WHERE IS YOUR OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL? LOOK INSIDE by Joan E. Childs, Inspirational Keynote Speaker



Not everyone can win an Olympic gold medal, however, everyone has a gold medal inside of them.  We are all champions.  We are all winners, even when we sometimes lose.  The gold can be found inside us if we take a deep look and follow our bliss.  Olympic gold medalists are athletes who have committed themselves to their goals, some since childhood.  Not everyone knows their goals in childhood, but those who do, follow their dreams to reality.  The common denominator in gold medal champions like swimmer Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, runners like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, English Gardner, Elaine Thompson, Mo Farah, gymnasts like Simone Biles and all the others who gold medaled found their “zone”, that place that brings their wholeness together in one giant force.  It’s in that place that the flame within burns and connects with universal energy.  It takes years for those moments to happen.  Those years are filled with commitment, fortitude, determination, hard work, self-worth, a dedicated coach, mind/body/spirit connection, people who love and support you and sometimes, just plain good luck!

Not everyone can be an Olympic gold medalist.  Not everyone can sing like Barbra Streisand, dance like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Suzanne Farrell or Anna Pavlova.  Not everyone can be an entrepreneur like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg nor a talent like Elvis, Michael Jackson or Prince.  We are each a shining star in our own destiny.    The trick is to allow it to express itself and commit to its life force.  And sometimes even doing all that is necessary and having the best of everyone behind you is not enough.  The truth is, we don’t always make it to the top.  However, what is most important is that we don’t need a gold medal to prove our worth.

Gold medals come in different fashions.  I may not be a wizard therapist but in my world, I give my best to my clients when they walk through my doors.  My daughter, Monica never graduated from high school.  She had learning disabilities in elementary school that was not diagnosed and treated the way they are today.  She received her GED and went to vocational school to become a hairdresser.  Today, after many years of personal and professional growth, she is a “hair designer” with a waiting list to get into her salon.  She stayed committed to the process, learning by apprenticing, trial and error and determination to be the best she could be.  That is a gold medalist.

When Susan Boyle walked to the center stage wearing a frumpy, unstylish dress and looked like she used an egg beater instead of a comb and brush declaring that she wanted to sing like Elaine Page, the audience snickered and looked at her in disbelief.  When Simon asked her name and age, she responded wearing a cherubic smile that melted the audience’s doubtful effect.  Tossing her hips from side to side, she replied, “I’m forty-seven and I’ve never been kissed,” she said in her Scottish brogue, “…and that’s only half of me.”  The audience broke their state of cynicism with a chuckle that morphed into a howl.  When Simon asked why she had come to Britain’s Got Talent, Susan’s response was as natural and spontaneous as when she told her name and age.  “I want to be a professional singer and always wanted to sing before a large audience.”

“What stopped you?”

“I never had the chance.  Perhaps now I have”.

“What are you going to sing for us?”

Looking directly at Simon with the innocence of a child and the confidence and pride of a seasoned artist, she spoke:

“I’m going to sing I DREAMED A DREAM from LES MISERABLES.”

Simon rolled his eyes, flashed a doubtful glance and gave her the cue to get started.  From the moment she belted out the first note, the audience was captivated.  Simon’s smile spread across his face.  Amanda covered her open mouth with both her hands in astonishment.  Pier bit his lower lip, gulping in disbelief and together with the audience, dumbfounded and mesmerized, they all rose in unison with a standing ovation, cheering even before she completed her last note. Susan Boyle seemed unaware that in the next ten minutes her life would change forever.  In ten minutes Susan Boyle had transformed herself into the singer she always knew she could be, and the world was eager to celebrate her stardom. Taking a bow, she strolled off stage, only to be prompted back to hear the results.  Hearing that she received all three “Yes’s”, she threw her arms in the air, stomped her feet and in the most humble manner, thanked the audience and gracefully blew them a kiss.

Perhaps I wasn’t totally accurate on every word that was exchanged between Susan and Simon.  But for sure, I am certain that in those few moments when the world had the unexpected pleasure and privilege to view her on national television, Susan Boyle catapulted to fame becoming the woman she was intended to be; evidence that the ordinary is extraordinary!

