Friday Waypoints- 3/29/19


I was counting down the minutes. In my home I surround myself with pictures of trees, leaves, birds, and landscapes, but nothing brightens my spirits like the beginning of Spring. I felt better at 5:58 PM this past Wednesday. “Behold, my friends,” spoke Sitting Bull, “the Spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the Sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love.”

I think everyone experiences a little Seasonal Affective Disorder during the Winter months. To combat it, I get out and hike, walk and sit in the Sun. I stay busy with work and play. But still, I drag around in late February and early March.

I want to feel the heat of the Sun and take in its rays. We forget that we are solar-powered. Elon Musk has pointed out.

What most people know but don’t realize they know is that the world is almost entirely solar-powered already. If the sun wasn’t there, we’d be a frozen ice ball at three degrees Kelvin, and the sun powers the entire system of precipitation. The whole ecosystem is solar-powered.”

Spend time this Spring getting energized by the Sun. We’ll get an extra minute or two each day to enjoy.

Moving and the Art of Throwing Things Away

I hate moving and I had to move this past week. I’m sure you hate moving too! But moving presents us with the opportunity to get rid of some of the things that we have collected over the years, things that we do not want or need.

When I move, I usually order a dumpster and I begin throwing things away. Don’t get me wrong, I never get rid of family photos or keepsakes, and I don’t throw away things that other people can use. I load up bags and give them to a charity organization. But somethings need to be thrown away.

Here is the principle that I use: If I haven’t seen it, used it, worn it, or thought about it for the past 5 years (you pick the time frame), I get rid of it.

I get rid of it and feel lighter. I feel better. That’s the Art of Throwing Things Away!

What I’m Reading

I’m reading a couple of books on adolescent sexuality. The first is “Puberty, Sexuality and the Self: Girls and Boys at Adolescence,” by Karin martin. Martin interviewed 55 teenagers to analyze the effects of puberty on sexuality for teens.

The Second book is “Sexuality in Adolescence: Current Trends,” by Susan Moore and Doreen Rosenthal. They look at the current trends and research affecting healthy maturation in teens.  I believe that it’s very important for Therapists and Counselors that work with teens to understand the cultural pressures that they face in their growth as humans and this includes human sexuality. Most of the teens that I see struggle with their sexuality. They need our help!

The Importance of Ritual in Family Life

Ritual is incredibly important in family life. Ritual helps tell all family members, “This is what our family considers important. This is who we are together.” Often when we’re talking about ritual, we think about religious or cultural observances, but ritual is broader than that. An Australian website suggests that rituals can be “things that no one but your family understands.”

Hellos and Goodbyes

In my family growing up, my mom would kiss my palm, giving me a “kiss to save for later.” This started because I had some separation anxiety when I first started going to school, but continued through the years because it made us feel connected. To this day, as I pull out of my parents’ driveway, I sign “I love you” to them and they sign back at me.


My cousin and her family refer to nursing a baby as “more.” This apparently came from her mother, but no one remembers how or when that started! Similarly, my mom talks about “the Jack-In-The-Box effect,” which is when so many little things going wrong and result in a melting down over something that seems small. It’s not about the last thing before the meltdown; it’s about the cumulative effects of lots of little things.


Growing up, we went out to dinner probably once a month. After each dinner, no matter where we went, we always ended up at the bookstore where my sister and I were each allowed to get one book. Those are some of my favorite childhood memories.


Each year on our birthdays, my parents will tell us about the day we were born. As we got older, they also told us about the day they found out we would be joining the family. These stories made me feel incredibly loved and connected to my family, and it was great to learn new things each year as my parents elaborated. When family was visiting on our birthdays, they joined in the fun so we got to hear the stories from the viewpoints of our grandparents.

What rituals do you engage in with your family? What could you add to your family life that would bring a sense of connection, comfort and strengthen your family’s values?

