Decrease Holiday Stress- Emotional Boundaries

 Decrease Holiday Stress- Emotional Boundaries

Clients tell me all the time, “I hate the holidays”. There are many stressors as people are attending family gatherings and trying to meet everyone’s expectations for the season. We hope reading this week helps you stay focused on making this holiday season less stressful! Keep your emotional boundaries firm

Christmas Through the Eyes of a 2 Year-Old

Christmas Through the Eyes of a 2 Year-Old

If you’re like me, Christmas is your favorite time of the year—the decorations, the presents, time with family—and the image in your mind of everything going perfectly!  This week at Imagine Hope we are continuing to talk about how Christmas looks through your child’s eyes.  Today I will be talking about 2 year olds, and how to have appropriate expectations for them this holiday season.

Christmas Through the Eyes of an Infant

Christmas Through the Eyes of an Infant

It is Christmas Time! Trees are going up. Lights are being put out. Gifts lists are being made. Traditions are being upheld. This time of year can be a magical time for people of all ages, but have you ever wondered about how kids of different stages look at Christmas? This week we will break it down by ages so you can make sure you have appropriate expectations for your kid's.

How to Enjoy Your Christmas Break - Relax

How to Enjoy Your Christmas Break - Relax

Can you believe it’s December already? Christmas will be here in a few weeks and so will Christmas break. We hope all our readers take advantage of this time to be intentional about planning for and enjoying their break. This week we came up with several ideas that you can do as an individual or family over your break.

Decrease Holiday Stress-Part 4

Decrease Holiday Stress-Part 4

Teri, Tammy and Natalie have shared some really helpful tips so far in ways to decrease Holiday stress, which helps each of us to enjoy the Holiday season better.  Today I'm going to go over ways we can continue the tradition of giving during the holiday season without stressing ourselves and our bank accounts.  Tip number 4 is to watch your spending. 

Christmas Gifts that say “I Get You” - Part 1

 Christmas Gifts that say “I Get You” - Part 1

Christmas is coming up and many feel pressure to find the “perfect” gift. This week Imagine Hope is giving you tips on what to give based on your partner’s love language. There is a great book that helps couples examine which love languages they speak: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

Joleens Favorite Christmas Memory

Christmas-time always brings up pleasant (and sometimes not-so-pleasant!) memories of growing up and celebrating the Holidays with my family.  One of my favorite memories from growing up is from when I was about 7.  My Grandfather on my mom's side of the family ("Grampie"), used to dress up like Santa Clause.  Every Christmas, Grampie would leave (little did we know... he was leaving to go change into his Santa costume because HE was Santa!), and not too long after he was gone, we would hear sleigh bells (little did we know... it was GRAMMIE who was ringing them outside of the back door!), and Santa would arrive.  That year, Grampie had a play microphone in his bag of toys for both my sister and I.  I remember later that evening, dancing around the living room with my sister and my Dad, singing at the top of our lungs to the radio (actually, I think it was probably a record... ha ha) and our new microphone, passing the microphone back and forth as we acted like "stars" on stage (with my Mom laughing with us in joy).  This memory is so fond to me because it is a memory of being completely carefree as a child, feeling the full presence of quality time with my Dad, sister and family.  Christmas was his all time favorite holiday, and he was all to happy to share his inner child through play with my sister and I.  My memory isn't of a gift or expensive present I received, but a memory of quality time when I felt the full presence of my family, as they helped instill in both my sister and I the true meaning of Christmas... spending time with family in celebration.  May your Christmas with your family and friends truly be a blessed one, full of love and good memories! Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Natalie's Favorite Christmas Memory

I love everything about Christmas- the meaning, the giving, the lights and trees. Most people seem "different" this one time of year. But for me, my fondest memory among many is when I was probably 4 or 5 years old. I shared a bedroom with my older sister Stephanie, then probably 7 or 8. One of our friends had told us that he actually SAW Santa last year in the sky! (We later found out he was a pathological liar- literally!) So my sister and I decided we were going to wait up all night and see him ourselves. I remember listening to my little AM radio (Oh I am aging myself!!) and hearing "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer" for the first time! We couldn't believe someone would write such a song! Then we saw some twinkling red lights in the sky!! Was it him??? It stayed at a distance and moved past us in the sky. We were sad- it was just an airplane! We stayed up as late as our little bodies would allow us. We never saw him....  But we had fun waiting up! And in the morning a pink Big Wheel with flowers on it was waiting for me! I hope you remember and create many Christmas memories this year. Have a wonderful Christmas and our best to your New Year!!

