Maintaining Wonder

Maintaining Wonder


E.B. White once said, “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”


When I first heard this quote I was drawn to his simple invitation, compelled because during that season I had been living my life through a scattered whirlwind of attempting to balance a therapy practice with three young children in tow. To say I was hurried and overwhelmed most days was accurate. Not only was I missing out on the overlooked beauty of my own daily surroundings, but I was so busy juggling the “must do’s”, I truely was missing out on the “wonder” of it all.

Yet, as I unraveled the quote even more, I took great delight in uncovering the multifaceted way in which I could approach  “looking out for wonder”,  in my own life.

The definition of wonder can be found here:



  1. Noun:
    a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable:
    “he had stood in front of it, observing the intricacy of the ironwork with the wonder of a child”


From this vantage point, being caught up in “wonder”, could not possibly happen without slowing down, with intention. As I took the time to focus on whatever was at hand, definitly a lost art at that time of my life, I began to be compelled as I was captured by the ordinary beauty in everyday things. Yes, I had to redirect the pace, most certainly, but as I did, I was surprisingly rewarded.

I saw it was next to impossible to look, really look, at my children without stopping to awe and wonder at the magnitude of such a perfect design (on most days).

I also was able to breathe in the sweet smell of our new puppy , finding myself thankful for the wonder of innocence. I also admit to the wonder of my own strength to not return that new puppy, a few months later, once she decided destroying our home would be her new and number one job.

Later it became getting caught up in a perfect sunset, or finding myself choked up as I witnessed my little ones treading off to a new school, wishing the time would slow down.  Having my breath taken away by new landscapes still is one of the biggest reminders to me that God exists.

Finally, I was awake and living.

Yet, this “wonder” did not stop there. As shown below, wonder can also be described as this:



2. Verb:

      to desire or be curious to know something:“how many times have I written that, I wonder?”

To wonder about something involves invoking a kind of curiosity, alongside an innate desire to learn and grow. To explore the possibility of looking at things from a different perspective, invites empathy and compassion in situations where other, less favorable intentions may have existed before.

Yes, as we “wonder” about new possibilities, ideas, and options, we can open up a world not otherwise discovered.

To passively accept things as they are is a learned belief. From the start we were made to explore and question. If you are ever around a two year old, you certainly know this to be true.  Yet, life happens and if we are to be honest, disappointments occur along the way. We see that plans change, and find that people (even the best of them) are not perfect.

Yet, that does not have to be the rest of the story, although often times we make it that way. To let those disappointments turn into a jaded resolve can be tempting.  The complacency that often occurs when hope is gone means you have surrendered to something far less than what you are made for.  We always have the choice to see things differently, but to “wonder” how it could be so? That is the first step.

To  “maintain” the active pursuing of “looking” for wonder, while simultanously cultivating the desire to  “wonder” about what could be, does in fact  change things.

It invokes a life of gratitude, love and connection, and rhe priceless gift of a never ending opportunity to learn from others.

As I reflect on  “awe and wonder”  and how it often changes my perspective for the better,  I “wonder”  how it may change yours too.




The Psychotherapist Manifesto for Self Care

The Psychotherapist Manifesto for Self Care






I will tend to my own physical needs, making sure I am sleeping well, maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.

Just as I encourage my patients and clients to do, I will learn to recognize and actively tune into any psychosomatic messages my own body could be reflecting back to me, and will seek help as needed.

I will remember that my relationships outside of work that are enriching, encouraging and leave me feeling refreshed are often the fuel which allows me to give back. I will take time to maintain positive friendships (without excuse) and be OK with distancing myself from those who do not contribute to my overall well-being.

I will also recognize when I need more psychological support than my own friends or significant others are able to provide, and will actively consider seeking out my own therapist when that happens.

As engaging and listening to others share significant trauma and heartbreaking experiences on a regular basis can be difficult, my own distress levels will eventually be impacted. I will remember to check in with myself around any vicarious trauma symptoms I may have picked up, and tend to those appropriately.

I  will give myself a break when I feel overwhelmed with the sadness of the world and intentionally will seek consultation and reprieve through a trusted collegue. If I do not have one available, I will make it a priority to find someone who can fill this role. I am not meant to do this kind of work in isolation.

I will make time for vacations, family and outside interests. Joy, rest and well-roundedness make for great therapists.

Appropriate boundaries, time management and  the word “No thank you” does not make one “selfish” or “mean”.  In fact, when applied, I will recognize, these nesessary modifications make me even a better person as I engage with the relationships that matter most.

