Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My amazing husband!

Dan and I have lived in Boise for the past couple of months.  I accepted a job in Mountain Home and am currently working as a LCSW with the Airforce.  Dan is enjoying his job with his new company, and we planning to close on our new home around the 15th of May(finger's crossed).  Dan and I have been married almost 6 months, and not a day goes by that I don't feel grateful for the love he freely gives each day.  Looking back on my life it's amazing how much my perspective has changed, and how this adventure of marriage has made me the happiest I've ever been.  I can't imagine my life without my amazing husband and my beautiful step children.  Each day I count my blessings of love, family, and happiness.
I have always prided myself in being an independent successful woman.  When I was single I didn't realize that I could still be independent and a man would appreciate that.  I joke to Dan all the time that I need to send his EX a thank you card.  Instead of doing that I want to thank him publicly for all that he does.    I tell him all the time that I could write a book and several novels on reason that I love him.  Instead I will focus on 10.

1.     I love him because he is the most supportive and loving person I know.  Not a day goes by that he doesn't tell me that he loves me.  He supports me by making me dinner, doing household chores, and by giving me back and foot rubs.  It's the little things in life that make all the difference, and I appreciate all the love and support he gives.
2.    I love him because he is such an amazing father.  He takes time to listen to his kids, to laugh with them, and to provide for them emotionally, mentally, and physically.  I love watching him with Leksi and Brenn, and I'm so grateful that I get to support and love them too.
3.    I love Dan because he makes me laugh.  I'm laughing just thinking about how much fun we have.  He knows just what to do to make me feel better, and I appreciate that so much.  It's great knowing that no matter what life throws at us we can laugh our way through it.
4.    I love how hard Dan works.  I love the fact that Dan is passionate about what he does.  He is always working to better himself.  He is good at what he does, and always works to improve his work skills.  I love how he pushes me to do the same and encourages me to reach my goals and dreams.
5.    I love how much compassion and empathy he has.  We argue most about this because he doesn't think that he has any.  LOL!! I've never met a man with more compassion and empathy than what Dan has.  He doesn't hesitate to help a stranger, friend, or acquaintance when needed.  I appreciate all he has taught me about being more compassionate and empathetic.
6.    I love how Dan is a family man.  Dan loves his family so much, and he talks about the many memories he has with his parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins.  I love the importance of tradition and memories that he takes pride in.  I'm so grateful that I get the opportunity to enjoy and build on those memories and family with him!
7.    I love how active Dan is.  He loves many of the things that I do like hiking, working out, running, golfing, and being out in nature.  Dan is not afraid to try new things, and I enjoy being able to spend time with him.  I also enjoy beating him(I'm competitive what can I say....I love how I can say I beat him at whatever activity we do and he will just give me the "REALLY" statement or look).   
8.    I love how patient Dan is.  I mean come on he married me.  LOL!!! Dan is so good at dealing with my wonderful girl emotions, and my "so can you clarify" statements.  I appreciate the time and ENERGY that he takes in answering my questions and providing for me emotionally.
9.    I love that Dan holds my hand, kisses my forehead, and gives me hugs without asking.  He makes me feel appreciated and loved.  I appreciate all he does to show me love each and every day.
10.    I love that Dan encourages me to be myself, and accepts my faults and short comings.

My family use to tell me that my standards for the "perfect guy" were too high.  I'm so happy to say that I found not only the perfect guy for me, but one that exceeds all my expectations.  I'm grateful for your love, kindness, and for the humor we are able to share each day.  I look forward to sharing my FOREVER with you.   

Crystal Angel      

Monday, April 14, 2014

How thinking positively changed my life!

