The Struggle: Finding Therapists

Disclaimer: I am partnering with BetterHelp, the world’s largest e-counseling platform – helping people with finding therapists where they are needed – to share information about their services in this blog post. All opinions are 100% my own. (TW: Suicide / Mental Health)

If you follow me on my more personal blog, you might remember how 2019 is my year of courage. This one is really playing out as I eluded to when I told you that I was having some physical struggles back in June.  In that post, I also shared that there was a mental/emotional side to it, too. Boy, at that time I had no clue how much more was coming my way, but I’m happy to say that the tides that were rising are starting to recede and I’m working on getting the help I need.

WAIT, WHAT?

Needing help? That’s not what a strong person does, is it? To be honest, admitting help is needed is exactly what I didn’t want to do. It made me feel so weak and vulnerable, but this summer it became so clear that getting help was what was necessary.

So yes, you heard me right. I’ve been hiding that all is okay and it’s not really okay around here but I am working on that, we are working on that to be fair (it’s not just my battle).

Those of you close to me know that on June 7, 2019, my 17-year-old cousin Emily died by suicide. Emily’s struggle is not something unfamiliar to our family – my side and Greg’s – or to me. She was struggling with mental health, something I did not realize was so hard to get help for. Even though I majored in Psychology as an undergrad, I had no clue that there weren’t enough people in the profession able to fill all of the needs…until I found myself desperately needing it.

Getting Help/Finding a Therapist

Later in June, the need for a therapist for myself and Greg went from a “this is something we should do because we know it is good” to a must do (unrelated to losing Emily, but all still so raw and real).

My world crashed greater than I thought it could (please respect that I’m going to keep details private for now – it is not for secrecy but for healing). With what I feel is really good insurance (and an out of pocket max met thanks to my health issues), we tried for ten weeks to get a counselor and finally last week were able to make it happen.

TEN weeks. Ten weeks is a lifetime when you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, when you feel alone and ugly, when you feel desperate for the pain to just go away. This part of my story is that ten week is far too freaking long for someone to get licensed help and it is no surprise to me that our mental health issues are climbing, suicide is far too familiar, and the divorce rate is so high.

But ten weeks is what it took us to find a therapist and even then actually going to my first appointment took all I had. This shakes me and breaks me and makes me so sad for my young cousin (who I know was trying to get help), her family, our extended family, myself, and our world as a whole. Mental health help should not be so hard to come by!

Is there Better Help Out There?

So that brings me to BetterHelp, the partner for this post. Goodness, I wish that I’d heard about them sooner in my journey to find a therapist. They can help by offering a list of potential matching therapists based on your location, need, and preferences. Even more awesome, they are avaiable for in-person or online visits, taking down one of the huge barriers that I was facing in getting help.

Note: At the time of this post, my therapist is not one suggested by their service; however, because therapy needs to work for you in a way that is convenient and helpful, I will be using them should my needs or comfort with my counselor changes. 

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BetterHealth can help you find a therapist based on your location, need, and preferences. They are avaiable for in-person or online visits, taking down one of the huge barriers that I was facing in getting help. Find out more by visiting their therapist search site, https://www.betterhelp.com/therapists/

Is therapy right for you? 

One of the rewarding aspects of working with a therapist is that they are listening to your feelings. Our friends and loved ones often hear us, but they may have a hard time providing objective guidance in the way a therapist can. A therapist wants to support you toward a healthier emotional state. In addition to developing healthier emotions, another benefit of therapy is you have a safe space to discuss problems that you may be hesitant to talk about with people in your everyday life. Source: BetterHealth

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

2019 Challenger International Soccer Camp

Review Disclaimer: We have a partnership with US Family Guide – they provide opportunities such as Challenger International Soccer Camp in exchange for reviews on this blog and our social media. All opinions are 100% our own.

A few weeks ago, Evan took on another year of Challenger International Soccer Camp. This fun-filled week with coaches Joe and Andrew from Wales challenged and exhausted him. It was an opportunity to work on his game (especially passing) and fall deeper in love with soccer. The kids held a World Cup event, representing countries from around the world in their daily scrimmages.