There is a Susan Boyle in each of us. There is an Olympic gold medalist in each of us. There is that need to become what we are intended to be.  It is true that if not for Britain’s Got Talent she may have gone her whole life unkissed, unmarried, and undiscovered.  However, she had to have the belief she had a special gift, take the risk to make it happen and the rest was up to fate.

Not unlike Susan, we all need the same thing if we want to follow our bliss.  Susan Boyle’s relationship with herself and having the faith that she could make it happen is something we must have if we are to make our dreams come true.  Walt Disney manifested his creative ideas; most of which he heard were absurd and preposterous.  Albert Einstein was relentless with his need to understand and develop the Theory of Relativity and Obama did it with a belief that change can occur; most of what many of us thought would never happen. Susan Boyle did it too.  It took courage, faith, and love of self, perhaps the most important relationship of all; to love oneself and to trust oneself.  Not unlike Disney, Einstein and Obama and all the other dreamers living among us, Susan Boyle showed us once again that anything is possible.

I always tell my clients that when a person decides to commit, the universe will cooperate.  Take the first step forward, and trust that the world will be the wind beneath your wings.


Joan E. Childs, LCSW



“Conversations with my Dog, Motik” by Joan E. Childs


Motik, (a Hebrew word meaning “sweetie”), my 10 year old Pekingese”Conversations with my Dog” by Joan E. Childs


Motik, (a Hebrew word meaning “sweetie”), my 10-year-old Pekingese, recently ruptured a disc for the second time in four years.  After a week of going to my regular vet with an inconclusive diagnosis, he advised us to take him to a specialist who could ascertain a diagnosis and treat him properly.  On Christmas Eve day, 2011, my daughter and I rushed him to a neuro-surgeon some 20 miles away from our home to learn that he had to have surgery.  Within a week we brought him home and after a quick recovery, he had since been well. On July 2, 2016, it was another trip to the neurosurgeon; another $3500.00 MRI but this time a different neurosurgeon as well as a different disc.  After learning the rupture was considered to be “moderate”, the decision was made to treat Motik conservatively.  This required medical boarding at the cost of $55.00 per day.  He needed meds and cage rest for a minimum of one month.  I was about to board a flight the day after I had taken him to the hospital.  I was picking up a cruise ship and deliberated whether I should make the trip to Amsterdam with my daughter for 20 days or stay at home while Motik was hospitalized.

The doctor assured me that he would be taken care of and by the time I returned, he would be ready for discharge to convalesce at home.

“Even if you stay at home, you will not be able to help him or see him while he is under treatment.” Dr. Frank said.  Dr. Frank was a young, well-spoken, and compassionate man. His professionalism and manner convinced me that I could trust his advice, although he was careful to say it was a “personal decision.”

I heeded his advice and left for Amsterdam.  The staff was remarkably caring and emailed me twice daily as to his condition.

Twenty days later I returned to a dog that was ready to return home.  I paid the bill that now was an additional $1100.00.  But, seeing him well, took the sting away from my pocket and put a smile on my face.  My little man was coming home.  I was overjoyed when I put him on my lap while Monica, my daughter, drove home those 20 miles.

“The worst is over”, I said, feeling greatly relieved that he would return to his old happy self.

His recovery lasted only one week.  I heard the familiar, ominous “yelp” after we returned from our nightly walk as he entered the front door.  That “yelp” drove a knife into my heart.  I was not prepared to go through this again.  Two days passed without a drop of water or food.  I knew we were in trouble.  It was a Saturday afternoon and I was in a dilemma.  Should I bring him back to the neurosurgeon, or to my regular vet’s office?

My choice was made to get him taken care of as quickly as possible so I drove him with my daughter to my local vet.  As luck would have it, he was away so I saw a vet unknown to me.  I explained what had happened including his history and my concern.  She was very pleasant and reassured me that they could keep him, hydrate him and give him the proper care that was needed.  The cost for the overnight medical boarding would be $148.00.  I had no choice that eve, but called the neurosurgeon’s hospital and was told that their medical boarding fees were $250.00 per night. It was a no-brainer, so I decided to have him stay the night as he needed emergency care that they could provide.

On my way home I received a call from the neurosurgeon who told me that they would be willing to board him for the previous fee of $55.00 per night, so the following morning I picked up my disheveled, frightened little man, and once again, with my daughter drove down to South Miami, but not before I was handed an invoice for $367.00 in charges for the previous night.

