Lake Norman Counselors

Human Connection in the Age of Social Distancing

Hello, my name is Jamie, and I am an Extrovert.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a “big E” Extrovert. Like 98th percentile on the Myers-Briggs, would not do well alone on a desert island, Extrovert. Rather than being alone, I’d probably end up pulling a “Tom Hanks” and making my own Wilson to have someone to talk to…

I was the kid in school that was constantly getting in trouble for talking. Once in middle school, my English teacher separated my best friend and I for talking. She put us at opposite ends of the classroom – as far apart as humanly possible. And we still got in trouble because she was insistent that we were “communicating nonverbally” with each other… we denied it, but we totally were. So I’ve been finding ways to overcome social distancing for more than two decades now.

When I hear words like “social distancing” and “quarantine” – I look at it as a personal challenge. Was I heartbroken about my social limitations at first? Sure. But the good news for my other extroverted friends out there, is that there’s plenty of ways to connect from home!

Human connection, feelings of love and belonging, social support, fun, and community are fundamental human needs.

And for my introvert friends that think this is a godsend – let me reason with you for one second. Please hear me out. I totally understand that you recharge alone. And I’m really glad that you’re ahead of the game on this whole “work from home,” “the back porch is now considered eating out,” “pajamas are acceptable day time wear” world we now live in. If anything, please take the lead on teaching your extrovert friends about indoor hobbies – we have very few of those!

But as much as you might resist, introvert friends, connecting with the outside world is still important for your mental and emotional health. Maybe more now than before. Let’s take a look at our fundamental and basic needs as human beings:

In case you missed my last article, we’re supposed to be considering this quarantine and stay-at-home order the new normal. And if you haven’t been to the grocery store lately, we can’t provide for our basic needs at the moment. So Physiological and Safety needs have a couple strikes against them at the moment… there’s only so much we can do about that at the moment. I can’t control when the next shipment of toilet paper or Lysol wipes is coming in. I can’t control the spread of this disease.

However, I can completely work on the Love & Belonging category!

So there’s two important factors to consider here: personality and love language(s). Both are crucial to understand about yourself and those closest to you to form deep and meaningful connections. First, make a list of the people who are most important to you: your significant other, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, pets, Starbucks baristas, etc. Do you know if each of these individuals is an introvert or extrovert?

An important note: This does NOT have any correlation to how outgoing or shy someone is. That’s a bad stereotype. Extroverts energize by being around other people and tend to externally process information (they make lists, they “think out loud” to themselves, they like to have a sounding board and talk through a decision). Introverts tend to charge by themselves and internally process information (if you ask them a question – they just give you an answer… not their entire thought process on how they got there).

If you’re really unsure, take the 16 personalities quiz which is a FREE assessment that will tell you! We all have the time… what else are you doing? Now, each of the scores is rated on a spectrum. Some people might be 50/50. So you’re a little bit of both. If you’re close to that 50% mark, it might be worth looking at two profiles (say ESFJ and ISFJ).

Now that you’ve figured out the personality portion of the equation. It’s time to discuss the Love Languages. Time for another quiz!! (Yes. Another Quiz. Seriously, Karen, what else are you doing?) Take the Love Language Quiz to see what your primary and secondary languages are and then ask your significant other and closest friends to take it as well. It’s important that you not only know your language, but theirs as well. Because here’s the interesting thing about the love languages, we often give the love that we most want to receive. It’s only natural, it is our native language after all.

What does that mean? As an example, one of my top languages is verbal affirmations (compliments or nice words). So the assumption is that because I like compliments, everyone else must like compliments too, right? So I often give the love that I most want to receive. I tend to be very complimentary.

Well, just because I speak French (verbal affirmations) doesn’t mean everyone else does. My best friend is a gift giver. She’s speaking Spanish. We’re obviously not speaking the same language. One of my favorite stories to tell is when I asked her to be my Maid of Honor, and I wrote her this beautiful card about how she’s like a sister to me, and having her next to me at my wedding will be so meaningful, blah blah blah. Now, I’m verbal affirmations – I save shit like that forever. I have a whole drawer full of every card and note and nice email I’ve ever received. But I come over to her house the next day, literally the day after I’ve given her this beautiful and meaningful card – and IT. IS. IN. THE. TRASH. Can you believe that?

I take it out out of the trash, dust off the coffee grounds – completely appalled. She literally looks at me, reaches in the trash slowly, and asks, “do I need to keep the envelope too?” I stormed out of there so fast… the nerve!

See, for her, the envelope with her name on it, meant as much as the card with all of my beautiful and kind words. Zero. That’s because it’s not her love language. It’s mine. Now I’ll be damned if that card isn’t sitting on her dresser to this day (mostly because I think she’s scared to throw it away due to my last reaction). But you can see the miscommunication that can so easily happen when two people are speaking two different languages.

So as a general rule – COVID-19 or not – in order to connect and truly understand the people in your life, and to avoid hurt feelings, you need to know if you’re dealing with an introvert or extrovert, what love languages you speak, and what languages you need to be speaking to the important people in your life.

