Innocence

What if during difficult times we could revert back to a previous point in our lives when we still had an inkling of what innocence felt like?  Do we mourn for simpler times when we didn’t have to cut through so much noise? Have we lost our filters allowing negative ideas to seep into our consciousness?

There is a tug-o-war of stimuli pushing and pulling to get our attention.  We’re inundated with junk mail, robocalls, and commercials working diligently to persuade, dissuade, or promote a particular agenda.  Our world has left little time for developing our own worldview.  Our consciousness is being commandeered by a minute number of influencers.

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Are you willing to reclaim your innocence?  I’ve found holding on to items, memories, and faith have allowed me to keep a firm grasp on my innocence.  My relationships have been my teachers and guiding lights through tumultuous times.  The idea of downsizing, organizing, and streamlining becomes more attractive every day

How will you reclaim your innocence? What does holding innocence as part of your conscious life free you to do, think, and feel?

Can You Top This?

How have we come to live in a world so full of competition?  It feels, more and more, like the goal is to outdo another instead of collaborating with others or understanding others’ points-of-view.  Having led thousands of support groups over the years, it’s not uncommon to find a can you top this mentality in a group.  The goal seems to be, “Who is suffering the most?”  

I don’t know about you, but suffering is not high on my priority list.  There are aspects of my life where I have and may always experience suffering, but it’s not something I strive toward.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely come from a “martyr” mentality.  I had been known to feel victimized and misunderstood.  

It never occurred to me what role suffering and how being the best at suffering gave me license to sit in the mess.  One day in therapy, my therapist nonchalantly said to me, “Why do you wear your struggle like a red badge of courage?”  I was stopped dead in my tracks.  I had been exposed.  My coping mechanism had been unearthed and could be reached by sunlight.  It was the first step to releasing “struggle” and embracing sitting with the pain.

Given the current state of world affairs, there’s a lot I will never be able to top in terms of suffering and pain.  I’ll never know (hopefully) what it’s like to have a police officer’s knee on my neck for nine minutes.  I’ll never know (hopefully) what it’s like to be a Lieutenant in the army, just buying a new car, and pulled over by police, harassed, and have pepper spray discharged in my face because I was asking why I was being stopped.  Simply, I’ll never know what it’s like to be a person-of-color.  Don’t get me wrong, I fall into a few minority categories, but mostly invisible minorities.

Playing can you top this is all about power and status.  It’s a means to giving ourselves license to not be our best selves.  It prevents us from releasing the negativity and seeing what’s actually in our control and then utilizing those tools to craft a better life.

For more art and prompts go to Instagram @drfiber

Couldn’t Have Done It Without You

When was the last time you did something without the help from anyone?  You may think things like, “I cooked dinner myself” or “I built the bookcase in the den.”  Reality is, unless you grew the food you cooked, you didn’t do it alone.  There were many entities involved in getting the food to where you bought it, and then someone at the store checked you out.  I’m sure the bookcase is beautiful, but nature gave you the tree.  The lumber companies harvested the trees.  The mill cut the trees down to planks etc.  

We like thinking we’re self-contained capsules able to leap tall building in a single bound.  Our self-importance has led us to grand delusions.  Why are we so afraid of reality?  I have a dear friend whose husband recently had a heart attack and a couple of strokes.  He spent a few weeks in the hospital, a week in rehab, and now is home working toward regaining his health.  

The marriage vows say, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health. The reality is the vows are saying we’re bound together for the betterment of our union.  We’re bound together because what we’re not able to do everything because we all have different skills and talents.  When someone has complementary talents, we’re achieve great things.  

This past year has shown us how much rely on others.  Neighbors picked up the slack because they saw the need and were compassionate.  Groceries and medications picked up for a neighbor.  Zoom calls to stay connected because we couldn’t travel to our loved ones.  An increase in texts just to say, “Hi…I was thinking about you.”  These are the things that have allowed us to get through the pandemic.

These days we rely on the medical community and the scientists to get the vaccine out to the masses so we can resume an new and improved life (or so I hope).

This I know for sure…My life is better because of the people in my life.  They provide love and comfort.  They challenge me to be better even when I think I’m pretty good.  Connections accentuate the gaps in my knowledge, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.  So it’s true…I couldn’t have done it without you!

For more art and prompts visit me on Instagram @drfiber

Who Will We Turn To?

A couple of weeks ago my cohort at seminary had an intensive.  One of the sessions was about prayer, how we pray, why we pray, and the meaning of prayer.  It took me to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief, bargaining in particular.  The idea we make deals with a being, energy, divine spirit in hopes of resolving a problem.  How’s that working for you?

Namaste…I see and honor the divine light in you refers to acknowledgment of possibility.  It recognizes the divine nature in us all.  It gives credence to the divine nature in us and in turn, we can begin to understand and utilize our combined divinity for healing.

The pandemic has altered all our lives.  It has shattered our assumptions about safety.  The global interface of information, panic, political/religious debates and facing our own mortality has left us feeling alone.  Isolation, emotionally and spiritually is frightening.  We turn to the history books looking at how those from the 1918 pandemic survived and recovered.  We turn to spiritual leaders hoping they will give us words of wisdom to soothe us as we sit in our depression and anxiety.

