Love is stronger than death

creative non fiction, health & wellness, meditation, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

My father, who would have turned 85 today, showed his love in practical ways. He grew a garden and its bounty he shared with others, he repaired lawnmowers for free, and he often gave rides to strangers who were down on their luck.

I inherited one of those three talents from my father. Giving rides to and toward strangers in unfamiliar territory is something I’m able and willing to do. So, when an opportunity was offered on my late father’s birthday for me to facilitate a Monday night depression and bipolar support group, I plugged in the GPS the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

My father studied the Bible, searching for answers to explain the pain and suffering he witnessed during his time on Earth. Had he not been a Presbyterian Jehovah’s Witness, I think he would have found solace in the Jewish faith.

hollis in koreaAt least that’s what I think if I work under the premise children are at least half and half of each parent. I think about my mother all the time, but I feel all the time the same way my father seemed to feel about many things in life.

The generational difference between him and I, though, is I was born at a time when tools became available to more peacefully cope with the suffering that surrounds us, whereas my father was born at a time when he enlisted in a war and responded the way anyone would who sees the powerful injustice of suffering. He raged at it. His favorite book in the Old Testament was Ecclesiastes: There is nothing new under the sun and everything is meaningless.

After the group, I studied the gallery of Jewish philosophy hanging in the community center and wondered what my father would have experienced had he been there with me. I like to think he would have realized how whole his broken heart really was. And that he would have found reassurance in that love is stronger than death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s always sunny in a rich man’s world

business, politics, Social Trends, trump, Uncategorized

New Microsoft Publisher Document

Winners are good to hang with. They come out ahead. They have drive and focus and when they have spare time they volunteer on boards and city commissions and sometimes write large checks for art programs. But their winning is predicated on someone else losing and once you’re behind it takes a superhuman, supernatural effort to get ahead.

If you’re lucky like some of the popular underdog-turned-superdog stories out there, you’ll sell the right product out of the trunk of your car on the right corner of the right city. With enough drive and perseverance, they tell you, you’ll come out on top and then you can sell your advice, books, and DVDs to the adoring teeming masses.

But what if you don’t have a car to begin with. Or an Internet Connection. Or any Connection. Then what?

You stand in line.

  • At the Welfare Office,
  • At the Food Pantry,
  • At the Salvation Army.

    That is if you’re still able to stand in line.

    But what if your days of driving and standing are long gone. Then what? You rely on programs such as Meals on Wheels. And if someone decides to cut funding, you’re too hard of hearing, seeing, and writing to speak up.

    And you hope someone who’s not too busy winning will notice how far behind you are.

Do you need a breakthrough?

health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, psychotherapy, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

swimmer (800x439)

One of the most gratifying aspects of serving as a counselor is the breakthrough moment clients experience in finding the source of dissonance within their lives. Whether it’s the honest acknowledgement of a feeling towards another or the awareness of their own behavior, the breakthrough moment is an earth-shaking moment which is felt by both of us.

How does the process unfold to arrive at a particular apex in time? Like a drowning person who is frantically swimming to the water’s surface, a counseling client is sifting through a tidal wave of emotions and thoughts which is submerging her authenticity. A word at a time, a client wrings out the excesses of her relationships to get to the simplicity of one relationship—the relationship with herself.

When the breakthrough occurs, it’s like the near drowning swimmer who has reached through the water’s surface. He is freed to let out the carbon dioxide suffocating him and inhale the oxygen of a life that has been missing. It’s a release of a defense from the intimacy with the universe followed by a burst of energy which gives back a life for one’s self.

What breakthrough moment are you waiting for?

Remember to BREATHE

health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, Social Trends, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Has your life knocked the breath out of you? No wonder, as multi-tasking has been tagged as the the working person’s holy grail when it comes to getting it done.

But for all of the star treatment multi-tasking has garnered over the years, efficiency experts are now learning that focusing on one task at a time is more productive than simultaneously attempting to complete many things.

If you find yourself distracted and scattered throughout the day, spending a few minutes paying attention to your breathing can bring back your focus.

