Image result for “Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important and you’ll capture it perfectly.”

I have at least three amateur photographers on my caseload.  I’ve seen their work and I think they are pretty good.  They don’t always think so – maybe that’s part of why they are seeing me!  They spend a lot of time trying to get the composition, perspective, lighting and focus right for each of their shots.  In their minds, they know what’s important to them and when they are all aligned, they capture their ideal shot.

Life is like that.  What do you put into your life?  What comes in unexpectedly?  What just happens to be there?  What do you need to move out of the picture?

How do you see things?  If you change an angle or zoom in or zoom out or take the shot from a different side, you get the picture, right?  What’s the time of day and where’s the sun, the shadow and again, the angle?

Is the purpose of your life fuzzy?  How clearly do you want to see it?  When you see it and your goals more clearly, then it’s easier for you to…….. (fill in the blank with your own words).

It’s time for your life to come into focus.  Set up the exhibit of your shots and invite yourself to view them.  Remember to spend equal amount of time in the galleries of yesterday and of today.

Peace, John



Image result for “You will find that it is necessary to let things go, simply for the reason that they are heavy.”

Is it hidden?  Do you have to go looking for this one?

Necessary?  “Let go…. or be dragged!” 

Simply.  Now that’s my kind of word.  If you are anything like me, you tend to complicate things and that always interferes with “simply.”

Suppose you keep lugging those heavy things around with you?  Do they weigh you down?  How effective are you in getting them to wherever you think they should go?  Are they controlling you or are you controlling them?

An AA slogan says “Let go and let God.”  If you can’t let go, can you try turning it over?

When you have let it go or turned it over and you find yourself carrying it again, can you just tell yourself you need to keep practicing letting it go until it becomes second nature to you?  Perhaps you will pick it up less frequently and eventually, not at all.  In order to get there you need to let it go whenever, and as soon as you realize you picked it up again.  See this as an opportunity to practice and remember, practice makes… better.

Keep it simple.

Peace, John



Image result for let's root for each other and watch each other grow

What an amazing thought – I root for you and you root for me!  Cheerleaders – isn’t that what we are meant to be to one another?  How many of us have relationships where we forget who the home team is?  Where the cheerleaders don’t show up? Do you remember who you’re rooting for?  School [family?] pride?  What is it going to take to get the team and cheerleaders on the same gym floor?  What’s your part?

If we encourage each other, we both grow.  That sounds like a win-win situation.  Too many of us get in these situations where it’s win-lose or lose-win.  In a relationship when one person is losing, they both lose. The situation deteriorates to lose – lose. None of us like being on a losing team; it’s simple to turn it around.  The quote above says it, I root for you, you root for me and together we net a win-win. How can you not want to play on those teams?

The team that is going to win is the one that scores the most points!

Imagine this scenario: your closest friend calls you on a Friday afternoon.  They are upset because the job interview they went on today didn’t go well.  They were so looking forward to this opportunity and are crushed that it didn’t work out the way they had hoped.  “There must be something wrong with me, I’ll never get a job at this rate,” your friend says.  How do you respond?

Now imagine this scenario: you just arrived home from a job interview that didn’t go well.  This is the last in a string of unsuccessful interviews, and you feel emotionally exhausted, frustrated and disappointed.  You worry that your goals are outside your reach, and you feel like a failure.  How do you respond?  Is it the same way you imagined talking with your friend?  Is it supportive, gentle and kind, or is it harsh, negative and hurtful?

Often, we are our own worst critics.  We find our vulnerabilities, we discover our weak spots, and we dig and pick at them until the wounds are sore, infected and bleeding.

What if I told you it didn’t have to be that way?  Part of the beauty of this life is that we can choose to change – we don’t have to stay stagnant.  Rather than talking to ourselves with hatred and self-loathing, we can choose to talk to and treat ourselves with kindness and compassion – we can choose to talk to ourselves like we would talk to someone we love.

