Tuesday, July 31, 2007

my own worst enemy

I often engage in conversation with a worker, my friend, from one of the other agencies in the building at work. He "gets it". He has a different perspective of the world and the truth than most people. He also does not look at me strange when I ramble and bounce ideas off him. It helps to be able to express the mumbo-jumbo jumble of thoughts and ideas crammed up in my noggin. Yesterday, during a talk regarding the kids we concurrently work with, I was venting my frustrations, hopes and ideas, when my train of thought lead to an "a-ha" self-realization moment:

"What are these kids fighting against? They are fighting against things that are not the enemy. They are creating their own 'enemies'. Since it is coming from within them, they are their own enemies. What are they struggling against? What am I struggling against? I am struggling against myself. I am my own enemy." Whew. Now that does not negate the existence of the negative external factors, but I realize that I am creating more of my own suffering by fighting against myself. I felt emotions start to percolate, but chose to keep them to myself to explore later. Partially because I was acting the professional and mainly because I would have interrupted the work that my friend was chipping away at diligently.

How does this self enemy appear? In dissatisfaction with where I am at in my career, in frustrations with the things I dislike about the workplace, with self-sabotaging behaviours, in not taking care of myself to the optimal level, in feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, in beating myself up when I do something half-assed, by giving up or not trying things because of self-doubt and, I'm sure if I put my mind to it, I can list more. This certainly comes in waves, ebbing and flowing throughout my weeks or even within my days.

Awareness is the first step towards change. This is something I am going to spend some time exploring. How fully am I my own enemy? I want to embody this, experience it with all the emotions it conjures. I will explore this split; where it comes from. Then see what comes from this exploration. Maybe I will befriend myself.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

cry me a river

So, we had a little bit of rain a few minutes ago. My car looks like it was driving through puddles when, in fact, the puddles were splashing under my car. We took our shoes off, waded through the street disguised as a river and moved the autos to the lot next door (aka higher ground).

It's hot, it's humid and it's sticky. We even invested in an air conditioner yesterday and had the first good night sleep in months. Maybe this river will whisk some of the yucky thick air away. I have never been so good with hot weather. No, you won't see me retiring to Florida, unless global chilling happens or some other twist of fate gets me there.

Oh, incidentally, I have decided to be rich very soon. This working poor thing is no longer working for me. Starting now, I am going to manifest my life the way I want it to be and I want to be a rich, eccentric, philanthropist who can afford central air conditioning AND the bill. Where I can pay someone to move my Hyundai during a rain storm.

OK, I think the heat has gotten to me. Time to take a cool shower, put the window a/c on, hole myself up in the bedroom and look through the classified ads for a second job to help pay the bills.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Originally uploaded by misslissa13
A few months back, we were noticing these yellow "BH" signs in and around the area. They always had arrows pointing one way or the other, but other than mild curiosity, we did not think much about it. Then one day I was driving home and happened to be going passed that day's BH destination and, just around the corner from home, eyed a film production. Now, my gut told me this was a professional company. Thanks to the wonders of the internet and my adept sleuthing abilities, I figured out this is all for Showtime's show "Brotherhood", based and filmed in and around Providence.

Since we had only lived in East Providence for a couple of months and are too poor to afford premium cable we never knew about this series. We rented the first season through our friendly online video rental service and caught up on the happenings on "the Hill", a fictitious version of the Federal Hill area of Providence run by a fictitious governing body with a fictitious mobster brother....based on some reality. Some of the episodes are a little slow and you have to watch all the episodes to understand what is going on but it is actually a pretty good show. One actor stands out: Jason Isaacs who is fantastic at playing a depraved sociopathic criminal who can kill with no remorse and show authentic love to his brother's kids. Brilliant! And he does the best local accent despite his England roots.

Last night we were coming home from dinner and passed one location being set up about a mile up the road from us. As we pulled up to our place, it was obvious that they were also shooting at Cordeiro's Mart literally two buildings up the street. The scene had Fionnula Flanagan ("Rose Caffee" - The Matriarch) in the store. Hmmm...those shelves are never that stocked when we go in there for milk. And I wonder if they replaced some of that out of date cheese?

I put some of the pictures on flickr....of the shoot, not the cheese.

Now, I have the song, Brotherhood of Man from "How to Succeed in Business..." in my head and it will not go away. (It is my own "It's a Small World" tune that gets stuck firing in my neurons ever since I did "How to..." at Airport Playhouse many moons ago. It's just so darn catchy.) Here's the Drew Carey version for your toe tapping pleasure:

I also found this gem while searching for the above video. This is fantastic!

Okay, so this blog was a stream of conscience all linked to brotherhood. I wonder how my brother, Paul, is doing....... And when will I meet Jason Isaacs?

