SUMMARY: Kathleen Mills and LaShondra Manning discuss support systems with Dr. Angela Wilson.
Episode #42 | Angela Wilson-Utilizing Support Systems
Kathleen Mills-Proprietor, Counselor at Life Tree Counseling
LaShondra Manning-Life Tree Counseling
Phillip Crum-The Content Marketing Coach
Angela Wilson-Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce
Phillip Crum: Kathleen, did you put the coffee on this morning?
Kathleen Mills: I did put the coffee on this morning. It’s right here.
PC: Because you know what time it is, yes?
KM: I do. It’s just coffee.
PC: It’s time for It’s Just Coffee, another episode in Katheen Mill’s weekly sojourn into the minds and-
KM: Oh, heavens.
PC: I know. I know.
KM: That sounds really morbid.
PC: My goodness. In my case, it’s a short story.
KM: I don’t think it’s short, buddy.
PC: Well, anyway. All’s well at Life Tree?
KM: All is well at Life Tree.
KM: We are blowing and going, and everything is good. Happy people here at the office and I enjoy that so much.
PC: Well, there you go. It’s Wednesday – what’s on the menu today for Wednesday at the shop?
KM: Well, working on the-
PC: It’s like chicken soup or something, isn’t it?
KM: Oh yeah, we’re having chicken nacho soup today.
PC: Ah, there we go.
KM: So, girl, come on up.
LaShondra Manning: I guess I’ll get some tomorrow.
KM: You sure will. It will be in the refrigerator.
KM: Alright. Special, never-made this particular before.
LM: Ooh, something new.
PC: So who’s that talking?
KM: Ah. She’s the showcase time. It is LaShondra Manning, dear colleague, faithful student, diligent, sweet spirit. How are you doing, LaShondra?
LM: I’m good. How are you?
KM: I am doing well. You look very comfortable today.
LM: Yes, I am.
KM: Are you off today?
KM: Quote unquote, “Off.”
LM: Yes. Off of Life Tree, forever a student.
PC: Why don’t you tell us about the new challenge in your life?
LM: Oh, working on my dissertation – that challenge!
PC: No, no. I meant getting headphones on your new hairdo.
LM: Oh, well one thing if you know about me – I’m a girly girl so I love to change my hair every season. So I actually have a natural look going, so took the bun down from the summer and natural for the fall, and we’ll see what happens for the winter.
PC: I like it. I like it.
LM: Well, thank you.
KM: You got to have a fun hair thing going on, especially when you’re writing your dissertation, huh?
PC: Well, you’ve told us lots of stories about school in the past. So who do you have today that we’re going to talk to? And let’s get to it.
LM: Well, we have Dr. Angie Wilson, so she is a beloved mentor and friend. She is on my committee and so really when Kathleen asked, “Who do you want to do a podcast with?” there was no one else that really came to mind but Dr. Wilson. First of all, when I do these podcasts, I like to think, “How can I relate to the client?” And so for myself, I know I’ve seen a lot of clients who do not have a support system. Either they have moved to DFW, they have strained relationships with their family, with their friends. And so I just remember when I moved to DFW, I had some family, I had cousins, but they were older in their 40s, married, had their own lives, didn’t have any time for me. And so, it was like, “Where can I find a support system?” And so of course you guys know that I am a student, so it was at commerce through a mutual friend and colleague Dr. Jamaica Chapel, that I met Dr. Angie Wilson. So she is here with us and so we’re just going to talk so introducing the lovely and talented Dr. Angie Wilson!
PC: Clap clap clap clap clap.
Angie Wilson: Guys, I’m so excited this morning. It’s such a pleasure to be included on this wonderful, wonderful occasion. So thanks for all the kind things you said, LaShondra, and I’m very excited to be here and very happy to be a part of this.
LM: We’re glad to have you here. So, like myself, have you seen any clients who just didn’t have a support system and just struggled with that?
