sassysage's Blog

Archive for December 2012

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  • Comments Off on Hot off the Press: Check out a new TV show to help teens

josh shipp is a motivational speaker who has inspired hundreds and thousands of teens around the world.  he is spunky and to the point.  i’ve been following his work for years and really love how well he connects with teens.   he has a new show, teen trouble, that is starting tomorrow (friday dec 28th) on lifetime 10pm (est).  

many teens are in need of answers. this is a reality show that is worth checking out. to learn more about the show visit

here is a sneak peek trailer

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  • Comments Off on Hot off the Press: Here’s To A Healthy Holiday

the day before thanksgiving a saw a post by my colleage dr. aletha maybank of on the call in the city about safe holiday eating.  i giggled at the post and went back to scanning fb posts.  boy was that a mistake! i spent the next week purging yams and turkey! i even had a visit to the emergency room, all because of food poisoning.   i learned my lesson the hard way.  so please do me a favor, humor me and take a glance at these tips from the CDC (and me) for staying healthy over the holidays.

Wash your hands often.  You are shaking so many hands and the extra time around people make it a prime time to spread germs and possibly get sick.

Stay Warm.  Running around with last minute shopping, it’s important to dress in layers and stay dry.

Manage Stress.  Be sure to be true to yourself and the spirit of the holidays. Be relaxed and remember it’s supposed to be fun.

Travel Safely.  Don’t drink/drug and drive!  Don’t text and drive! and take your time getting around town.

Be smoke-free.  If you stopped smoking, don’t let the holidays suck you back into the habit.  Still smoking? commit to quitting today.  That goes for blunts, hookahs and e-cigerettes too.

Get check ups and vaccinations. It’s flu season, consider getting your shots…

Watch the Kids.  Holiday season is a prime time for the little ones to get injuries.  All that excitement around the tree, lights and toys can make for a dangerous hazard. So watch out kiddies!

Practice Fire Safety.  Making a nice warm fire, hanging up decorations, and all that cooking can lead to fires. Be safe and take precautions.

Handle and Prepare Food Safely.   Remember my thanksgiving story…need I say more?

Eat Healthy and Be Active.   i will be eating an extra slice of pie but won’t let the holiday cheer be an excuse to overeat.  a little treat with a healthy snack is the key to a healthy holiday!

i’m a holiday music fanatic!  it just puts me in the best mood. so i’ll leave you with this song:)

Happy Holidays Blogosphere!

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: Don’t Let Sandy Win

my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those impacted by the Sandy Hook tragedy.

today is my last post on this issue.  where do we go from here?

this past week much of America and the world has been in shock over the terrible shootings that occurred at Sandy Hook elementary school.  those of us in the northeast have been especially torn apart. many of us have friends and family who live in newtown or attended the school.  we are tormented by the idea of trying to rise above what happened and it feels unthinkable to enjoy the holidays.

let us not forget that many of us in the northeast were also torn apart by super storm sandy.   storm sandy destroyed many homes, businesses and natural treasures in our neighborhoods.  we are still digging ourselves out of the mess that she left behind.  homes in new jersey, new york and perhaps even those in newtown still show the signs of how hard sandy hit our shores.

the two sandy’s were unexpected, unimaginable  and are still haunting our memories.   we are doing our best to figure out how we will go on…

and still we must.  come together, lean on each other and find uplifting messages to keep us going.  

that’s what happened to me last week when i was on vacation.  in a beautiful island with amazing beaches and crystal clear water there was a couple that seemed to be magically in love. they had a smile on their faces each day, a glistening in their eyes, lots of laughter and taking full advantage of all sights and fun.  i couldn’t help but ask if they were celebrating an anniversary or on their honeymoon. their response has stayed with me, especially given all that has happened this past week.

you see this couple decided to leave new york for a while after their home was destroyed by super storm sandy. they had almost nothing left of the place they lived with so many memories.  instead of staying in a state of misery, they decided to celebrate what they had.  they packed their bags and took a trip to find inspiration and renewal.   there weren’t trying to escape their problems. in fact they told me that each day they were on the phone with fema and contractors trying to get stuff done.  but in between the phone calls and waiting they decided to make the most of life, find peace and joy.

