TeenTip: 8 Ways to Become Friends With Your Food on Thanksgiving

Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

“Hello, Thanksgiving. Hello, anxiety. Hello, fear foods. I will make friends with you so that I can become the rockin’ girl boss that I know I am inside!” (this is literally what I have written to myself on little post-it notes around my kitchen this Thanksgiving because that’s how I do it in my world). I make friends with fear foods, I say nice things to them, I welcome them into my life and into my fridge, because that’s the only way I can gain mastery over my worry thoughts. You could try this too.

Holidays that center around food can be a stressful time for anyone struggling with or working on recovery from an eating disorder. Here are a few tried and true tips for getting through the holidays:

  1. Check in with your therapist or a trusted friend before, during and after the holiday event. Don’t be afraid to text them what you are afraid of, and reach out for the support you need.
  2. Communicate about your triggers with your family. Remember that your family cannot read your mind, and they need tips on the types of comments that are unhelpful to you, as well as what is helpful for you. Remind family that comments about weight and appearance are not the best, and a good way to re-frame is to say something like “I’m glad to see you! How have you been doing? Watch any good Netflix recently?” - always a good conversation starter!  
  3. Go into holiday meals and events with a plan in place. What time will you leave? Who will be there? Can you plan your meal out ahead of time? Could be helpful to your treatment provider, dietician or parent.  (*You might say, “but Jules, there are a million parties at Thanksgiving, what if I can’t plan my meals out?” To that, I would say that you may not always be able to plan out your meal ahead of time, but working on flexibility is always useful, and can provide you with a way to challenge yourself.)
  4. Treat yo’ self. Leave time to take a bubble bath with a bath bomb, take a slow walk outside and look at the leaves (well, it’s Austin, so maybe not the leaves here…), paint your nails, start a knitting project, watch your favorite show. Taking care of yourself will make the extra stress that can arise feel more manageable.
  5. Distract, distract, distract! Play games with your younger siblings, cuddle your pets, talk to your grandparents, watch a few episodes of Stranger Things - your negative thoughts become less scary if you have people around to distract you.
  6. Try to celebrate small accomplishments. Did you try a few bites more than you were planning on? Did you engage socially when you could have isolated? That’s progress to be celebrated!
  7. Give yourself permission to eat the food you love. I’m going to write that again. In bold because I mean it. Give yourself permission to eat the food you love. Trust that your body will know when it is full.
  8. Take breaks from your family or friends when you need to. You will know when you need to, believe me. Listen to your instincts about needing some downtime, and remember that it’s ok to need a little quiet space to reflect or do some deep breathing.

Managing anything difficult during the holidays requires some extra self-compassion and understanding. A great website for more information is the National Eating Disorders Association. You’ve got this. Lean on anybody and anything that makes you feel comfy, cozy, strong, and connected.  I encourage you to leave open the possibility that it could be a great holiday!

LifeTip: Can Taking the Time to Be Mindful Actually Free Up Time?

Photo by Harry Sandhu on Unsplash

Photo by Harry Sandhu on Unsplash

Mindfulness is the intentional and active state of being aware and present – basically it’s getting out of your head and into the moment.  It’s about connecting to yourself, others, and the world around you. At heart it’s about cultivating consciousness through the use of the very thing that keeps us alive, the breath. I avoided it for years, thinking I had to be Buddha like to succeed! The very notion of mindfulness sounded not only impossible but also grueling and certainly I didn’t have the time for it. What I discovered, though, is that mindfulness can be done anywhere, in your car, on the bus, on your daily run or walk, even while eating or talking with a friend. And, it can look however you want it to look, eyes open or closed, standing, moving, or sitting in lotus position cross-legged on a mat . . . your choice. The idea is to begin in a way that is comfortable for you, just not so comfortable that you fall asleep!  

While the formal practice of mindfulness, mindfulness meditation with eyes closed in lotus position, is considered the optimal posture it can be excruciating and intolerable for some, so much so that one might quit before ever really starting. In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness is not about getting anywhere else — it’s about being where you are and knowing it.” So why not set yourself up for success and do what works for you by starting right where you are.  It does take practice and time but let’s look at that a little more closely.  You might just find that it’s worth your time.

