by Stephanie McCrackenJanuary 13, 2016 counseling, educational, mindfulness, psychology, psychotherapy, resolutions, wisdom0 comments
Resolving to Simplicity, Less is More.
Oh it is indeed that time again, the new year with its glittering hopes, perhaps like many others, you are assessing some goals, or maybe just noticing in quiet desperation that there are some things which you feel hopeless and exhausting from last year. According to statistics over half of those who have stated a resolution have already had one or more slip ups in achieving their goals. We understand, no need to wait until next year to start again, perhaps your resolution itself could use some polishing to make it more achievable. We know the common categorical types of resolutions, generally those things which move us toward the best version of self, or to be a better spouse, perhaps your goals are professional in nature, there are indeed many ways to evolve. As a helpful tip it is known that we do best with goals which are tangible and concrete therefor more attainable. For example, instead of I want to be healthier we would do best to spend some time listing and contemplating what our ideal version of health looks like so that we can better achieve that. We also do best with goals that are focused on adding a behavior or if we are taking something out of our repertoire we should be sure to replace it with something else, for instance if we resolve to drink less soda, what are we going to drink instead? So many worthwhile goals I have heard uttered by those around town, “take the stairs more often, spend more time with loved ones, take more time for relaxation.” Kudos to us in the north east for even while plummeted with heaps of snow, we still embrace our efforts toward growth or change. It is never an easy task to do a self-assessment and then endeavor to make internal and external maneuvers which are in line with our goals. Yet any effort large or small becomes a reward in and of itself, for this we should be proud, always remembering that change is not an event but a process. Maybe you are still coming up with your resolution, and that is ok too, there are lots of people still calling out ‘happy new year!’ For 2016 maybe like us, you want something a bit different, an intangible, an inarticulate, for us, our resolution may be the anti-resolution, for 2016 what we resolve to make as our own is this one simple, elegant thing, ‘we want less’ let us explore what we mean by this.
For 2016 let us clear out the clutter, the tattered and torn blouses shoved deep into the recesses of our closet, bring the dust bunnies to the light. Not just less clutter but less time acquiring more stuff, in 2016 let us aim to take up less space, find a smaller house and fill it with only the most important and essential of items which mean something vital to us. Let us embrace less fad dieting and nutritional trends which most of all whittle away at our self-esteem when in fact there is much to be loved about the curvature of our waist line. In this new year perhaps we can best serve our selves and goals by speaking less, saying fewer things and embracing those pauses which sustain the power of our chosen words and when we say less of them we instill our speech with meaningful gravity. It may be best to devote less attention to pursuing goals and progress, even this goal and instead we can sit in quiet contemplation while staring out at the endless lessons of the sun or the river, the sun and the river have so much to teach us. In this shiny new and novel year perhaps we can do less, and need less and maybe we will notice the widening cracks of the facade of all of that artificial striving when the unnecessary, the unimportant, the artificial all fade away, we suddenly create space for peace, for stillness, we find that stillness has its own fullness, we create space for our minds to speak of their own accord instead of the ceaseless serving of our family, our friends, our bosses and coworkers needs and wants.
In Pittsburgh’s own Andy Warhol Museum there hangs a sign that says, “Less is more? No! More is More!’- a quote by Andy himself. This we do contest, less really is more because when all that is not essential is whittled away, it is peace, simplicity and serenity which unfolds upon us, cheers to the new year and best of luck with your resolutions and beyond.
Nicole Monteleone MA, LPC, NCC
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenDecember 31, 2014 counseling, mindfulness, new year 2015, personal growth, psychotherapy, resolutions, Uncategorized, wisdom0 comments
A New Year and A Blank Canvas
The infamous ball is approaching its apex, soon the confetti shall spill to the ground, the party music will envelops the night air, albeit briefly as the quiet is coming. Soon, our little nor’easter earth will become silent and still as the snow falls steadfastly ensuring the depths of our winter’s hibernation. Beneath all of this obligatory stillness our mind churns even if just dimly, yes, the mind does indeed churn, the powerhouse creating the thoughts convections which form and sustain our deliberate and unconscious motions in life. One of the greatest quests upon which we can embark is to live more deliberately, with greater awareness, to make conscious all of our human and unacknowledged motivations. How then can we honor our assumed attempts towards personal growth, these questions which are beckoned by the transition into yet another year? In exaltation of the grand pillar of knowingness which indicates another hallmark, we welcome you mindfully 2015.
