A DREAM – written down with a date, becomes a GOAL.

A GOAL – broken down into steps, becomes a PLAN.

A PLAN – backed by ACTION, becomes REALITY – A Dream Come True!

A friend sent me this quote and it got me thinking.  Every year on January first people set goals and by February, those goals fall by the wayside.  I know I’m guilty of that.  So, what causes us to lose sight of our goals even when we KNOW we should persevere?  Maybe it’s the language we use.

How do you feel when you hear the word “goal” or “goal setting?”  Now, how do you feel when you hear the word “dream” or “dream come true?”

This quote spoke to me because the language is clear and simple, and I love the idea of making my dreams come true.  “Goal setting” doesn’t speak to me in the same way, it’s not as exciting.

If we tie our goal-setting to our dreams, that’s where the magic can happen; we can make our dreams a reality.  What’s your dream?

Arden H. Church, LMSW


“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink….


if the water is around, he might realize how thirsty he is!” ~ John

I’ve been saying this for years.  It’s about trying to control others.  Usually we want somebody else to do something and we get frustrated trying to get them to do it.  People may do “it” for a variety of reasons but frequently they turn passive-aggressive and there’s a price to pay.  When they do what we want them to do, they don’t experience the freedom of choice to do it themselves, in their own time and in their unique way.  Simply stop trying to force them to drink!  Make sure the water is around and as you wait (patience) and see what happens, get on with your own life.  Control yourself.  Take care and nurture yourself.  When you are thirsty, drink.  You may not realize it but, as you get healthier, you are setting a good role model.  If they decide they are thirsty, then they won’t have far to look to figure out how to go about drinking.  If they are in denial about their thirstiness, then you will be well hydrated and healthy!  Stay that way.  Whether they win or lose, you win.  “Them’s good odds.”

Peace, John


Image result for obi wan cannoli

I decided to lighten it up for today. Enjoy your self and share the chuckle(s).

Peace, John


Image result for “Grief is like living two lives. One is where you “pretend” everything is all right, and the other is where your heart silently screams in pain.

I am currently reading (listening to) a book written by a man who many years ago lost his wife and infant son in a horrible car accident.  More recently, he lost an adult son to the same form of brain cancer that took the life of Sen. John McCain.  He briefly describes the gut-wrenching grieving process.  He indicates, with the right support, attitude and time, you can eventually reach the point where the memory of the one lost initially begets a smile before the sadness.  While this may not be comforting to those whose loss is recent and deep, it offers hope that healing is possible.  The pretending is temporary, eventually blending with the pain.  You will never be the same, but you will be different.

A special thank you today to all who have labored to make this country a wonderful place to live, work and play.  Blessings to you. Have a peaceful and restful Labor Day. ~ John


Image result for "I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay." ~ Iyanla Vanzant

A client once shared that, when he was a kid, whenever he shared a feeling, he was cuffed upside the head or put down and made to feel guilty or “wrong” for having the feeling.  Most of our work focused on helping him figure out what he was feeling, accepting those feelings and then thinking his way through what choices he might make on how to deal with his situation.  It took him a while but he was eventually able to reverse the pattern of denying himself his feelings and gradually, over time, began to find “safe” people with whom he could share them.  “Safe” people are ones who will not ask why you are feeling what you are feeling.  Nor will they invalidate your feelings by telling that shouldn’t feel them.  “Safe” people will acknowledge and accept your feelings, and you, just as you are.

Do you have “safe” people in your life?  Do they help you feel what you feel?  Do they share and acknowledge your okay-ness?  If so, treasure them.  If not, consider getting some as a basic first step in healing yourself.

Peace, John

You too can 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  



“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make a difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it.

That factor is attitude.” ~ William James

Every relationship has conflict; it’s what you do with it that makes the difference.

Always sweat the small stuff. 

Allow yourself the luxury of saying in an even, matter of fact tone what you want/think and why.

Take a moment to pause and listen to the other person.

Before you say anything negative, take a deep breath.

Believe there is a solution and you will notice progress.


Respectfully submitted,

Carrie Lee Henderson, MSW, LCSW


A special thank you to our own Carrie Lee for her contribution to our blog. If you like this blog, please share it with your friends and encourage them to sign up and follow us at: https://personalgrowthconcepts.wordpress.com/

The following excerpt is from the book, The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness by Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat–Zinn

After discussing depression as being primarily focused on the past and anxiety, being mostly focused on the future, the authors go on as follows:

“During such a mental time travel, we can easily forget that we are in the present, as we get into thinking about past or future situations. Instead, we become absorbed within those ideas of past or future as if we were actually there. We often relive remembered emotions or pre-live anticipated ones. Not only do we remove ourselves from the only reality that we can directly experience, the here and now, but we also suffer the agonies of events that are either long past or may never actually happen…. In this way, little by little, moment by moment, life can slip by without us being fully here for it. Always preoccupied with getting somewhere else, we are hardly ever wear we actually are and attentive to what is actually unfolding at this moment.”

