Do you know that your outer beauty is a reflection of your inner beauty?  What does your reflection look like? 

Are you pouring out negative or positive energy?  If you are not liking the way others are reacting to you, look to see what you’re projecting.  When you are giving anger, criticism, or judgment; you may just be getting it reflected right back at you.

Try giving kindness, understanding, maybe a smile and see what you get in return.  If someone is being harsh to you, you don’t have to take it personally.  Try reflecting back understanding and kindness; see what happens.

Before you go blaming others for their poor behaviors, look at what YOU are giving to them.

We get to choose what you want to reflect.  What do you see in the mirror?



As today is setting, remember that what happened is in the past.  We cannot change it.  We do have some choices we can make; we can cherish the memory of it, we can ruminate about what went wrong, or we can learn from it and let it go.  You get to decide what you want to do with the past and where you want to channel your energy. 

Tomorrow will be a new day and everyday can be a new beginning.  You can build on your past and make your present different.  Cherish the present; a present is a gift. 

As you say goodbye to your day, be grateful for the experiences.  Learn from your successes and failures.  Tomorrow is a new day and is your new beginning!


Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC

Are others concerned about your relationship with someone?  Can they see something that you cannot?  Do you know who you are really dating?  Have you checked them out?  Do they have a past history of domestic violence or criminal behavior?  Are they blaming any past history on others?  Are you being alienated from family and friends?

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Domestic Abuse

Red Flags to Consider When Beginning a New Relationship

(From: Caring Unlimited website – http://www.caring-unlimited.org/what-is-domestic-violence/for-victims-and-survivors/is-my-relationship-abusive

The following is a list of red flags for you to notice and pay attention to when dating someone or beginning a new relationship. Some of them are indicators that the relationship may become abusive. Others are positive indicators that you are becoming involved with an abuser. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you are dating an abuser.

Quick Involvement
  • 6 months or less before living together/engaged
  • Claims of love at first sight
  • Says you are the only one who can make him/her feel this way
  • Pressures you for commitment
Unrealistic Expectations
  • Compliments you in a way that makes you seem superhuman
  • Very dependent on you for all needs
  • Expects you to be perfect
  • Says things like, I am all you need. You are all I need
Controlling Behavior
  • Advises you how to dress without your asking for advice
  • Pretends to be concerned for your safety or your productive use of time
  • Acts like you do not have the ability to make good decisions
  • Becomes extremely worried or angry when you are late
  • Constantly questions who you spend your time with, what you did/wore/said & where you went
  • Insists that you check in constantly
  • Monitors your phone/email
  • Makes you ask permission to do certain things
  • Wants to be with you constantly
  • Accuses you of cheating all the time
  • Follows you around or frequently calls during the day
  • Odd behaviors like checking your car mileage or asking friends to check in on you
  • Tries to cut off all your resources
  • Puts down everyone you know: says friends are stupid, promiscuous, or accuses you of cheating with them; says family is too controlling, they don’t really love you, or you are too dependent on them
  • Refuses to let you use car or talk on the phone
  • Makes it difficult for you to go to school or work
Blames Others for Problems
  • If there are problems at school or work, it is always someone else’s fault
  • You’re at fault for everything that goes wrong in the relationship
Blames Others for Feelings
  • Makes you responsible for how they feel:
  • You made me mad.
  • You’re hurting me by not doing what I ask.
  • I can’t help being angry.
  • You make me happy.
  • You control how I feel.
  • Easily insulted
  • Sees everything as a personal attack
  • Has a tantrum about the injustice of things that happen to him
  • Totally goes off about small irritations
  • Looks for fights
  • Blows things out of proportion
Disrespectful or Cruel to Others
  • Punishes animals/children cruelly
  • Insensitive to pain and suffering
  • High expectations of children beyond their abilities
  • Teases children or younger sibling(s) until they cry
  • Doesn’t treat other people with respect
Expects Control During Sex
  • Little concern over whether you want sex or not, & uses sulking or anger to manipulate you into compliance
  • Makes sexual or degrading jokes about you
Rigid Sex Roles
  • Believes women are inferior to men
  • Unable to be a whole person without a relationship
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
  • Sudden mood changes–like the person has two different personalities
  • One minute nice/next minute exploding
  • One minute happy/next minute sad
Past Battering
  • You may hear the person was abusive to someone else they were in a relationship with, they may deny it saying it is a lie or their ex is crazy/it wasn’t that bad
Breaking or Striking Objects
  • Used as punishment
  • Breaks cherished possessions
  • May beat on tables with fist
  • Throws objects at/around/or near you
Any Force during an Argument
  • Physically restrains you from leaving the room
  • Pushes or shoves you




Get up today and choose your day.  No matter what you have to do today or what happens; you still can control how you want to face the day. 