The Five Love Languages:

  1. Verbal Affirmations
  2. Gift Giving
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Once you know what your love languages are, it’s important to define what your language means to you and give your partner/family/friends examples rather than have them guess or assume (that tends to end badly). For some, quality time is watching TV together, for others that is definitely not classified as quality time – so it’s important to be clear about your expectations and needs.

Good news: If your love languages are verbal affirmations or gift giving, these are easily done over long distances! There’s many ways that these needs can be met while still maintaining social distancing guidelines. Express your needs for communication, preferred methods of contact, and what is most meaningful to you for the most fulfilling connection with your loved ones.

Could be tricky: Depending on the circumstances, if your love languages are acts of service or quality time, these could be a little harder to fulfill. You might need to get creative! Or temporarily rely on a secondary love language to help meet your needs for connection. While virtual connection is better than nothing, it’s definitely not the same as spending time with someone. So if you do feel it’s safe, building your “immunity community” and making an effort to get in that quality time will be crucial to your mental and emotional health. Acts of services also usually rely on some sort of contact, so creativity will be key here as well. This will certainly be easier for those of you living within family units.

Blatant violation of social distancing: It’s a rough time to be a physical touch person. If you have a partner and you are both healthy and being mindful of safety protocols if/when you interact in the community, then hopefully this need will continue to be met. But as our community continues to face increased threat of quarantine, sickness, and social isolation – this will certainly be difficult. Again, relying on a secondary language will be helpful in feeling connected and meeting your emotional needs.

Learning more about your personality and love languages will hopefully lead to more insights about your needs for meaningful and fulfilling connection, which you can then communicate to those closest to you. Likewise, asking friends and family about their preferences will hopefully lead to deeper, more meaningful, and reciprocal relationships.

It is crucial to our mental and emotional health that we find ways to stay connected. Isolation and loneliness feed anxiety and depression. Human connection, feelings of love and belonging, social support, fun, and community are fundamental human needs. It’s important to find ways to stay healthy and safe, but to also stay connected to your support system during this stressful time.

Photo by David Grunfeld • NOLA News
Lake Norman Counselors

Prepared Not Scared

It’s a funny thing, being a Katrina survivor. I always found it amusing that people would ask me so casually, and upon meeting no less, about Katrina. It’s rare that in meeting a stranger you would ask them about their greatest traumas and losses in life so casually… unless you’re a therapist, maybe. But I had my “ready responses” – well rehearsed. “Yes, we flooded.” “About 4-6 feet in the house.” “No, it really wasn’t that bad considering some of my friends had a foot in their attics!” “Yes, my family is still there.” Blah blah blah.

I’ve lived through a disaster before, and I came out of it stronger; I believe it positively shaped my life, and I was a part of a community that was able to come together to support one another and bounce back stronger than ever, so I wanted to lend my personal and professional expertise.

-Jamie L. Cheveralls, MA, NCC, LPC

What was always so hard to impress upon people was the community impact – the daily impact of Hurricane Katrina. There was truly no escape. It’s not like a personal tragedy or loss where you’re affected, but you can go out in the world and forget for a minute. There was no way to forget Katrina. It’s literally how we measure time now in New Orleans: pre- or post-Katrina.

Katrina impacted every person I knew: my family, my friends, my teachers, my neighbors, my hair dresser, the grocers, the mailman. Everything was closed! There was no where to go. Or very limited options. No movies. No malls. Very few restaurants. And it was like that for a long time. Too long.

Until recently, this was the most difficult aspect of describing post-Katrina New Orleans. Suddenly, I have a feeling people will understand or will be able to better empathize. Because I can’t help feeling a certain sense of de ja vu… I can’t help feel like I’ve been living in the days leading up to “the big storm.”

I lived through the worst natural disaster to hit US soil before, and I came out stronger as a result. I believe that it positively shaped my life (and certainly influenced my profession – which I love!), and I was a part of a community that was able to come together to support one another and bounce back stronger than ever, so I wanted to lend my personal and professional expertise. My goal is to help prepare – not scare – in my analogy to Katrina. Because like a Hurricane, there is a lot that we can do to be proactive and stay safe in this storm.

One of my favorite therapeutic skills is radical acceptance. When I teach my clients about this skill, I always use the example of my office being on fire. You see, the longer we sit in the burning building, the more dangerous the situation becomes. If we ignore the alarms, the heat, and the smoke coming in from under the door, there’s only so long before we’re in serious trouble. Denial is dangerous. Which is why the burning building analogy is such a great analogy for radical acceptance. The sooner you come to a place of acceptance, the sooner you’re able to utilize the tools at your disposal. If you sit in the fires of denial, you’re in danger. But the moment you come to accept the situation, you can get up and run, you can call 911. You can save yourself, others, maybe some valuables. You can call your insurance company, etc. Now do you have to be happy about this situation? Hell no. In fact, radical acceptance usually indicates some level or relationship with pain.

