A Note From Julie: An Attitude of Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude allows us to live abundantly. Gratitude unlocks our ability to live life to its fullest each day. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. A spirit of gratitude helps us makes sense of our past, it brings us peace for today, and creates a sense of hope for tomorrow.

This year, may you live with an attitude of gratitude on the other 364 days as much as you do on the one day set aside to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

– Jules

A Thanksgiving Prayer for You

My prayer for you is that this life becomes all you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too.
If you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
If one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walking till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
You find GOD’S GRACE in every mistake,
And you always GIVE more than you take.

– Unknown source

Updating the Parent Toolbox

As each school year begins, our children embark on a new journey filled with excitement, challenges, successes and mistakes. There will be days when children come home from school devastated by a fight with friends, a low test grade, or an unpleasant classmate. When these things happen, parents often desire to shield their children from these hurtful experiences.

Often, our natural reaction is to pull out the “fix-it” toolbox, in an attempt to protect our children by navigating the situation ourselves or running to their rescue before they experience any pain. Well… I hate to break it to you, but it is time to update the toolbox. We must throw the old “fixing” tools in the recycle bin and replace them with the new and improved “preparing kids for life” tools.

This tool box includes the skills needed to raise kids who can work to resolve their own problems, make mistakes, cry sometimes, learn valuable lessons, and head into life prepared and competent.

The tools:

  • When your child comes home from school with a problem… EMPATHIZE. Do not jump in and try to save them or give advice. Simply listen and show understanding. Say something like, “It sounds like it was a hard day at school today” or, “I can tell you are really worried about this.” The message is that you hear, feel, and understand their pain. You can experience the situation from their point of view. This does not indicate that you agree with everything they believe or do, but that you acknowledge what they are saying and validate their feelings.
  • Ask questions that imply they are capable of solving the problem. “Do you have any ideas of how you would like to handle this situation?” “What do you think you will do first?” Affirm that you are available to listen or help brainstorm possible solutions. Do not tell them what to do. Engage in thoughtful discussion rather than attempt to control.
  • Allow children to make mistakes. Step back and let them make the decisions regarding how they would like to handle the specific problem. This may not be the decision you would make or recommend, but let them find out in their own way and make mistakes along the way. Watch them experiment safely and learn from the experience.
  • Evaluate decisions and outcomes together. Spend time discussing choices, mistakes, and behaviors. Was it a success? Did it result in a different outcome? How did the other person react? Discuss lessons learned and provide the opportunity to brainstorm new solutions or choices if needed.

Keep in mind that your mission is to raise children who will someday effectively manage their own lives. You are your children’s teacher. Replacing the old “fix- it” tools with these will help develop independent, well-rounded, socially competent young children who can face life’s problems with confidence and handle situations with resilience.

Author Jill Early has spent several years in the classroom environment helping children and parents build lifelong tools for success academically and in life. For more information or support fine-tuning your toolbox, please contact Jill at 713-365-9015 or jearly@heritagebehavioral.com.

A back to school thought from Jules: The Man Who Thinks He Can

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win but think you can’t,
it’s almost certain you won’t.
Life’s battles don’t always go
to the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins
is the man who thinks he can.

– Walter D. Wintle

Thanks to Coach Edd Burleson, this inspirational poem, painted in large purple and gold letters, lived on the locker room doors of our small Central Texas school gymnasium. I saw it every day for 12 years. Under the strong leadership of several wise administrators and numerous compassionate and gifted teachers, that small town school has a long history of athletic, academic, and artistic successes.

More importantly, I left that educational environment with a strong sense of who I am; passionate about pursuing whatever might lie ahead, confident that I could try anything (at least once), and a desire for lifelong learning. PLEASE HEAR ME— without parents and educators instilling (and sometimes insisting on) strong values, this would not have happened.

As another school year begins, we want to encourage you to be involved in setting your children, and the children around you, up for success. This month, Jill offers insights on adjusting the parent tool box, using her expertise as a former classroom teacher. Additionally, Samantha shares some helpful tools for maintaining healthy communication within your family during this often chaotic season, and Patrick discusses very practical guidance regarding concussion safety for our student-athletes.

Our Best to You and Yours,


A Note From Jules – Freedom

Can you imagine what it might be like to be FREE? …I mean, really FREE??? Thankfully, and as a result of those who have and continue to fight for our peace, we still live in a country that offers us much freedom.

Just as our heroes count it an honor to serve this country, we feel it is such a privilege to be chosen to journey with someone on a quest for freedom from emotional bondage. Through exploring such things as relationship patterns, a history of abuse, family of origin issues, and painful emotions, we look at feelings, attitudes, habits, and beliefs that may be inhibiting your personal growth and success.

