Meet Deanna Brann, Ph.D., NABBW’s New In-Law Survival Associate, Whose Life Goal is to Help All MILs and DILs Peacefully Co-Exist

by Anne Holmes on July 30, 2013

We’re delighted to introduce you to Dr. Deanna Brann, a leading expert on mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships. Her big goal in life? To help women get unstuck in their relationships so they can peacefully coexist.  Since Deanna is both a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law herself, she knows this relationship inside and out. By combining her  personal experience with her clinical skills and expertise, she’s able to provide easy-to-follow insights, tools and strategies that will take you from feeling hopeless to feeling hopeful.

In addition to being NABBW’s new In-Law Survival Associate, Dr. Brann is a media expert, a national speaker on women and relationships, and a consultant for women struggling with relationships – personally or professionally – who want to make things better. She is also the author of the award-winning book, Reluctantly Related: Secrets to Getting Along With Your Mother-in-Law or Daughter-in-Law (available in Kindle and paperback formats)  and a second book, Mothers-in-Law & Daughters-in-Law Say the Darndest Things! 

Both are delightfully illustrated by Dan Hoenig, whose memorable work lightens what might be a heavy subject. You’ll find his work front and center on the website, too. 

Importantly, Dr. Brann says, “Working with my clients over the years, I’ve found that rather than ignoring or repeating the same frustrating situations or feelings over and over again, you can really and truly learn how to stop the cycle − and grow more comfortable (or even closer) with your in-law.” 

Of course, she won’t be able to provide psychotherapy via her NABBW columns, but Dr. Brann will use them to share different points of view,  as well as provide effective tips can begin changing how you look at yourself and your in-law relationship, making it possible for you to experience these relationships differently. You can review her NABBW posts on our front page. Here’s one on how to make a family trip memorable, not miserable — a great summertime topic!

Finally, Deanna says she is in the process of creating some amazing programs that will help you take control so you can make your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship better! She’s creating video seminars – one for mothers-in-law and one for daughters-in-law — as well as some 1:1 coaching packages each of which will be specific for mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. She tells us that as soon as these programs are ready, she will send out an announcement with a special discount to anyone who has subscribed to her website’s email list. If that sounds interesting, she invites you go subscribe now — and stay tuned!

In spite of all that activity, Dr. Brann had time to answer our favorite “Voices of Baby Boomer Women” questions.  Her answers are below. Enjoy!!

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

deanna-brannI am a retired psychologist (1st career) who is on my 2nd of 2 ½ careers.

My ½ career was between my first and second where I studied lowland gorillas. I studied their behavior and communication skills, however this was cut short as I was not able to travel to Africa (war in Rwanda), and my life changed when I married my husband.

In my current career, I am an author, speaker and consultant on women’s relationships – helping women who struggle to change their relationships for the better.

My husband and I moved 4 years ago from Michigan to Tennessee after we retired to be closer to my son and his family, particularly our granddaughters.

Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

I have been married for 15 years and have the most easy-going, comfortable marriage anyone could have. We are such a great team.

I have one son and my husband has a daughter and a son – all grown adults. We have two granddaughters – ages 15 & 10.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

I remember in junior high we would go to the local drugstore where they had a soda fountain and we would all get a “dime dish of chocolate ice cream and a nickel coke.” All the kids hung out there. I grew up in a small town, and we walked all over town with no worries, often coming home when the streetlights came on.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?reluctantly-related

I am all about empowering women and so many of my qualities are centered on that. I am persistent, diligent, self-directed, goal oriented, but value relationships which is what, I believe, women of our generation demonstrated to achieve the milestones of our time. We didn’t know what we didn’t know and this mind-set has worked well for me in achieving things others thought impossible.

What inspires you? What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

Spending my time with my husband and family.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

 Imitation of Life (1959 remake)  with Lana Turner, John Gavin and Sandra Dee  – ….some great lessons about life and relationships at a very deep level.

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

My husband and I love to travel. We have been to many places over the years, but have found “our” place in Belize – Ambergris Caye. We have been vacationing there every year for the past 8 years – it feels like “home.” I think we are so good at traveling together because we have the same energy level, interests, etc. when traveling.

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate

I work pretty hard at it. Because of my family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other health issues, I pay close attention to what I eat. I exercise 5-6 days a week, and work at creating a healthy balance of work and play. I also work at reducing stress in my life.

What do you stress about?

It is interesting because so much of what I get stressed about depends on my energy level at the time. If my energy is high, little will stress me, but when my energy is low, the smallest things can take their toll.

I have learned over the years that sometimes I have to “step away” from things to realign myself. I will go for a walk, be outside in the fresh air, talk to friends, etc. I do whatever feels right at the time to help me clear the stress I am feeling.

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

I find aging to be difficult. I view myself as so much younger than I am.

My mother’s generation never talked about aging, and honestly, they (people of her generation) always seemed old to me. So this is a whole new frontier.

Luckily my wonderful friends and I talk about aging a lot and we laugh, joke as well as talk seriously about the subject. I want to retain my youthful looks to a degree. I want to look fabulous “for my age.”

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

Wow, so many times! I think it would be hard not to with all that is available today. We know so much more now than ever before and this knowledge gives us the ability to do/be whoever we want to be.

For me, being open to trying new things, being inquisitive, curious, and my need for mental stimulation are the things that have made it possible for me to re-invent myself.

 Do you plan to retire?

Although I’ve retired from particular careers at different points, I love starting new things. I like the mental and creative challenge of it. So although I may retire from a particular career position, I will always be curious, and interested enough to find something else that excites me…so I guess my short answer is “no.”

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

We bought a home that is almost completely energy efficient. It is what they (in Tennessee) call a “Builder’s Challenge.” We also do small things.

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

My work with mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law began because of the struggles I was having with my own daughter-in-law after she had our first granddaughter. We struggled for 8 years with me trying different things to make things better.

Then my sister was diagnosed with cancer and died a year later. Her death really woke me up to how little time we have with the people that matter to us. That is when I decided to take action.

I researched the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship and figure out what I could do to change things and make it better. I did the research, applied my tools, and changed my relationship!

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

I am currently working on one of my dreams – it is my mission to help women, who struggle in their relationships, empower themselves and change those relationships.

Actually my focus is about empowering women. I know that is sometimes an overused word, but I find so many women feel stuck, and feel hopeless or helpless in their relationships. And all they can feel is the pain. I want to show them they really can change that.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

I think my gift of helping people change for the better, whether through psychotherapy, coaching, sharing, friendships, presentations, or just “being” is how I make a difference. Another way I feel I make a difference is I truly listen.deanna images

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

Actually everyone around me has a great influence on me. I find that I learn from everyone I encounter. Sometimes it is something small and sometimes it is something huge. Either way, I always gain so much from my interactions with others.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

One person can make a difference!

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