With COVID-19, the sooner we all accept that this is our new normal, the healthier and happier we’ll be in the short & long term. Please, read that again…

Now, you don’t have to like it. I don’t have to like that my office burned down in my example. But the sooner we all accept we’re in a burning building, the less likely we are to get burned and the sooner we can utilize the tools at our disposal to make the best of this situation! Now remember, radical acceptance usually implies a relationship with pain – this is a grieving process. So please, give yourselves time to grieve. Some of you are grieving major milestones like prom, graduation. Some of you just miss the sense of normalcy, your friends, and coworkers. We miss being able to go outside, to the movies, shopping whenever we want to. Some of us really miss our baristas at Starbucks… but jokes aside, many of us have lost jobs, stability, and financial security. Allow yourself to grieve for these significant losses!

One of my biggest concerns about our community as we face COVID-19, especially having been through Katrina, is not about illness or physical health, it’s about our mental health. It’s about grief and the ways I’ve seen people “handle” (not using the word cope there) with their grief and loss. So utilizing these proactive measures is important, because it wasn’t the Hurricane that flooded the city of New Orleans and it certainly wasn’t the flood waters that was taking lives years later. It was addiction. It was unresolved complex grief and trauma. There were failures on systemic levels. Levees literally broke. So, I would much rather see preventative measures put in place now, than see too little done too late. I’ve already lived through that once & that experience is why I am in the profession that I am in today. It’s why my profession is helping people.

So, you’ve come to a place of accepting this is the new normal. You’re coping with grief and loss in healthy ways. Now what? It’s time to create routine and structure. Routine is your friend. Especially if you have kids. Children thrive and feel safe when there is structure, order, and they know what to expect. That doesn’t mean you need to have every minute planned or color coded. But a general sense of the familiar and routine is helpful – we wake up, make our beds, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, walk the dog, two hours of school work, lunch, hour of play time, two more hours of school work, hour of computer time, dinner, shower, bed. Vague but you still get a general sense of a day.

With all of the transition and change, it can also be helpful to focus on the familiar. What is the same? Even if it’s something as simple as the same scented body wash or perfume that you use. You’re in the same bed. Have the same stuffed animal to sleep with. You love to make tacos on Tuesday. Whatever those little traditions are that feel familiar and safe – now is a good time to practice mindfulness and really relish in those moments!

One of the other big themes around COVID-19 that has been coming up is control. And I am happy to report that there are a lot of precautions that you can take that are well within your control. The most important is setting healthy boundaries. If the news is scary or overwhelming, shut it off. If Karen’s Facebook posts are getting on your last nerve, unfollow her. You can control the amount of social distancing you’re doing, which is helping to stop the spread of disease. You can focus on your self-care and keeping yourself healthy by getting extra sleep, exercise, and sunshine. Sleep, exercise, and sunshine/vitamin D are all helpful in boosting your overall mood and fighting anxiety and depression as well. Which is important because a reduction in stress is correlated with better immunity. So your mental and emotional health are paramount, which is why we’re also focusing on maintaining clients’ appointments and continuity of care at this time at Lake Norman Counselors. So call your therapist and book a therapy appointment. There are plenty of proactive and preventative steps within your control that you can actively take to feel safe right now.

So to recap:

  • come to a place of acceptance
  • allow yourself to grieve
  • cope with loss in a healthy way
  • create routine & structure
  • focus on the familiar & what you can control
  • set healthy boundaries
  • remember that safety comes first but self-care should come a close second!

We realize that any one of these steps, alone, can be overwhelming and challenging and that this is an incredibly stressful time. As an essential business offering mental health services, Lake Norman Counselors will remain open. We are committed, as we have always been, to serving our community and providing extraordinary care and luxurious amenities. We are doing everything in our power to keep our staff and clients healthy and safe. Even with the stay-at-home order, you can leave your home for therapy appointments. But for our existing clients, who it is therapeutically appropriate for, we are offering telehealth services. We are abiding by the recommendations of the CDC & World Health Organization, have implemented a health screening questionnaire for all clients prior to the start of sessions at the office to limit community spread, and have implemented additional sanitary measures, especially in the play room.

We have always prided ourselves on creating a warm and welcoming safe space for everyone who has walked through our doors. Our mission remains the same!

Lake Norman Counselors

Gods Among Us

There’s a joke about the difference between cats and dogs I always appreciated.

Dogs think: “My owners feed me, provide for me, give me shelter, and love me. They must be God!”

Cats think: “My owners feed me, provide for me, give me shelter, and love me. I must be God!”

Yep… that was my cat. She turned sixteen in January. I’d say “sweet sixteen” but she was just as sassy as she was sweet. She was certainly the boss in our house, and her two younger canine brothers knew better than to mess with their older sister. She was God and Queen and certainly thought we were sent to serve her. My appreciation for this joke certainly grew out of my experience with our cat, Cutter. 

I first met Cutter at Scrapbooks, Etc where I worked in high school. She was the store cat, and she would run to greet the customers as they came in each day. She survived Hurricane Katrina in that store. She survived a lot – including being smuggled into a college dorm – and two moves across the country from Louisiana to Massachusetts to North Carolina! She was feisty and strong. She was a fighter. She always let you know what she thought and how she was feeling. She wasn’t one to hold back. I admired that about her. 

Every pet is unique and each relationship between an owner and their pet is unique, however, I do think there are a few universal truths. The first is that – despite the joke – you are your pet’s whole world. They are completely and totally dependent on you. And because of that tremendous responsibility and gift, I truly believe that our pets love us unconditionally. 

