May 10, 2009

Inside this Newsletter:

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's out there! I sent my 84-year-old mother a gift card to a steak house (the only one in that small town) so she and her boyfriend and his daughter can go out to dinner since I won't be there with her. In the past, I've flown home to IL and planted flowers for her, but not this year. Instead, I'm also sending her a Lowe's or a Walmart gift card where she can go buy some baskets of flowers. Gift cards make life so easy!

I hope to get some flowers I myself soon. That snowstorm 3 weeks ago (April 17) set my gardening and me back a lot. Alan & I got 3 feet of snow at my mountain house and the power went out for 3 days, then came back on, then back off another 8 hours. The cause was all the trees that snapped from the heavy snow - 2 giant trees feel in unison, uprooting completely, down by the creek. We couldn't leave and get back to his house because my snow plow guy's plow broke and trees were down on the road to & from my house. We had no water (well water with a pump), no heat, no toilets, and no phone - could use the cell if hanging off the deck and had to use the sports car by the house to keep recharging it. The temperature got down to 52 degrees inside (27 out), and 40 degrees in the greenhouse. We kept a fire in the fireplace day and night, cooking over the fire and melting snow for water. I kept the topical fish alive by boiling snow over the fire and pouring it into the aquarium (which I was able to keep at 63 degrees when they need 76 minimum), but they all made it. There's nothing like a weekend like that to remind you (me) to appreciate the small things in life that we take for granted every day. I still have PTSD every time a light flickers. Alan & I spent a lot of "quality" time together. The only fight we had was when the power came back on and he had dinner ready and I refused to eat until after I took a shower!

But now it feels like spring is finally here! I'm sitting outside for lunch in Cherry Creek enjoying the 75 degree weather as I write this. Flowers are blooming and the trees have baby green leaves on them. I love spring and summer in Colorado!!

The next time I see any of you, I hope I'm looking younger. I'm involved n a three-month skin study, along with my friend Jennifer Wilde. We are using iS Clinical skin products, a prescription skin care regiment from Dr. Gregory Buford's office. I'm starting week 3 and am starting to notice a difference in my skin already. The only scary part is the "before" pictures they took of me with no make-up on!

The Sunday Denver Post wrote a "Singing in Denver" story on Sunday, April 26 and I and my karaoke friend Grant (a cowboy) were photographed in the article. He's singing and I'm just in the audience, but here's the link if you want to see: View an audio slide show of 'Seven Days of Singing.'

I'm thinking about pulling together another singing group, possibly to be called "The Divas and the Cowboys!"


Handling Bad Times

We all go through bad times now and then, but in this economy there are more of us experiencing them at the same time. Many have lost jobs, and those who haven't, hold their breath every day wondering if they could be next. Those of us who own our own businesses keep scrambling to come up with new ideas and ways to stay afloat. In these scary times, we feel frightened and vulnerable. The world right now is not how we've known it in the past. Life isn't as easy. Things that worked before don't necessarily work anymore. It's easy to become overwhelmed with depression and/or anxiety. Fear makes us want to avoid reality. It's common to want to deny the situation as long as possible which causes us more problems.

But the sooner we face reality, the sooner we can solve a problem, whether it's related to the economy or every day life. When something stops working, it's time to re-evaluate our beliefs and values.

Life is a Process

Life is a process of growth and change, of continually moving from one thing to the other, of learning and changing with the new information.

To change with life, we need to ask ourselves regularly how we feel, what we want, and what we need to do to get it. Then we need to take action. But it's hard to even let ourselves "feel" the pain. Instead we hide from it and hope it will just go away. But the longer we "deny," the worse it gets.

Take my client George. He had a successful real estate business that had been declining in the last couple of years, but of course he never saw the collapse of the housing market coming. He stayed in denial as long as he could, finally facing reality this spring. Once he gave up the fancy office and other expenses (which his partner was paying nothing on) he realized he'd been trying so hard to beat a dead horse that he forgot to look at his bottom line. By working out of his home, he may be able to make his business profitable again. But as he does this, he needs to find a job. He's learned a lot through this experience - about watching the bottom line and not "overgiving" in his business endeavors.

If he had realized this six months earlier, he still would have needed to give up the fancy office, but he might have some money in the bank. But it's hard to let go.