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.

Tamara's Favorite Christmas Memory

When we decided to do this blog, the first memory that came to mind was when my brother and I got our 10-speed bicycles from Santa. I was 10 years old, and he was 8 years old (I have another brother, but that was still a few years down the road...). It was tradition for us leave Christmas cookies/Eggnog for Santa and carrots for the reindeer in the kitchen, and Santa would in turn leave our presents unwrapped in our living room in front of the TV. We had a good system going! But not this year....

When my brother and I came down the stairs with excitement to turn into the living room to see what wonderful presents Santa had left, we saw NOTHING. Nada, zip, zilch. We were stunned. Actually, I was deflated. My dad, who always called Santa, "That Old Bird", just played it up talking about how "That Old Bird must have lost his mind for good this time & forgotten what he was doing last night."

I'm not sure if my brother had already moved past the fact that Santa left nothing, or if he was just ready to tear into the wrapped presents, but I couldn't press forward. I just knew there was no way Santa FORGOT about me. So, off to the kitchen I went to see if he took MY cookies that I left him, while leaving me with nothing.

And there they were! Two red 10-speed bicycles parked in the kitchen. I started screaming and jumping up and down. "They're in here! They're in here!" And, it was an unusually warm Christmas that year too, so we got to ride our bicycles that day. I'll never forget the Christmas that Santa changed the rules on us. Merry Christmas to all the Santa's and Elf's out there, from my family to yours!

Written by: Tamara Portee MA LMHC LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

Christy's Favorite Christmas Memory

We love Christmastime!  There is just something so magical about this time of year.  At Imagine Hope we wanted to share with you, our readers, about our favorite Christmas memories!  We hope you are able to reminiscence and think of your favorite too..... My family LOVES Christmas.  In fact, we love it so much that my family members and I each deck our whole entire houses in Christmas decor!  My favorite memory growing up would have to be going to my grandpa and grandma's on Christmas Eve.  There would be a warm fire in the fireplace and multi-colored Christmas lights outside.  At the time, 18 of us would pile into my grandparents' cozy home for dinner and gifts.

For a few years, Santa made an appearance!  I remember being so impressed that my grandpa was friends with Santa.  My grandparents were very giving and we always got new clothes or toys from them.  All of the cousins would share our new toys and play together.

The next day, which was Christmas, my parents, sister, and I would go back over to my grandparents' house for lunch.  We would take our favorite toys that we got from Santa to show my grandparents.  I remember one year taking a Cabbage Patch kid that had glasses just like I did!

Many years have passed but the tradition still remains.  We still go to my grandma's house on Christmas Eve to celebrate with her.  My grandpa passed away several years ago, but I love reminiscing with my family about him.  There are now almost 30 people crammed into my grandma's cozy home, but we laugh about how crowded it is and squeeze in together.  It still is the get-together I look forward to the most.

So what about you?  What's your favorite Christmas memory?

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.


Gifts That Say "I Get You"- Spending Time Together, Chores & Help, and Physical Closeness

As Teri mentioned in her blog earlier this week, one way that our spouse or significant other might feel the most loved is when we spend good, connected, intimate time with them.  This may take priority over a tangible present or gift.  Being connected with your spouse or loved one means no distractions, having good eye contact, and truly listening to what they are saying! Spending Time Together:

What are some ways you can give the gift of your presence to your loved one?

Turn off the TV, put away all electronics and distractions, and take them on a special date!  Plan an event for them that is a surprise.  Perhaps they love the theater or concerts-- buy them tickets to an event and wrap them, including a note inside that promises an evening (or a whole day if you are feeling generous!) of undivided attention.

Give your loved one coupons they can present to you at any time, when they feel as though something is getting in the way (e.g., your cell phone, Facebook, computer games, sports or fantasy leagues).  At that very moment, you would turn from the distraction and give them your attention.

Prepare a calendar for the entire year, marking off one day per month, for 12 months, that is going to include a date for just the two of you.  Take turns alternating who plans the date (and makes arrangements for child care, if needed).

