Dear Julie,
What do I do when my home, my family, my life, my business is flipped completely upside down?

Signed, Julie

Yes, that’s right, my life is a mess right now. Floods, illness, famine … ok maybe not the last one, but still, lately there are days where I feel like I’m starring in my own version of The Ten Plagues.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from defeat or hardship and it is one of the key traits teens need to develop in order to not get overcome by the world. But how do we as adults learn resilience? How do we learn to move past the hardships and curveballs that life throws at us? How do we get past the hard times while keeping ourselves and our kids together?

In this week’s video, I talk a little about what’s been going on in my life, and how I’m learning to cope with it. I hope sharing my struggle is helpful to you. Share your struggles and thoughts in the comments below.

xo ~ Julie

P.S. Communication flipping upside down with your teen? Be sure you to know What to Do When your Teen Won't Talk to You

“Ever since school let out, my 14 year-old has been moody, down, grumpy, isn’t sleeping and doesn’t seem to want to do anything. I don’t understand. It’s like this ever year. Isn’t summer supposed to be a time of fun and happiness? Is there something wrong with her?”

School's out, the sun is shining, the pools are packed with friends… it’s the carefree summer dream, right?  Not for everyone.  While much of the population can barely contain their excitement for summer’s arrival, a small percentage long for cooler temps and shorter days. If you have noticed that your teen has feelings of depression, sleeplessness and irritability that come at the same time each year, she may have a form of seasonal affective disorder.

Summer depression, also called summer seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that commonly shows up in fall and winter. For one percent of the population, the warmer seasons bring on summer SADness.

As the days heat up, those with summer SAD may become extremely irritable, sleep less, and eat less. They may withdraw from friends and activities and isolate indoors.  In its most severe form, people with summer seasonal depression may be more at risk for suicide than cold-weather SAD.  A person with summer SAD may remain indoors, darken the room, and turn up the air conditioning to feel a sense of “normalcy.” However, one step into the heat can take them right back to those feelings of depression.

It's sometimes easy for parents to overlook symptoms of SAD, or dismiss them as normal mood swings.  The symptoms can be confused with adolescent moodiness, changing hormones, and emotional flux. It’s difficult to know if this is a phase or something more serious. Additionally, summer SAD is often not thought about because there is a sense that everyone should feel happy when days and nights are homework-free, swimsuit-clad and YOLO-infused.  

For those affected (including myself), summer sadness is much more than a Lana del Rey song. Please consult a family physician or a licensed mental health professional to determine the right treatment.

julie

“Ever since school let out, my 14 year-old has been moody, down, grumpy, isn’t sleeping and doesn’t seem to want to do anything. I don’t understand. It’s like this ever year. Isn’t summer supposed to be a time of fun and happiness? Is there something wrong with her?”

School’s out, the sun is shining, the pools are packed with friends… it’s the carefree summer dream, right?  Not for everyone.  While much of the population can barely contain their excitement for summer’s arrival, a small percentage long for cooler temps and shorter days. If you have noticed that your teen has feelings of depression, sleeplessness and irritability that come at the same time each year, she may have a form of seasonal affective disorder.

Summer depression, also called summer seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that commonly shows up in fall and winter. For one percent of the population, the warmer seasons bring on summer SADness.

As the days heat up, those with summer SAD may become extremely irritable, sleep less, and eat less. They may withdraw from friends and activities and isolate indoors.  In its most severe form, people with summer seasonal depression may be more at risk for suicide than cold-weather SAD.  A person with summer SAD may remain indoors, darken the room, and turn up the air conditioning to feel a sense of “normalcy.” However, one step into the heat can take them right back to those feelings of depression.

It’s sometimes easy for parents to overlook symptoms of SAD, or dismiss them as normal mood swings.  The symptoms can be confused with adolescent moodiness, changing hormones, and emotional flux. It’s difficult to know if this is a phase or something more serious. Additionally, summer SAD is often not thought about because there is a sense that everyone should feel happy when days and nights are homework-free, swimsuit-clad and YOLO-infused.  

