Friday, December 29, 2017

On this day Blessed Memories and New Beginnings

Two photos here. The first is with me and my mother and my mother's beautiful and first great grand daughter. I appreciate the photo because of the strength I experience from my mother. Taken about 18 years ago, we were at a family picnic at Bowman's Bay in Anacortes. I am deeply aware of how much our family misses my mother since her passing December 25th, just two years ago. My mother is the rock in our family and will ever remain so, and there in this photo the love is felt and beautiful memories are held tightly.

The second photo is my Great Grand Parents: Edward Kolhs, born December 25, 1879, Pommer, Scheawig-Holstein, Germany. Passed over November 26, 1958 in his home in Fruita, Colorado. Emilie Alvina Kasch-Kolhs, born October 25, 1881, Schoenberg, Germany. Passed over July 7, 1980 in Fruita, Colorado. Thank you to my beloved father for helping maintain family photos and our family tree.

My wish for you now as this 2017 year ends and the daily sunlight grows slowly and once again into spring, is that you each hold onto each other, your family and dear ones in your life. Hold tight the light of love for one another. Continue to create lasting memories built on respect for the all knowing force and ever present power behind the morning light.

"Peace... comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
-- Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) OGLALA SIOUX

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Winter Solstice

Fog and Ice
I took this photo the morning of December 11, 2017. The roads that morning were very icy, and the fog was often difficult to see through. I could feel the car slipping a few times and was feeling blessed to have made it safely to my destination for the day.  The sun was so striking, glaring at me as it shone through the clouds. I put my gear down that I had gathered from the car to take into my office, and tried to capture the beauty in and around the fog and ice with my camera.

As I reflect on this year as it comes to an end, this image somehow describes the varying degrees of experiences I have had over the year. Sometimes not able to see clearly through the difficulties in front of me and sometimes slipping and sliding through the varying situations occurring in my life.

Each and every day I rise in prayer and meditation, which is a habit I have developed over many years, beginning from when I was a child seeking spiritual guidance. I have come to understand the importance of prayer in my life. Prayer and meditation brings me stillness within the Fog and Ice of my life and gives me the guidance needed for my walk.

 I am grateful for what this year has shown me as I reflect on the joys and hold up the sorrows I know we each must walk through. May you receive many blessing this coming year. May you be guided in a good way as we each enter and celebrate this Winter Solstice which is upon us. With gratitude for my life with my husband, my family, the dear friends in my life, I raise my hands in prayer to you.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Consistency of Will, Insight Tools, and The Third Way

Developing consistency part one: create a list of what you think you need to be doing for yourself, which is what your gut or intuition is telling you, and you know you need to be doing, but you aren’t. The second part: What brings you calm? make a list of positive experiences that you know provide you safety and calm. This process will support your important ideas for the healing of yourself, your family, the world, it is your journey.

 Insight Tools: At Skagit Family Study Center we believe the "Five Step Self Time Out" tools support a reflective process of intentional emotional and spiritual development. Through reflection I can choose to intentionally become more aware of my feelings and needs, and the inner discomfort and contradictions stored in my body. When I am able to identify, label and process my feelings and needs, I am choosing to practice self care with intentional, gentle, tender, love. I can choose to notice and interrupt my inner contradictions and the discomforts I am feeling in my body. I can choose to stop blaming and shaming myself and others.  The goal is to notice and interrupt the dual thinking, the discomfort of contradictions, and replace the discomfort with the practice of gently affirming myself with positive, kind, affirming thoughts. When I practice affirming myself, I am building healthy internal boundaries.

Consistency of Creative Will: The management of choice is the balance of mind and heart. When these tools are practiced over a period of time the process of managing the emotional self will open awareness to the inner contradictions, i.e. the energy around feelings of irritation, anger, fear, hate, etc., and all of the negative "stuff" that keeps us stuck. The practice of the "Five Step Self Time Out" tools naturally includes the process of noticing, interrupting and replacing the inner contradictions created by negative self talk. As I notice, interrupt, and replace the discomfort I am feeling in my body with a plan based on healthy gentle care of myself, I create a deeper calm safe place within. As I choose to create a deeper calm safe place within, I am reducing the dual thinking of contradictions, while increasing a congruent consistency and management of creative will.