According to integrative health physician Andrew Weil, M.D., “practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”

Breathing by its very nature is a singular activity. Try exhaling and inhaling at the same time. As a foundation to a mindfulness way of life, breathing is the cornerstone.
Here are some tips for beginning a mindful breathing practice:

1. In the beginning, just breathe and pay attention to your breath without any inclination to adjust its depth or length.
2. If feeling anxious, take time to breathe deep into your belly. This breath intention will help dissipate feelings of anxiety.
3. Alternate breaths by covering one nostril and taking one inhale and exhale with one nostril and then switching. This technique will bring more attention to the air that passes through your sinus.
4. Say a phrase that helps you focus on your breathing, such as “breathe in faith, breathe out fear.”

Many books, cds, and dvds are available from a variety of sources for personal use to learn how to improve your breathing technique. Local community groups, such as mental health groups or hospitals, may offer in-person classes.

At its breakneck speed, life takes our breath away. Taking a few minutes each day to catch it, will allow us to be living beings again.

Seeing and the big “F” word: forgiveness

forgiveness, health & wellness, Journaling, meditation, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

You know the feeling. You had a disagreement with another person and in your mind you forgave. You were able to forgive them because you ended your relationship with them.  But did you really forgive them or did you just forget them?

 The answer to that question will be revealed next time you unexpectedly run into them in a location you weren’t prepared for, such as your local grocery store. If your heart jumps and your stomach feels anxious, then the energy of the conflict hasn’t subsided and, frankly, you focused on the forgetting but not the forgiving.

So what do you do when you come across THAT person? Here are some options, only one of them recommended.

1. Turn around and pretend you didn’t see them.

2. Ram your shopping cart into the back of their legs and pretend you didn’t see them.

3. Walk by them as if they were invisible and pretend you didn’t see them, or

4. See them.

As uncomfortable as it is, facing THAT person is a response coming from a stance of self empowerment. Responding as a whipped puppy with your tail between your legs will only add to the dynamic belief you were on the losing end of the conflict. Instead, take a deep breath, open your eyes, both in your head and heart, and see the person in front of you. What you discover might surprise you about them and yourself.

Now, for the awkward moment. Does seeing them include speaking? Maybe. But certainly on your terms and not theirs. You can say hello, or nod your head and give a small smile (but not the smirk smile) and keep walking. If they initiate a conversation, such as, “how are you?” say, “I’m great!” and keep on walking.

So the moment has passed and you SAW them, what do you do next to FORGIVE them?

Here are some steps that may help you with the process of forgiveness.

1. Write the person a letter stating exactly what they did that hurt you. Journaling can be a therapeutic process which can help you “read your own mind.” Journaling does not have to be limited to words. Incorporating art or other visual elements are as effective in processing your feelings. (Do not send THAT person the letter, but it might help to read it to another supportive person who can keep a confidence.)

2. Pray and meditate on the concept of forgiveness. Sometimes, we aren’t ready to pray for THAT person, but we can start the process by quieting the thoughts that racket around like they are on a handball court by focusing on the theme of forgiveness.

3. When you are ready to move to the next stage, pray for good things for yourself and THAT person. This action is empowering because it gives you control. When you start, you don’t have to be sincere, but over time you may find yourself believing that both of you deserve the gift of a life filled with blessings.

4. Understand that the role of forgiveness isn’t to change THAT person as change may never happen to your expectations and demands, but it is there to heal you and give you a better quality of life.

Forgiveness is a voluntary choice with a process and while forgetting may be a component of it, that, in and of itself, isn’t an indication of healing. If a chance encounter with someone with whom you have had a dispute has rattled your psyche’s bones, then it may be time for you to say “Oh, Forgiveness” so the next time you encounter them you can “See” them.

gods-compassion

 

Hit bottom and rise up!

addiction, health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, Social Trends, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

break open

My spiritual director/psychotherapist always thought it was a moment for celebration when someone appeared at his doorway in their lowest moment.

“When you hit bottom,” he would say, “then you can break open.”

As difficult and harrowing the journey to the bottom can be, hitting an emotional bottom is a moment of celebration. When a series of unhealthy choices finally shoves your ego off the cliff of a fantasy life, then you have a chance to break free and fully assess where you might go next. And at your most emotionally and mentally battered, you may be more open to the belief that choices you make on your own behalf will lead you to a pathway of peace and security.

Once you hit the valley and the shell of a fantasy existence has cracked open, you will be able to soak in the oxygen of a world who wants you as you are.

