So, I got tired of depending on what I could find online to share as Spirit Lifters and decided to really focus on finding things closer to home!
Look what I found!
Our newest family member is Milo, a 5 month old Border Collie/Golden Retriever mix, and is he ever a sweetheart. If you know both breeds, you can see them very clearly in Milo’s demeanor, looks and behavior. He has a ton of Collie energy and is an absolute lover of everyone, people, dogs, and cats, like a Golden.
We had been looking for a playmate in the neighborhood for Milo, for play/training, as well as to burn some of that Border Collie energy…since we don’t happen to own a herd of sheep. 😋
Milo already adores his personal cat, a gorgeous Maine Coon kitten about 8 months old now. Instant friends, but mostly indoors.
So Milo needed an outside playmate too.
A friend who visits us regularly got a puppy a couple of weeks after us, also named Milo. This Milo is supposedly part Pit and part Shepherd but we sure can’t see it. Maybe Pit bull in the face and in loyalty, but to us he looks more like a tall, lanky Black Lab mix.
Here’s their first meeting!
You can see our Milo wanting to “herd”.
It was so cute! They each took a turn bringing their favorite stick to the other one.
Come on! Let’s PLAY!
They are so uplifting to watch together!
Two Milo’s…hopefully life long friends.
If you have discovered surprising and uplifting things around your home, will you please share in Comments?
In Part One, of this 4 part series, I wrote about Scarcity. In Part Two, the Three Basic Human Hungers, one of which is a hunger for Structure.
In this post, I want to talk about how we all might be structuring our time during our various forms of isolation and distance from others.
I searched other people’s definitions of this hunger and came across a beautifully written article about Eric Berne’s original theory of Time Structure. In this article, Chris Crouch talks about these concepts in a way that connects so well to what I previously wrote.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.
I’ll be interested to know how you might apply some of this theory to whatever your current circumstances are.
(Any difference in text color in his article is my attempt at highlighting his words, either referring back to Part One or Part Two, or so that you might consider it in relation to yourself. I have also made a few additional comments in this same Bold Blue.)
Have you ever thought much about the various options for spending or structuring your time? Psychiatrist Eric Berne thought about it and came up with the following six options:
From Berne’s point of view, this was important because the different ways of spending time result in different outcomes in terms of getting and giving strokes. And strokes are extremely important when it comes to mental health. Before I continue, perhaps a few comments on strokes are in order.
A stroke, in this context, is any act implying recognition of another person’s presence. Human-to-human stroking is the fundamental unit of the social interaction process. If you and I encounter each other and I say “hello” to you and you say “hello” to me, that is a two-stroke transaction. Something Berne calls recognition hungeris programmed into the human psyche. We need strokes to survive, prosper and satisfy recognition hunger. Just as food satisfies physical hunger and keeps us physically healthy, strokes satisfy recognition hunger and keep us mentally healthy. For example, one of the worst punishments you can inflict on a person is to put them in solitary confinement, depriving them of any opportunities for strokes. People usually experience mental breakdowns in these circumstances.
In terms of strokes, here’s how the different ways of structuring time stack up. They are listed roughly in order of how well they satisfy recognition hunger:
Withdrawal – This is when a person, for whatever reason, makes the decision not to interact with people and eliminates any chance of getting strokes from others. We all need brief periods of withdrawal (especially introverts), but for most people, doing this over a long period of time is not a good choice in terms of their ongoing mental health.
I’m wondering how many people are experiencing “sheltering at home” like Berne’s definition of “withdrawal”…
Rituals – This is a safe form of social behavior. Rituals are highly predictable (church services, weddings, funerals, board meetings, your morning walk or Starbucks stop, etc.). With rituals, people can remain somewhat withdrawn from each other and still get strokes.
I don’t know how it is where you live but right now, all “rituals” are cancelled in my town…no gatherings of any kind…leaving many without the solace and comfort of knowing they are not alone…
Activities – Activities allow us to structure our time and get strokes in productive and socially acceptable ways. Work is one of the most common forms of this kind of time structuring.
Many of us have changed how we work daily in dramatic ways during the Pandemic. Working from home for many has been a creative solution, and there can still be strokes, but in a different and limited form.
Pastimes – Semi-ritualistic discussions about superficial topics such as the weather, sports, current events, family, hometown, or other commonplace topics. This is a form of social probing to help decide whether to broaden, continue, or terminate the relationship. Networking events are often based on the pastime format of structuring time.