Another client, Sally, who has always been underemployed as an administrative assistant (with a degree in marketing) lost her job and found a marketing job in a motorcycle shop (she loves motorcycles and guys who ride them). This would not have happened had she not lost her job.

We often have to mourn the loss of our old selves before we can move forward and find our new selves. In the long run, change is almost always good for us. In the short run, it's incredibly scary - and exciting! Most of us avoid risktaking and use the excuse that someone else is holding us back, when in reality we are usually just paralyzed by fear.

Nothing Left to Lose

People don't usually change and take risks until they have to. When times are bad, people are actually more likely to make big changes in their lives. Afterall, when things are good, there's not much reason to change your life, even if you haven't ever followed your dreams. And when times are "okay," it's still hard to take major risks since you fear the risk could lead you to something bad.

How many people have dreamed of having their own business or trying a new career, but won't give up their jobs? But once you're laid off and forced to take a risk, why not start that business you've been dreaming of or try a career change? There's nothing left to lose.

It's the same with people who stay in bad marriages for wrong reasons, such as not wanting to give up half the money they've accumulated. Sure, many couples have to stay together because of this economy, but others are now getting the courage to leave since there's nothing left to split.

Whether it's how you look or lack of friends/contacts or insufficient training for a job, or a financial crisis because of this economy, only you can decide to fix it.

Each time you face a crisis, you learn more skills to use when dealing with the rest of your life. The best thing to do is to process each crisis as quickly as you can, having faith that there's a positive change on the other side. Try to see each crisis as a challenge instead of something to fear.

How to Handle A Crisis

  1. No denial. Don't try to escape, ignore, or avoid the problem or the feelings with alcohol, drugs, etc. You'll just prolong dealing with the problem and these substances will only make your situation worse.

  2. No beating yourself up. We never see it coming. "If only's" don't help. Look forward, not backward.

  3. Withdraw and feel the pain and loss. Processing needs to be done alone - not by telling 50 of your closest friends. Go ahead and indulge yourself in a small "Pity Party." Write down you frustration and hurt, trying to get it all out. Nurture yourself for a few days before making any decisions.

  4. Decide what lessons you've learned from the crisis and how this information can help you in the future.

  5. Allow the hurt to turn to anger. Don't take self-pity too far. There comes a time when you have to say, "I'm not letting this ruin my life! I'm smarter and better than this! So what am I going to do about it?"

  6. Ask yourself again and again what you really want, instead of what you "should" do. Do you want a career change? Do you want to move to a different city? If so, now is the time to do it.

  7. Make a list of all possibilities in solving the problem. Think outside the box. Write down even the silliest ideas.

  8. Take small risks. Ask yourself what you can do that might result in your getting what you want. Do an internet search on careers you think you would like. Go talk to someone who has that career. Call the SBA and get a free counselor to discuss your business idea.

  9. Draw on your own strengths. Don't allow negativity to run in your head. Replace any negative tapes with positive ones (e.g., "I'm smart, capable, attractive")--even if you don't believe it, yet.

  10. Use friends for support, but don't use them to ruminate over your past mistakes or analyzing what went wrong. If you do, they'll enable you to prolong staying where you are. Instead, tell them the Pity Party is over and you want only support and possible solutions.

Staying on Track

Continually ask yourself:

  • Am I being good to myself and giving myself a break when I make mistakes?

  • Am I trusting myself more than others?

  • Am I staying in touch with my feelings and what I want?

  • Am I facing issues head-on?

  • Am I emotionally honest with myself and others?

  • Am I setting boundaries with others and myself?

  • Is my life getting back under control and in balance? What areas do I still need to work on?

  • Am I reaching my goals and moving forward?

  • Is my life changing?

  • Am I able to be vulnerable and confrontational?

  • Am I happy?

You may be going through a hard time right now, but if you face the problems, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It's stagnation that causes boredom and unhappiness. A happy life is about change and moving forward - in a direction that you personally choose.

