I Can Be Your Counselor or Strategic Life Coach


Do you want to find an Online Licensed Counselor?

Do you want to find a Personal Strategic Life Coach?

I’m listening! I am Virginia James, LPC and credentialed Strategic Life Coach.

Author: Virginia James, M.A., LPC, Strategic Life Coach

It has been a crazy road the last ten years. In following my husband and his career, I have put my real dreams on hold. Finally, come 2019 I will be adding followers, fans and clients to the “I CAN TRAIN MY BRAIN” tribe. This is super exciting!

In my journey, I have come to realize that I have a personal commitment to helping others feel happier. For over 20 years, I have been studying emotional health and well-being. For the last 10 years, I have counseled hundreds of clients struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma and other limiting issues. Read more

Activities That Make You Happy

How the Brain Works as Related to Happiness

You might have heard of left brain-right brain theory. This is a concept where each side of the brain is responsible for different types of thinking. Some people buy into this idea explaining they are more creative and artistic; therefore they consider themselves a more right-brained individual. Others say they are more logical and analytical. Therefore, they identify with being a left-brained person. What is the truth about our right and left sides of the brain? What are activities that make you happy?

The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the right and left sides of the brain. In these two hemispheres are many parts of the brain which are responsible for various functions. The path that allows the two hemispheres to communicate is called the corpus collosum. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. You might find someone with an injury to the left side of the brain, struggling with body control on the right side of the body.

A significant individual named Roger W. Sperry won a Nobel Prize in 1981 for his work on this theory and came to find out some interesting information. Originally, he theorized that by cutting the corpus collosum, individuals struggling with seizure disorders would soon have fewer seizures. What also happened as a result of this procedure is that patients had difficulty naming objects and it was determined that the left side of the brain was responsible for language. Read more

Healthier, Happier You!

healthy foods

If you missed the Healthier, Happier You Challenge then here is a recap from the I Can Train My Brain Facebook Challenge created by Virginia James, LPC and Life Coach. My father was a naturopath so that makes me a pseudo expert by proxy, right? I don’t have a degree in this just a passion for health and fitness. Plus my friends asked for the challenge to start 2019 out right!! Here we go!!

So here it is! Here is the recap:

Day 1: Start Learning!

Moving blood through your body is one way to stay young. It seems like a natural and easy process but the more you reach for processed foods, fried foods and candy, the more you’re inviting cancer and cardiac problems into your life. Certain foods will create some serious roadblocks to your arterial highways.

Take an inventory of your pantry and refrigerator. How many products include more than 8grams of sugar or more than 20 grams of carbohydrates? Read the labels. How many options do you have for white rice, enriched pasta, white or wheat bread, fortified cereals? Do you have quick oats or steel cut slow cooking oats? How many options for candy or ice cream do you have?

Count the number of options you have for fruits and vegetables? Read the labels and see what includes sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn syrup, or dyes? Okay, now throw all that high sugar, high carbohydrate, quick cooking, frozen dinner, ice cream, candy, enriched rice, bread and pasta out. Throw it all out and go to the store tonight. If you can’t throw it out and still need to eat from it start counting the number of carbohydrate grams and sugar grams you’re eating each day. Keep a food journal log.

Day 2: Drink 8-12 glasses of water and avoid fried foods today. Say “No” to fries, burgers, fried chicken and say yes to a side of vegetables or a salad instead. Fruits and vegetable options are anti-inflammatory foods. That’s important for many reasons but one to learn about today is inflammatory foods increase your lousy LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. This stimulates your genes to create more inflammatory proteins increasing tissue irritation. To clear arteries we need to eat foods that work with our HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Day 3: Candy, ice cream or just good ‘ole processed or enriched foods break down and make sugar. Sugar, cigarettes and high blood pressure (from stress or genetic predisposition) pummel the smooth of layers of your arteries. This action works against your LDL (low density lipoproteins) and they increase or rise.

You don’t want your LDL count high. Think of your LDL as a room full of smack-talking people spreading rumors and negativity about you and the HDL as your best friend coming in and telling all those nasty people to leave.

