Family Therapy for Happy Families

What is family therapy?

Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims at solving family issues through family counseling. In a family therapy treatment multiple or all family members are involved as this technique considers family as one unit. The emphasis is on the members who are directly related to the problem. Issues like marriage, divorce, children-parent relationships, family conflicts, depression, addictions and similar family issues are generally handled by family therapists. The focus of family therapy is on family relationships and family interaction. Instead of pin pointing the cause family therapists work on solving the issue by emphasizing on the strengths of the family unit.

What does a family therapist do?

Family therapy sessions have helped hundreds of families live together happily and peacefully. A family therapist informs the family members about the family as a unit and the importance of each member performing his/her roles effectively. A family therapist helps the family members to resolve conflicts through effective communication minimizing the gaps. Family members are made to realize the significance of family as a unit. Their behaviors are analyzed and if they need to change their conduct they are explained why and how. Family therapy is a very effective technique to create happy families.

To resolve issues family therapists conduct regular sessions after intervals. They ask the family members to do certain activities or behave in a particular way to resolve issues and to attain the objectives of family therapy sessions. Family therapy works best when people involved understand its importance, are convinced, and willing to participate to resolve issues.

In what areas does family therapy help?

Family therapy for parent-child conflict: Parent-child relational problems are very common and can arise due to indifferent attitude of parents or child, bad company, less time for children, disagreement on various issues, etc. Family therapists work towards achieving a better understanding to resolve conflicts. Family therapy can also help family members solve on-going issues in family life, like problems at work, raising children, social relationships and relationships between family members.

Family therapy for Learning Disabilities: Family therapy can treat children with learning disability (USA) or development disability (UK). Learning disability refers to low general intelligence of the person in comparison to others. Family therapy can develop cognitive-social-emotional competencies in young minds and guide children to control their emotions and enhance their performance.

Family therapy for Marital Issues and Divorce: Family therapy can transform relationships gone sour into happy relationship through therapy session for couples. Family therapists educate both members about handling conflicting situations tactfully. They also try to resolve issues that can lead to happy relationship through in-depth discussions and change in attitude. They encourage the couple to make a new start.

Family therapy for Chronic Medical Illness: Family therapy also works well in case a family member is suffering from chronic illnesses like AIDS, which can cause mental trauma to the whole family. Family therapy discussion sessions enable families to handle this difficult situation and help the patient overcome illness with a positive attitude.

Apart from the above listed issues, one can also contact a licensed and qualified family therapist to resolve issues related to family violence, child abuse and incest, death in the family, traumatic incidents, etc.

The Psychology of Family

On the need to study family structures and family interactions in the Psychology of Family

The psychology of family examines how and why we have families and close relationships as also the dynamics of family interactions. The structure of families is based on evolutionary biology, anthropology, history and sociology and the roots of family systems are found within these disciplines. However studying family structure will show us how family systems have evolved over time but may not directly tell us why family relationships develop in the first place. Family relationships are in turn studied with psychology, child development and philosophy and suggest why family forms the basis of our existence. The interdisciplinary approach to the study of family will have psychology at its core as human evolutionary biology, sociology, philosophy have significant psychological components.

To begin an answer to the questions on how family structures have developed, early evolutionary history and anthropology will suggest that family, albeit in a different form is the basis of human civilization. The earliest men who lived in caves and forests, quickly formed groups or tribes to protect themselves from wild animals. Research into anthropological remains has shown the life of primitive humans who were cave dwellers. Forming herds was one of the basic security and safety needs of humans as by forming a large family they could attack or defend themselves against wild animals, warn each other of natural disasters, gather food and raise children in a community, almost like modern day societies. Thus the earliest families were tribes or herds and there were several generations of humans in one family.

Family sizes were thus presumably large with entire forest tribes forming single families. However this tribal system of forming large communities possibly did not last long and some humans wanted a different kind of life and migrated to places where there were no communities or tribes. Some others may have simply weighed the disadvantages of a group life as insurmountable and reasons could be possible jealousy regarding mates, dissatisfaction in sharing food, shelter and apathy for the rules of a community life. The freedom seekers moved out of this community pattern and groups became smaller and humans started building their own homes and the first human civilization was thus laid with many smaller families, although large when compared with contemporary nuclear families of a couple and their children. The basic human need of safety and security gave way to the fulfilment of more emotional needs of love and sharing through family systems and humans developed attachment and affection as these were constantly reinforced with rewards of love, love making or promise of love.

Humans as we know were born with some basic drives of sex and aggression, as suggested by Freud but humans found that they could fulfil their sexual needs only when they also showed attachment and affection as attachment and affection were often rewarded with sex and through sex, their aggressive needs were also fulfilled to an extent.

That is how humans developed attachment and affection and these positive emotions have been constantly rewarded and thus have been reinforced over time to the point that love in a civilized society has been glorified and sex has been degraded. Of course, psychoanalysis would suggest that love is just a sugar coating on our real primal sexual needs, the fact remains that humans have constantly found that indirect love needs are more readily rewarded than direct sexual needs and thus developed these positive emotions of love and attachment as the basis of family structures. Experiments by psychologist B. F. Skinner successfully showed that behaviors are reinforced when rewarded. Family systems are built on the foundation of love, attachment, loyalty, trust, which in turn fulfils safety and status needs and thus psychology is an important ingredient in family interactions.

