Image result for “Having bipolar disorder means waking up not knowing whether Tigger or Eeyore will be making your decisions for you!”

You remember Winnie the Pooh don’t you?  Tigger always having a lot of energy and raring to go. Eeyore much more laid-back, self-loathing and depressed.  Bipolar is a disorder characterized by unusually high ups and downs.  These ups and downs are definitely out of the range of the normal ups and downs most of us experience as we go through life.  In the “up” phase of the disorder, one can have excessive energy, compulsive behaviors, not feel the need to sleep or, in a true manic phase, be totally out of control with their behavior. In the “down” phase one can become withdrawn, sad, depressed, prone to oversleeping and, overeat or lose their appetite.  Bipolar is a serious disorder that does not get better by itself.  There may be episodes of what appears to be normalcy but eventually the mood swings will return.  Frequently folks with bipolar try to self medicate their moods with alcohol or drugs and that usually proves unhelpful and can make recovery more difficult.  One theory & of recent research indicates that the more times a person cycles between the ups and downs of bipolar disorder, the harder it is to treat.  This has also been found to be true the more times bipolar people go on and off medications.  Bipolar is treatable but needs a good assessment and usually a combination of psychotropic medications and counseling/therapy.  With good treatment many bipolar people can live a life closer to that of Winnie the Pooh!

Peace, John

Happy Father’s Day!

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Can’t See For Lookin’

My Dad never took himself seriously.  Sometimes when he was looking for something and it was right under his nose, he would say “I can’t see for lookin’.”  It makes me smile even more now that I’m older, because I’m noticing lately that I also miss the obvious more often than not.  

Searching the house frantically for my keys?  They’re usually already in my purse.  Looking for my glasses so I can watch TV?  Uh oh, they’re pushed up on the top of my head!

When I lived in Salem, Massachusetts, I always dreaded a certain intersection because there was no left turn and I had to turn right every time, which took me a few precious minutes out of my way.  I lived there for several years before it finally dawned on me that even though I couldn’t turn left, it didn’t mean I had to turn right.  I had another option and it was right in front of me the whole time: go straight!

Last fall while on vacation my gym bag zipper got jammed in a plastic bag.  On arriving home, I was able to get most of the plastic out of the zipper, but the tiniest bit was still there, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t zip the bag shut anymore.  I was really disappointed because I love that gym bag.  It’s a bright shade of turquoise with white flowers and it always makes me happy to look at it.

In my struggle to unjam the zipper, I tried everything I could think of, to no avail.  Then one day I went to wrestle with it and… voilà!  Like magic, the zipper closed.  I thought it was a miracle, and was about to alert the news media when I really looked closely at the gym bag.  Guess what I noticed?  It has two zippers!  I’d been so busy frantically working on the zipper with the plastic stuck in it that I hadn’t even noticed the other one.

Time for Reflection

Is there something that you are struggling with today?  Something simple like an idea for a birthday present, or what to serve for a special dinner?  Or maybe something a little more complicated, like a relationship issue or a career change? 