If you haven’t cleaned out your pantry, refrigerator and freezer yet, NOW IS THE TIME. Toss the high sugar, processed and enriched foods, snack foods and the candy. There is no time like the present moment. Read this blog about the importance of mindfulness and being in the moment: Click Here

Day 4: Buy the following and Take Action

  1. Fruits and vegetables (an assortment) tomatoes, onions, red grapes, berries- these are full of flavonoids and carotenoids. They decrease inflammation and let it come out in your urine.
  2. Garlic -decreases blood pressure
  3. “Extra virgin” olive oil- contains phytonutrients and can help your HDL count.
  4. Omega 3 fish- full of the nutrient that decreases our triglycerides in the blood (major reason for arterial wall build up) and reduces blood pressure. Aim for three time per week and wild-caught.
  5. Drop the alcohol. If you’re gonna drink, drink red wine 1-2 glasses. It contains antioxidants and can help your HDL.
  6. Eat foods high in magnesium. Not only because it helps you get better sleep but because it lowers blood pressure and dilates the arteries.
  7. Eat whole grains. This is going to replace your processed foods. If you used to eat white rice, make it brown now. If you used to eat pasta, try barley as a substitute. I encourage you to learn about using brown rice, millet, barley, and steel cut long-cooking oats. Eat foods like beets, soybeans, avocado, raisins.
  8. Start cooking with turmeric. This is a great spice to help decrease inflammation and keep your memory alert.
  9. Drink your coffee black. Take away the dairy and sugar additives. Or go for green teas instead. They have caffeine in them and are healthier with healing properties.

Day 5: Check out this recipe!

Day 6: Get your sweat on!

Sweating during 20 plus minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day lowers both the top systolic and bottom diastolic numbers concerning your blood pressure readings. It forces your blood vessels to dilate. Aim for doing at least 20 plus minutes of sweating type of cardio exercise, three times per week (after your doctor’s clearance). If you can’t work out at least start walking thirty minutes each day.

Day 7: If your LDLs or low density lipoproteins are high, that means there’s inflammation in your body and in your cells. They are clogging your arterial walls and that’s how arterial plaque forms-over time. Here are some supplements to take rather than going right for that prescribed medicine from your doctor.

I’m not a licensed or certified naturopath but knowledgeable enough to tell you that making the changes as seen in this challenge coupled with going to see a naturopath can help you.

Nettle leaf extract 900mgsBromelain 2000mgsGinger 900mgsCurcumin 1200mgs

Day 8: Living’ large with LENTILS!Lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, a nutrient that boosts metabolism and helps your body burn fat. They are an excellent source of fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels. Lentils are also an outstanding source of folate (boost brain power!) and magnesium.

Check out this recipe!

Day 9: Meditate or practice mindful breathing to reduce stress.

Make it a habit to practice deep breathing throughout your day. Purse your lips, drop your shoulders and exhale. Meditation apps can help guide you. My favorite has some free options and it’s called Guided Mind. But you can do a search and find one that suits you. This decreases stress, cortisol (the stress hormone) and in turn decreases blood pressure and LDLs. Imagine instant happiness for stress control.

Day 10: I’m not a big fan of folic acid but people take it. I’m a fan of folate. Folate is found in green vegetables and when you eat these, you also get other nutrients and vitamins such as B6 and B12. Folic acids are typically in processed foods or enriched foods. Folate rich foods, fish and whole grains help the process of methylation to reduce your homocysteine levels. If your homocysteine levels are too high, you’re at risk for developing Alzheimer’s. It’s associated with stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. These foods help detox your body, repair DNA and create new cells. Eat fish, whole grains and greens.

Day 11: Check out these recipes!

Day 12: Video- Checking in with you!

Day 13: Shop organic!

If you haven’t done so already, try shopping at a Whole Foods, Natural Grocer or Clovers. It’s amazing how different the food options are! You can even find snack bars with whole grains that are low in sugar.

Day 14: LAST DAY!! I Challenge you to learn about Niacin (vitamin B1), Co enzyme Q10, and Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5).And GO! Also, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. It is winter in some parts and you might not be out soaking up that sun. Vitamin D3 helps your bones, boost immunity and improve heart health. Try 800IUs, if you’re under age 60 and 1000IUs if you’re over age 60.

I hope you enjoyed this healthier, happier you challenge and if you want to join the I Can Train My Brain Facebook Group here is a link!

Do You Love Yourself?


Do You Love Yourself?

When you look at the relationship you have with yourself, you might notice that you don’t put in the same energy into yourself as you put into relationships with others. Can you imagine how much you would love and respect yourself if you did? Can you think about the persons you might attract into your life if you were operating as your ‘ideal self’?

