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Saturday, April 25, 2020

WHAT COULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENT...WHAT DID WE DO WRONG?

Saturday, April 25, 2020 @ 12:44 PM

WHAT COULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENT...WHAT DID WE DO WRONG?
We tend to ask ourselves these and similar questions when things don’t go well, or the outcomes are considered unacceptable.
It is not the time during the actual event that presses upon me, it is my interpretation of it afterwards that strengthens vulnerability. In order to function, God empowers us with the ability to separate our emotions from the moment at hand. While en route to a confirmed fire, we heard over the radio that there were three people confirmed to be trapped in the building. This infallibly triggers a conditioned mindset response that there is no room for mistakes and that risks will be maximized. No longer are we more worried about the dangers of the fire or the integrity of the structure, we now shift into managed fear. This is what we signed up for.
This was a three-story brick apartment building with fire fully involving the front enclosed stairwell and starting to push into the cockloft. Efforts were being made to knockdown the fire from the outside. My partner and I were assigned to go to the rear and as we approached the backyard, I noticed a group of firefighters waiting for a charged-line before entering the back porches. Heavy smoke filled the enclosed back porches presenting a situation requiring a risk/benefit analysis. Having the confirmation of civilians being trapped inside, raised the benefits well above the risks and too much time had gone by already leaving no time for a charged-line. My partner and I quickly entered the back door to the first-floor apartment while four other members split-off to search the upper two units. Visibility was zero and the heat was rising as we made our way closer to the front of the apartment. In order to get to the bedrooms, making it challenging to complete a search, we had to first reach the entrance to the bedroom located near the front of the apartment and then work our way back through to the other bedrooms which were all joined together. As we made our way to the front, fire began breaking through the front door climbing across the ceiling. Knowing our time was limited, we split up while staying in voice distance. Governed by the growth of the fire and increasing heat, we searched as much of the bedrooms as we could before having to retreat. It was at that moment when we heard over the radio that the three victims were found on the upper units. We then quickly made our way to the back door to help with removing the victims. Unfortunately, all three victims perished two of them being a pregnant woman along with her young daughter found lying next to her. One the members, during his remarkable effort of removing the pregnant mother, suffered burns and later received a high honors award.
My intent for sharing this, one of many stories, is definitely not to encourage rescue efforts without a charged-line, which is quite circumstantial and difficult to delineate between when and when not to, but rather to bring to the surface incidences where we tend to blame ourselves. Self-blame can lead to unnecessary guilt and reoccurring negative thoughts. Remember, we are not mindless machines, we are not designed to carry our yesterdays, and nor do we have full control over the outcomes of our efforts.

“We may throw the dice, but The Lord determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:33, NLT)

If you can relate to this story and want to talk about it, feel free to email me.

Brett Snow, PhD.
survivinglifem@gmail.com

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Finding What's Truly Important In Life And Leadership

Thursday, April 23, 2020 @ 12:02 AM

It was a dark and stormy night...really! Off Cape Horn winter waves had reached 50 feet. Sir Francis Chichester was there sailing the 53 ft yacht Gypsy Moth solo attempting to circumnavigate the world in record time when he was caught in a nightmare of gigantic waves and howling wind.

Reefing back his sails and trying to use only a storm jib, he crawled up to the bow and attempted to attach and raise this small jib. Unfortunately, even though it was attached to the bow, he found it was dragged overboard by the huge waves breaking over him and his seemingly tiny boat in the middle of this monster storm. (I know from personal experience how small a giant 10 foot surfboard can feel in large waves.)

Strapped to the boat for safety, he tried again, in vain, crawling to the bow of the boat to get the jib up from under the keel and attach the line to where it belonged. Another monster wave washed over him, washed the jib overboard and pushed him back frustrating his attempt to attach this storm jib.

Then a thought struck him. What was he doing? He was already two weeks ahead of the world record, the boat would be fine in it`s current configuration plus he was wet and tired. What was truly important? He broadened his perspective. The vision for this voyage was to successfully circumnavigate the world in record time: that's what mattered most. Suddenly he thought, "Why worry about a silly storm jib?"