         I was talking to a friend at lunch today when she said "How do you do it?"  My response was "How do I do what?"  She said "You've had some awful stuff happen to you over the years, but you're still so cheerful.  What gives?"  This statement threw me off.  I know that I haven't always been the most positive person out there, but this theme has been coming up a lot.  My husband just last night was telling me how he admired by optimism.  I've had clients and coworkers comment on my positive attitude.  Yet, this hasn't always been the case.  I've actually been a very pessimistic person in the past.   So, I told my friend "Believe me there are times when I don't always feel positive and there are times I complain, but I've spent too much of my life focusing on the negativity.  I don't know when the light switched for me, but time flies by so fast.  I don't want to reach the end of my life and regret my life because I didn't appreciate it enough.  What I know is that no matter how difficult life gets..... it works out.....it always does.  You just miss the good when you're focusing on the bad.  So, I choose to look at the good."  I shared with my friend my 99% principal.  After our 25 minute chat she felt better, and said maybe I need to look at life differently too.  She said I like your 99% principal I just need to change the way that I view things.
          You're probably thinking what's the 99% principal?  First, let me tell you where it began.  About three years ago I felt depressed.  I wasn't sure where my life was going.  I felt like a hypocrite I was counseling people to change the way they think to help themselves feel better, but I wasn't doing it myself.   That year I went to a conference on "How Positive Psychology Changes Lives".  What's funny is my supervisor suggested I go.  With much hesitation I went but thought "Great another conference on being happy.  This will be a waste of my time."  They presented a lot of research on how people who thought positively lived longer and more satisfied lives.  At the conference they talked about techniques that could help one reduce depression, anxiety, and live happier lives by doing one thing.... thinking more positively.  One of the suggestions the speaker made was to try these techniques on ourselves before trying them on our clients.  I took the challenge of doing a gratitude journal for a month.  That month turned into a year.  What happened to my perspective changed significantly!
          What I noticed is that throughout my day I would experience many things (good, bad, and indifferent).  When I focused on the bad things it would become 99% of my day.  When I focused on the good things it would become 99% of my day.  However, at the end of the day I did my gratitude journal whether I was having a good or bad day.   On my "bad days" I was forced to look at the good, and believe me this was so HARD sometimes.  What was amazing is that even on my worst days the good outweighed the bad.  I realized that 99% of my day was good and 1% of my day was bad.  The thing was I was focusing on was the 1% and not looking at the 99%.  My 1% of negativity became 99% of my day.  Throughout that year I knew I had the challenge of doing my gratitude journal nightly so I was forced to look for good things throughout my day.  What I found was 99% of my day was generally good I just was moving too fast to appreciate it.
Another technique they touched on in my positive psychology conference was being mindful.  Being mindful was a new concept for me.  Again, I taught it to my clients, but I didn't ever implement it into my life.  I started to apply the concept of mindfulness throughout my day.  When I rode to work in the morning I started to look around and appreciate everything for what it was.  I paid attention to the sun rising, the trees, flower, people driving, the birds, sun sets, and yes even the squirrels (it's really hard to appreciate those rodents).  When I ate I tasted my food, when I exercised I listened to my body, when I spoke to my friends and family I listened to what they were saying, and when I touched something I felt it.  I was no longer on auto pilot.  Again, what I started to notice was a shift in myself.  Thinking positively, paying attention, and enjoying life were all encompassing.  I felt better, less bitter, and more confident.   
          After I practiced doing these things I started to teach it to my clients, co-workers, friends, and others who would listen to me.  What I found was when people choose to adopt the principles of thinking positively it changed their life.  Don't get me wrong there are days when I choose to view the negativity (bad habits never die right), but for the most part I choose to look for the silver lining and appreciate life for what it is.  We cannot stop the bad things from happening in our life (loss, hurt, pain, grief, etc.), but we can choose the way we think and view those things in our life.  There is beauty and good in our lives we just have to look for it.  If you can't see it you can choose to change your view by moving your feet.  As I have chosen to change my perspective it has opened me up to love and happiness.  My favorite quote is "Happiness is not just a package we can open up and consume, but we must learn to recognize the elements of happiness and enjoy them as they last."  I continue to be so grateful for my life and the things that continue to bless my life each and everyday.

Crystal Angel

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Kristin Josie

My oldest niece just turned 13 years old.  I find that hard to believe.  It’s amazing to me how fast life fly’s by.  She is growing into the most beautiful young woman, and I’m so lucky to have her in my life.  The first time she was placed in my arms I knew I was in heaven.  I had never held something so perfect and tiny.  It’s amazing to me how something who wasn’t in my life before could mean more to me than I could imagine.  Kristin has always had the best personality and sense of humor.  She is loving, kind, and a joy to be around.  I’m hoping that she gets her gnarly sense of humor from me, because she has to be the funniest girl I know.  The times I treasure most is us planning practical jokes on everyone.  It cracks me up thinking about it.  The other times I enjoy is having our Crazy Aunt Crystal parties. It was awesome being single for so long, because I got to enjoy my time as an aunt and getting to know all my nieces and nephews.  I continue to be amazed at the person she is becoming, and thank god everyday that I get her in my life.  What she doesn’t know is she has changed my life in the best possible way!   I love her so very much and wish her the best birthday ever.  I love you lots!!!