AW: I really have, you know, and from the counselor’s standpoint as well as the educator standpoint. From the counseling perspective, oftentimes we have life changes and those different lifecycle stages, and we move and we have transition in our lives. And it’s kind of one of those ever-so-changing things. It’s just a continuum. Sometimes friends fade in and out, and we say that there is a season for every relationship. Just sometimes clients can find themselves alone, and so I think it’s very important for clients to have the ability to form healthy relationships with new people. And then from the eduator perspective, it’s really interesting because I think students sometimes who have moved closer to the university or moved into the DFW area and they really don’t have a strong support system. And so when you are working full time and also going to school full time, you might ask yourself, “Oh my goodness, how do I have time for anything?” But then on those rare occasions when you do have time for something and then you find yourself alone or you don’t really have anyone to talk to, those are the really hard times for our students. Or for my students that they shared with me. So I think forming bonds and relationships is very important.
LM: Well, absolutely. Especially when I think about our clients that come in, because they’re already struggling with other problems, if you will. So to not have that support system is very hard, because of course you come to counseling usually once a week for an hour so what do you do in the meantime?
AW: Right. With the population that I work with, and most of my clients are [a cinder?? 07:44] client and maybe they’ve been incarcerated for a number of years and so there’s a stigma that’s also associated with that. And sometimes they don’t have their family. So sometimes they really just have each other if they’re at a residential treatment facility or something like that. But coming to counseling once or twice a month, or once or twice a week, that’s really the only time that they get to express themselves and be who they really are.
LM: Right. And to know that somebody cares and is genuine and just definitely empathetic and everything. So, absolutely.
PC: How does somebody who is in need of a support group – what does that look like in real life? I’m building a list here. Like you just mentioned – outside of coming to a counseling session, what do I do when I’m not paying for the time? How do I, what are some ways I can develop a support system?
AW: I like to encourage my clients to go out and see new things. Maybe take that knitting class that you’ve always been wanting to take, or maybe join the YMCA or join a sports team or a yoga class, and just get out. And I know it sounds easy, but it’s really a hard thing to do is to get out there and get outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. Joining social organizations or social clubs or attending places like churches or religious gatherings and community gatherings, and those kind of things. I remember LaShondra and I talked just a couple of weeks ago, and we were catching up because we hadn’t talked a whole lot over the summer, and she was telling me – and I hope, LaShondra, that you don’t mind me sharing this – but she was telling me of all the fun things she did this summer. Then she said, “You know what? Some of those things, I did by myself. And that was really liberating.” So to be able to go out and do things by yourself, and then also have the opportunity to meet new people while you’re doing those things that you enjoy.
LM: Right, because I think that allows you to attract like-minded people. And, too, I think we have technology on our side when I think about social media – I think about Meet Up for example. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with Meetup.com, but all those interests that you listed – the knitting, the soccer, whatever you want to do – you can go online volunteering or whatever, and join a group and they post when they’re going to do a particular event. And you just go, and you just never know when you may meet somebody. I think it takes time, because I know we are the microwave generation – we want things right now – but I think if you’re doing your passion, if you’re pursuing that, your interests, then you will attract like-minded people and I think that’s a good foundation for any friendship to begin.
AW: right. And I was talking to a friend not so long ago and she is probably in her mid- to late-50s, and she was talking about what it’s like to be divorced and to have children who are now adults and to not have a significant other. And so I talked to her about the potential or the possibility of online dating, and she’s like, “No, no. I can’t do that.” And I said, “You know, that’s how people are meeting these days. There’s a safe way to do it.” I can’t tell you how many couples – younger and older – that have met online that I know, and now they’re in successful marriages. And so I definitely think there is something to say about social media and online communication.
LM: Yes, absolutely.