So, what’s the big deal? Why practice mindfulness, you may ask? You may resist, like I did. But here’s the bottom line - it’s a paradox - taking time to be mindful can actually free up time. Absurd, right? How can adding something to your already overscheduled day create that illusive thing we all yearn for, more time?  It makes sense, though, when you consider what neuroscience tells us about mindfulness and the brain. What studies show is that mindfulness literally rewires the brain. And, it rewires it in a way that improves focus, memory, clarity of thinking, and the ability to manage emotions. It has the capacity to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. Even more compelling is that findings show mindfulness can enhance happiness and overall well-being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So, imagine just for a moment how much time you might free up if you were less stressed, anxious, and/or engulfed by the blues.  Imagine, too, how your use of time might look were you focused and better able to regulate the ups and downs of life. Study after study shows that the health benefits gained from mindfulness abound. Perhaps more time, not to mention quality time, is yet another reward?

Curious to know more? Check out these videos. Be ‘mindful’ of the fact that there really is no one definition or one way to cultivate mindfulness.  See what resonates with you in this very moment!

The powerful secret of your breath -- Romila “Dr. Romie” Mushtaq, MD

Dan Harris: Hack Your Brain's Default Mode with Meditation

Meditation 101: A Beginner's Guide Animation

Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness

Andy Puddicombe, All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

For practical steps check out Mayo Clinic’s guide to simple meditation here.

 

LifeTip: Time, Is There Ever Enough?

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Time – that never-ending beast that we seem to fight against each and every day.  Between work, grocery shopping, walking the dog, and getting that overdue oil change done, we seem to find ourselves in this strange game of time manipulation.  As tough is the game can be, we always seem to find a way to make it all work out and get our relegated tasks complete.  Often, though, we tend to leave out one of the most important tasks.  We find ourselves grumpy and tense wondering “what is it that I forgot to do?”  The checklists are complete, the laundry has been folded, dry cleaning has been picked up, and the gas tank is filled…what could possibly be left unfinished?  Well, that unfinished task is you.  Take two seconds and ask yourself, “when was the last time I spent quality time with myself?”

If you’re anything like me, you may be feeling a little bit of anxiety just thinking about trying to fit one more thing into your day.  What happens to us, though, if we don’t take that extra time for ourselves?  Perhaps we start to feel cranky, unappreciated, overwhelmed, tired, burnt out, complacent, and edgy.  That fire that used to burn brightly within us has started to die out and the excitement that we used to have has morphed into resentment.  We all keep doing our own version of the hokey pokey, but is this really what it’s all about?

The answer is no.  Life is meant to be lived and not merely survived.  We tend to spend so much time and energy in taking care of other people and other things, that we neglect the most important person that we know – ourselves.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to re-ignite that passion and zest for life and not feel so bogged down by the daily grind?  That fire can be re-lit and the person holding that matchstick is you.  You are the person that needs the attention, compassion, and nurturing.  It is through this continued act of self-love and self-care that we can refuel our gas tanks and regain that passion.

Below are a few easy yet effective ways of giving back to yourself:

  • Go for a walk
  • Make yourself a nice meal
  • Take yourself to the movies
  • Enjoy a nice latte at your favorite coffee shop
  • Set aside your phone, iPad, computer, etc. and pick up your favorite book
  • Journal – take 10 minutes every day and just write.  Put pen to paper and just let your thoughts flow.
  • Open up that sketch pad and let your creativity fly.
  • Put on your favorite music, snuggle up on the couch in your coziest blanket, and just take in the serenity.
  • Go in the backyard and play fetch with Fido.
  • Take in a yoga class
  • Treat yourself to a relaxing mani/pedi
  • Find a relaxing spot in the park, sit down, close your eyes, and just breathe

No matter how simple or mundane you may think the activity is, it is essential that you take that time for yourself.  Self-care is kind of like the airplane emergency concept.  We’ve got to make sure that the oxygen mask is secured on ourselves before we can try to take care of anyone else.  The concept of time doesn’t have to be a beast to be conquered.  If we can work our own self-care into our daily schedules we can quickly find that life is truly meant to be lived and not just survived.

Love yourself.  You are the most important person that you know.

 

ParentTip: Bearing Witness to Your Teen’s Struggles

Photo by Marta Boixo on Unsplash

Photo by Marta Boixo on Unsplash

One of the things parents have been telling me lately is that it’s hard to watch their teen go through so much pain.

