Friday, March 30, 2018

Starting a Grief Group

Grief...one word, five letters, and a hundred different emotions. When I first became a counselor there were certain topics that intimidated me...grief was definitely one of them.

Grief is so complex....how do we help someone see the light when they feel surrounded by darkness?? How do we help individuals struggling with survivals guilt??  How do we help individuals who have lost their support system??

Now take all of that and think about how to handle grief in children. How do we help children with this concept of death?? How do we help children feel safe again?? How do we help children define these new emotions and learn to cope in a positive way??

So yes I had a ton of insecurities about counseling grief in children....and I don't think I'm the only counselor who struggles with that insecurity.

Well this year I was forced to get over that insecurity. On the first day of school a student approached me and told me about the loss of her brother. A few weeks later I got a phone call about an accident involving one of our student's parents. At first I tried to do the typical grief activities...but I just felt like it wasn't reaching them the way I wanted.  I assumed it was my lack of experience with grief and reached out to some community resources. I reached out to a local grief counselor who met with our students...but after a few weeks I realized that wasn't working either.

So I started reading...and reading...and reading some more. After all of my reading, I came to the conclusion that a grief group was the answer. I always knew grief groups were powerful but leading a grief group?? I'm supposed to help multiple children with grief at the same time!?!?!? AH!!! Okay...okay...have your little freak out moment and then you're just gonna have to build a bridge and get over it!! Because at the end of the day...a grief group is exactly what kids need. They need to grieve together and learn that they're not alone in their struggles.  Children feel isolated in their grief. Their friends don't understand grief and their parents are in too much pain to talk about the loss...so they're left alone in their struggles.

So as a counselor...where do you start??

Step one...start with selecting individuals. Do you have enough students for a grief group??  What age do you want?? Do you want it to be just boys?? just girls?? both both and girls?? Do you want the loss to be recent (within the past year or two)?? Does the loss have to be within the immediate family or extended family/friends?

If you can't come up with enough students for your group, then ask the teachers if they can think of any other students.

For my group the only requirement I had was that the loss had to be within the immediate family. I had a few 6th graders, a few 7th graders, and a few 8th graders. Half of my group had experienced loss within the past 6 months, the other half had experienced loss 3-7 years ago. I didn't have a requirement on gender, but it ended up being just girls.

Step two...come up with a name. I called our group "The Roller Coasters Group" because grief can be like a roller coaster. It can go up and down, it can go for loops and turns, and it can be a complete mess sometimes.

Step three...start planning.  Groups require lots of planning...so get started!! But don't spend 4 weeks planning...get a few good ideas and then just go with it!! I'll be posting all of my resources/activities here on the blog...so check back for updates.

Step four...send your invites and parent permission forms.

Step five...just dive in!!

My group lasted about 15 weeks...and it was probably one of the most impactful things I've done as a counselor. I LOVED it!! Every week I looked forward to it!! Yes...I looked forward to grief group!! Someone came to observe my grief group once and at the end they asked how I didn't cry listening to their stories. My response "I'm on fire right now!! You have no idea how excited I am!!! Cry...no...I want to jump for joy!!! Because during every session I can see growth...I can see counseling working!! I can see them connecting, growing, and moving forward!! It's amazing!!!"





Saturday, March 17, 2018

Graduation is Coming Up

College graduation season is just around the corner...which means it's time for college grads to start "adulting"!! Yes that's right...they'll officially enter the real world and become an adult. 

So...what should you do with these last few weeks of freedom?? How can you use this time to help you be more prepared for adulting?? Here are some helpful tips about the weeks leading up to graduation:
  • Update your resume!! Update your resume for your job search and to give yourself a little esteem boost...after all it is a whole page dedicated to your awesomeness!!  Here are some really good tips for creating/updating a resume: www.themuse.com
  • Buy a suit!! You never know when you'll get a call for an interview...be prepared!! Not all jobs require you to interview in a suit...but it seriously can't hurt. Plus it gives you a little more self confidence walking in. 
  • Buy an official briefcase/portfolio!! You might not have anything in it other than your resume but at least you look professional. My portfolio helps me feel prepared and more confident when I enter the room...sounds silly but it's true.
  • Don't stress to much about finding a job after college. No one expects you to have a job lined up for the day after graduation...besides you have enough on your plate.
  • Have a back up plan!! I got a job at Payless for a few months until I had things figured out. It didn't bother me at all because I knew it was temporary and that a good job would come along. Just don't let your back up plan last a year...it's supposed to be temporary not long term. 
  • Pick up some extra transcripts. I was surprised by how many places wanted to see my transcripts..so get a few ordered just in case. You can get them after graduation but for some reason it's more complicated. 
  • Take some fun graduation pictures!! Grab some friends, a camera, and enjoy!!
  • Plan some time with your friends!! In a few weeks people will be moving to their new jobs or back home...so enjoy the time you have left together.
  • Create a list of all of the things you're going to miss about college...and do them all one last time!! It's a great way to end your college years!!
I saved the best tip for last: You've spent the past 20-25 years in school....so basically you became a professional student!! Seriously...you kicked butt at studying, turning assignments in on time, time management, group assignments, writing papers, completing projects, etc. But now you are entering an entirely new field. You will no longer be at the top...you will no longer be considered an "expert". You will now become the newbie...in a new field...in a new world. You will have to relearn everything about this new phase of life...but that's okay. Just be prepared for change, keep your head up, take care of yourself, and keep working hard. You will get to the top of this new field in time...just be patient!!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Groomsmen


Neil and I picked out our wedding party pretty quickly...but 6 months later Neil still hadn't mentioned anything to his groomsmen....hahaha.  At first Neil wasn't interested in my "crafty" ideas...but then when I showed him my ideas he was like...hm...those are actually pretty cool!! So we spent an evening looking at funny cards and picking out the little bottle opener.  He did a pretty good job...he even wrote a hand written note with them!! 