KM: You know, Phillip and I – just to kind of hone in on exactly what both of you are saying – Phillip and I went to the Podcast conference a couple weeks ago, and the thing that was so encouraging in that conference was the relationship that existed amongst 700 people basically from all over the country and internationally and there was a big swell of the cultivation to restore good relationships. And it was such, it was so good to see that that’s alive and well, because I think there’s been an isolation of all of us through family disintegration, moving, transient – that kind of stuff. And there are some very redeeming things about technology, like the meet up groups, or just the podcast movement per se, is all relationship-oriented.
PC: And they’re tools – they’re not the end-all – they’re the tools to get there.
LM: And you still have to maintain the relationships I think that you have. When so many people move, they live in Dallas but they’re from New Jersey or whatever. I mean, you can’t necessarily see that person or have the interaction that we’re having right now, but you could still call that person. They have the video chat. I even think about the apps, so there we go again back to technology. But at least have that base of some support until you can definitely find that support that’s face-to-face. Because I know for myself, my support base is pretty much in my hometown – it’s in Marshall. Most of my friends live in Houston. And before I really got that support system in Dallas, I would always just talk to them until I was able to have that person physically that I could go out to eat, go shopping with, go to the movies with, or do whatever.
AW: Right. And you know, just thinking for me, I’m fairly new to the area. My husband and I – we moved here about, we’re going on our third year, entering our third year here. But all of my husband’s family is in Houston and Louisiana and my family is back in east Texas in Weston. And I have a twin sister who I’m really, really close to and so even when I lived in Houston we were able to meet up for lunch on weekends halfway and that kind of thing. Now it’s a little bit more of a drive, but with technology we can Facetime and Skype and I’ve recently had a baby and so we Facetime at least once a day. I’d like to say it’s because she misses me, but it’s really because she wants to see the baby and I’m totally area of that.
LM: And you got to see him. He’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!
AW: Well, thank you. Facetime and Skype and all that great technology – it really give syou the opportunity to- you can start relationships like that but you can also maintain them through those means as well.
PC: Alright. So everything we just talked about in the last three or four minutes, everything on this list has a get out of your comfort zone in common. You need to- assuming that that’s the case – get out of your comfort zone and here’s a list of dozen/15 things that we can do, some of which can involve technology and so forth. What if I just can’t bring myself to get out of my comfort zone? I’m willing. I want to. I just can’t get there. What’s plan b for me?
AW: Baby steps. Baby steps. I think it’s unrealistic to say, “Go to a community function and stay for three hours by yourself.” But what about planning for the future? So maybe this week you think about a community function next month, and you take steps to go there. Even if you just go there for five minutes. Or even if you can log on and create an account, but not necessarily communicate with someone? So I think that baby steps and making sure our goals are manageable and that they’re attainable, and not setting yourself up for failure.
PC: You know what I was thinking when I asked that question is – and I tell people this occasionally in a vain attempt to be funny – but I’ll tell them when they say, “Well, how do you do this?” I say, “Well, you need to find a 12-year-old to help you.” So I was thinking, what if we partnered up with somebody who’s not afraid of Skype or not afraid of Match.com or wherever we are, and get somebody to help me with the technology portion of things? Or – forget technology – what if I’m just really too nervous to go to that movie by myself?
LM: I think you have to examine the fear. Because when I think about myself in stepping out, I was like, “These people are going to be looking at me! I’m by myself!” And when I finally took the step to go out – and it did take some time to do that – I realized, “These people are not looking at me. These people don’t really care,” and I could enjoy whatever. So I think definitely looking at the fear that exists. Because too, some people have a fear of rejection. I think people have trust issues from past relationships, so these people did this to me so the new people may, and so you can’t generalize that new people are going to do that. So I think you have to examine that fear and then just see what’s the reality of that.
PC: Les Brown is a speaker and he says, “Don’t be telling people your problems. Half of them don’t care. The other half are glad it’s you.” That’s about the truth.
LM: Yes, it is.
PC: So, back to my thought. My question, LaShondra and Dr., what about pairing up with somebody until you get to the point where you can do it by yourself? Good idea? Bad idea? How would you do that?
LM: I think that’s a good idea.
AW: It’s a great idea.