It’s easy to fall short in this area though. We often tend to put others needs ahead of our own. If you are a mother, you know this all too well. However, when we do for others constantly or fail to work on self, we let ourselves and ultimately others down. There are real benefits to being ‘in love with yourself.’

How often do you take yourself out on a date? Or how often do you say nice things to yourself the way you talk to your best friend or partner? (If you are not saying nice things to your partner and your partner is not saying nice things to you-that’s a different story entirely. Refer to my Fighting Fairly article.)

What defines a loving relationship with self? We will get to that…

Qualities in a Loving Relationship with Others

There are various qualities needed to have a healthy and successful relationship with others. Some of these qualities include: acceptance, affirmation, trust, love, honesty, commitment, respect, freedom of individuality, assertiveness in communication, affection, ability to work through challenges and ability to maintain a sense of humor.  These are the same qualities one could have when in a love-affair with self.

If you are willing and able to accept yourself as you are, then you have worked past being critical of yourself. Unfortunately, people distract themselves throughout their days and perhaps push away the need to work on loving self.

When you are in a successful relationship with another person, you work to accept the person as they are. To love someone, you are attracted to their positive qualities initially. You are typically willing to stay in the relationship because the pros outweigh the cons.

When the Relationship Starts to Fail

Hopefully, the pros outweigh the cons. However, there are individuals out there who are attracted to individuals with poor character traits or notice them as time goes on. At times, the cons outweigh the pros. Or one or two cons are big enough to hinder happiness.

Since we all have flaws or traits that need improvement adjusting a trait or trying to be the better version of yourself is a natural and respectable path. If you are in a relationship perhaps you can stay in the relationship and grow together. However, some people break up and give each other time to work on improving the flawed character trait.

Growth Takes Time

Time apart could be beneficial for growth. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Distance can make the heart grow fonder. Taking a break and jumping into a rebound or another relationship doesn’t help you grow though.

Being single and focusing on self-improvement helps  you grow. Read self-help books, see a counselor or journal. Figure out what poor traits you have and commit to working on them.

You Cannot Change Other People, Only Yourself

You cannot change other people. Don’t waste time trying to do it. If someone wants to change, that person will do it on his or her own time. It doesn’t mean you have to wait around for the change to happen.

If you want to change, you will take steps on your watch. These changes take time. Failure is a natural part of existence. You can expect failure to happen on your part and another person’s part. Failing forward means, failing but continuing to go on.

Humans are incredibly resilient.

That is the whole message about life. Life is a journey. The fun part is not getting to the destination right away. The journey is the part that matters.

Life is about learning because life is a continual, changing process. That is the one constant in life: change.

When looking at having a relationship with self, you want to build yourself up. Confidence boosters are necessary when trying to love yourself. Confidence boosters include: positive affirmations, sticking with a new hobby, trying new things and recognizing your small accomplishments.

If you have suffered a failure at college or in a sport where it seemed like those paths would set the tone for your life, there is another path…ALWAYS.

You might not want the path at first but lies before you for a reason. It is there to challenge your self-worth, your integrity and your ability to accept.

Understanding Self-Worth

The affirmation of self-worth is main message you can benefit from in having a relationship with yourself. It feels good to hear, “You are good enough. You matter. You are capable.”

How often do you say that to yourself? Give yourself credit. Recognize the positives about you. Affirmations and learning more about them happen in this blog post.

Most importantly, you can say them to yourself and increase the self-worth statements as you go. Remind yourself that your inner-voice is a central part of your own self-worth and growth.

By believing in yourself, you can take steps to improve. Which inner voice you choose to feed determines how positive or negative you are.  The negative self-talk statements devalue you. The positive self-talk statements build you up.

Motivation can be difficult to find sometimes. By starting to improve your curious qualities you could benefit from acknowledging even small progress.

Take time to sit with the little wins and begin to change the neuroplasticity in your brain, especially if the old messages were negative, hurtful and creating an environment of low self-worth. When brain activity gets used to hearing self-deprecating message on a daily basis, you create an environment of hurt and unhappiness.

If you can reverse that pattern and give yourself positive, affirming and loving messages, you become happier on a daily basis. You take ownership of changing the neuroplasticity in your brain messaging.

You begin to trust and love yourself more. Hence, you start having a loving relationship with yourself.