The Psychology of Family could be divided into two branches –

The Psychology of Family Structures:

The psychology of family could possibly branch out to two directions on understanding how and why family structures have evolved in a specific way. Why did the earliest humans form tribes or groups and why did they suddenly abandon the nomadic life to begin farming and settled in homes? How did communities form and why were social rules made that helped to protect the family system? Why did the family size diminish over time? What needs were fulfilled with the changing family patterns? This branch of the psychology of family studies social systems, political systems, civilizations and history and evolutionary biology and anthropology. This is the structure of the family, the basic family systems and the psychological basis of the evolution of family.

Here the basic social psychology of group behavior and group formation highlights the reasons of forming groups through cooperation (with other members) and identification (with the group) as found in earliest humans and continues to this day. Kurt Lewin, Bruce Tuckman and Gustav Le Bon are noted group behavior theorists in social psychology and studied group behavior as the basis of social development.

Family formation could be explained with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as family provides the basic safety and security as well as love needs and in some cases also fulfils our status needs. I have discussed Maslow at length in another essay. The basic drives of sex and aggression being fulfilled through love and attachment as we get in families would be a Freudian explanation of family systems. Existentialism by Sartre who claimed that man is thrown alone in this world with an inherent sense of isolation could explain the need to overcome this loneliness. Group structure and group interaction are both explained with these varied theories.

The Psychology of Family Interactions/Relationships

The second branch would however be about the family relationships, the basic psychological and emotional nuances of family members, their interactions and interrelationships, the emotions of love and trust and the functions or role of family in an individual’s life. This branch would emphasize on family relationships and the psychological basis of emotional interaction in the family and how this relates to the outer world. This branch also studies how our family patterns and relationships closely affects our interactions in the outside world and how we behave in the community, society and the world. This branch of psychology is also related closely to issues of existentialism and phenomenology in philosophy as with the family, man does not feel completely lonely or isolated in the world as existentialism would claim but rather develop a sense of belongingness and through family humans first relate to the outside world.

The family is thus the stepping stone, the first stage on which we begin our learning about the world. This is also an important part of child development studies. In addition to the theories of Freud, Maslow, Lewin and Sartre, the theories of Erik Erikson in which the stages of man from birth to death show why humans form relationships, could well explain the dynamics of family interactions and relationships. Erikson has also been elaborated in another essay, but briefly in Erikson’s theory humans go through eight stages in psychosocial development from hope and trust in infancy to integrity or despair in old age.

On the one hand we study changing family patterns and in some cases comparisons are drawn within cultural studies as families in different cultures could have different patterns and structures. For example large families are still prevalent in Eastern societies although this is becoming almost extinct in western more individualistic societies. With marriage rates falling drastically and people preferring to remain single, the study of the family structure and its gradual change could help us analyze and predict future patterns in family as well. Will the family system become slowly extinct with individualistic societies showing a decline in the number of members within a family? It could be predicted that a hundred years from now, individualistic single member families would become a norm worldwide and this could further lead to isolation, loneliness and a need to emotionally connect that would see humans forming large groups or herds or close communities once again.

These will however be the ultra urban, technologically superior tribes, possibly space travelling nomads, like we see herds or groups of aliens in movies related to alien culture and UFOs. Aliens who are considered superior to us and possibly reside in UFOs are always shown or seen in groups or herds as you will notice. Ever wondered why the aliens are always in groups or herds? Possibly they have passed through all the evolutionary stages of humans and thus are more evolved than us. The future is possibly a return to the past, to formation of tribes, groups, herds and communities, rather than small families. I don’t claim to believe in UFOs and aliens but this is possible and is based on speculation but the evolution of the structure of family systems would also depend on how our emotional needs for interactions and relationships change or evolve.

Apart from the theories of Maslow (safety/love needs), Freud (basic drives), Existentialism (loneliness) Lewin (Group formation) that could be related to the need for family structures, the psychology of family will have to gauge human emotions in different family situations and this would be about child and adult development considering theories of Erikson (life stages), Freud (on sexuality) and the reinforcement of positive emotions

Family Therapy

A child’s poor schoolwork may be a cry for help in family relationships. If the family’s request for help is ignored, the school may be left with a refractory educational problem and an angry child who may continue to fail until someone finally gets the message. In most instances, when children fail in school, some form of family therapy is warranted.

The goal of family therapy is to change structures and processes in the family or in its environment so as to relieve existing strains. Family diagnosis based on living systems theory makes it possible to determine whether pathology lies in a family as a whole, in one or more individual members, or in a suprasystein, such as an economically disadvantaged neighborhood or a school with limited resources.

The range of interventions available to families is considerable. The health, mental health, social service, pastoral care, and educational systems all deal with family problems. The field of marriage counseling has specifically focused on one aspect of the family, and family service agencies handle all aspects of the family. For faltering families the marital relationship is the most important locus: marriage counseling or marital couple therapy may be useful. For families with more serious problems, self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Parents Without Partners, and Parents Anonymous are available in most communities. Child psychiatrists deal with the range of child, adolescent, and family problems.