It gets better.  The neurosurgeon told me that they would try once more.

“Three strikes and you’re out.  The next relapse would mean surgery.”  The look on his face was sympathetic.  He said they would try once more and see if they could resolve the issue medically.  I drove home with Monica in a state of despair, however, hopeful.  Another week and another $700.00 including hospital boarding and meds had been successful.

The following day I applied for an equity loan from BB&T as they were offering a rate of 2.4% for the first years and 3.5% adjustable thereafter.  The vacation, plus the time away, combined with the medical costs exceeded my budget for animal care.  I had another dog and cat at home, and this event was over the top.  However, I had no options.  This was my baby and I could not let him suffer or euthanize him.  I was told that if I cage rested him for another 4 weeks, chances were that he would be good for another 5-6 years.

My neighbor, Adele, a saint, angel and blessing provided me with a crate large enough to house Motik with his food and water. She came daily to assist with his home boarding along with sharing a glass of wine.   I had been given strict, militant instructions not to take him out except for a 5-minute walk 3-4 times a day.  This was to be the biggest challenge of my life.

Motik accustomed to a 20-minute walk 3-4 times a day had to adapt to a 5-minute walk.  Although he had no problem urinating 5 times in 5 minutes, he was not used to pooping in less than 20.  The staff was adamant about the time, so wherever we were in 5-7 minutes of our walk, I had to pick him up and carry him home, up the stairs and place gently back in his crate.

For the first week, he did nothing but cry and scream.

“Get me out of here!  NOW!” were the unspoken words in dog demands.  Over and over, hour after hour he relentlessly shouted those phrases in barks, howls, screams and dog cursing.   I thought I was going to lose my mind, so occasionally I let him enjoy a 10-15 minute rest on the bedroom carpet where I lied down with him so he would not need to stretch his neck to look up at me or jump.

My conversations began.

“Motik, this is not a punishment” I would say.  “I need to keep you confined so you will get better and we can go back to getting you the way you were before.”  He listened intently but became sad each time he had to go back into his crate, which to me, was a prison.  We both cried for the first week.  I don’t know who cried more; him or me.

I marked off the 28 days on the calendar as each day passed.  I shortened my work schedule so I could be at home with him as much as possible.  It seemed as though Minnie, my one-year-old Shih Tzu and my 2 and a half-year-old Hemmingway cat understood our precarious situation and never interfered with his recovery.  They stayed downstairs and Motik, upstairs in his crate.

As the sixth morning approached and I awoke exhausted, drained from the undivided attention I had to give him including his six meds, five of which were in pill pockets and one by syringe, I dreaded getting up to start the day and routine.  I awakened bleary-eyed and anxious.  This would be another rough day I thought.

I opened the crate to a very sad face, with a look of eagerness to get the hell out of there.  I picked him up, tucking him under my left arm to go down to the landing and switching arms as the railing changed sides. Once down in the living room, I placed him outside in the lanai to put on his harness and leash so as not to have him even go down the one step from the foyer to the lanai.

It was steaming hot even before the sun came over my house on the preserve where I live.  We began our five-minute walk followed by the carry back to the house.  I placed him once again back in his confined space and went to take care of getting Hemmingway and Minnie their breakfast followed by Minnie’s walk.  When I returned, I expected the same shrilling sounds that had become familiar over the last five days, but instead, much to my chagrin, there was no sound.

I prepared his breakfast, disguising the meds in the pill pockets, but he refused to eat.  I left the food in the crate for the hour and a half as prescribed by the staff, and when I returned, all the food was still there.  Disappointed, I took it away but managed to hand feed him the pill pockets with the meds.  I was aware that for the last few hours, he had not made a sound.  I was at first concerned, but when I went up to visit, he was relaxed, tucked in his bed fast asleep.

As the day progressed, he remained quiet and settled.  I began to realize that I had trained him to be a spoiled, demanding, little prince who always had his way.  By following the advice of the doctor and staff I had re-trained him to know that I was the boss!

It’s not over yet, but we are on our way to full recovery!  I told him that if he stays quiet and behaves the way he is supposed to, I would take him for his usual and customary 20-minute walk again and give him the hugs we both miss so much.