If there is, I urge you to take some time this week to simply stop, be still and look, really look around you (on the outside and the inside).  I can almost guarantee that the solution is right there on the border of your current vision, just waiting to be seen.

~~~ Anne Marie Bennett (link to

Hi!  This is the last in a series of guest blogs from my sister.  Now it’s your turn!  Find a quote that speaks to you and send it to me along with your comments. Please send to: and remember to put the words “guest blog” in the subject line. Why not do it today while you’re thinking about it?  Imagine how good you will feel when you see it in print and know that it’s been shared with others!
Peace, John

Image result for “Your goals don’t care how you feel.”

Setting realistic and measurable goals is important.  Writing them down and reading them daily helps you achieve them.  When you start trying to figure out where you want to be or what you want to accomplish, you use your brain, your thought process.  If you get too many feelings going on when you try and set goals for yourself, they may interfere with the process.  They may also interfere with your attainment.  Be mindful of your feelings while you work on your goals, but persist.  Frequently feelings can sidetrack you from the effort you need to reach your goals.  Accept your feelings and work hard to achieve your goals.

Peace, John

I invite you to be a guest blogger.  Find a quote that speaks to you and write a few sentences about it and what it means to you. Send it all to me in an email with subject line reading “Guest blogger.”  I will review and publish it, with gratitude, and with the hope that others will benefit from it as well.   Peace,  John  


Image result for “Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it… It dies!”

Relationship = 2 people + a connection!  That connection is communication.  Take a minute and look at your communication patterns.  Ask yourself some of these questions: do we have time for conversation or do we have to schedule time?  Who usually initiates conversation?  Who tends to over-communicate?  Why?  Who tends to under-communicate?  Why?  What’s the impact of over- communicating or under-communicating on yourself, on the other person?  Where did you learn to communicate?  Did you pick up any poor skills in childhood or in earlier relationships that persist today?  Are you willing to change any of them?  Is your partner willing to work on this with you?  When’s the last time you and your partner talked about your communication?

Now, breathe deep, open your mouth, send a message, open your ears, hear a message and get on with your life/lives.

Peace, John

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Picture this: I’m happily settling into an airplane window seat, on my way to Buffalo on a business trip.  Glancing out the window, what do I see?  A baggage handler lifting my suitcase off the conveyor belt and carrying it back inside the terminal. 

This is when I truly learned the meaning of letting go.  Up until that very moment, in my early thirties, I pretty much believed that I was the one who was in control.  Small things, big things.  I hadn’t come up against much in my life yet that required a complete and total surrender.  Enter that baggage handler.  Carrying my suitcase off of the plane.  

There was nothing that I could do.  Absolutely nothing.  It did cross my mind to run screaming down the airplane’s narrow aisle to try to get someone to stop the baggage guy, but I realized that would get me nowhere fast.  So I sat back in my seat, and decided to enjoy the flight, to truly Let Go of that suitcase.

And do you know what?  When I got to Buffalo, my suitcase was already there!  Don’t ask me how.  This one goes into that big mysterious book of life’s unanswerable questions.  But it was there.  I realized that it would have been there even if I’d spent that whole flight worrying and fretting about it, which I hadn’t.  I’m glad I enjoyed the ride instead.

Time for Reflection

Pause for a few moments right now.  What is there in your life that you need to let go of?  It might be something small, like the way your daughter does her homework, or something bigger, like a past relationship. 

Whatever it is, picture it as my suitcase in the above story, being carried away by an uniformed “baggage handler.”  Realize that there is nothing you can do about it; it’s being taken out of your life. 

How does it feel to let it go?  Breathe into that feeling, whatever it is, and don’t judge it.  Just allow it to be.  If you feel so led, allow this story to inspire a SoulCollage® card for your deck.

~~~ Anne Marie Bennett 

Hi!  This is another guest blog from my sister.  She wrote several for me to use while I was recuperating from my recent open-heart surgery.  I appreciate her effort on my behalf and hope you enjoy them.  You too can be a guest blogger for us – just find a quote that really speaks to you and share it with me along with several thoughts you have about how it applies to your situation or that would be helpful for our readers. Send it to me at (subject line “guest blog” and I’ll be happy to review it, and schedule it in the queue. 

Blessings and Peace, John


Definitely worth the time to watch & listen today.  Click the arrow in the center to watch on You Tube.  Thank you to all of our current and past service members and their families who served to insure our freedom. May their memories live forever in our minds & spirits.   Peace,  John



Image result for “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” ~Lao Tzu

I would modify this quote.  Caring what other people think is important in a civilized society, but, caring too much about what others think is not healthy.   How much is “too much?” There needs to be a balance between your focus on what you think about your self and your concern about other people’s thoughts.  If you’re constantly losing yourself by focusing on other people’s thoughts, then the seesaw is tipped against you.  Work on keeping a balance and you won’t have to worry about how to get a “get out of jail free” card.  Don’t lose the “me.”