Soon he retired back in his cabin after setting his self steering gear. Getting out of his storm gear, he poured himself a beer and went back to studying one of his favorite books about the Cutty Sark. The next morning, he woke up in calmer seas with the sun shining and a new perspective.

What matters most in your life or in your organization? Are you "majoring in the minors" or are you "majoring in the majors" as a leader? What is distracting you from what is really most important? Is your strategic vision stuck in the weeds?

The Gospel of Luke tells about Mary and Martha and how Jesus responds to Martha's anxiety (Luke 10:38–42). Even though it seems like serving and making sure that everybody has food is the most important thing Jesus speaks to her feelings and then corrects her to help her to realize that listening to him is truly the most important thing.

Defining the most important thing can be found by writing down what comes to mind and heart as well as talking to a mentor, peer, coach or counselor. Our coaching and John Maxwell MasterMind Groups on leadership can do so much to help you find that most important thing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Counseling (The Ugly Word)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 @ 6:12 PM

None of us like to believe we need counseling, as the term is normally identified with weakness, or wrongness. However, the truth is, we all need guidance in our lives. There is an ongoing battle within us between our selfish human nature and our Spiritual nature. When we choose to indulge ourselves in worldly pleasures, such as drunkenness, pornography, gambling, or let greed determine the order of our priorities, destruction is inevitable. If you are finding yourself struggling to walk in through the front door of your home because you cant make sense of what is happening on the other side, or you are experiencing debilitating anxiety, don't be afraid to send me an email, because I have been there too. There is no shame in it.

"First responders (policemen and firefighters) are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty."
(Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders, 2018)


"Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety."

(Proverbs 11:14, NKJV)


“Man is most free when he is most guided.” 

(Abraham Lincoln)

Brett Snow, PhD.
Surviving Life Ministries.
survivinglifem@gmail.com

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a Very Effective Treatment

Saturday, April 18, 2020 @ 8:34 PM

Check out the following video about EMDR and how effective it has been proven to be for negative experiences and trauma: https://youtu.be/Pkfln-ZtWeY

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Schema Therapy with Couples, A Practitioner's Guide to Healing Relationships

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 @ 1:08 PM

Dr. Chiara Simeone-DiFrancesco is an expert in training other professionals in Schema Therapy. She is the first author of this book published internationally by Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.

If you are a Christian seeking therapy, you will find that Dr. Chiara can offer you Jesus-Centered Schema Therapy. This is not a "new therapy", but a grounding of the evidenced based Schema Therapy on a Christian understanding of how God made us, and what He offers us. It utilizes the love and fruits of the Holy Spirit in the healing process as we are reborn more and more into Jesus' Model for each of us and for marriage.

Schema Therapy integrates tools from cognitive, experiential (gestalt), psychoanalytic, and behavioral therapies under a comprehensive conceptualization. This allows the Dr. Chiara to use her tools of EMDR, Gottman Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Medical Analytical hypnotherapy, as appropriate, and geared to the needs of the client and/or couple. It is a depth therapy that resolves and heals with God's grace the underlying roots to chronic disconnection from spouse, others, low-self-esteem, self-criticism, anxiety, depressive symptoms and the like. It also helps through an experiential encounter with Jesus in guided imagery, in His Biblical Word, and through the therapist, to "re-parent" and heal childhood wounds.

In couples' therapy, and even in online therapy, Dr. Chiara can take a more guiding stance to steer a couple into experiencing some positive interactions even in situations that are deeply troubling or involve a history of bad behaviors. We can push judgmental attitudes out of the therapy room, and work to align the partners on one side together, actually working with Dr. Chiara in the healing process for each other.

During this time of COVID-19, we often can still be quite effective together. I am able to securely email you handouts and worksheets that give you assignments to reflect on and a roadmap in between sessions.

I have been trained in online psychotherapy, and have been part of an international group on online schema therapy for a number of years. I encourage you to try it out and see if it can be a fit for you and your spouse!

Besides the website below, you can also find more information at:
https://www.jesus-centeredschematherapy.com

Please note:
While Dr. Simeone-DiFrancesco has taken training in the Gottman Method of couples therapy, I want you to know that I am completely independent in providing you with clinical services and I alone am fully responsible for those services. The Gottman Institute or its agents have no responsibility for the services you receive.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

C. S. Lewis (Written in 1942)

Saturday, April 11, 2020 @ 7:29 PM

Satan "I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil."

