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Motorcycle Mental Health

Janie Stubblefield

August 12, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a challenge to feel "normal". It seems like everything changed in the blink of an eye and without warning as we watched in an almost paralyzed state as the wretched disease surfaced all over our world.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I met with clients "virtually" to provide some continuity of care, but over and over I heard the same cries, "I'm anxious about getting sick"; "I'm afraid to visit my parents because I don't want to get them sick";  and "I don't know how long my job will last."

My counsel to them emphasized the need for self-care, and often a specific need they felt would give them hope and something to look forward to regularly. 

Personally, I feel it is important to practice what I preach, so I, too, made intentional efforts in self-care. Like many women, I enjoy a day at the spa, but the spa's were closed. I also enjoy gathering with friends, but gatherings were off limits. The "normal" activities were just not an option. So, I sought solitude and self-care riding my motorcycle. 

Now it's your turn. Identify at least one thing that you are doing regularly as self-care that's benefiting your healthy mental health.



What is Your Oxygen Mask

Janie Stubblefield

April 22, 2014

In counseling, I often meet with individuals that are simply exhausted. Work is overwhelming, the kids misbehave, their spouse seems disconnected, their friends have all disappeared, and they just feel their life has gone in a direction they never intended.

As I gather background on their family dynamics, I often uncover a common factor. When I ask the question, “what do you do for yourself?” They all say, “Nothing.”

Knowing that I myself am a visual learner, it has been my practice for years to use pictures and scenarios to help describe situations. So, I borrowed the instructions given to all passengers on airplanes before they take-off as a visual description to help people understand what they need.

You know the instructions I’m talking about. As you sit on an airplane, the flight crew will cover basic instructions like “how to buckle a seatbelt” and the “location of emergency exits”. Then in great detail, they describe step-by-step and give visual examples of “what to do if the cabin loses air pressure.”

When I ask parents if they should help their children first or put their mask on first when the oxygen mask falls from the above bin, I almost always get the same answer, “help my child”.

In case you are thinking this is the right answer, let me be clear, “No.”

Research shows that when an airplane loses cabin pressure you have about 15 seconds to secure the oxygen mask over your face before you pass out. As a parent, if you pass out, you will be of no service to your child nor anyone else needing your help. So let me reiterate the instructions from the flight crew, “First, put on your mask, then you can help others put on their mask.”

I believe these instructions are also relevant to life.

As an individual, you need to explore your interests to discover what may serve as “oxygen” for you – I’m being figurative here, not literal. Maybe it is reading, or yoga, or sculpting pottery, or rock climbing, or … the possibilities are endless. What is important is that you discover what gives you the feeling that you can “breathe”.

Once you discover your personal “oxygen”, you must then make time regularly to rejuvenate yourself so that you will then be healthier as a person to help those around you that need help. And before you ask the question, let me give you the answer, “no, you are not being selfish.” If you are naturally a selfish person, you are probably not spending a lot of time trying to help others. This recommendation is for the mass population out there that spends countless days, weeks, and years caring for others.

In order to more effectively help those around you, you must first make sure that you have provided for your most basic need – oxygen.


Grief: The Unexpected Trap Door

Janie Stubblefield

July 23, 2019

As I write this, it's been 2 years since I've been grieving the loss of my loved one.

As a professional counselor, I've been blessed for many years to serve others by leading grief support groups. I have considered it a true privilege to walk with others during their time of loss. In group, I always shared Psalm 139 where God tells us that He knows the number of our days before one is ever lived. This passage has brought me great comfort during my own time of grief to know that God was never shocked or derailed by my losses.

Now, however, I have a new image of grief.

It's a trap door that opens underneath you, and you are falling and falling, and you cannot stop, and you cannot catch your breath, and it seems to never end...

That is grief.

The recovery is slippery, and can be overwhelming. However, God will be present with you in every breath you take.

Although it been incredibly hard, I have also come to the place where I have learned to grieve the loss of my loved one while I still live my life. I don't have any idea how to do this with any sort of confidence, so I'm sure I'm just muddling through...

I want to end with a bold piece of advice - MAKE MEMORIES!!!!!

It's the wonderful memories of the love you shared that will brighten the dark journey that grief offers.

This week I challenge you to choose a time to talk with your family/friends about making memories. Plan a picnic/play day with your family; or go ice skating; or pick a place you have never visited before and plan a visit; or just try a new restaurant. The possibilities are limitless. Whatever you choose, take along the camera, and make sure that you are included in at least some of the pictures. 

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