Another form of structuring time sadly, but officially cancelled in our area for the foreseeable future…
Games – Games involve interacting with a surface meaning and a hidden meaning and involve a payoff (usually a good or bad feeling). For example, person A might feel superior/good by making Person B feel inferior/bad. Strokes are so important that in the absence of positive (good feeling) strokes, people will pursue negative strokes when seeking recognition. In terms of time structuring, the main thing to understand is that games, although unproductive and at times quite frustrating, offer significant opportunities for getting and giving strokes. The majority of the time in most people’s social life involves playing games. I may elaborate on games in a future post since they are so much a part of the human experience.
Classic, a universally recognizable game!
Intimacy – Intimacy occurs when you develop a relationship with another person based on honesty, openness, and mutual respect. Intimacy, although rare, is the best source for meaningful, high-quality strokes.
It is difficult to develop or engage in existing intimacy when ALL of our senses (and learning styles) cannot be involved. Even with all our miraculous technology, it’s hard to read body language or hear voice nuances, or see facial expressions fully on SKYPE or Zoom. We each need to be aware of our most used senses, and look for alternatives when those are not available for access. Example: I won’t get what I need, or be able to fully give what I have on just a phone call. I am not “auditory” enough to make the best use of that. I am an extremely visual and tactile person. So adding the screen aspect current equipment provides is helpful to me in an intimate conversation.
But it does not address the tactile deficit we are all experiencing right now. SO far at least, even Microsoft has not come up with a way to “hug” online!
According to Bandler and Grinder, there are four modalities of walking through the world: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Tactile. I believe we each have a favorite, but one or more of these may be unavailable right now. To compensate (just as with a learning disability) time to highlight (beef up) the others, and develop some work-arounds.
In terms of joyfully and productively participating in life, achieving intimacy with a least a few people (or even one person) is a great strategy. Nurture relationships that allow you to be open, honest, and authentic with another human. Hopefully, this is the kind of relationship you have with your life partner and a few close friends. As a friend of mine once told me, “a true friend is someone who knows you – and still likes you.”
My main message today: Even if you only experience short periods of intimacy with another person, value and nurture this kind of relationship above all others. They offer the best chance for high-quality strokes and are important to your ongoing happiness and mental health.
Can you identify your intimate relationships (most people have very few – unfortunately, some have none)? What are you doing to nurture them?
I really wonder what Eric Berne would say about this current Covid 19 state of affairs.
Forced Isolation is very different than the occasional solitude we all require for good mental and emotional health.
Rituals, Pastimes and Activities can be managed even during Social Distancing, and sheltering at home.
Games…well, let’s just all take a break from those during these life and death times, shall we?
What is a bit more difficult, and requires some serious creativity, is achieving, and maintaining true intimacy during a time when the behaviors we are most familiar with to express deep and honest connection, are limited.
Here’s my solution and suggestion: When connecting with your closest people, use all the OTHER learning styles, and engage all of your available senses.
Maybe for you, it would be watching (or listening to) one of the amazing videos all over the net these days created by people making music together while in their own living rooms. But do this WITH someone else. Do it together while on SKYPE or ZOOM, etc.
If it’s someone you are really close to, try listening to a meaningful song, while looking into each others screen eyes. Powerful!
James has been on the other side of the state for weeks now but most nights, we will at least share a TV show on Netflix or Prime. We synchronize, pushing play so that we are seeing it at exactly the same time, sometimes texting the comments we might be making if we were watching together in person.
What are some ways you can be close to those you love even when you can’t touch each?
To finish, here is a free training that could be helpful right now.
Anyway, I credit her with getting me started on WordPress…but that’s not why today’s post is her fault.
Early in my blog, because I wrote about my Bugs, and she blogged about her Worms, we discovered both of us were fairly grossed out by each other’s creepy, crawly passions. So we tried to teach each other about our respective…uh, pets? I could never quite see the whole worm thing (she raises them to help in the gardens or something) and I’m not sure she ever got my bug thing either.
We share one passion for sure though. We both believe there are lessons absolutely everywhere in life. You just have to be open to them. There are huge ones of course, like what the whole earth is learning right now (the hard way, the very hard way).
Lesson example: Given the stunning, clear blue skies showing up across the planet, from just a few days of humans staying inside and not polluting, why didn’t we do that long before now, on purpose, on our own, even for just a cosmic minute, every now and then, you know, to give the earth a break, a breather???
Because I love Karuna, I continue to work on shifting my perspective on worms and here’s what happened on my morning walk.