Fighting Fairly in Relationships

Fighting Fairly in Relationships

When it comes to having happiness in your relationship, are you fighting fairly in relationships? When we think about relationships, we might see they can be imbalanced, one-sided or questionable at times. Perhaps accountability, trust, or respect is not happening. Both parties benefit from working at having these characteristics in a relationship. Truth be told, it starts with you.

Major Step: Healthy communication

All too often, people think they are communicating. When in fact, most don’t realize active listening skills can be a basic skill set that is being overlooked Do you realize that when practicing these basic skills set, you improve your chances at being in a successful relationship? Read more

Overcome Post Traumatic Stress

Overcome Post Traumatic Stress

Trauma is a silent creeper. Its triggers can creep up when you least expect it and can sabotage you into a myriad of complex emotions. Just when you think you are living your best life, emotional stress from a past trauma can be presenting havoc in your life. There are ways to overcome post-traumatic stress.

You might not have expected it but trauma can present in the form of low self-esteem or feeling like a victim. It can show up as having uncontrollable emotionally intense reactions, nightmares, flashbacks or anxiety. It can even show up as depressive symptoms. Some people might be wrongfully diagnosed with anxiety or depression and truly suffer from past trauma.

Read more

Dance To Be Healthy

Dance To Be Healthy

Ever since I was a little girl, I felt the need to MOVE! Movement or dance something inside of me that put my little legs into action. I suppose it was drive, internal motivation or simple desire. I was about 3-years-old when I started ballet. Unfortunately, it was not something I stuck with because a larger girl sat on my stomach during a simple routine and I got the wind knocked out of me.

Dance at that time was an unpleasant experience. Thinking back, I am not exactly sure what the teacher was thinking but I do remember that it hurt and I cried.

I told my mother that I did not want to return to ballet classes. Then the urge to dance came back again at age 8. I signed up for ballet and additionally signed up for tap and jazz. My mother worked another job just to keep me in three dance lessons per week for years. For that, I will be forever grateful to her.

I was able to go with my best friend and meet new people. My dance teacher was my idol. Movement or dance a socially uplifting and growth-related experience.

I continued to dance and although I was not a natural per se, I kept going. My lack of flexibility and lower back problems held me back but I enjoyed it tremendously.

When I Grew Up

At age 13, I fell in love with hip hop dance. Ballet became my nemesis unfortunately, mainly related to physical and psychological reasons.

Hip hop dance was not as physically challenging for me and it was a lot more fun compared to ballet. My self-discipline was lacking considerably for ballet.

With hip-hop dance, it was like a whole new world opened up to me and shouted, “This was meant for you to do!” My eyes widened and my curiosity compelled. The In Living Color fly-girls featured Jennifer Lopez. She made her mark in television, media and music MTV-style dance videos blew me away!

Right then and there, I wanted to perform and dance! There was an inner struggle though. I knew I always wanted to have a spiritual purpose in my life as well.

Purpose and Passion in Dance

When introduced to psychology in high school, it inspired me to figure the purpose part of my life. Dance is and has always been a passion for me. Both psychology and dance have proven to be major parts of my life since I can remember.

Dance is a passion for me yet academics took over. Before I knew it, I was in college majoring in psychology and minoring in dance.

Even though I dance throughout my whole life, the desire to perform dance dwindled away. It ceased being a focal point. Partly because my ego shifted but also in part because I listened to others.

I came to find out many years later, if I had known then what I know now about dance psychology, dance could have been my sole career. It is truly interesting how our inner critic voice guides us, if you lack and awareness of it.

It wasn’t until I learned more about the psychology of dance in upper-level classes that I realized how I was holding myself back from not becoming a professional dancer and choreographer. Movement or dance a shocking realization that there was something I was missing and it had to do with ‘dance’ psychology.

The Psychology of Dance

The psychology of dance and understanding its role gets you to where you want to be. It helps you look at defining and obtaining goals you set forth for yourself in the sport of dance.

Dance psychology also opens doors in terms of learning about confidence, determination and affirmation in the sport. I wish I had that information earlier during of my studio dance class experiences.

What I have decided to do is bring this type of dance psychology to students around the country. I am creating a dance psychology curriculum called Happy Mind, Happy Feet. It will include the wonderful details about how to look at one’s motivation, confidence, goals, health benefits, as well as ability to avoid burnout and injury.

Dance To Be Happy

Dance is not only a social activity that helps you feel a sense of belongingness, but it also is an ideal physical activity. First, it boosts endorphins and dopamine. The happiness we get from dancing is typically seen in the smiles of those taking part in dance.

