By Dr. Julie Ann Allender
|Dr. Julie Ann Allender with Sasha and Bailey!|
It is a strange way to think for many, but being disabled means I must be able to face challenges that others never face. I once said to a friend that I can spend 2-3 hours a day just doing things that need to be done for whatever I need to do: special drops in the eyes, massaging my neuropathy, eating special foods, preparing special foods, using a medical device, etc. Each time I am doing one of these extra things I know it is part of my day, but also taking away time I could be walking, reading a book, talking on the phone, emailing, etc. That means also that I have to get everything else done that people who are not disabled get done with fewer hours to do it.
How I face tomorrow affects how I think, feel and can make or break my day. If I have had a bad today, then I have to decide if I want to make tomorrow good or bad. I can create a self-fulfilling prophecy and make tomorrow-another bad day or I can choose to work harder to make tomorrow a good day.
I was working with a teen a few months ago and she was having a really rough time with her cheer leading coach. Her first impulse was to quit, to walk away from the pain she felt. I suggested to her to think about it further. If she quit she would have to live the rest of her life having to face that she quit with bad feelings. If she didn’t quit, worked harder to do better, that even if she didn’t succeed she would feel better about herself at the end when the season was over. She would leave the sport with the feeling of success rather than failure.
There are days I want to just throw in the towel and quit, but then I look in my imaginary mirror and ask myself, “If you quit, then what?” What will I do? What would quitting really look like? Then I usually start to think about what that really means. How would that affect my son, my dogs or even my patients? Would I really be willing to do that, to quit?
When I come to my senses I know I don’t have the ability to quit which means that I then need to figure a way to take a small step in the “right” direction, whatever that right direction may be. It might be taking a few minutes to de-stress, to make myself a healthy salad, to play piano, to pet the dogs, etc. It means doing something to help face the next challenge and remind myself that there will always be challenges and that I am actually stronger than all of those other people out there that give up.
I remind myself I am not a quitter and that tomorrow might be better. If tomorrow isn’t better, than I remind myself there are always more tomorrows in the horizon.
7 things to do to get to tomorrow
1. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and keep taking those deep breathes until you feel calmness returning.
2. Put a vase of fresh flowers on your kitchen table to remind yourself that beauty is a part of every day.
3. Spend 15 minutes meditating and/or petting an animal.
4. Call a family member or friend and spend 15 minutes “talking” with that person. Emails and texts are too impersonal.
5. Affirmations > Look in the mirror and tell yourself 5 things you like about yourself. If a negative thought comes into your head push it out. There are other times to beat on yourself, not here.
6. Make yourself something delicious & healthy to eat.
7. Look at your handicap placard and smile proudly at it. I am out in the world, not hiding and proving I am capable of interacting in the real world!
Dr. Julie Ann Allender has been a licensed psychologist in private practice since 1980. A native of Wood Dale, Illinois, Dr. Allender received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She received her M.Ed. and Ed.D. in Psychoeducational Processes (PEP) at Temple University in Philadelphia. PEP was a program that focused on group dynamics, organizational development and humanistic education. It was a pioneering program in humanistic education and psychology way before its time. Dr. Allender's education also included a two-year Graduate Student Professional Development Program (GSPDP) from NTL, National Training Laboratories, Institute in Bethel, Maine. She had a private practice in Lebanon, Pennsylvania for the past 20 years.
Dr. Allender has been an adjunct faculty member at numerous universities and colleges including: Temple University, Philadelphia College of Textile and Science, Thomas Jefferson University and the Pennsylvania State University. She is a staff consultant to The Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, PA & Specified Professional Personnel in Psychology at Abington Hospital in Lansdale, PA. Dr. Allender is the author of two books: End of My Rope - Gender Cooperation Model and Chronic Illness: Healing the Wounded Heart, a contributor in 20 Active Training Programs by Mel Silberman and co-authored a parent/teacher/student school program Kid Concerns. She has been published widely in professional journals. She has also produced a deck of 54 Motivation Cards to help people get through the day.
Dr. Allender is a member of American Psychological Association, Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Association for Humanistic Psychology, past president of the Lancaster-Lebanon Psychological Association, past board member of Big Brother Big Sister and PROBE and has served on other community boards. Dr. Allender was an integral part to the Homebased Businesswomen’s Network in Beverly-Salem, MA in the early 80’s. She then founded and coordinated the Homebased Businesswomen's Network of the Lebanon Valley, Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 1984. In 2003, Dr. Allender established a practice in Sellersville, PA called Pet & People Therapy where she utilizes various therapies, including e-therapy. For more information, visit http://www.drjulieann.com/ and http://www.pettherapyparadisepark.com/