emotional crisis, but to AVOID a crisis. Of course in a crisis, there is urgent and immediate help: CALL 911, go to your nearest Crisis Center or Emergency Room!
I do have amazing friends, smart, loving. They are also too close, they are in my picture. No matter how well intended, we cannot give valid counseling for people who are so close to us. The same principle why a doctor takes her/his sick child to a colleague.
A good counselor has years of education and knows techniques that will help one for the rest of their lives to ease or avoid the crisis.
The therapeutic relationship of trust and mutual respect is essential to the success of therapy. That trust and therapeutic relationship on the part of both client and counselor is the foundation of successful therapy.
I also think one is a more understanding counselor if they, themselves, experienced the feelings of being clients, the doubts and the fears and especially the courage to seek help.
I have become a different person thanks to counseling, on and off, over the years. I finally understood my childhood patterns and my foundation. We cannot heal on quick sands, our childhoods are our foundations which must be strong and understood by us.
A pattern, repeats itself making one’s life miserable. Once one understands, it becomes a life lesson which propels one forward in a positive way.
Life and tragedies happen. To some, more than to others… I felt this was what happened in my life, but I did not want to be a victim!I I understood I could not control or change what happened. What I could control was my RESPONSE to the events.
This was what counseling did for me! It prepared me for the unspeakable tragedies which rained on me ALL in ONE YEAR!!! A FLOOD!!!
I doubt I would have had the same response had I not been prepared and had I not known that I could not control the events, but my response. Yes, easier said than done, especially if your children are involved. It is not easy, this is why it takes time.
Yes, I was “entitled” to be a victim! My choice was to earn my M.S. in Counseling and Clinical Psychology, so I understand in depth and help others going through the ups and downs of life.
After 12 years as the owner and practitioner of a successful wellness business, at a time when life and illness overwhelmed me and my family, I applied and was accepted for my Master’s degree in Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia . I KNEW I HAD A CHOICE! I give credit to therapy for making me aware I had choices.
I believe one is a better counselor if she/he was also in the position of being a client (Patient), knows first hand the range of emotions, the doubts, fear and courage it takes to seek help.
I also believe that the counselor-client professional relationship of trust and respect is the key to successful therapy.
Why I chose to be an online Counselor? I trust cyber therapy is the way of the future.
I applied to a reputable online company, Proven Therapy (https://www.proventherapy.com/Rodica) which reviews it’s therapists’ credentials before approval, and all therapists on the team are highly qualified professionals with a minimum Master’s degree.
I was very interested to discover how online counseling works versus face-to-face.
What I discovered was that the real issue, was stated by the client upfront. Knowing the truth upfront is a huge advantage for successful therapy. I also discovered that thanks to the reasonable fees and convenience, as well as complete confidentiality, people choose to return to counseling regularly.
Being an online counselor gives me the rewarding feeling that I could be available for my clients 24/7, when they need me, that I may slide my fees to meet their financial hardships, when appropriate, and to provide confidentiality. It is more joy in giving than in receiving, the saying goes, and I agree. Still. I love my Birthday cards and presents:)
I will end with a personal story, a conversation I had years ago, over lunch, with a “friend.”
I told her I was going for my Master’s in Psychology. She looked at me intensely, smiled, you know, that type of biting smile:) which is a smile of the mouth not the eyes?
“I took my daughter once to one of those” she said… “and she (the therapist) gave my daughter a list of self-help books. So… now you will go to graduate school to be one of those?”
Do you think we had lunch again?
Rodica Mihalis, M.S. Counseling and Clinical Psychology
If you ever thought of taking your own life for any reasons:Life’s hardships, you think no one cares, the world will be a better place without you, and you feel so much emotional pain, you would do anything to STOP IT! PLEASE think again! We DO CARE!
Immediately call The NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE 1800-273-8255
or go to your nearest Emergency Room, call a friend to go with you if possible
Remember: It is TEMPORARY and you will understand and defeat this crisis.
There is a moment, before you make a fatal decision, when you have a choice:
Instead of taking your own life, please thinking in that SPLIT MOMENT of this message which comes to YOU with love and which describes what really happens after a suicide loss, and how it affects the survivors, who truly will care for the rest of their lives and beyond!!
IF a close person takes his/her own life they live behind a countless questions, a roller-coaster of emotions which range from guilt, to love, to confusion, anger, and the cycle repeats, because ALL SUICIDE LOSS SURVIVORS CARE AND THEIR LIVES ARE CHANGED FOREVER!!! FOREVER!! Take it from a survivor of suicide loss whose life changed forever, hers and her children’s!
This IS a first hand story of the devastation that occurs after a loss by suicide. It is normal after such a loss to have confused feelings and the love and anger alternating. Pleasel seek HELP to understand the process and the consequences of such a complex loss!
This is a true, personal story which I decided to share because while suicide statistics are on the rise, we, as a culture, still deny the “word” suicide, which is something that could only happen to others, in our minds! Unfortunately, it could happen in anyone’s family and more often than we think.