LM: Yeah. If you have that person, though. That’s the thing.
KM: Getting a buddy is very difficult and I think that’s what you guys were talking about, was just getting that- making new friends on the playground. New playground, new town, all that.
LM: Right. But I think if it’s somebody that’s in the support system, they have already, definitely you could reach out and make it help you move to another level. I think of maybe myself, maybe if I had like a married friend or whatever who definitely can’t go out with me all the time or whatever, maybe we could play around with the computer stuff so that I could be able to go out. So I think pairing up with somebody who’s not available all the time to do those things with you is a good idea.
PC: Dr. Wilson with the beautiful baby – what are your thoughts?
AW: I definitely agree. I used to be, and my twin sister- it’s crazy. My name is Angie and her name was Angela. And so when I speak with Angela oftentimes – and we all know when you have a child, especially your first child, it’s a huge adjustment – but I used to be one of those persons who, “I’m not going to go out to eat by myself. I’m not going to the movies by myself. What are these people going to think about me?” And now it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I get to go out and eat by myself. It’s going to be like the best 45 minutes of my life. I’m looking forward to it.” But she says, “I can’t believe you do that. Call me if you get lonely!” And I’m like, “No, I’m leaving my home in the car. I’m not even going to call anybody, I just want some alone –“ but I think it’s a great idea to pair up with somebody. But when I think about some of my current clients and some of my former clients, there’s that issue of trust that LaShondra mentioned. And for some people, it’s realy hard to step out there and trust someone and say, “I’m struggling with this,” or, “I’m having an issue with this. Can you help me?” And so it’s that trust issue and then asking for help that’s oftentimes really, really hard for people. But that goes right along with everything else we’ve been discussing, and that communication is really important. So being able to communicate your needs and your desires within your relationship is also important. And I think that’s probably one of the larger issues here is that communication and trusting other people. And sometimes trusting themselves as well to make good decisions.
PC: Trust always rears its head, doesn’t it? So that means you should never be paired up for this sort of thing with your parole officer, is that fair?
AW: That may not be a good idea!
PC: Why not? Mark that one off the list.
AW: That may not be a good idea.
KM: There you go, Phillip.
LM: You know, another way to be creative that I thought of – as Angie was talking, and Phillip with your idea – is my best friend lives in Houston and so we would actually go out with each other. It’s funny – we’d go to the same movie at the same time and we’d be texting each other while we’re watching the movie. Or we would go out to eat or whatever. So we were still doing these things, who knows, hundreds of miles apart, but it worked. And it’s just funny and we still do that.
PC: Like a virtual girl’s night out.
LM: Yes! Yes, because we’re so far away.
PC: That is really one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard.
KM: But she had fun!
PC: But I like it.
KM: Yeah, I do, too!
AW: I think it could be definitely be groundbreaking. We should create one of those – a virtual girls night out. I think that would be amazing!
PC: I think we just did. Well, there you go. We got the idea. We got the idea. We got the- yeah! All right, virtual girl-
KM: Virtual meet up. Virtual girl meet up.
KM: Dot com. There you go.
AW: I love it!
KM: There you go.
PC: That’s interesting.
LM: I’m running and getting a patent on it right after we leave this podcast.
KM: Phillip’s got a smile on his face.
PC: Yeah, I’m trying to think.
KM: This is not good!
PC: How does this help me? Hmmm. Wow. Okay, so that’s exactly where I was wanting to go. Let’s brainstorm some ways that you could find somebody to buddy up with to do things. Okay? So there’s a good one – a virtual meeting.
LM: Yes, because my best friend had the same issue, you know? Because I was in Dallas and she was in Houston so let’s get on this journey together.
PC: There’s no excuse not to, as long as you’ve got a smart phone. Let’s go to the movies.
LM: That’s right.
PC: Just don’t sit in the very balcony and people talk. Anyway. All right so-
LM: And Kathleen, if you remember, there was a young lady that was in the office one day that was talking about her boyfriend who lived overseas or something, and how they had their Skype dates and they would cook the same meal. I think they had like a steak dinner and they would eat together.