We wish this camp could be every day all summer long (with a location slightly closer to home – our nearest option is about 40 minutes away but worth it). Evan jumps out of bed when it is soccer camp week, barely touches his iPod, and goes to bed on time. There’s even rumor that he packed his own healthy lunch to take with him and drank all the water every day. Who is this boy-man?!?!?

challenger-intenational-soccer-camp
Don’t worry! He DID wear spikes but those flats have been his summer go-to.

Special thanks to Pappy & Grammie for making sure Evan got to and from camp and to US Family Guide for making this possible.

Challenger International Soccer Camp

If you’d like more information on camps that remain this summer or to be sure you’re getting all the details on 2020 camps, Search for the International Soccer Camp closest to you and then register.

Challenge Accepted: 2018 British Soccer Camp

This post is brought to you through our partnership with US Family Guide who made it possible for Evan to attend British Soccer Camp in exchange for our review and honest opinions. All opinions are 100% our own. 

Summer is almost in the books, can you believe it? Evan spent a week at British Soccer Camp honing in on his soccer skills as he prepares for the YMCA’s Fall Soccer program. While we’re still not clear which position he loves to play (because he seems to like them all), we are clear that he really loves soccer thanks to this program.

2018 British Soccer Camp in Pittsburgh

This year was a ‘lil special for the Bigs in a few ways. First, Evan was old enough to be at camp for the full day program, meaning Pappy took him at 9 and picked him back up at 4. He was also responsible for putting on his own sunscreen and eating his lunch – both of which he took seriously!

Next, you’ll notice I said the Bigs! Arianna went with Evan on day one for the “Bring a Buddy” day. While she still loves her softball, she’s fallen back in love with soccer thanks to camp and will also be playing this fall!

While Mama & Daddy didn’t do the pick-up or drop-off, Pappy gave us the details. This year, the camp was at Denny Field in Shaler and it was five days of playing outside. There was a picnic shelter and the Soccer Club opened the concession stand, too. The coaches (from around the globe) were friendly and young, definitely committed to teaching the kids soccer skills!

I stopped in to see the last day’s World Cup game, but I missed it. They played a few World Cup games each day and on the last day represented their countries. Evan loved this. And just like we shared in our intro post about the camp, he got his jersey, t-shirt, and ball in addition to the skills and character building. We’re so proud of him (and Arianna)!

British Soccer Camp

About British Soccer Camp

British Soccer Camps are the most popular soccer camp in the US. With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, The British Soccer Camp provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international expert’s right in the heart of their own community.

In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

-Source: US Family Guide

If you’d like to learn more about British Soccer Camp and save on registration in your local area, use code BSC18 on the Challenger Sports website.

The Twins are THREE

How can it be? Today is a big day for two ‘lil girls, our twins are three!

These girls have truly changed our lives, keeping us on our toes ever since the day they were born. Both bring so much love and joy to our family, it’s hard to imagine that three years ago we had no idea what we were in for.

Ava and Isla, you are one in a million and so loved! Happy Birthday!

(our annual photo of the night before their birthday – so much has changed since this one!)

Welcome to 2018

Welcome 2018! We are excited to have you here. There are a few changes coming to our blog, so be sure to read to the end of this one!

Our 2017 Family Christmas Photo

Can you believe it, today we welcome a new year! A fresh slate, an open book. Time to start fresh.

Speaking of starting fresh, Mama Burgher is starting a few new projects this year, the first of which launched today! A new blog, focused mostly on mom life things (things I didn’t really feel “fit” here) and another space for creativity.

In 2018, you’ll see this blog still have tidbits about our lives, but it is mostly going to be Pittsburgh events and experiences as well as toy reviews (more to come from the Bigs and their YouTube channel – which also will be getting a facelift this year). It’s been fun to share things with you here, but it’s also time to start focusing!

What are you going to do to make 2018 a great year?

2017 Word of the Year Wrapped: Faithful

2017 is about to be wrapped, so it’s time to take a look back at how I did as I set my intentions with my word of the year, faithful, back in January.

faithful

My goals were around ways to be faithful in several areas of my life – let’s see how this turned out! (You can read my original post about this here.)