Remember: “What you think of me is none of my business.  What I think of you is none of your business.  What I think of me is my business.  What you think of you is your business.  So, let’s stick to business, okay?”

Peace, John

In addition to following me on Facebook and Twitter, you can also follow Personal Growth Concepts, Inc. on Facebook (@PersonalGrowthConceptsInc) and on Twitter (@PGCCounseling)


Image result for “Trying new things will make you uncomfortable. Do it anyway!”

Sounds like part of a quote from Mother Teresa, doesn’t it?  Doing things differently whether it’s trying a new food or starting a healthy habit puts you out of your comfort zone.  I guess the question is, “Do you really want to stay safe and comfortable?”  Do you think you might eventually get bored if things are “too” status quo?  This might be a good position for someone who has had a turbulent, dramatic type of life.  It may be uncomfortable for them at first, the absence of the drama, but they might get used to it.  They may even need to resist the urge to create drama so that they can experience familiar feelings.

The rest of us could ask, “How much uncomfortability is tolerable?”  We can push ourselves to the edge of what’s comfortable, and then a little more.  This will help us grow slowly and at a pace that we can adapt to.  When you change, start small, persist and build some momentum.  Remember, “Yard by yard it’s hard, but, inch by inch it’s a cinch!”

Peace, John

If you enjoyed this blog post, I encourage you to share it with your friends on social media.


Image result for Comparison is the thief of joy

What do you compare?  Possessions?  People?  Yourself with others?  The problem with comparison is that it assumes one is better than the other.  My car may be newer than yours but if it breaks down frequently, is that better?  If that person parents their child differently than the other person, which is preferable?  If that person brings home more money than I, are they happier?

Remember in high school the essay questions that started, “Compare and contrast….”  I think there was value in finding the differences AND the similarities.  Today it seems like we get caught up in the good and bad, right and wrong, and the judgments we make.  Could it be that, after we compare, we could just acknowledge that they are different?  That’s all, they are just different!  Kind of keeps the thief at bay, doesn’t it?  Preserves our joy at the same time.  Acceptance!

Peace, John

Happy Mother’s Day!

In addition to following me on Facebook and Twitter, you can also follow Personal Growth Concepts, Inc. on Facebook (@PersonalGrowthConceptsInc) and on Twitter (@PGCCounseling)


Blog followers,

       A week and a half ago I asked for your feedback – wanting to know if anybody was reading my blog and for any comments, constructive criticisms or ideas for topics or improvements.  To date I’ve received 7 and I thought I would share them with the rest of you in a midweek blog post.  Please keep the comments coming as they definitely help me. You can send them to:  Peace, John



I’m a silent fan and always read and enjoy your blog. ~ CH – A Soul Collager from Genesis


Hi John!

I read every single blog that comes into my mailbox.  This is on my top ten blogs that I’ve read by you.  My favorite quote, by far, is “Broken crayons still color”.  I guess that quote has a lot to do with the fact that I’m an artist. I have often used that phrase with friends and after they ponder, they smile.  It is beyond true and we are all proof.

I love this new blog because I have been working so hard at my 9 to 5 job, working on my day off at another job and while at home balancing my children, I’m trying to grow my art presence (by painting everyday and booking events and shows – doing whatever I can to get my name out there) and I’m also slow starting a new business with my children.  The work is endless and I wouldn’t have it any other way because idle hands get in trouble!  When there seems to be no wind, things are slow and seemingly more work but I keep rowing a little every day.  But boy, let me tell you about that wind.  When the wind picks up, I row even faster and it seems far easier.  This rolling stone gathers no moss!

Peace to you! ~ TR



Thanks for your Touchpoints email.  You asked for some feedback so I wanted to reply.  I enjoy reading these. Today’s post reminds me of the quote attributed to Albert Einstein, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Trying something different is key.