Alas it is a 2015 and another succession of 365 tomorrows slumped forward and splayed out before us like a pristine canvas, acrylics atop the easel, how will we render our reality? Choose mindfully my friend, as you shift through the boxes of so many colors, which do you want to set the tone of your work? Our life is indeed the greatest act of deliberate creation which we can make and despite some utterances of powerlessness; we all preserve the power to choose how it is that we will respond to life’s grievances and successes, this is my solemn promise to you. So allow us to attune to the process of creation and examine the “how” it is that we paint our picture? This may be referred to as our personal style. What is the feeling which courses through your limbs as you reach for the brush and walk nearer the canvas? Is your heart beating in rapid succession, is your breathing sharp? Is there a sense of nervousness that you will make a blunder? If so that’s ok, there is still a choice in that, how do you respond to anxiety, do you allow fear to limit action? Perhaps you isolate from terror or embarrassment of your own emotional state, you sulk away or head back to the couch and put the blanket over your head, oh my friend, come on, come on back! While we have only one canvas, one year, time is our merciless provocateur, lest not we waste it all in perpetual forced solitude. Perhaps with some semblance of bravery you persevere, you fretfully and shakily reach for the paint, place a dollop upon the tray and allow your vision to take hold? Perhaps you grip the brush stiffly, pressing so forcefully into the canvas that miserly scrapings of paint are all that remains from your terrified attempt, yet when looking back you see that simply by loosening up just a bit, you could have rendered a fairly realistic still life of a sole granny smith apple, waxen gleam, atop your chosen ensemble of a purposefully barren cornucopia. Perhaps that is not like you at all, maybe you are characteristically bold, often finding yourself leaping first and thinking later. Perhaps you reach for the brush and feel brazen in your novice maneuvers, you haplessly secure the broad stroke brush and feverishly create only realizing when looking back that the form is sloppy and the colors have all bled together? Perhaps you are best maneuvering for more of an impressionistic feat, you can still make out the form of all of the people passing down the street that you relentlessly studied, in critiquing your work you imagine that you would like to render them with greater depth. Oh, our dear canvases abounded with stylistic features, the plentitude of variability towards the characteristics which allow us to create our world. What is your style, upon what could you hope to improve? What are your greatest regrets through the year? Perhaps you are like some of us and you wield your abundant energy to paint gloriously, for you it is an act of love and you would like all of the world to be an act of esteemed and exalted love,
fervor will thrust one far yet it is also easy to be burst into a perilous direction when making rapid and frenetic motions with ones paint brush. Yet this is the way you have always created your life’s work, still change can come when we concentrate our efforts and maybe this year something different is in order. When recalling the masterpieces and artistic disasters which your brush has bequeathed, on some days a dribble here and imperfection there, in which frame do you store your most treasured accolades. Perhaps it is the era of sketching out a design and landscape before putting brush to canvas, or perhaps for you it is moving beyond the sketch and working through the fears of actually committing to wielding motion to propel the brush. Some small motion towards growth, always it is intention and mindfulness that hold the key to most every great work, these are the skills which compel talent and desire. Happy New Year! Cheers to creating in the dazzling array of hues, in natural and free flowing form while still making space for artistic imperfections.
Happy New Year!
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Nicole Monteleone NCC, NBCC, LPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenMarch 24, 2014 counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy, Uncategorized0 comments
At long last spring is finally before us, warming sun beams serve as a reminder that winters darkness is ebbing, unfolding to a new time of the year. Before we can finish with a blink of an eye the landscape will be blushing a cool green, the growth of all that only a month ago, was cloaked in hardened winter, a stern remembrance of the branches and twigs formerly befallen with the chilled stagnation of ice and snow. Even the icebergs which were suffocating the rivers and ponds eternal flow have graciously thawed just as do our hearts, mind, beingness—that is if we remain afloat in the process of growing. With springs return we may feel lighter, more content, responding to greater amounts sunlight and warmth, with each day we move further from the Vernal Equinox our knowingness is assured, spring is here. Motivation energizes the spirit which wants to follow the pristine example of the landscape by becoming something even greater, brighter, and more beautiful, on the inside. Some of us create grand plans to dig out our dust pans and mops, rearrange the furniture, switch out our fall and winter wardrobe for the pastels of the season, go all out and do a round of spring cleaning. Like our mothers or fathers and their grandparents before them making use of this special transition to arrange our world into a cleaner and more comfortable environment in preparation for springs blossoming. Perhaps you turn to the instructional mechanisms of Feng shui or some other method to order your environment. Yet the outside, well that has always been the easiest part to wield ones growing sense of mastery, if you really want to challenge your springs cleaning efforts this year, you may want to assess the mechanisms which sustain your internal world by utilizing psychotherapy. All of those thoughts, emotions turned behaviors, reaching their roots as far back as you can recall into the very earliest memories that thought can conjure. I beg you to ask, in what areas do you aim to grow this spring?
This winter has beckoned me to consider the effects of ferocity and holding on far too long. What are some things which you are holding within, exuding to the external? Is there a pattern which you use to shape your interactions with others, can you see it, are you ready to examine this tender area or is it still more safe and familiar to linger in blaming and projections of fears and anxiety? Is there a relationship which you should fix or let go in order to best serve your growth? If you’re imaging that the answer is “yes” then consider a step further, what lessons does this negative interaction hold for you and about you? When you scrape the dust from the long ago blurry mirror and examine your very own image, perhaps you notice a stark face returning your gaze, but what do you really see my friend? Who hides in your shadows?
The earth makes its revolution, revolving 1 time in every 24 hours, our planet is ever in orbit, a seasonal change impending, we feel it, and we must consider how should we change too? Nature is an insistent instructor forever whispering her lessons of change. It is very sad to see those who are ever seeking to remain the same, not recognizing the stages and changes in life, in a solemn and straight trajectory they insist that yesterday should indicate the forecast for tomorrow—yet the best leaders and most well adapted humans accept and thrive through change, allowing it to shape and mold their actions and using it as fuel for their becoming. Ones best course of action through time of change is to examine and then create ones intentions, a typical effort within counseling and therapy. Allow change to unfold by clearing out mental and physical space for spring’s shiny new growth to blossom. Use your mental broom to push stagnant thoughts and behaviors back into the muddy earth and replace them with those which sustain the tender budding life, the new growth, both within and without. Bloom Bright and Blossom Beauty!
In Loving Encouragement,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa
15233 Suite 100