Friday, July 27, 2007

company picnic 101

blackmail....of myself
Originally uploaded by misslissa13

What I learned at the company picnic:

I truly enjoy taking candid photos of people. This does not shock me, I just was able to embrace the joy. (With permission, I will post some them on flickr)

There is a proper "cradling" technique that can get you to win egg tosses. I do not possess this skill.

Bingo can be an outdoor activity provided it is not breezy enough to blow the cards off the table.

Many of my coworkers have beautiful children.

People throwing barbecues do not take into consideration that some attendees might be vegetarian. Mmmmm side dishes and water!

I will resort to wearing a skirt when I haven't done laundry in three weeks and I get wood stain on my last pair of clean pants.

Corn-on-the-cob can be prepared poorly.

I am willing to take blackmail pictures of myself to balance out the ones I take of other people.

Some of my coworkers are enjoyable to hang out with.

It's confirmed: I still do not like hot weather.

I prefer when Greg can attend things with me.

With the exception of my friend Trypt, Ice cream truck drivers are creepy.

Company picnics do not make me say, "Hey, I may not get paid for overtime, but this bland corn makes the job all worth while!"

Kids can entertain themselves by simply running around a baseball diamond.

Company picnic attendence is obligatory.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

man vs television....and chipmunks

Part of my morning routine is to drink some fresh brewed java while checking e-mail and reading a few newspapers/news links online. I had to laugh this morning at peoples' reactions to this article on aol: http://news.aol.com/entertainment/television/story/_a/wild-grylls-not-so-manly-after-all/20070724065109990001

Basically, the article is about the show "Man vs. Wild" with host Bear Gryllis. If you haven't seen it, the show has Gryllis out in the wild, explaining survival techniques if you were lost in various wilderness environments. The article points out that some people are accusing Gryllis of having not actually slept out in the wild on at least two occasions, even though the show implies that he is really roughing it.

The first thing that humors me is that people are actually shocked that a television show would depict one thing (Gryllis actually roughing it for multiple nights in the wild) that is contradictory to reality (he slept for a couple of those nights in a hotel). The second thing is that, according to the poll in the article, most people would stop watching this show because it's "misleading" and that it "lessens Gryllis' credibility".

Come on people, it's television. You actually believe everything people dish out to you, especially on TV? Reality television is far from real. Also, the show is still the same thing: It's presenting what to do if you're lost in the wild. The survival skills don't change just because Gryllis stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. He's a television host, not an actual person lost in the wild. The shows producers would never want to truly put their host in danger. A survival show in which the host does not survive: now THAT'S losing credibility.
And now for a public service announcement:


Monday, July 23, 2007

health improvement

A few blogs ago, I had listed some of the things I might write about. Perusing that list I had the realization that many of those topics overlap or are linked together. Tonight, I feel like discussing health improvement, with perhaps a smattering of motivation and goals, a peppering of patterns of behavior, and, maybe...just maybe a dash of my Naropa studies.

Some of the things that I do/have done:

  • Stopped eating most meat about 7 years ago (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) with the exception of seafood. (I call myself "the bad vegetarian") This change was rather easy, except apparently for other people who seem to have difficulty understanding why I gave up eating meat. I shrug it off because it really does not make any difference in their lives if I choose not to eat something.

  • Cut back on dairy. My naturopath suggested that I cut dairy out of my diet for the two weeks of the month, but I would like to cut back even more.
  • Lost thirty pounds. Okay, I'm not yet at my goal weight, but I have maintained this initial loss for four months.

  • Getting regular acupuncture. I love it!

  • Exercise. This is something I do for a while, get lazy for a while, get motivated all out, slack off......
  • Worked on my mental health. Letting go of past hurts and losses, bringing positive people into my life, helping others, loving always, and utilizing mindfulness.

  • Expanding my mind through learning, writing, art and reading.

I try to improve my health in little ways here and there, and my motivation and habits certainly ebb and flow. Currently, I find myself in a major ebb and am looking for a jolt of motivation. I find my biggest killer of motivation is being tired, which I am right now. Trying something new is one way I add fuel to the fire under my ass.
  • I am considering trying a (mostly) raw foods diet for a time to see how my body reacts to it. Perhaps I will switch to a mostly vegan diet first.

  • Finding a 5K or a 10K to train for, preferably for a fund raiser to sweeten the motivational honey pot.

  • Find a second part-time job at a health center, dance or yoga studio.

  • Find a training partner. Greg is a great exercise partner, but our work schedule aren't always conducive to fitting it in everyday together.

  • Getting back to drinking lots of water daily.

  • Start tracking my food intake again and cutting calories.

  • Getting full night sleep every night.

  • Taking a class (dance, tai chi, yoga) regularly.