Crystal Angel           

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcome Welcome 2014

2013 went too fast.  Last year I decided to do a tender mercies bucket list for 2013.  Although, I didn’t complete all of my list I want to share with you the things I have learned from completing some of my list.  The first on my list was to identify the person who has inspired me most in my life and write them a letter.  There have been many people who have inspired me in my life, but the person who has inspired me most is no longer with us.  It’s not shocking to many of you that that person was my grandmother.  She taught me more about life, love, and happiness than any person I know.  As I look back at my life I can see how the things she taught me has molded me into who I am today.  She passed away in 2006 and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.  I know if I even become half the woman she was my life would be completely successful.  I love you grams. 
The second thing on my life was to meet five strangers on the street and become friends with them.  I have been able to get to know several new people this year and call them friends.  My life has truly been blessed by the people I have added to my life. 
The third thing on my list was to go deep into mother nature and experience a sunrise or set.  I can’t tell you how many sunrises and sunsets I have experienced this year.  I moved to McCall in April of this year and the beauty of this area has taught me to slow down and appreciate this magnificent life around me.  It’s amazing to me what nature tells us about life.  Nature’s beauty did not form overnight.  Nature teaches us to be patient and observant.  I’ve never experienced the same sunrise or sunset twice, it’s amazing how the smallest element of nature beautifies this world we live in.  Life is to be enjoyed not just endured. 
The fourth on my list is conquer my biggest fear.  This year I have learned to be more vulnerable to accept life as it is.  To be happy with who I am, and to communicate with others even though they may not like what I have to say.  It the midst of our darkest hour only then do we recognize our own strength.  I’m grateful for the person I am, the person I am becoming, and the path I am on. 
The fifth on my list was to resolve a past grievance.  I’m not gonna lie this was a hard one, and I’m honestly still working on it.  What I have learned about letting go of past hurt is it has opened me up to the greatest love I have ever known.  As I let hurt out I let love in.  I truly believe that great love heals all wounds.  I have had many discussions and therapy sessions over hurt and past grievances.  What I tell others is that letting go doesn’t mean you have to forgive the person who has wronged you.  It means that you have accepted the situation as it is, and have chosen to make it right for yourself.  Life is too short to allow our past hurt to hold us back from making the life we deserve. 
 The sixth on my list was to help someone in need.  I’ve never passed up an opportunity to help others.  Throughout the year I have had the blessing to serve others, and it has been the greatest experience ever.  The most unexpected moment was being able to help a veteran in the store.  I’m so grateful for the opportunities to help others, and to share moments of love with complete strangers.  I truly believe that what you give other life gives you back. 
Guess what I’m not perfect.  I was unable to complete 7,8,9, and 12 but they are still on my life bucket list.  One of the greatest things I have learned this year is letting go of my need to be perfect.  It’s been the greatest thing I’ve ever done. 
 Number Ten on my list was falling in love.  Early this year I talked about falling back in love with life and I have.  The other thing I have done is fell in love with an amazing man.  I’m grateful for my new husband and the things that he has taught me about life.  I look forward to our wonderful new journey!
Eleven on my list was go on a road trip.  This year I have been able to have many road trips and experienced those with my new husband.  The biggest road trip was going to Vegas to get Married (YEA) and California to meet my new family.  I’m grateful for the time I spent with those I love.  
2013 has brought many changes and by far has surpassed all my expectations of joy and love. I continue to be blessed with the most amazing family in the world. I married the greatest man I have ever known, and become a mother to the worlds most talented and beautiful children. I look forward with great anticipation on the many blessings 2014 will bring. Here's to the ending of an amazing year and the start to a new. sk√°ld!  


Crystal Angel


Monday, September 16, 2013

My story!!!


This month is my seven year anniversary in my recovery with my eating disorder.  To some it’s no secret that I am a recovering Bulimic.  It’s always been a struggle for me to talk or even admit that I had a problem.  Over the years, I found that sharing my story helps in the recovery process.  Today I am not ashamed to tell people that bulimia was a part of my life.  When I hid it from the world I was ashamed.  Ashamed that my relationship with food came down to one thing: purging what I ate.  From the time I woke up until I laid my head down at the end of the day I was in a constant state of the process of food entering my body and how quickly I would force it to leave.   

When people find out that I had an eating disorder many want to know why.  I’ve always struggled to answer that question.   For many people it starts because they want to be skinny.  I’ve always been a confident woman, and been proud of who I am and where I came from.  I can’t tell you how many times people have described me as a woman who has her stuff together and even more so people who have described me as being perfect.  Looking back I guess I would say that it was that strive for perfection that would really tear me down.   The church I went to demanded it, in my family it was expected, and as a result in my distorted mind I created this unrealistic expectation of what I though perfect meant.  The perfect life: being the perfect student, having the perfect body, the perfect church goer, the perfect friend, the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect worker, the perfect woman, PERFECT at EVERYTHING.  The demands of perfection that I placed on myself (that I thought other’s placed on me)led to skipping meals, obsessively exercising, purging, and to top it off diet and laxative abuse.  Looking back it’s amazing to me how much that drive to perfection wasted me away mentally, physically, and spiritually.  For years I was in denial that I had a problem.  I always had an excuse of why I was so thin: too busy to eat, exercising to release stress, etc.   