  1. Faith. God showed our family some pretty powerful things in 2017. It all started as 2016 ended with the boiler (1/3 of our home heat) dying, the Durango engine dying, and the hot water heater bursting days after Christmas. I’d love to say that things got better, but they frankly didn’t. The day we were going to do our taxes (to get our refund and perhaps pay for a new engine for the Durango), our van transmission went. We heard you, God. It was a tough start to the year that truly tested our faith. I prayed more, didn’t learn the guitar, did a daily devotional, spoke at Women’s Ministries (with a bigger “gig” coming up in 2018), and did less journaling than I’d hoped. But God spoke to us and has shown us that it is well and His plan is bigger than our own.
  2. Family. The past twelve months of ups and downs really brought light to this one. We stayed in more often. We borrowed Greg’s parents’ vehicle for 10 months. We got adjusted to my parents’ retirement. I vowed when my cousin Tracy passed away that we’d do better about spending time with cousins. But the sad truth is that I feel like we are more distant from our extended family than usual. And maybe that’s because we really focused on the six of us? To be honest, it hurts but I keep praying that we’ll be better about time with both sides of our family in 2018.
  3. Food. Oh, buddy! I never had a thing with drinking pop, but I’d love it here or there with pizza or cake. December 31 I said goodbye to it and I am happy to report I’m 364 days without a sip of pop. High five! And after my 3-day Refresh, I did Whole30 twice which was a HUGE success (I’ll admit, I made some “mistakes“). I found out that gluten and I are not friends, so I’ve been off gluten since February, too. Then in September, I started Ketosis, which while it isn’t great for everyone, it’s proven to be good for me. I eat high protein and fat, and very low carbs – no sugar! I broke my bad habits and paired with my fourth focus area dropped 51 pounds in 2017!
  4. Fitness. I owe so much to my FitFam at the YMCA. You all pushed me and made me focus and believe again. Thanks to CrossFit, running the Half Marathon (even if I didn’t PR) and the 10-miler, I truly believe in myself again. This was definitely an area where I was faithful, maybe to a fault (like running while sick), but it paid off (see my loss in number 3).
  5. Fun. Even with things being tight, we still had a lot of fun this year. Part of our debt is our timeshare – something I will not give up as it gives us a break 2-3 times a year – so we got to travel to Wisconsin and Myrtle Beach. I also got in a NYC trip and Columbus (for business but fun). The kids joined soccer and softball and all four have so much fun with our church. We definitely did well with this one!

Well, now that 2017 is coming to a close, it’s time to set new intentions and see what 2018 will bring. For that…you’re going to have to make sure you are staying tuned to mrsgregwillis.com for more!!! =) (Who is excited?!?!?Make sure you still follow along here and on our lilburghers Facebook and Twitter, too! We’re not going anywhere! xoxo

2017 Christmas Letter

Our Christmas Letter is going digital! And in true Willis style, it’s a few days late but better late than never, right?

Merry Christmas!

2017 has almost come to a close, meaning it is time for our annual Christmas letter. Admittedly, as parents of four kids, the year flew by. All of the kids have grown so much since last Christmas and it’s amazing to watch.

Arianna is in third grade and turned nine in October. In the spring, she finally got to play on the Kittanning Little League’s 7/8 Softball team (and she can’t wait to get started again). She had her last year as a Girl Scout and then joined our church’s M-Pact Girls in the fall. Arianna loves being a big sister, drawing, playing softball, cooking (and watching Top Chef Junior), and reading. She got a guitar for Christmas and hopes to learn how to play it soon!

Evan is in first grade and turned seven in December. He continues to love playing soccer as part of the YMCA’s sports program and also went to a soccer camp over the summer. He is still part of the Royal Rangers at church and is helping raise money to open an Outpost in Kenya. (This boy has a soul on fire!) He loves being the only boy, watching YouTube kids, adventuring with Daddy, and drawing.

Ava turned two in April. She is our wild one, don’t let her sweet looks fool you! We have to keep our eyes on her at all times as she is mischevious and daring, thinking she can hang with the Bigs. Playpens don’t work with her anymore, she knows how to escape! She loves being read to and hates bathtime.

Isla also turned two in April. She has been known to stare at the pretty girl in the mirror and has a certain way she likes to wear her hair clips. Isla thrives as the baby of the family and often acts like she’s the only kiddo. She loves to laugh and draw, sometimes on the couch (oops!).

We still have our two dogs, they’re aging but still playful when they want to be.

Greg starting working for a pharmacy delivery service in July and continues to drive Uber. He stays home with the twins during the day then swaps parenting duties off for the evening. He ran in the Marathon Relay in May and started a new blog series about his adventures exploring nature with the kids, “Wildlife Wednesdays“.