I know how great I feel when I am consistent with healthy habits, and that should be motivation enough. I'm open to ideas, suggestions and your stories, but until then, I'm going to wash up and head to bed for that full night sleep. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

blank mind

I am feeling rather blank right now. I did not sleep well at all and I am a bit of a zombie today...well, minus the brain eating thing.
Vegetarian Zombies!!! What the heck would they do to terrorize people? Walk slowly and breathe garlic breath on people until their eyes watered, their vision gets cloudy, they trip over a rake and die by hitting their heads on a rock???? Now that's a psychological thriller not to be missed! Time to rest and get a good night sleep. Perhaps tomorrow, coherence will be back in my clutches.

Friday, July 20, 2007

vicarious living and polish reminiscing

I added a new blog to my "daily reading" list to the right. "The Traveling Schell Show" is penned by an old friend from high school who is currently traveling in Europe and writing about his experience. He emailed yesterday to send me the link.

I love the fact that he sent the message from Poland, since my Polish grandmother talked of the home land and her time there. I can still recite a Polish folk tale about a chicken, tell you "Today I am sad", "thank you", "grandmother" and "eat" in Polish. The "eat" is from my great grandmother who told me "Jeść, jeść! Or the little bear is going to come and eat your food!" Thanks for the eating disorder and paranoia of bears, Babcia! ha ha ha...I jest. Oh, and for the record, "shitski" is not really Polish...it was just a way for great grandmother to curse in front of us and try to make us think it was just a Polish word. Man, come to think of it, great grandma had some colorful language! I think that is more foreign language retention then my four years of Spanish in school!

Anyway, take a gander at his writing and have a vicarious trip through Europe. Suddenly, I'm craving babka, pierogis and chrusciki.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

put the needle on the record

The title and this picture really have little to do with the content I am about to share. I was using twisted marketing ploys to grab the reader's attention. Are you intrigued? Well then, read on my minions........................

Sorry, feeling incongruously goofy tonight. Anyway, what I really want to write about is my experience with acupuncture in general and specifically my session today. Quite a few years back, and for reasons I choose not to write about here, I decided to try acupuncture. I went to a sweet and gentle practitioner on Stony Brook Road, not too far from my home town. I had always been partial to alternative/complementary medicines, but I entered into this experience with an open mind with no expectations. Once the numerous needles were inserted, the kind doctor left the room with the simple instruction to relax and she would check in on me later. The door gently closed behind her and, try as I may, I attempted to enjoy the soft music being piped in. Being who I am, my monkey-mind kept chattering and chattering for a solid ten minutes, thinking about what I "should" be feeling, where I had to go after this appointment, do I have enough money to go out tonight, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... Then suddenly and without warning, my chatter monkey hushed and every ounce of tension melted out of my body. I can only describe it as if there was a sheet of silk that landed daintily over my body and as it touched me any physical discomfort dissipated. I have been hooked on the needles ever since.

At different times in my life, I have received Traditional Chinese acupuncture (TC) and Five Element. My body seems to react better, quicker and more effectively to TC. Being conscious of money but wanting to find an able practitioner of TC acupuncture in RI, I had someone recommend a clinic that offers sessions on a sliding scale ($20-40, pay what you can!!!), but it is set up in a traditional Chinese clinic fashion. Instead of having a private room, there are a few tables and reclining chairs in three separate but open rooms. In essence, they can charge much less than a standard acupuncture session because they treat multiple clients at once. People are scheduled appointments starting at fifteen minute intervals and you can be treated for as short or as long as you need. Sometimes there is no one else in the room with you, other times you may have up to three others. The acupuncturist lets you relax until you feel your session is complete (she checks in the rooms regularly).

Though nervous for my first appointment, since this model was new to me, I quickly began enjoying being able to have an individual yet shared energy experience. Each time I have an appointment I never know what it will be like. Sometimes I drift out of my conscious and into a dreamlike state. Sometimes it fells very somatic and "buzzy". There are times I am aware of blockages in my meridians and can feel the energy serge when it frees up. Sometimes the needles hit a nerve when they enter my skin and that stinging subsides in a few seconds. There have been sessions where I am pleasantly aware of the other people in the room and can ponder our shared experience. Often this is extremely humbling and grounding. Today, I felt something entirely different, new and a bit disturbing.

I had arrived in the parking lot a quarter-hour ahead of schedule so, as I usually do, I spent those minutes relaxing in my car (today it was listening to music and singing). For some reason, I felt like just going home and skipping out. I knew I would not leave, so I just observed the sensation in my gut. After a few deep breaths, I stepped out of my car, into the rain and across the small parking lot to the building. After greeting the acupuncturist, Kris, I felt markedly better. I scheduled my appointment for next week, paid my measly $20, choose a chair in the front room where two other women were already being treated and discussed what I was going on for me this week. Kris worked her needle magic, about ten or so points, and I took a deep breath, got comfy and closed my eyes.