This is the Third Way

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What's happening in 2017

This year 2017, I completed my EMDR certification training in February, this took about eighteen months. This summer in June I have been invited to attend the American Indian Psychologist Association annual gathering. I have been researching the area where this has been held for the last thirty years and talking to other therapists who have attended in the past. I am waffling with trepidation as I will travel to a remote area in the mountains of Utah, 7000 feet elevation, and stay in tents and participate in mountain horseback riding and camp for a couple of days as part of the experience, before heading on back down to the University of Utah for the three day conference. Looking back I camped on the beach in Santa Barbara when I went to the University of Santa Barbara for three weeks to receive my Montessori practicum which was required for my certification.

At that time I was a young mother and on a mission to teach my children all I could learn so they would enter school with a firm foundation. This new invitation will take me to Utah and is bringing up memories of my adventures of traveling to Santa Barbara the summer of 1976. I drove with my young children from Anacortes, Washington to Central California where my parents lived at the time. They had bought property and were living in a small town called Orosi. The property had five acres of orange trees, Valencia oranges. My father was working to establish his home building and construction business. My children stayed there on the "farm" as we all called it, with their grandparents, while I traveled on to Santa Barbara University to complete my three week practicum. As part of our travels we left Anacortes and headed to the tip of Washington to visit the Makah Indian reservation and attend the Baha'i Faith Spiritual Gathering held annually there. We then drove along the coast and headed to my folks place. Here is a web site for the Baha'i friends in Neah Bay.  I have since traveled to Neah Bay with my daughter and with my husband.

When I returned from California in the late summer of 1976,  I was hired to teach in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Head Start program. From that experience a long road of stories are still occurring today. I am just beginning to understand their purpose as I unwind and share the experiences from that point in my life to this. I continued my education through the masters program at Pacific Oaks College. I will stop there for now.

The painting is one I love very much and used as the logo for my school, Children's House Child Development Center.  After working for the Head Start program, I created the school and owned and operated the program for more than fifteen years. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

     We were her angels, and now she is ours

                   In loving Memory

My mother, Velda Mae Kolhs, was born January 31, 1929 
to Juanita and Reinhart Edward (Sonny) Kolhs. 
She was daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. 

My mother had an infectious laugh that captured us all. In her presence she was filled with joy and curiosity to know all about your day or recent adventures, as if nothing else mattered. She wanted to know all that could be found out about you, and made each child, grand child and great grand child feel special in their very own precious way.  Velda is treasured by each one of her loved ones and will always be admired for her warm heart and deep insight into each soul she came into contact with, if only for a short time. She was never afraid to speak her mind, and would not hesitate to let you know what was on her heart.

Velda is survived by her loving husband Bob, of 68 years, their two sons Ed and Robert, and their daughter, Connie, as well as nine grand children and fifteen great grand children. Two daughters Diana and Barbie passed before her, in 1995 and 2000 respectively. 

Velda has many loving cousins, nieces and nephews from her hometown of Fruita, Colorado. The Washington and Colorado families were reunited the summer of 2013. The visit from her Colorado family brought her immense joy and she was filled with gratitude for their visit. She glowed with pride when sharing her joy that all of the grand children and great grandchildren visited her and Bob this past summer of 2015. Velda made friends with each one she came into contact with, through her cheerfulness and curiosity, intent on never forgetting a name of anyone she met. She is deeply loved and will be forever remembered by all of her family for her ever-present loving heart and warm touch. 

Great grandma holding Great Grandson James River, born March 3, 2010. Great Grand daughter Jenna watching in the background along side her Grandma Nonni.

Our beloved mother passed on December 25, 2015
Family Memorial and Dinner
The Farmhouse Inn 
January 30, 2016
She will be laid to rest at
Grandview Cemetery
Anacortes, Washington

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Today I visited my mother and father. I visit them weekly. My mother is 86 and my father is 89. He will turn 90 on November 10th this year. They both live in their home. Two weeks ago my mom was in the hospital and when she was released, the doctor ordered a home health care nurse for her, two days a week. She has her vital  signs monitored, blood drawn, and her medications organized. We agreed it was time for my father to see his doctor to review his need for a home health care nurse as well. He qualified, and today the nurse visited them both. It was a 2 and a 1/2 hour visit to establish their needs in the home. Having this care in the home brings such relief for us as they will be able to discuss their health concerns regularly with their nurse. My brothers installed a beautiful walk-in jacuzzi and bath tub a few years ago for them. They installed hand rails and guards where appropriate, inside and out.  As the nurse reviewed their needs, she did not need to add any updates to the home related to their safety at this time. There are many blessings running through our family. The most significant is the love and care the family is demonstrating for our parents as they grow older and their health needs increase due to their age. Strong, determined, independent souls, struggling to accept the reality of their life at this time. Blessing abound within our family and the strongest is our love. Strong, determined, independent children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren standing together in behalf of our parents.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Art Design by Chuck Britt

