Aloha from Hawaii!

My family and I went to Maui for 10 gorgeous days!  It is everything people say it is: mesmerizing, calming, gorgeous, breathtaking, and the list can go on.  Being on the plane for 8 hours allowed me to read quite a bit!!  En route to Hawaii, I read a really great and easy book:

It was a free book that I had downloaded onto my Nook a while back, but decided to read it.  Having made the decision to be pro-active about my health and lose weight, I thought it was a perfect book to get started.  Aside from discussing weight issues and her time on The Biggest Loser, Michelle shares her struggles with rejection and deeper rooted issues that impacted her choices and lifestyle. I was truly in awe of her courage to face those issues and even more appreciative that she chose to be so open about it in her memoir.  I’d definitely encourage anyone that struggles with weight issues, is at a plateau in their weight, and/or wants to learn more about the journey of a contestant on The Biggest Loser, I suggest you read this book!

After reading this book and landed in Hawaii, I had to take a break from reading. It was gorgeous!!

Isn’t the water just gorgeous?? We were on a dinner cruise and saw the sunset, which was also spectacular!

This is the beach we went to all the time!!! It was so peaceful there and next to us were these huge lava rocks with mini caves underneath…the perfect place to climb and play.  The sand was so clean and pure, so we just loved playing there. Of course, I lounged and read books!! :D

I loved the people there, too! It felt like the most safest place to be and we loved every moment.  We met wonderful Islanders, spoke to people who had up and left their homes to move to Hawaii, and talked to business owners about how they have managed there.  Yes, I’d love to move there, too!!  Their tap water was AMAZING!!! Seriously.  It tasted like Fiji Water without the expense.  I only drank tap water because of how delicious it tasted.  My daughter left her Nike sandals on the beach and someone was kind enough to put them to the side of the walk way and there they stayed the whole day!!!  People were just so kind and we met some wonderful people….I just can’t speak highly enough of that place.  The prices are high, so you just can’t go with love in your heart and no money in your wallet ;)  BUT…it was sooo worth it!  We hope to visit again next year!

We drove up this mountain to watch the sunrise. It was spectacular!!

Related articles

How to Have Your TURKEYS & Eat It, Too!

When I was in private practice, I worked with a lot of couples.  Below is a hand-out I made for clients I worked with to use during the holidays.  I thought I’d share it with you :)

P.S.  This is not to be taken as therapy advice or to interfere with any counseling you may be receiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!



In a perfect world, holidays are a way to stop the clock and reminisce with family. It is a time for laughter, closeness, and your spouse feels every part of it. Perhaps, this is why “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “Elf”, and “A Christmas Carol” continue to be family favorites. Themes of forgiveness, family acceptance, and self-reflection are prevalent throughout. For some couples, holidays elevate stress and marital tension. Deciding how much to spend on a gift, who to buy for, and which family to spend the holidays with have become heated debates in households.

This year, why not have your TURKEY and eat it too! Below are ways to decrease stress and increase marital cohesion.

TTrust each other’s intentions. Despite what you may be feeling, your spouse has not intentionally set out to hurt your or make you feel miserable that day. Make a decision to trust your spouse, while sharing your concerns and feelings.

UUnited in decisions made. The saying, “agree to disagree” will not be effective or helpful during this time. Discussing your concerns/issues specific to the situation is key. Then, make a decision together. This is not a time to discuss how you feel your spouse has failed you, nor is it effective to present a list of demands. Compromising is necessary and will require both of you making a decision that best helps your nuclear family (you, spouse, children). Address these 3 questions when making a decision: 1. How will this decision show I support my spouse? 2. What am I willing to do or give to help the situation? 3. Will this decision bring me and my spouse closer?

R—Realistic expectations of family. Issues that have been pushed under the rug since the last holiday get-together will still be there again this year. It is normal and expected. At the holiday dinner, it will not be the best time to work out your differences with family members. Rather, focus on your behavior and what you can do to support your spouse during that time. Being cordial and in the present is key. Rather than thinking all the family member(s) motives are intended to hurt you, choose to use that time to show you and your spouse are a united team….One.

KKeep committed to agreement. Any decision that is made and agreed upon together needs to be followed through. When you find yourself getting anxious or depressed, tell your spouse. Be conscious of your behavior as old patterns may emerge and an argument be stirred so as to prevent each other from following through with the agreement made.

EEncourage and support spouse during the process. Realizing tension and anxiety may be high, let your spouse know 3 specific acts that can be done to show you support. It can be something as simple as holding hands, sitting/standing next to the spouse, or just saying to one another, “ I am here. You are safe. We are okay.”

YYour relationship to each other is priority over all other relationships.  It can be difficult when you try to please others. Regardless of how much you try, you may feel frustrated that your efforts aren’t reciprocated. Or, you may feel the pressure of being the peacemaker between spouse and family. Staying focused on your partner and your nuclear family is essential and helps bring clarity to your decisions made together.

SSet time frame and have an exit plan. Decide together what time, how long, and where both of you will spend your time over the holidays. Decide how you will exit the gathering. If your spouse feels tension or anxious, decide together a cue that can be given to alert the other person that you are feeling very overwhelmed. When a cue is given, your spouse will come to support you with one of the 3 acts you specified to help decrease some tension. If it is still too intense for you, let your spouse know so that both can proceed to the exit plan agreed upon.

Following through with TURKEY will increase communication and together you will identify ways to support each other while spending time with family over the holidays. Need to work through these issues more closely? Are you ready to address those same old arguments? You can find a local therapist in your area at Therapist Locator.