The beginning of the treatment I observed that, contrary to my usual points of blocked sensation (my left arm), all the points except my left arm seemed to have a funky, kind of achy-zappy thing happening. No big deal. A short time later, the one woman to my right had finished and left, leaving me and the other woman in the opposite corner of the room. At that point, I noticed my breathing which normally becomes quite slow and melodic, became a "hot breath" that I could only sense moving from my upper palette and out the top of my nostrils. This was odd. My right arm twitched at unusual intervals. I felt anger and hatred, but it didn't feel like it was from within me; I can only explain it as above me (supine) and over my heart center and my upper palette. I felt an imaginary shrill scream (this was a sensation, not any actual noise) coming out from in front of my tonsils and upper palette. It was not in any quality of my voice but seemingly coming from me. I was "screaming" at the other woman to "Get out! Get out! Get out! Just fucking get out!" I wanted to push her, shove her out of the room. This sensation felt horrible to be experiencing. This was not out of any real feeling of anger, it was more of wanting this horrific feeling to cease. I didn't understand it (and still don't) but I observed it. I found it slightly frightening and disheartening, but it was what I was experiencing and I do not judge it. I also felt a far off energy embracing me and keeping me safe, but it was still scary in a sense. Luckily, this woman finished up and left before I couldn't take any more.

The cool, rainy air enter briefly as she passed through the door to leave and, as it shut behind her, the sensations and screaming ceased. The rest of the session was rather relaxing and enjoyable, and I was able to feel complete before I had Kris take the needles out. This was truly an unusual experience and I have no idea what to make of it.


.....and Lafayette and Boulder and Denver and East Providence and....... I moved seven times in less then a four year period, living in four towns and three states. Considering I had only lived in two places only seven miles apart for my first twenty-something years of my life, the past few years have made me examine the idea of what home means to me.

Here's the background history for those of you that do not know it. I was born a poor, black boy....no wait. I'm not that jerk.... I was born and raised on Long Island. When I moved out of my folks' house, I lived on the south shore about seven miles from my home town. In my late twenties, I planned to go back to school for my Master's degree. Of course what I wanted to study, Transpersonal Counseling Psychology, is only offered through five schools. I choose Naropa University in the lovely town of Boulder, Colorado. Having never been to the Rocky Mountain State, I found a room to sublease online from a crazy lady in Lafayette (move 1), a few miles east of Boulder. The vehicle I co-owned stayed in NY until that co-owner would move out a year later, so I bussed around (they have a great system out there). After a while I decided to head into Boulder to be closer to school and farther from "crazy". I got a great one bedroom a mile from campus (move 2). Less than a year later, co-owner was moving to be with me. We had a dog, so before they arrived, I moved to a dog friendly on the same street (move 3). After living a while with co-owner and fuzz-puppy, the relationship self destructed..with co-owner, not the dog. (I should say, one of the times it self destructed.) I then found a great little studio apartment in the historic district of Boulder (move 4). Us tenants were on a month to month lease because the owners were trying to sell it. The house was on the market for over a year, so I figured we were safe for a while. How wrong I was! They sold and the new owner was converting the place back to a one family. Forced to move, a new friend (who also is a born-and-breed LIer, even though I met him after moving to CO) had mentioned that his roommate had moved out and that I was welcome to move in with him in south Denver. By this time, I had purchased my new car, so after many trips back and forth to get my stuff there, I became a Denver resident (move 5). As our lease was running out, roommate-guy got engaged to his sweet girlfriend, so I moved out and she moved in. Since, I hadn't planned on staying in CO for another year, I moved in with my old friend/new love in downtown Denver (move 6) until his lease ran out. He had moved to Denver and ended up hating it (especially because of the young-uns who made living in our building an unpleasant, noisy experience), so he had no problem moving back east with me. We threw a dart at the globe and picked the Providence area; close enough to family and friends on LI, but a new experience (move 7).

As you might imagine, being nomadic, especially 1900+ miles from what had always been home, can make a person feel uprooted and unsettled. When I first landed in Colorado, with nothing more than three suitcases and not knowing a soul in the state, not to mention being submerged in the rigors of my studies, I was in a whirlwind of reexamining who I was. Normally a social person who used to club like mad and spend time with friends and family constantly, I became extremely introverted and more introspective. Moving around so often, having a relationship that started and stopped as many times as I moved, and dealing with all the processing classes at school triggered a feeling of un-groundedness. I felt like I could not feel the ground and I was floating off the planet at rapid speed. The pit in my stomach, lump in my throat and knots in my calf muscles were difficult to experience in my gestalt therapy, authentic movement and tai chi classes. I wanted to scream or cry or run, or any combination of the three. Even what had always been home had lost some of that feeling. Those of you who know me in life are aware of the strong connection I have to my loving family, but since "my room" at my parents house became the new home for some of my grandmother's furniture, it did not feel like "mine" anymore.