KM: Via Skype and watch a movie via Skype.
KM: Like they’re sitting on the couch watching the same movie. And that was their date night.
LM: Yes. And they were able to maintain a long-term relationship.
KM: Yes. Absolutely.
PC: All right. Doctor, what are you thinking here? Do you got an idea?
AW: I’m thinking it’s great. As I hear LaShondra talk about that, I think about the relationship that I have with my husband, and for the longest I was afraid to date him because he travels so much for work. I was like, “Oh no, I can’t date this guy. Sometimes he’s gone for a month at a time and this is crazy,” and he assured me, “We’ll give it 100%. We’ve been friends for years.” So we went ahead and decided to date and I actually remember Skyping with him and him waking up while he was in China, super early in the morning, and the time zones are so different. But it’s amazing what technology can do. We pretty much Skyped the first year of our relationship because he was in Africa, and he was in China, and he was in Scotland – all of these places I was so jealous that I didn’t get to go because I was in my doctoral program. But I absolutely think it’s amazing and I think creative a list to help people is going to be a really, really good idea. I’m just amazed the story that LaShondra just shared about, the lady who was in the office and they would have a virtual date night. I really think that’s kind of a trend, the pendulum is really swinging that way now. And so I think just letting people know that that’s okay. It’s okay to do something different and to make your own rules and do what’s best for you in your relationship. I think that it’s really important that we get that word out there.
PC: LaShondra told me earlier that you named your first child Skype.
PC: Isn’t that what you said? Apparently not. It would be different. It would be the only one in the first grade class.
LM: Now don’t get me in trouble.
PC: “Skype, sit down now, you hear?” All right, so the electronic stuff aside for the moment, what else do we have? Anybody have an idea? Maybe you belong to a Facebook group. How can I find- okay, how can I find somebody to do the electronic thing with?
AW: Well, I think it’s really important, I mean everybody you have a neighbor or you have- we never know someone’s trouble. We never know what people’s thoughts are and we never know what just a simple smile can do to change someone’s day or even change someone’s life perhaps. And so, that one person that maybe you jog past their house everyday, or maybe you are jogging and you jog past them and you guys take the same trail – just stopping to say hello and saying whatever. They may have the same or similar struggles.
KM: I was thinking while you were talking, Angie, just that when you go to Walmart or shopping and somebody is needing help reaching the top shelf or whatever or you’re making eye contact – I don’t think we’re very good at that – but just doing little acts of service in the store, for crying out loud, with customers you don’t even- other shoppers you don’t even know. Those acts of kindness can really help start the process of that it’s that baby step.
LM: Absolutely. And then building off of that, Kathleen, I thought about an experience I had on a flight. I met a good friend named Coco. She’s a good friend now, I didn’t know her, but she had the cutest purse I had ever seen. And I complimented her on this purse and we started talking and realized we didn’t live that far away, and I mean, we’ve been to dinner and everything. And I think that she might actually become a lifelong friend perhaps, all because she had a cute purse and I said, “I like your purse. Where did you get it?”
KM: Right. It’s just a starting conversation, risking just saying, “Where did you get that purse? I love it.”
PC: And that works every time?
KM: Well, not for you.
PC: Ah, well. It has so far!
LM: Maybe it’s from your personality.
KM: It’s personality. But I think whether you risk, you take the leap of faith, and you can’t worry about the actual response. It’s more about that I’m engaging in a new way of doing things – that’s the point.
PC: Excellent. All right. Enough of that. Any other final thoughts on how to meet somebody for a virtual night out or just open your mouth and saying something to somebody.
LM: And it’s just not good for us to be alone, because we go through so many problems – just stresses, normal with life or whatever – but you don’t need to go through that alone. First of all, I just think man/woman is not made to be alone.
KM: We are social creatures.
