It Happens All The Time

I offer this poem (a favorite of mine) by Hafiz written in the 1300’s in Persia.

It Happens All The Time – Hafiz

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth –
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
Lovers,
And women and women
Who give each other
Light,
Often will get down on their knees
And while so tenderly
Holding their lover’s hand,
With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,
‘My dear,
How can I be more loving to you;
How can I be more kind?’

Taking Care of Ourselves

Well, it’s been a difficult couple of months for many people. Some people are exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, and dismayed; myself included. So what can we do in hard times to take better care of ourselves?

First, we need to recognize that taking care of ourselves is not only good for us, it is vital for our mental, physical, and emotional health.

One of the things I wanted to share that has been helping me a great deal of late, is ambient music written by Moby, which he offers as a free download from his website. The album is over four hours long, and helps to soothe my frazzled nerves.

Another thing that really helps my is to get outside. The weather in Philadelphia has been unseasonably warm (or maybe this is the new normal?). Last weekend, my partner and I walked to the diner for brunch instead of driving. It was so refreshing to get outside, and have a great walk and talk. I felt so much better afterwards.

Finally, I’d like to mention that being active in the world can also help. Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post has a great article on How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World. It’s a great read. There is also a great list of ways to Strengthen our Spirits to Resist and Thrive by Finding Steady Ground. You should check it out for some more great ideas on things to do every day and every week.

“I am odd. I am new.”

oddnewHere is a poem that’s gone viral, written by Benjamin Giroux, a 10-year old with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Benjamin was featured on the Today show and is an ambassador with the National Autism Association.

His father remarked “Ben’s goal was to have people understand that being odd is different, and different is amazing, and people shouldn’t be afraid of who they are, and that makes me one proud father!” – Sonny Giroux

The text of Benjamin’s poem follows, as well as a link to a video where you can learn more about him. Thank you Benjamin for your poem and your courage.

I am odd I am new
I wonder if you are too
I hear voices in the air
I see you don’t and that’s not fair
I want to not feel blue
I am odd I am new
I pretend that you are too
I feel like a boy in outer space
I touch the stars and feel out of place
I worry what others might think
I cry when people laugh it makes me shrink
I am odd I am new
I understand now that so are you
I say I “feel like at castaway”
I dream of a day that that’s okay
I try to fit in
I hope that some day I do
I am odd, I am new

http://www.wptz.com/news/plattsburgh-boys-poem-about-living-with-aspergers-goes-viral/39169572

Consent

ConsentConsent2Recent discussions the news got me thinking about consent, which is not just the absence of “No”, but also the presence of “Yes”. Consent is an agreement between people to participate in activities, and can be withdrawn at any time.

Morgan Roe and Liz Andrade created a storyboard (shown to the right) that teaches children about consent. There is also a great article from Joanna Schroeder, Julie Gillis, Jamie Utt and Alyssa Royse at the Huffington Post that talks about how to teach consent to children, teens, and young adults based upon their age groups.

Finally, you could check out this video (less than three minutes) from the Thames Valley Police in the UK, comparing tea and consent with a bit of humor.

Living without regrets

Glenorchy on FireTime is a funny thing. It passes so quickly, and today I had one of those experiences where your life passes before your eyes.

It was raining heavily and I was taking my car to be inspected. Someone made a sharp left turn in front of me, and I slammed on the brakes.

That was the moment when snippets of my life flashed in my mind.

I am happy to report that the anti-lock brakes worked perfectly, and a tragedy was avoided. Afterwards, I started to think about the Five Regrets of the Dying.

Bronnie Ware was a hospice nurse where she spent time with people who were dying. During this experience, she noticed that many people had similar regrets and she categorized them in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Let’s take a look.

The top five regrets of the dying:

  1.  I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, instead of the life others expected of me.
  2.  I wish I hadn’t worked so hard (or much).
  3.  I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
  4.  I wish I stayed in touch with my friends.
  5.  I wish I let myself be happier.

As I reflect on my morning drive, I know that I can live my life without regrets, knowing that time is a precious thing, and that accidents do happen; every day, all the time. So how might I live my life without regrets? Jenny Nichols has some great suggestions (40 of them!) about how to live without regrets. Among them are:

cultivating a sense of gratitude
taking care of yourself
relaxing with family and friends
becoming the person you’d like to spend the rest of your life with
treating yourself and others with dignity, respect, and compassion
doing something every day that makes you feel proud

So today, I am grateful for family and friends. I am proud of how I have embraced change over the last year, and I’m exploring the idea of becoming the person I’d like to spend the rest of my life with. How about you?