Jesus "I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources."



If you are home and struggling with finding joy and can't shake it. First, look up and surrender your life to God. Second, if you would still like to talk about it, email us at survivinglifem@gmail.com, or call me at 866-756-0413 (We have most likely been where you are)



Brett Snow, PhD, Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
Julie Snow, BA-student, Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Developing Your Own Safe Space

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 @ 5:55 PM

by Sarah Ramsay, MA, LMFT, BC-TMH

With all the changes to our schedules the past several days, we may be returning to our house exhausted or we've been working from home all day, helping the kids with their schoolwork, and finally at the end of the day, we are able to sink into the couch and breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes we run all day, flooded with emotions whether we are conscious of them or just pushing through them. Once we are able to physically step away from the stressors and are in a space of our own, we can relax and decompress from the pressures of the world.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to wait until the end of the day to feel this way? Being able to have a place to release this stress is necessary for our health and can increase resilience. Having this space more often can increase tolerance and therefore increase positivity individually and relationally.

What if we could learn to create a space in our mind where we could transport to at any moment? This may sound a little fictitious. In reality, it is not imaginary, but rather imagery. If you have a moment right now, think about the last place you were that felt calm, safe or both. Maybe this is with someone you love or perhaps a vacation in the mountains. If you can’t think of one, imagine a setting that would allow you to feel calm and or safe.

I’d like for you to take a break from this article for just a moment and bring up that image in your mind. While you do this, take a 360-degree view and notice what you see. Notice what you hear, smell, sound and feel. Live in this space for a few minutes and really take it in…

How do you feel? If you feel the same, maybe try it longer and think about it in more detail. This is just one tool that can be used for an escape and the more you use it, the easier it is. Whether you have 30 seconds or 5 minutes in your day, try this mini retreat away from life and see if it helps restore your mood and your thoughts. Everyone needs a vacation every now and then, takes yours today.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Coping with Fear and Anxiety

Friday, April 3, 2020 @ 3:32 PM

How do we find peace in the middle of chaos?

How do we keep hope alive when all around us is full of chaos? Well, this brings me to this blog as I try my best to write under so much stress as the world, the United States, and my home state of New York are battling the Coronavirus. I am living day to day in a state that is experiencing a high rise of COVID-19 cases daily and so many deaths a day. I hurt and cry when New York hurts and mourns the loss of others. Currently, I live in Nassau County, NY and I am an immigrant born of Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. I graduated from High School in Brooklyn, NY. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Nursing in 1997 and Master’s in Mental Health Psychiatric Nursing from State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2009, so New York has been good to me. I had my first child at New York University Hospital in 2002. I am a Registered Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry and I have been in the field of nursing for 23 years.

I am also a proud former Army First Lieutenant who was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was on active duty during 9/11. I know the chaos New York again experienced during 9/11. That same tension was high as well being in an army hospital in Washington, DC when the Pentagon was struck as well. I have never been to combat, but I have taken care of the most complex medical and surgical cases as a result of combat. I left my civilian job as a Registered Nurse in Manhattan at Beth Israel Hospital to serve my country. I have never seen so much chaos and uncertainty in the medical field as I see in today’s new normal with the war on COVID-19. As I listen to the news and other health professionals, I’m reminded of this new reality. I have aided NY once in the Blizzard of 1996. I am always here to assist again with providing telehealth services since I have recently volunteered to help. My expertise is now as a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry. I founded my practice as a testament in dealing with my own adversities of challenging health issues.

It is times like this when our faith is tested, and we have no one and nowhere else to lean on or turn to but God. As a woman of faith, I am here to help with a new faith-based mental health practice in Nassau County, NY. (https://www.copingnpservices.com/)

The Bible says in Hebrew 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Basically, the Bible is saying that we should not lose hope during uncertain times like this with the Coronavirus pandemic. I know it’s hard to feel hopeful about the uncertainties of life when you hear of so many morbidities and mortalities. We must not allow fear to win and drive the most valuable ingredient needed to survive such as keeping HOPE alive. God is the great physician. He created the wonderful medical and technological resources to use alongside our faith, which can be used together to improve this situation. We must adhere to the medical recommendations of staying home and social distancing. In addition, we should practice proper hygiene that some of us have been taught from our childhood. We must remember to wash our hands and keep them off of our faces due to increased risk of spreading germs/virus. We must use hand sanitizer as needed. We must self-quarantine if we begin to have symptoms or are exposed to anyone with Covid-19 to prevent the further spreading of the virus.