sandy holiday 12-12

this holiday season both sandy’s have left many people feeling sad, angry and pessimistic about life and our world.  let my vacationing couple be a guide to us all. don’t let the darkness draw you in.  find something that you can hold onto that will give you happiness while you try to get through the challenge.   we all can’t get away on a fancy trip but all it takes is a small step. yesterday while everyone was responding in disbelief to the NRA press conference.  i baked cookies while listening to holiday music.  it was such a joy.  find that small (or BIG) something that will inspire you to happiness.

we must refuse to let those sandy girls win.


my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those impacted by the Sandy Hook tragedy.

today, i’m shifting gears to talk about solutions

the past week, there has been so much discussion about gun control.  i am not a fan of the NRA, i am not a fan of guns and i believe in gun control. however, i will say that a gun by itself can’t shoot anyone.  let’s not forget to focus on the people committing these violent acts.

which brings me to another point that has gotten tons of discussion; mental illness.  it is true that many of the mass shootings we have seen have been carried out by people with mental illness.  i was saddened when i read the commentary from a mom who struggles to get assistance to deal with his violent behavior and mental illness

mental illness is an issue but it’s not okay for us to stigmatize those with mental illness as the only perpetrators of horrific acts of violence.  in fact most people with mental illness are not violent at all.   the real issue is MENTAL HEALTH.

mental illness, mental health it’s all the same you say.  not so…

mental illness is a psychological disorder that is caused by physical brain imbalances.   it is limited to a small percentage of people.   Poor mental health covers a more broad spectrum of issues that may lead individuals to commit violence.  Poor mental health causes anger, depression and lack of empathy or feeling for other human beings. Poor mental health is the inability to control one’s emotions, the acting out, bullying and social isolation. the child who has experienced years of abuse, the kid who watches a parent drink and lash out on a daily basis is at risk for mental health issues.  

when we make the discussion about mental illness it moves things to the extreme, when in fact the issue is so much more common place than we have been willing to admit.   our lack of focus on mental health has left many children and adults in a state of rage.  they take it out on their classmates, they commit acts of domestic violence, they join gangs and reek havoc on communities.

the solution is for our society to become much more focused on the idea of good mental health as an important part of our overall health.  what that would mean is a move from looking at mental health as a problem that only requires medication and locking folks away. it’s acknowledging that good mental health is a human right which everyone of us should strive to obtain.    

good mental health is when you have balance in your emotional states; most of the time you are calm, happy and feeling great.  good mental health is when you are socially aware; you know how to engage with people in a positive way and enjoy having human contact.  good mental health is when psychologically you are strong; you feel good about yourself and think positively about life.   good mental health is something we should teach in schools, we should promote among parents and support as part of our health care system.

it’s time that mental health stopped being a bad word.  

it’s the mind, body, spirit equation we need to be fully healthy human beings.

mental health 12-20-12

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: How To Help Children Deal with Traumatic Events Like the Sandy Hook Tragedy

my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those who may need help in this time of crisis.  

child trauma 12-19-12today’s blog is focused on helping children deal with the trauma of witnessing violent events

i wish i didn’t have the experience to share about this particular topic. but unfortunately i do.  on a bright and beautiful september day in 2001 i was living in new york city and on my way to work. i was walking down 34th street by the empire state building when the twin towers were attacked.  i watched smoke envelop the sky and saw people running in panic.  i then put on the radio and heard the news. next i ran to work.  when i got there i saw the horror on tv.  we were all made to stay put until it was perceived safe enough for us to walk home.  the next few months were a blur.

you see i worked at the nyu child study center which is one of the leading medical facilities in the world focused on child development and child mental health.   we were getting hundreds of calls a day from schools and organizations who needed help working with children who had witnessed that unimaginable violent attack.  from that work, we developed a tool kit for parents, teachers and schools on how to help your child deal with traumatic violent attacks and crisis

most people don’t realize that being a victim of the a violent attack is not the only way to experience trauma.  one can also just witness the attack (even on tv) and be impacted.  this is especially true for children.   child trauma is something that many adults ignore. they figure the child is too young to realize what happened. but research shows that even infants are able to absorb the trauma but are unable to verbally express what they are feeling.   child traumatic stress is when a child’s reactions interfere with daily life.  so it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your child’s mood, behavior and physical symptoms. then get help from a trained professional (clergy, counselor, psychologist).