A special thank you to George D for sharing this excerpt with me. I believe it’s the best supporting documentation that I’ve heard for my technique of, “be here now, [your name].”

Please consider sharing this post on your social media.  Thank you.  Peace, John

Image result for “It’s so difficult to explain depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not just sadness.” ~J.K. Rowling

It’s more complicated than “just sadness.”  It can be a whole cluster of feelings.  It’s involuntary.  No one decides to “be depressed.”  It’s often overwhelming and it may have physical, psychological and social causes and implications.  Physically, there may be serotonin and other biochemical imbalances or disease related causes and symptoms.  Physical symptoms can include sleep disturbances, poor or excessive appetite, weight gain or loss.  Psychologically one can feel tired, irritable, moody, blocked from enjoying things they usually enjoyed and powerless to effect change.  Socially one can feel withdrawn, uninterested in other’s company and frustrated trying to keep up a happy face when expected.

If you or someone you love is depressed, know that help is available and effective in the majority of cases.  Being properly diagnosed and treated is important.  Find a knowledgeable licensed mental health professional to meet with or, discuss it with your primary care doctor.  Help is within reach!

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 “Life is like a piano. The white keys are happy days, and the black keys are sad ones. Just remember that you need both to make music.”

Are you constantly playing Chopin’s Black Key Etude?  He wrote the piece of music using only the black keys of the piano.  Try checking it out on YouTube.

While you can make music on just the black keys, it lacks the depth, inspiration and flexibility of the full keyboard.  Balance is needed, in music and in life.  As you reflect on this simile, remember there are more white keys on a piano than black.  Are you playing your life in the proper balance?

Peace, John

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


Image result for “There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.”

There are two quotes today as we focus on improving our communication.  I was recently admonished by a client for not responding quickly enough.  I saw that as a compliment; I’m sure he did not!  Often, we are too busy formulating our response before the speaker has finished.  Slow it down.  Give it your full attention (I am super guilty of not doing this!).  Think about it before you respond – otherwise you are “reacting.”  You may even want to check that the message the other person sent is the same as you received.  To do this, you ask a question, like, “so I heard you just tell me that…. Is that correct?”  This will help reduce misunderstandings.  If you didn’t get it correct, it’s time to clarify before moving ahead.  If you did get it correct then you can share your thoughts.  To help the conversation continue, end with a question, inviting a response.  Happy communicating!

Peace, John Image result for “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”


You can 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 “Never put the key to your happiness in somebody else’s pocket”

Too many people do this and I don’t understand why.  Happiness is an inside job.  Abraham Lincoln allegedly once said, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

When you put the key to your happiness in somebody else’s pocket you become dependent on them.  They become your jailer and decide your comings and goings in the world of happiness.  What did you do to be sentenced this way?

Just because someone wants to be your jailer, doesn’t mean you need to surrender and be held hostage by their whims.

Today, who holds the key to your happiness?  If someone else, how does it feel to be in the second car of their roller coaster?  Sounds like it’s time to bail out and, as Lincoln said, make up your mind….

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)




This is the story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done!

I hope you enjoyed our mid-week chuckle.  Peace,  John


Image result for “How would we feel if someone never talked to us till they wanted something? God has feelings too”

When’s the last time you talked to your Higher Power?  Do you share your gratitude or just your troubles?  Do you talk to her/him in good times or bad times?  or both?  Can you share any and all feelings?  Someone once told me that when you share how frustrated and angry you are, it’s the highest form of prayer.  Source will never abandon you.

Going to Spirit with requests is part of it.  Years ago, a little book entitled, Too Busy Not to Pray taught me the four parts of balanced prayer (use the acronym A-C-T-S to remember: Adoration (aligning with something bigger than myself); Confession (admitting where I have fallen short); Thanksgiving (what I am grateful for); Supplication (what I ask).

Whatever your belief, may I suggest, balanced communication?

Peace, John

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



Image result for “One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, and instead of what they have to gain.

Do you resist change? If so, you have a lot of company.  Change usually involves risk.  Staying with what you know is familiar and comfortable, even though it might not be healthy. Making a change takes energy and dealing with uncertainty.