I challenge you to choose to treat yourself differently.  Next time those harsh, negative thoughts threaten to start digging and picking at your emotional wounds and vulnerabilities, ask yourself if that is how you would talk to someone you love.  If not, find your kindness and start stitching.  ~ Angelina Miceli, LCSW

Today’s is another guest blog from our Assistant Director, Angelina.  This is now her 2d one!  I welcome your opinion. Perhaps we’ll make her a “regular.”

By the way, you too can become a guest blogger.  All you have to do is find a quote that speaks to you, put it into an email to me along with several sentences of what that quote means to you and/or how you have found it helpful.  Send it to and I’ll check it and schedule it so all can benefit.  Thank you.  Peace,  John


Image result for I bought a wooden whistle, but it wooden whistle. So I bought a steel whistle. But it steel wooden whistle. Then I bought a lead whistle. But it steel wooden lead me whistle.

I thought a little humor might be just right this week.  I found this on Pinterest and it reminded me of one of my father’s sayings.  I thought it was cute, but my father’s ended on a positive note.  That note was missing so I will furnish it here.  Dad, I appreciate your humor and am frequently reminded of it.  Thanks!

 “Finally, I bought a tin whistle.  Now I tin whistle!” 😊

Image result for “The Tasks of Grief”

The loss can be of a loved one, a job, something one had but no longer has.  In some instances, people grieve for the loss of that which they never had, but believe they should have had.

The first task can go on for a long time – coming to realize that the person or thing is gone or never will be again the way it was.  This can be ongoing and the feeling is usually “longing.”  Sometimes the reality gradually dawns upon us; other times it stares us directly in the face.

Perhaps the hardest part of grieving is to allow ourselves to feel the emotional pain of the loss.  Our psyches frequently hold us back from feeling it all at once and portion it out to us over time.  Unfortunately, there is no shortcut – eventually we will feel all the feelings.  We need to respect our process of grieving and do our best to handle our feelings as they arise.  Be wary of well-intentioned others who can mess up our process because of their “stuff.”  Finding kindred spirits can help us in these times.

As time goes on we adjust, we make changes in our communication, our daily habits, our thoughts and with whom and how we relate.  We struggle to accept our feelings as well as our changing relationship with our selves.  We learn new ways of be-ing.

Eventually, and this may take a while, we begin to adapt to the new reality created by the gap in our lives.  We go on doing the best we can, often limping through our lives while the healing continues.  We know we will always have the “hole in our soul” from the loss.  We also know that we are getting through these difficult times and the emotional scars add to our character.

Blessings to those of you who have experienced loss and grieve.  I’ll end this blog with another wonderful quote:

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve.  Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water.  But there must be sunlight also.  A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
Brian Jacques, Taggerung

Peace, John 



Image result for But feelings, no matter how strong or “ugly,” are not a part of who you are. They are the radio stations your mind listens to when you don’t give it something better to do. Feelings are fluid and dynamic; they change frequently. Feelings are something you have, not something you are. Like physical beauty, a cold sore or an opinion.” -~ Augusten Burroughs

I disagree with the first statement – I believe feelings are a part of who you are.  Many people experience feelings as their total selves.  I disagree and see people as a combination of their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, history all wrapped up in what I call “soul” or “spirit.”

I believe feelings are equivalent to your experience.  They are ongoing and, by the time you identify them, they could be history.  Just like radio stations frequently play in the background, so do your feelings.  At times when something catches your interest, you tune in and shift your attention to the radio.  So to can you do that with your feelings.

Feelings evolve.  Feelings are something you experience.  They are not the whole picture of who you are.

Next time you become aware of your feelings, try reminding yourself that you are more than your feelings.  Your feelings are only a part of who you are at any point in time – they do not need to be the part that you allow to control you.  As a matter of fact, I believe you have no direct control over your feelings.  The only two things you can directly change are the way you think and the way you behave.  By changing those two, you can influence your feelings.

Identify your feelings, allow yourself to feel them, then use your thoughts and your behavior to make the changes you need to make to become the you you are capable of being.