I needed to retool my definition and feeling of "home". This work began when I moved to the studio in historic Boulder. While dealing with a major breakup and checking out multiple apartments, I was pondering the idea that home is within me. Having this feeling in my heart, when I walked into the studio it just felt right. Turns out this home was very healing for me. Sure the space was small and I had to share a bathroom in the hallway with the apartment across the hall, but the other three tenants were a diverse group of wonderfully strong women. We would spend our evenings drinking wine and talking about life and laughing as the sun set over the Foothills. It was healing to say the least. What also helped shape my definition of home was my mother coming out to visit. She is my hero and the most understanding, strong woman I have ever known. We spent time hiking, talking, crying and laughing. My family is always home. When I finally started dating and moved in with Greg, a new definition of home developed. Actually, my definition grew. It doesn't matter what four walls shelter us, we are home just being part of each others' lives.

My feeling of home continues to grow and change. Someday I hope to add a physical house to this definition, as well as adding a child to the idea of home and family. Home, to me, is in my heart, with my loved ones and felt in a simple hug. Home, sweet home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

addicted to love

I was doing some thinking regarding the adolescents that I work with and their ideas on love. (Also, the stories of a number of friends and their relationships come to mind.) Love, oxytocin (the attachment/cuddle chemical), adolescent hormones and their concrete/non-abstract brain functions, past traumas, predispositions to addiction and much more seems to affect whether a person starts using relationships as an addiction. Many addicts will use drugs, alcohol or relationships to numb painful feelings and get that good/wanted feeling, and they are forever chasing that initial high even when the relationship (with the substance or significant other) goes terribly wrong.

Here's an article that explains this concept:

Just something to think about.

Monday, July 16, 2007

what's going on in my mellon

Where am I at today? I'm not sure. I had a nice weekend, got some things accomplished, visited friends, enjoyed time with Greg and applied to a couple of second, part-time jobs. This morning, I woke up early and have been thinking about the things I want to manifest in my life and about the continuation of my annual physical. So far, all the news, tests and health reports have been good. Another week and a half, all the tests should be done, including my every-three year echocardiogram. I love that test! Medical technology is amazing, seeing my heart as an image on a screen fascinates me. This is routine for me; just to monitor my heart murmur every three years to make sure there is no change. Other test technology seems much more primitive, like the PPD (test for tuberculosis) that I need to get annually since I work with clients in residential settings. I think this is one of my least favorite tests. Needles don't bother me. (Heck, pre-tattoos I was in the "gallon club" at the NY Blood bank. I need to wait until November to start donating again...unless I get more ink.) It's when I have something injected into me that I get all woozy-like, especially tuberculosis. Of course, I'm sure my first mammogram will not be all that thrilling, but I'll let you know. I am having some emotional stuff surface with this test pending. I may write about that or I may keep it private. Well, it's better to get myself all checked out, poked and prodded while I have the health insurance.

I need to go get ready for work now, but here are a few of the topics that have been rolling around my head as of late:

Health improvement

Motivation and goals

Motherhood and marriage

The "Fucked Generation"

My long-term career goals


Repeated patterns of behavior

Naropa and how my studies appear in daily life

Just giving you a brief list of what I may or may not write about soon.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

palm reader

Joyous rapture, we bought a new plant today! An acera palm and it is lovely. It makes the living room more comfortable, a little bit of life growing green behind the couch. It's the little things in life that make me happier. If I was feeling more ambitious, I'd take a picture for you, but it's late and I'm sleepy. I'll write a full post tomorrow since I've had some stuff rolling around my noggin. Until then, smootches, my readers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

better day

Let me quickly evaluate my self care from yesterday.

(1) Rest - I did take it easy. CHECK

(2) Acupuncture - Went to my appointment at 5:15 and it was wonderful. My headache finally went away, joint aches lessened and felt really balanced afterwords. CHECK

(3) Organizing - I did some cleaning, moved some furniture slightly in the living room and did all the dishes. Feels good to have gotten some of it done. CHECK

(4) Gardening - I moved the plants to a sunnier place by the window and I consulted with my gardening expert (my mom) about some of my "babies" that aren't doing so well. After describing the situation, she said it sounds like I need to aerate the soil and move some of them onto the balcony. She couldn't remember the stuff she used to use to aerate dense soil but, of course, remembered as soon as we hung up the phone. That led to a phone answering experience that may have been the first of it's kind ever. The phone rang, I answered with a "hello" and the first word I heard was "vermiculite!". Bet you never answered the phone to hear that word uttered, eh? Gardening. CHECK

So overall, my plan was a success. This morning, I still feel a little off but I am going to head into the office and get some work done, meet with a few clients and then head home to do some more self care. It is still up in the air as to going on a hike in NH on Saturday. I don't know if I can do enough self care and rest to be up for a hike. We'll see. Again, it's about being kind to myself. Vermiculite!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

peacemaker institute

The Peacemaker Institute (http://www.peacemakerinstitute.org/) is an amazing organization that does work with social change and world improvement. Fleet Maul, one of my meditation professors at Naropa University, founded both this organization and the Prison Dharma Network (http://www.prisondharmanetwork.org/). Here's a video of the trainings that PI offers.