Our pets comfort us. They never judge. Ok – if you have a cat,  maybe they judge a little. But they would never betray you! Because our pets keep our secrets. They are our confidants and companions. And for the lucky among us, our pets are our family. 

When a family member dies, we have rituals to honor them. We take time off of work. People show up with casseroles. 

What about when one of our pets die? 

Where’s the casserole? Where’s the excused absence from work and school? We are so quick to dismiss these significant and long relationships with our pets. The expectation is to just move on. Why? Our pets – our beloved family members – deserve to be properly grieved and mourned. 

Disenfranchised Grief arises in any circumstance in which society denies our “need, right, role, or capacity to grieve” (Doka, 1989). 

Society says the relationship isn’t important, so grief is not acknowledged.

This often happens when your relationship to the deceased is one that society interprets as more distant and not worthy of grief. Societal rules often dictate that we grieve “blood” relatives and as we get beyond that circle we find lesser acknowledgement of the impact of a death. This commonly happens with pets. And it’s both harmful and problematic. When we’re not allowed to grieve for these significant relationships, our pain can potentially become complicated grief. 

So what can you do? 

    Allow yourself time and space to grieve! Acknowledge your love for your pet was true and significant and your loss is no less valid. Love is love. Loss is loss. Your love was real and valid; your grief is real and valid. As painful and difficult as it is, allow yourself to grieve.
    Remember that you are not alone. It is easy to fall in to isolation when you are finding no acknowledgement or support of your grief. Connecting with your support system and communicating how you feel and what you need during this time is vital.
    Create your own ritual. There are many times that, due to the nature of these losses, you are not able to take part in a funeral or closure ritual in the way you would have wanted. Consider if this is important to you and what may be appropriate. This doesn’t have to be elaborate; it could be as simple as planting a tree, making a special piece of art, or visiting a meaningful place.
    Find personal ways to express your emotions & process grief. Consider counseling, yoga, music, journaling, art, photography, and other personal expression. Though you may not have the external support you want, you can still find ways to explore your emotions and process your grief on your own.

Cutter 💔 January 2003 – March 7, 2019

Lake Norman Counselors

Hurrication: No One Prepares for Katrina

Sunday, August 28, 2005. It was a beautiful, sunny day & I was with my best friend and surrogate family at Percy Quin campground in Mississippi. It was such a beautiful day, we were delaying our departure a bit so for the first time since Friday, I turned on my cellphone.

Seventeen voicemails…

Seemed a little higher than normal…

The first was from the guy I was “talking to” at the time. But the second, third, fourth, fifth – all from my mother. In escalating panic, she started to paint an ugly picture. I started to delete through some of them to get to the last messages.

I hurried to the last two messages. Message 16: Mom – Category 5 storm heading straight for New Orleans to hit tomorrow. Message 17: Mom – Contra-flow has begun. I can’t get you even if I wanted to – you’re on your own.

August 28th… It was a gorgeous day. Picturesque. My “uncle” was grilling. The kids were playing. The sun was warm and breeze was refreshing. And I had to go break the news that was going to ruin the day for everyone – Katrina is coming.

We wouldn’t return to Percy Quin, when the pictures above were taken, until 2009. Four years later.

We also didn’t return home from that trip.

You see, even if we had known, our “Hurrication” attitude would’ve prohibited us from proper preparation. No one prepares to lose everything they own.

No one prepares to have their community devastated. It’s hard to mentally prepare or even understand the impact of everyone being hit – your teachers, the grocer, your hairdresser, the cute guy who called last Sunday & asked you out to a restaurant that’s indefinitely closed.

No one prepares for Katrina. No one prepares for Harvey or Hugo or Sandy.

Maybe we expect some rain or power outages. We don’t expect our lives to change forever. Until you’ve been through a Katrina or Harvey or Hugo or Sandy and your life does change forever.

So Charlotte, I hope that Florence comes and goes peacefully. I hope the name “Florence” doesn’t elicit the same gut wrenching, stomach turning, anxiety that the name “Katrina” does for me. I hope you don’t learn lessons like I did: to never freeze meat; that toilet paper stored in low places becomes like papier-mâché when wet; store clothes you care less about in bottom drawers and clothes you like the best in higher drawers; always back up your pictures and important documents.

Prepare for the worst and hope and pray for the best.

I genuinely hope that Florence is no one’s “Katrina” – but for those being impacted, I hope you find the love, support, and community that New Orleans found after the storm.

Post-Katrina New Orleans… near my high school

Counseling

Home

Charlotte 👑 NOLA ⚜️ Boston ❄️

8-29-05. This is the day that ultimately set me on my path to become a clinician. It changed my life forever. Today is the 13th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. ⠀⠀⠀⠀

Destroyed. Rebuilt. Reborn. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

In 2015, on the 10th anniversary, I decided to get a tattoo representing the three cities I’ve called home in the years since the storm. It’s a crown representing Charlotte, the Queen City 👑 adorned with the Fleur de Lis ⚜️ for New Orleans & a snowflake for Boston ❄️. This tattoo is on my inside wrist & serves as a reminder of my growth & journey since the storm. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Even though it has been so long since I’ve lived in New Orleans, I still consider it “home” and go back as often as I can – especially for holidays like Mardi Gras & Jazzfest.