The Stigma of Suicide —
If someone dies in a car accident the obituary would say” sudden death caused by a car accident.” If someone dies after a long illness, he/she battled it, or if someone dies of a heart attack, it is painful, but okay by our society’s standards. NOT SO if the person killed himself/herself! That is a… secret!
The immediate question in a survivor of suicide loss mind, is, WHY? WHOSE FAULT WAS IT? and I don’t care how many times one is told “it is not your fault,” The survivors’ life will never be the same, knowing it was not their fault. so what if it was not their fault? A LIFE was lost unnecessarily!
As a man I respect deeply, T. Salvatore, an example of dedication in understanding and educating people about suicide prevention, once said: “Life after, is like building a life around a hole, it will never be the same, but you could build it! ” (approximate quote)
The reasons life will never be the same for ALL survivors, but at different levels, is because the relations of the diseased to various people was at different levels. But they ALL MOURN THE LOSS, and will be changed for the rest of their lives.
Following are a few categories:
Parents, brothers and sisters, spouses in a loving relationship and children one leaves behind. In the mist of a crisis and of emotional pain, one thinks no one cares, there is no way out, and the world and loved ones will be better off without him/her. Wrong! Please stop. You are loved and your loved ones do need you! They will continue to care until the rest of their lives.
Friends and distant relatives
Sometimes one chooses his/her friends and not their relatives, a cousin is closer to the person than a sister. They too love you and will ask themselves: why? Could I have done anything?
The Third Group: People WHO “Officially,” DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO CARE
These are ex-wives or ex -husbands, friends or relatives who were not on good terms with the person who took their own life. They are outsiders, it might even be their fault? Were you on speaking terms with the person? Oh, may be YOU left him/her and that’s why.
I was actually asked this question by a “well-intended friend, two years after our divorce: ” “Do you feel guilty? Oh, you shouldn’t, honey! ” her hand on mine, lovingly!. Suddenly I felt guilty. The reality: We had been separated and divorcing for over a year, he was not paying child-support and I was working two jobs, he was forgetting the girls birthdays and when one of our daughter’s asked when visiting his new house:” Oh Daddy, is this our bedroom, my sister’s and mine,?” my ex responded: ” No,this is MY guest room!” He didn’t kill himself over our 20 years of marriage, or the children’s confusion and pain over his neglect, NO he killed himself over a re-possest car which had nothing to do with any of us! Yet WE, yes we, our then teen daughters who are adults now, and myself, will carry the questionings and pain in our hearts forever. I have one hope and wish: OUR CHILDREN WILL UNDERSTAND AND NOT REPEAT THIS CYCLE!
The worst, the unanswered questions in the minds of children in divorced families.Whose fault was it? Mine? I was not speaking with him at the time… guilt, guilt and guilt again, unanswered questions.
Many survivors of a suicide loss, select to push their questionings and the pain, somewhere deep in their hearts and act as if nothing happened… is this the best way? Is it the “healthy, emotional way, to deal with such a complex loss? Or is it a bomb which will explode when one least expects it? Or,perhaps after such a loss, especially if it was a parent you lost at a critical age, such when one is a teen, your choice is to kill yourself slowly. Because if you chose to numb your pain with drugs, cigarettes and sex, you in fact chose a slow death. The obituary may say why you died, so the gain would be you died “respectable and young?” Especially if you are now an adult survivor of such a loss and chose to have children, each time you smoke a cigarette or “relax” with a joint, or drink too much, or allow to be abused physically or emotionally by your partner or anyone, ask yourself do I love myself enough to want to be around for my children and really enjoy life?
THE TRUTH IS, YOU KNOW THERE ARE CHOICES AND HELP, BUT YOU HAVE TO WANT THEM, OR CONTINUE TO LIVE A LIFE WHICH LEADS TO SICKNESS AND EARLY DEATH AND ORPHAN CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND!
I wrote the above, because many times, especially if the choice was to push the pain of a major loss somewhere in the confusion of the souls, there is many times the tendency to choose a life of self-destruction, of addictions and abusive relationships because deep inside, if not attended to, that question will define YOUR life, as a survivor of suicide loss! Your choice of slow self-distruction will affect your children and the children of your children… so NOW, as a survivor of suicide loss, the decision is yours!
. There are choices, as a survivor of suicide loss, to take care of the overwhelming emotions and live the life you deserve, not the one leading to a slow death. You have your children now, do not repeat the cycle of pain and loss. Your children don’t have a choice, as once YOU didn’t! NOW YOU DO!
I facilitated as a SOS (Survivors of Suicide) trained facilitator, a suicide ( Loss) Support Group in a hospital, in suburban Philadelphia, for two years. That experience allowed me the honor and privilege to observe and partly understand how complex is the process of loss after someone’s close suicide.
