Are You Hanging Out With the Right Friends?

It was an awesome time in Franklin, Tennessee with new friends who traveled there from across the United States and Canada. It was my first face-to-face group event from Dan Miller’s Eaglepreneur group. Not only did we experience camaraderie, but it spurred a question we all need to ask. “Are you hanging out with the right friends?”

As we develop relationships with others, there are three qualities to look for: courage, curiosity, and calling.

The right friends are courageous

Since writing “Beyond Messy Relationships” I’ve been more aware of what resonates. I’ve been encouraged by most acquaintances, family, and friends. But there are a few who’ve left me feeling discouraged.

Of course, not all who’ve known me over the years are target readers for my book, Beyond Messy Relationships. Yet, it was a message I had to write. It was risky to be vulnerable. To practice what I’ve written motivates me to take deep breaths of AIR: Awareness, Intentionality, and Risks.

The group I met with in Franklin are not perfect people. But they are courageous friends. Our being together and hearing each other’s stories encouraged us all to be courageous.

The right friends are curious

We met at The Sanctuary, what Dan and Joanne Miller have named their dwelling. I was compelled to read Joanne’s book, “Creating a Haven of Peace.” Of course, I was curious about her’s and Dan’s 51+ year marriage. How did they create magnetic peace in their home? Why did others gravitate to this couple?

Everyone has a story. And it’s easy to make assumptions and make up stories in our minds about others. But when we take the time to be curious, we connect. And we become more aware of ourselves. We allow others into our lives and create sacred space between us.

When we take the time to be curious, we connect. Click To Tweet

Curiosity is the opposite of judgments and assumptions. It’s a remarkable gift to ourselves and others when we take deep breaths of AIR with attitudes of curiosity.

The right friends tune in to their calling

My new friend, Teresa McCloy is an Enneagram expert. After our Eaglepreneur group event, I participated in her Real Life Process Retreat. When I heard her story, I was touched by her clear calling. Figuratively, she breathes life into others and helps business owners tune into their purpose and calling.

Are you hanging out with the right friends? Or a better question might be this. Are you the right friend with attitudes of courage, curiosity, and calling?

Be aware, intentional and risk growing toward curiosity, courage, and calling. Click To Tweet

Your friendships may not be from across the United States and Canada. It doesn’t matter whether our friends are local or long-distance. But it does matter that we are aware, intentional, and take risks of growth. (Notice the acronym AIR?)

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

Your next step:

Sign up for the first three chapters of “Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self”

Build Trust

4 Ways to Make the Most Of Conference Relationships

I’ve been to a multitude of conferences throughout my career as a counselor. Yet, I was ready to hang out with writers and influencers beyond the four walls of my private practice. If you’re like me, you’ve attended several conferences. Even though there may be hundreds of people, you feel alone and disconnected. And I’ve learned 4 ways to make the most of conference relationships.

The last few years I attended Jeff Goin’s Tribe Conference for writers and artists. This is a gathering of those who want to expand their influence and hone their craft. I resonate with Jeff because he thrives on relationships. And isn’t afraid to brag about his own therapist. Not only is he young enough to be my son, but he’s one of the wisest 34 year olds I know. And to me, he looks like he’s 14.

You may attend a conference for continuing education in your profession. Or you may plan on participating in an event that compliments your career. And here are four ways to make the most of conference relationships.Conference

1. Social media groups

With my first conference in 2015, I didn’t know a soul, but I intentionally sat at the front table to focus and learn. I’m great at listening and comfortable with face-to-face connections. But, I lagged behind with follow-up.

At that time I was still a novice at social media. Many therapists are. Some don’t have personal Facebook accounts for fear of rejecting a client who asks to be a friend. Growth seems to require an element of risk for all of us.

I learned to connect with conference acquaintances through Linked In and Facebook.

2. Volunteer

Volunteering brings a sense of community. I was proud of the red T-shirt I got in Seattle at the Gottman-Siegel Summit in previous years. Being a volunteer at conferences connects you with people you wouldn’t otherwise know.

By year two of Tribe Conference, I volunteered with intentions to connect. I joined a coaching group and became a Tribe Girlfriend on a closed Facebook group. Our group met regularly all year through webcam calls. We laughed, prayed, encouraged, and shared words of wisdom along with our ideas. On a monthly basis, we challenged each other to write and be clear and focused. It was a challenge to coordinate our time zones from California to Tennessee. But we did it.