The fit between clinical resource and a family is critical. Ethnic and economic factors may override psychological issues. Every clinical resource sets some limit on the range of factors it can work with in both diagnosis and therapy. These limits evolve out of the history peculiar to a given clinical setting, the training backgrounds of professionals, the socioeconomic sur¬roundings, and the nature of the social pressures.

Motivating Families for Therapy

Professionals should be sensitive to the misunderstanding, hesitation, and fear in family members as they approach help.

Each family member’s level of sophistication about psychological problems and openness to using a mental health resource varies. At the least education of the mem-bers of the family is required so that an intellectual understanding of the reasons for working with the family can be achieved. This step often is omitted with resulting misunderstandings.

Troubled families are the most likely to lack insight and even the strength to engage in family therapy. Their defensive maneuvers may he so extreme that engaging the family in therapy may depend upon equally skillful maneuvering by the therapist or the external pressure of agencies, such as the schools and the courts. If given a choice, many of these families would either drop out or limit their involvement to supporting treatment of the identified patient. Their denial and projection are particularly difficult to handle.

Ferreting out the family’s expectations of therapy is an important step toward assessing their motivation For change. For example, because dominated families involve both family and individual psychopathology, they often lodge their concerns upon a single identified patient. The other family members may not be disposed to see themselves as a part of that person’s problem and certainly not as the focus of therapy. When an attempt is made to involve the family, the parents may withdraw and look for someone who will “help”. the family member identified as a patient. As a strategy, the therapist may need to appear to join the family in its efforts to change the symptom bearer as a means of involving the entire family with the passage of time.

Conflicted families usually, require intensive family therapy in addition to consultation to other systems. such as the schools, social services, and law enforcement agencies. Chaotic families are the most difficult to engage in family therapy because their views of reality are not congruent with their social milieu. Hospitalization, medication, and consultation to other agencies may be necessary. in order to provide a foundation for family therapy.

A delicate issue in motivating families for treatment is how to separate a clinician’s responsibility to assist the family from the family’s responsibility for change. This is a problem especially when other agencies are involved with the family. For example, both school personnel and parents may look to a clinician for answers about a child. In these circumstances the clinician must carefully keep the child and the family in the position of responsibility and work through them for inter-system negotiations. Unsuccessful management of this issue can make the clinician a scapegoat by permitting both the parents and school personnel to expect that the therapist is responsible for changing the child.

From the educator’s point of view, it is important to he aware of the complicated role of the family in a child’s school problems over which educators and parents find themselves in conflict. Some parents obtain satisfaction from this fight, because they were embittered by their own past unhappy school experience and find this opportunity to retaliate. The child has an especially important role to play in this manipulative struggle. In the battle over who will control the helping process, if the school and clinical team are not coordinated, a family can find a weak link and defeat both. An effective position for school personnel in these situations is to recognize that no one can help the child until everyone works together.

The Techniques of Family Therapy

The theories and techniques employed by family therapists vary. widely. General systems theory, however, provides a rationale for integrating them.

The aims of family therapy are to promote the basic functions of the family. Forming a family unit assists adults in appropriately disengaging from their families of origin. The functions of a family relate to intimacy between family members in the form of attachment bonds and empathic communication, which can be fostered through increasing sensitivity to others and risking exposure of one’s personal vulnerability. As the heart of the socialization process, the family is the vehicle for imparting cultural customs and values through the process of identification and through learning coping skills. The family also is the forum for safely expressing transient irrational emotions and accepting them from others. In the family the irrationality of life can be accepted by acknowledging the differences between the way things should be and the way they are, between expectations and reality, and between verbalizing socially unacceptable emotions and wishes and acting upon them.

The barriers to healthy family functioning are stereotyped roles enacted by family members based upon covert scripts that are incongruent with family functions. Examples of these roles are victim, martyr, hero, tyrant, scapegoat, saint, rebel, fool, and genius. These roles are played out from ritualized scripts that maintain immature, destructive relationships and frustrate the individuation and development family members. Family therapy creates awareness of these counterproductive scripts and roles through confrontation, interpretation, playfulness, and humor in order to foster flexibility in family members within legitimate family roles.

The techniques or family therapy include behavioral, structural, and intuitive methods. The accumulation of clinical experience is demonstrating the usefulness of employing a range of techniques in an integrated style of therapy. The family therapist can assist families to more realistically function by acting as a catalyst who facilitates interaction; a critic who describes behavior; a teacher who shows new ways; a supporter who gives license and hope; an interpreter who offers explanations of behavior; a provocateur who stimulates interaction, and a model who demonstrates solving problems.

Because of its highly structured nature, the Milan method of family therapy has been employed for training purposes. It involves a therapeutic team that helps families through confronting them with more realistic views of their family interactions while encouraging family members to achieve more adaptive levels of relating to each other.

The Process of Family Therapy

Once a family becomes engaged in the therapeutic process, a varied and exciting course of growth may ensue, or the process itself may be impeded by resistance that must be worked through in order to achieve the aims of therapy.