Although little of it may be conscious, emotional baggage can hurt you and the people you love. Entangled relationships with parents, grandparents, and unhealthy people can cause chaos and suffering. These enmeshments can diminish your ability to enjoy your life and your relationships – they are ways in which you can lose identity.

Most healthy people explore and organize their emotions, attitudes and beliefs. They know what they want, how they feel and why they feel that way. They find solutions to problems quickly. They have similar challenges as less happy people – but healthy people deal with them much more efficiently. Healthy people don’t get stuck for long… they try not to sabotage themselves.

Do you feel bad about your past relationship(s), or remorse about lost opportunities? Do you respond emotionally to your past?

We have developed many ways to help people safely open their luggage, untangle their emotional baggage and sort out their stuff. We want to help YOU replace your legacy of limiting beliefs, irrational emotions and unwanted habits with a healthy heritage of intimacy with your own feelings, improved communication, healthy self esteem and continued personal growth for yourself and your children.

Be safe, be FREE, and let the fireworks fly!


Freedom & Food

As summer sets in, most of us are facing the struggle to avoid tempting foods such as ice cream, good ol’ BBQ, chips with salsa, and a large handful of salted nuts. Somewhere between making a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and starting to plan your menu for the summer BBQ with the neighbors, perhaps you have lost that motivation to prepare fresh foods. Instead, you might be feeling guilty that you ate another cookie, went back for seconds when you weren’t even hungry, or ate a large serving of the ice cream because “it was a really stressful day at the office or with the kids.” is there any freedom from the cycle of good vs. bad eating?

Absolutely. I call it mindful eating, but the concept is also well-known as intuitive eating. Most of us know what is “healthy” to eat; however, mindful eating allows us to freely consume foods that are typically less helpful for our bodies in smaller quantities and enjoy them. Mindful eating means pausing to consider the type of hunger you might be experiencing when you grab that extra snack or reach for a sugary beverage. There are many types of hunger that I challenge my clients to take notice of when they are completing their food records for their nutrition consultations. I typically encourage someone to use the following types when recording what triggered their snacking or eating a meal:

  • Emotion – boredom, stress, sadness, happiness, frustration, tiredness, etc.
  • Availability – the food was easy to grab
  • Hunger – it was about 3 or 4 hours since the last time you ate something
  • Craving – you really wanted the taste of the snack
  • Activity – you were doing something, such as watching TV, that makes
    you want to snack

Then, we review this record and “unmask” what’s really causing those “cravings”. Finally, we determine which practical ideas would work to address that particular type of hunger instead of eating more food. For example, someone who routinely snacks because they are an “emotional eater” might set a goal to mindfully enjoy snacks seated at the table, instead of standing in the kitchen, and perhaps even honor themselves enough to eat the snack off of a beautiful china plate rather than out of the package.
This is just one exercise in mindful eating that clients (young and old, male and female) seem to benefit from. Most importantly, it unveils that hidden temptation about foods and provides us with the freedom to mindfully choose the best approach to honor our hunger! For more information on mindful eating or to schedule an individual consultation, please contact Danielle McGee RD, LD at 713-365-9015.

Spring Cleaning – Clearing the Clutter

Oh my goodness! Have you ever cleaned out – as in removed every single thing in preparation for a move or a remodel – your closet?!?!? HOLY COW. How do we acquire all that STUFF??

“Spring has sprung”, as the old saying goes, and many of us become obsessed with cleaning out closets, drawers, books and clutter. This is a lot like life. All that clutter weighs us down and drains our energy at work, at home and in our relationships. I find it interesting that we are not as excited to embark on a road to an “emotional clearing of the clutter.”

We put up with, accept, take on and are dragged down by things that we may have come to ignore.

Situations, people’s behavior, unmet needs, crossed boundaries, incomplete items, frustrations, problems, and even your own behavior can drain your energy and increase your stress levels. Perhaps we have gotten really good at excusing or minimizing certain things that get in our way of living life to its fullest.

Emotional cleansing is an art form: It takes practice as well as a deep commitment to shifting your thinking. But you can clear out unproductive thinking, negative self-talk and the clutter of past experiences. Just like cleaning out a closet, this kind of cleaning requires a sorting process (what to keep, what to release, what to give away).

Emotional Spring Cleaning Checklist:

1. Clutter. Yes, we’re talking about physical clutter! Messy surroundings are a definite source of stress because cleaning it up is constantly on our “to do” list. Our goal in emotional spring cleaning is to get rid of the excess baggage that’s needlessly occupying space in our brain and holding us back. A great place to start is by getting organized in our living and work spaces.

