A Bigger Universal Perspective… Think Like a Hawk

Imagine yourself sitting on the ground. You lift up a large stone & there before you exposed for your observation are a myriad of smaller life forms… bugs, worms, snails, slugs & the like… all busily…even frenetically going about their business of living their lives in their earthly environment. The closer you look, the more you tap into how each species performs their tasks for survival as well as how they interact with each other in a more communal way.
Now picture yourself as a hawk… gliding along on the wind currents… ever aware & observant from high above all that is going on below. The hawk is capable of seeing exactly what it needs to see from great distances. It doesn’t need to tune into all the details… only those which support its own life & true survival.
Nature is a wonderful & wise teacher… microcosm/ macrocosm. When we fallible humans get caught up in the “emotionality” of a situation, it then becomes very difficult to access it with the clarity needed to find a viable solution. “Emotion” is about feeling… something we need to be able to connect with to be healthy & well-rounded. It comes from a natural tendency & need to give & receive. “Emotionality” on the other hand, is about drama & being triggered into a reaction to something that has wounded us prior to that. Operating from that vantage point never serves us well so it’s important to recognize the difference.
If we can learn to mentally stand back out of the chaos that so often permeates life & observe it from a more Universal vantage point, we automatically give ourselves the gift of seeing any given situation with much more clarity & truth. It also allows us to see a new perspective in relation to the level of importance we tend to assign things out of misplaced emotion, something by the way… the animal kingdom never does. What may have appeared to be much more important when we’re right in the middle of it often is merely a drop in the bucket when we consider the bigger picture, especially when we can let go of our fear & ego & see it for what is really is.
That my friends, is a recipe for true freedom & peace of mind & when all else fails, just remember… this too shall pass.

Get Curious… Remember…

Experiencing Life Through the Perspective of Another

 

On my second trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica with a humanitarian, dental, non-profit organization called Great Shape/ 1000 Smiles, I again found myself working in a remote, jungle community called Walkerswood at the local school… in fact, the only school. It was a series of small, run-down, dirt-floored buildings joined together by sidewalks, metal bars in the glassless windows & surrounded by a rough-shod playground.

The kids, who ranged in age from 5 through 17, were more than curious as we hauled in box after box of dental equipment & chairs. They couldn’t wrap their minds around our odd ways either, whether it was petting or talking to the myriad of poor, starving dogs everywhere or wincing at the sight of bug-covered food that they would eat without a second thought… bugs & all.

Although the principal & staff cared greatly for these children, they were very strict about manners, obedience & the effort they put into their studies. I was even asked to speak at their monthly PTA meeting! The parents initially had a difficult time believing we would actually volunteer to take  time away from our own jobs & families & pay our own airfare to come there & not want something in return. Their own survival had always depended on having to hold so tightly onto anything they could get.

It was also an expectation throughout the community that if someone’s child was caught misbehaving, whichever neighbor happened to see them could take it upon themselves to mete out punishment which often included hitting them… the old “spare the rod… spoil the child” mentality.

The second day there, I met a teenage girl, Dana… 15 years old… who lived nearby. Her developmentally disabled brother attended the school & although she was no longer a student there herself, she could often be found helping with him or just hanging around. Her mother was a local healer… a very spiritual, church-going woman who was well-liked & respected in the community.

As we struck up a conversation, I asked why she wasn’t in school. She had attended previously & had actually been a very good student. At some point though, she’d come down with an auto-immune disorder which slowly robbed her of her ability to function. Often exhausted, she would ask the teacher to be excused. Her mother, being very concerned, had taken her to various local healers with no luck. She was finally able to get a clear diagnosis from a medical center some distance away.

Unfortunately because of the culture there & a lack of understanding, that explanation wasn’t well-received by the school staff. Assuming she was just being lazy, her teachers became so hard on her she eventually dropped out of altogether. Fortunately by the time we met, her symptoms had begun to go into remission & her strength & energy were slowly returning.

Since we were short-handed, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to have her work with us as a team member & build her self-esteem at the same time… a win-win! She seemed to have a natural aptitude for dentistry & before long she was performing a number of tasks quite well. The change in her demeanor was palatable & it did my heart good to see her confidence in herself grow.