I also enjoyed the April 14 post on coping with anxiety which i re-read today. I hope to share those tips with someone and remember them myself.   Regards, ~ JW


Love those blogs John! Thx. ~ TC

Yes, John,

I read every post. Some don’t apply but many I take to heart. Thank you for all your efforts to reach out to people. ~DT



Your blog today reminded me that I’m on a tandem bicycle and God keeps saying “Keep pedaling “ Your words help me stay grounded every week. ~DM

I read these all the time and sometimes several times. I value the messages John. ~DM

Image result for Spend more time with the solution then with the problem.

Frequently clients spend 90% of their time with me detailing whatever their issues are.  Frankly, they are stuck.  Spending that much time focusing on the problem prevents them from looking at what can be done about it.  I tell them “lean into the solution.”  The solution usually involves changing their thoughts and their behaviors to get a different outcome.  What problem are you dwelling on today that could be improved by focusing on your options?  Spend 90% of your time focusing on solutions and only 10%, or less, on what’s troubling you.  Ask yourself, what’s the next best thing for me to do about this?  Answer it and then, do it!

Peace, John

If you enjoyed this blog post, I encourage you to share it with your friends on social media.


Image result for “If there is no wind, row.”

Once you know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?  If you have a big enough sail, the wind may help.  Usually to change where we are we have to put some effort into it.  That means expending energy and changing our behavior (i.e. doing something different).  Otherwise we’ll stagnate in the dead calm!  I say, If there is wind, row anyway!  You might get there faster!  If there is no wind, reread the above quote and do what it says!

Peace, John

Hey blog viewers, how about some feedback once in a while? I haven’t had any recently and would like to know if you’re reading my blogs and if so, what your thoughts and feelings are about them. Are they helpful? If so, how? Are there any particular topics you would like me to cover? Please send any constructive criticism/comments and feedback to me at:     Subject line: blog feedback.   Thank you – jp



I’m Not a Duck?

Several years ago a nearby theatre staged a production of the musical Honk!  Based on the story of the Ugly Duckling, it was performed by adults in creative costumes which gave the impression that they were animals.

I was working in the box office there at the time, so I was lucky to be able to see Honk! several times during its three-week run.  My favorite scene in the show was near the end, when the actor portraying the Ugly Duckling reappeared wearing starched white jeans, a pristine white ski jacket, dark sunglasses, and a brand new (also white!) baseball cap.

Ugly suddenly noticed that he wasn’t wearing scruffy, torn clothes and nerdy glasses anymore, and said in total bewilderment, “I’m not a duck?”  Then his amazement turned to joy as he shouted more confidently, “I’m not a duck. I’m a swan!”  I can still hear the inflection in the character’s voice as he reveled in his new-found beauteous transformation with awe and pride.

I took a lesson home with me every night from that show. I also took an affirmation-

I’m not a duck…I’m a swan. 
I’m not a duck…I’m a swan.

And then I turned that affirmation into a ritual.

On my daily walks that summer, I passed a house which had two verdigris duck statues on the stone wall on either side of the driveway.  When I came to them, I would touch the first duck and say to myself, “I’m not a duck.”  Then I would touch the second duck and say, “I’m a swan.”  And I would do the exact same thing on my way back home.

This little ritual is one that still brings me comfort and joy.  Every time I touch those ducks and say those words, I am reminded that I really am a swan- with goodness, beauty, gifts, and something important to say.

Time for Reflection

Create an affirmation of your own and incorporate it into a ritual that reminds you of your goodness, beauty, and gifts.

— Anne Marie Bennett, (LINK TO  



Image result for “I am learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me.”

It must be quiet to hear the sound of your own feet, don’t you think?  Things not meant for you may include: people, drama, issues over which you have no control, and things that are not consistent with who you are.  I urge you to check out your values, ethics and issues that you think and/or feel strongly about.  If “it” goes against you, turn your back and listen for your footsteps.

Also, please pay attention to what direction you are headed!

Happy Easter!