From a logical place, we may understand that it’s painful to get left out or put down by “friends”. We can recall that things felt more intense when we were teens ourselves. Or, we may know all the facts about the developmental goals of being a teenager, yet we can’t separate that from the wisdom of being on the other side of the teen years.

Add all of that to the primal pull of wanting to protect your baby and I can totally get how hard it would be to watch your teen suffer.

So, if you are struggling with this here are a couple of thoughts and resources for you.

First, if you feel like teen-hood is so foreign to you and you would like to deepen your understanding of the experience of being a teen in the current era, I highly recommend, Untangled by Lisa Damour, Ph.D.

In this book, Lisa provides some excellent insight into the developmental social milestones, what’s going on a biological level as well as a sociological level (ahem, the influence of the digital landscape, etc.) She is also so compassionate to parents and teens and does an excellent job reframing some of the more challenging aspects of teenhood in a more loving manner. The book’s emphasis is on teen girls but much of the book could apply to tweens and teens of all genders.

Second, my expertise is in trauma work and one of the important things about bearing witness to others excruciating pain is to stay internally organized in the process. Essentially, this means to keep yourself cool as a cucumber and present to your teen while they are going through the emotional upheavals. The key is to stay connected without getting all upset yourself or trying to fix the situation or distract them from the situation at hand. Your capacity to be in the experience with them and stay calm role models to them how to do that. It’s subtle, but definitely gets internalized.

If you feel like you can’t connect with their feelings one totally random idea for you might be to create a playlist of music that lit your soul on fire when you were a teen or find an object that reminds you of some emotional aspect of your own teen years. The goal is not to find something that will completely bowl you over but more so something that will simply remind you that you once had similar intense feelings of your own at that age.

Third, staying internally organized may be a challenge. I get it. And for that, I highly recommend the book, Constructive Wallowing by Tina Gilbertson.

This book is all about how to ride the wave of emotions by leaning into them. The backbone to this whole idea is that emotions often get stronger when we neglect them and they often pass more quickly if we would simply let ourselves have them.

One thing that often comes up here in my work with adults and teens is this fear that if I allow this emotion to come to the surface then it’s going to take me over completely. There’s fear that the emotion won’t stop. Tina addresses this as well in her book and offers a lot of ideas about how we can create contained experiences to allow the emotions to flow but in a time or situation limited manner. Some examples include reading a sad book if you’re sad or listening to Rah! Rah! girl power music if you are feeling angry at “the Man” and the like. The idea here is to give yourself permission to feel all the feels during that span of time so you can put it aside and do all the normal, daily stuff we all gotta do.

And, of course, if you ever want any help with this feel free to reach out to us or your therapist if you have one.

LifeTip: Rejection Absolutely Hurts

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Rejection can feel like that worst feeling in the world, no matter how old you are or how you may feel like you have it “all together.” Humans are a hardwired to desire to belong. Looking at our evolutionary history, it is programmed in us to seek out connection for survival. Thousands of years ago, we would not be able to survive alone without the support of a group of people. Now we may not need the connection for survival in the sense of staying alive, but our brains are still programmed for seeking it out.

Besides all of the thoughts and feelings that try to justify what happened or question ourselves as an individual, what exactly happens to us when we are rejected? Well, we experience physical pain. Rejection is painful and our brains process it as such; It is the same pain we experience when we are physically injured. A study that looked at various individuals who were rejected from playing a game with two other people noticed that the dorsal anterior cingulate and anterior insult had increased activity. These two regions of the brain are the areas that process physical pain. So, being rejected by friends or having your heart broken is processed similarly to breaking a bone.  

What can you take away from this? First, your feelings are justified and valid because your feelings are real to you, however, your hurt feelings now you have some science to back you up because your brain is processing this rejection like physical pain. Secondly, this pain and experience can motivate some of us to seek out better connections, better ourselves by self-reflecting on one’s contribution to social situations, paying more attention to social cues, and evaluating interactions more carefully because there is still hope for real connection. For those without hope, they may react with anger and hostility because they do not see a reason to try and improve their situation, which will further isolate them, but there is still longing for connection. However, there is still hope!