The Importance of Ritual in Couple Life

Lately in the office, we’ve been talking about the things that “feed” us—what helps us to be better therapists, better colleagues, and overall better humans. After thinking about this quite a bit, (I’m a ponder-er—I do a lot of my processing internally) I realized that the most important thing to my mental and relational health is the presence of ritual and making time for meaningful rituals. For me and my husband, that means:

Being purposeful about time.

We got married on the 17th of March so on the 17th of every month (or as close to it as possible), we go on a date. Having a dinner that neither one of us have to clean up, going for a walk in one of our local parks, or going to see a movie that we’ve been looking forward to helps us stay connected and have something to look forward to when the work week gets rough.

We also have a shared Google calendar, so we know what each other has going on during the week. Early on in our relationship, we started calling each other on our way to and from work, to share what we’re looking forward to, what was hard, and generally checking in. Now, almost 14 years later, we still do this even though we now live in the same house.

Making room for fun.

We have an ENORMOUS collection of board games and have made a special effort to find board games that are two player-only, or have a decent two-player version. (NOTE: It can be difficult to find two-player games. Many multi-player games will provide a variation for two players, but often the game just doesn’t work as well. There are great guides on the internet that can point you to the best ones for you.)

Setting aside time for silence.

My husband and I are both introverts—he more than I. (He’s an ISFJ, I’m an INFJ.) We set aside time in the evening to just be together in silence, and every Sunday we attend religious services together. With so much noise happening in the environments around us, it’s easy to forget how powerful silence can be.

What rituals do you do to stay connected with your partner? What could you add to your life to improve your connection? Check back soon for a look at rituals in family life!

My Child has ADHD, What Can I Do?

I began my practice twenty-three years ago working with children with ADHD. I saw kids, usually boys, that were having difficulty with peers, school and their parents. They had difficulty following rules. They had difficulty with getting organized. They had difficulty sustaining their attention. And they were becoming depressed.

It is not unusual for kids with ADHD to also have anxiety and depression. It makes sense. They get a lot of negative attention and it affects their self-esteem and mood. Imagine being the child in school that is constantly getting redirected and spotlighted by the teacher. I’m not blaming the teacher, but kids with ADHD need a lot of the teacher’s time and energy. I can understand it if these kiddos interpret this as, “There’s something wrong with me.” These kids need our help.

My early research and reading took me to the author, Russell Barkley. He is still the Father or Parent of modern research on ADHD. However, I recently read, “Scattered but Smart (SBS),” by Dawson and Guare and I’m glad to say that this book is an excellent addition to the understanding and treatment of ADHD. This book attributes much of ADHD to deficits in Executive Skills. These skills include the ability to initiate and sustain a task, as well as planning and organizing.

SBS doesn’t stop with helping us understand the underlying causes of ADHD, but provides some very detailed plans for improving the deficient skills.

Deficient skills include:

-Getting Ready in the Morning

-Bedroom Cleaning

-Putting Belongings Away

-Organizing Notebooks/Homework

-Learning to Control a Temper

-Learning to Solve Problems

There are lots of resources in this book and I highly recommend it! There are assessment tools that you can use to determine which areas your child needs improvement.

Regardless of whether you get the kindle or hard copy versions, the authors have provided links to download several useful tools.

I also recommend bringing your child to True North at 502-777-7525 and let us coach you in the process of supporting your child with this potentially debilitating disorder.

Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Experienced A Pregnancy Loss

You can always have another.

Firstly, you don’t know that for certain. Secondly, they wanted this child. The prospect of another somewhere down the road doesn’t mitigate that loss.

Now you have an angel watching over you (or God must’ve wanted your baby in heaven).

While this may be comforting to some people further along in their healing process, it can also be incredibly hurtful. Even if someone finds comfort in their faith or religion, most will still feel that they would be happier if their baby were with them here on earth.

At least you didn’t know your baby.

