Stripping away the excess

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

dear heartMy ego is scared at least a million times a day and the shell of it is so strong that my spirit can barely breathe. I suffocate my soul with layers of roles and labels I pin on myself.

Eventually, though, through aging and, ultimately, death all of these superficial wallpaper titles will be chipped and stripped away and all to remain will be my spirit and soul. It is this untamable, unnamable aspect of self God loves. Fortunately, the indefatigable spirit within me constantly seeks out God.

Briefly and interstitially it peeks out with no attachment to food, caffeine, money, or smooth relationships. In these rare moments, life can just be as it is and I have an opportunity to soar.

In Your Wildest Dreams

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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

 

If you lose your hearing, then talk

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

For a time I worked in an outpatient program for seniors. It was a special honor to work with these individuals who were willing to share their experiences with each other and to reflect on what they learned across their life. Here are a few thoughts I culled from my time with them: learn-something-new

What to do when you’re not getting it

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

patrick__i_don__t_get_it__by_legolasgimli-d4xjxq4

Ever have one of those periods when you have a desire to be better than you are but you seem to be missing a key piece of the instructions and you just can’t seem to get it?

You know you’ve done the work: journaling, talking to trusted people, going to church or support groups. But you’re just not getting it.  And from your point of view it feels like it’s getting worse.

Then, the next thing you know, your mood, mind, and heart are flipped over in the ditch in the journey known as life.

In relationships affected by addiction, it’s common to crash. You keep moving toward them and their addiction moves them away. It’s easy—and dangerous—to be tripped up on the invisible ice that builds from being powerless over another’s life threatening compulsion.

Then, when we find ourselves in the ditch, we’re tempted to spin our wheels because at least that is doing something. Instead of moving us forward, though, it digs us in deeper. It’s frustrating, discouraging and daunting.

So, what to do? Where’s the tow truck? Call Triple A. acceptanceAwareness. Acceptance. Action.

When your efforts to improve yourself seem to be getting you nowhere or you keep slipping back into old patterns despite your good intentions to stop, then the best thing you can do is sit there and do nothing.

Wait. What?

Yes. As counter as that is to this create a to-do list, fill in your planner, complete a bullet journal culture, when it comes to relationships affected by the illness of addiction, sometimes the best thing to do is wait.

And meditate.

So, what’s happening while you’re meditating? Many, many powerful things are occurring.

  • You will grow in awareness of yourself and how you have been affected by others’ actions.
  • You will process what is happening and not what you want it to be.
  • You can dig through your glove box and make sure you have proof of insurance and registration in case the police arrive before the tow truck.

And, then, once all your things are in order, then you will be prepared to move on.

Resentments will stop building and disappear.

Love and compassion for the person affected by an illness will begin to grow.

Addiction takes up a lot of room in a family’s life and sometimes members need their space from others to heal.

And, that’s okay. While you’re waiting for the Triple A tow truck to get you out of the ditch, you can use the time to look at life from a different perspective and rid yourself of things that are tripping you up.

After all, that’s what ditches are for.

For more information about addiction, visit www.thebeingplace.net

Don’t trip over the finish line

health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, thoughts for living, Uncategorized
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12: 1
finishline
Don’t trip over the finish line. That’s an expression I share with people who are so close to achieving their goal. That’s the expression I’m using for myself in these last few weeks of completing my supervised hours towards independent license.
Many distractions have been hollering from the sidelines in my endeavor, which I  accept (some days reluctantly and some days enthusiastically) as my calling for this time in my life. It has been tempting to throw in the towel and pick up the pieces from my former vocation. But as a new mentor has cautioned me, we can’t go back, we can only keep moving forward. So, I keep with the plans my Employer (aka as Higher Power) has laid out for me this day. Being all powerful, God is supplying me with all my needs. Apparently, some of my needs have been to learn how to persevere through unpredictable circumstances at work and in my personal life. And in an ironic way, I recognize if life was predictable, then many of us wouldn’t have a calling.
Today, my focus is on what I can contribute to the stream of life in a positive way and detach myself from the negativity others may try to project onto me. And when someone throws something into my lane, I will step over it and keep going.