Two things you need to know first.
I’ll photograph anything
I was born not wanting to ever kill a living thing
Again if you are a regular, number one above you may have noticed. But the second one, well, here’s where it may get weird.
I’m not sure what all I actually believe, spiritually speaking, but I do know one thing.
I, specifically, am not supposed to kill anything….well, except the carpenter ants eating my house, and I suppose, like most of us today, I would relish killing Covid 19!
But I’m telling you, I brought it here with me.
I also believe that this is a deeply personal thing and not everyone else was born the way. I was. I try to have very little judgment about others who can hunt a deer, or step on a cock roach, or join the military. (Don’t get me wrong, I have spent a life time “fighting” for peace and protesting wars, but I know ultimately, every person has to make decisions like that for themselves.)
So back to my walk…
It was exceptionally beautiful out this morning, crisp, cold, bright blue, breezy, and freshly pollen-washed everywhere from last night’s downpour.
With my camera (Galaxy 8+) in hand, I took off in search of something uplifting to photograph. In minutes, I spotted this in the low sun, glistening on the wet roadway.
It was so huge and so cool looking with the sun from behind it, of COURSE, I had to take a picture…for Karuna!
But, as I was bending over to get a close up, I spotted the only one of my neighbors I don’t get along with…for many years now. She was headed in my direction. I was rattled because I don’t like pretending to be nice….so with her, I don’t. But that doesn’t feel good either…so I figured, in light of the Zombie Apocalypse, I might try it anyway.
It was then that my phone slid out of my grip…yep, crashing right onto my worm!!
I swear, I could hear it scream! It curled up tight, wriggled a bunch, and then tried to stretch back out to crawl away, but in the wrong direction. I found a stick, lifted it gently and set it down in the grass it had seemed to be headed for when I nearly killed it.
Rescue mission accomplished, I turned around to “be nice” to my neighbor but she had moved on…rapidly, I’m sure having collected more evidence for her file on me. (She plays with worms in the middle of the street!)
On the rest of my walk, I searched my mind and heartfor the lessons in this complicated encounter. I won’t bore you with those details because it turned into a whole self-therapy session. A LOT of lessons!!
Bottom line here? I have to call my youngest sister, who has been estranged from me for a couple of years now….
And just in case, my elaborate story didn’t lift your spirits (like it did mine), here’s a wonderful poem circulating right now.
“Lockdown” – March 13, 2020
Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
(The Franciscan Order)
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square, Sing.
I know, I know, but I’m only telling you because I think what I am sharing today is more like what I have seen on Facebook. One of them even came from Facebook.
In my quest for daily Spirit Lifters, I came across these three things that have been a delight to experience!
Since I know dancing, singing and laughter are the best spirit lifters, here you go!
The first, though it sets the bar pretty high, is so inspiring, it makes me want to find the nearest dance studio and take lessons. Oh wait…Social distancing would prevent that.
So maybe I’ll just go outside and dance alone on the lawn. Who knows, after they get over gathering still more proof that the oldest resident in the neighborhood is very weird, my neighbors might join me!
We could start a new Anti-Virus Lawn-Dancing CRAZE!
Maybe it would go VIRAL! (ha-ha…too soon?)
Next, since there seems to be some bad-mouthing going on in my country about the younger people ignoring the Stay Home edicts in different states, I found this wonderful example of young people, coming together and doing something amazing and spectacular from the safety of their homes!! And I have to admit, I love that it’s a Boomer Song!
(I guess you’ll have to copy and paste into your browser. I don’t know how to make it a link on my post…I don’t really even know if I’m allowed to share these this way.)
When I first started my blog, I warned readers I would be posting a lot of music and photos and humor (well, I think I’m funny at least), but would also occasionally have a heavier story to share.
Today’s post is an example of the latter.
A wonderful, provocative challenge was issued by Sreejit from The Seeker’s Dungeon.
He said “I am asking you to rip yourself open and put yourself back together again; explaining where you’ve been and where you are headed. In so doing, we hope to help others understand that they are not alone on this path.”
Then, encouraging us to dig deep, he wrote “Many times our darkest moments are what end up turning us towards a path of light. It is these soul shredding moments that I want us to share here. Let us in on one of the moments that took you from darkness to light.”
The following story is my response to his challenge. It’s long, and may be difficult for some readers. I would really appreciate comments, if you read it.
I am posting the link to his blog so you can read it there. That way, maybe you’ll glance through some of the other posts also. These have been some beautiful and powerful stories.