Granola

Yum, granola! I am cooking up a couple batches today while I wade through boxes in our basement, after moving into our new room. I am so grateful for the little things, like the smell of cooking granola. The giggles from my little guys playing with old toys again for the first time, after finding them downstairs. It is the simple things in life that bring me joy, from moment to moment. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” -Leonardo Da Vinci. This post will be simply short and sweet. Enjoy every moment for all it’s worth. We only have this one life after all. I HOPE that I can simply appreciate everything around me as it is.IMG_2743

Violence

What is violence? According to the oxford dictionary, behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. Isn’t that the same thing many people watch on tv, movies, internet for enjoyment in our culture? If you are someone who has never watched a violent thing then this does not apply to you but I am willing to bet that most people have watched something with violence in it, without turning it off or changing the station. When we as a culture accept and ask for more violence to watch in the form of tv, video, video games, etc, it should not surprise us when people act out the same roles in everyday life. Many of us poses the cognitive skills to weigh right from wrong but a good amount of people being born with in-utero exposure to drugs, who have experienced head traumas or who abuse drugs are not as capable of determining right from wrong. I do not believe this is the reason why so many violent acts continue to happen but it certainly is a contributing factor. We want people to treat each other with love and respect yet we live in a culture that glorifies violence. I believe as a culture we began to lose our sense of national security around the time of 911. Since that time we have continued experience traumatic acts of violence on US soil. Unfortunately many of the most recent attacks come from our own citizens acting against one another. These events are leaving people feeling unsafe and like we can not count on one another to tackle problems in a non-violent and humane manner. We have historically lived together, worked together and come through huge trauma together. At this point in history turning against others within our own country only breeds more violence and insecurity amongst us. We have developed through many struggles and acts of violence in our history and I HOPE for my children’s sake we will come through this time more united and supportive of one another. Everyone needs to feel safe, according to Maslow it is one of our most basic needs. Without that it can thwart all our other actions.
Dalai-Lama-Quotes

Paradox to peace

“The Paradoxical Commandments”

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
― Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council

I really had to stop myself from changing how these commandments were written because I do not believe that everyone acts like this. I believe there are still many people in this world that are trustworthy and loving, and will not treat you poorly. I also believe that you can accomplish great things and leave your mark in a positive way, no matter who you are on this earth. This is the true optimist inside of me talking. The reason I like this list is because this world can eat us alive if we let it. I also feel it suits the current tone of events in our country with humans killing other humans because of their occupation, position, race, sex etc. It is sad to see the amount of judging and generalizing many people are participating in these days. I feel like the culprit here can not all be ignorance. I think it has more to do with the above paradox, “helping people who may attack you anyways.” I happen to do this on a daily basis when people are hospitalized for mental illness and can become extremely violent. That is a calculated risk I take every day I work, but I feel it is a risk I am willing to take to help those people who need help. Unfortunately as humans we do not always recognize when we need to ask for help and asking for help can make people feel vulnerable and helpless. I believe, in big part due to our culture, we have ego’s of epic proportions. When that is the reality on such a large scale people can become unwilling to see anything other than what they want to. We essentially blindfold ourselves. It may even be comparible to a child refusing to hear what a parent is asking them to do. I HOPE that in the future people can begin to open themselves up to peace and forgiveness.

The way to peace means turning the other cheek and accepting that the negative actions of one do not determine the actions of all.
Love and forgive people anyway.

There is never a winning side to violence.