I can’t remember the whole details that brought me to seek help for my eating disorder.  All I remember is one of my co-workers confronting me and expressing to me that she felt I had a problem.  Of course I denied that I had a problem, until I couldn’t deny it anymore.  Passing out during exercise and randomly I knew wasn’t safe.  During treatment I remember my counselor asking, “Why and what got me this far in my eating disorder.”  I remember answering control.  I realized that things in my life could fall apart and not be perfect, but my weight, exercise, and bowels were the one thing I could control.  Over exerting my body was a way that I could release the energy of trying to be perfect when I couldn’t.  He then asked “what brings you to treatment now?”  My answer: “I realize that I no longer have control and there is no way in hell I can ever be perfect.  I don’t want this to be my life.  I am better than that.”  I wish I could say that I was one of those people that sought treatment and never had a relapse.  Yet, those thoughts of inadequacy, worthlessness, and urges to be perfect continue to creep up in my life.   Looking back on my life the cost of my addiction went beyond paying for treatment: food is different for me I can’t stick a piece of food in my mouth without knowing how many calories I am consuming, exercise is not as relaxing as it used to be as I am constantly wondering if I am doing too much or not enough, and I can never walk in the store without having urges to want to walk down the diet and laxative isle.   I feel like I can’t really ever let my guard down when it comes to being in recovery from bulimia.  Emotions are with me every day.  While the urges to revert back to my destructive behaviors are far more under control today than ever before it can sometimes tap me on the shoulder as a simple reminder that those urges are only an emotional breakdown away if I’m not careful.   All I know is

Today I am NOT bulimic.

Today I am a RECOVERING bulimic.

This is my life and for that I am thankful!



Crystal Angel

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why don’t we see our own strength?

                It’s amazing to me how we fail to recognize our own strength.  My grandma was an amazing woman.  She had a talent of making things better.  When I think of her strength I am in awe.  To me she was a wonderful, strong, independent woman.  Her perseverance in dealing with life’s trials were admirable.   As I look back on her life, and the many things she accomplished the one thing I noticed was she never recognized what a strong person she was.  She raised 10 beautiful, amazing, strong, independent women one woman in particular who happens to be my mother.  People who pass my mom on the street may think she is an average woman.  Yet, she is one of the strongest people I know she is beautiful, smart, talented, and a loving person.  My mother has a heart of gold, and to me she is a hero.  She too doesn’t recognize how amazing and wonderful she is.  Which is why I pose the question “Why is it we don’t see our own strength”? 

                I have been told by many people that I am a strong person.  Logically, why wouldn’t I be when I have had so many great examples of what strong really means.  Yet, I too don’t see my own strengths.  I focus on my flaws, and get down on myself for not being better.  Don’t get me wrong I have learned many valuable lessons in my life which have made me the strong vibrant woman that I am.  Yet, there are days that I feel weak, unworthy, and lost.  People sometimes ask me how I can be so strong when bad things happen.  I don’t really have an answer on what makes me strong.  I just know that sometimes when life throws you lemons the best thing to do is make lemonade.  If there is one thing I learned from my grandma and mom is that when bad things happen in life It doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong,  it’s called life.  I’m not really sure why people get some of the trials they do in this life, but they do and it makes them who they are.  As I look back on my life, I’ve realized that those bad things I’ve experienced in my life have molded me into the person I desire to be, and made me appreciate the good.

                I once heard this quote that said “you never know how strong you are until you have to be”.   My grandma lost her beloved husband at a young age and raised 8 out of 14 children on her own.  I know she didn’t expect to lose her husband but it happened.  My grandma talked to me about the pain she felt in losing the love of her life, and thinking she would never be able to live without him.  My grandma said she wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear, but she didn’t.  She knew she had to take care of her family, and that’s what she did.  She found the strength to get up and be the amazing grandma and mother that she was.  I can’t count the number of times on my hand that I have said “I can’t get through this” and I do.  We don’t get to pick the things that happen in our life, but we get the choice on how we deal with them.    

