Well, that may be the longest stretch of NOT posting on my blog since I started it way back when…well, I don’t actually remember when my first post happened.
But I have not posted for a whole month. And even then, and during the weeks before that, it was mostly the easiest post possible. (Thanks to whoever first coined the term WordlessWednesday!)
I do think about it all the time though. In my mind, I create what I think are clever photography slide shows, or I write interesting or inspiring essays. But real life, the one outside my internal process, has been loudly in charge for a while. (Oh, the pitiful list of excuses I could insert here…sigh…and the thing is, my life-interruptions are similar to every person’s on the planet this last 16 months so no special sympathy for me…)
I’ve barely had the time or energy to read my favorite bloggers either.
Self-centeredly, I do continue to check my notifications occasionally and am always pleasantly surprised to see a new follower. And a “like” on some older post can make my day!
I always intended to welcome each new follower (I still hate that word “follower”. I’m not leading anyone anywhere! OK, each new “reader”) And I even saved each new name, but somehow those numbers climbed to 628 behind my back!!!
Realistically, I know that number does not mean that there are actually 628 people out there is the world who, with great anticipation, look forward to checking each day to see what I posted….only to be disappointed. Most likely the number is closer to 3 or 4 who look occasionally, just to see if I still happen to be alive.
In hasty conclusion, because one of those life-interruptions is happening as I type, I long to be back at this more regularly.
This post is a departure from my recent attempts to be uplifting and entertaining. A month and a half into being sequestered, there are still sweet stories to be found everywhere, but we are learning hard lessons too.
At least, I am. Some lessons are mind-blowing, and some are embarrassingly simple!
I have been semi-retired since last summer, so I was already reviewing my life’s work before the virus hit, trapping me in this endless solitude. But being faced with mortality daily, in such an urgent and graphic way, I find myself in hyper-drive examining my 40-plus years of professional life.
I started my practice as a Psychotherapist through both a very direct and also an unusual route! Direct because I was “called” to do this work at Church Camp in the 4th grade and have never once veered off that course.
But things also evolved in a round-a-bout way, starting my practice in the back of my Conversion Van, in the parking lot of where I was still waitressing, while finishing school. (A long, fun story for another day…)
During these last 45 days of isolation, quarantine, sheltering at home, etc., I have had many hours to contemplate the most important learnings of my life so far.
Here is what has risen to the top of an endless list.
I have four concepts, tenets, or theories that are the core of my therapeutic and life philosophies. I try, by the way, to have those be the same thing…practicing what I preach, etc. I know where some of these originated, but they have been with me so long now, I have no idea how much I have changed them in the process of making them my own.
And some I thought up by myself…
It seems like a perfect time to write about (and share) these four models. I really want folks to read these, and comment, so I am putting them in four separate posts.
I do hope you will indulge me in this summary of my life’s work. And as always, I would love your comments and/or questions.
In this first post, I want to address the concept most obvious to me during these Covid 19 days….Scarcity.
I had a wonderful Teacher/Mentor/Adopted Mom for 30 plus years. Elaine Childs Gowell was an amazing woman, way ahead of her time. An ARNP, and public health nurse, with a PhD in Anthropology. She grew up travelling with her family on various religious missions in Africa. She lived in New Orleans, practicing as a Public Health nurse, and working for Civil Rights. Then she moved to Seattle where she became a well-loved professor in the Nursing School at the University of Washington, while she started a private practice in Psychotherapy. She also studied Shamanism all over the world, and eventually became one herself…a very loudly outspoken spiritual leader respected by thousands.
Her most steadfast belief was that absolutely every issue, personally and globally, was caused by Scarcity…. literal or imagined.
Nothing, not one thing, can bring up people’s emotions and unfinished personal-growth issues faster than the belief that there is not enough of something!
Elaine moved on to her longed for “light” almost 13 years ago now, but she may as well be alive because I can hear her unapologetic proclamations daily, and loudly, during this pandemic. Pointing out to all the blatant proof that her theory was correct.
When all the factories and businesses shut down and those skies started clearing over Wuhan, I could just hear Elaine’s irreverent “Duh”.
She could tell you in a minute, what your personal/psychological scarcity issues were-whether perceived or literal…not enough time, not enough structure, or stimulation, or recognition or love!
At one point, back in the 1990’s, we even created an amazing 5-day therapeutic retreat called Experiencing Enough. It was designed to provide, for all who participated, the experiential, literal and symbolic healing effect of truly having enough. Plenty of time and attention and food and staff (and support for the staff) and sleep and fresh air and exercise and above all, love!! It went on twice a year for a long time. So healing for so many.
And Elaine could trace every single world problem back to a belief, imagined or true, about something of which there was not enough. Power, money, and natural resources all at the top of the list. (There are certainly some world leaders that could have benefited from attending Experiencing Enough!!)