© Copyright by Lisa Salazar, 2007


You are but a thought away…

Unable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality. 
~Emily Dickinson

Last night, a dear neighbor of mine passed away.  It was about 3:30 a.m. when I was awakened by my dogs.  It was then that I saw lots of lights outside my window.  Running to the neighbor’s house, my first thought was, “where are their kids?”.  Because this sweet lady was in and out of hospitals recently, I knew the kids were already having a difficult time accepting their grandmother’s prognosis.  When I got to my neighbor’s house, the couple told me that “L” had stopped breathing.  They were not sure if she had been resuciatated.  Thankfully, the wife’s sister had stayed the night and was a home health care nurse, so she had been giving “L” CPR until paramedics arrived.  After everything settled and “L” was whisked away by ambulance, I stayed with the children’s aunt.  The children were scared, didn’t know what was going on, didn’t want their mother to leave their side, and kept asking for “L”. 

This is a family that was in shock, scared, and in some ways just felt hopeless.  Unfortunately, “L” passed away in her sleep.  Thankfully, she had spent her evening surrounded by her grandchildren, son, and daughter-in-law.  Thankfully, she passed quietly in her sleep.  Thankfully, her oldest grandchild was not home and the youngest grandchild was asleep. 

I will always treasure the talks I had with “L”, the laughs she gave, and the love she shared with everyone.  She was loving, so kind, and looked at any issues as just a block in the road…simply detour and you are fine.  “L”, I will miss you and all the wonderful memories we shared.  You are but a thought away….

Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.

Eskimo Proverb


Helping Our Children

Over the years, I have read quite a few good books for children, who have lost a loved one.  I thought I’d include a list of those here, since I do also love to read.  However, not all children want to read and not all children process their feelings through reading a story.  This is why it is so important that as soon as the immediate crisis is over, parents should consider looking for a child therapist that specializes in grief therapy.  While family therapists are equipped to work with grief issues, child therapists have more tools in their “box” to use with children, such as puppets, sand trays, and art utensils.  They also know how to engage the child through structured play. 

 Some important contact numbers to have are:

Therapist Connection

HAMFT-(for the Houston area)

Bo’s Place-(for the Houston area)

National Numbers for Grief Services


Recommended Books for Children

 The Fall of Freddie the Leaf:  A Story of Life For All Ages by Leo Buscaglia

The Invisible String by Patricia Karst

Waterbugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children by Doris Stickney

Where Are You: A Child’s Book About Loss by Laura Olivieri


Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I’ll miss you
Until we meet again!
(- Author Unknown)


Review: History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life by Jill Bialosky


“It is so nice to be happy. It always gives me a good feeling to see other people happy. . . . It is so easy to achieve.” —Kim’s journal entry, May 3, 1988

On the night of April 15, 1990, Jill Bialosky’s twenty-one-year-old sister Kim came home from a bar in downtown Cleveland. She argued with her boyfriend on the phone. Then she took her mother’s car keys, went into the garage, closed the garage door. She climbed into the car, turned on the ignition, and fell asleep. Her body was found the next morning by the neighborhood boy her mother hired to cut the grass.

Those are the simple facts, but the act of suicide is anything but simple. For twenty years, Bialosky has lived with the grief, guilt, questions, and confusion unleashed by Kim’s suicide. Now, in a remarkable work of literary nonfiction, she re-creates with unsparing honesty her sister’s inner life, the events and emotions that led her to take her life on this particular night. In doing so, she opens a window on the nature of suicide itself, our own reactions and responses to it—especially the impact a suicide has on those who remain behind.

Combining Kim’s diaries with family history and memoir, drawing on the works of doctors and psychologists as well as writers from Melville and Dickinson to Sylvia Plath and Wallace Stevens, Bialosky gives us a stunning exploration of human fragility and strength. She juxtaposes the story of Kim’s death with the challenges of becoming a mother and her own exuberant experience of raising a son. This is a book that explores all aspects of our familial relationships—between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters—but particularly the tender and enduring bonds between sisters.

History of a Suicide brings a crucial and all too rarely discussed subject out of the shadows, and in doing so gives readers the courage to face their own losses, no matter what those may be. This searing and compassionate work reminds us of the preciousness of life and of the ways in which those we love are inextricably bound to us.

My Review:
This is a true story and based on the research and diary journals the author, Jill Bialosky, has compiled together.  In doing this, she hopes to have a better understanding to the events that led to the suicide of her younger sister, Kim.  Most of all, it is an opportunity to bring closure from her sister’s  death that was not only untimely, but unexpected.  This story weaves diary entries, along with police records, interviews of family and friends, and Jill’s personal recollections of her sister’s life.
This book is by no means a “how to” book, rather it sheds light into the impact suicide has to survivor’s.  The series of losses both sisters experience is tragic and shows how differently they both coped.  Not minimizing Kim’s life story, Jill Bialosky shares her own struggles and bouts of depression.  This also is a way for Jill to not only honor her sister through telling her story, but it also shows that despite the finality of death, the soul and spirit live.
It is a book I would recommend to those working with suicidal clients and families, as well as those affected by suicide.  This is also a great book for those who love memoirs. While this book does deal with serious subject mater, there are moments where both sisters experienced some great memories.
*If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out to someone.  You are not alone and suicide is NEVER the answer.  Contact the Suicide Hotline, talk to a family therapist, and/or meet with your pastor or spiritual leader.