Family members usually have linear cause-and-effect views of what goes on in the family. For example, “Jimmy’s restlessness gets us all upset.” The aim of family therapy is to shift the level of understanding from this simplistic and partially correct view to an interactional system level. An important technique for accomplishing this is through encouraging family members to comment on each other’s relationships in the family. This both opens up communication and focuses attention on interactions within the family.

Through a variety of reframing statements additional information can be given to a family to encourage more accurate interactional and psychodynamic understandings of the determinants of symptoms in family members. For example, the success that a child achieves through failing in school and sabotaging adults can be contrasted with the view of the child’s behavior as simply negative. As a family grapples with a child’s problem. their frustrations and discomforts become evident and permit redefinition of the problem in terms of family members’ personal sufferings rather than the problem child’s behavior. New communication lines ran be opened, so that an awareness of the family’s role in a child’s educational difficulties can add a crucial dimension to helping the child. The family can then realistically support the educational program for their child and assume a parent-professional alliance with school personnel.

Some parents, however, remain involved in the genesis and perpetuation of their children’s school problems. Handicapped by inflexibility, this kind of family is stable and inclined to deny the educational problem and becomes upset when the severity of the problem diminishes.

In troubled families, the double bind is a frequently encountered interactional pattern that can have devastating consequences for family members enmeshed in it. In essence, the double bind is a covert relationship in which one person has power over the other, who cannot escape. It has two important components. The first consists of paradoxical injunctions in which the less powerful member of the dyad is given conflicting messages either through impossible injunctions, for example, “be spontaneous” or through the nonverbal contradiction of verbal messages, for ex¬ample, a parent’s statement ”don’t worry about me” in an anxious tome of voice. The second component occurs over time in which the paradoxical injunctions lead to repetitive behavior patterns. The participants provoke the very behavior from each other that they deplore through incongruous behavior. For example, a mother criticized her silent daughter and encouraged here to express her feelings. When she did, however, the mother broke into tears with, “How can you feel that way after all I have done for you? Then the daughter became silent, eliciting her mother’s criticism again, because she was not speaking.

During therapy these resistant families act like well-drilled teams. When inter¬viewed together family members may feel persecuted, become confused, find it hard to think of anything to say, be preoccupied with and silent about the same secret, agree on a fabricated version of a touchy incident, or start arguing with one another and then blame the therapist for upsetting them.

These families typically employ power plays that maintain the status quo. For example, one set of parents nagged their adolescent son into being a “good boy.” To qualify he had to be passive, compliant, infantile, and sexless. When he rebelled his mother histrionically went to bed with intense heart pains, presumably induced by the son, and the father expressed the horror of one who had sired a homicidal son. Another mother coached her son in reading even though the drills ended with both in tears and obviously impeded her son’s motivation to learn. Other parents are so punitive when their children get poor grades that the children retaliate by failing even more.

A specific aim of one family script is to maintain the symptom. As an illustration, one family with a retarded reader convinced their son that he was doing as well as might expected in view or his presumed limited intelligence. They denied clinical reports that his intelligence was normal and disparaged the validity of the tests. Another aim of a family script is to maintain the acceptability of the family’s public image. For example, a family maintained the image of cheerful cooperativeness with no problems apart from their son’s retardation in reading.

Scripts also protect a family’s secrets. For example, when one son began to talk about the “skeleton in the closet” in a family session, the others started conversations on unrelated subjects. If he persisted, they continued to divert the discussion to peripheral topics or tried to talk him out or his opinion.

Some children improve in schoolwork while acquiring a new emotional or behavioral problem. In this maneuver, the children maintain their scapegoat functions in their families and do not have to deal with upsets, which would follow relinquishing their problem roles. Thus they help keep their families from becoming unstable. If the new problem is addressed therapeutically, the members of these families close ranks. They offer carefully reasoned excuses for missing appointments. They accuse therapists of using ineffectual treatment methods and may discontinue therapy. One parent simply said, “I can’t stand any more talk about me. If we have to do that, I would rather have Bryan stay in special ed.”

PARENT EDUCATI0N

Parents benefit from insight into their children’s problems, but insight alone is not enough. They need help in learning to change the emotional climate in the home.

Parent-guidance materials are important means of assisting parents to understand and to cope with a child’s characteristics. Training in parenting skills also is useful. This is particularly needed in developing communication skills through listening, talking with children, and verbal problem solving as employed in Parent Effectiveness Training. Effective communication is basic to the survival of all groups including families. More specific behavioral management techniques have been developed for hyperactive children. Literature is available to help parents play a more significant role in their children’s schoolwork.

Fostering communication between parent and child through parenting education can produce substantial gains in the competencies of children.

Babies and young children with difficult temperamental styles may cause their parents to feel threatened and inadequate with resulting unconscious rejection or scapegoating of the child. A difficult child and threatened parents, therefore, can set in motion a cyclic interaction that makes the child increasingly vulnerable. With older children parents need help in examining their childrearing techniques. Viewing themselves interacting with their children on videotapes can be particularly useful. They may unwittingly reinforce behavior problems through attention to misbehavior, double messages, failing to set limits, ignoring desired behaviors, and inappropriate punishment, all of which result in losing a child’s respect. Although striving for consistency is a laudable objective, still there are times when parental authority must be arbitrary and so acknowledged with children.

