Setting Goals, Sex & Living to 100-Interesting Articles from the Interwebs

For You – 

Most of us know that goal setting is essential to achievements and healthy living.  But goal setting is not always so easy or so black and white.  This article, 4 Ugly Facts About Setting Goals, is a great read on some of the challenges one will likely face when goal setting.  “Enter your goal-setting process with these evils in mind and you’ll knock ‘em dead.”

For Your Relationships – 

Can you be happily married and be in a sexless marriage? This is the question up for discussion in Psychology Today’s article, Can Couple’s Be Sexless & Happy?  One researcher  named in the article identifies 2 primary reasons for sex to disappear in marriage, childbirth and extra-marital affairs.  In our experience there are other reasons as well but that’s another post for another day.  This article also looks at options available to couples that find themselves in a sexless marriage.  If this is you and your spouse, you are not alone and we’d love to help you explore those areas that interfere with healthy living and a healthy sex life.  You can also find helpful tips on our series – Creating & Maintaining Intimacy

For Your Health – 

Eating a high fiber breakfast can help you live to 100

Want to live to 100?  A U.S. News Health article says if you incorporate these 11 healthy living tips, you just might live for a whole century.  “Researchers have discovered that centenarians tend to share certain traits in how they eat, move about, and deal with stress—the sorts of things we can emulate to improve our own aging process.”  As expected appropriate amounts of sleep and exercise as well as healthy diet recommendations are on the list.  But there are other more surprising factors too such as staying connected to friends and family, being conscientious, being less neurotic & never retiring.  Check it out to find out what you can do to live to 100!


Living A Masquerade – Hiding Your True Self


Michael & I dressed as scarecrows last year

Here is a blog I wrote for Polish: Refining the Details, a summary of my presentation on living a Masquerade…

Growing up I always loved Halloween, I loved scary movies, haunted houses, trick or treating and especially dressing up. I would agonize over my costume every year wanting to have a great one. I still love Halloween and dressing up to go to a costume or masquerade party. There is something very liberating about hiding your true self & pretending to be someone else, rather than who you or who others believe you “should be”.
One mask-maker in California, Carla Almanza-de Quant says “Once you put on a mask you’re cheerful, you’re playful, you’re a more wonderful you,” she says “You become a fantasy character and you interact with others in a more outgoing way.”

What does that look like on a daily basis? What’s the mask or masks you wear when you are hiding your true self from others? Continue reading

Anxiety or Normal Teen Angst?

Being a teenager is probably one of the most stressful andAnxiety can be paralizing anxious times in a person’s life.  There is pressure from all sides, friends, family, and school all while  teens are trying to figure out who they are and what they believe.  So, how do we know if the teens in our life are just going through normal teen angst or if they are developing significant issues with anxiety?

What is the definition of Anxiety? It is fear based and usually focuses on what could/will happen (i.e. PTSD – fear of what could happen based on past trauma experience, arachnophobia – its not actually fear of the spider, but what the spider could or will do.)

Here are some warning signs for anxiety you need to look:

  • Lost interest – fear of not being accepted being an outcast…avoiding situations
  • Change in sleep and food habits
  • Day dreams and doesn’t want to do things
  • Experience a sudden drop in grades
  • Feeling guilty
  • Extreme anger or sadness/over reaction
  • Constantly afraid
  • Multiple headaches and stomach aches
  • Forgets and doesn’t want to study
  • Isolation
  • Sweating excessively or needing to go to the restroom often
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Nightmares

If you have a teen in your life, or if you yourself are struggling with anxiety you don’t have to do it alone.  Help is available, call today for a free 20 minute consultation.

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Great Expectations!

Check out our latest guest blog, Great Expectations, for Innovation 360, a counseling center helping people recover from addiction through an innovative combination of therapy and life development activities.

Vulnerability & Courage

Meet Jennifer!

Everyone, meet Jennifer.  She is a Licensed Professional Counseling Intern and the newest member of Ashenfelter & Associates.  We are so delighted to be working with her.  Read more about her on our website and enjoy her first blog on Courage and Vulnerability.

I recently attended a conference where I was given the opportunity to  hear Dr. Berne Brown speak on the topic of courage.  Dr. Brown is a  researcher who has focused the last ten years of her work on studying  vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  You can learn more about her work here:

One of the things that Dr. Brown said in her talk is this: “There is nothing more courageous than showing up and being seen.”

Vulnerability is a challenging thing. On one hand it is something we all long for,  the feeling of being fully known in all of our messiness and beauty, and being accepted fully in that moment.  On the other hand with everything in us we desire to protect ourselves from potential rejection so we wake up each  day, drink our coffee, get dressed, and do our very best to keep people  at an arm’s length from us.  Heaven forbid we allow anyone to see the  hurts, the struggles, the fears.  No, we want them to see the joys and  successes, but not anything that might make them think less of us.