Our time together grew our trust as a group. We began to know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and trials. We empathized and asked hard questions. When tragedy struck, we were there for each other. Our friendship deepened as writers.

3. Plan Reconnections

After three years, our meetups grew from a handful of insecure patrons to a confident gathering of trusted and familiar friends. Some of us met for the first time in person comparing the postage stamp facebook profiles with the live person.

“Oh, you look just like your picture.”

Or you’d hear phrases like, “Oh, that’s you? The one who. . .?”

However the greeting began, it would continue as, “I’m so glad to meet you.” We’re hugging, smiling, thanking, and connecting.

Laughter is spontaneous, but relationships require intentional connections. Click To Tweet

4. Practice Conference Wisdom 

Marsha Shandur, was the speaker who normalized our awkwardness as “dork goblins” when we meet new people. It was a brilliant and funny way to present what I do less brilliantly and funny for my clients in counseling sessions. She demonstrated her own quirks and how to respond to the insecure parts of ourselves. Give the insecure part a name. When it shows up, and take deep breaths when our bodies react to anxiety.

There were many highlights: speakers, meet-ups, books, networking, notes, gormet popcorn, chocolate, and conversations at the conference. It’s not just about learning new ways to think, and do, and be. It’s about the Tribe. It’s about ways to grow conference acquaintances into friendships.

Your Next Steps 

  1. If you struggle with identifying your “dork goblin” ask for your free 20 minute consultation.
  2. Connect with me on Linked in or visit my Facebook page.
  3. Join me for the Conference in October, 2018




How Groups Enhance Well-being

Certain occasions show us how groups enhance well-being. For example, my Seattle son came to visit recently. Although we were a partial group since three of my four grown children and their families gathered for dinner, we connected and hung out together. It was an awesome time of fun, energy, and laughter. Click here for audio.

All of us are familiar with groups of some kind

Few of us have participated in therapy or personal development groups. Others have been helped through Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, or DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance). Whether it’s our family of origin, staff meetings, faith communities, or hiking clubs, we’ve all had group experiences.

We’ve already experienced group dynamics just being born. We develop relationship patterns from our caregivers and siblings. These patterns subconsciously follow us into our adult relationships. 

Group are our lifeline during difficult times

The more troubled our intimate relationships become, the easier it is to detach. To avoid confrontation, we don’t say anything at all. But we think private thoughts that have no outlet. Silence turns to secrecy, shame, or judgement. Beliefs and thoughts get stuck in our heads.

The more troubled our intimate relationships become, the easier it is to detach. Click To Tweet

The older we get the easier it is to become disconnected from others. We begin to stagnant in our own patterns of thinking. Even while in significant relationships we can mentally and emotionally isolate.

We’re designed to be in groups

We’re made for relationships. We just need to be intentional about finding groups that are good for us. Interaction with others are mirrors to our souls. On the other hand, isolation is detrimental to our well-being.

Interaction with others are mirrors to our souls. Click To Tweet

When we courageously participate in a therapy or personal development group, we can break through stagnant beliefs and thoughts. We gain perspective when we verbalize our internal thoughts to those we trust.

We thrive on being heard and understood by others in a group. It’s empowering when someone else says to us, That makes sense because I really relate with what you’re saying. 

Although not all families feel the connection, fun, and laughter, therapy and personal development groups can provide the sense of belonging we all need. Transformational experiences await those who are open to connection through group experiences.

Sign up for a free 20 minute consultation about group work

Groups to check out:  Professional Women’s Focus Group

Therapist’s Groups: Peer Therapist Support Group and Group Supervision.


Confessions of a Therapist

On the outside, it may look like New Year’s resolutions have gone by the wayside.

My last article on “Sacred Interruptions” seem like Christmas decorations still hanging around. Here’s the first of other confessions. We do have our stuff put away! 

Energies have gone into preparations for my new business. The last two months could easily have been spread out an entire year.

I’ve moved from the shady comfort of group private practice at Elbow Tree Christian Counseling. After  nearly a decade, I’m now on my own as JudyCounselor. Multiple emotions have accompanied my new private practice journey.

Confessions: Uncertainty, fear, excitement, energy, grief, sadness, disappointment, determination, and anticipation are just a few I can name.

Here are my “Confessions of a Therapist” to pave the way for clarity as I make huge changes.