To effect a climate of communication, parents can motivate their children by helping them analyze their own behavior and select target behaviors for change. Family meetings are useful for exercising the democratic process, so that each member participates in decision making within appropriately defined limits. When the atmosphere in family meetings is conducive to discussion of problems with openness and dignity, parents can appreciate the importance of changing their own attitudes and listening to their children more carefully. Parent modeling of self-discipline, forgiveness, and a willingness to acknowledge mistakes promotes similar qualities in their children.

Parents can profit from an understanding of sibling relationships in which a mixture of pleasure, affection, hostility, aggression, jealousy, rivalry, and frustration is freely expressed. The sibling relationship can be profoundly important in shaping the development of social skills. At the same time, a younger sibling can languish in the shade of an overbearing older sibling.

The Roads Less Traveled

It was a particularly bucolic stretches of country road, gently curved over and around rolling hills, dappled by afternoon sun through tall pine trees. Coming up was one of those diamond shaped yellow road signs, the kind that typically warn of an intersection ahead or a school bus stop. But instead, this one warned me to be on the lookout for slow moving horse-drawn carriages.

Huh?

I grew up in rural Iowa near a large Amish community, so I’m actually quite familiar with these signs. I was however, not expecting to encounter one in southern Mississippi.

A few miles beyond I turn at the sign for Roger’s Basketry where I’m greeted by a pretty young woman dressed much like the Amish near where I grew up. Her sister the basketmaker was away, she tells me, but she’s happy to show me around the shop filled with beautiful baskets and homemade preserves, and explains that her community of German Baptists has somewhat different religious roots than the Amish, but practices a very similar lifestyle-they dress similarly, don’t use electricity and travel about in horse drawn buggies.

This was one of many memorable moments to come when, during several days in May I allowed myself to savor the joys of random exploration, driving Mississippi roads I hadn’t traversed before, without a pre-existing destination. Along the way I’d ask folks to point me towards the things they found most interesting about their hometowns. And as usually happens, one such discovery leads to another.

It all started earlier that day at the welcome center in Hattiesburg, where I’d stopped in for the free wi-fi and walked out with a complimentary cup of coffee, a cookie and my first tip. I was headed north on Highway 49 to Shady Acres.

Can a divided four-lane highway be a country road? I would posit that it can, when it’s populated all along its length with farms, fruit stands and charming small towns. It was a ten-foot long giant watermelon that first made me hit the brakes along this stretch. The Watermelon Patch is mostly an oddly located shoe store these days, but it still pays homage to its fruit stand roots by offering fresh made peach cobbler in the back. A bit further down the road was Shady Acres, which lived up to its billing, boasting bins filled with fruit and vegetables, along with bedding plants out back, not to mention a bakery offering up fresh apple cakes, and hot plate lunches served in a screened porch or under outdoor tables set amidst a forest of ferns.

“Have you been to KA pottery?” someone responds as I ask again for guidance in my exploration.

I hadn’t. So it was on to Seminary, one of a string of pretty towns, sandwiched between Highway 49 and beautiful Okatoma Creek. A quick stop at the drugstore for a scoop of ice cream from the soda fountain and directions (over the tracks, five miles out of town, second turn past the faded white fence by the barn on the hill-the teenagers tore down the sign) and shortly I was pulling down a long gravel drive, up to a newly built home nestled on the side of a deep wooded ravine. A home I was soon to learn that Troy and Claudia Ka Cartee designed and built themselves. Along with the pottery studio and a soon to open gallery space.

They moved to this land owned by her family from southern California, in search of a place where Ka could fully immerse herself in her passion for pottery. Since then she has established a national following for her work, including her exceptionally popular dinnerware. She’s also a noted gourmet vegetarian chef, growing her own herbs in one the windows that overlooks the forest beyond their home, and teaching cooking classes in nearby Hattiesburg.

You can’t help but linger in such company, but lunch time has come and gone by now, so Ka calls ahead to see if the Deli Diner is still serving in Collins, the county seat and next town over. There I meet Rob and Jenn Walters, a young couple who are slowly transforming an old Sonic into their own space for fresh salads and sandwiches. As part of the transformation the walls are now covered with an eclectic mix of clocks, photographs, and original art. A spin through Collins reveals a pretty courthouse and a bustling downtown in an era when many are struggling.

Which sadly is somewhat the case at my next stop in nearby Mendenhall, which despite having perhaps Mississippi’s most beautiful courthouse, has a struggling courthouse square. But it also has one of the state’s most passionate local advocates on a mission to remedy that. Pam Jones has already taken over the old Mendenhall Grocery and Grain, and made the shelves that once held farm supplies and bins that once held seeds, into display cases for a striking collection of work by local artisans. Her friend Melinda Hart owns a deli in the back, with fare that goes way beyond the typical small town plate lunch, with offerings like turkey, gouda cheese, and Granny Smith apple slices on warmed raisin bread.