Take a moment and see the positive in your life.  It’s there; sometimes you just choose not to see it.  There is beauty all around us.

You can be grateful for your past but don’t stay there.   You can’t change it; you can only change this moment.  The past is passed but the “present”is a gift.

You can change your perceptions; just open your mind.  Choose peace and love; it can help you let go of fear and hate.

Today, choose to adopt an enthusiastic and grateful attitude.  Be alive!  Let your enthusiasm show and soar! 

Parents, you are your children’s role model.  What are you choosing to model?



“Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.”

– Pythagoras (580 B.C. – 500 B.C.)

May is often an incredibly busy time.  School is getting ready to end for the year, there are many events going on, and we are trying to get caught up on spring clean-up tasks.  Are you feeling like you are on overload?

It is estimated that a person has over 60,000 separate thoughts per day…every day.  Is it any wonder we are exhausted?

Yet we fill silent gaps in conversations and are bored when we sit alone.  We need  time to just listen and be silent.

Take time this week to find silence and enjoy it.  Give your mind a short vacation and just “be.”  Feel the cool air of spring.  Smell all of the fresh smells.  See the beauty.

“All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.”

-Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)


Do you remember what it was like to be a child at Christmas?  Remember the excitement, the dreams, the wonder, the energy?  Take some time this year to find your inner child.  Instead of spending the entire holiday season in a panic, find some way to fit laughter into your schedule.

This time of year, we see people in the stores and on the roads, getting angry due to holiday stress.  Our workplaces become overwhelming as we push toward the end of the year.  We are uptight at home as we worry about getting everything ready for the holidays.  We have forgotten the most important recipe this holiday season, fun and laughter.

Maybe it is time we learn from the children.  They know there is magic in the air.  When did we lose sight of it?

This Holiday Season, stop the negative energy and play like children.  Stop the negative posts on Facebook and vow to only spread positive messages, preferably, funny messages.  Don’t give gifts out of obligation, give them out of love.  Don’t just send holiday cards, add a personal note of thanks.  Maybe the magic you create will spread! 

We, in the counseling field, know that laughter and love is the best medicine for good health.  You have an infinite supply; pass it on!!!




Some days you realize that you have to stay positive; you are expected to keep yourself and maybe a team going.  Negativity may seem to be all around placing barriers in the path.  As the leader, remaining positive means identifying the potential trouble sources so you can stay clear.  The climb can be a struggle.  When you reach the top, look back at the view; see the beauty of where you have been.

This week started with a large amount of negativity in my work world.  At the end of Monday, I just wanted to run.  Things became overwhelming; my emotions and reactions were handled poorly.  I was left with a defeated attitude.  I reached out for help and was very quickly reminded by a good friend, of my own words, a few weeks ago. 

“When things get overwhelming and impossible; it is time to cut out the negativity in your life.  It is wasting your energy.”

Whether you are the leader in your job, your family or your own life; do not get stuck on the negative.  It will drain your energy. Take a look back and see the beauty.  It is the climb that got you where you are today.  You are learning during that climb and the struggles.  See the negative barriers and move around them.  You cannot change a major boulder in your path but you can recognize it and move around it.  Don’t just stand and look at it…move.

We all have bad days, over react, and make mistakes.  This is a part of learning.  Don’t beat yourself up; pick yourself up.  Move around the negative barriers and see the beauty on the other side.  It’s there; open your eyes and see the beauty!

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC



What if we all were to choose to spend this holiday season living from the heart?  What if we lived today or this moment with compassion?  What if today we chose love instead of judgment?  Instead of buying into the recent negativity in the social media, what if we decided to only spread kindness?  Think of the impact, if this kindness were to continue to grow…what an epidemic that would be!

This Thanksgiving, I decided to start reading the book Random Acts of Kindness by The Editors of Conari Press, Daphne Rose Kingma, Dawna Markova.  This book states, “Kindness is twice blessed.  It blesses the one who gives it with a sense of his or her own capacity to love, and the person who receives it with a sense of the beneficence of the universe.” 

Using kindness can create miracles and heal.  It works like an anti-depressant for those in pain.  It counterbalances the negative around us.  It sends a shining light of peace, hope, and love.  Isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to be about?