Nightmerica

This poem was written in 2014, but it’s just as poignant today, on the poet’s 30th birthday.

Nightmerica by Tyler Pugliese

I imagine it was hard to begin,
200 plus years ago with a dream and a pen,
Where to start, how to be free
Of never sun-setting British Tyranny.

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union . . .

Have now been overwhelmed by political campaign contribution.
A dilution of moral resolution and lack of spirited revolution,
Speaks to me, as I find myself without patience,
Pledging allegiance, to the United States of Corporations.

What I have is the foreboding fear,
Of being stripped of those freedoms we hold so dear.
I declare these neglected truths to be self-evident,
As I dare defy myself, my government, and our president.

I reminisce about the faith I used to have in the Constitution,
Which is feeling more like a con, solicited by a corrupt institution.
An administration without my best interests in mind,
With incentives to bribe politicians and keep pockets lined.

I don’t have an expectation, just a political sensation,
That my meager donation can’t match a SuperPAC Foundation.

This is the realization of the future, of our generation,
Student loans, foreclosed homes, and tear-gassed demonstrations.

How to confess the agonizing distress,
When violence is used to suppress civil unrest.
Why is saying, “I’m angry!” grounds for being oppressed?

Yet I’m afraid. How’s that for a confession?
I feel powerless in a not-so Great Depression.
If I can’t change myself, how do I grab their attention?

They think they can buy our rights, auction off our elections?
Our democracy is not another monetary transaction.

We face a threat from within, a new form of tyranny.

This is Nightmerica, and you’re here with me.

We are citizens of liberty, against a tax exempt corporate entity.
We have a problem, they have a lack of accountability.

They own blackmail, white houses and grey ethics.
We are poetic, pragmatic academics.

They break laws of exchange, write blank checks and sow dissension.
We deal in cold hard change and the masses want back their pension.

We are a revolution of passion, we value only retribution.

Hi, We’re the people and we’re here for our Constitution.

What does equality mean?

I love this Ted Talk by iO Tillet Wright. iO launched the Self Evident Truth project where she photographed nearly 10,000 people who identify as anything other than 100% straight. It is a fact in the US that in over half our states, people can be fired, or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. In iO’s Ted Talk below, called Fifty Shades of Gay, she tackles the question of equality.

And if your up for another Ted Talk, this one by Geena Rocero, a fashion model from the Philippines, called Why I Must Come Out is great. She talks about the fluidity of gender, and she is also an advocate who founded Gender Proud. Did you know that the suicide rate for transgender people is nine times greater than that of the general population? Isn’t it time we treated people the way they say they want to be treated?

April is Counseling Awareness Month

counselingawarenessApril is here and it’s Counseling Awareness month. What should you know?

Well, according to the American Counseling Association you should know 12 things about Licensed Professional Counselors. Of those 12 things, I think the most important are:

  • “Counselors respect diverse worldviews.”
  • “Counselors focus on wellness, client empowerment, and a proactive approach to mental health.”
  • “Counselors encourage people to be genuine and to find their own authentic self, even if that authentic self is different from the dominant culture.”

But more important than knowing things about counselors, what should you know about counseling itself? Sara Schuster of The Mighty interviewed counselors and came up with the 16 ways to make the most of counseling.  I won’t repeat them all here, but I’d like to mention a few that I think are important.

  • You are the expert in your own life.
  • Talk to your counselor about any questions you have.
  • Open and honest communication is the most beneficial.
  • It’s important to establish a good rapport with your counselor, but remember, not every counselor is right for every client. Since you are the expert in your own life, you can decide which counselor is right for you. Or, if you would like something different from your counselor, please ask.
  • Counseling is a collaborative process that takes time, just as the challenges we face developed over the course of time.
  • Counseling is 45 minutes or about one hour of the week. There are 167 other hours in a week. Trying things discussed in a counseling session during the other 167 hours can be very beneficial.

If you’d like to know even more about counseling, you can check out this page from the American Counseling Association.  Happy Counseling Awareness month and Happy Spring!