Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

The Moving Mountaineer

Hi everyone! My name is Hannah. I am trained in Marriage and Family Therapy, and I am looking forward to providing therapy to children, teens, and their families!

I recently moved to the Lake Norman area from Boone, North Carolina. I spent the last 6 years living in the mountains while I attended Appalachian State University. While a piece of my heart will always be in the mountains, I love the Lake Norman area and I’m happy to call it my new home! 

Moving away from what was familiar is difficult at times, and I still find myself adjusting to my new home–mostly the traffic. However, change is something that I have become familiar with over the years. This was my twenty-second time moving in my lifetime. I’ve lived in 3 states: North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio. While I am a North Carolina native, I lived in Ohio for most of my childhood and moved back to North Carolina at the age of thirteen. This is an age when life can be difficult enough before you add in the weight of a big life change like moving to a different state. Talk about overwhelming! 

Over the years, I have learned to welcome the challenge of change and see it as an opportunity to grow. Change can be scary but change is also a powerful force. It impacts all aspects of your life and provides the opportunity for further development and self-discovery as you explore the new chapter that is unfolding in front of you.

I believe that change is a crucial part of therapy. Life changes or the desire to enact change is why many people seek the support of a therapist. My experience with facing changes in my own life has taught me so much about the resiliency of human beings. I believe that we are all capable of facing whatever obstacles that are put in our paths, and I look forward to walking with you during your season of change.

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

What to Say When There Are No Words

What to say when you have no words: How to talk to your children about difficult topics

As many of us are reflecting on the tragedy that occurred in our city yesterday, please do not neglect the importance of talking to your kids about what happened.

Children are innately receptive to the well being of their caregivers and can pick up on the grief and nervous energy that will be among us as they return to school.

Give your child age appropriate, factual information so that if they overhear their peers or teachers discussing this tragedy they will feel informed. Remind them of the safety plans that are in place at their school and reassure them that they know the drill.

It brings tears to my eyes to even fathom that we now have active shooter drills in schools. So remember, it is ok to tell your child, “It makes me feel sad to talk about shootings, but I am really glad that we can talk about topics that upset us.”

If your child has questions that you are not quite sure how to answer or that you don’t have an answer for reflect what your child is feeling. For example, your child may ask, “mommy, why would somebody want to shoot other people?” you could say something like, “It is really hard to understand why someone would hurt others.”

Do what you need to in order to get yourself into a calm, controlled state and then initiate this conversation with your child. Stay brief, stay factual, and follow your child’s lead. If you don’t know how to answer your child’s questions you can always say, “I do not have an answer for that, what do you think the answer is?” or “tell me more about what you’re thinking.” Many times children already have the answers to their own questions and it is more important that you are listening as they process the answer than it is to give them your answer.

Some children ask many questions and other children say, “ok” and return to their play. Regardless, what is important is that you’re teaching your child that you are willing to talk about difficult topics. Nothing is more reassuring to a child than knowing their caregivers can handle their thoughts and feelings. 

For more information on this or how to talk with your kids about other difficult topics please reach out to us at LKN Counselors! 

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

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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

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

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. 💎