Unfortunately, life is messy.  There is no person alive who has not experienced some  bumps, bruises, and even scars along the way.  But, I believe that it is in the mess that we find true beauty!  Think of the little boy with chocolate all over his face, it tells the story of a delicious ice cream cone.  Think of the  cancer patient without hair, her bald head represents a fighter.  Think  of the cracked window on the front of the house, it represents a  baseball game between brothers.  You see, life doesn’t always look the  way we expect, it isn’t always neat and clean, things happen, pain comes and pain goes, and sometimes  the pain sticks, the wounds are deep, the scabs keep getting ripped off, the cracks get bigger – it is in those areas of our lives where we  often need additional support.  It is there that we need to find the  courage to sit down, be honest, and allow ourselves the freedom to be  vulnerable.

Finding a place where you are fully  accepted and able to address some of those hurts and struggles can be  scary.  It is our desire as counselors to provide that place for you.  A safe place where vulnerability can be experienced and in the process  you can be refreshed.  This takes courage though.  It is scary, there is no doubt about it, but in allowing ourselves to show up and be seen we find freedom.

If you, or someone you know, is currently struggling and in need of  support we hope that you will call us. We would love the  opportunity to sit down with you and talk through the struggles you are experiencing and help you to begin your healing journey.


Sex – Creating&Maintaining Intimacy

So here we are, the final installment of our blog series on creating and maintaining intimacy in your marriage.  In this blog we are going to address the culmination of all of your hard work on creating intimacy with your spouse…sex.  For most people, when they hear the word intimacy, sexual intimacy is what they immediately think about but as we’ve reviewed in the previous posts, intimacy is a lot more than just sex.  Don’t get me wrong, good sex is a very important element to intimacy within the marriage which is why it needs to be addressed.

Before we get to the topic of sexual intimacy with your spouse, we need to look at sex and your history.  We bring into any relationship our experiences, beliefs and assumptions, sex is no exception to this.  Some different things that can effect our views on sex are:

  1. Growing up with the topic of sex being taboo in your family
  2. Lack of sexual education
  3. Feelings of shame from either sexual experiences or religious background
  4. History of sexual abuse
  5. Use of or exposure to pornography

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things that can impact our views of sex.  However it’s past experiences like these that can lead to the common myths we carry into marriage regarding sex.  Do you recognize any of the following myths?

  1. The man’s sex drive is always higher than the woman’s
  2. Size is the most important factor
  3. If sex is really “good” the woman will quickly and easily experience orgasm
  4. Men are all-knowing when it comes to sex

Alright, so now that we’ve addressed your sexual history and sexual myths, let’s get into some practical ways in which you can improve sexual intimacy with your spouse.  Remember, that good sex is a culmination of the intimacy you’ve worked hard to create and maintain by dating one another and practicing healthy communication.  Keep that in mind as we go forward.

Great sex is the culmination of great intimacy

One of our absolute favorite books on sexual intimacy in marriage is A Celebration of Sex by Dr. Douglas E. Rosenau.  It is from this book that we have gathered the majority of the following tips on ways to “set the mood”.

  1. Set Sexual Goals – Like any goal setting you do, be specific, make them realistic and attainable, schedule & prioritize these goals
  2. Mental Mood setting – fantasize about making love to your spouse later. Women may specifically want to take some time out during the day or on the drive home to mentally prepare and ready themselves to be “in the mood”.  You might also wear new sexy undies or send a suggestive text msg during the day.
  3. Emotional Mood setting – this is creating a stress free environment for yourself and your partner.  Some examples might be, doing some breathing exercises to release stress, allowing your spouse to decompress from the day once they get home,  or completing a bothersome chore for your spouse.
  4. Environmental Mood setting – utilize all 5 senses and don’t be afraid to get creative
    1. Sight – What do you see?  Have some ambient lighting, candles, clean your bedroom, wear sexy lingerie
    2. Sound – What do you hear?  Create a mood with different sounds such as your favorite booty-shaking song, sounds of the beach, Barry White 🙂
    3. Touch –  What do you feel?  Textures can be very sensual, try out different textures like satin gloves or feathers, buy new sheets, give one another a massage with lotion or warm oil
    4. Taste –  What’s your flavor?  A fresh mouth goes a long way, go ahead and have breath strips on the night stand for a morning romp and in the car on the drive home after dinner where you may have consumed onions or garlic – reliving dinner during a kiss is not so romantic!
    5. Smell – What’s your fragrance?  Pick out favorite and erotic scents (cinnamon, vanilla, coconut), wear a specific perfume/cologne every time you plan to make love, over time your mood will begin to be triggered by the familiar smells.  A shower and deodorant can go along way too, especially after yard work, in August, in Texas!

As you can see there is so much more to sexual intimacy than just the physical act.  But, be encouraged as you actively pursue one another verbally, physically and emotionally it is likely that your overall intimacy will improve.  There is no finish line when it comes to intimacy or having a great marriage.  Both take constant work and maintainence from husband and wife but maintaining sure can be fun!