If you look at what you’re letting go of, making the changes becomes harder.  You focus on what you must lose (give up); you need to focus on what you are gaining, and move decidedly in that direction.

Sometimes we try to bite off more than we can chew.  We try to make changes that are too large.  When we don’t seem to progress as quickly as we had hoped, we become frustrated and tend to revert to the old and familiar.  I suggest we break them down into smaller bites.  Smaller goals with reasonable time frames.

What would you like to change about your self today?  Is it realistic?  What small, realistic goal can you set for your self?  How will you benefit from that change?  Now… change… and gain!

Peace, John

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

“Forgive yourself for your faults and your mistakes, and move on.”


I am not sure just where it is in biblical philosophy, but I know I have heard many times that the past mistakes are over and forgotten, unless I should choose to keep reliving them.  Why I relive the past, I don’t know.  Is it more comfortable to live in pain?  Certainly highly DOUBTFUL.  Am I afraid to grow?  Is there something about the now that frightens me?  Since I seem to know the now, why am I so afraid of it?  What about the future?  Am I trying to prolong the inevitable from happening?  Why is the past of my mistakes so comfortable?  I know I have faults. So what?

There are certainly others who know my faults better than I do.

So why wallow in my faults and my mistakes?  Isn’t doing that a waste of my time and energy?  I say to myself once in a while “The past faults and mistakes are just that—past— I’m better than I used to be. Move on and grow!”  Perhaps I should say that more often than just once in a while, eh?

Ed note:  Thanks to DM for this mid-week reminder on the value of self forgiveness.  Remember, it is a process! 

You too can 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 “Spend more time with the solution than with the problem.”

As a counselor, clients frequently come to me and expect me to listen to their problems.  That usually works for the first session or two but then, they keep telling me their problems.  I think, “variations on a theme!”  I suppose it helps them feel better to share some of their stuff… but repeatedly??  I think the “feeling better” is short-lived.  When I hear them repeating the same problems I heard the past week, or several weeks, in the same words, I know they don’t remember having told me.  I try to be patient as I nudge them a bit.  I have frequently told them that my clients would get a lot better a lot more quickly if they spent only 10% of the time telling me their problems and 90% discussing possible solutions.  

I also have been known to tell them that there are no problems, only challenges.  It’s the same situation but a different way to understand it.  We call this a “reframe.”  With a problem, I tend to get stuck analyzing it, figuring out why, understanding it’s history, and focusing on the past.  With a challenge, I accept what is and can look at what resources I have that can help me overcome it.  Now, that’s leaning into a solution, isn’t it?

And it’s been said, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”  Which are you?  What would you need to change to become more a part of the solution?  Now, that definitely is leaning into a solution!





Image result for “Every time I have to set a boundary, it stresses me out. But I do it for the same reason I’ve been building blanket forts since I was a little kid. To create a safe place for myself. ~ Nanea Hoffman

Ah!  Remember those blanket forts?  I used to make one in my bedroom with an old Indian blanket that was ideal.  I would drape it between my brother’s bed and mine, anchor it on the beds with telephone books and heavy objects.  I would then get my flashlight, my little transistor radio, my comic books and go hide away.  It was fun back then.  Creating safe places for me to be me and not who others want me to be or, think I should be, is a different story today.

Setting boundaries, drawing lines, distinguishing what’s my stuff and what’s not my stuff is challenging and it’s only the first step.  As a former client informed me many years ago, “John, once you set up a boundary, then you gotta do sentry duty!”  She was right; you have to be prepared to defend or enforce your boundary by taking assertive behavior.  You have to protect your safe space.  If you don’t, the chaos that ensues _________ [fill in the blank.]

A fort is a boundary – it separates and protects.  Build yours strong, reinforce it with assertiveness and consequences.  Enjoy the liberty it provides.  You deserve it!

Have a happy & safe 4th of July!

Peace, John


“It’s like Luke is driving a car, and I just want to be in the passenger seat. He’s locked the door, and I have to hold onto the bumper. I’m not even asking him to open the door for me, just leave it unlocked and say ‘come in,’ but he didn’t do that. So I am hanging onto the bumper, and life goes on, and the car goes on, and I get really badly bruised, and I’m hitting potholes. And it hurts. It really hurts. So yesterday I had to let go of the bumper. Because it hurts too much.” ~ Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

This week’s quote comes from one of my favorite shows, Gilmore Girls.  In the show, the main character has been engaged to her long-time love, but when life throws them some curveballs, their relationship gets shoved to the back-burner until the main character decides that it hurts too much to keep holding on and “lets go of the bumper.”  Unfortunately, this is a common scenario in many different types of relationships whether romantic in nature or not.  Where once someone was a welcome passenger and equal partner in another’s car, now they feel as though they’ve been kicked out and the only strand left of the relationship is the meager hold they have on the bumper. They desperately hope the other person will unlock the door and let them back in.  Holding onto someone else’s bumper is a painful position to be in.  And hope can sometimes be self-destructive.