Peace, John

Image result for at first glance it may appear too hard. look again. always look again

Life is full of obstacles.  What do you do when you come across one?  Do you suit up, grab your hiking gear and prepare for the mountainous climb?  Do you sit back, ponder it and strategize how to get over, around, through or under it?  Do you turn around, walk away and try to find a new, more level path?  Or do you sit, stagnant, and stare up at it, defeated?

All of us have responded in one or more of these ways to obstacles that have cropped up in our paths.  Some of us may even be wrestling right now with how to respond to the most current obstacle they’ve encountered and are feeling stuck.

To those of you, I urge you to look again at that mountain: look again and question it.  Question the way you think about the obstacle.  Question your assumptions or beliefs about the obstacle.  Question what the purpose is of this obstacle.  Why is it in your path, what meaning does it have, or what is it trying to point out to you?  Refuse to take it at face value as an insurmountable mountain: in your way and determined to stop you in your path.  At first glance it may seem too hard, but appearances aren’t always as they seem.  So, look again – question – and you just may find that where once stood a mountain, now stands only a hill.  ~ Angelina Miceli, LCSW

Today’s Guest Blogger is none other than our own Angelina Miceli!  Angelina joined our staff in June 2016,  one and a half years ago.  She recently passed her licensing exam and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  On Oct 1, 2017 I promoted her to Assistant Director and she has been helping me with a variety of administrative tasks.  I thank her for this contribution to our blog and hope you benefit from it.  I look forward to her other contributions to our blog, and to our agency.   Peace,  John



Memes, Quotes, and Suicide: Everyone needs to understand this
 The sad thing is, Kirkup said,
 "Suicide doesn't end the pain. It
 just passes it on to someone else."
 This quote is the only
 reason I am Str

Depression… It’s that time of the year known for depression – here in the Northeast the days can be long, cold and forlorn. Whatever sadness and loss we suffered through the holidays can just seem to get worse. Ending it all can seem like an option. A wise clinician once told me that most people who attempt suicide don’t want to end it forever – they just want the [emotional] pain to go away. Frequently they can’t even describe to you the pain – it’s as if they’ve been rubbed “numb” by life. The depression is often unspoken and hidden behind a mask of “everything seems okay.” The key word is  “seems.”

While National Depression Screening Day usually occurs during October, our counselors routinely screen for depression using a variety of checklists and/or screening tools/questionnaires. Depression is treatable with medication, counseling,  both, as well as with a variety of alternative therapies.  

Please be aware of people in your circles who may be experiencing depression: yourself, family members, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, club members and/or fellow worshipers. Listen and guide. 

In Connecticut and many other states, one can get help, someone to talk to and/or a referral for themselves or someone they care about, by calling 211, Infoline.

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Peace,  John

Image result for Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat

As the new year is here, it’s a good time to reflect back on the goals you set for this year.  Where did you want to be at this point in 2017?  Did you abandon some of the goals?  And if so, which ones and why?  There may be some good reasons or, could you have modified them?  Did you quit too soon?  What might have happened if you had persisted?  Remember the hare and the turtle?

It’s also a good time to set goals for 2018.  Remember, they need to be S-M-A-R-T goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.  Why not set 4 or 5 goals for yourself that meet these criteria.  Tony Robbins, the motivational speaker, suggests you write them on a 3×5 card and read them every day.  This way your conscious mind and your unconscious mind get paired together and they become easier for you to accomplish.  I did that several years ago, two years in a row, and I was amazed at what happened.

Why not head into 2018 with a game plan to run on all 4 tires and be amazed where you can go?  Persist!

Have a happy and blessed New Year!

Peace, John

Image result for Stop telling people more than they need to know

I know, I know, “‘Tis the season….”  But I also know, ‘tis the season when many dysfunctional families get together.  One of the ways dysfunction is maintained in families is to control information.  Just because you’re asked, doesn’t mean you “need to” or “should” share!  Whether you share or not is up to you.  Ask yourself first, is this person safe or has this person used information against me that I’ve shared in the past?  Be ready (as in think ahead) to be put on the spot, asked inappropriate questions, in front of others and/or confronted with misinformation that you could be tempted to correct.  Plan how much, if anything, you want to share in that situation or with that person or persons.  Use “I….” statements, especially “I choose…” ones.  Remember “No” is a complete sentence.  Stick to your boundaries.