For those affected (including myself), summer sadness is much more than a Lana del Rey song. Please consult a family physician or a licensed mental health professional to determine the right treatment.

julie

5 Ways for Parents to Stop Suffering from "I'm Too Busy!"

toobusyThe other day, I was racing to get my kids to school on time and proclaimed, “Geez, we are so busy this week!” My son replied, “Um, Mom, when are we not busy? It’s the story of our life.”

Yikes. He was right. Busy had become the story of our life, and I didn’t foresee it having a happy ending. I couldn’t remember when we weren’t either doing something or thinking about doing something. Busy had become our new norm. As our school-work-life load grew, our family time shrank. It felt like quality time together had fallen off our bulging to-do list.

This is no way to live. Something has to change. Here are five ideas to take the busyness out of our days:

Define what matters most. What are the 4-5 things in your life that you love to do? For me, it’s spending time with family, writing, reading, hiking and teaching. That’s it; those are my top five.  However, those things have not been anywhere near the top lately. I’ve been scheduling my time around what I believe others expect of me. If we don’t start creating a life that reflects the things we see as priorities, we will live a life of regrets. Be responsible to the activities that fuel you rather than just steal time away from what matters most.   

Schedule time for you and your family first. This builds on the first point. After you have defined what is important, schedule it. Create blocks of time for yourself and your family. Make sure these are work/errand-free times. These are the moments to laugh, talk, cry … these are the moments to be un-busy.

Do Less. The best laid plans start with doing what matters most to you, right? But, what happens if something pressing comes up and you say yes? All those well-intentioned plans go right down the toilet. One of my mentors told me long ago, “Julie, if it isn’t a hell yes then it’s a no.” Begin to set boundaries to let go of living a maybe, meh or half-cocked life. Set boundaries that say “hell yes” to you and your family.

Buy Less. A year ago, I decided to stop buying as much and something really fantastic happened. I had more time. The fewer clothes, fewer tchotchkes, fewer whatever you have, the less time you are committed to washing, dusting, maintaining it.  Buying “stuff” is time consuming, as is maintaining, repairing, replacing and returning the stuff. If you can reduce it, you will gain so much more.

Stop “shoulding” on yourself. I once had a very frustrated mom come into my practice exclaiming, “But I should be able to get it all done. How do I do it?” I replied, “You can’t! None of us can ‘get it all done.’ And, the more you think you ‘should,’ the more you will beat yourself up.” The lesson here is to stop shoulding on yourself and start making choices that make you feel better.

Busyness really can be a sneaky destroyer of happiness. We walk fast, talk fast, eat fast and then announce, “Ack, I’ve got more to do!”  All this busyness splinters our families and our lives.  When our schedules become overloaded, we start skimming from those we love.

So, the takeaway here for me and for you: It’s our life; let’s choose how we really want to spend our time. If we don't, someone else will … and chances are high we won’t be too happy about it.

Six Ways Parents Can Help Their Tween or Teen Post Election

Post election day, I woke with a heavy heart. It wasn’t just the announcement of a new president that I didn’t choose that filled me with sorrow. It was the announcement that a transgender boy committed suicide after midnight because he feared for his safety.  It was the stream of insults and a few punches middle schoolers were throwing at one another during a mock election. It was the several voicemails and text I received overnight from terrified teens asking “Why” and messages from their parents asking how. And, it was my daughter reaching out at 4:30am saying, “mom, I’m scared.”

I’m scared too.

Whether you voted for this president or not, this is unchartered territory for all of us. And, teens are especially fearful about what to expect. Their thoughts are racing, and their fears are mounting.  A few of the questions and concerns I've heard have been: “Are my friends or their families going to be deported?,” “Am I going to be beaten up because I’m gay,” “I’m worried about being attacked,” “Why can’t people just be kind.”, and “Does it even matter anymore? Do I even matter anymore?”

Yes. It does matter, and here is how you help your child thr0ugh his or her worry: 

(1) Breathe. Deeply, fully, wholly.  Deep breathing has been scientifically proven to calm the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system. Simple take a slow, deep breath in through you nose, hold for a few moments and then exhale slowly through your nose.

(2) Ask your children what they need right now as well as assess any self-care needs. If you find your child having self-harm or suicidal thoughts, please take your child to the nearest medical center or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also anonymously text a crisis counselor at 741741.