Peace, John

In addition to following me on Facebook and Twitter, you can also follow Personal Growth Concepts, Inc. on Facebook (@PersonalGrowthConceptsInc) and on Twitter (@PGCCounseling)


Image result for “Feeling anxiety? Do a ‘grounding’ tool. Look around you. Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This is called ‘grounding.’ It’s helpful to do whenever you feel anxious. ©

Why do you think this helps?  I think it brings you back to the here and now.  Anxiety is almost always about your thinking too much about the future, usually a negatively projected future.  Have you tried positively projecting the future?  Most of the things you’re anxious about will not happen – the few that do, you will find ways to cope.

Some of you may need to use this grounding tool many times.  If you do, over time I suspect, you will be less anxious.  This, like affirmations, is not a quick fix.  The key is to use the tool regularly.

If you use the strategy, please let me know if it helps.  Email me at

Peace, John

In addition to following me on Facebook and Twitter, you can also follow Personal Growth Concepts, Inc. on Facebook (@PersonalGrowthConceptsInc) and on Twitter (@PGCCounseling)




“Apologizing chronically can be a sign that you are not feeling that you have much self-worth.”

Article & quote by Madisyn Taylor

Many people suffer with the tendency to apologize all the time, chronically, for everything. On the one hand, apologizing is a social convention that keeps interactions between people polite, and in that way it can be very helpful. On the other hand, if we find ourselves apologizing for everything, it might be time to look at why we feel compelled to say “I’m sorry” so often. Ultimately, saying you’re sorry is saying that you are responsible for something that has gone wrong in the situation. Whether it’s negotiating a parking spot, moving through the aisles of the supermarket, or reaching for what you want, there are times when sorry is the right thing to say. But there are other times when “excuse me” is more accurate. 

Sometimes saying you’re sorry is like saying that the other person in the equation has more of a right to be here than you do. Of course, it’s true that using the word sorry can simply be an innocuous way of defusing tension. However, if you find that you say sorry all the time, you might want to look a little deeper and see where in your psyche that might be coming from. If it’s a pattern, breaking it may simply take some awareness and practice. 

The first step is observing yourself each time you say it, without being hard on yourself about it. Throughout your day simply notice when you apologize. At first, you might be surprised to see that you do it even more than you first realized. After a day or two of simply observing, try to tune in to what it is you are feeling right before you say it. You might be feeling threatened, embarrassed, intensely anxious, or a variety of other feelings. Over time, try to stop yourself before the words come out and just be with the feeling that’s there. You may recognize it as one from your childhood, one that’s been with you for a long time. The more you are able to see it, the freer you will be not to be sorry all the time.

The above was not an original of mine but something I found on FB written by Madisyn Taylor that I copied, without permission, to share.  You can find similar ones on FB by following DailyOM or by cutting and pasting this link into your browser:

Peace, John


Image result for “Choices made in anger cannot be undone”

How about the advice, “When angry, count to 10.  If you are still angry, count to 20!”  Do you think this would prevent you from making some poor choices?  I’ve learned that, when I have any heightened emotional state, to let time pass.  Otherwise my emotions are in control and not my thoughts.  When I go strictly based on the feelings, the quality of my decision declines.  After a period of time I can gain perspective, can balance my thoughts with my feelings and then, hopefully make better choices.  Please don’t find yourself quickly leaping off a cliff in pursuit without considering all the possible consequences.  Kind of like, “Cutting off your nose to spite your face,” don’t you think?

Peace, John

If you enjoyed this blog post, I encourage you to share it with your friends on social media.

Image result for JUST SAY NOI remember a time in my early thirties when I was having some, shall we say, “codependent issues” with my boyfriend Dan.  I had worked myself into an unhealthy state of isolation (although I couldn’t see that then) and felt like I was drowning in this man’s problems.  He was living with me; I was supporting him.  I pretty much had no life of my own anymore. 

I knew I needed help, so I drove three hours to spend the afternoon with my big brother John who is a social worker and counselor specializing in addiction and codependency.  After listening to me for over an hour, he did something unusual.  He asked me to stand up. Then he stood in front of me and told me to say “No” to him.  Not just once, but many times, over and over.  He encouraged me to imagine that Dan was standing in front of me as I said “No” again and again, louder and louder each time.