{Some of the above material is taken from my first book, Loving Him Without Losing You, available for purchase online at or in my office for $15.}

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My Mother, My Maker

A poem by client D.K. she wrote in 1992
I have published it in my newsletter before, but wanted to put it in again for Mother's Day)

I've met my maker - what a sight to see.
My maker's my mother - what a woman is she.
My mother's my mirror - I see my reflection.
My mother's my vision - despite my objection.
In some ways she's generous in her show of affection.
She has countless ways to express her rejection.
By my maker's hand, have I turned out to be,
more of her than who I thought was me.
It's a scary thought - to be her clone.
There's more of her than I want to own.
I have worked too hard to be my own person.
Only to come full circle to learn the lesson.
No matter how hard I try to dispel the notion.
I am woven by the threads of her commotion.
Here I am - my mother's daughter.
Swimming in circles in her stormy water.
In this calm of the storm I can hear a voice
that assures me that I do have a choice.
I can try to escape and drown with exhaustion,
or I can use this truth as my internal combustion.
I can kick and stroke to escape her sea
or within its bounds be the best me I can be.

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Amy & Brian Saga, i.e. "No One Should Ever Come Before You!"

It has been around 2 years since I began my relationship with Brian. We ended it a year and a half or so ago and I had been talking with you via phone at the time. Your books and sessions really helped me. I remember you wrote a blurb about my relationship with Brian. I thought I would give you an update. If you want to share this with your clients that's fine but if you want to keep it just for you that's great too.

I finally had it with Brian and told him I agreed with him and that we needed some space. I had done so much for him, left my entire life just to be with this big jerk and he wasn't sure if he "really" wanted to be with me or not. So I went out. I partied and had a great time. About a week later we mutually broke up. He called, emailed, and text messaged me for about 2 - 3 months and then vanished off of the face of the earth. (THANK GOD!) He resurfaced for a few months last summer apologizing and wanted to "talk" on the computer. I never got around to answering him. The bastard actually found out my new place of work and called to my classroom, while I was teaching! I laughed at him and said I don't have time for this and hung up on him.

I thought that this man was my knight in shinning armor! PLEASE I am so over that fairy tale. Instead I wrote my own. The most important thing about this story is not what happened while I was with this loser but what happened after.

I got a full time teaching job, I found out I am a fabulous teacher, I adopted a gorgeous baby girl, I finished my Masters degree, I rekindle the relationship that I threw away for Brian, and bought a new car. My life has been fabulous since I got rid of "the jerk". I think sometimes women are afraid to venture out on their own, but more often than not it is better to be alone then feel bad and be with someone that is not right for you.

The relationship I did have with Brian did teach me some things.

  1. I learned how to use exotic spices in cooking

  2. I learned that I love to travel to far away places

  3. I learned to NEVER let your heart lead your life ~ no matter what!

  4. And most importantly I learned that NO ONE should ever come before YOU. No one....

Just wanted to write and give you an update and a thank you! Hope all is well!

~ A J in California

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Q&A: Dating in Denver: Give your advice!


Carolyn, Do you remember me, I worked at one of the radio stations that you were on. I'm frustrated, I do not think I can ever meet anyone. I lost a ton of weight. I used to wear a size 10 now I am down to a size 6 and would like to get down to a size 4 if possible. I am 57 years old and do not know if I should join a singles club or dating club. How do you think I could just meet some men to be just friends until or to see if anything develops or just to be friends?

~ WM, Denver


W, This is a question I get again and again of course. Single's Clubs and Dating Clubs sometimes work, online dating often works. There is no specific answer. What I tell people is that there's no harm in joining these groups, but none of them have the magical answer. I still believe that people need to follow what they love, whether it's hobbies or politics or dancing or going out with friends. Then when you are out there where someone can find you, you need to be open and friendly and available and look like you're having fun. Meeting someone to date still works better if it's done naturally, so that chemistry can play a part in it. I do remember you and really liked you, but I also remember that you always planned to go out and do things, but seldom actually followed through. This is KEY! I have clients who join the dating clubs, but then still don't go meet any of the men or women who contact them. That's just a waste. You probably have fears about being liked or of intimacy because of past relationships. Whatever they are, you must overcome them first so you'll have the courage to do what you need to do to be open to meeting men. Good luck!

Do any of my readers have advice for WM in Denver? If so, please email me at with your advice and I'll pass it on to her.

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About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for 10 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 25 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and she writes articles for on-line article banks. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 21 years.

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Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C.
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