Jones has also founded a group working to repurpose another historic downtown structure into the future home of the Simpson County Museum and Art Gallery.

A few miles outside of town is beautiful D’Lo Waterpark on Strong River, at falls once considered sacred for the harp-like musical sound they make. The sound comes from trapped air bubbles in the submerged fissures and scour-pockets of the stream bed, made as the river flows over the falls. Or maybe, just perhaps there’s a less scientific explanation. In any case it is a spot beautiful enough to have served as a locale for the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

By this time I’m almost to Jackson where I’ll spend the night, but not before passing by Mississippi’s Petrified Forest and a stop for terrific fried catfish in the giant igloo that is Jerry’s Catfish house.

The next day I’m headed south again, following another lead. I had a picture from a friend to confirm its existence. But when I asked several folks I encountered on this journey about “the Grand Canyon of Mississippi” I got blank stares… until I got to Columbia. Here the question prompted a quick smile and careful directions to a spot about ten miles northwest of the city. “Red Bluff” is what the small signs pointing the way actually call it. I wondered if I’d made a wrong turn when I came to a sign that said road closed ahead. I eased on down the road anyway and soon discovered WHY the road was closed.

A few hundred yards more is a permanent barricade, because beyond, the roadway has fallen away. Standing as close as I dared to that spot, I looked over the edge. The erosion that had put an end to the usefulness of this stretch of highway had produced a gorge perhaps a hundred or more feet deep, exposing layer after layer of brilliantly hued soil in the process. The stunning view through the gorge and to the timber-lined hills beyond is the sort of thing you expect to see in Utah or New Mexico… not this part of Mississippi.

Back in Columbia, just a few blocks from yet another pretty courthouse, was my last one-of-a-kind discovery for this trip: The Southern Fried Rabbit Restaurant. Could there be anywhere else in the world where you can get barbecued rabbit on a bun to go at a drive up window? Not to mention fried rabbit, or rabbit and gravy over rice.

One for the Road

People who don’t travel for business often think business travel must be exciting. You’ve probably heard comments to that effect from your co-workers, non-traveling teammates, friends and maybe even your spouse.

“Airports are exciting places.” “I bet you get to see lots of interesting places.” “How wonderful: a different restaurant every night.” To the non-road warrior, business travel is an existence filled with pricy expense account meals, boutique accommodations and an ever-changing view of big cities and bright lights.

If you are the road warrior, you know that reality is a little less exciting. For most frequent business travelers, even the fanciest hotel rooms begin to look alike, and your own bed at home looms large in your fantasies. Restaurant meals also tend toward same-ness, making a home-cooked dinner seem delicious. Airports become crowded mazes and flight schedules are often little more than wishful thinking. When you’re on the road a lot, what you really want is your own space: your own family, your own bathrobe, your own comfy chair, your own people, pets and stuff.

Yet for many people, business travel is a non-negotiable part of life. So how do you keep your chin up and your thinking positive?

Before I became a success coach, I spent many years in corporate sales, and I was one of those weary road warriors. I struggled with the blur of cities and airports and the inevitable toll that being on the road and away from home took on my perspective. I was determined to find a way to make the best of my business travel, so that, if it didn’t quite live up to the glowing fantasies of my non-traveling friends, it didn’t leave me lacking energy and enthusiasm.

The tricks and strategies I created for myself helped me escape the frequent flyer funk. So if you’ve got a busy travel schedule coming up, here are some ideas to help you enjoy the journey and not just the destination.

#1 Take action to keep your mood positive. Staying afloat mentally doesn’t happen by accident. Be proactive and give yourself small treats to look forward to that you can enjoy on the journey. Some people save books or magazines that they’re looking forward to reading for their time in the airport, on the plane or in the hotel. Or, download some new upbeat or relaxing music to your MP3 player to enjoy on the road. You might even want to download an inspirational guided meditation to enjoy at the end of the day or while you’re on the plane to focus your thoughts on positive intentions.

#2 Make some “me” time every day. It’s easy to get swept into morning-until-night activity on the road, but that will leave you wrung out and depleted. Instead, carve out at least 30 minutes of time for yourself (and I don’t mean reviewing emails). Take a walk around the block where your hotel is located. Sink into a comfy chair and read or listen to music. Meditate. Do a light workout or run through some Yoga moves in your room to loosen stiff muscles and get rid of jitters. Carry some herbal tea with you and treat yourself to a hot, fragrant cup.

#3 Don’t fill every moment with work. It can be tempting to try to be “productive” every waking moment when you’re on the road, but resist the temptation. That road leads to burnout. You don’t have to read a business book on the plane or spend the entire time you’re in the airport answering emails. Odds are, you’re already working a longer-than-usual day with meetings and transportation hassles, so allow yourself some breathing space during the in-between times.

#4 Try to do at least one thing that takes in some “local color.” Yes, you can eat in the same chain restaurants anywhere in the world and get coffee at Starbucks from Boise to Beijing. But if you default to what’s familiar, business travel takes on a mind-numbing sameness. Instead, try to do at least one “local” thing each day. Opt for the local coffee house over the national chain. Ask the hotel staff for a good local restaurant that’s not a franchise. Pop into a one-of-a-kind gift shop, independent bookstore or a retailer you don’t have back home. Look for a restaurant, bar of coffeehouse with live music and enjoy the vibe.