(3) Step away from social media. Encourage your child to take a break from the SnapChat stories, Twitter stream and Instagram feed to go for a walk, play a game or just listen to music to allow some space between the emotionally charged comments and memes that are circulating.

(4) Open the space for courageous conversations. Ask your children what they are feeling. Then, listen. Be mindful not to dismiss their feelings or their fears.  Anger, fear, worry and sadness are valid feelings. Let your children express them. Then remind them that they are strong, capable and loved. Let them know that they can make a difference.  And, then….

(5) Be that difference.  Remember all those times you and your family talked about respecting others and the importance of the golden rule? Well, now is the time to put that into action. There are people in this country - women, people of color, LBGTQ and displaced humans - who deserve to be heard and protected and seen. Stand up for them and with them.  (see a list of organizations below)

(6) Lastly, hold your child tight and say, “I love you.” Let you your child know that you will be okay. We will all be okay.  There is so much good in the world. We *are* the good in the world.  And, together we stand to make America kind again.

jws-300x191

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***

Neither you or your child is powerless. Rather than give up, stand up with compassion and conviction for causes and organizations that need your support.

teenager-422197_1280“My 12YO daughter seems so down. What should I do?”

You are drawn in by the playful personality, the mischievous gleam in the eye, the witty and sometimes warped sense of humor humor and the smile …oh, that spirited smile.

These are the characteristics of a happy-go-lucky person, right? Not always. For many, this entertaining persona hides something darker and becomes the mask of depression.

Depression is more than just feeling down; it is a serious illness that doesn’t discriminate.  Men, women, girls and boys of every age, educational level, and social and economic background suffer from depression. Three-hundred-fifty (350) million people worldwide are caught in it’s grip. Left untreated, it can lead to eating disorders, self-harm, relationship conflict, substance abuse, even suicide.

An estimated 1 in 30 tween-to-teens suffer from depression. It can be triggered by specific situations or traumas (i.e. bullying, breakups, death, family conflict, friendship troubles, etc), genetics, or a developmental milestones (i.e. being one of the only kids without a cell phone, boyfriend, etc). Your child may also have a fewer happy-inducing neurochemicals. That’s the downside. The upside is that a child suffering from depression has a very good chance of overcoming the disease; and, it begins at home.

Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to a child’s well-being. Things to support your child include:

Check in with your tween-to-teen: Your child’s “job” is to separate from you and form his or her own identify. This can make communication challenging even on the best days. Don’t let that deter you; make the effort to talk to your child. Ask about classes, friends,  … anything. If your child can’t talk to you about the little things, they will never come to you with the big stuff.

Know potential red flags. Depression in tweens and teens often goes unrecognized. The symptoms can be confused with adolescent moodiness, changing hormones, and emotional flux. It’s difficult to know if this is a phase or something more serious. Possible signs to look for include: 

  • personality changes and behavior outside of your child’s norm.
  • fatigue or loss of energy.
  • increased frustration and anger.
  • being uncharacteristically “down” or irritable for several weeks.
  • lack of interest / withdrawal from friends.
  • reluctance to participate in activities, and hobbies that they once enjoyed.
  • changes in appetite (eating too much or not enough) and sleep (sleeping too much, not sleeping well, sleep avoidance).
  • obsessing over body image.
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, guilt or a significant decrease in self-esteem.
  • stomaches, headaches or other body aches that can’t be explained and don’t respond to treatment.
  • Difficulties concentrating or completing simple tasks.
  • Declining grades.
  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as cutting or burning.

Know where to turn for help. Many tweens and teens will cycle through symptoms routinely. That doesn’t always mean they’re suffering from depression. When those symptoms last more than two weeks, though, it is time to enlist support. Visit the family doctor, an adolescent counselor or a psychologist for an evaluation. Consider connecting with teachers, coaches, school counselors, and other adults who have regular contact with your child.

Keep them healthy. The mantra of “be healthy” feels a bit cliche at times, I know. However, the cold and hard fact is that good physical health can contribute to positive mental health. Eat well, get rest, exercise.