Remember, they may believe they are entitled to know more about something than you are willing to share.  Just because they believe that, doesn’t mean it has to be true for you.  You decide – after all it’s what’s in your best interests.  Think long run as well as short run.

Wouldn’t this be a wonderful Christmas present to give yourself this year?  The price is right….. and you are worth it!

Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas,

Peace, John



Image result for “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”


Where did that rule come from?  Think about it in reverse – do others need to sacrifice themselves for you to “be warm?”  If others sacrifice themselves then that certainly subtracts from your relationship with them.  A relationship being simply, two people and a connection.  If one person is diminished, the relationship is also diminished.

When you look at it that way, it becomes absurd, doesn’t it?  Perhaps it’s rooted in the Golden Rule of “doing unto others….”  So, in codependency, we have a bonfire, a lot of heat in a short period, both people are consumed, lose their identities, themselves, followed by cold.  Not very pleasant-sounding, is it?

How do you stay warm?  Tend yourself.  You are responsible for you, for your own growth.  Create your own friction and allow the glow to keep you warm.  Others are responsible for themselves.  The goal is to share glows.

 Peace, John


This quote seems to be a little dated, doesn’t it?  Some of us can remember when the telephone was hardwired to the wall.  Then the cordless ones came, and now, the last several years, everything’s been mobile.  That is how we connect with one another – even when we text, we usually do it through our phones!

 It’s been said that God doesn’t call the equipped.  He equips those he calls! God equips us with the perfect phone.  All we have to do is use it.  We need to be tuned in and aware of its ringing so that we can receive messages from God.  We need to answer.  We also need to turn to it and dial Him up frequently, not just when we are in trouble. Use it!  Anytime, anywhere, everywhere, and there’s always a full charge of love and grace waiting on the other end for each of us.

 Yes, prayer – the perfect phone! What shape is yours in today?

Peace,  John

P.S.  During this holiday season many of those you know/love or come in contact with, are struggling through their first holidays without a loved one or pet.  This is a hard time for many of them.  Please tune in to their pain and be sensitive to them during this time.  They may not be participating in holiday activities, shopping, or Christmas music may be just too much for them.  I am sure your gentle spirit, ability to listen without judging or trying to make them feel better, will be appreciated even if they are unable to express it.  On their behalf, I thank you!    Blessings,  John

What’s the last thing about yourself that you changed?  Think hard on that one and come up with an answer.  Then ask yourself “why did you change?” And then ask, “what process did you go through to change?”  Harder than you think?

What have you done to try to get others to change?  Why did you want them to change?  Did they change because of your efforts?

I know for myself when people are trying to get me to change, I usually push them away, discount their efforts and, at times, become stubborn and even close minded.  I’m too busy pushing them away, focusing on them, to go inside and check myself and what I could change about myself to grow and become more effective.  They maybe set it up by trying to get me to change, but I perpetuate it, by staying focused on them and not trying to figure out what could be in my best interests in the longer run.

I suspect similar things happen when others are trying to change you and when you try to change others.  Why not keep it simple, keep the focus on yourself and change the only two things in the world you have any direct control over: your thoughts and your behaviors, including what you say and how you say it?

Bloggers, I would appreciate some feedback on this blog post and on my blog in general.  With the new year approaching, I’m evaluating our activities and trying to learn what we could change that would make it more beneficial for our readers.  Are there topics you would like to see covered?  Would you like to occasionally have a Q&A format?  What do you want to see more of on my blog?  What do you not like about my blog?  I am open to constructive criticism as we move forward.  I thank you for sharing your ideas with me during this busy season.

Peace, John

“Draw a circle around yourself – invite people in or keep them out.  We are the creators of our social geometry. Calculate your volume.”

Have you been going around in circles? Does it seem more like you’ve been driving bumper cars with the people in your life? Bumper cars don’t follow any particular pattern. They can be “shocking.” But geometry has rules, and laws, and, for the most part, smooth edges.