For many pregnant people, their babies became real the moment they saw that second line or received a call from their doctor’s office. The idea that this death should affect someone less is false. A loss is a loss.

Did you do something you weren’t supposed to?

Someone who has experienced a pregnancy loss will probably already be asking themselves this. As I wrote in a previous blog on Pregnancy Loss, most miscarriages are for unknown reasons. Often, reproductive medicine physicians will not suggest an autopsy or tissue sample for fetal abnormalities until the third miscarriage. So just…don’t say this.

I understand how you feel.

Even if you have also experienced a pregnancy loss, everyone grieves differently. Grief is a journey, and if the loss is new, they may be in a very different place than you are.

So what can you say instead?

I’m sorry for your loss.

I care about you.

If you’d like to talk about it, I’m here.


Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197

Pregnancy Loss

In addition to being a social worker and family therapist, I am a loss doula. Loss doulas are a little different from labor doulas. A loss doula supports people who are miscarrying, having a stillbirth, or whose child is not expected to live long after birth. When I’ve talked to people about this aspect of my work, one of three responses occur. Either they react with horror, “Why would you ever want to do that?” 2) They recognize it as a necessary service, “I’m glad you do that, but I couldn’t handle it” or  they join the club of people who never wanted to be in that club. “That happened to me. I needed someone like you.” (Or, hopefully, “I had someone like you, and they helped through an incredibly tough time.”)

Pregnancy loss is much more common than you may believe.

A miscarriage is classified as any pregnancy loss before 23 weeks’ gestation. After 24 weeks, if a baby is born deceased, the medical term is “stillbirth.” Babies born alive between 24 and 37 weeks are referred to as premature. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and about 1 in 100 women have recurrent (meaning more than three) miscarriages. Miscarriage, in particular, can be experienced in a variety of ways. Some people experience the movie version—sudden bleeding and the loss of the baby physically, while others are not aware that their child has died until they receive an ultrasound and no fetal heartbeat is detected.

Why we don’t talk about it.

While miscarriage and stillbirth are very common, we’ve only recently started talking about miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and infertility. For many people, it’s still a forbidden topic. The secrecy about miscarriage however, adds to the psychological pain. Loss can already feel very isolating, and keeping a loss “secret” increases feelings of isolation. Sometimes people hesitate sharing about their miscarriage(s) because they are worried about the responses they will receive from friends and loved ones. (See: Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Experienced A Pregnancy Loss.) There is still quite a bit of mystery surrounding miscarriage. Often people will never know what caused the loss of their child and this complicates the grieving process.

Seeking Help

As I’ve written before, grief is a complicated, individual process. Therapy often involves helping the bereaved reconcile mixed emotions about their loss and assisting with the creation of a new narrative. It can also involve commemorating or memorializing the person who died. Often, medical doctors will unnecessarily complicate the grieving process by not making the right suggestions. This can include deciding how the deceased’s remains will be handled, whether there will be a memorial service, and naming the deceased. Sometimes, it involves couples’ therapy, as men and women may handle the death of a child before birth very differently. In moments of struggle and grief, I want couples to turn toward, rather than away from each other, which therapy can help facilitate.

If you are interested in receiving individual or couples therapy to address a pregnancy loss, contact us. If you’re interested in a pregnancy loss group, please let me know that as well! I am considering whether we have enough interest to have a mixed group. However, there may be one group for people who have been pregnant and another for their partners.

Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197

What Our Animals Teach Us

My dog, Oliver, will be two on March 20th. (And, yes, he will be having a party, but he’s a party all by himself, every day. In the words of Miss Piggy, he’s “a solo Mardi Gras!”) We’ve had him since he was 2 months old, and I’ve learned a lot about myself, my “parenting” style, my husband and his “parenting” style, as well as our relationship as we’ve trained and loved our Ollie. We also have a black cat named Elphaba (after the Gregory MacGuire book-turned-musical version of the Wicked Witch of the West, from the “Wizard of Oz”), who is turning 8 in June, which is basically like parenting a very angry, very small elderly person.