If I have a hard time with disappointing others, I will have the humility to recognize that my compassion likely drew me into this profession, and it can also become my demise if I am not careful. I will honestly assess my own codependency needs and will make necessary adjustments without guilt or self imposed anxiety.

I will take time to recognize that the impact I make may not ever be fully known or even brought to my awareness. I will learn to be ok with that, having a quiet trust that if all I did was allow another person to be “fully seen”,  I have indeed done quite a lot.

Finally, I will take time for remembering that on a daily basis,  the opportunity to impact the trajectory of another’s life, if only by listening, encouraging and sharing a few clinical skills learned along the way is more than an honor. In fact, it is through this gratitude any bumps and bruises endured in the process suddenly seem quite minor when compared to the opportunity I have to make a difference.

Is it time to re-evaulate how we view performance in teens?

Is it time to re-evaulate how we view performance in teens?



My thirteen year old son had some friends over last night.

They spent well over an hour verbalizing to me how stressed out they were in regards to school and the expectations placed on them.


Not only are they to succeed academically at a rate that far surpasses what we were expected to as adolescents,  they are to behave in ways that at times, (via their report), feels more like being at boot camp rather than a place of enrichment and learning.

They are told they are not able to go to the bathroom except during the 3 minute transition time between classes (at the risk of being marked tardy and having punitive measures taken against them, if so). They also have to manage and normalize harsh tones and sharp words directed towards them on a regular basis. This communciation style has been researched as one that sends classmates brought up with discord or trauma, into what can be experienced as “fight or flight mode.” It also brings those brought up in a home with a more gentle communication style  to experience a submissive or fear based response.

Regardless, after hearing a few examples of how they described, “a day in the life of a 7th grader”, a part of me felt there were some demeaning and dare I say, completely unnecessary interactions taking place. Nevertheless, I challenged them to be respecful to their teachers, while at the same time, not let the pressure of expectations and feeling minimized chip away at their dignity and self-worth. I also walked away wondering, how did we as a society even get to this point?

No wonder our kids are so stressed out.

But, the complaints about pressure with adolescents are not limited to my living room.  I see this age on a regular basis in my therapy practice.

Anxiety, feeling pressure to perform well at school, and depression (alongside the threat of verbalized desires to commit harm to themselves) are the biggest complaints bringing clients of this age to counseling. 

Is this really what we have become?  I refuse to believe we will become better as a society if we have high performing individuals who make over a 4.0 GPA, be the football (or whatever sport you would like to “fill-in- the- blank” captain with), involved with 3 other clubs, but are stricken with anxiety or are so depressed, they struggle to get their head up off the pillow.  Just this week, we have been bombarded with how far parents will go for a certain college of “elite status” to accept their child. With the right financial means, we do not think twice about buying our way to acclaim. Yes the Celebrity Cheating College Scandal  has taken this to an entirely new, but unfortunately, not very surprising level.

We are at a tipping point and something has to change.

I acknowledge, last night’s reports from my son and his friends were from the perspective of three adolescents, and there are always different sides to these complex equations. I would also like to go on record and state, I am not blaming the teachers. Having to meet over the top standards while simultanesouly being expected to teach students from various backgrounds and personalities, in overcrowded schools, all while staying within the confines of a pre-set curriculum is not an easy task. I would admittedly become a bit snappy myself if I had to take on all that our educators do.

The truth is, I don’t really know who to pin the blame on, but I do believe, as parents, we have played a role. Is it possible that our own pride has contributed towards this performance based mindset? We have moved away from being satisfied with excellence and good effort, and slowly replaced “being the best” as the goal.

I wonder what would happen if we were to stop looking at rankings, performance and grades as the “know-all, end-all point” for examining our children’s worth and started to view character traits like integrity, effort, and kindness as something even more important?  This thought may be frightening to some, as our children’s accomplishments would not  be able to highlight the achievements of our “excellent parenting”. The irony is, I bet, they still would get into excellent colleges and great long term success, only with a lot less anxiety. In fact, without the burden and pressure to be  “noticed” for their performance or rank, our kids may actually be able to dive into areas they are truely passionate about and thrive more overall.

The truth is, all children are very much worthwhile, without the accolades or awards. It is up to us to acknowledge and impart that truth, yet doing so involves a level of humility that is admittedly difficult, especially in a society where notoriety and attention seeking is at an all time high. 

However, I am willing to do so, not just for our children’s sake but for the sake of our families, educators and future generations. Let us encourage a job well done, and be pleased with a honest attempt of hard work or a kind gesture, regardless of where they land on the charts. Something tells me we will all be better for it.

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