Dependence

It has been brought to my attention lately while binge watching documentaries on Netflix that our country is great a keeping people dependent upon oodles of different things from sugar in food, to prescription drugs, to charity and more. It is a system that truly gives out fish but is reluctant to teach anyone to fish for fear of losing their dependence. It is disturbing to me that for the majority of my life I have given to the poor in the form of charity only to find that the foreign aid we provide out of the kindness of our hearts is really working against developing countries and much of the time inhibiting their development. I don’t want to support charity that puts the people I am trying to help out of business nor do I want to ignore the greater issue that is not being addressed here at home and abroad, dependence. It is my understanding that our government supports people with the assistance of welfare and this is a kindness on the surface but in the long run it encourages dependence when it is never ending aid rather than mere assistance while people are being educated and working to find jobs and housing for themselves. I am aware that not everyone looks at the welfare system as a beneficiary, but many do and their children learn from them that this is the way to view this resource. It shocked me to find out that foreign aid to developing countries does not stop for months or years after a natural disaster. Therefore, if people in that community wanted to make a living selling goods and getting back on their feet they can not because they can not compete with free. In this manner we make these communities dependent on aid, these communities that want to develop and grow. I don’t believe that anyone starts out in this world thinking I want to live in poverty and never have aspirations or dreams for myself and my family. It also concerned me to find out that many people in developing countries will place their children in orphanages on purpose and visit them weekly knowing they could be adopted by someone from another country. They do this because parents want the best for their children and if the only way they know their children will receive food, shelter, clothing and education is by placing them up for adoption in an orphanage then that is what they do. I feel like I have been in the dark on these issues for years. Even in the mental health system their is this undertone that keeps people dependent on the system, that is why Mary Ellen Copeland invented the WRAP program or wellness recovery action plan. As a mental health patient herself,she felt she was not being given the right tools or education in or out of the hospital to reach sustainable functional recovery. Marsha M. Linehan, who invented DBT or dialectical behavior therapy, was diagnosed with schizophrenia herself, and experiencing what doesn’t work propelled her to create modalities that do. I am HOPEFUL that in the future more people will start to recognize the brokenness of a system based in dependency and work to develop new ways to help people in a more sustainable way. I think we need to start thinking about teaching independence and collaboration rather than dependence because that is a much more helpful donation to our brothers and sisters then a dirty bandaid. It’s time for a hand up rather than just a hand out.

Seriously

I am thinking today on the topic of taking things seriously. I tend to do more of that in my role as a counselor than I would like at times, but feel it is necessary to be fully present for people at work. I feel this seriousness spills over into the rest of my roles in life and I tend to take myself way to seriously, most of the time. How do I learn to turn on my lighthearted switch more often? Well, I think it starts with checking in with my thoughts throughout the day. Asking myself, am I taking myself to seriously? Am I taking this interaction to seriously? Am I letting my apt to stew get the best of my time and energy right now? If I can answer no to any one of these questions it is time to shake the thought and move on. For some of us that takes a lot of practice and attention to begin to get better at letting things go. You may need to sing the Frozen tune in your head several times each day, I still do. Some of being mindful is getting caught up in observing all of these thoughts and details, and there are so many of them in a day. A filtering of consciousness seems to go hand in hand with living out each moment. I HOPE that I can be more aware of the symbiotic nature of my thoughts and actions and how I need to let it go more often then not. I will learn to take things less seriously. After all, someone once said, “With great power comes great electricity bill.”

kermit
thank you, oneheartconnection.com

Simple things

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. Winston Churchill
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/winston_churchill.html
So, if all great things are simple, simple things must be great. I would love to read Winston Churchill’s autobiography. I watched my boys play outside today in their little pool and we splurged and got a slip and slide. What a joy to watch my little guys have hours of fun with a slide and pool. At one point they were sharks, yay shark week! So we are fully submerged into summer and it seems to be going at a break neck pace. Soon it will be the end of summer and the little guys will be starting kindergarten. How bitter sweet. So I HOPE to enjoy as many of those little,simple and joyful moments as I can while my kids are still small. As stressful as it can get with having kids at young ages it is also flying by and I know I will blink and they will all be grown. I want to work on cherishing every moment and doing as many things as we can together while they are young and still soaking this world up like a sponge. Oh, to be a carefree little kid again.I have a lot of fun still trying to be one as often as possible. It does get me into a little trouble from time to time but there is a reason I will always be a child of God. Always learning and always making mistakes while growing in His love, every moment. This summer I HOPE that everyone will give their adult self a rest, hang their seriousnes up for a second, and let their childside out to enjoy the simple things.