The truth is we’re more powerful than we believe.  Understanding how working together can solve problems is a proven method of resolving problems.  These aren’t individual problems; these are global problems.  These are human problems.  These are soul problems.  

Are you willing to work together to find comfort?  How will we come together to mend the torn fabric of our culture?  How do you recognize the impact “togetherness” can have on healing?

For more art and prompts, go to Instagram: @drfiber

Scream Differently

We believe the only way to protest is to march in the streets, have a sit-in, engage in a hunger strike, and many others. These are very outward ways to protest.  These methods of protest protected by the Constitution often have immediate results.  It may not be the result one wanted, but things change.

What if we were to shift non-violent protest? What if we used our capitalist society in our favor instead of thinking of it as our foe? How do you decide where you’ll spend your money? Are you a conscious spender? Are you willing to support a company even when they are not in alignment with your core beliefs? I’ll confess, I’ve never had Chick-Fil-A. The company has a long-standing history of supporting financially and socially anti-LGBTQIA groups. My brother, although not agreeing with their policies, is beholden to the waffle fries.

One way to protest is not to financially support companies and organizations.  On the other side, another way is to support organizations who support you as a person.  My husband and I give monthly to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  They are an organization supporting the LGBTQIA community politically, giving voice to the needs of the community.  My career for thirty years has been in providing healthcare and adjunct health services to the most vulnerable.  Look at the number of people across the country who sent money to Planned Parenthood because they understand and support women’s health.  

I believe if we support organizations who represent us, we can fan the flames of change.  Spend your money with businesses, professionals, and agencies who look like you, pray like you, love like you!  If you do, you’ll encourage others in your lane to step up and speak differently!

Askew

Ever feel off-center?  Walking around trying to stand upright, but in your mind, everyone is leaning.  I think about this because everyone these days is leaning.  We’re leaning left of right, liberal or conservative, accepting or judgmental.  It causes us distress when we can’t find our center.

There are a lot of avenues to receive mental health help these days, even in this pandemic.  Truth is, depression and anxiety is a communal experience, it doesn’t feel good, but the reality is we’re all experiencing this in some form.  How can we find our center?

Many recommend limiting external stimuli that causes distress.  If you think the news and social media aren’t a drug, you’re mistaken.  Doom-scrolling has become an Olympic sport, and after we finish, we wonder why we feel a heaviness in our hearts.  Many only leave their houses for an hour or two a week and then wonder why they feel “boxed in”, leaving us feeling emotionally claustrophobic.  

Should we be blaming ourselves?  Absolutely not!  We should be showing ourselves expanded compassion for surviving these mind-boggling times.  When we’re walking and feel off balance our first inclination is to hold onto something to steady ourselves.  Emotionally the same is true.  We should look for words of encouragement.  We should be taking time to meditate.  We should be going outdoors, looking at the sky, and feeling the wind against our skin.  We need to remember our humanness.  Balance may require the help of a mental health professional, or a spiritual director.

Let’s expand our world of possibility for achieving balance. It’s a practice!

We’ll Figure It Out

Do you like puzzles?  I’m not talking about jigsaw puzzles; I’m thinking more 3-D puzzles.  How about problems of design?  We like to be challenged, but also like resolving the tension.  Robert Fritz talked about the need for tension if we’re going to be creative.  Do you think we can do that with real world issues?

Exploring the challenges we face, it’s not about left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, or rich vs. poor.  We’re faced with moral challenges about what it means to be human.  Looking at the past twenty years, it amazes me how we’ve made it this far without blowing ourselves up, causing global catastrophe, or dissolving into moral/civil oblivion.

Where do we go from here?  I’ve been having interesting discussions with my father and the phrase that keeps coming us is, “you’ve got to have faith.”  If we’re using faith as a synonym for hope I’m on board.  If we allow the past to predict the future, I have hope.  We created and dropped the atomic bomb and have come to look at it as possible, but not probable.  We’ve come to understand the ramifications of our actions…we’ve learned.

I’d like to propose we work on understanding and learning.  Coming up with new solutions has to be predicated on what we’ve learned from what went wrong in the past.  If we continue down the road of reviving failed initiatives and plans, our place in evolution is questioned.  We can do better because we are better.  We can do better because we know better.  

If we can’t learn, then we deserve to have a rolled-up newspaper hit us on the snout repeatedly.  I’d hate to think my dog is smarter than all of us humans…the jury is still out on that one!

Moving On

Buddhists tell us the root cause of suffering is attachment.  How did we become so attached to things and ideas?  How are we paralyzing ourselves being shackled to thoughts and beliefs no longer serving us?  I think about this often because too many are suffering, and they can’t seem to find a way out of the pain.

If you look at what has happened around the world throughout history, there’s often a dialogue about forgiveness and its impact on forgetting.  One can have forgiveness without forgetting the harm caused.  We learn many things after trauma.  We learn way to try and prevent it.  We learn ways of coping and healing.  We learn to recognize signs of trouble before it gets out-of-hand.  We don’t forget because it would erase all we learned.  

