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Life Is Happier When You Care for Yourself Better

My Blog


Susan Gentz Gillespie, LMFT: Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:42 PM

Transitions. They are so painful. They are so healthy. They are so scary. This week I decided to step away from working part-time for a treatment center and go fully into private practice as of August 1st. I have worked at this agency for 8 1/4 years, the longest by far I have ever held any other job (other than my private practice). This is a scary moment and I encountered many difficult emotions in its implementation, but the guilt was one I couldn't shake. Even though I realize there will never be a good time to leave agency clients, and even though I still have unfinished work there, I feel sorry for the suffering my separation may cause. At the same time, I was aware that this would possibly never be untrue and I have my life and my own professional and personal growth to consider. The biggest feeling I felt when I announced the transition was--relief. I have approached this whole course correction with as much self-compassion as I could possibly muster, and I feel relatively at peace with my plan. I will check in later about whether the feeling of serenity is warranted.


Posted on Tuesday, January 06, 2015 8:17 PM

I have been focusing on healthy mind/body practices this year. These include regular exercise (not just the intention, but truly implementing the practice), mindfulness meditation and general mindfulness, gratitude, and working hard to breath and pause before speaking. A client pointed out to me that he had achieved the ability at times to maintain his equanimity no matter what happened during a given day. This takes work and above all it takes really staying in touch with one's priorities. I have been playing with this, using phrases (not original to me) such as, "What if there is not a problem?" Or, "Perhaps I should abandon all hope, in a good way." Or simply waiting rather than engaging in a heated discussion or making a purchase or sending an email. The feeling of calm and peace generated by these practices has been refreshing.

Self-Care, Breaks and Vacations

Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 10:11 AM

I had a writing teacher once who pointed out that, when stuck, one should take a vacation. She informed her students that a vacation could be 5 minutes over a cup of coffee or a walk around the work space or the block. Obviously a weekend or week or several weeks in a fun or relaxing place other than work or home can be very restorative too. I have noticed a couple of things about this concept: many of my patients take vacations which are in and of themselves exhausting, either because they take vacation time to see family and discharge obligations or because the change of environment causes them to do self-destructive things with alcohol, drugs, food and the like. A vacation which includes plenty of rest, exercise and relaxation is can pay dividends in peace of mind for quite awhile, while the lack of one can make us edgy, unhappy and depressed. If you haven't had a vacation lately, go ahead and take one right now--and then I recommend planning the next one.

How Do You Value Yourself?

Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:18 PM

A mature family member of mine (male, older than 50), did a double-take at a young woman in her 20s and said with a sigh, "Gee, I wish I were young again." My adult life flashed before my eyes. I saw myself in my 20s, arrogantly dismissing that admiring attention from men in their 50s. I saw myself becoming married and pregnant, and invisible to admiring eyes. I saw myself with wrinkles and other signs of advancing age, noticing for the first time that my internal sense of sensual and vital did not match the attention I was (not) getting from the world. And as I listened to my friends, clients, teachers, I wondered, perhaps crudely, who was taking care of the needs of the mature women while the men are all with some significant percentage of futility chasing youngsters? I do not have the answer to this but this innate primate tendency probably brings on a great deal of emotional pain in the world to the higher-ordered thinking human beings. Humans don't actually switch from sexually impulsive to wise and measured over night. It's an evolution, so to speak. And now we have access to wisdom at an earlier age and access to sexual activity to a much greater age. My favorite approach to this is focusing on the here and now, gratitude for the life, health, love and affection that are present in one's life today, and the reminder as spoken by a mentor of mine that from birth to death, "beauty is an inside job."

Laughing Meditation

Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:44 PM

II co-facilitated a group the other day in which we did a lughing meditation. I have to say, on that particular day, there wasn't a lot that put me in a laughing mood. However, even the most serious and shy member of group was smiling a giggling in a matter of less than a minute. Try this if you think I'm kidding. Start out by faking laughing, and soon you'll be doing it on purpose.

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