Another 24 days to go before it’s over.  I have to keep strong, with tough love to get my little man back to wellness.  So many lessons learned by both of us.  Sometimes we must be tough to show our love, even when they don’t understand the reasons.  (This applies to kids too!)

I don’t know who suffered worse: Motik or me.  Wellness takes patience, consistency, and discipline.  I had to work hard to keep walking the line, but I tried to convince myself that it will be worth it.

A note to my readers:  I had five children in eight years.  I was divorced when the eldest was 11 years old and the youngest, just 3.  I don’t remember a time that I suffered as much during the years I was a single mom with five kids as these past few weeks trying to heal Motik.  I’m sure there were, however, time heals all wounds, so hopefully, time will do the same again.

Stay tuned to hear more as the days pass forward.

THE DONALD! OMG – Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker

I never considered writing a political blog.  It’s not my forte, but as a practicing psychotherapist, I felt compelled to post something on the psychodynamics and pathological behavior of the Republican nominee for president, Donald J Trump.  As I see it, we are in serious trouble if he becomes our next president.

In my opinion, Mr. Trump is the perfect storm for a disaster, or worse yet, an apocalypse.   I don’t know much about politics, but I have 40 years of experience and understanding about psychopathology.

The Donald, as he is so often referred to, is a complex combination of a garden variety of personality disorders.  He manifests the behaviors of a narcissistic personality disorder, coupled with borderline personality disorder, and worst of all, sociopathic personality traits, the last of which cannot be cured.  This triad plus money, power and an anxious country that is starving to hear his rhetoric, subjects us to a modern day Hitler.

Germany was prime for Adolph and America is prime for the Donald.  Even more alarming are the advanced nuclear weapons not available in WWII.   Add an over-indulged petulant child who has temper tantrums when things don’t go his way, poor impulse control, and no filter or container to consider the consequences of his monologues, diatribes and the spewing of his irrational and often untrue ramblings.  His flip-flopping, hypercritical, judgmental insulting remarks, stonewalling and egomaniacal, self-idealization should concern even his most ardent and zealous supporters.   As if this wasn’t enough, we are looking at a loose cannon who has absolutely no knowledge or experience in government or foreign policy; no specific remedies, no sincere interest in what’s really best for our country; no understanding of civility and certainly, no moral compass.  His racist, misogynous, hypocritical, xenophobic remarks cast a malevolent curse on our country. And if elected president, it would be his finger on the trigger! If I were his therapist, (thank the lord I am not), I would refer him to a psychiatrist for a medical evaluation and suggest he be placed on psychotropic medication.  He poses a threat not only to our country but to the world.

I am no fan of Hillary.  I think she exhibits characterological defects that frighten and alarm me. I too have trust issues with her that echo the present administration.  However, not unlike Mr. Bloomberg who nailed it at the National Democratic Convention, I too can see a “con” who preys on the fears of people with fictional stories to earn their support.  Hillary is no “con”.  She, like so many other politicians lies, manipulates, and bamboozles the public for their own aggrandizement, however, she is safer than the Donald.  She is smarter, more experienced, and most of all, more presidential!   (Oh! And a woman too!)

I get it that uneducated, angry, frightened people who are fed up with Washington would support the Donald, but what baffles me , is that even very elite, well-educated, highly intelligent, reasonable people are behind him.  What am I missing folks?  Have they all gone mad? Even Michael Wolff, a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter stated on CNN that Trump is an entertainer; Clinton is a politician.  Our culture would rather be entertained than bored.  This is no reality show folks!  This is reality!  God help us!

All that you have read has already been written, spoken about, televised with folks much more knowledgeable than me.  However, I want to have my voice heard as well.  My website offers me that opportunity.  I hope you will all vote.  Don’t stay home, because a “no” vote is a vote for the Donald!

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”





THE REINVENTED ME! (At almost 77)! – Joan E. Childs

Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker

Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker


What does it mean to be reinvented?  What does it mean to keep changing and growing?  What does it mean to fulfill your dreams and aspire to reach your full potential?