  • I’m owning a forgotten entrepreneurial spirit that’s been dormant for years. Still passionate about the counseling I do, I’m energized to move beyond the four walls of my office. 
  • I love to write even though I have gobs of insecurity and writer’s block from time to time. Affirmations from readers fuel my energy. 
  • I’ve adopted Dr. Brene Brown as my official cheerleader. Her book, Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead, is my mantra. My history of daring greatly has been packaged through Scripture  and points of spiritual risk-taking. Brene’s message is packaged with psychological research on vulnerability and shame. She makes sense of what whole-hearted living is about. I call it the abundant life Christ died to give!
  • Major changes for me come about every decade. From teaching piano lessons in my home, to selling Avon, to home-schooling my four young children, to volunteer work at our local pregnancy center, to pursuing professional development, I seem to shift every 10 years. My perspective changes, and I grow along the way.

I’m thankful for being in this grandparent stage of life. I see patterns and cycles that never made sense to me like they do now. I’ve been blessed beyond what I deserve! I’m more than thankful for those who have entrusted their lives with me in the sacred space of my counseling office.

My new practice includes personal development counseling and consulting for leaders: parents, clergy, therapists, medical professionals, volunteers, and influencers. Creating Dignity in Relationship, a Life by Design sums up my mission statement. May you dare greatly as you move into the New Year.

Questions to Ponder

  1. What gift has been dormant in you that’s waiting to be recognized?
  2. What decision or affirmation do you need to move toward a whole-hearted life?
  3. How has your perspective changed from the past?

Sacred Interruptions

Life is full of interruptions. Our well-planned agendas can be suddenly altered. We all experience it. And how we deal with it is what matters. Their meanings alter our values and life decisions.

Interruptions from the Past

As a mom of four young children, I longed for an oasis of peace during times of frustration and exhaustion. One memorable morning, I got up early to read Scripture, write in my prayer journal, and be alone with the Lord. I was quiet and settled in my rocking chair with a cup of hot tea.

Ready to take my first sip of sacred time, the pitter patter of little feet ran down the hallway. My openness turned into irritation in a matter of seconds. My annoyance was about to spill over to my two year-old. I was tempted to scold him back to bed. It was still dark. He needed his sleep. And I needed my quiet.

I looked down at him. His platinum blonde hair reflected the innocence glowing around him. My heart softened. The moment stood still. Looking into his eyes were mirrors to my soul reflecting love. . . invitation. . . connection. . . awareness.

Looking into his eyes were mirrors to my soul reflecting love. . . invitation. . . connection. . . awareness. Click To Tweet

The Spirit of God spoke to me in an almost audible voice saying, Judy, this is my little bit of heaven for you. I’m meeting you here now. Here is my gift to you.

That moment became sacred. How much more clear could God be? My cup of tea and my Bible, and my journal, and my agenda were no longer important.

I cuddled my little boy and told him, You’re my little bit of heaven, my son. He climbed up on my lap, his warm little body molded to mine. I rocked and sang praise songs with tears rolling down my face.

Interruptions in the Present

Here I am, many years later. Looking for the “Little Bit of Heaven” in the interruptions. Christmas seasons are sacred. It wasn’t that long ago that I stressed about the tree not being decorated. Or I waited too long to write & send Christmas cards.

It’s okay to feel a roller coaster of emotions at times. Memories that ornaments hold can trigger grief or loss. But the invitation here is to allow our emotions to be temporary messengers to our soul. Let them come. Let them go. 

But the invitation here is to allow our emotions to be temporary messengers to our soul. Let them come. Let them go. Click To Tweet

How to welcome meaning in the interruptions:

  1. Slow down
  2. Stay in the moment
  3. Do the next right thing
  4. Look for “Little bits of heaven” in the midst. They usually show up in unexpected ways.

If I made a different choice on that day years ago, I may have scolded my “interruption” back to bed. Then I’d have continued sipping on my hot tea. My justifying may sound like this: “I’m exhausted. I deserve this alone time. I’m determined to make it happen no matter what.”

With my agenda? The day would have become forgotten along with other insignificant history.

Instead, that moment became transcendent. It holds deep meaning now.

Questions to Ponder

What are your interruptions during this Christmas season?

What meanings do you have from interruptions from the past?

How can you be intentional to slow down and stay in the moment?