Love them. Always. Your role as a parent is to be an advocate, support system and a supplier of love. When your child speaks, listen without judgment. Tell them, better yet, show them that you are always there no matter what. Repeat the message even when they say “I got it.” Tween-to-teens – especially those experiencing depression – need to know you will be there for them and that you love them fully and always.

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When I was 15, my mom took me to see a counselor. She thought that I needed someone to talk with since I had been, let’s call it acting out, after she and my dad divorced. She chose a therapist who was also a teacher at my high school  I was reluctant, but I knew enough about her to feel that she didn’t see me as a pain-in-the-butt teen.

Despite my initial reluctance, I liked her. It seemed like we were a good fit – even though the selection process seemed to be based on complete convenience since she was right next to the school. (My mom says it was that she just “felt right.”)


Since that time, I have worked with many counselors – either doing my own work (yes, counselors need to do their work) or professionally. Over the years, I have learned two critical when it comes to choosing a therapist: choose good over convenient and always trust your gut.

Good and convenient do not often go hand in hand. You want a therapist who is good, not one who is just around the block. The bonus is that extra time it take you travel to them can provide you the transition time needed before and after session.

Second, pay attention to what your gut is telling you. Does the therapist just “feel right” or does he make you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel at home or are there warning signs? Your intuition will often give you signs of what will work for you.

Before you get to those two points, though…

How do you search for a therapist?

  1. Ask for referrals and recommendations.  Often people tell me that they heard about me through their friends or a parent on their child’s sport team or through a school counselor. Recommendations are helpful because your friend or family member can give you insight on the therapist that you may not get looking through a directory.   Also, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor, dentist, school counselors. These professionals know you and your child and may be able to refer you to someone who is a good fit.
  2. Search online. Everything is online, and a few online directories to look are on Psychology Today and Therapist Finder.  Look for therapists who are open about their philosophy and work style. Other things to consider when scoping out therapists online  include: professional looking photo, gender, specialization and training.
  3. Consider theoretical orientation. It’s like veritable alphabet soup when it comes to the letters behind a therapists name. There are PhDs, PsyDs MDs, LMFTs, LPCs, LCSWs and more.  Then you’ve got the titles of psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapist, professional counselors, addictions counselors…you get the picture.  It confusing, right? Instead, consider looking at theoretical orientations. Is your therapist a solutions focused or family-systems oriented? Are they a cognitive behaviorist? If you aren’t certain what orientation you may want, just ask the therapist to explain his or her orientation and see if what he or she says resonates with you.
  4. Look for a specialist. A therapist who specializes is likely to have additional training on specific interests and issues pertaining to a particular demographic. If you need a therapist for your teen, look for someone who specializes in adolescents. And, a side note, if someone says they specialize in everything, they are not a specialist. They are a generalist.
  5. Call them. Whoa. In the ages of texting and messaging, did I just suggest making an actual phone call? Yes, I did. When you find a therapist that you want to call, actually call. And, be sure to make that call sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more you will push this task aside. A few questions you may want to ask include:

– What is their training?

– What is their speciality?

– Have you working with someone who (insert your presenting problem here)?

– Are they licensed?

– What is the session rate?

– Do they accept insurance?

The therapeutic relationship can be life-changing. If you don’t feel the connection with a therapist, keep looking. The right fit is out there. 

12 Killed, 50 Wounded at movie theater…    School shooting, several wounded…  An attack on our capitol… What do I tell my 11-year-old about all these tragedies we hear about?”

A hand writes the word "Violence" on a chalkboard.Far too often, these are the headlines that confront you. It makes your heart drop and can fill you with such sorrow about the victims and their families. It often feels that senseless acts of violence are everywhere – in the media, in our communities, in our schools and, yes, in our homes. Over time, too much exposure can desensitize kids. Initially, though, most children feel frightened, unsafe and insecure.

 

Disturbing events can be difficult for parents to explain; however, avoiding a conversation with your child is a missed opportunity to help your child learn to communicate and cope. Research shows that children, especially tween-to-teens want parents and caring adults to talk about tough issues. Those who have early conversations are more likely to continue turning to their parents as they become older. Here are five tips to begin the courageous conversation about violence (or any tough topic).