Whose bumper are you holding onto?  Imagine what would be different in your life if you were able to let go of that bumper, maybe even if you were able to get in your own car and drive off!  A healthy relationship doesn’t involve one person driving the car while the other does the hard work of holding on, hitting potholes, and being dragged along wherever the driver chooses to go.  Rather, a healthy relationship is an equal partnership where both have the chance to ride along and navigate together.

Letting go of someone else’s bumper can be a terribly difficult thing to do.  It may mean accepting a change in your relationship that you’d rather not accept, letting go of an unhealthy or unhelpful idea of what your relationship “should” be, or maybe even feeling like you’ve failed in some way.  These are all challenging thoughts and feelings with which to contend.

Letting go of someone else’s bumper can also be a terrifically beneficial and liberating thing to do.  It can help you learn to drive your own car, to advocate for yourself and assert your worth and self-respect, and to begin to heal the wounds caused by the potholes and debris in the road.

So I ask again: Whose bumper are you holding onto? Might it possibly be time to let it go?

[Editor’s note:  Today’s guest blogger is Angelina Miceli, LCSW.  She will be leaving Personal Growth Concepts, Inc. soon for a better opportunity.  While we will miss her and her positive, “can do” attitude, at the same time we wish her well in all her future endeavors.] 




Image result for “Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.~~ Arthur Somers Roche

Have you ever wondered, where do rivers begin?  I used to think, “way back up in the mountains… back where the snow melts.”  That’s partly true; this quote reminds us that they start out small with some insecurities, some small negative projections.  As the snow melts and becomes water, rivulets form.  Soon they join other rivulets and the trickling becomes a stream.  Streams of anxieties cascading down, growing, gathering speed and volume until they become “fears.”  The fears begin to take on a life of their own, become bigger than life and eventually pollute any rational thought.

How to change these patterns?  You either have to stop them at the source – stay in the moment, challenge those small negative thoughts, or balance them with positive thoughts.  Or you can wait until they become rivers and then spend a lot of energy and money building a dam to divert them. Some folks take the power from such a dam and channel it into huge negativity in their life, interrupting the natural order of things.  It soon floods and drowns the very thing it protects.  

Do your mind a favor.  Discourage the anxiety earlier; stem the fear at its source.  Prevent fear taking over the land.  Divert it early.  Stay in the reality of now.  No stream.  No river.  No dam.  Just acceptance of what is!

Peace, John

Hey folks, how about some feedback on this particular post?  Also, let me know if there are topics or quotes you would like to read about. ~ John


Image result for Choosing not to act on an angry impulse and to feel the pain that lies beneath is a very courageous thing to do.” ~ Gary Zukav

Seems like I just blogged about this a couple of weeks ago.  Was it something about reacting vs responding?  Remember that one?  Here that word “choosing” means that we’re responding not reacting.  Angry feelings frequently lead to angry actions.  The idea here is to intercept those impulses that can and do get us in trouble and break the pattern of saying or doing things that we regret later.  I agree that anger is often an umbrella that protects us from what the real feelings are below it.  When feeling angry, I often ask clients to go deeper and tell me what they are feeling beneath it.  Frequently I get a lot of feelings that often include: hurt, rejected, sad, lonely, resentful, powerless, frustrated, disappointed, etc.  When they go there, I work on accepting those feelings as valid for them.  Asking why they’re feeling that way or telling them they shouldn’t feel that way does not help.  Acknowledging, accepting, validating usually diffuses the anger and moderates it’s expression.

If you’ve had trouble with your anger in the past, try asking yourself the following questions.  What was I expecting?  What is it I am powerless over (i.e. can’t control) that I don’t like? What’s the pain really going on beneath this anger?  What else am I feeling?  You might even find it helpful to journal about what you’re feeling. This could be a way of validating your experience and defusing any tendency to act out on the anger.

Having angry feelings is never a problem.  Thinking angry thoughts, while probably not the best kind of thoughts to have [see my last week’s blog], probably won’t get you in any trouble.  It’s what you do with those feelings and thoughts that may or may not create problems for you.  Do you have the choice? Courage!

Peace, John



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