 Choosing my Experiences through Mind/Body/Sensate Awareness:
A Five Step Self Time Out Perspective

July 28, 2015

Throughout our lifespan our experiences create neural patterns within our brain and nervous system. Our experiences determine how and why and when we make the choices we do, each and every moment. Dr. Daniel Siegal stated, “The mind is the process of the regulation of energy and information flow.” From birth, experiences occurring in our bodies creates energy and information necessary for us to make decisions about what we are feeling and needing. We experience the sensations of the experiences we are having moment by moment within our bodies through the information that flows through the nervous system of the body/mind. It is this awareness of the sensations flowing within the body/mind that develops the genetic process of the maturation of the nervous system. We make choices for ourselves based on this incoming information. Am I safe? I need to know. The information guides my choices. How do I determine what is safe? How do I know when I am free of harm?  Before the cognitive mind, sometimes called the executive function, can play and learn and create, the emotional mind needs to know I am safe within my surroundings. 
As the growing individual learns to evaluate the risks of safety for themselves, the feelings that represent the question of “Am I safe”, do not change the risks of safety within the environment or whether it is safe or not. Developing internal and external boundaries supports the ability to notice if I am comfortable or not within my surroundings. It is the sensate awareness of the body/mind that alerts me to the risk factors involved within the environment. Sometimes called situational awareness, we learn to monitor the risk factors and determine needs and plans, based on feelings. The more opportunities we have for determining risk factors of safety through having role models and opportunities for developing appropriate feeling language and internal boundaries, the more we are able to use the information in our bodies to set limits and boundaries externally for ourselves.

The development of language is necessary to express feelings and needs the crucial part of being able to express what is going on within the body/mind. The more I am able to assess risk, determine the safety factors, pay attention to my feeling and needs, and label them,  the more likely I am able to develop plans that support healthy cognitive, physical, and social and emotional development for myself. I must have the language to be able to communicate my feelings and needs. The Five Step Self time Out process helps provide a pathway for developing feeling language to be able to label or name feelings.
 I learn to regulate and express my emotions from the role models in my life. As we grow and our nervous system develops, it is shaped by our ongoing experiences. When I have adult models in my life that show me how to love myself and care for myself, day by day, year by year, I learn that the body/mind flow of information and energy regulation, becomes how I care for myself. We have developed a way to share these common sense ideas which is based on the science of neuro-plasticity. We call the process a Five Step Self Time Out. You can find more about this at When I learn language to describe what I am feeling and needing, I am learning to identify, label and process my feelings and needs (name or narrate the flow of the information and energy within my body/mind). Research in brain science now tells us that the brain can develop new neural patterns through our experiences, and throughout our lifespan, this is know as neurogenesis. Each time I take responsibility for regulating and expressing my feelings and needs, I am developing patterns within my body that determine the information needed to make plans to take care of myself. I can learn not to shame or blame or place anger on others or myself.  I can evaluate the risk factors for myself, I can create plans that take care of me.
Through the process of neurogenesis, the awareness and response to the sensations within the body/mind create new neurons, new patterns, and new connections, potentially replacing old patterns that may have caused harm to the nervous system. Because these neuronal patterns are created moment by moment throughout the lifespan, my ability to touch into my feelings continues to  grow and guide my ability to evaluate the risk factors within my surroundings. When feelings are clouded and are not identified, it leads to unsafe choices based on impulse and escalation. trauma nd confusion also creates neuronal patterns in the brain. Without awareness of my feelings and needs, I may not be able to evaluate safety for myself and therefore may inadvertently place myself or others at risk of harm. Through the healthy patterns developing within the nervous system, self-awareness and self-alertness continues to present information for understanding and evaluating my surroundings. As I develop the ability to monitor my surroundings through my sensate awareness, I can more consciously choose plans based on the incoming information and and less on escatlation and create new experiences for myself. Old habitual neural patterns are replaced with new neural patterns within the nervous system, allowing for movement out of stuck old frames of harmful, habitual choices and unwanted consequences. Over time, my cognitive and emotional body/mind is supported by the practice of these self-guided principles and tools.  This type of practice, over time and from a neuro-science perspective, allows unresolved trauma and loss, specifically memory trauma, to heal.