One of my favorite NOLA authors explains this connection to New Orleans so well. Chris Rose writes, “if there’s anything we understand here in New Orleans, it’s unconditional allegiance to odd music, strange food, and bizarre rituals. Educated folks like to call it “the lure of indigenous culture.” We just call it home. And that’s a powerful notion. Because, despite 75 years of pop music and movies that would suggest otherwise, the most important 4-letter word in the English language is not love. It is home.”

NOLA ⚜️ HOME ⚜️ 8-29

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Stronger Than Ever: A Wellness Approach

I’d like to think we’ve come a long way as a society in fighting some of the stigma around counseling, but I know we still have a long way to go in the mental health field to de-mystify what happens “on the couch.”

Most of our healthcare industry operates on the “medical model” – what I consider the “What’s broke? Let’s fix it” approach. And that’s fine if we’re talking about a broken arm; which a doctor would assess, diagnose, and then treat appropriately. A broken arm is pretty straightforward.

But mental health issues don’t get treated as neatly, on a perfect timeline, or get processed by x-ray machines. So why would mental health care operate on the same model?! We can’t operate under the same assumptions or on the same model for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, because you and/or your children are not broken!

Counselors practice by utilizing a wellness model rather than the medical model. The best comparison is to say that counseling is just like going to the gym! You don’t go to the gym because your biceps are broken. You go to make them stronger! You go to build muscle, endurance, flexibility, strength. This is the essence of the wellness model: a strength-based and goal-oriented approach.

Counselors (practicing some modalities more than others) offer clients skills and tools to help them navigate through life! Just like everyone would have different goals at the gym (toning vs building muscle vs endurance training, etc) everyone has different goals in counseling.

Ultimately, regardless of who you see, counseling is strength based and goaloriented!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Desperately Wanting

It seems like a simple question, but the fact of the matter is, “what do you want?” is an intimidating question. It can feel overwhelming, daunting. Leave you confused, unsure, tired, hopeless, or with more questions than answers. For some, the question of “what do you want?” IS the problem. You feel stuck without an answer.

I have good news! There are a few solutions & strategies to resolving this conundrum. One of my favorites is W.D.E.P.

  1. What do I Want?
  2. What am I Doing?
  3. Evaluate behaviors.
  4. Make a Plan!

So to utilize the tool effectively, if you did happen to know what you want, your ideal goal would be a S.M.A.R.T. (that’s a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, & timely) goal. Plug that in and apply the next steps specifically to your goal.

For those of you feeling stuck and overwhelmed by the question of “what do I want?” we’re going to skip that part for now! Just ignore it completely and go to question two… what am I doing?

Write down your recent behaviors. Literally – what do you do every day? Who do you talk to? Where do you go? What’s the first thing you do in the morning? The last thing at night? As many actions as you can – especially the ones that are emotionally charged or different recently.

Moving on to the key step: evaluation. What have you done recently that’s brought joy and excitement into your life? What activities cause stress, anxiety, or doubt? Who makes you smile and laugh? And then who makes your smile fade when they walk in the door? Have you done something different recently that has had an impact on your life? Maybe you started eating breakfast, are trying out a new cologne, or reconnected with an old friend? What impact did those changes have on your day?

Ready for this game changer?? After you’ve evaluated your recent actions, we’re going to make a plan! It’s pretty straightforward and simple… looking at the positive and negative, you just need two steps:

Increase the positive and decrease the negative!

It really is that simple, ladies & gentlemen!

So many clients tell me that their goal is to decrease stress, depression, and anxiety in their lives, but when I ask what they do to bring joy into their lives there’s often a struggle for an answer.

Be intentional about creating moments – and habits! – that bring you happiness. Surround yourself with people who energize you, who validate you, who make you laugh, who are fun to talk to & who you can connect with easily. Rid yourself of any “should statements” and their resulting obligation, guilt, & fear and focus on what you want!!

If you look at what you’re currently doing that brings you joy & makes you smile, it’ll become very obvious what you want.

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

The Lost Art of Losing

For Carolina fans, you’ll remember the New Orleans Saints beating your beloved Panthers to advance on to play Minnesota in the playoffs this year. It was a great game – I was even there!

It was a fabulous time at home in the Dome!

And then New Orleans flew to Minnesota, and our hopes for a Black & Gold Super Bowl vanished…

It was a loss – a crushing (some might even say unfair since the refs were a little biased…. 🙄) and devastating playoff loss… but you might be surprised by immediate response.

These were two of my favorites:


This first, immediate response is from former Saints player and daily inspiration – the one & only, Steve Gleason. If you don’t know about Gleason, Team Gleason, or understand why this joke is absolutely hysterical, you’re missing out on a true treasure! Look him up! Gleason has been a beacon of hope -and now humor- for the city of New Orleans for over a decade.

My second favorite response was pulled from Nola.com the next morning…


It’s a new day… dust yourself off… prepare for the world’s biggest party (it’s Mardi Gras season). 💜💚💛

And to the young player who missed the tackle?