Becky continues to work as a Salesforce Admin for Excel4apps and has the blog, Thirty-One, Monat, and doTerra to keep her extra busy. She continues to do CrossFit at the Y and has some more distance running under her belt (Half Marathon and 10-Miler).

As a family we love going to our church, taking walks on the Rails to Trails (behind our house), and traveling. This year took us back to Wisconsin and Myrtle Beach.

We hope this letter finds you all well and full of health and happiness. Keep up with us here on the blog to see more of what’s going on in our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Love,

The Willis Family (aka ‘lil Burghers)

Evan’s Seven

Today’s the day! Evan’s seven! We celebrated our boy today with some of his favorites – pizza, cake, and a family board game.

Even though we’d celebrated with family and friends back in November, we made sure to make today special for him, too.

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Evan,

You’ve grown not just in height but in smarts and confidence in this past year.

You’re a great little and big brother, caring for your sisters (and giving them all just enough torture to keep things interesting).

You love playing soccer, being part of the Royal Rangers, and trying your best to be a YouTube kid.

You’re full of the Holy Spirit – singing and dancing to praise music at any chance you get.

You love adventures outdoors with Dad – you’re so good at spotting animals!

May your birthday and the next year be so full of the love and light you bring our way.

Happy Birthday!

xoxo, Mama

A Very Happy Birthday (Party)

Today, we had a very happy birthday party for the Bigs. When you have four kids, four parties are a lot (not just on Mom and Dad’s budget, but also on the guests who get invited). While the Twins are built-in party sharers, we’ve gotten creative with having the Bigs share their days by celebrating both midway between their days – in November. Today was their big day!

We welcomed family and friends into our house and kept it simple this year. Between being busy and trying to lead a debt-free life, simple just made sense. There was no theme, no fancy cake, and not a ton of fussing to get things set up. It just was fun. It felt like I was back to the basics of parties when I was growing up, and frankly felt just right.

Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated Arianna’s 9th and Evan’s 7th birthdays today. We feel so blessed to have had a very happy birthday party and a home full of love and laughs (many that made us laugh ’til we cried!). xoxo

https://www.instagram.com/p/BbXxMP4n097/?taken-by=mrsgregwillis

EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler 2017

In my journey to get back to the fit mom I was in 2013-14, I set my goals to run again. It’s been about two years in the making, but I think I’m finally back as a distance runner (it only took two good, long races to make me feel that way). Today’s race was the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler, a fall favorite here in Pittsburgh.

As for documenting my training, it didn’t happen like it had for May’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon because life was pretty busy this fall. But if you’re following over on my Instagram (which you should be for mini blogs!), you’d see that I have been working really hard and had some really good runs the last few weeks (and had a lot of life sprinkled in between my training).

The first (and only other) time I ran the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler was its inaugural run in 2013. I was faster back then, but that pace is definitely not out of my reach for 2018! You see, I’m definitely feeling four years older and added two more kids to this family since then. But this mama is definitely back to her running game!

Friday at packet pickup, I felt on top of the world!

So how’d it go? Marvelous! I could sit here and tell you I was mad about my pace and that the wheels fell off like they did for the Half, but that wouldn’t be true. I think I was the proudest I’ve ever been of myself with the exception of the 2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon (my first big race)! Add to this, I did it at day 5 of a sinus infection I’ve just been treating with Essential Oils and prayer as well as an achy right leg from some bumps that happened on Thursday and Saturday (I so should have bubble wrapped myself).

I opted to keep my phone off because ever since the last two updates, my Galaxy has been sucking battery life like there’s no tomorrow. Instead, I ran with my Fitbit (which is a must-have for my fitness journey and is available over on Amazon if I’ve inspired you to get moving) to keep a check on my heart rate and pace. Unfortunately, because of this, I don’t have my splits but I do have what my head and heart went through throughout.

EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler 2017

The day began at about 6, we woke up all the kids and loaded the van. The original plan was to walk from First Avenue Garage to Highmark Stadium, but the rain on our drive down changed that plan. Instead, Greg drove me as close to Station Square as he could then he back-tracked to park and head over to the Rachel Carson Bridge to cheer me on. I found my way to the corral, texted my boss to wish him luck and decided where to place myself for the best pace I could. Corral D was super empty, so I was worried I’d be right in front of the sweep vehicle!

