Category Archives: Relationships

Making Clear Agreements

This is a skill that I think is super helpful in life. Often times friends, intimate partners, or family members will have an idea of something. This is usually not said. Then when someone else has a different idea that is often not shared either, tension and arguments can ensue. Take for example coming home. One person may want space to take off their shoes, put their stuff away and take a moment to breath before greeting the other person. The other person comes in wanting the other to drop everything and give them a big hug, acknowledge that they arrived and are happy to see them. This is often not talked about which then can cause disrupts and irritation. You may expect something and have an agreement on your end and the other person wasn’t aware of the agreement. (Another of my favorites is when one person in a couple does something on a regular basis, then they stop and the other person gets upset, “But you always did that.”)

In Need of Couples Therapy in Portland?

What if you could make a clear agreement about what you wanted. What if it was actually ok to ask for what you want? The other person has the ability to say no. If it is not said it is not an agreement from both people.

Stepping Stone: (Instead of homework, since some people have a hard time with that word, esp teenagers) Share with someone else what you want and making a clear agreement that you both agree to. Do not agree if you don’t really want to, that is a set up for failure and broken agreements which breaks trust. Portland, Oregon Couples Therapy.

Example: Hey, I really like when you greet me at the door when I come home. What do you think about that?

Or: Hey I noticed that you push me away when I come up to say hi when you first come home, do you want some space before I say hi?

Work more on agreements with me for couples, family, or group therapy at my Portland office. Contact me to set up an appointment.

Photo compliments of Stuart Miles at


Contradiction, according to Google: “a combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another.” Opposites, same source: “having a position on the other or further side of something; facing something, especially something of the same type.”

ID-10066173Sometimes we can have ideas, feelings, thoughts that feel totally at odds with each other. fFor example I can either accept the situation as it is and do nothing or reject it completely and make major changes, I can either have security or passion, I can either win or lose this argument, I can either be rigid or be in the flow. And we think, “How can these possible co-exist?” We feel stuck.

Try something out with me. In one hand put one of your statements. Feel it there. Does it have any movement, texture, color, sound? Be with it right now in this moment. Now in your other hand put the other statement. Notice the same. Now can your two hands holding these statements move and be in existence in each hand at the same time? Hold both simultaneously and notice what happens. Once you notice ease in this, perhaps have ID-100279435your two hands interact together. Move them closer together then farther apart. Have one hand try on the movement, feeling of the other hand and vice versa. Do you notice anything different in your experience of the two appearing contradictory statements?




Image curtesy of Ambro  and taesmileland from

Living as Art

I was talking with some people recently about strengths and being a visionary and an artist. I started thinking about art: life as art, the art of living, being art. Which is where the idea for this blog came in.

ID-100203610I was thinking about what to name it. There is already an Art of Living Foundation. I settled into Living as Art. What if we are a masterpiece in the creation? We are the art. We are the focus which looks different in different light, in different settings. We are not stagnant. We are not finished. We are evolving and changing.


ID-100146460Painters can start, paint over, cover up, change what they are working on. Aren’t we doing that all the time? I have
the intention to continue looking inward at the exploration which is my life, of my patterns, of what I create in my life or not. I adjust myself, I shift from stuck to possibilities, I express.

Exploration for thisID-100209562 week is to check out what looks like an amazing example of this called Exhibit: Growth. It is interactive. Art is created from your responses. ID-10047285How awesome is that?

Photos from Free Digital Photos

Fix It. Fix me. Fix them.

Are you someone who sees themselves as a fix it project or sees other people as fix it projects? I see this a lot in couples therapy. “If you can just change that one thing, then I could be happy.” “If only you didn’t do that, my life would be so much easier.” Then when one thing is fixed something else needs fixing, you are ready to move on to the next thing. “Sure you pick up your dirty socks, what about doing some dishes/ more cleaning/ having more/ less sex.” The list can go on and on and on…

I also see this in individual therapy. “If I just changed (fill in the blank) then things would be better.” “If I didn’t do this annoying thing then I would like myself better.” Once some of the pounds come off, you want more off another area. You can always find something wrong.

What if (play along with me for a bit)- what if you/other people weren’t fix it projects? What if you/they are whole, just as they are? You may want to make changes and that is okay and you can still be loveable just are you/ they are. This may be a stretch, because I think we are taught to see what is wrong. Remember the two pictures and you had to see what didn’t match. This is how we often see ourselves in comparison to others, or our partner in comparison to other people’s partners. Play with this a bit and notice when you want to fix, change, adjust you or someone else and notice how you react to this.