At first I couldn’t do it!  I collapsed into giggles on the sofa.  But he kept encouraging me and pretty soon I was shouting angry “NO”s that could be heard on the other side of town.  It was a clear moment of awakening for me.  I finally realized that I had the option to say “No” to anyone or anything that wasn’t for my highest good.  Up until that moment, I had no idea that this was a possibility.  

After that, I actually was able to go back to my apartment and say to my boyfriend, “You need to find your own place to live.”  And guess what?  He did!  This gave me back a piece of my self that I had forgotten existed. 

I urge you to find a way to say “No” to something or someone this week.  Perhaps there is someone who is infringing on your personal time.  Maybe a job situation or relationship has become intolerable.  There might be an inner voice that is berating or judging you.  I promise that when you say NO in a big way and really mean it, you will feel a wonderful, joyful YES bubbling up in your whole being.  

Time for Reflection

What do you need to say NO to in your life, in order to allow the YES to come through?

If you can relate to this, I urge you to practice saying NO out loud when you are alone in your car.  Scream it, chant it, sing it, quack it like a duck if you have to, but say it out loud over and over until you are comfortable with the feel of it on your lips.

~ Anne Marie Bennett ( LINK)

Another thank you to my sister for contributing this blog.  I don’t remember the exercise I did with her – it’s been a long time ago, but I will add it back into my repertoire.  We have 3 more from her which will appear during the next several months.  Look for them & feel free to share this one on social media.  Peace,  John

Image result for “Affirmation for Letting Go: Today I embrace the memory of my past, and feel grateful for all that life has given me. I acknowledge that I did the best I could at the time, and now I am ready to let it go. I clear my future road ahead for miracles and happy surprises!”

Remembering, the past no longer exists.  It’s just a memory.  Trying to keep it as a remembrance may help you accept it.  Any pain attached to it no longer exists, except in your mind.  Are you still beating yourself up over it?

You need to put the club down because you don’t look good in black and blue!

This quote says that you acknowledge and accept your past, that you did the best you could, given who you were and the resources at your disposal at the time.  Sometimes holding onto the past has secondary gains – it can gain you attention or prevent you from facing the anxiety of having to move forward (aka avoidance!).

Do you want to stay stuck?  Are you ready to let go and experience your future, the future that you create for yourself?  Or are you going to continue to limit yourself staying mired in your past?  If the former, get ready for some work and expect some “miracles and happy surprises!”

Remember, now is not then!

Peace, John

In addition to following me on Facebook and Twitter, you can also follow Personal Growth Concepts, Inc. on Facebook (@PersonalGrowthConceptsInc) and on Twitter (@PGCCounseling)


Image result for “ADHD: I have more thoughts before breakfast than most people have all day”

There are three types of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder): inattentive, hyperactive and combined.  Inattentive means the person has difficulty maintaining focus or attention.  Their mind wanders frequently and they usually have a hard time getting back on track.  That’s usually the reason for “more thoughts before breakfast.”  The hyperactive type is constantly moving.  I can be in a church or auditorium and, by observation, can usually pick out people who are likely to have the hyperactive form.  Their hands and head are frequently moving, they rock and tap their feet incessantly.  The combined type has both.  Assessment is available.  Diagnosis frequently gets confused with anxiety and bipolar disorder.  An assessment by a clinician, medicator or psychiatrist is usually considered and treatment is available. 

ADHD never takes a day off!

There is a lot of information out there on the Internet.  We used to think that adults had outgrown the disorder.  We now know that many adults have adapted.  Untreated, ADHD can lead to frustration, anger, poor ability to learn and difficulties communicating  in relationships, both personal and at work.   If you think you or someone you love may have ADHD, why not reach out, get some more information, and perhaps arrange an evaluation?

Peace, John

If you enjoyed this blog post, I urge you to share it with your friends on social media, or others who may benefit from it.



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