2. Resentments. Make a list of the people in your life you haven’t forgiven yet, and work on letting go of this negative energy. When you allot negative energy towards people and situations and do nothing about it, it festers and grows, and gets in the way of you being (and sharing) your best self. Try to understand why you’re holding on to it and what the payoff is aside from having something to occupy your mind and keeping your focus off of what’s really important. Do you hold onto resentment because you’re afraid of moving forward? Don’t be afraid to get real with yourself.

3. Excuses. Do you make excuses as to why you don’t go after the things you want in life? When someone suggests something to you that’s out of your comfort zone, do you make excuses as to why it’s not feasible or possible? This is your fear talking. Ask yourself: “Whose voice am I listening to?” Life is about opening your eyes to the opportunities that are available to you. Ignoring or dismissing them will only result in stagnation and lack of growth.

4. Procrastination. Procrastination is the physical result of denial. When you choose not to live in the present and you put things off until “someday”, which inevitably never comes, you’re again using valuable space in your brain and body as a storage space for stress. Abolishing procrastination and taking care of your business in a timely manner sometimes takes willpower and discipline, which may expend more energy in the present moment, but ultimately saves you tons of energy and stress in the end.

5. Wishing/Regrets. When you wish for something, or say, “If only…”, you’re focusing on the future, but in a very passive way. It does absolutely no good to wish for things or to express discontent about the way things are, if you do nothing to change them. The same goes for the past – having regrets about your actions only expresses your inability to see the potential growth that could come from every situation you’re in, positive or negative. Not to mention – you certainly can’t re-write the past, so dwelling on it without reflecting on the lessons is another pointless energy waster. If you find yourself unhappy about your current circumstances, figure out what you can do to change it. If you can’t change the situation, then perhaps choosing to view things differently will help you learn to accept that reality and not stress as much about it.

Why not take some time this weekend to inventory old behaviors and patterns that keep us in a constant state of drama – and clean them out along with the dust bunnies?

As a place to begin, let me encourage you to make a list of what you are putting up with at home, at work, or from outside activities that may be limiting you right now. There is no time like the present to identify those items. You may or may not choose to do anything about them just now, but becoming aware of and articulating them will bring them to the forefront where you will naturally start handling eliminating, fixing and resolving them.

Food Freedom

“Is this food good or bad?” As a dietitian, I regularly hear this question! I face the challenge of how to teach an alternative way of thinking about nutrition. Recently, I tried to explain a new concept to one of my youngest clients (a nine year old female). I asked her, “What if there were no good and bad foods. What if, instead, foods were least helpful, helpful, and most helpful?” She then rephrased what I was trying to say: “Like when my mom fills the car up at the gas station?” Initially confused, I realized she saw food as fuel and was picturing the different octane levels on the pump (such as 87, 89 & 92). I applauded her creativity!

A “fuel for the body” concept groups foods into 1) maintenance 2) enhanced, or 3) improved performance. Perhaps we don’t need rules to never eat “bad” foods and can assess how they contribute to our overall goals for life performance. Do you desire to lose weight? Are you fatigued? Are certain foods coping mechanisms? If so, maybe those chips and cookies are foods that maintain weight, energy or emotions. What if you felt freedom to eat foods that enhance energy, emotions, or weight goals? For example, a small granola bar, ½ cup of 100% all natural fruit juice, or baked pita chips with hummus substitute for your afternoon or nighttime snack. Then, consider options that might improve performance towards a healthy body weight, improved energy, and mindful eating: a handful of unsalted nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc), a cup of Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp of honey, or a green smoothie may improve your long-term nutrition goals.

A healthy mindset about our eating habits promotes food freedom! Meal planning and dining do not have to be burdensome. If this brings you some relief, look forward to more tips on mindful eating soon.

Getting Teens to Talk

Adolescence is one of the most difficult times for parents to negotiate with their children. This is the beginning of a long journey toward independence. Though this is a very important process that parents want for the healthy development of their children, sometimes parents ask the question…what happened to my sweet little angel who used to tell me everything? If you find yourself at the place where communicating with your teen feels like speaking a foreign language, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. LISTEN to the small stuff. It’s how we, as parents, earn the right to be trusted with the big stuff.
  2. LISTEN for the feelings. Summarize what they say and how they might be feeling (even if you have to guess).
  3. LISTEN, even when it’s difficult. IF you opt for getting upset, telling them what to do, or minimizing their issues, (“don’t let it get to you,” “that’s not such a big deal”), you can expect them to shut down very quickly.
  4. LISTEN…without judging. Decide if your teen needs to a) just blow off steam, or b) find a solution. If (b), then take the position of asking helpful questions that LEAD your adolescent to find his/her solution. You want them to learn the PROCESS of thinking for themselves.

— The quality of the solution is not as important as the process by which it was reached.
— The only way children learn to solve their own problems is with practice.