We must not allow fear, anxiety, depression and despair to overtake our minds. We are no good to anyone including ourselves if we allow fear and despair to incapacitate us. We must tap into our strength to combat the war of COVID-19 versus our weaknesses. Who told you that I am not afraid too? I sure am due to these uncertain times, but I have chosen to hold on to hope. This keeps me of sound mind to prevent me from distorted thoughts of impending dome as many are experiencing. I have learned as a Christian through trials and tribulations that some things, we simply don’t have control over. So the sooner we all learn this, the better off we can refocus our minds to reframing positive thoughts of hope and support for one another despite despair and doom. The Serenity Prayer states God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This is the reality of accepting things as they are and learning to exist and coexist with them by using our strength as a coping mechanism.

We are more resilient than we give ourselves credit as human beings. Many of us have been ill with other diseases that we have fought. So let’s do the same with COVID-19. We must recognize the signs and symptoms and consult with your practitioners or follow-up with emergency care when needed. Yes, it is a contagious disease but again we must keep the hope alive and fighting spirit to battle the disease. We must not allow fear to tell our minds that this is a death sentence if we contract the illness or have the illness because this will lead to being hopeless and loss of will to live. We must stay hopeful and positive to live another day to tell the story about being a survivor of COVID-19. Fear can lead to poor decisions so don’t live by fear instead keep the faith. Many of us have gone through challenging times in our lives, so we must be our brothers and sisters’ keeper and remain hopeful for the best. As the experts have been saying on television, quarantine does NOT mean isolation. Yes, we can have social distancing but we are blessed with the technology of today with virtual churches, virtual social groups, skyping and zooming or just picking up the phone to say hello. Our society don’t realize how blessed we are with these resources that others may not have, so make good on them. Let someone know how valuable they are to you in your life.

I know some people may have underlying challenging mental illness or substance use disorders that may be worsening; but it is times like this that you may need to utilize the non-traditional route with Telemental Health or interchangeably called Telemedicine. This option will allow you to speak to someone like myself who is a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry to provide you psychotherapy, which is also known as “talk therapy.” In addition, integrated services of therapy and medication could be offered as well to help stabilize your mood or anxiety levels. You are not alone, so please reach out to someone if you need help. There is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8255), to speak with someone too.

Some other positive coping skills that we can utilize as well are journaling our emotions. Journaling is a way of writing an experience to give you a sense of peace once releasing it from the mind. We can also engage in virtual physical exercises or mental health walks or running while keeping in mind social distancing. Exercise helps us release neurotransmitters, such as endorphins which naturally control pain in our body and other neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Increased serotonin during exercise improves our mood, decreases stress levels, and improves sleep too. Exercise will eventually decrease stress and anxiety levels and begin to give you a spirit of calm. Meditation, prayer, listening to music, and deep breathing exercises are good as well. Remember: healing is a holistic approach with mind, body and spirit. We also are what we eat, so we need a balanced healthy diet during this time to improve our immunity to fight off infections, so please do eat your fruits and vegetables along with proteins and carbohydrates. Also, it’s important to stay hydrated so make sure that you are drinking enough water and fluids enriched in vitamin C too. In addition, consult with your primary care physicians in taking vitamins, minerals and other supplements that will aid in boosting your immunity.

So remember a healthy mind, body and spirit is what we need to declare war on the Coronavirus. We must not be so scare or ashamed of the stigma or the thought of having Coronavirus that lead to anyone not seeking out medical and mental health intervention either. Throughout this blog, I have mentioned and shared some coping skills to begin to use as an armor for war against COVID-19. So let’s stay connected, hopeful and positive to overcome this crisis. I pray for healing over our mind, body and spirit and may God grant us protection and restoration. Lastly, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Napoleon Hill that states, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”