Love and light,
The Being Place

Getting out of a tight spot

health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

miracle

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
Life can be a fickle, tricky business. When life pummels your heart and mind, it can be tempting to give up.  When you’re putting together the pieces of a broken heart, broken mind or broken life, sometimes the only remaining solution is to wait it out until it all fits back together.
Absolutely everything eventually changes. Your mind may try to convince you otherwise. But guaranteed, everything eventually changes.
Truthfully, sometimes the change can be a change for the worst. And even if that is the case, it, too, is temporary. Because everything eventually changes. So, if you are at a low point, what might you miss out on if you didn’t wait for the change? If you leave us, you will never know. And neither will we.
You don’t have to wait it out alone, though. You can if you want. But you don’t have to.  Who you ask to wait with you is important, though. Oftentimes we can speed up recovery if we cooperate with the helpers, and sometimes it takes the amount of time it takes. So the person who waits with you needs an extra dose of patience. And so do you.
Little by little absolutely everything changes. So please, don’t leave five minutes before your miracle change happens.
Love and light,
The Being Place
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

When you return to God, the love is even greater

health & wellness, meditation, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

I’ve been reading books from a variety of faith traditions. This passage from The Essential Kabbahlah particularly touched me. I need forgiveness and this was comforting to me that no matter how many mistakes I make, God will always take me back and love me even more than what He had before. No matter how many mistakes you’ve made, God will love you more, too. Love and light to all of you….

gods-compassion

What happened yesterday

health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

gods-willA powerful suggestion I heard from someone older and wiser than me about how to figure out how to do God’s will today. Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left side write out all of the things you hope to accomplish, big and small, such as having lunch with a friend or meeting a deadline on a work project. Leave the right side blank.

When you get to the end of the day, write out what actually happened. There you have it, that’s what God’s will for the day was. Call me if you need anything….and be careful out there.

Love can be tough and blind

addiction, health & wellness, holidays, thoughts for living, Trends, Uncategorized

m-scott-peck

Love is blind. This is somewhat true, but more realistically people can be blind to love, especially when others make a tough decision to step back to allow the natural order of things to occur.

Families oftentimes are placed in double (love) blind experiences when they are trying to find their way in helping someone recover from a drug addiction. The first function of a family is to support its children in learning skills, morals, and values. When addiction strikes a family member, normal approaches to building a thriving family unit can be affected. Oftentimes, a family member’s addiction will drive the individual to decisions which do not fall within the societal norms of morals or values.

Unknowingly, non addicted family members can be caught up in a perpetuation of fueling the addiction through co-dependent choices. A family member needs a ride somewhere and what caring family member wouldn’t give one? Or can they borrow a few bucks until they get paid? Saying no to simple requests seems petty and punitive. But within the illness of addiction, keeping the affected individual comfortable may literally be “loving them to death.”  People are only as sick as their own and other people’s secrets, and addiction is sneaky and secretive. People don’t know what they don’t know.

Before families realize what is happening, the constant conflict and anxiety created by addiction, has begun to break down the family unit. Substance abuse is a leading reason married couples seek divorces. When a child is the one suffering from addiction, families frequently cope with a degree of grief and anguish that only other families battling life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, can understand.

Consequently, all family members become blind to love. Underneath the person suffering from addiction is the valuable human being God created. But the manipulation and deceit of addiction destroys trust. In periods of sobriety, the restored family member resurfaces and others within the family welcome them but are confused themselves as to how they can so harshly judge a relative.

tough-loveEventually, family members may begin to see that trying to fix the consequences for their loved one’s addiction is making it worse for them and the addict. Yet, it is scary to relinquish control. The illusion for the non addict family member is they make better decisions because they are sober. However, if  consequences of some bad choices aren’t allowed to be experienced by an addict, then no motivation exists to change.

Addiction can and does kill and it can’t be cured. But it can be managed. Just as a family wouldn’t treat a loved one’s cancer, family’s ought not endeavor to manage another’s addiction. Working with professionals is as important for the family members who don’t suffer from addiction as it is for those with the illness.

When a family suffers from an illness, love is tough. Tough love may be the highest form of love one can offer another.

And when a family sees this, then addiction can no longer blind people to love.