Some of my friends from Naropa did the street retreat and explained it as one of the hardest but most rewarding experiences of their lives. Hearing their personal experiences brought tears to my eyes. One of these days, I will complete all of the trainings. I just wanted to share this wonderful organization with you all.

sick day

I rarely call in sick to work, but today I did. After four nights of horrible sleep, I woke up feeling headache-y (probably a combination of sinus/caffeine withdrawal), achy joints (common when I am dehydrated) and still very tired. I decided to take the day for a few reasons. First, I have over 45 hours of sick time accrued (told you I rarely call in sick, never at this job). I try to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible so (knock on wood) I rarely get ill. Second, when I am feeling "off", my anxiety level raises which suppresses the immune system more. Not a good combination indeed. And lastly, I don't want to end up extremely sick.

After my experience at the end of grad school, I am leery of not taking care of myself and that snowballing into being physically and mentally incapacitated for an extended period of time. I was working on my thesis and finishing up my last semester when I had gotten a cold. Typically colds run the course of moving either up or down: head, then to the throat and finally the chest, or vice-versa. Well, due to extreme exhaustion, stress and lack of sleep, that cold kept ping-ponging around my body and that in combination with the intensity of grad school resulted in me having extreme anxiety. Luckily, with some good doctors and medications, I was able to finish up the semester and my thesis, ween off the meds and rest up.

We learn from the past, don't we? I try to stay very aware of what my body is telling me and I do not want this to lead to being really ill. So, here I sit, at home trying to figure out my plan of attack for the day. I want my day to include: (1) Rest - I don't anticipate sleep, but I want to take it easy and do some self care. (2) Acupuncture - Luckily, I have an appointment already this evening. I haven't gone in a couple of weeks, so I am sure that alone has aided with my "off-ness". (3) Organizing - I find when my space is organized, I feel a heck of a lot better in general. (4) Gardening - I want to separate and re-pot some of the plants. I'm thinking of putting some out on the balcony to see how much better they grow. I don't know that they will get much more light than in our kitchen window, but I'm willing to try. Getting my hands in the dirt is good for my soul.

On a side note, I have also been considering weeding the small city tree bed in front of the apartment. I'm tired of this place looking kind of ghetto/white trashy because the landlord does not have things kept up to the level that I would like. The extended balcony rails that were installed three months ago are still unpainted and the weeds around the front and side are out of hand. Of course, the amount of money he takes in from the four rental units should be enough for him to keep things nicer. Perhaps, he doesn't even realize or maybe he does not care. He is rather young, but if he's taken on the responsibilities of landlord, he should keep the place up fully, right?
I debate making a complaint, but part of me wants to pull the weeds myself. I think we should inquire about the painting though. If he got the supplies, I wouldn't mind painting with a little discount on the rent. I should pose the idea. Other than these minor things (and not having a yard), I don't have much to complain about living here. Other tenants are reasonably quiet, there's a good amount of space and we like the location. It is suitable until we figure out where we may want to buy a house.

Anyway, today is about self care, and I intend on treating myself with loving kindness. What do you do when having an "off" day? How do you prevent having an off day in the first place? Share you thoughts with me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

sleepless nights

Normally, I sleep deep and long, but these past few nights, not more then a few hours of restless snoozing. Just trying to figure out which comes first: (1) exhaustion, (2) feeling bummed out, or (3) feeling unwell physically. They all seem to go hand in hand at times, but I haven't been able to figure out which one usually triggers the others.
All I know is my pillow is calling. Hopefully I can get a full, restful, dream-filled night sleep.
Goodnight Moon!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

toxic jobs and career paths

The American Psychological Association states in part of it's code of ethics (1.14) that psychologists have the duty to avoid harm. In other words, the therapist must dutifully decide on therapeutic interventions that will not knowingly cause harm. With that said, I have seen that some organizations fail to follow this in some cases: Putting the need to keep the beds full/keep the census up ahead of what is clinically appropriate for the client. Utilization, a term that us mere therapists hear way too often, can become detrimental to some clients. I have heard the words "I don't care what's clinically appropriate, we need these beds full" literally exit the mouth of a higher up. The same person became defensive when I asked how can the organization put a client into an inappropriate program that can cause harm, more trauma and attach an undue stigma to the client?

Of course, I need to have a job for my own financial survival, but how can I continue to work in an environment that is toxic to those being served? How do I change the system for the better? During my last sleepless night mulling things over, a long chain of thought associations led me to asking "what do you want to do?" over and over. Spontaneously a moment of clarity arose with the answer, "I want to help people heal."