This year, during all of the holiday busyness, find time to do some random acts of kindness.  Let someone cut in front of you in those long lines, who looks like they could use a break.  Show some kindness to that cashier.  Help someone who is struggling with their packages.  Hold a door open.  Smile and say hello.  Carry spare change and drop it in those boxes by the cash register.  Donate your old items to charity.  Buy things on ebay or Amazon Smile and make a donation to charity while you shop.  Remember that Tuesday is Giving Tuesday!  When you send those Christmas Cards, put in a personal note and tell your recipients that they are special to you.  One of the easiest things you can do is just to “listen deeply” to someone. 

“My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”   The Dalai Lama

Keep your light shining and pass it on!!

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC


We do not gain our strength from the things we already know how to do.  We learn from the new challenges we face; when we accomplish things we didn’t think were possible.  Sometimes we need to step out of the box and give it a try.

When you are faced with a new challenge, there is often fear and doubt.  Sometimes we just need to look fear in the face and take a step forward.  Isn’t this the way we learn, grow, and change?

Sometimes it helps to take the hand of someone else and walk together.  Other times, we have to take those first steps alone.  Oh, but the feeling you feel, when you make it to the top of that mountain!!

Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way.”  —Theodor Seuss Geisel


Another school shooting this week and fear returns to our nation’s parents and children.  How quickly we Minnesotans forget that we have had two of our own schools shootings.  Have we become so focused on politics that we forgot our children need us?  What are we doing to prevent violence in our schools?

During the years of a poor economy, many communities somehow thought, it would be economical to eliminate D.A.R.E. programs.  Let’s take the law enforcement officers out of the schools and put in a security plan instead.  Let’s consider arming the teachers and ask our children to hide under their desks or in closets.  Is this preventing violence?

Other communities said, let’s take the D.A.R.E. officer out of our elementary schools and put a liaison officer in the high schools instead.  First, a liaison officer usually does not teach “prevention” but instead is working on “reacting” to incidents.  I am not saying they are not necessary and helpful but this plan left our elementary kids with a school secretary or administrator as their front line of defense.  Isn’t it safer to teach children prevention, starting at a young age?

When I first came to work for D.A.R.E., 17 years ago, our D.A.R.E. officers were on the playgrounds and in the lunchrooms.  One the best parts of the program was the positive relationship between that officer, the children, and families they served.  Now those officers, get a few hours in the classrooms a week, at best.  At least those schools still have law enforcement in their buildings.

Over the past few years, many cities, schools, and law enforcement agencies decided they needed to cut budgets.  They decided they could use the excuse to cut D.A.R.E. “because the studies say D.A.R.E. doesn’t work.”  When I ask them “what studies?”  I am usually left with a blank look.

There have been many, many studies of D.A.R.E. over the years.  D.A.R.E. was the first and has been the  largest drug and violence prevention program.  D.A.R.E. took ALL of those studies and continued to update the program from that original program in the early 80’s.  Studies are conducted to show us ways to become better and more effective.  As time passes, you can build on those findings and modify the program to fit the times.  D.A.R.E. has added additional programming through the years providing information for grades K-12, parents, and communities.

The current D.A.R.E. program is actually called  keepin’ it…REAL.  It is on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.  http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=133

What about the strength of the D.A.R.E. Officer in the classrooms as the instructor?  This too has been studied and reported in a journal article.  http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/682.full

What about officers assisting with other important issues in our schools?  Well, D.A.R.E. has a delivery system that has also been evaluated.  We can take other important health and safety information  and distribute it quickly to students and families, nationwide.  http://www.substanceabusepolicy.com/content/1/1/25

Most important there are specially-trained, law enforcement officers walking the halls of our schools.  They are trained to look for potential problems and take that information to the school administration, mental health workers, school nurses, teachers, and parents.  This week they will be in the classrooms comforting children, teachers, and parents; who are frightened about their safety.  They are trained to deal with emergency situations.  Most important, they are friend to your children.

D.A.R.E. is a nonprofit organization.  We do not make more money by having D.A.R.E. in more schools.  IT IS OUR MISSION  to educate and advocate for the health and safety of our children.  We want to PREVENT these incidents!

If you are interested in a D.A.R.E. program in your school, you can find out how to start one at:  http://www.dare.org/starting-a-dare-program/

For more information in Minnesota, contact us at Minnesota D.A.R.E., Inc. – MNDARE@aol.com

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC

Minnesota D.A.R.E., Inc. Executive Director