I’ve learned a lot from Ollie and Elphie by watching their approach to life:

  • Live with enthusiasm.

    One of the things I admire about Ollie the most is that he is SO. EXCITED. ABOUT. EVERYTHING. His favorites are people, treats, toys, and playing outside, although not necessarily in that order. When he likes something, he enjoys it with his whole body. I admire this, because too often I see people (especially teenagers) holding back from enjoying things because of what others will think. As RuPaul Charles and my momma have said, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” It breaks my heart when I see someone hold back from enjoying something wholeheartedly out of fear of judgement.

  • Hold your boundaries.

    Since Elphaba was 6 when Ollie joined the family, she has had a period of adjustment. At first, if he came anywhere near her, she would run away. Now, they have reached a truce, in a fashion. She will allow him to sniff her, and to lick her no more than two times. If he doesn’t respect her boundaries, she hisses at him and runs to her hiding places.

  • Try new things.

    Ollie eats more fruits and vegetables than the average human. When he hasn’t tried something before, he will inspect it, sniff it, lick it, take it in his mouth, and walk to his “spot,” where he will complete a further inspection. If he doesn’t like it after the inspection (see: oranges), he will leave it. More often, however, he enjoys it and comes back for more (see: pineapple, frozen pumpkin puree, frozen apples, frozen pears, and his favorite—bananas).

  • Show people you love them.

    Both Ollie and Elphie show us that they love us in their own ways. Ollie brings us toys when we come home from work, licks us whenever we will allow it, and wants to be near us as he takes his naps. Elphie brings us toys (usually late at night), conquers flies that make their way into the house, and gives the most excellent lap cuddles.

  • Never underestimate the power of a nap.

    Oliver and Elphaba are both excellent at taking naps. It doesn’t matter where they are—they will always get their required sleep, which seems to be about 18 hours a day for Ollie, and around 20 for Elphie. Someone once told me that taking a nap is the human equivalent of “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?” When in doubt, take a nap.

Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197

Grief and Grieving

Grief is a peculiar thing in some cultures. In the United States, the majority (white, Protestant) culture struggles with grief. We expect grief to be contained in practice, time, and scope. When people spend “too long” in their grief, we pathologize them. The criteria proposed for Persistent Complex Bereavement are culturally bound, but we know that the majority culture already pathologizes any culture outside what it considers to be the norm.

  • Intense and persistent yearning for the deceased (How are we defining this? Is it not typical or to be expected that we miss our loved ones?)
  • Frequent preoccupation with the deceased (What’s defined as preoccupation? Is talking to the deceased daily through prayer a preoccupation? What about visiting the grave site? What about ofrendas?)

The wisest thing someone said to me about grief was that the thing that makes grief so hard to deal with (for the non-grieving) is the idea that grief must have a time limit. This is especially true when someone experiences miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. People, often well-meaning, good people, often respond poorly to the news of the death of a child. When someone is grieving, it’s okay to tell them that you don’t know what to say, but that you are there for them. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, but if your feelings about how someone “should” be grieving gets in the way of you being a good friend/sibling/therapist/coworker, step out of the way and allow that person to connect with someone who is able to set aside their own preconceptions about rituals of death and mourning and allow people the space to have theirs–even if (maybe especially if) the relationship between the griever and the deceased was difficult, strained, or even estranged.

NOTE: I came across an article some time ago that proposes that “autistic grief is not like neurotypical grief.” While I love that this person shared their experience of grieving, it’s important to recall that old saying: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. And, whether typical or atypical, as long as the mourning is not physically harmful to the individual or people around them, everyone needs to have their own path through mourning.

Grief is a symptom of relationships, not pathology. If humans weren’t relational creatures, 1) we wouldn’t have survived as long as we have; and 2) we would be immune from grief.

Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197