What triggered my interest in seeking an understanding into this issue, was my ex-husband’s suicide in November of 2005. The same year, when I was diagnosed with serious health problems and I had to close my wellness business. Our teenage daughters were already confused because of our painful divorce in 2004 and changes in our life style which were not easy or even understandable in that stage of development, for a teen, or anyone for that matter.
As they say “life happens,” and it’s what YOU CHOOSE to make of it that matters.
My choice was to try and understand, to be so informed that I may be able to help others. Possibly to educate people about the signs prior to a suicide. We cannot prevent ALL suicides but we COULD reduce the number of tragedies by educating people before it happens.
This post was “triggered” by the sudden death of a person who I respected for his work and kindness, and which “went home to be with the Lord” as the obituary says.
The word suicide, to my knowledge is a taboo word, as it is to speak about it, until it is too late! And even after the tragedy happens, there is a whisper about it…
There will be a Part II to this post describing the signs that precede this tragedy, because WE CARE!!!
Rodica Mihalis, M.S. Counseling and Clinical Psychology
This post is in response to the many questions from readers about HOW I PROTECT MY BLOG AGAINST COMPUTER GENERATED COMMENTS and how, we, as bloggers “protect our blogs against these time consuming, at times funny comments.
My first statement needs to be that what follows is only my personal experience and if you could add to this list, please share with us.
Akismet, the Word Press computer protection robot (I assume) protected this blog 10,546 times. Thank you Akismet. After this initial “screening”, at this time, there are 682 comments in my “spam” line,” and about 12 in “moderation.”
Dilemma number 1: Do I read all 682 spam comments. It is not guaranteed they are ALL spam, and it happened many times they were not. It is your personal decision to read spam or “Delete permanently.” Same with the comments which are in the moderation line. That means, our friend Akismet wasn’t sure of the nature of the comment and send it to us, the humans with real brains to make an executive decision!
What I have noticed:
I have been blogging since December of 2010. The first about 100 posts on this blog turned into a published book, The Gypsy Saw Two Lives. It had a very distinct focus. After the book was published at the end of 2011, I stopped blogging. Then I noticed many visitors were still checking the blog. So I started to write, literally about LIFE, the ups and downs as experienced directly by me. The only focus was, is and will be, could what I write help others and hopefully make them smile. The focus is LIFE as seen by this author.
A few months ago, I was awarded Most Versatile Blog by my fellow-bloggers. According to my Stats 5 topics are covered in these posts.
The blog was growing at a comfortable pace, but then, I wrote a post about a personal experience, a scheme on the internet.
The post was entitled: Buyer Be Aware; Part II and it received 533 views in ONE DAY and people started to comment, sharing their personal experiences. We believe that we, the commentators and post on this blog saved money for a lot of people.
Oh, but wait, the comments kept increasing. Now the blog is read by people from 10-12 countries. The top five, USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany etc.
Here is a clue: I believe the computer generated comments start when a “computer” tells whoever, that your blog received a huge amount of views a day. That day, when the blog received 533 views was the key to the problem, because it is a problem.
I have not yet discovered a way to protect the blog from these comments, if our friend Akismet didn’t, but here are a few “tips” I hope will be helpful.
If you decide to read the” iffy” comments (left by Akismet up to you, to “judge”.)
–Look for repeated comments —if the SAME exact comment repeats three times after you approved it once and is already in your comments, it’s official: it’s either computer generated or written by someone with an intellectual disability, who forgot they asked. One of the other commentators made this remark in a way I wouldn’t:”Is it me, or are some comments made by people with half brains?” Frankly, I think you are a computer, and not a nice one, so your place is in “Delete permanently.”
– Look for patterns — I noticed a few: The comments that are short and general: “Great blog! Keep up the great job!” or comments which require that you give them a reply, or ask silly questions. My favorite in this category was a comment”…. would there be a PART II?” He JUST READ PART II!!! or may be not:)
– Look for comments which just promote their products
-Look for comments which tell you, your blog could use their services to improve –some want your blog to upload faster, some, slower, some say the letters “run off the page” but they could help you fix it.
– Look for sites that ask if you would let them write articles on your blog —if you are interested, check their already published work and/or a draft of the article they propose
– Look for proposals of link exchanges — I do not know enough about this topic to have a valid opinion, but I am cautious.
– Look for comments which give you invalid emails–Some commentators were asking questions which required not a posting but a reply from me. I emailed them, to only discover that the emails were FAKE!!
I continue to believe without a sense of humor, life would be unbearable. I must admit, there was a time when I wondered WHO would buy any book in the series “The Idiot’s Book to….
Then I needed to refresh my knowledge of statistics and bought the Idiot’s Book on it.
If someone, out there wrote an idiots’ book of How to get rid of computer generated comments, I’d be the first to buy it!
Please let me know via a human generated email (contact info:under icon, About Rodica–TOP left of all my posts.)
Thanks for visiting and you, the real readers mean the world to me. I hope these short posts improve your daily lives, somehow. Have a nice weekend Everyone!