We purchased the cards on Etsy here and the engraved bottle openers here

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bridesmaid Box

Should you do a "Will You Be My Bridesmaid" box OR is it a waste of money??

Well if I'm being honest it's probably a waste of money....but it's fun putting it together!! And it's the thought that counts right??

I absolutely LOVED putting my "Will You Be My Bridesmaid?" boxes together!!! I started with pinterest (of course) and listed all of the items I liked on my phone. Then whenever I was out running errands if I saw a good deal on one of the items I'd grab it. 

Here's what I ended up putting together:

My boxes included: 
$9 Tumbler from Walmart ($11 from Amazon)
$3 White Photo Box
$2 Bridesmaid DVD (Black Friday Deal)
$2 Initial Necklace (see details below)
$1 Hand Sanitizer (Bath & Body Works Sale)
50 cent Hair Ties (VS Outlet Sale)
Will You Be My Bridesmaid Card (not in photo but here's the Etsy link)
Free Color Swatches from Home Depot

You're probably wondering what I used the color swatches for...well I used them to show my girls the color scheme for the big day!! Which is funny looking at it now because we're not doing pink anymore...hahaha

If you decide to do bridesmaids boxes, then I suggest setting a budget and learning to get a little thrifty. For example...I created these $2 initial necklaces using a chain from the sales rack at a local jewelry store and an initial jewel from Hobby Lobby. Definitely cheaper than personalized necklaces from Etsy!! Think thrifty!! These little boxes can get expensive really fast!!

Here are some other awesome ideas for your boxes:
EOS Pink Lipbalm
Pink Nail Polish
Starbucks Coffee
Gold/Pink Chocolate
Rose (real or fake)
Mini Wine Bottles

I would have loved to put everything in my boxes but it's important to stick to your budget!! 

So back to the original question...should you do a "Will You Be My Bridesmaid" box or is it a waste of money? Yes it's probably a waste of money but it's fun!! So if you only have a few bridesmaids, your thrifty with your money, and you can do it for a reasonable price...then why not?? It's nice to treat your friends every once and a while!!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Flower Girl


Will you be my Flower Girl?!?!?! 

I remember being a flower girl when I was young!! I was a flower girl in a few family weddings and it was ssoo much fun!! 

Ah flower girl memories... I remember learning to dance to the Macarena and dancing my little heart out!! I remember tapping my glass so the bride and groom would kiss!! I would tap my glass so much that my mom would tell me to stop...hahaha...but I thought it was so cool that an entire room would tap their glass and cheer as the couple kissed!! I remember trying to catch the bouquet...I remember making a video for the bride and groom...I remember eating yummy cake...I remember making a tunnel for the send off...I just have so many great flower girl memories!!

I also remember the dresses I wore and the gifts my Aunts gave me. Aunt Krista gave me the Aladdin VHS and Aunt Cindy gave me a Barbie dressed up as a beautiful bride!!  Oh....Barbie!! haha...anyway here's what I put in my Flower Girl Box:

$1 Pink Bottle from Dollar Tree (added her name using my Cricut)
Flower Girl Card (purchased a set from Etsy)
$2 Pink Bag from Hobby Lobby (use 40% off coupon)
Markers (not in photo)

I can't wait to pick out her dress and help her make some flower girl memories!! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Ring Bearer


Will you be our ring bearer?? There are so many cute ideas on pinterest, google, etsy, and instagram. Yes I search for ideas everywhere I can think of!! haha...but the trick is to make these cute little ideas for a reasonable price...especially for the ring bearer and flower girl.  They're kids...they won't ever remember what you made them and if you buy them a $50 shirt they'll end up outgrowing it in a month...haha. 

Here's what I put together: 
$1 kids sunglasses from Dollar Tree (added his name and "Ring Security" using my Cricut)
$1 iron-on "Ring Security" decal from Hobby Lobby ($5 on Amazon)
$2 tshirt from Hobby Lobby (this is the hardest part...figuring out kid's sizes!! i mean they all look small to me!! hahaha)
$1 Ring Pop (not in photo)
Ring Bearer Card

I made the card using a manila folder to make it look like a "top secret" file and some cardstock.  Then I googled some images and printed it off...here's the inside of the card:


Luckily he accepted the mission!! And he's going to be adorable!!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Flying Man Brewery

You never know what new adventure is waiting for you just around the corner!! 

Have you ever had to drive to the other side of town and been left with a little extra time to kill? Well that's exactly what happened to us this weekend and it ended up being a great mini adventure!! 

Neil and I were out running errands when we decided to pull up our maps to see if there was anything interesting in the area. We found Flying Man Brewery and decided to stop by for a flight of beer. I'm sssoo glad we did because their beer was awesome!!! I loved their Water Bomber Watermelon Wheat Beer, Weedhopper Honey Wheat Beer, and Supersonic Blonde Beer!! Yummy!! Definitely one of my top favorite breweries in Austin now!! Can't wait to go back!!

So the next time you're out running errands and have a little time to kill just see what's in the area...you never know what you'll find!!

http://www.flyingmanbrewing.com/