The burst of dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter in the brain released to bring you happiness, is seen on the faces of those dancing and smiling. Dancing increases your heart rate making dance an excellent form of exercise.

What a positive activity to do for health and well-being! Senior citizens taking part in dance workshops or dance clubs have an edge on those who don’t. If we truly look at dance and its benefits, it might be that dancing reduces depression and anxiety.

Perhaps the simplest prescription in battling anxiety and depression is taking part of the arts!

Dance To Improve Memory and Problem Solving

Dance helps the hippo campus. This is a location in the brain that helps with the consolidation of information from short term memory to long term memory as well as spatial memory that helps us move on a day-to-day basis. Dance is currently being researched by professors such as Peter Lovatt and he is finding that the hippo campus grows with exercise and dance might help improve memory.

Dance is also linked to aiding in problem solving. It can improve spatial acuity and awareness making it a proactive form of prevention to detrimental diseases. This is a huge finding in the battle of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.

I would like to point out that dancing can be done on a simple level for exercise or for fun. In contrast, it can also be done on a more complex level. Either way, if you choose to take dance lessons to improve your memory, be a part of a social group or exercise and have fun, you can make the most out of a new hobby where there are tremendous health benefits.

Put simply, the benefits outweigh the costs.

Stay tuned for more information on the Happy Mind. Happy Feet course:

If you are dancing on a professional level and want more information about the course I offer, keep reading!

In the course I offer, my goal is to share with you the three biggest mistakes I see way too many talented dancers making when it comes to their overall success.

1. They are not learning this information sooner.

2. Most are focused on the movement and performance aspect of dance instead of the psychology behind dance.

3. They are looking outside of themselves for the answers when in actuality the answers are inside of them. Perhaps they just haven’t learned how to find them.

By learning the education behind dance psychology earlier, you might be paving the way for you or someone you know. Perhaps, your own or your son or daughters’ professional dance career can benefit from this information.

Life Lessons Worth Learning

         Photo credit: Pexels

Life Lessons Worth Learning

In life there are life lessons worth learning. Some of these lessons are learned the hard way and some of them can be given by more wise individuals, that is, if you choose to listen. There are certain things you can count on in life and here are some of them:

Living Your Life in Zen

Change is constant. Nothing ever stays the same.

Have a sense of humor about yourself; life will be easier.

Enjoy the moment; don’t rush things. Try to be in the “here and now”.

These “Zen-like” statements, are certainly easier said than done. Are there life lessons you can learn without having to go through the tribulations? Maybe the discipline of acting has some answers to major life lessons.

Read more

7 Ways to Change Your Attitude

Courtesy of Gratisography Pexles

7 Ways to Change Your Attitude

What is attitude? It is your outlook on the world. It is something that you choose. That’s right you choose what kind of attitude you want to have in this lifetime. How you react to a situation or event in your life shows your attitude. If you think you need help, here’s 7 ways to change your attitude. Read more

Control Your Stress

Control Your Stress


Photo Credit by Tim Gouw Pexels

Stress involves psychological, emotional and physical components in your lives. It is important to control your stress and learn ways to have the power over these demands in order to continue moving down a successful path. Burnout is stress at its pivotal point or at the point you just cannot take anymore. Typically, some sort of emotional or physical breakdown happens. Depression or anxiety indicators can be the result if burnout and stressors are typically to blame. It is time to control your stress.

When Burnout Shows Up as Anxiety or Depression

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable but only about one third of those suffering with anxiety actually get treatment. Anxiety disorders develop from various risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events. Those suffering with anxiety can also suffer from depression or vice versa. Almost half of those suffering from depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Read more

The Truth Behind Lies Inside Your Head

The Truth Behind Lies Inside Your Head

Photo Credit: Kat Jayne Pexels

Your opinions and beliefs in your mind can be playing tricks on you. Just because you sincerely believe one thing to be true does not mean it is truth. It can be an opinion and even a negative viewpoint on the world or towards yourself. Your meta-messages could be ruining your life. Here is the truth behind lies inside your head.

What is a Meta-Message?

How you live your life or define your truths is based on your belief system. In counseling, we refer to these “truths” as your beliefs or your “meta-messages.” A meta-message is a message received from reading in between the lines. As you might infer, meta-message itself may not be true but you might define it as being truth. Read more