Long before Oprah started talking about our life’s repeated lessons, Elaine was preaching about how our scarcity issues were going to bring us down as a species if we didn’t learn the lessons…and fast….lessons that first tapped us on the shoulder, and eventually smacking us upside the head with a two by four.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I decided I needed to have a “talk” with her.
She was pissed! After she got finished with her “I told you so” tirade, she quietly said, “I guess we’re finding out what comes after that two by four upside the head…”
Elaine was a Master of the Big Picture. She could see it all, the whole layout of the universe. And she knew there was enough…of everything…and for everyone! Even in her passing (she had a stroke), she hung around in her coma for way longer than her Doctors predicted possible, even “surfacing” repeatedly to connect with the current visitor to her home bedside….but the rest of us were not at all surprised. We knew why.
She was making sure all the people, who were coming from all over to pay their respects, to say their good-byes, had more than enough time….
I think my specialty is the Little Pieces, I can see minute details others miss, so I have always chosen to focus my energy, for myself and for those I work for, on the small blessings, the individual stories, and the next steps to be taken each and every day.
My goal? To learn, and live, and to show that Elaine was right. It’s always about Scarcity.
There may not be enough toilet paper or gloves or masks, but there is certainly enough beauty!!!
Thank you for reading…..and forgive me for not knowing how to do a “screen shot”. 😊
And though this week, she asks us to post about resilience, using any form of creativity, but not actually using the word, I can’t help myself. The song/video I’ve included here is titled Resilient. I post this song often because I actually use it as part of my own routine for energizing myself to what ever degree the day (and my physical limitations) allow.
I find it difficult to sit still through, even on a day when just standing up wears me out.
Make it big on your screen and pump up the volume. Then let it wash over you.
If this doesn’t inspire (stimulate, motivate, cause, incline, persuade, encourage, influence, rouse, move, stir)
you to find your hidden strengths and to take on the challenges in your own life, I hope you will find something that does.
And it would be so cool if you comment below on what does work for you. Or go to V.J.’s blog and POST!!
Like Nancy says in her challenge for us this week, I’m also not much of a girly girl. And unlike Nancy, for whom pink “is never my first choice of color for anything”, in days passed, I actively disliked and avoided PINK.
But I am cursed (yes, and blessed) with the drive to find a lesson in anything I “actively dislike”.
I wrote about PINK once before.
Some one gave me a gift…a polar fleece vest…in the ugliest color…bright fuchsia?! Not a color I would ever choose or wear…too fake looking….I didn’t even like people who wore this color. AND, didn’t the person who gave me this ugly thing, know that pink is way too “girly” for me? I put it in the closet…way in the back…
A couple of years later, I am on a Spring walk with my camera, in search of new flowers. I come across a stunning flower, the brightest color for miles around (or so it seems). I have these thoughts, “there are so many colors in Nature that we just have not been able to duplicate. We don’t even have names for some of the colors we see in a sunset or a flower. This flower is a spectacular color!! I wish I had something to wear in this color…”
I pick just a blossom leaf or two to take home. I put them in my pocket.
That same week I am doing a closet downsizing for a Goodwill run and find the never worn, long-forgotten ugly pink vest tucked way in the back…..and then I remember those bright colored petals!
I blushed about the same color!
Needless to say, it has become one of my favorite things to wear. I even got socks, a scarf and shoes with a stripe in the same color!
Now I’m wondering if I owe my gift-giver an apology…….
So I had to get to the bottom of this. Why such a strong reaction? It’s just a color, right?
Way too long a story (including a couple of years of hard-core therapy) later, I traced my prejudice back to a relatively off-handed comment from my Aunt. I had run away from home at 15 and ended up living with her in high school. She sewed these beautiful clothes for me, whole outfits for daily and church wear, as well as various Prom-type formal dresses. Always in hues of pink.
My favorite color is blue, since very early childhood, and my Aunt knew this so one day, I asked her to make me some thing BLUE. Her response, the casual remark I mentioned above? She said, “No, pink is better. Then the boys will all think you are still a virgin….”
I was shocked and protested, apparently way too much, because it was a disagreement we were still having when she was on her death bed. She never believed me and I never forgave her for that.
Still painfully ironic today because no budding young Flower Child, Hippie-Chick, California Girl in the 1960’s ever successfully fought harder to “save herself for marriage” than I did.
Talk about swimming against the tide of the sexual norms of those days!
So when I finally became more “enlightened” by the late 60’s and early 70’s, apparently I buried the reason for, but still held on to the active dislike of all things PINK!
Aren’t you glad you asked??
Oh wait, you didn’t…another bright pink blush here…
I have since fully embraced PINK in all its hues and tones, in nature, as well as in my decorating choices.