So that is it, I want to help people heal, I want to be a medium of healing, I want to be a healer. This starts by holding the space for others and helping them find healing to their mental health needs. Next: starting (and completing) my degree in therapeutic massage. Followed by getting a degree in nutrition/becoming a Registered Dietitian. Then: Getting my PhD and continuing my studies so I can better help others find healing. Perhaps: studying Eastern healing methods. My goal for many years has been to open a healing center that has independent practitioners working in conjunction to help people find holistic health and healing. Mind, body and spirit efficiently working together, creating well being. Psychology, massage therapy, acupuncture, nutrion, martial arts, movement therapy and more available to each client as needed. I envision the center having appropriate lecture space and a reference library to educate.

This is what I am working towards, a job, a career and a life that improves the world even in a small way. A working environment that promotes healing for clients and practitioners. One that is not toxic. This will feed my soul while helping others.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

marching red

While at home working on some projects, I heard faint marching band music in a tune I did not recognize growing louder. Peering out of my red blinds, I noticed a parade of some sort traversing up my street. I grabbed the camera and headed out to the balcony to discover some sort of Portuguese organizations (I believe) walking in step to the drum, displaying beautiful red, gold and white flags and pillows, many of which adorned with crowns and white doves. Some of the robust people wore beautiful red capes, some carried three red or white candled candelabras, others carrying silver or gold crowns adorned with flowers. It was a wonderful moment to share in this parade regardless of my ignorance of the significance. The somber music, the beautiful ethnic faces, the children being carried in the arms of adoring parents and everyone dressed to the nines. Even the guy we call Silent Bob, that hangs around the mart across the way playing Keno, was cleaned up and looking his best. The thing that grabbed me the most was the red....the color that sparks so much in me.

It is amazing how you can feel part of something just by simply standing on the sidelines and taking it all in through the eyes and ears, and capturing a moment that I don't fully understand in pictures.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

the color red

I've always loved reds and oranges (OK except during my high school-I-like-wearing-black days), vibrant colors, but these past few days, my eyes are being drawn to it more than usual. There is an abandoned shack next to our apartment building, and behind it are a few bright red shopping carts glowing amongst the green overgrowth. I can just sit at the head of the bed and be mesmerized staring out the second floor back window. There is also this door in a half-used factory building on the way to the office that too has flashes of reds and yellows peeking out between vines. I think it is time for me to capture what I am seeing via photo journal. I will throw a couple of cameras in the sling pack, hop on my bike and ride around town on a mission.

The pictures in this blog entry were taken by my mother from my parents' backyard. They are wildflowers of Colorado...don't ask me what kind, I have no idea.

Color illicits feeling, emotion, memories.... One of the things I wish the Transpersonal program at Naropa had that the Contempletive program does have were the Maitri rooms. These are colored rooms used for meditation that bring out different experiences. Here's a brief explanation:

This site's explaination of red energy, or Padma, is:

"an intuitive knowing and fine sense of discriminating, delight in intimate connections, experiencing the intensity of the present moment, an inherent wholesomeness and goodness, empathize, draw out, and engage deeply with people, a sense of pleasure and promise that magnetizes and inspires communication"
It continues to add, "Also overly passionate, intense desires, and obsessive clinging, continually broken-hearted, see life as bittersweet, sentimental, and romantic world is too unstable or too intense so unsatisfying, long for intimacy and contact; then push it away hate to miss out on any source of pleasure"

Interesting. Just some things I will ponder. I'm going to go see if the digital camera battery is charged, then I'm heading out on my bike. More to come on this topic, my friends, more to come.

one of my tattoos. I got it at the commencement of my new journey, post-colorado.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

dream of filling emptiness

One of the things I try to avoid is staying entirely up in my head. My mind continuously runs with ideas, thoughts, plans, reminiscence, puzzles, lists, troubles and the such. While I value my mind, sometimes the all encompassing thinking keeps me from listening to my body. Our bodies have so much knowledge, as well as evidence of past traumas/events, and often gives a path to answers we are looking for. Staying centered in my body also helps me keep present and grounded.

It's ironic that being a "thinker" with a disconnected body, three of my most rewarding (and challenging) classes at Naropa were Gestalt Therapy, Authentic Movement and Holotropic Breathwork. Many gestalt techniques involve body responses and reactions. Authentic movement is entirely about letting the body move how it deems appropriate and can often evoke the embodiment of stuck or current emotions/experiences. I also had an entirely somatic experience when I participated in a Holotropic Breathwork weekend workshop.

Recently I have brought my awareness to feelings of emptiness and how, in the past, I have filled that sensation with food. Though my eating habits have changed to a much healthier plan over past few years, I still find old urges arise at times (even for chocolate which I have an allergy to). When examining what the cravings truly are, I realize it is much more about emotion than real food cravings: past loses and the realization of things that have not yet manifested in my life. Much more the latter.