 

Provide a Safe Space: Adolescents need safe spaces to share their feelings, and it’s up to you to provide it.  Talking about his feelings with you can help ease the worry and fear he may feel, especially if he thinks he has to face his feelings – anger, sadness and helplessness –  alone. When your child asks a question, provide straightforward answers. This helps to distinguish between fact and rumors.  If you don’t have an answer or the correct information, admit it. Then, together with your child, find the answer. Hiding information or offering “white lies” causes tween-to-teens to be mistrustful rather than comforted. Also, avoid ignoring, discounting or judging your child’s questions or feelings. Doing so allows her to make up her own explanation which is often more terrifying than any honest response you could offer.

 

Reduce Exposure to Media: While watching the news with your child can open a discussion about current events, too much exposure can feed your tween-to-teen’s fear of not feeling safe.  For adolescents, limit media exposure to times you can watch and discuss together.  Then, turn off the television and computer to do something else – play a board game, go for a walk, have a picnic – something that doesn’t expose your child to more accounts of the tragedy.

 

Monitor Your Behavior:  As a parent, these acts of violence leave you with a horrible, sickening feeling in your stomach.  At the same time, your child is watching and listening to your reactions. It is okay to be upset; and it’s okay to show your child that you are upset. Don’t let those feelings consume you because your reaction influences your child’s reaction. Instead, acknowledge how you are feeling and then discuss ways to manage concerns. This opens the lines of communication and helps reestablish a sense of safety for your child.

 

Get Support: If you or your child are depressed or unable to participate in activities, please seek out support from your clergy or a counselor. 

 

Hold Your Child Tight: Tragedies – especially senseless acts of violence – are terrifying for parents and child alike. Holding your child provides reassurance that you love him and are doing what you can to make his personal world safe.

“Help! My son (or daughter) never talks to me.”  

This question, or some variation of it, is one of the most frequent complaints I receive from parents of tween-to-teens.  This is often followed by, “My kid never listens to me!” The truth is that most adolescents don’t talk or seem like they are listening. Why? Often, they aren’t being spoken to; rather, they are nagged, disciplined, instructed. Rarely do they feel like anyone is speaking or listening to them. If kids don’t feel they can talk to you about little things, they will never come to you with the big stuff.

Carve out moments throughout the week to have open, comfortable, even silly conversations with your child. Not only will it help foster better communication in your relationship, it will help your child develop greater confidence and self-esteem.

Here are 225 conversation ideas (in no particular order) to get you started. If you have one you’d like to share, please add it to the comments.