What about letting go what holds us back?  Is it truly possible to move on?  As a survivor or childhood trauma, I’m often asked about just moving on or do I wish it had never happened.  I find it to be an interesting question because no one would ever wish hardship on themselves.  I can tell you moving past the pain had made me who I am today.  I’m more compassionate, aware, giving because of what I’ve learned from my family, friends, and the events of my life.  

I believe moving on is about release, while simultaneously holding on to what we cherish. What has brought us joy.  What has taught us to be mindful of others.  If we’re spending more time, energy, and effort holding on to things not beneficial to our well-being, how are we serving our higher selves?  Isn’t evolution of the spirit a goal to work toward?

We Don’t Talk Much Anymore

Growing up I could spend hours on the phone talking to friends.  When we went to college, we had scheduled times to talk with friends, so we’d stay close.  Our culture has separated us by miles, not by memories or heart.  However, these days having a civil conversation with people can be difficult.  Too many of us walk on eggshells so we don’t offend someone for wrong terms, political views, or spiritual beliefs.

I love living in a country where free speech is protected by the Constitution.  I am in awe of a country that protects our right to peaceful assembly.  I sit here wondering why we don’t use the things that are protected and believe engaging in activities that are harmful and destructive are the best means of achieving one’s goal.  How did the Civil Rights Movement achieve success with sit-ins, peaceful marches, gatherings, writing, song, and speeches?  It wasn’t the protestors engaging in violence, it was those who were fearful of change.  

How have we become a country so afraid of our American brothers and sisters?  Why do we feel threatened when someone who doesn’t look like us, believe like us, loves like us, succeeds?  Are our egos so fragile?  Do we live in fear of annihilation every moment of the day?  How have we demonized each other to life ourselves up?

Evolution has given us the gift of speech.  What would happen if we used our gift to its fullest potential?  What would be able to accomplish if violence weren’t even an option?  I play out a lot of scenarios in my head and none of them, within the United States ends in injury, death, and destruction.

Connectivity

I remember growing up the one thing I wanted, I didn’t get, was a phone in my bedroom.  As it was, I spent hours on the phone talking to friends.  The funny thing was I had just spent most of my day with these folks in school or extra-curricular activities.  Was it that I lacked object constancy and had to keep these folks in my consciousness?  More likely, it was simply continuing the connection we had during the day and punctuating the importance of these connections in my heart and soul.

We’re living in trying times and connection is more important than ever.  What if the pandemic and the geopolitical events happened twenty years ago?  How would we be handling the physical distance and emotional disconnect?  How would those living on their own not feel like they had placed on an iceberg and sent off into never-never land?  Would the old ways of connecting work?

One of the greatest downfalls, for me, of technology is how it has fostered a disintegration of more meaningful relationships.  I think back to the days before Facebook and reminisce about what I’ve lost.  I always loved going to the mailbox around my birthday to see the cards friends and family took the time to buy and mail.  I remember displaying them, so they were always available to peak and inside and see the words “love you” or “big hugs”.  Nowadays, we’ve become a society where a quick “happy birthday” on social media suffices, but does it really?

Let me start by saying this is not an ad for Hallmark.  If I have someone’s address, I’ve been making it a point to send a “real” birthday card.  I believe there’s something about holding the card in your hand making it come to life, adding a skip in my step.  The same is true for phone calls/facetime. Was AT&T, right?  Should we be reaching out and touching someone with a call?

We’re social creatures and knowing we belong is important to our mental health.  Initiating, not only receiving texts and calls shows how important others are to us.  I always tell my friends, if you need me, I’m here, 24/7.  I will work on initiating more, sending even more cards than I do, and holding people closer to my heart through prayer.  

When the Sun Goes Down

They say all good things come to an end.  What about bad things?  Is there a natural evolution whereby bad things disintegrate, evaporate, and/or dissipate?  Do the structures holding up hurtful ideology crumble under their own weight?  I think about how long someone can maintain a false front for the sake of appearances.

When I was training to be a psychotherapist, my clinical supervisor was driven toward more long-term psychotherapy models.  Her thought was if someone comes in for a few sessions they may have enough stamina to keep up a good front without ever getting to the nitty-gritty of their issues. 

We watch the news and marvel at what happens when they demo a building.  The demolition team puts explosives in strategic places so when the explosion occurs, the joints are weakened to the point where they implode.  The building comes down, hopefully, to a pile of rubble and then clean-up begins.  What happens next?  We rebuild.

It’s clear this is how the human spirit works.  We experience a trauma, an illness, or in the United States, the current president.  Our internal world feels like it’s crumbling, and we feel lost.  It’s through dialogue, love, and strength training whereby we build ourselves back stronger than we were to start.  We find those hidden traits we’ve been hiding for a rainy day, expose them, and build upon them to rise like the Phoenix.  

The sun goes down daily.  If we’re blessed enough to be given another day, we will rise with the light.  We will be given an opportunity to rebuild, reinvent, and reinvigorate our lives!

For more art and prompts go to Instagram: @drfiber