Okay so you might ask yourself, what is my body actually communicating to me? How do I practice these principles to take care of the mood shifts occurring within my body?  Consider taking the opportunity to be open, curious, accepting, and loving of yourself and what your body is telling you through your feelings and moods. The process of mental well-being comes from the integration of mind/body awareness. Episodes of increased awareness of our experiences give us the information we need to make choices. This includes either explicit factual episodic memory, or implicit non-declarative forms of memory; both are affected by the process. This is called autonoetic: To be aware of one’s own existence as an entity in time. Autonoetic memory is defined as the process of remembering an experience or event, as well as the emotion/s that occurred, at the same time. Episodic memory or narrative therapy (telling your story) is the linear telling of the sequence of events and the mental experience of the characters within the event. Left hemisphere of the brain uses its assembly patterns to make since of and create a cohesive picture = coherence of an experience. Telling your story is an opportunity or loop for bringing cohesion to decision making by connecting to a part of the implicit or explicit memory. If this process can be practiced enough and become an enduring part of our self-care, it will serve the role of allowing us to live our lives with coherence and congruence. Creating many opportunities for healthy development throughout the lifespan.

Making plans and decisions based on feelings and needs, not on is happening outside of my body, creates a coherent process for continued body/mind/sensate awareness. As new neuron patterns develop, the opportunity for creating healthy safe choices based on risk factor evaluation matures.
Great News: Science is confirming that the process of neurogenesis continues throughout the lifespan. The hippocampus can grow new neurons and new synapses as we develop throughout our lives. The amygdala alerts us when we do not feel safe through our body/mind sensate awareness. Both of these portions of the brain work together (neuro-biological) to formulate information that is expressed in the sensate awareness of the body. Dr. Taylor states, “we are not thinking creatures who feel, we are feeling creatures who think.”  I love this statement because it confirms the purpose of the Five Step Self Time Out process. Awareness of the feelings within my body allows me to determine my needs and make new plans and decisions based on my current feelings and needs, different outcomes and experiences will occur as I move through my surroundings.
I can pay attention is where the neural firing will occur. Awareness, not just the reaction of the experience, permeates firing connections of the development of new neurons, thus altering the very structure of the brain, this is called neuro-plasticity. Physical exercise also promotes neuro-plasticity. Therefore it is important exercise as much as the body can adjust to doing. Exercise is a very important part of mind and brain health.
I am responsible for my choices and experiences throughout my lifespan. I can choose to take a Five Step Self Time Out based on my current feelings and needs. New experiences, new information means energy regulation of body/mind sensate awareness is flowing and not stuck. This process allows for the connections in the brain to change, i.e. neuro-genesis. It allows for the development of congruent (something that agrees with or is in harmony with another) and cohesion (how well something fits together) life choice experiences to occur in calm, safe neuro-network patterns. The more I am aware of my mood, the more defined my language will become and my ability to identify, label and process what I am feeling and needing will guide the process of making plans based on the current data in my body/mind. The more I choose to evaluate the risk factors within my environment and surroundings, the more I am able to choose safe, calm plans based on my mind/body sensate awareness (feelings and needs) and not on what or who I think is irritating me outside of myself.


Executive function: (also known as cognitive control and supervisory attentional system) is an umbrella term for the management (regulation, control) of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving as well as planning and execution.”
The emotional mind: The knowledge and skills that you develop to accurately identify and express your emotions are essential to living a long and healthy life. Your physical health is directly related to your ability to regulate and express strong emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness. Although you may not be able to choose your emotions, you can learn to choose how to express them. Regulating the intensity and duration of your strong emotions is a necessary life skill”.  


Dr. Daniel Siegal, Author and speaker. Book, “The Developing Mind.” Psychotherapy Networker audio course, “Psychotherapy from the Inside Out: The Brain of The Mindful Therapist Fullfillment.”
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: Author and speaker. Book, “My Stroke of Insight”. TED talk “My stroke of insight”. And “The Neuroanatomical Transformation of the Teenage Brain.”
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science; April 2011. “Increasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis is sufficient to improve pattern separation.”