  1. What is your favorite / least favorite word? Why?
  2. When did you last lose your temper?
  3. What’s your favorite birthday memory?
  4. How important is a birthday celebration to you?
  5. What’s your favorite way to celebrate a win?
  6. What are you most grateful for?
  7. If you were on a deserted island what 3 things would you take?
  8. Do you remember your dreams?
  9. What was your most recent dream about?
  10. Who do you most respect? Why?
  11. Do you think respect should be earned?
  12. How can someone earn respect?
  13. What are you looking forward to this school year?
  14. What’s your favorite way to unwind
  15. What’s your all time favorite dessert? 
  16. Who is your favorite YouTuber?
  17. What’s your favorite social media platform? Why?
  18. What videos have you been watching non-stop lately? 
  19. What do you want to make happen over the next year? Month? Year?
  20. What frustrates you most?
  21. Where’s your dream travel destination?
  22. What’s your favorite season or holiday? What do you love about it?
  23. How does your ideal day begin?
  24. What makes you happy?
  25. What was/is your favorite class in school? 
  26. What’s your favorite quote?
  27. What book have you read more than once? 
  28. What idea excites you?
  29. Who would you most like to ask for a piece of advice from? 
  30. Who is your hero?
  31. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
  32. What is your biggest fear?
  33. What is your favorite family vacation?
  34. What would you change about yourself if you could?
  35. What really makes you angry?
  36. What motivates you to work hard?
  37. What is your favorite thing about your career?
  38. What is your biggest complaint about your job?
  39. What is your proudest accomplishment?
  40. What is your child’s proudest accomplishment?
  41. What is your favorite book to read?
  42. What makes you laugh the most?
  43. What was the last movie you saw?
  44. What did you want to be when you were small?
  45. What does your child want to be when he/she grows up?
  46. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
  47. What is your favorite game or sport to watch? Play?
  48. Would you rather ride a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car?
  49. What would you sing at Karaoke?
  50. If you could only listen to one radio station or one type of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  51. Which chore would you rather do: wash dishes, fold the laundry, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or vacuum the house?
  52. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  53. Who is your favorite author?
  54. If you could go back and repeat one year of your life, which year would it be?
  55. What is something you would like to learn?
  56. Do you feel like you are a good listener?
  57. What is your all-time favorite TV show?
  58. What is something you want to do before you die?
  59. What is on your “bucket list?”
  60. What are the three most important things in your life?
  61. Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with?
  62. What talent would you most like to have?
  63. Nicknames: yay or nay?
  64. What do you worry about?
  65. Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not?
  66. Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Alaska, and why?
  67. Would you rather win the lottery or work at the perfect job? And why?
  68. Who would you want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
  69. If money was no object, what would you do all day?
  70. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
  71. How would your friends describe you?
  72. What is the best gift you have been given?
  73. What is the worst gift you have received?
  74. Aside from food, water, and shelter, what one thing could you not go a day without?
  75. List two pet peeves.
  76. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  77. If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
  78. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  79. What form of public transportation do you prefer? (air, boat, train, bus, car, etc.)
  80. What’s your favorite zoo animal?
  81. If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?
  82. If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
  83. What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep (and why)?
  84. Would you rather trade intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence?
  85. Have you ever had a secret admirer?
  86. What’s your favorite holiday?
  87. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
  88. What’s your favorite type of foreign food?
  89. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
  90. What kitchen appliance do you use every day?
  91. What’s your favorite fast food chain?
  92. What’s your favorite family recipe?
  93. What is your favorite thing to eat?
  94. What is one food that you will not eat?
  95. Describe the perfect party.
  96. What is your favorite type of art?
  97. What sport do you think you are the best at?
  98. What was the last book you read?
  99. What’s your favorite magazine? book?
  100. What’s your favorite movie? Actor? Actress?
  101. If you write a book, what would it be about? What would title it?
  102. Which is your favorite song? Singer? Band?
  103. In the evening, would you rather play a game, visit a friend, watch a movie, or read?
  104. What’s one book that you think everyone should read?
  105. Do you want to be famous?
  106. If you could become a character in a TV show or movie, who would you chose to be?
  107. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
  108. If you could be a cartoon character, who would you want to be?
  109. Tell me one. 
  110. What is the one thing that makes you laugh the hardest?
  111. What is your favorite way to exercise? Least favorite?
  112. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
  113. What’s your favorite family tradition?
  114. What is your favorite childhood memory?
  115. Is your glass half full or half empty?
  116. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love?
  117. What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
  118. What was your favorite subject in school?
  119. Do you collect anything?
  120. Is there anything you wished would come back into fashion?
  121. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  122. Which of the five senses would you say is your strongest?
  123. Have you ever had a surprise party? (that was an actual surprise)
  124. Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous?
  125. Does your family have a “motto” – spoken or unspoken?
  126. Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
  127. What three things do you think of the most each day?
  128. If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
  129. What song would you say best sums you up?