These are the values that matter to me.  So, at 3 months short of turning 77 years of age, I decided to create a new career to augment the work I have been doing for nearly 40 years.  Forty years ago I was divorced with five children all under the age of eleven.  I was a single parent, living without child support for nearly a year trying to keep a roof over my family’s head.  I had been awarded the house in my divorce settlement but did not have enough money to maintain the debt service.  The child support had been garnished by the IRS from my ex-husband’s bank accounts along with his declaring bankruptcy.  I took the $18,000 I was awarded in alimony and invested it in graduate school. So, in 1975 I went back to school to obtain an MSW.  I was 38 years old when I graduated Barry College in 1978 and had no idea where or how I would begin to get on my feet and support my family.  I was twisting in the wind not knowing how I could manage.

Raised in the 50’s, the last era of innocence in this country and coming out of the Victorian era, entering the women’s movement, I was unprepared to meet the challenges that faced me.  I was too busy raising the children and surviving to consider anything else but to fight my way into a new brave world, leaving behind the norms and values of my time.

Nearly forty years later I can look back through a rear view mirror and see myself forging a trajectory that was not always in my conscious awareness, but instead in the deepest part of my inner self.  My muse pushed, prodded, fostered and generated the energy and the fortitude it took to take me to where I am today.

In 1998 I lost my beautiful 34 year old to suicide.  Pam did not choose to leap 15 stories to her death.  Her illness, bipolar disorder, pushed her out the window.  That same year, 6 months before she passed, I lost a husband followed by my best girlfriend who passed away from breast cancer she had been battling for more than 14 years, followed by my father.  Two months later, my mother-in-law passed and then Pam.  That was the hardest year of my life, never to be forgotten.  However, that was the year I made the most important choice of my life.  Were these losses going to make me a victim, a survivor or a Phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from the ashes to become larger than life?  I chose the last because that was the ONLY choice I had.  I took the pain and transformed it into power.  Survival wasn’t enough for me.  I had to find meaning in Pam’s life and death.  I had to find a way to take the shame and stigma out of mental illness.  My mission was to help other families who suffered the same tragedy as I.  If I could do it, so could they.

So approaching my 77th year, I made a decision to reinvent myself again.  Not unlike Madonna and so many other creative people, I decided to re-engineer myself once again and launch a new career as an adjunct to my private practice and bring my message to the masses.  Unsure of what to call myself, or what to title my message, I ruminated until one day my muse, that goddess that resides within all of us, came to me as she had so many times before. A title was born: Life After Loss: Victim? Survivor? Or the Phoenix?  The choice is yours.

The loss comes in many respects.  We can lose a loved one, the worst being a child as I have.  We can lose our health, our jobs, our money, our marriage, our relationships, our beloved pet and our peace of mind.  I decided to expand my thesis from losing a child and/or loved one to any loss that causes grief.  I decided to write my next book that will be released in 2017, SEVEN STEPS TO LIFE AFTER LOSS.  My hope is to share my story, courage and healing with others who suffer losses and help them grieve until acceptance is achieved.  I want to give hope where grievers feel there is none.  I want to give solutions where grievers believe there are none.  I want to give courage where grievers lost their desire to move on.  Not unlike John Walsh, Joe Biden, and the parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hope, I have chosen to become a Phoenix and make the life and death of my daughter matter.

Stay connected to my website and read the blogs that will be posted.  Write your comments so I can receive your feedback and find the answers to the questions you have.  I have re-invented myself to become the person I was intended to be.  So can you!


The Re-Invented Me (at 77)… It’s Never Too Late!! Launching My New Campaign!

Joan E. Childs, LCSW

Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker “Fit, Fabulous,Fierce and ready to Speak”

Hey everyone!

Just a brief note to let you know that I am launching my campaign this week to introduce myself as an inspirational keynote speaker.  I am ready to speak and I will be pitching my book, WHY DID SHE JUMP? My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder along with my brand: Life After Loss: Victim, Survivor or the Phoenix.

I will keep you posted on all upcoming events; where and when I will be speaking.  In the meantime, please stay connected with me by visiting my website, while I keep you posted on all social media.

I am looking forward to sharing my message with all of you in hopes that I can help other families who are trying to cope and heal from loss and find the courage to take the pain and transform it into power as I have.  In addition, my mission is to take the stigma and shame out of mental illness.  There is not a family who does not have someone who is suffering from mental illness and it’s time we understand that it is a disease that needs proper treatment!

Thank you all for your support.