It’s okay!

Less than 24 hours and the city has a billboard up telling Marcus Williams we love him! We lost the game in the last ten seconds but do we hold grudges?! No!! Ain’t nobody got time for that. There’s a parade this afternoon!

It may sound silly, but one lesson I learned in New Orleans was to celebrate loss. I mean, we celebrate everything else… so why not? Our funerals are celebrations. (Probably the epitome of celebrating loss.) We celebrate when our team wins. And yes, we celebrate when we lose. Because what’s the alternative? Just going home? Sulking all night?

We can’t change the outcome, but we can celebrate the experience! I had my friends over for the MN game. I made delicious apps. We had an adorable puppy to play with and entertain us during commercial breaks. It was a great game! I had a fabulous night with great people & great food watching a great game. What is there to mourn?

Now, I get that it’s easy to minimize the outcome of a football game (although two weeks shy of the Super Bowl – I wouldn’t say that to any Eagles fans!). But what if your loss is more substantial?

This is when we go back to that key word experience. You played the game so to speak. There is value in that alone. Maybe you didn’t come out on top, but you now have more information than you did before about what you can do to be better, stronger, wiser, or more tactful in the future. That’s not really a loss… it might not be a win either, but at least you’re gaining valuable insight you wouldn’t have otherwise.

You might not be able to change your situation or an outcome, but you can always change your perception. Again, Steve Gleason is a great role model… refer to joke above.

In the end, the difference between a winner and a loser isn’t what is on the scoreboard. It’s about attitude and perception. If you can learn to celebrate when you win and lose – you never really lose…

WHO DAT. ⚜️

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

The Art of Procrastination

You should just read this later…

When you woke up this morning, was the nagging voice in your head the first voice that you heard? The voice that said, “you should’ve gotten up earlier to go to the gym.” Or “you should’ve finished that yesterday.” “You should unload the dishwasher.” “You should get some laundry done today, how many days in a row have you worn those pants now?” “You shouldn’t go out looking like this.” “You should’ve replied to that email/text.” “You really should meal prep & plan better lunches.”

Ugh. I’m exhausted from that internal dialogue already, and the day hasn’t even started. Is it time for bed yet?

If you even had a restful night of sleep in the first place, your energy level is going to quickly be depleted if you stay on that current mental trajectory. And you know what we do when we’re drained and exhausted? Nothing. Or at least nothing productive. We procrastinate!

One of the biggest complaints I hear repeatedly from clients (teens & adults) is around lack of motivation, low energy, not accomplishing goals, and procrastination. Well, I have great news. Working with someone like me – a trained cognitive behavioral therapist – can remedy those complaints. It’s hard work. It’s a constant mental battle to change our thoughts & thus our feelings, but we can train ourselves to think differently.

When it comes to procrastination, there’s one word getting in the way – should. “Shouldn’t” is also as equally toxic for our friends caught on semantics. If you re-read that first paragraph, all those draining, exhausting thoughts are should statements.

Here’s the results of should/shouldn’t statements: obligation, guilt, fear, embarrassment, dread, exhaustion, feeling judged, feeling as if we did something wrong, anxiety, anger, rebellion, being in conflict with what we really want or our values, hostility, irritation, lack of motivation… oh! And procrastination. I could continue, but I think you get the point.

Let’s evaluate two statements:

  • I want to go to the gym this morning.
  • I should go to the gym this morning.

How are those two statements different? How do they elicit different feelings? Is one more motivating than the other as you think or say them out loud?

You might follow through and do something you “should” do, but it’s going to be because there’s a sense of obligation, guilt, fear, embarrassment, dread, etc. if you don’t complete the task at hand. When you evaluate your life choices, are those the feelings you want driving your decisions?

Or would you rather be motivated by hope, energy, passion, drive, & enthusiasm? Because we typically correlate those feelings and motivators with what we want. And as a result, we’re more likely to follow through, accomplish our goals, and feel a sense of success or accomplishment as a result. Are you more likely to do something you want to do? Yes!!

Now my biggest skeptics, who typically have a culture of “should” very deeply ingrained (we can get into that in session), usually retort, “But there are things you have to do, things you should do, that don’t make me feel negatively!” Great! Then you’ve already learned how to reframe those “should statements” into “want statements” – so you’re ahead of the game.

Yes, I realize there is a reason I should look both ways before I cross the street. But guess what – I don’t want to get hit by a car today, so I am happy to do that! I want to look both ways to ensure my safety. So that reframe of the should to the want statement is relatively straightforward. It’s much harder when you’re doing work around issues you don’t want to do or when there’s a values conflict between what society/family/religion/etc tells you that you should do versus what you actually want to do.

So what are the best steps to eliminating procrastination & feeling more motivation? Becoming aware of your “should statements” is the first step! There will be a lot of them – so if that’s the case don’t be alarmed or surprised! We all have them.

If motivation & procrastination are an issue for you, please feel free to reach out. I can’t do therapy over a blog article and this is barely scratching the surface of the complexities of this issue! So please let me know how I can help – jamie@lkncounselors.com.