Here’s an example, if you feel inspired to read more about it. I wrote it to anchor the gratitude I have come to feel for my ancestors (especially my Aunt) and all their powerfully feminine (and PINK) influences in my life.
But on my side of the Cascade Mountain Range, in Washington state, when it snows, the population panics and everything screeches to a freezing halt!!
Schools and businesses close. Stores sell out of staples (no milk or bread for miles around.) Cars that have slid or become stuck are simply abandoned where ever they are…in the middle of roads or even freeways.
Since Super Bowl Sunday, we have had no garbage pick up and only a single mail delivery!
All these things are a pain in the ____!
But it’s not a hurricane, tsunami, fire, tornado or war!! So we have to keep it all in perspective.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to focus on the amazing and delightful parts of it all. (The best thing for me is that we have not lost power!) There is so much to look at, it’s like being on an exotic trip or moving to a new part of the country!
Oh, there is still ordinary drama! Who will win the steep hill that is our neighborhood’s long, dead-end street? Will it be the kids (of varying ages…including their 40’s) who are dying to get out their sleds and snowboards, as has always happened in the past with our rare snowfalls here? Or will it be the exceptionally kind and thoughtful neighbors, who get out their rarely used shovels, snow-blowers, and SALT, so they can clear our street for any necessary traffic.
This year the salt and snow-shovelers won. They were out there clearing the “perfect ski run” long before the No SCHOOL today kids even woke up!
I mean, they cleared the whole street, a couple of city blocks long…with SHOVELS…so all of us could get safely in and out of our neighborhood!!!
Also, I have been delighted to be able to continue feeding the seed birds, the hummers, and my crows.
I have fed my crows every morning for 35 years! Here’s my morning routine. I CAW and they come. This one Crow waits for me on top of a pole every morning until I say “Good morning. Here’s your breakfast.” And then I dump out yesterday’s leftover cat food scrapings, or a scrap of bread. He calls his Murder buddies and they all compete with the squirrels for the leftovers. Their favorites are dry cat food…and french fries!
Then there are the intrepid seed eating birds. Not much stops them. They can empty the feeder in a day or two at certain times of the year.
As long as I keep the Hummingbird food thawed, they come and fill up all day long. But on the nights I take the feeders in so they don’t freeze, the next morning, these guys are literally ON it, slurping away, before I even get it hung back up on its hook! That has been so fun, being that close to them. Wish I could hold the feeder and snap photos at the same time.
Here’s the other thing I have been enjoying. Each morning I bundle up and go outside on a quest to discover any fresh designs in the snow…foot prints, paw prints, claw prints…anything, even tire prints!
I love the puzzles some of the prints leave. Like this set of prints that I thought was maybe a person, dragging their feet or a cane, or maybe a single animal low enough to be dragging its belly. But when I followed the trail…it split into TWO.
It’s amazing how much nocturnal activity takes place that I never would have known about without the evidence fresh snow provides.
Some are no surprise because I know they are out there. I just rarely see them.
One day I woke up to these. Unmistakably Raccoon prints!
This morning’s mystery was fascinating. Keep in mind we have NO large dogs in our neighborhood, not that any would be roaming free at night anyway. These prints are way too big for the occasional kitty cat that is out at night. And even too big for our local coyotes, who are rarely traveling around alone. SO what is it? A Wolf? A larger cat? (there have been Bobcat sightings recently…) AND, it left me an icky clue, marking the corner of my patio! No wonder my cats went nuts at 3 AM!!!
We have a local Covey of Quail, and three of them have kept me completely entertained looking out my bedroom window. They are hysterical. They always scritch and scratch and throw clouds of dirt and seed shells out behind them when they are foraging under the bird feeder. But to see them dig that way, down through the powdery snow, was so cool. Every now and then, one would bury another, and there would be a split second squabble before they’d go back to digging again.
Then there is the snow itself. I was married to the US Disabled Ski Team for a number of years, and some of those guys knew the names of 20 or 30 types* of snow!
Here is what we got for these record breaking days.
Don’t know the names of these but they were each so different from each other.
I just know we had a lot, over several days, so much that they were calling it Snowmaggeden 2019 on the news.
There is fun stuff to do with the snow…
And the occasional tragedy…
My wonderful Italian Plum Tree!
And the snow came the day after I planted these…see the mounds under the snow? Still don’t know if they survived.
And of course, there is the huge mess at the end…but that will go eventually!
All in all, we stayed safe and warm, and it was an adventure to remember.
PS Some of my neighbors and I collect tarps, heavy moving blankets, and flashlights using coupons from our Harbor Freight Tools store, for people living unsheltered.
I felt so grateful to be warm and dry, but never more frustrated on behalf of people living outside in weather like this.
I never really look at the tiny number over on the left side of my blog page but this morning, I did.
I was so shocked. I had no idea that 399 people followed me.