#5 Create your own “travel book” to keep your spirits high. I’m a visual person, and I found that when I put together my own journal of magazine photos, snapshots and inspirational quotes and carried it with me, my travels became more pleasant and less stressful. Best of all, your travel book won’t weigh down your luggage. Select a slim, blank journal and keep it handy, along with a nice pen and a glue stick. When you find a magazine image that lifts your spirits or read a quote that soothes your soul, add it to your journal. Then leave yourself a few quiet minutes before you go to bed to page through your journal, and let it wash away the day’s stress. (If you’re the digital type, you can create your own scrapbook in PowerPoint or Word.)

You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel about your time on the road when you set your own inner agenda. Set an intention to reframe your travel time to make it refreshing, renewing and enjoyable, and you might be surprised at the results!

Finding Ways To Keep Up With Cruises

Finding the Ideal Cruise Specials for You

There are families who have a hard time choosing what place to vacation in so that is why it would be more ideal for these people to choose cruise specials provided by travel companies. You can take this awesome yearly trip because it’s something that you and your family deserve. There are so many travel companies all over the world willing to give you these opportunities so there is basically nothing to worry about in the least.

A cruise is an amazing special offer that you should not let pass you by. If you are not happy with a particular deal then you can simply choose another one as you have all the options in the world. There are a lot of amazing websites out there that would provide you with everything you could ever need and more. Make sure you are a member of these companies before you avail of their services because they will allow you to avail of so many options when it comes your cruise. The proper steps have to be followed for better planning of your vacation. You will have the best holiday in the world when you properly do your research.

Make sure to avoid peak season when availing of these special offers because it’s the worst time to do so. When you spend you vacation during this particular time then you would see how crowded the ship really is and how your travels wouldn’t be as comfortable or as great as you want. There is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to spend your cruise in this amazing way when you follow these essential tips.

One thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to these matters is that changes need to be made ahead of time otherwise you would be stuck in a place where you didn’t plan on being on your trip. You need to be on a cruise that is fitting for your family and nothing less than what you guys deserve. It is only natural that your kids have options because you want them to happy with your choice as well. When you are not around, you should be able to rely on the qualified staff to watch over your kids. There are times when you need to have quality time with your partner. You would be so many awesome locations which you would be able to take advantage of as well. You need to orient your family on these cruises at all times so that they would know what they want as well. You don’t have to worry about anything else when you are all settled before the ship leaves. When you follow these essential guidelines in the best possible way then you wouldn’t have to worry about anything else.

Source: http://www.travelentz.com/2016/05/5-good-reasons-to-hit-high-seas-and.html

A Quick History of Cruises

Ways to Effectively Find the Best Cruise Deals

If you ever have the plan in going on a cruise, you actually want to consider getting the best cruise deal bargain that’s offered. There are actually a lot of ways on how you could save a lot of money on your first or next cruise when you know what to do. It is in fact not that hard to learn the secrets that travel agents know if you are searching for the best cruise deal. You definitely will be able to save a lot if you are doing your research on your own from the cruise line brokers or otherwise known as cruise consolidators.

There are so many sites that in fact could offer clearance specials and also last minute cruise deals. There are also cheaper but riskier cruise auctions and classifieds. Finding last minute cruise deals are actually not hard to locate because cruise lines actually wants to avoid leaving the port with empty cabins and also do efforts in order to fill them.

An important thing which you should be aware about is that the offers that you could actually find from some cruise line sites are actually not that good as the ones which you will be able to find anywhere or from cruise line brokers or from consolidators. This would be the reason as to why you should make sure that you visit other sites. The next thing that you should do would be in doing comparison with the prices of the cruise lines that comes from their website.

If you ever find what you think would be a good bargain or deal, you could then contact the local cruise travel agent and to see whether they are able to meet it. You actually may find some cruise lines which don’t give permission for travel agents to offer discounts about the cruise, but this doesn’t meant that the agent knows already about the discounted cruise.

You actually could ask for a discount even when there’s a final price on the cruise. What you should do would be in asking whether they offer business discounts, health professional discounts, offering business discounts or maybe a student discount. You may also find resident discounts or any type of special offers in case you are living in a particular state.

It is best to also make sure that you visit several sites and to do comparison and not only settle on the first one that you find. By doing comparisons, you will find out which of the firms are able to offer you the best and the lowest rate.

Also, you should compare the cruise ships, cruise lines and also the itineraries aside from the price. This is important when you are looking for a bargain with the cheapest cruise rates.