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

A Girl’s Best Friend 💎

Let the boys keep the dogs. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. And with everything that life throws at girls, women need a best friend that’s a diamond.

When I say “diamond,” I don’t mean blindly beautiful, colorful, dazzling, or even valuable – although those are all wonderful qualities in a friend. I like the diamond metaphor because each diamond started out as something else… coal.

When pressure and heat are at a maximum, coal has two options. It can crumble and disintegrate under the pressure, rendering itself useless. Or it can thrive under those conditions, undergo a metamorphosis, & become one of the most valuable symbols in our culture: the diamond.

When shit hits the fan & life is trying its hardest to get you down, you want a friend that can withstand the heat & pressure with you. Not one that will crumble, disintegrate, & desert you in your time of need. You want a diamond. You want someone strong. Someone solid. Someone reliable. And yes, a little bit of color & radiance never hurts either if we’re asking!

So ladies, as you’re taking an inventory of 2017 & preparing for 2018, take a look at your relationships. What friends have been invaluable diamonds worth keeping? And what friends are nasty, cheap costume jewelry that turns your finger green? Get rid of the junk. Make room for more valuable pieces in 2018. You deserve that investment in yourself & your relationships!

Invest in diamonds. 💎

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Mindful Moments

News Alert: The coffee break was invented in New Orleans! As if I needed another reason for a Starbucks run? I can’t believe I didn’t know this piece of trivia.

“Well, of course the coffee break was invented in New Orleans. Even if you hadn’t before heard of the practice’s local provenance, it all just makes sense. Not only has the city long been a hub of coffee production, but it also famously embraces things of pleasure and leisure. Put them all together, and you’ve got the recipe for a mid-morning pause for caffeinating purposes — and another in the mid-afternoon, and another whenever it can be squeezed in. And if anybody wants to complain about it, you can just explain to them (over a cup of coffee, of course) that it’s simply in our DNA.” – Mike Scott

I ran across this quote on NOLA.com recently, but I think part of me always knew… maybe deep down in my subconscious my morning coffee runs (okay, and afternoon and yes, sometimes evening coffee runs as well) were a tribute to my New Orleans heritage.

For me, at least, the chemical dependency on caffeine is only a small part of what makes me love the “coffee break.” My ability to function, notwithstanding, I love starting my day with coffee. It’s always been an opportunity to take a mindful moment in the day.

In the midst of the morning rush out the door, the busy afternoon of clients back to back, the long evening hours at the office – the coffee break serves the purposes Mr. Scott mentions so eloquently: pleasure and leisure.

It’s a moment to slow down and engage the senses of touch, smell, and taste as I wrap my hands around a warm mug, inhale deeply, and enjoy the first sip with a smile on my face. In the car especially, I try to pair my morning coffee run with my favorite Spotify playlist to help me energize or relax (depending on if I’m starting or ending my day).

These mindful moments are vital to my self-care and well-being personally and professionally.

The coffee break can also be an opportunity to connect socially. I love my local baristas (shout out to my Northcross Starbucks!) & enjoy starting my day with them. I love taking the time out of my day to annoy check in with my coworkers to hear how their day is going. As an extrovert, I love the excuse to energize and connect with others socially.

So if you’re always rushing, overwhelmed, and stressed – it sounds like you need a “coffee break!” Call a friend, get in the car, put on your favorite music, and take a moment to slow down and engage the senses. Enjoy it!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Thanks-dreading?

There’s an empty seat at the table this year. You can’t make it back home. Your parents are divorcing after decades of marriage. The tension from the 2016 election still lingers.

Happy Thanksgiving?

If you are experiencing apprehension, sadness, resentment, stress, or anger this holiday season, you’re not alone. I know, I know! It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” and a time to “count our blessings” and “be grateful.” If you want to punch the next person who tells you that in the face, I promise you aren’t crazy or alone. Although, you should probably book a session & talk to a professional counselor about that because violence is only going to make an already shitty situation worse…

Despite the media’s best intentions to skip Thanksgiving altogether (pretty sure it’s been Christmas since October?), we’re days away the Big Parade & it’s coming whether we’re ready or not.

So what can you do to make it through this Thanksgiving without posting bail?

1. Be intentional in creating/finding times in the day that you’re actually looking forward to – it could be your morning run to Starbucks (most Starbucks are open on Thanksgiving! Trust me, I know these things), spending time talking with a friend, a moment alone listening to your favorite song, a hot bath, or cuddling with your pets at the end of the day. Be intentional in creating a time (or times) during the day doing something that will bring you joy or contentment.

2. Have an escape plan. Setting boundaries with family directly and calling it quits when you’ve reached your limits is always best for your mental & emotional health. But if you aren’t a fan of confrontation, it’s okay! I have great news for y’all – it’s 2017! For better or for worse, technology has advanced to a point where you have endless options to escape from a conversation or situation causing distress. The best route is to go in with a plan: distract that annoying relative with pictures so they stop asking inappropriate questions, have a code word to text your siblings when you get cornered, make plans for dessert with friends so you need to leave at a set time. Simple arrangements made ahead of time go a long way in making your day go smoothly!