Joining a therapeutic group is one option that can be very helpful for individuals with or without hope for connection after being rejected. These spaces are created to feel safe and foster healthy relationships and conversations with the assistance of a therapist. It is a microcosm of the “real world,” so group members can practice expressing feelings and act out in vivo situations with other group members and take what they have learned and apply it in their personal lives.

Yes, rejection is awful. Yes, it is so painful (science has your back). And, yes, there is hope for finding connection again.

 

TeenTip: The List

Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

Oh, coping skills. The two words that you hear over and over again from your therapist, your teacher, your mom and dad, social media, self-help books… You get told to make lists of things to do when you get unhelpful urges, make a list of things to do when you feel angry, when you feel sad. If you are like me, these lists quickly get discarded or put in the bottom of your nightstand drawer, as another list of things that DON’T WORK.

Why?

Why do we have such difficulty finding coping skills that actually work for really intense urges or behaviors? My theory (and it’s a working one, only, I’m open to suggestions!) is that when we feel really sad, or mad, or feel like using an unhelpful behavior, our nervous system is on high alert. Meaning, we go “off-line” and super-quick. We get into our deep down protective states, and the only thing we can do is run, or hide, or cry, or yell, or use the behavior. That’s the fight or flight or freeze instinct that you might have heard about, and it happens when our nervous systems get overloaded by a trigger. That overload happens and the list of coping skills gets thrown out, because who has time to take a bubble bath, or play with putty when you just want to scream or punch a wall?

Your therapist is hoping to guide you to use a coping skill so as to help you get you back “on-line.” The goal with the skill is to help you gain 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute- that gain may help get your brain back into a space where you can make a more helpful decision.

The trick is that the coping skill has to match the intensity of the urge, or the intensity of the feeling.

The best coping skills are ones that involve a mix of intensities, that can flood your nervous system, but in a more positive/helpful way. Here’s my running list:

  • listen to any music that feels right, VERY LOUD and in your ears with headphones if possible (I love Eminem/the National/Brandi Carlile/Kesha for nervous system off-line moments)
  • go outside and run hard to the end of the block (with your parents permission if possible)
  • draw 10 flowers on your body. Draw 10 more.
  • take a warm shower (sometimes heat can be too much for your nervous system, so try warm at first)
  • lay under a tree and take 10 deep breaths
  • quickly look at pictures of the ocean, of trees, of mountains
  • watch a funny tv show. Wait 30 minutes before you take any action (tell yourself you have the option of doing the action, just wait 30 minutes at the end of the show and check back in with yourself). I like Parks and Rec, The Office and Seinfeld for this.
  • write in your journal (a tried and true method for many clients, this just seems to work for so many people!)
  • text a friend before you take action, and tell them that you want them to tell you it’s going to be ok
  • tell your parents you need help and a hug. Have them hug you hard. Let them stay with you.

There is freedom in knowing you have a choice. You have a choice of whether to act on unhelpful behaviors or not.

You have a choice of whether to use coping skills or not. You can try them a little bit, or a lot. Even trying them one time (even if the next time, you decide not to try it) is a success. You have to take small steps to get started in this life.

xo~Jules   

 

ParentTip: Taking Time Out to Nurture YOU Can Nurture Your Whole Family

This post goes out to all those parents delving into the frenzy of fall. The following poem by Virginia Satir, a well-known psychotherapist and pioneer of family therapy, is a poignant reminder that being present is truly at the heart of raising a healthy family.  Read it, soak it in, and post it in your kitchen or family room – wherever the heart of your house it.   Let it shine light on your day, inform your conversations around the table and in the car, and gently tuck you in bed at night.  

How different it is to be with a nurturing family! Immediately I can sense the aliveness, the genuineness, honesty and love. I feel the heart and soul present as well as the head.

I feel that if I lived in such a family, I would be listened to and would be interested in listening to others, I would be considered and would wish to consider others. I could openly show my affection as well as my pain and disapproval. I wouldn’t be afraid to take risk because everyone in my family would realize that some mistakes are bound to come with my risk-taking~ that my mistakes are a sign that I am growing. I would feel like a person in my own right~ noticed, valued, loved and clearly asked to notice, value and love others.

One can actually see and hear the vitality in such a family. The bodies are graceful, the facial expressions relaxed. People look at one another, not through one another or at the floor, and they speak in rich, clear voices. There is a flow and harmony in their relations with one another.