I’m always telling people that what we say, what we do, how we act, has a lasting impression.  We make mistakes some of them are fixable and some of them are not.  I’m such a stubborn person (hard to believe I know), and I sometimes find myself buried trying to fix things that aren’t meant to be fixed.  My mom always taught me to let go of the things that can no longer be fixed.  If you force to try to put them back together, things will only get worse.  When I was younger I broke one of my mother’s priceless possessions.  I remember trying to glue it back together (let’s just say it didn’t work).  When my mom found out she was hurt and upset, but she asked me what I learned and said don’t do it again.  Just because we can’t fix something it doesn’t mean that we have failed.  It just means that we weren’t meant to have it.  This can be hard when you’re trying to fix a relationship that just isn’t fixable.   As much as I want to fix people in my life I have learned that the only person that I can fix is myself.  As we learn to recognize the things we need to change, the people we need to let go of, and live the life we are meant to be it empowers us to be better and happier.               

I don’t know if I would consider myself a strong person it’s just that I have learned that in the midst of getting bucked off life’s horse it’s not a matter of how bad we get hurt it’s about getting back on the horse and finishing our ride.   No matter what, at least once in our life, someone will hurt us.  Someone will take us for granted.  Someone may not see us for what we really are, but never give up.  As we endure through life’s hardships we will eventually learn to appreciate the things we learned, and the strength we gained along the way.  Life is not a destination but a wonderful journey.   
Crystal Angel 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Letting go of perfection!

There is no "Easy Button" for life. As a therapist people are consistently looking for the "Quick Fix" to emotional distress and pain. We cannot heal a lifetime of pain overnight. Experiencing pain isn't easy. As you allow yourself to go through it.... it becomes a teacher, a motivator, it allows you to love more deeply, and eventually it allows for healing.   Whenever I’m working with people who avoid past hurt or grievances I tell them that they can either deal with it now, or it will come back and bite them in the ass.  The only reason why I give this advice is because I have been bitten so many times you would think I would eventually learn my lesson.

 In my 32 years of life I have learned that no matter how much we push unresolved issues (hurt, pain, past mistakes, unhappiness, etc) down they always seem to resurface.  I’m no expert in facing obstacles and hardships in my life, in fact, I avoid them like the plague.  If I’m forced to face something uncomfortable I try to make it go away as quick as possible. It’s like placing your hand on a hot burner.  It’s gonna hurt whether you leave it on or take it off.  Just because you remove your hand from the hot burner doesn’t mean that your hand will be instantly healed and functional.  We can try to ignore the pain, but if you’ve ever been burnt before you know it’s almost impossible to ignore it.  With any type of physical pain there is a healing process.  So, why would we expect any difference with emotional pain?   

In my experience of personally or professionally dealing with pain I have learned a lot.  First, pain can turn us in two ways it can either make us bitter or it can transform us to something better. As a young adult I suffered from an eating disorder.  I was the type of woman that did everything I could to be perfect or at least make people think I was perfect.  It’s amazing how on the quest to perfection I completely lost who I was and became the bitterest person I know.  On the outside people saw this friendly, loving, and confident woman.  On the inside, the most insecure woman who never felt good enough.  As hard as I tried I still can’t turn off the tape in my head that tells me “I’m not good enough or worthy enough to be happy”.   Why, when we know that there's no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone?  For some reason we believe that perfection will protect us from pain, blame, and hurt.  I mean if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect it’s easier to minimize or avoid the pain.   

            The second thing that I have learned about pain is it can be a saboteur.  We use our past hurt and discomfort form moving on to bigger and better things.  I can’t tell you how many times something amazing came across my path, and before I could allow  it bless my life I dismissed it.  For some reason I never felt good enough for life’s blessings and love.  If you want to know what burying pain does to a person….It blinds you…..it makes you feel so unworthy of the good things in life.  As a result we stay stuck.  I mean feeling something is better than feeling nothing at all right?  Seven years ago when I was consumed by my pain I took a look at my life and said I want it back.  I decided that I no longer wanted pain to consume my life, and I entered treatment for my eating disorder.  It’s been a long road, but everyday I’m feeling more worthy of love and happiness.  I’d be lying if I said that it was easy.  The longer you hold the pain in the more destructive it can be.  I still find myself wanting to sabotage the good things that come my way, and not feeling I will ever be worthy enough for love.  I’m so very grateful for the amazing people in my life who refuse to allow me to sabotage their love.  Who continue to knock down my walls, and who allow me to be the beautiful imperfect being that I am.  I look forward knowing that I deserve to be happy, guilt free, and loved.  If you find yourself struggling to let go make a step today to be better and free yourself from pain and distress. 
Love, Crystal Angel