the following are resources to help your child deal with witnessing the sandy hook tragedy or other violent events:

National Child Traumatic Stress Network Resources related to the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Tips from the American Psychological Association on how to help your child deal with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: What Parents Can Do When Their Child is Grieving

my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those who may need help in this time of crisis.  this past year, i led a study funded by new york life foundation focused on child experiences with the death of a family member and their treatment/service needs.  i want to use the blog this week to share some of the information we learned and provide resources for those who may need it.

parent grieving child 12-18-12

today’s blog is focused on what parents can do

to help their grieving child

1- make sure to be there for your child. this may sound obvious but many of the families i spoke with mentioned that parents were so overcome with their own grief that they weren’t able to be there for their children. some children even reported that they pretended to be okay because they didn’t want to put extra stress on an already overburdened parent.   it is understandable that parents would be dealing with their own emotions regarding the death.  however, if you recognize that you are overcome with grief, please get professional help from a counselor, clergy or psychologist. your family needs you to be there for them and in order to do that, you have to be well.

2- give equal attention to your children.   this is generally a rule of thumb for parenting overall. but it’s even more important after a serious life event, like the death of a loved one.   every child will be dealing with the grief in different ways. some may seem more adjusted than others but that doesn’t mean they don’t need attention and support.   regardless of whether your children are young or teens, make sure to spend individual time with them talking about the death and their feelings. this rule should still apply in situations where the death impacts only one child and not the other siblings.

3- take it easy. this is the time to let go of trying to juggle everything.   so many of the parents we spoke with mentioned that they were not prepared to deal with all the challenges of the death plus the normal demands of running a household.  there was just too much for them to do.  so it’s important to get support.   ask your family and friends to help with laundry, get someone to cook some meals and freeze them for you, have a close friend watch the kids while you get some ‘me’ time.   try to get extra sleep, eat right and exercise so you can handle the stress associated with the death and your child’s grief.  this time with your family is so precious it’s important not to waste it away on household chores and errands.

Below is a very helpful resource for parents to help them when their child is grieving:

New York Life Foundation brochure with tips, websites and programs for parents 

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: How To Help A Child With Grief

i, like most of the world, am in shock over the tragedy at sandy hook elementary in newtown, ct.  how could anyone kill innocent children at school?  many people are calling for solutions before we even have answers to what happened.  i have my own thoughts but i feel like all of that must be placed on hold to support the families,  pay honor to the lives that were lost and praise those that courageously came to the rescue.  

my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those who may need help in this time of crisis.  this past year, i led a study funded by new york life foundation focused on child experiences with the death of a family member and their treatment/service needs.  i want to use the blog this week to share some of the information we learned and provide resources for those who may need it.  

today’s blog is focused on child grief and how to help a child dealing with the death of a loved one

"Good Grief" Camp Counsels Children Of Fallen Military Personnel

1- the most important thing is to talk about it. don’t sweep the death under the rug and try to hide the fact that the family member or loved one died. don’t make it seem like you are not upset and are not grieving too.  it’s important to explain to the child that death does happen and it happened to their loved one. if the child is old enough to understand the finality of death, lean on your faith to help explain what you believe may happen with the loved one now that they have died.

2- allow the child to go through their emotional process. children should have the freedom to cry, be quiet and ask questions.  be aware that it is normal for the child to experience some forms of acting out or anxiety.  some may wet the bed, be afraid to be left alone, regress to behaviors that they used to do when younger (e.g.- suck thumbs, carry a blanket etc.).  it is okay if these things happen initially. however, keep an eye out if they continue several months later.  if the behavior begins to turn for the worse (violent outbursts, refusal to go to school, bullying, depression), it’s important to get help from a trained professional (e.g., school counselor, support group, psychologist, clergy).

3- establish a memorial event. plan an event or activity that you as a family can do to remember the life of the loved one.  this can be the death anniversary, the person’s birthday or another day that has special significance.   during this time, your child can have an opportunity to remember their loved one in a positive way with support and encouragement. making it an annual event is an even better way to pay tribute.

the following are very good resources for helping children deal with grief:

Free Seasame Street DVD Resource Kit- ‘When Families Grieve’

List of bereavement camps, support groups & programs for children experiencing death of a loved one

Teen Grief Resource

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