Source: http://www.herztravel.com/where-to-find-the-best-vacations/

The Beginners Guide To Options (Getting Started 101)

How To Go On A Cruise While Saving Money

Cruising is one thing that a lot of people would want to do because there is just so much privilege and relief that you would get from it and there are actually many ways to get into any cruise. If you are one of those people that would think getting on a cruise would only waste their money then you are probably on the wrong. In fact there are so many benefits that you can get from it and the experience and enjoyment you get from it cannot be paid by how much amount of money you can acquire. People that are already pro when it comes to finding the right cruising agency are always on the look for discounts that they could get from these companies in which they can save so much money while enjoying the cruising they deserve. When you have finished reading this article you will not regret that you will have to start looking for ways to be on a cruise.

Where To Start Looking

Before, only the rich and powerful people can afford being on a cruise ship but since everything became easier to access, almost everyone today can now get into any cruise deals they want to. Aside from that it has also become easier to find these travel agencies that offer a lot of discount and cruise deals all year round.

The best way to find these cruise deals is with the use of the internet. When you are going to look for great deals for cruise ships there are just so many websites that you can find online and see which one would be the best choice for your cruising adventure.

One thing that you should know about these cruise deals is that most of the time, agencies would give discounts depending on the season or depending on the special events that you can come across and that would also depend on the agency that you have chosen. Another thing is to check the prices of these cruise travel agency and see if you can really save a lot of money without paying miscellaneous fees and make sure that you are really getting the benefits of the discount.

Comparing two or more agencies on how much discount they could give to a passenger is important so that you can be sure to get less cost of what you should be paying and this can be done easily if you are doing your search on the internet. This is how expert cruisers travel while saving a lot of their money and you can also do it on your own just know how to search for the right agency to provide you with the best benefits in discount cruise travelling.

Source: http://www.lynx2travel.com/planning-a-vacation-that-is-exactly-what-you-want/

A Simple Plan: Cruises

Tips On How To Find The Best Cruise Deals

Most people think that cruise vacation can only be afforded by the rich and famous. All inclusive cruise ship vacations are already available today. Cruise ship companies are now making their packages available for each and every one, this is because of the hard financial times that everyone experiences. For you to find the best deals there is, just follow these steps.

Be flexible and know what cruise you want, that is the first tip. It is very important that you know where you want to go, the ship that you want, the dates and the price that you can afford. You will have a narrower option if you keep these things in mind.

The second tip is to plan ahead of time. It is from January until March that you should plan your vacation. Cruise ship companies gives out the best deals during these months. Don’t lose hope if you were not able to book during the said months as last minute cancellation deals can still be possible.

Online deals often give out the best offer, check them often. Check for current deals as online booking is now a trend. If you can book deals online, you saved your time and effort. Just make sure that after booking, print the details of your cruise.

Make sure that you check the cruise lines directly. The cruise lines websites will display all the details that you would need, make sure you check on them. By using their website, you can avail of deals that can only be availed through it. Sign a newsletter if the website offers it. Newsletters are a great tool to keep you updated with the latest deals.

If you want a helping hand, you can go ask a travel agent. Most travel agents are the ones that book your travel despite getting the deals online. It is the most experienced travel agent that knows the ins and outs of the industry. Travel agents that are already experienced can put together a vacation that you sure will remember. In addition to that, good travel agents can also create side trips that will make you enjoy your vacation more. The availability of side trips are sometimes not seen online.

Make it a habit of comparing prices and always look for the best deal. Take time and compare all the deals that you got. Before you make the final decision, make sure that you have already considered all the possible benefits. Don’t be afraid to haggle with prices. If the competition is stiff, most travel agencies will definitely give in.

Source: http://www.lynx2travel.com/planning-a-vacation-that-is-exactly-what-you-want/

What Almost No One Knows About Cruises

Following Simple Steps to Get The Best Cruise Deal of Your Life

Cruises are known to be something that is only reserved for the rich for a long time now. Nowadays however, you will find that this is no longer something that can be considered to be true. Because the economy now is in a state of such unpredictability, businesses in line with cruises are doing everything they can to expand their market and because of this, more people can now afford to go on cruises. Here are some of the steps you can follow if you are looking to go on a cruise.

Whether you are looking for a family cruise or you want a cruise for yourself, you will find that there are a lot of available choices for you. You should know that some factors have to be taken into account first when you are looking for a cruise to go to such as the place of your destination and of course, your budget for the cruise. The most important thing you need to do is remember these details because they will be the ones that will allow you to get the most out of your cruise deals.

Time is one of the things you need to take into consideration if you are looking for the best cruise deals. The rates are at their best during these times of the year because the cruise lines are still not full at these times and you could consider it as the lean season. You would be able to get the most out of it since the rates are lower and there would be less people to be on the ship. Of course, you can do it in another way if you are not available at those times. Among the things that you can take advantage of is to book in advance or simply get the bookings that have been cancelled by others.

You should also know that there are many online sites out there that can help you out when it comes to this. Most cruising businesses nowadays usually have their own website where you will be able to compare different cruise deals and rates which would suit your preferences best. When you take full advantage of this, you can get the best cruise deals out there.

Even after you have already found the most ideal cruise deal, make sure you always check for updates. With this, you will be able to ensure that things go according to the way you planned them to go. A follow up is also a necessary step to make sure you have everything in order. The best cruises is waiting for you out there and all you’ve got to do is find them.

Source: http://www.herztravel.com/where-to-find-the-best-vacations/