Each year as our trip came to an end & we prepared to go back home, there was always a dinner back at the hotel to say “thank-you” to everyone who had participated & give them a chance to say their good-byes to so many they had developed strong bonds with. Everyone shared how much it had meant to them to really be able to help but they also felt they’d received so much more in return.

Our team invited Dana to come spend the night at the hotel in my room so she could attend the dinner & with her mother’s permission, she excitedly agreed. I knew this would be a great experience for her but I had no idea what an adventure it would be as well… for both of us…

She arrived carrying a change of clothes and an old, ragged towel in a paper bag. I explained it wasn’t necessary for her to bring her own towel as the hotel supplied them for their guests. I then told her to go ahead & feel free to take the first shower. She headed into the bathroom as my roommate & I took that time to kick back after a long, hot day.

About 20 minutes later, out she walked… tears in her eyes… red blotches all over her skin. Surprised & concerned, I asked her what was wrong. “I tried to stay under the spout” she said “but the water was just SO hot, I couldn’t stand it anymore!” To my dismay, I realized she had never been in a shower with hot & cold running water before.  I thought about how naïve I’d been not to realize that. Most Jamaicans shower in rainwater they trap in vats on their roofs. It’s a tropical climate so water heaters aren’t used, even though there are days I’m sure it’s chilly. They simply can’t afford the electricity or plumbing.

I apologetically explained the situation to her & helped her get ready for dinner, all the while trying to ease her extreme nervousness.  By the time we got to dinner & seated ourselves, the poor thing looked like she was going to pass out!

As our dinners were served, I noticed one of the Jamaican waiters standing by the wall near our table, quietly & quickly came over to her, placed her napkin in her lap for her & showed her the silverware. Once again, I realized she had never been to a restaurant… never experienced the nuances of having her glass filled with water or ordering from a menu. Again, I felt like I’d failed her in not being aware enough of the circumstances she came from. No wonder she was so anxious!

There are many people who live in the U.S. who also go without these things as well but even more Jamaicans do. So many of us in this country are so blessed to have enough to eat, a place to sleep, a chance for an education, clothing, charitable organizations who are available to make up the difference & opportunities for some type of dental & medical care should an emergency arise at least. We can’t know what we haven’t yet learned & sometimes it’s easy to forget to appreciate what we haven’t had to go without.

Gratitude is our gift to ourselves & to the collective because if we can’t see our own reasons to be grateful, we’re not near as likely to be there to support & empower others.

                                                 GET CURIOUS… REMEMBER…

 

 

 

 

Mental Health… So what’s in a label?

Among the countless things I don’t know is one thing I’ve learned FOR SURE… life is anything but black and white… neat and tidy! It comes instead, in a spectrum of shades… often overlapping according to facts and perspective. The issue of mental health falls perfectly into this conundrum. We seem to have a need to define everything and give it a name. It makes us feel safer… more in control regardless of how far from the truth that really is.

The professional field of mental health has historically been broken in many ways. A diagnosis can only be as accurate and effective as the tools used to assess any given situation along with the insight and training of the psychologist and or psychiatrist making that assessment. Until recently due to a lack of funding and priorities, the human brain has not been studied beyond a certain point. The tendency has always been to view the issue from only part of our human spectrum which is only a slice of the entire pie. The reality is we’re all made up of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies… each just as essential as the next and all connected and symbiotic.

Good therapists are worth their weight in gold but sadly those who aren’t seem to far outweigh them. This has been not my personal experience repeatedly but also mirrors the opinions of many friends and peers of mine in this field who have identified this as a real problem as well. Nobody in a healing profession can be effective unless they’re willing to also do their own personal work. People are often drawn to professions like these because of their own tough experiences and a sincere desire to help others. What they don’t yet understand however is we can’t help anyone else unless we’re willing to help ourselves first. When we know better… we do better. Knowledge gained through books and class-time is very different from wisdom. This is what we gain from going through the process ourselves. It shifts our perspectives and the way we deal with everything and everyone around us. Otherwise, it becomes just another way to avoid our “stuff” by focusing on someone or something else. That’s not empowering for either party!