I have to confess that my very serious intention has always been to be that blogger who gratefully welcomes every single new person with a note. I mean, how cool is it to have someone take the time to look at your blog, and maybe even read it? (I can definitely be wordy sometimes!) I wanted to thank every person.
I really did have the best intentions.
My adopted Dad used to tell me “If you think time goes by quickly in your 50’s and 60’s, just wait until you get to 90. You will finally understand the concept of “Warp Speed”!
Time just gets away from me sometimes.
Healing from a badly sprained ankle/foot, I finally had a minute to send out all my individualized Welcome comments and I glanced at that number…399…wait, it just changed to 398, and then shifted to 400…
FOUR HUNDRED WELCOME NOTES!!!
Needless to say, I am hoping today’s post will serve as an expression of my delight that you are reading this!
And as my Thank You (even though it was dramatically better in person than I could capture with my phone) here is last night’s breath-taking sunset, just for you.
I truly appreciate each of you. Please accept this post as my sincere Thank You!
Please keep reading, and let me know you are there by commenting! Any kind you want!
Oh boy, I accidentally did a whopper piece of personal therapy this morning, searching for a song about Search.
I immediately thought of all my life long searches!
First, my youth, I searched for my biological father who left before I was born. I know, in this day and age, it should be easy right? Well, his name was Michael John Kelly. (Might as well have been John Smith!) I started at 13 years old, looking up that name in local libraries. They used to carry phone books from all over the United States, so, using my babysitting money, I would write post cards to as many addresses as I could afford postage for.
Then, in my twenties, I started searching for my daughter, who I had to give up for someone else to raise.
I’ve written about her several times. One example:
In thinking about a song for today’s theme, I realized even though I had the best (step) Dad in the world, and have found, and dearly love, my relationship with my daughter, I am still searching. Sometimes quietly, in the back ground, but sometimes, frantically, like my life depends on finding…what?? I don’t really know. (Well, I do, but that’s another post…)
At 70 years old, there are so many other things I still and always searched for that are unlikely now. That’s not me giving up. That’s the healthiest part of me, gently and lovingly, coercing me back into the present moment.
I guess that pushy voice, my “Guardian”, has always been there, Sometimes it’s audible and sometimes it is blocked by unfinished grief…but it’s constant and reliable when I am willing and able to listen, to hear.
And most importantly, to accept that it is there for ME, not just my clients, my friends, my family, not all the other lost souls I share that voice with when I forget to listen for myself.
You go Alanis! Thanks for always sharing your “therapy” with us in your music!!
The questions posed by Cee Neuner in this innovative challenge:
List 2 things you have to be happy about?
Have you ever owned a rock, pet rock, or gem that is not jewelry?
Are you a hugger or a non-hugger?
What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
List 2 things you have to be happy about?
I am so happy that James is home. He’s been in this 2 weeks here and 2 weeks gone cycle. It is a little hard on us because we both do really well being alone so there is a big adjustment on both ends of his travel: when he leaves, remembering the comfort of solitude, and when he returns, adjusting again to the joys of sharing the everyday life again.
2. I am relieved and blissed out (oh, it is too a word!!) that my 17 year old “Heart-Cat” is still alive since I was told back in October he might only have days to live. He definitely has kidney disease and has lost a ton of weight, but he is still here and as ornery as ever.
Well, maybe not. This is a cat who, for 17 years, has let no one pet him but me. And even that never included him being on my lap…but these days, he accepts pets from everyone and will sit on my lap for a whole hour if I let him.
Have you ever owned a rock, pet rock, or gem that is not jewelry?
I have been a “rock hound” since I was a small child. My Dad, in his quiet genius, got us a rock polisher. We would find rocks on the beaches and from the mountains and everywhere in between. Then we would wait…literally for months. Opening that polisher was a miracle every time. I learned so much from that experience, especially about delayed gratification and memory and anchoring experiences. I could write a book about all the lessons from this amazing, covert teacher. (Oh wait, I AM writing that book. My Dad is who taught me about choosing perspectives.)
Early in my therapy practice, I learned that some clients really needed concrete reminders of the things they were leaning, so, being my father’s daughter, I gave them Quartz, Lapis, Hematite or Amethyst hearts….and over the years, hundreds of polished rocks.
And, I have a basket of what’s left of a really old collection of pieces of polished petrified wood, from long before it was illegal. Not exactly rocks, but in my mind they qualify as “gems”. (There is a great story there, too long for today’s post but this has reminded me to write about it.)
Are you a hugger or a non-hugger?
Oh I am definitely a hugger. You might even say I have hugged for a living for more than 40 years.
I’ll just let that sit there and see if you have any questions.
What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?
David Letterman’s new Netflix show, called My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. His first interview was with President Barack Obama. I laughed and I cried, and I longed for more of the intelligence, humor, depth and light these two men bring.