Yesterdays "talk" with my body/emotion came to a strong desire. I have such a strong desire to have a child. Those of you that know me well already know that I've had "baby brain" since my early 20's, but it had never been the right time, or with the right guy. I don't regret any of my choices, for I would not have what I have today. Even the most horrific events have bred some positive outcomes (an optimistic realist?). My friends with children say that "it's never the right time, there's never enough money....just breed already!" Then there's the fear that comes with becoming a mother or even conceiving a child, especially now that I am 34. But I can't imaging going through life without having a child. I watch with amazement as my goddaughter, Lily, and her older sister, Annalise, grow and learn. How I never even knew the capacity of love until the first time I laid my eyes on Annalise when she was born! These wonderful girls are my best friend Bernadette's daughters...I can't even comprehend what love is like for a child you bear yourself, not yet at least.

I will continue living my life and, if all things line up correctly, I too will bestow my love on my own son or daughter.

To dream, to dream, to dream!

As I listen to my dreams

And ask my partner to dance,

We'll waltz into what will be!


The Fourth has come and gone in a soggy thud. As I once explained to a friend from Canada: the Fourth of July is all about the three B's: Barbecues, Beer and Blowin' shit up. Despite the rain on the fourth, Greg and I did get to enjoy some sky sparklies on the third. We had gone for our regular five-mile walk along part of the bike trail. Apparently some of the fireworks displays were changed to that night, including one by the Capitol and another at a local park. It was amazing to see how many people actually live in this town (East Providence). Normally we see just a handful of people biking, fishing or walking along this route, but that night the roads were jam-packed with Third of July revelers staring skyward, kids running around laughing and pointing excitedly at the technicolor display. It was nice to see.

As for the Fourth, there were none of the B's for us. 1- We have no yard and BBQ to grill some veggie-delights on (poor Greg so often misses out on the real meat options since I do a lot of the cooking and shopping) 2- We don't drink all that often since it costs money and has too many empty calories and 3- The weather was not conducive to flame (though some brave souls were shooting stuff off around the corner from us so it wasn't a total boom-less holiday.

After being cooped up in the apartment, (I did do some drawing during the day) we took a "Sunday" drive through the northwest section of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations (Didn't know that was the full name of this state, did you?). A much less developed area of RI. It was nice to see someplace new and I find driving therapeutic. The day ended with me falling asleep in Greg's arms. An overall enjoyable day indeed.

One of the things about days like this, I tend to stay "up in my head" a lot, thinking about life, the universe and everything (yes, yes, Douglas Adams reference noted). Many thoughts were rolling around and I was able to process through some old stuff, painful but necessary. Just trying to figure out how to fully get passed them so not to repeat old patterns in new situations. The awareness is a huge part of healing. I also find being able to ground in the here and now extremely helpful. Watching artful explosions has also helped.

Well, whatever your experience was on the Third and Fourth, I wish you a Happy Fifth of July.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

where is the compassion

Caretaking and compassion are the themes and underlying values I strive to live my life with each day. Yet I am conflicted and seem to have no compassion for the compassion-less. I actually am down right angry. How do I find empathy for the out-of-touch, never-had-to-struggle person who deems others only important as numbers and dollar signs? When did they lose touch with the human in humanity? Do they find themselves human or are they working machines feeding into the illusion and not seeing the bigger systems at play here? This is not corporate America I am talking about either...this is happening in human services.

Well, that's my early morning rant. I know it's a bit vague but my mother always told me, never put in writing what you don't want someone to read. Then again, she also taught me to "kick some ass"....time to shake up the system. :)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

rocks and bottlenecks

Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated, mostly by my own volition due to my lack of patience in accomplishing the stuff I want to do and the goals I want to achieve. Often my thoughts are moving much swifter than the laws of physics, reality, the here and now, and the world in general will allow me to go. Then there are the times, like now, where my thoughts and goals get bottle-necked and the "stuckness" comes...I feel like I am accomplishing nothing. Now this is far from reality, but in my own realm of experience, it appears that way. (Heck, I could be curing a disease and still would think I wasn't accomplishing enough.) I'm not a perfectionist by any means, but I do expect a lot from myself and my life.

Sometimes I just need to slow down and realize that even the little seed that sprouts in the crack of a boulder needs time to grow and a source of nutrients to get bigger....and lots of patience. Eventually, the roots will grow deeper and will widen the crack and sever pieces of the rock (adversity) that is slowing it down. Hmmm, I think I just likened my own head to a rock. (Guess my dad was right when he called me hardheaded.) I think it's time for me to list my goals to make them more concrete for me (there's a theme of hard objects in this entry, eh?). Since I am more visual and kinesthetic, I will probably write or draw them by hand, but I will share this at a later time.

Well, I'm off to go accomplish a few smaller goals around the apartment before my rock-solid lover-boy gets home ;)