Members of a nurturing family feel free to tell each other how they feel. Anything can be talked about~ the disappointment, fears, hurts, angers, criticism, as well as the joys and achievements.

Nurturing families show evidence of planning, but if something interferes with the plan, they can readily make adjustments. This way they are able to handle more of life’s problems without panicking.

In a nurturing family it is easy to pick up the message that human life and human feelings are more important than anything else. These parents see themselves as leaders, not bosses, and they see their job as primarily one of teaching their child how to be truly human in all situations.
— Virginia Satir, A Healthy Family

*Life balance as a parent can be challenging! Taking a moment to nourish you can reduce stress and anxiety as well as open up new pathways for living. Want to grow, learn, and foster healthier ways of relating to yourself, your partner or co-parent, and your children?  Join a parent group at GT Therapy Group this fall. Learn more about parent groups here and sign up to join us in connection this fall. 

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Meet Julia

Hi! I’m Julia Herman, but a lot of people call me Jules, so I’ll introduce myself that way.  I’m a therapist, an early childhood teacher, and a lover of wildflowers. I play the harmonium, I’m a YA book reader, and I believe that talking about your feelings is a pretty great thing.  

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Who do I work with in therapy? Well, I mostly work with kids and teens who are dealing with loneliness, sadness, being told they have “too many feelings” & so much more.  I’m also a parent coach, who loves working with parents who might need help building blended families, and who want to build warm and real relationships with their kids.

I’m fiercely passionate about helping clients feel understood, listened to, and accepted. That’s what we all want, right? To feel like the darkest or most secret parts of ourselves - the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that we keep hidden - are seen and accepted by someone.  The truth is that I know what it’s like to feel that you have to keep certain parts of yourself secret or hidden, because you are afraid that your parents will stop loving you, or teachers or friends will not understand you. I know because I’ve experienced many of those feelings too, in my life.

The teens I work with come with questions like: if I lie to my parents am I a bad person? What do I do with my desire to do dangerous things? What if I’m not sure if I want to stay alive? Is it ok if I don’t want to stop my self-harm yet? Do I have too many emotions?

The parents I work with ask me questions like: “Does my kid like me?” “How can I learn to react differently when my child is angry?” “What if my partner parents differently than I do?” “What do I do if my teen self-harms?”

With the kids I see, play is the thing! I bring my sandtray, my miniature toys, we play games, read books, and we might even toss around my “ask me a question” soccer ball! Childhood is full of BIG emotions, wanting to belong, feeling afraid, learning to use your words, not knowing how to use them, being silly and wild and making a million mistakes. In the therapy room, I am non-directive & unconditionally accepting, and believe that through the power of play, so much can be done!

Wondering if you are lovable, feeling unsure of yourself, and struggling with decisions about life are at the center of most of my work with clients. I don’t run away from hard things, and you never have to act a certain way with me, or change any part of who you are.

What am I like as a therapist? Well, clients have said that my energy is gentle, calming, kind, “real”, and fun.  When you are in a session with me, I might bring out Bananagrams or Quirkle (my favorite), or you might share your favorite song (and I’ll share mine).  Or, maybe we’ll play with kinetic sand (it holds its shape!) and make flower mandalas. We can talk, too.  I think most of us hide like little bears, when we feel sad or unsafe, or scared. My ultimate goal as a therapist is to make it safe, even just for one session, to peek your head out of your little bear cave - to see the beauty that life can hold.

To learn more about me and how I approach my work, check out my website: https://therapywithjules.com and my page here.

 

Meet Lysle

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“Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything.” Carl Jung

Meet Lysle: I believe people seek meaning and contentment in their lives.  I am passionate about self-discovery, life transitions, identity, spirituality, and life purpose. Who am I? Where do I belong? What is next? How do I break free from rigid roles, deep-rooted patterns, and old ways of thinking that no longer work? With creativity, curiosity, and hope these are the questions I like to explore with clients, no matter the age or stage of life.  From adolescence through adulthood we strive for growth and happiness, ponder our deepest selves, and seek our place in the world – as human beings it is our nature to evolve, develop, and grow.  In a sense we are always becoming, always emerging into that person we are meant to be.  Yet, life is messy, uncertain, and complex with no single belief system or way to live; tragedy, trauma, transitions, and life interruptions arise.  Growth stops.  We get stuck.  We lose sight of who we are and what we want.  I like to help clients sift through the messiness of life and regain a sense of vitality, purpose, and meaning. I firmly believe there is meaning in the messiness!  