Instead of drawing “a” circle around yourself, draw at least a half-dozen concentric circles [like the geometric term?] around your self. Now, place people in your life in different circles around you. The ones that you know well and trust are in the inner circles; the ones you don’t know as well can be placed in the outer circles. Now here’s the key: you get to choose where to place them and, based on your life experiences, as time goes by, you can move them closer or further away. This is known as “boundary setting.” You can’t just “wish” or “hope” them in those positions; you actually have to move them by inviting them in, or, setting boundaries about how much, what kind and the nature of your communication with them. You may need to move some of them further away from yourself.

By doing this, you are managing your life, associating with positive and healthy people who help you grow (i.e. increasing your “volume”). Be all that you are capable of being! Grow!

 Peace, John


Readers, please try this several times when you feel anxious and send me some feedback as to it’s helpfulness.  

Peace, John

c (used without permission but with gratitude!)


I think “angry” has a lot of other feelings that it tries to protect us from. I’ve called “angry” a bogus feeling, because it’s easier to say, “I feel angry,” stop there, and not bother to look at what’s underneath it.  Frequently the feelings that it masks include: disappointment, frustration, insecurity, depression and… [you can name the ones that it masks for you!]….

What would happen if you were to feel sad?  Or any of the other feelings listed above?  Do you really have to deal with the bodyguard?  Or can you cut to the chase, dive through the anger and deal with the real feeling beneath it?

Dealing with the feelings is relatively simple.  First you need to identify what you are feeling.  Second, you need to accept those feelings as they are, not as you would have them be.  That’s where it can get tricky.  We frequently have ideas about how we should feel.  When those come in conflict with the way we do feel, we often try to change the feelings to align with how we think we should feel.  This gets us in trouble time and time again.  If we just change our thoughts to say, “I should feel whatever it is I am feeling,” the need to fix something that isn’t broken goes away.  “I should feel sad” eliminates the need for the bodyguard.  If angry is sad’s bodyguard, sad can stand for itself and be okay.  If we accept sad as part of who we are we don’t need to protect ourselves from it!  It’s easier that way for us, don’t you think?

Today please remember those active, inactive, retired, former and deceased members of our Armed Forces, and their families and loved ones, who have served to keep us free to be who we are, feel what we feel, think the way we think and to exercise the choices we have.  Keep them in your thoughts or prayers and value their service for you, your family and our country.  I thank each and every one of them for their service.  

 Peace,  John


Image result for I embrace all of me, my positives, my negatives, my quirkiness, for I am the epitome of my own authenticity. I am free. ~ Darlene A. Austin

Tell me, why shouldn’t you accept yourself?  That critical part is still a part of you, isn’t it?    Surely you can accept that. Ask yourself, what about the other parts? What you focus on becomes paramount while all the things you don’t focus on recede.  They are still there but not in the forefront of your consciousness.

This affirmation encourages you to look at all of your parts and to embrace, i.e. own, them.  When you are genuine, you are who you are and you are free from your own expectations, and those of others.  In the words of Popeye, “I AM WHAT I AM!” Yes, you am!

Peace, John

PS – Remember to turn your clocks tonight!

Image result for “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” ~ Rumi

Or, as Kenny Rogers sings in his hit song, The Gambler, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run…”

 Is your life like a poker game?  You are dealt certain cards, right?  But what you do with them is your choice.  Which ones do you hold onto because they help you become a winner?  How do you decide which ones to risk letting go of?  How about your hopes of drawing some that are more favorable?  You do have to let go of some cards to increase the odds of having a better hand.  How do you play the cards you have in your hand?

 It strikes me the metaphor is limited because, in a poker game there’s a time to “call,” the hand is won or lost.  In life, it’s a continuous process of deciding what to let go of and what to hold onto.  Many of us have experienced times in our lives when we were “losing” and other times when we were “winning.”  We keep playing.  The game never ends, does it?

 What have you been holding onto that you should consider letting go of?  What are you going to keep and build upon?

 I hope that, in this blog post, you may have found “an ace you can keep!”

 Happy Halloween!

 Peace, John


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Gone Fishing
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