3. Utilize healthy coping skills. At Thanksgiving especially, it’s easy to eat and drink our pain or discomfort away. While that might work in the moment, it’s not effective coping long term. So again, intention is key! What are the healthy coping skills you generally utilize when you’re upset, overwhelmed, or stressed? Make sure you’re intentional in how you cope, so it doesn’t lead to more feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

Remember, it’s only one day.

The commercials with the happy, TV families can be really invalidating when you’re in pain. The holiday season can be a very isolating time for that very reason. So please reach out to someone! A counselor, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, a family member you trust. I promise you’re not alone!

Lake Norman Counselors

Empowering Every Step of the Way

We’re here in the good times & the bad – Empowering our clients Every Step of the Way! (Jamie still trying to convince everyone that a second line band is necessary in promoting that goal… stay tuned for updates).

Rebranding. The reinvention of self. If you’ve been following our social media presence in particular, you’ve seen Lake Norman Counselors transition from “Ready to love the life you live?” to “Laissez les bon temps rouler” to our final transition “Empowering Every Step of the Way.”

So what does this mean?

Well, as much as we loved the philosophy, approach, and New Orleans spirit behind “Laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll) it was brought to our attention that very few people knew French or were familiar enough with the New Orleans colloquialism to get it… so we’ll just utilize that one for staff time at the lake.

We wanted to express our desire to motivate, encourage, strengthen, and ultimately empower our range of clients – children, teens, and adults. So regardless of where you are on the developmental spectrum of clients we see – young or young at heart – we are here to help every step of the way.

We’re here to help with the childhood bully. Through the awkward social situations in your pre-teen years. With your first broken heart. With the constant stressors of social media & trying to make what feels like an imperfect life look perfect to everyone else. To navigate through career choices. Saying goodbye to loved ones and moving away from home. Your first job, first home, first baby, first marriage, first divorce. Your second job, second home, second baby, second marriage & managing a blended family.

We’re here to help with no judgement. We’re here to offer collaborative services for the whole family to help you find passion and meaning in your life. Love Life. Let the Good times Roll. Feel Empowered. That’s who we are at Lake Norman Counselors.

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Who Dat?! ⚜️

Who Dat?! 

Hi Everyone! I’m Jamie, the owner of Lake Norman Counselors.

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I wear many hats simultaneously. But of all my roles, the clinical work is the part that I’m most passionate about, that brings the most joy to my life, and that makes the administrative tasks worthwhile. The interior design piece is a close second! I’m one more request away from opening LKN Interior Design as my side gig.

But joking aside, I absolutely love working with my clients. I’ve worked very hard to create a beautiful, calming, peaceful space where clients can feel comfortable being vulnerable & open to the process of counseling. I truly believe in the power of the therapeutic relationship & am honored by all of those who have allowed me to be a small part of their lives. I love what I do and hope to bring the same passion and energy that I have into the lives of my clients.

If you’ve been in the office, seen any of our marketing materials, or talked to me for more than five minutes, you might have heard that I’m from New Orleans. This is another aspect of my identity I’m incredibly passionate about and if you’ve been to NOLA, you might understand why, since you already know about the amazing food and music and history and culture and did I mention the food?! (I’d give anything for a beignet right now!) What is most important about New Orleans and the spirit of the city is the love of life. We celebrate everything – even the funerals are fun. Dead serious.

One of my favorite journalists, Chris Rose, wrote about New Orleanians, “We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t. But we’ll try not to judge you while we’re in your town.”

Told ya the funerals were a good time…

But again, joking aside, it’s hard to find a more accurate statement of the New Orleans mentality. My mentality. I’ve learned to celebrate my victories. I’ve learned to celebrate my losses. It’s really the only way to be a Saints fan (bless you boys – love you, Drew!).

At LKNC, we work with clients to help them find their passions and what brings joy into their lives.

Not only can I offer my clinical training & evidence-based treatment, but I was raised in a culture of people who embrace the spirit of Laissez les bon temps rouler. Who are always ready to “let the good times roll.” My experiences growing up taught me how to come back stronger and more resilient after hardship. I learned the importance of being united with your community during hard times, especially if the odds are against you.

I also spent four winters in Boston during undergrad at Northeastern, so I truly believe that people are resilient and can survive anything! Y’all, Boston is really cold… this southern girl had no idea that winter was just starting in December… so if you can’t change your attitude, change your situation.

I am a proponent of change. The lure of warmer, longer, sunnier days and sweet tea is what brought my husband and me to Charlotte, where I attended graduate school. It was my second move across the country, and I’m so glad I escaped the cold. My hope is that I can help others escape their own harsh winter landscapes (metaphorically – if Charlotte actually freezes over, I’m visiting my brother in Florida to defrost) and help them find the passion and joy in their lives!

Lake Norman Counselors

The Fleur de Lis

LKN Counselors, PLLC was founded by Jamie Cheveralls who was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. After Hurricane Katrina, the citizens of New Orleans embraced the symbol of the fleur de lis because it represented their resilienceoptimismstrength, & determination to rebuild their lives & homes despite difficult circumstances.

Our philosophy and approach to counseling is strength based and aligns perfectly with the values that the fleur de lis represents, which is why it is the perfect representation of our counseling practice.