Laugh

“Only laughing has no language, no religion. It sounds the same from people throughout the world.”- Rahul Singh. It is the universal sound that you hear wherever you go and it is distinguishable no matter who does it. The great unifier is laughter. I HOPE to work on laughing at least once every day. I’m pretty sure I already do but it would be nice to have a laugh-fit to track the amount of times you laugh in a day. Talk about improving your happiness and life. I HOPE that the world decides to laugh a little more often and love one another a lot more often.

laughter
photo courtesy 3.bp.blogspot.com, thank you!

Care

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin. I have recently been training in some new departments in psych services. It has been challenging and exciting. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to learn from such knowledgeable people. I have found that working in psychiatry the common thread of concern is that we often miss the opportunity to empower people to use the tools they already have. So many people come into the hospital with a great understanding of what works for them when things are going well. They tend to forget these things when things start to go wrong. When people are in crisis it tends to be a waste of time to try and tell them how to deal with things. This information could be compared to the teacher speaking in the Peanuts cartoon, “whah, whah, whah, whah, whah” Now, can you tell me what you took from that information? It is the education while in the hospital that is so important for patients in crisis. The opportunity to teach people new tools and skills they can use to help themselves when they head back to their lives at home. They need to be involved in their treatment planning and many different modes of teaching need to be used to reach the most people. It goes back to the story in the bible about giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish. So often in our culture, we hand out the fish, the band aid, and forget to teach people how to sustain themselves for the road ahead called life. Education should not be a band aid, it should be interactive and involve those getting the education. I HOPE that our culture can make the shift to more interactive learning styles that encourage people to engage in learning new skills, that empower their understanding and application skills for the future. I will continue to advocate for teaching rather than telling and I HOPE you will do the same.

Family

“Never ignore a person who loves you, cares for you, and misses you, because one day, you might wake up and realize, you lost the moon while counting the stars.” Our family arrived yesterday and we are having fun. Michaels parents live in St. Louis, so we do not get to see them as much as we would like. When we do it is like Christmas time for the kids. We love our family. I am often struck by how when people are in crisis they are unable to see the people who love and care about them. It is as if they do lose track of the moon while counting the stars. Some magical blinders come over people when they are in crisis. I see this often in the hospital setting. It is like a disconnect happens when we are struggling. In the time we need people the most we are unable to see the people who love and care for us and would do anything to help us. This is not always the case with some peoples relationships with family but most of the time our emotions cloud our judgement and we are unable to see the love around us nor accept it. So, how do we change this? How do we open ourselves up to be loved and cared for? We have to give up control and that can be difficult when often times when we are in crisis we are trying to hold on to any shred of control we still have out of fear. I HOPE that if I ever need help I let go of control so that I can be loved and cared for by my family. Love will get us through anything life could throw our way.

Declutter

I am in the midst of cleaning and decluttering before my in-laws get here. It is always amazing to me the amount of useless clutter we accumulate around our home. I come across items that are many years old and think to myself, why? I think it is because I do appreciate and care about many of the things I collect on special trips or that people have given me. They hold sentimental value but I have learned that sentimental or not they end up fighting for precious real estate in our cozy little home. I often think to myself, “If I hold on to all of this then will I be able to find my children in a few years?” “Declutter the mess in your home and your heart. Don’t let your past crowd out your future.” Dr Thelma Bryant-Davis. I think she summed it up perfectly. If you are not allowing yourself to get rid of things from time to time it really can hinder your future growth. We all change constantly and that cute little knickknack you bought to decorate your home 15 years ago may not really go with your design choices today. This is a great chance to practice living in the now and assessing your relationship to your things. If they become someone else’s treasure at Goodwill will you be any less you? You will still be you without that old favorite jacket you never wear anymore. I HOPE that in my decluttering process I can be mindful of how I am still me without my stuff. After all,it is the time and love that I share with my family that is more valuable than any of our things could ever be.