  130. What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
  131. Who was your first crush?
  132. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window?
  133. On a scale of 1-10, how funny would you say you are?
  134. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  135. What was your first job?
  136. If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join?
  137. How many languages do you speak?
  138. What is your favorite family holiday tradition?
  139. Who is the most intelligent person you know?
  140. If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be?
  141. How do you define honesty?
  142. What is your biggest fear or worry?
  143. What is the main thing that makes you unique?
  144. If you had to evacuate our house, what would you grab on the way out?
  145. What facial expression or movement do you do when you are lying?
  146. What is the oldest item you own?
  147. If someone was giving you a gift (money is no object), what would you want to receive?
  148. Would you rather watch the sunrise or the sunset? Why?
  149. What does it mean to have courage?
  150. Do you like your name?
  151. If you could change you name, what would you change it to?
  152. What is your greatest strength?
  153. What is your worst weakness?
  154. If you could predict the future, what would you do with that knowledge?
  155. Is your favorite time the past, present or the future?
  156. Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
  157. Who is the one person that helped to make you who you are today?
  158. If you were punished for a crime, what type of punishment would you choose? 
  159. Describe a time you got into trouble.
  160. What do you do when you first wake up in the morning?
  161. What makes you a good person?
  162. What would your obituary say?
  163. What is your greatest regret? 
  164. How would you describe standing on a beach looking at the ocean?
  165. What is your favorite outfit to wear?
  166. What do you do when you are driving alone in a car?
  167. If a friend is being bullied or harassed by someone, what do you do?
  168. Reflect on the characteristics of your best friend. What makes him or her so special?
  169. Can you keep secrets? Describe a time you didn’t.
  170. How do you show your love for others?
  171. What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
  172. If you could become anyone’s friend that you want, who would you choose?
  173. Are you the type of person with lots of friends or just a few close ones?
  174. What is one quality you admire most in others?
  175. Do you prefer to be with those who are younger or older than you are?
  176. If you could ask me one question, and I had to answer you truthfully, what would you want to know?
  177. What is the meanest thing you have ever done to someone?.
  178. Who is one friend from your past you want to reconnect with?
  179. When did you kiss for the first time and what was it like?
  180. Describe an activity that you think is truly romantic.
  181. When you are in trouble, whom do you call for help?
  182. Who are the people you love the most?
  183. If you could speak any language, what would it be and why?
  184. If you had to pick one place in your town to bring a tourist, where would you go?
  185. What is the one cause that you feel most passionate about?
  186. If you lived in the pioneer days, would you have traveled west or stayed put in the east?
  187. If you found a genie in a bottle, what three things would you wish for?
  188. What are five thing that would make your life easier?
  189. Which is your favorite non-profit organization or cause?
  190. If you could travel to space, would you go?
  191. If you could move anywhere, where would you go and why?
  192. Would you want to travel the world on a boat in the sea?
  193. When you travel away from home, do you miss it?
  194. What is the greatest crisis we face as a world?
  195. If you could write your own bill of rights, what would you include?
  196. What is going on today in the world that affects you the most?
  197. What bad habit would you be willing to give up if it guaranteed you’d live to be 100?
  198. What are your bad habits?
  199. If you could have someone else’s face, whom would you choose?
  200. What physical feature do you least like about yourself?
  201. Would you want to know the exact day of your death?
  202. Would you describe yourself as a ‘people person?’
  203. What three things make you happiest?
  204. If you could pick one thing to change about school, what would it be?
  205. Are you the kind of person who wants to be the big fish in a little pond or the little fish in the big pond?
  206. Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but didn’t.
  207. Is competition good for you?
  208. What is something you learned in school that you think is useless to you today?
  209. If you could pick any career, what would you want to be?
  210. What is your favorite outside activity?
  211. If you had to spend a day not using any technology, what would you do?
  212. What makes our family unique from others?
  213. What was the hardest part about being a kid?
  214. What are some of your favorite traditions?
  215. Do you know how you got your name?
  216. Do you think you take after anyone in the family?
  217. What is one thing you will never do again?
  218. Who knows you the best?
  219. What is the best life lesson you have learned?
  220. What do you like most about yourself?
  221. What’s a special memory you have with an extended family member?
  222. If you only had one year to live, what if anything, would you do differently?
  223. Do you look more at the facts or your feelings when making a decision?
  224. What do you want to do?
  225. What’s one thing that you need from me?

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I was cleaning out my files the other day and came across the poem that I read often when I worked with the elderly. I’ve held onto it as a reminder that I am never alone. And, neither are you. I look forward to building stronger communities  so no child, no parent, no anybody feels alone.

 

 

Hand in Hand

I see you standing there,
All alone in life.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

I see you living life,
without a purpose.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

I see you there
Without a friend.
Come and we will walk,
Hand in hand.

I see you there with
No one to care for.
Come and we will walk
Hand in hand.

You have lost someone
Very close to your heart.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

You act like
You are defeated.
Come and we will walk,
Hand in hand

I see you with
No one to love.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

I can’t give you all of these things.
I can only help you find them.

I can give you
Someone to love.
Come and we shall walk,
Hand in hand.

~Anonymous