Mile 1: This mile, basically straight up a hill then about half mile flat and another uphill through Carson Street felt so good. I’d positioned myself in front of the 11:00/mile pace group and kept them behind me for much of mile one. The 11:00/mile and 11:30/mile passed me just before the end of this mile, but my FitBit said I was doing basically 11:25.

Mile 2: West End. This is basically all uphill, too. That felt right and awesome, but I kept a back and forth with the 12:00/mile pace groups and knew my clock wasn’t quite right. I’d heard the 12:00 pace group yell “11:46” at mile one back behind me then 11:50-something at the end of mile 2 (again behind me), so I knew I was faster than I thought I could do this and happy.

Mile 3: West End Bridge, do I need to say more?

Mile 4: The climb up Western Avenue basically slowed things down a bit. I ended up walking the end of this mile for 30 seconds because that hill was biting me! I also realized how quiet the course was and it kinda bummed me out.

Mile 5: North Side // passing the Relay Exchange felt good – there’s a bit of downhill through here, so I upped my pace again and could see the 12:00/mile groups just ahead of me. I remembered passing the relay and thinking the exchange was way sooner than five miles (and it was).

Mile 6: Rachel Carson Bridge brought me to the first sight of my family. They were happy to see me twice around the Fort Duquesne Boulevard loop, and I was, too. Greg yelled that I was doing 12:12, and I shrugged, like oh well, no PR but I feel GREAT.

Mile 7: The hip started to feel awful. The hill up to East Ohio Street to the 16th Street Bridge was long and I walked a bit more than I like to admit. I stopped to stretch my hip and catch some breaths. The rest of the course was exactly what I’d trained on and my body knew it, but I was also scared I’d quit when I saw Greg and the kids again at the end of this mile. I stopped to high five my five hearts at the end of 16th Street Bridge and tell Greg I was in a bit of pain. But no pain, no gain.

Mile 8: Penn Avenue is my training grounds. I swore I’d have done better, but the rain started. There were also spectators and a lot of volunteers/medics in this section due to the switchback we did onto Smallman and Penn to get back to Liberty. I remember a biker almost hitting me during that switch and a police trying to stop them from being on the course with no avail. Oops!

Mile 9: I walked the first and last minutes of this mile. It is what it is. At that point, my hip was burning and I needed it. The rain started to come down and I was pretty much soaked. I love running in the rain, but not when I’m hurting! This flat stretch of Liberty seemed excruciatingly long, but I could see the mile 9 timer ahead!

Mile 10: I told myself to just run this thing and I did. My FitBit says around 11:30 to 11:04/mile when I was pushing it. I jumped into a puddle. I swore I saw a rainbow over the EQT building. I saw the family again but needed to put my head down and RUN. I couldn’t do the math as I crossed but I knew I beat my goal of under 13:00/mile and was ecstatic.

After the race, I grabbed my medal and heat sheet (so glad I did) and a banana (gosh, I’ve missed these with Keto, but I needed it for my sluggish legs as they started to cramp quickly). Some Gatorade (again, not Keto but my ear was ringing and I appreciated the sugar shock for a moment) and water then my bubbly from Barefoot over at BRGR. I didn’t even turn on my phone to meet up with Greg and the kids because I just wanted to do all the post-race things quickly…thunder was rolling and lightning started soon after!

We met up and took the T back to the van, Greg told me my pace and I basically didn’t care. I mean, I had some thoughts but those are all silly. Would it have been great to PR? Yes. Would it have been great to do a sub 2? Yes. Would it have been great to knock a whole minute off my Half pace? Yes. But you know what? For feeling like I did + the rain and weird November heat surge, this race was AMAZING and I’m sticking to it.

EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler Official Results

2:07:08 | 12:43/mile

What’s next? I haven’t decided yet. I’d love a Kittanning Turkey Trot, but we don’t have one and I really don’t feel up to driving downtown then home then to family Thanksgiving. I think I’ll keep running, do some 5-6 milers on weekends and be in really good shape for the 2018 Pittsburgh HALF Marathon (that bold is for those of you who think I am crazy and can actually pull off a full with four young kids, that day’s coming, but not next year!).