Unfortunately, the propensity for life-long damage to someone who is incorrectly diagnosed or mishandled by the so-called “professional” they’ve sought help from can be heart-breaking. It certainly has been for me as I’ve listened to countless personal stories from clients and friends who have suffered the repercussions of being incorrectly diagnosed and labeled. They’ve all held the belief that they WERE their diagnosis… somehow less than everyone else… flawed… not worth having a joyful life or a healthy relationship. In every single case, they could not have been more wrong. NOBODY should go into the field of mental health unless they’re empathic and compassionate enough to see and understand the perspectives of those they are supposed to serve. The damage I’ve witnessed from ignorance on the part of the professional who should know better has left me many times with my mouth hanging open in amazement.

Learning to truly identify who we are at our authentic best requires letting go of the antiquated beliefs that keep us stuck, powerless and unable to see the bigger picture and truth of it. Becoming aware of the labels which hurt and shame so many and keep them hostage is something everyone of us can and should do. It also means having the courage to speak up when we hear or see someone doing something counter to that. At our cores, THAT is who we ALL are.

GET CURIOUS…. REMEMBER…

Finding the Freedom to be Who We’re Meant to Be

A few years ago I was in the business of using design and color to invoke interest and feeling in various homes which were going on the market. I noticed a wide the variety of colors in the rich, abundant and beautiful woods in my neighborhood. The branches of the trees mottled with white spots that looked like randomly splattered paint and that vibrant, neon-green lichen especially caught my eye and my creative juices began flowing as I imagined using pieces of them in a variety of ways in my design projects. I thought to myself, “This idea will give me a nice, little, creative edge in my work!” The field of staging had become fairly competitive by then.

Then one day as I entered the Interior Design Center showrooms in downtown Seattle, I was surprised to see those same beautiful branches displayed just as I had imagined them! How could that be? There was no way they had copied the idea from me. I then began to see décor from the natural world more and more in a variety of stores and catalogs. I later came to understand it was the Universe’s way of beginning the push to re-connect mankind and Nature, something the majority of mankind had lost long ago. There was a Higher reason.

This phenomenon occurred many times, in many ways after this first realization and my training in the field of physics & energy allowed me to finally understand the dynamic at play in these situations. Just as we learned in school, everything is made up of energy. This also includes our thoughts and words… ALL of them!

There exists a field of collective consciousness which is fed on a continual basis by the masses. We each contribute to it but we also” receive” from it… usually without even realizing it.

This poses two important issues well worth our consideration:

1-      With this in mind, WHAT IF… mankind began to be more aware, disciplined & responsible regarding individual thoughts and words? It’s the Law of Reverberation in the science of physics… The energy put forth multiplies ten-fold and reverberates back again, continuing to expand ten-fold. That offers a whole different perspective for the individual and collective power we humans actually have to affect change instead of the hopelessness and helplessness we so often feel instead. Could it be that the problem was never about our Power but simply about seeing it from a different point of view?

2-      Our thoughts aren’t always our own. So how do we determine which are actually ours vs. someone else’s? The only way I’ve found for myself to recognize what’s mine is to continually work to get to know myself. It’s an inside job and what it lacks in simplicity it more than makes up for in personal benefit! I was continually “told” growing up I was” supposed” to be this or do that. Ahhh… those lovely expectations we all seem to get saddled with early on in life… I was presented with a variety of labels and beliefs leading me to assume I was simply a “genetic-sponge” destined to follow in the footsteps of my family members… for better or worse. Despite it all, I discovered my own truth. My authentic self… the person I truly came here to be… was none of those things at all. In fact, I’m much more than the sum of them all! Who knew?!

If you’re someone who really values the FREEDOM to be who you’re meant to be & to live your own life being true to that (maybe with a little adventure along the way to boot!…), this is an excellent place to take that first step.

To really claim our authentic selves, we have to first recognize who we AREN”T.

GET CURIOUS AND HUNGRY FOR WHAT’S INSIDE AND THEN GET READY TO BE SURPRISED & EMPOWERED!