My approach is holistic with an emphasis on personal transformation through exploration of one’s inner resources.  I help clients tap into the natural wisdom of the mind, body, and spirit.  I incorporate tools to integrate and foster connection between the unconscious parts of oneself and the present moment.  By honoring the “here and now” while at the same time taking a deeper look at past experience we can illuminate a new path forward. Expanded consciousness that brings about change is built through intentional cultivation and deeper knowledge of oneself; real and lasting change begins with awareness.  Suffering stands to be a part of life but when we begin to unpack our suffering in the presence of a trusted other we can shift our thoughts, attitudes, and ability to manage the ups and downs of life.

I am a Licensed Master Social worker and psychotherapist under the supervision of Tammy Linseisen, LCSW, ACSW.  I incorporate modalities from both Western and Eastern traditions drawing from depth psychology, attachment theory, family systems theory, relational psychology, and body-centered therapies such as Yoga.  I believe in the power of healing through connection and consider the therapeutic relationship a powerful and transformational relationship that offers a sacred space for growth and change.  At heart, I believe meaning and joy can be found amidst the messiness of life!  

*Keep an eye out for our expanded group offerings that will begin in September.  These will include parent groups, LGBTQ and non-binary groups for teens, college student groups and other adult groups. Get on the list to be the first to hear about all our new offerings!

 

Meet Justin

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Hey everyone, I'm Justin!  I thought I’d use my first blog to let you peek into my story a bit and let you see who the man is under the hat.

I’m a small-town Iowa guy who’s dug up his roots and replanted them here in central Texas and, after six years, I’m starting to feel like a local.  If you’ve seen the movie “Bridges of Madison County” or know where John Wayne was born, you’ve gotten a little taste of where I come from.  Even though I wasn’t a farm boy and have never detassled corn, I was brought up on strong mid-Western values and work ethics.  I had a pretty average childhood and was always encouraged to find and follow my dreams.  The support that I received from my parents and mentors has led me right here, writing my first blog to you.  

I recognized pretty early on that I tended to dance to the beat of a different drummer so I guess it’s not surprising that I decided to take the non-traditional route after high school.  At the end of a pretty unproductive year at a small university where I was in constant search of my purpose, I landed a gig with Carnival Cruises and I spent a year as a production singer, touring the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Alaska.  As an 18 year old that had never really left Iowa, my world was rocked – there actually was more to life outside of my little bubble.  This began six years of my professional entertainment career during which time I performed in various theaters, theme parks, and cabarets in Chicago and Los Angeles as well as two tours of Europe.  My life as an entertainer was exciting and fulfilling until I realized that I was halfway through my 20’s and had no security nor any real stability.  I knew that I couldn’t spend the rest of my life behind a microphone wearing jazz shoes and I had yet to find that purpose that I had started looking for six years prior, so I needed to change my course.  I packed up the contents of my garden apartment in Chicago and headed back to Iowa.  I remained in Iowa for 10 years during which time I: met and married my husband, went back to school and obtained my undergraduate degree, bought a house, and planted roots back into the black soil of Iowa.  That darn purpose, though, had yet to show itself to me.  That is, until early 2011 when I attended a candlelight vigil.  My internal fire began to burn that night and it’s continued to grow every day since.

This vigil was held in memory of victims of suicide who had been highlighted by the media for being gay/queer or perceived as such.  It was devastating to see that members of my own community were falling prey to continued bigotry and hatred.  I couldn’t help but see that 17 year old Justin in the faces of the victims and I kept thinking to myself: is there still no one out there to reach out to these folks and show them that life does get better? Well, my purpose reared its head that night - I am that someone who must reach out.  By the end of the year, my husband and I had packed up our lives and our pets to start our new lives in Austin and, In January of 2012, I stepped foot into my first graduate-level social work class at UT.  As you’ve probably assumed, I finished my academic career at UT and I’m now here – reaching out to you just as I said I would.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you.  Now it’s your turn; I’d love to hear your story!

Learn more about Justin here.