LM: Yes. So, just share life and that experience with everybody. I think when you think about the good times that have occurred in life, usually those best times that you’re going to remember are going to be with someone else. And we need that.
PC: Oh. Okay, things are just coming together in my head. I just put two and two together.
KM: Did you have an epiphany again?
PC: I did. I did.
KM: Well, share please.
PC: Remember when LaShondra told me she got kicked off of Match.com? It was because she was trying to – she didn’t actually want to meet these guys, she just wants them to text or something from a movie.
KM: There you go.
PC: No wonder.
LM: Okay… listeners! Please don’t believe that story!
PC: That is the first time she’s been speechless.
KM: LaShondra, we love you. You know.
PC: My goodness. All right – doc, is there anything that you wish we had asked you on the subject of support systems that has gone untouched?
AW: I think the only thing that we missed about support systems is how to mend support systems that may be crumbling. What do we do when we have relationships that are going through tough times, and those relationships may be crumbling and maybe they’re ones that we really want to salvage. How do we do that, especially if we’re used to being in our comfort zone and if we have trust issues? And so sometimes it seems like it’s just a matter of somebody making the first step and saying, “Okay, maybe I was wrong here. It seems like this is happening and I’ve been noticing it.” But maybe we can touch on that just a little bit also because that’s a very real part of life, and sometimes we have those relationships that disappear and fade and nobody ever knows why.
PC: Well, that sounds like a next time, a sequel to me, and a very good one. So, this has been fun. I appreciate you being here and thank you, LaShondra, for inviting the good doctor.
LM: You’re very welcome. I knew this would go great.
KM: Thank you, Dr. Wilson, this has been a pleasure. I love you already.
AW: Well thank you, it’s been so great.
KM: I’ve heard so many good things about you and I’m very pleased that you-
PC: Will you come back and do this again?
KM: Most definitely! Just let me know the time and place, and I’m there.
PC: We’ll do it.
KM: Next time you got to be in the studio.
PC: Yeah. Drive down here for a change.
KM: That’s a long way though.
PC: Now, for the listeners I want to let them in on a little opportunity. If you would like to hear Dr. Angie Wilson’s thoughts on – I’m going to ask her about her thoughts and opinions on the state of counselor education, and what she would do differently if she was in charge. So if you’d like to hear that, I want you to text the word, “Support” to 442-333-7363. We’ll send you a link and you can listen to Dr. Angie Wilson tell you how things would be different if she was in charge. We appreciate you listening. LaShondra, where can we find you if somebody wants to talk to LaShondra Manning?
LM: Well, you know I live at Life Tree, so if you go to our website www.lifetreecounseling.com, and click on counselors and you’ll find me – LaShondra Manning and click that button that says, “Click to schedule,” and I’ll be happy to see you Tuesday or Thursday from 3 to 8, or Saturday 9 to 5.
PC: And Miss Angie, same question for you. If someone wanted to get a hold of you for any reason at all, where would they find you?
AW: They can find me at Texas A&M University Commerce. That’s where I am the majority of my time. You can go to our website www.tanuc.edu. And all the contact information is there, just look me up on our search engine – Angie Wilson.
PC: Thank you, thank you, thank you. And Miss Kathleen, how about yourself?
KM: Same place where LaShondra hangs out. I live also at Life Tree – lifetreecounseling.com. My call number is 972-234-6634 ext. 104.
PC: And I’m still Phillip Crum, the content marketing coach, and can be found at www.contentmarketingcoach.us.
KM: You have a phone number? Or you don’t want to give that?
PC: I do. I was trying to think of the website for the-
KM: Do you remember it?
PC: Yeah, it’s a correctional system but yeah, I can be found there, too.
KM: No. No.
PC: No, no, no, no. It’s 214-264-6297 and we thank you much and we’ll see you next time. Thanks for listening in.
KM: Thank you, Phillip. Thank you, Dr. Wilson. Thank you, LaShondra.
AW: Thanks for having me, guys.
LM: You’re very welcome.