These are just a few ideas of the gift that would say "I get you", to someone who truly needs your time and attention as the most important thing to make them feel loved.

Remember, you can be as creative as you would like with this... as long as you give undivided attention and time to your loved one, they will feel like it's one of the most thoughtful gifts you could have ever given them!

Chores and Help:

Some people would prefer the gift of your time in helping them out with things they are needing.  How do you know this would be a gift for your spouse?  Does your spouse ask you repeatedly to help you with laundry, vacuuming, loading and unloading the dishwasher?  Does your spouse say that the perfect date would be finishing the family "to-do" list (even if they say it in a joking way)?  This might mean your spouse needs your help DOING things, instead of a traditional gift.

How can you get creative with help around the house?

Give coupons that represent chores.  Much like time together (above), these coupons can be given in advance and used by your spouse to go towards things they need help with around the house.  Better yet, make your own list of things you remember hearing your spouse ask you to do (but that you haven't gotten around to doing yet), and do them without them asking or knowing about it.  Get up early on Christmas morning, and have the laundry done and put away, or cook breakfast and have the kitchen cleaned up before your spouse awakens.

Physical closeness, Hugs, Kisses and Touches:

Men are historically known to appreciate the gift of physical closeness, but women can also feel appreciated and valued by receiving these "gifts" as well.  How do you know that your spouse would prefer this gift?  Does your spouse constantly need to be touching you?  Do they feel most fulfilled when you are being sexually intimate with them (or complain about a lack of touch or sex)?  When they comfort you, are they most likely to touch you through a hug or embrace?  If so, they might need these things from YOU the most!

How can you get creative with the gift of physical closeness?

Plan a surprise weekend retreat for you and your spouse (even if you don't leave your house), where you take turns giving massages.  Take a bubble bath together, or give foot massages.   Bring your spouse breakfast in bed, followed by snuggle time for an entire morning (don't forget to line up a baby sitter so the kids can be out of the house for a bit!).  Make an plan to provide your spouse with some form of intimate touch every day for the rest of the year... it doesn't have to be long and elaborate, and they will definitely notice your efforts.  Again, coupons for back rubs, snuggle time or a spa day together are good ideas, but remember that your spouse might find more meaning if the touch comes from you than a massage therapist.

Again, remember to get creative with your ideas!

Have you recognized any "gifts" that would let your significant other know that "you get them"?

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.



Gifts That Say "I Get You"

Christmas is coming up and many feel pressure to find the “perfect” gift. This week Imagine Hope is giving you tips on what to give based on your partner's needs. We all have needs in relationships, and it is important to know what those needs are so you can make sure you are loving your partner the way they need to feel loved.

Today we identify different needs your partner may have. Then you can keep reading all week for suggestions of gifts for Christmas that will really say “I love you” based on that need!

1. Saying kind words- People can feel loved just through simple words. This can include complimenting someone on their appearance, letting someone know how much you appreciate them, thanking them for things they do around the house, or ways in which they are helpful. This can be verbal or written.

2.Giving someone gifts- A gift is anything given to say “I was thinking of you". It's a visual symbol of love. Gifts can be purchased (small or large) or handmade. There’s also giving the gift of self. This is giving the gift of your presence (physically & emotionally), or in other words, being there for your significant other when they need you. For some individuals a gift has nothing to do with the monetary value, and everything to do with love and knowing you were thinking of them when you saw it.

3. Doing chores and helpful activities-  Did you ever think you might be showing love to your partner by doing chores? The key is that your attitude is about doing it out of love, not out of obligation. Don’t assume any act will show love. If this is something you need in your relationship, make sure you teach your partner what this means to you and define the specifics around it.

4. Hugs, kisses and physical closeness- Many people get this need confused with sex. Yes, sexual intimacy is one part of it, however, it also includes holding hands, hugs, kisses, scratching their back, massage, and even just sitting next to each other…. anything that you are doing to be physically touching can meet this need.

5. Spending time together- This is focused and undivided time, where you go to the other persons emotional level to connect with them. Truly spending time together that is healthy and connected, means putting away technology, turning off the TV, and focusing exclusively on spending good, intimate time with your partner. It’s important to have direct eye contact, and listen with no distractions. This can also include fun activities full of bonding and laughter.

Were you able to figure out which one is a strong need for your partner?

Tomorrow check in for gift tips!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling.