It is so sad to me when couples finally come into counseling - and it is too late. Typically one of them is already emotionally checked out and has their foot out the door. As soon as you get to that point where things start feeling stagnant or you no longer find yourself excited to wake up next to your partner - MAKE THE APPOINTMENT. A relationship that is not tended to will wither. Even really healthy relationships can benefit from fine-tuning their love in session. My advice is simple - don't wait too long. It is so much easier to save the relationship by being proactive rather than reactive. It probably goes without saying, but the further the couple travels down the road of unhappiness, typically the harder it will be to climb back out. Also - dont be afraid to make the appointment because you are afraid of hearing the therapist say "You two shouldn't be together!" As long as both partners are safe within the relationship, my goal is always to preserve the union.
I have been very busy lately working on some new adventures. I am very excited to let you know that I have recently opened a counseling clinic here in Lenexa KS. It is right on the border of Olathe/Lenexa and is called Willow Creek Counseling Center, LLC. I went into business with another therapist that I really respect and admire. We currently have two other therapists working out of our office.
I am also working on editing two books I have written and desire to have published. I wrote both of these books after Maguire died. This has been a very long, slow, and painful process, but I also believe it was instrumental in my healing process. I am hopeful to have them both in print within 90 days!!
My latest adventure is the organization of a 5k Run in memory of the boys. I am very excited about how all of this is coming together and the amount of people who are coming forward to make it happen. The first run will be Saturday, May 14th, 2011 here in Olathe KS. The race is called Maguire Gilner Angel Day 5K Run (& Titus's Tot Trot). We are now open for registration on Active.com and can also be found on facebook. This will be a fun family event - with shopping, food, music, kids activities, food, face paintings - and much much more. I would love all of you to come walk or run with us. My hope is that this race will touch the lives of many grieving parents who will join us to walk and/or run in memory of all angel babies. Proceeds from this event will be used by the Maguire Davis Gilner Foundation to purchase headstones for other little angel babies. We are looking for sponsors, vendors, volunteers, and runners.
I have had many people ask me: Do you offer Christian Counseling? The answer to that question is no. No, I do not offer Christian Counseling. Yes, I am a Christian. Isn’t that the same thing, they ask? No – it is not. I am a Christian who is also a Counselor, but I do not offer Christian Counseling. At no time will I pull out a Bible and read it with you in session. I will never tell you “this is what I think God wants you to do with your life.” I will not quote scripture in session or lead you in prayer.
I approach a counseling session in the following way: Defining problem, establishing goals, exploring past experiences, examining relationships, encouraging healthy behaviors, and striving to increase life satisfaction. If you are struggling with your relationship with God and desire to discuss those feelings and/or the roots of those feelings then that is absolutely something we can look at in session.
I hope this helps clarify my stance in the counseling room. Please do not hesitate to call if you have more questions regarding this topic. I am always willing to speak one-on-one in a phone conversation to help clients clear up any questions they may have before making an appointment.
How quickly would you give up your most prized possession for the love of another person - just to make them feel better. I witnessed the most beautiful act today of my 6 yr old son running to get his "doggie" for his 2 yr old sister upon learning that she was sick thru the night. He knew that is exactly what would make him feel better, so he wanted to share with her. He wanted to do something that would make her feel better - even if just for a moment. Without hesitation he handed over his beloved doggie for her to love - and perhaps even get sick on. His unselfish act spurred me to ask the question - do we all give so freely? Would each of us do the same for someone we loved? As we get older our most prized possession may be something nonmaterial - like our heart or our time. Would you give some of your heart or time to soothe someone else's heart? Has something happened along life's road that makes you hesitant to take that risk? How would life be different for you if you gave without hesitation? Would your relationships be richer? I am not advising to surrender healthy boundaries by any means - but simply to stop and ask the question - why am I hesitant to give? Does this hesitation keep you from deepening your friendships or marriage? If you were willing to release the height of the wall just a bit, would your relationships grow?
Have you ever created a Gratitude Journal? Some may also call it a Thanksgiving Journal or Diary. Here is the concept:
Go purchase a beautiful, eye-catching journal. Don't use a half filled up old spiral notebook - find a nice journal - one that you would like to keep as a treasure. It does not have to be really expensive - you will find a lot of fun or beautiful journal books at Walmart, Target, Office Max, or your favorite office supply store. Find one that stands out to you - and while you are there, pick up a fun pen (I mean, I can't be the only one who loves office supplies!)
Then, make a decision. The decision is to transform your thoughts, attitude, and Life!! I am going to make that statement again - if you have never done this, it will change your life. If you have done this before but fell out of the habit, pick it up again. Here is what you will do - every single night before you go to sleep, I want you to write down at LEAST five things you are grateful for.
Examples: Perhaps it is something someone said or did for you that day. Maybe it was an unexpected compliment from your spouse or mother or anyone. It could be an old friend reaching out to you and letting you know you were important in their life. Whatever you find yourself feeling grateful for on that day, write it down. There may be days that feel sour or your spirits are down. On those days, you may have to rely on some "standard" (but not unimportant) gratitudes: health, a roof over your head, electricity, gas in the tank, food in the fridge, etc.
The point is this, so often in life we focus on the negative things going on in our life. Maybe our boss said something that really hurt our feelings, or our spouse, or our mother, or our children. At times we can even get stuck on one of these things - and find it hard to let it go. We may even find ourselves dwelling on it. I know you have heard it said that negativity breeds negativity, well positivity does the same. Once we start focusing on the good things going on in our life, and we start looking for the good things in our life, we will start to feel uplifted. We start finding more goodness in our life. Have you ever noticed how a gentle understanding smile from a stranger can change the course of your mood? Have you ever heard a child laughing and your heart was suddenly uplifted? Its the same idea - pay attention to the good things in your life and see how it affects your entire mood - perhaps your entire day/week/month - and it can even improve your relationships. It can possibly transform your feeling of life satisfaction. On the days you are feeling down or maybe even a bit depressed, look back over your entries in your journal and see if it shifts you to a more positive emotional place.
Please let me know if you decide to begin a Gratitude Journal. Let me know if it worked, did not work, or what challenges you faced. Commit to a 30 day trial and see if you find a difference! Email me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org Also, please subscribe to my blog to get instant notification when I post a new blog. It is my desire to help you take your life to a newer, higher level. I will continue to post ideas and tips for wellness & happiness! Thank you for reading! Sincerely, Dawn Gilner
Have you ever noticed that at times everything feels stagnant? Do you feel like your life has become routine and perhaps even a bit boring? If so, I challenge you to redefine some personal goals.
Remember a long time ago, someone probably told you that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down on paper? It is true - you are more likely to achieve your goals if you have written them down on paper. Setting goals is a great way to get out of a rut and drive motivation back into your spirit.
A really great way to set new goals with a twist is to create a picture board. A picture board is a fantastic way to start imagining those goals as a reality - and it is very easy to make a picture board. First create a list of goals you want to accomplish and then find pictures to place on your "board" that represent this dream actualized. For example, if you have always dreamed of going back to school to complete your degree then you might find a picture of a graduation cap and gown for your board. Perhaps you have always dreamed of taking a vacation to Hawaii. If so, you can find a picture of your ideal vacation spot for your picture board. Words are not off limits - if your goal cannot be defined by a picture, then print out some words on your computer - or cut them out of magazines to decorate your board. Make a list of words and characteristics that you strive display in your life. (search the web if you are interested in finding even more ideas about creating a picture board)
After you have created your picture board, place it in a highly visible location. I have my picture board fixed to the back of the mirror on my medicine cabinet. Every morning when I am getting ready for the day I focus on my goals which helps me to act very intentionally during my day - in manners that help me achieve my goals. You can make your board as big/small, as colorful, and as elaborate as you desire. Remember the idea is to set goals for yourself and keep them constantly in the forefront of your attention.
In closing I want to share a nugget of wisdom with you. A very good friend of mine who also happens to be one of the most hardworking and determined individuals I have ever met said this to me: If your goals don't make you want to throw up when you think about them, then you aren't dreaming big enough. Remember, the only one limiting you...is YOU!
It has been 43 days since I last wrote. And what a painful 43 days it has been. June was just a difficult month the whole month long. I can always tell when a milestone date is approaching without even looking at a calendar because the sadness of my heart moves out to the surface of my skin and feels exposed to everyone. At times it feels like no healing has occurred and I am starting over in the journey of grief. That is one thing I learned very early on about grief. It is not linear. There are many days I feel OK, then better, then rock bottom, then on top of the world, and then just surviving. It is always changing. And it is NOT a continual improvement. I move up and down. Just because I have a bad day, followed by a good day, it does not mean the next day will be even better.
Maguire's fourth birthday was June 30th, 2009. Every year on the day of his birth and the day he gained his wings (we call this Angel Day), we celebrate his life. Some times these celebrations are covered with sadness and tears, but we still celebrate the child he was, the amazing color he added to our family, and the spirit of his character that lives on in our hearts. For those who did not have the opportunity to meet our little Maguire, he was always ready to share a big smile with anyone who passed in front of his vision. He was the best hugger I had ever met. He was simply a very happy baby. I have often said he got more kisses on any given day than some people get in their whole lives combined. He was adored by his parents and doted on daily by his older brother and sister.
I cannot believe how complicated my grief of losing Maguire has become since losing his brother Titus this spring. I almost feel as if my process of healing in regards to Maguire has gone backwards. While I know I will never completely heal from either loss, I guess I had felt that those two losses were separate within me. In truth I feel as if they are intertwined, mixed, and stirred up all together. I remember saying right before Maguire's birthday that I felt as if "the recent compound fracture upon my heart has left me feeling less brave to face the morrow." I felt even weaker to face Maguire's fourth birthday than his third. The point that I want to make here is that I know of no twelve step program to overcome grief. For everyone who is mourning the loss of a loved one, chances are that it will look and feel different from anyone else you have ever met. Even within yourself, it may change year to year...month to month...day to day...and sometimes hour to hour.
My heart is with anyone who is suffering a loss. If you feel you need to find someone to help you move through your journey, please find a local therapist who can help you. And if you know of anyone who may benefit from reading my website or blog, please feel free to forward this page on to them.
<:od>In Loving Memory of Maguire Davis Gilner June 30, 2005 ~ March 2, 2006
For those who have never met me, or know little about me, I thought it would be helpful if I told you a bit about who I am. I am a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a wife, a mother, a counselor, a Christian, and a friend. I have five year old twins and a one year old daughter. As with most people, I play a variety of roles and many times I play those roles simultaneously. For three years now, I have been a mourning mommy. On March 2, 2006 I found our youngest son, Maguire Davis, dead in our home. After performing CPR on him until the paramedics arrived and watching them attempt to revive him for, what seemed like hours, they pronounced him dead. My sweet little eight month old baby was gone. I held his sweet little body until he was no longer warm. It was the most difficult day of my life.
On April 28th, 2009 I went to the doctor for a routine OB checkup. I was 25 weeks into my pregnancy with our little boy. I was alone for this checkup. My doctor came in and everything was proceeding as normal, until she attempted to find the baby's heartbeat. She kept trying and finally gave up stating she wanted to pull in the portable sonogram machine to take a look. At this point, I was very calm. I had no idea what was to come. I had faith everything was alright and he was just laying in an awkward position. She hooked me up to the machine - and there he was. I could see his whole body - everything looked fine to me. But she says, "Dawn, I'm worried, honey, I should be seeing his heartbeat." This was the beginning of my next heartbreak. After several more tests and my husband racing to the office, it was confirmed that our little baby had died in my womb. We checked into the hospital and I was in labor for 47 hours and 50 minutes. On April 30th, I gave birth to the sweetest little boy who never took a breath of air on earth. We cried as no parents should ever mourn at the birth of a child. It was the second most difficult day of my life.
Beyond these two losses, we have also suffered three miscarriages. I would label those also as the most difficult days of my life.
It has been these losses that has directed me to work with clients who are grieving. I always knew that I wanted to be a counselor and have a passion for working in people's lives. I felt driven to provide services to clients who are grieving the loss of a child. People ask me if this is difficult, and my answer is always "yes, it is very difficult" but I also feel as if I can empathize at a different level because of my own personal experience with loss. I know that I will be able to help others who are experiencing painful heartache and in this journey we will grow together. I pray that by helping someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, I can do it in memory and to honor my little angels in heaven.
I am also committed to providing counseling to clients with different experiences and needs. I work with individuals, couples and families. I consider it an honor to be allowed to sit with my clients and share their life story. I think it is important to share my story with people in an attempt to provide hope to others who may be hurting.
Some days are good days. Some days are bad days. Every day is a day that I miss my boys. The pain never goes away, but it changes.
I will continue to post blog entries regarding my journey. This is my first entry so I did not go into a lot of detail or emotions, but wanted to provide background of who I am. Please subscribe to this blog to be automatically notified of new entries or check back from time to time. Please pass the link on to others who you may feel would benefit from reading about my story.
Hello. I have created this blog to keep in touch and post thoughts, feelings, tips, milestones, etc to keep in touch with those visiting my website. Perhaps you are family, a long time friend, a friend of a friend, a potential client, or another person struggling with loss - please feel free to visit often, subscribe to this blog, and/or refer others to me. Please post feedback and comments - I would love to hear from you. Thank you for visiting! Dawn