It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘psychology’

Being a grown up is bad.

Let’s be clear. I love being an adult, but I have no intention of ever growing up. Just in case anyone was confused on that matter (insert short jokes here–I’m 5’2”)…

Being grown up seems to mean settling: settling down, settling for, to settle with… I don’t want to be settled. I am forever disrupted and39thBirthdayParty disruptive, playing in mud, intentionally taking long walks in the rain, exploring, discovering, creating and playing. I want to be with playful, creative, inspired people. Instead of getting exhausted from encountering another barrier, I prefer getting excited about what I can do with it–maybe we can paint it, decorate it and enjoy it. Maybe we can figure out how it works and use its power for our gain–to better the world or at least our inner-world. Maybe we can be its friend and realize it was never a barrier in the first place–it just seemed that way because it was different, and we didn’t understand it.

Nah–I’m not going to grow up. Not ever.

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Stress Buster Series Part 2 — CREATE — 7 strategies to reduce stress

Here are 7 CREATIVE ways to effectively deactivate stress…

There’s no joking around about the seriousness of stress. At the very least it eats away at us, preventing us from enjoying life fully. At its worse, it is deadly—a major contributor in obesity, high blood pressure and other critical health conditions and diseases as well as mental illnesses, including problems with alcohol and other drugs, anxiety disorders and depression. It even has been linked to many instances of suicide. Tame the beast—take action to help manage stress.

  1. Daydream—you may often hear advice about meditation, and that certainly has its place, but… daydreaming has become a lost art by far too many. Stare at the clouds, gaze into the water or just simply stare off into space. Let your mind wander and imagine yourself in dream lands, surrounded by people you enjoy or off on your own to explore and revel in creative bliss… all inside your own skull.
  2. Write—oh stop worrying; no one said you need to publish this, but you just might want to once you’ve done it long enough. Just get the stuff stuck inside your head and your heart outside and take a look at it. Go ahead and write about what’s scaring you, or not. You may choose to write a better story; one where you are empowered and actively achieving all you desire. Or, even still you may choose to channel your inner voice, and give it a platform to express spirit, wonder, gratitude and grace. Or… all of the above.
  3. Draw—I don’t care if your version of a Renoir looks exactly like blotchy, lumpy diseased stick figures. Draw something—groupings of circles, an abstract of the horizon at dusk, a blade of grass or leaves, clouds… anything. The point is to explore expressing yourself non-verbally. We relay far too much on words and give them far too much power in our lives. Here is an opportunity to explore the connections between your eyes and your hands in a creative fashion. Use a pencil, your favorite pen or go wild with pastels, colored pencils or even crayons. Have fun and explore
  4. Sing—whether you’re a nightingale or more closely resemble a quacking duck, put your favorite tune in your head (or go ahead and queue it up on your Mp3), and sing that song! Fill up your body with air and let sounds reverberate through every atom that makes you… you. Don’t be shy and activate your whole self in song. Throw all of your energy into making music—the very expression of your own breath.
  5. Dance—that’s right, get down and get jiggy with it! Or slip into some Ravel and go on point if that’s your pleasure. Experience music as an expression of your whole body. Oh come on no one’s looking. And so what if they are? Make them envy your joy! They should feel so free.
  6. Create—just start and go! Have you ever wanted to sculpt? Play the piano? Paint a mural? Write a story? Compose a song? Choreograph a dance? Just start. You may not like where it takes you at first, but you started! That’s more than most people ever do. Great work! Now, keep doing it, and by accident, if you keep doing it enough and work on doing it a little better each time, you’ll find at some point—you’re actually kinda good. Maybe ever great! But that will never, ever, ever happen… unless you begin.
  7. Pretend—pretend you’re somebody else. If you could be a different type of person… you might walk differently, speak differently, behave differently… dress, attitude, habits, preferences… all different. Even how you choose to spend your day might be different. For one morning, afternoon, or one evening, go somewhere where no one knows you, and go BE that different person. Keep your name, and please do try to keep your sanity and return to reality once you’re done with your “trip,” but also do take note of all being that alter ego taught you. How were you treated? How did you feel? Did you see things differently, value different things and take notice of different things than you normally would? Were your interactions with people different? Overall, how did your experiences differ, and what lessons from this experience can you incorporate into your real life and real personality to be an even more authentic, happier and empowered you?

Activating your creativity helps to deactivate stress by opening a portal for that negative energy, and with you and your creative spirit serving as the conduit, you have the power to turn the negative energy—STRESS—into a very positive energy—ART.

kandinsky - transverse line (copy)

kandinsky – transverse line (copy)

Stress Buster Series Part 1 – PERCEPTION – 7 strategies to reduce stress

Here are seven ACTUALLY EFFECTIVE ways to deactivate stress.

There’s no joking around about the seriousness of stress. At the very least it eats away at us, preventing us from enjoying life fully. At its worse, it is deadly—a major contributor in obesity, high blood pressure and other critical health conditions and diseases as well as mental illnesses, including problems with alcohol and other drugs, anxiety disorders and depression. It even has been linked to many instances of suicide. Tame the beast—take action to help manage stress.

  1. Experience—everything tends to work out no matter how badly I worked to screw it up
  2. Looking Forward—decide to do one thing every day that you look forward to doing (going out for a drink, watch the sunset, watch a movie, spend time with a friend, write a story, paint…)
  3. Positive, Creative Intelligent & PLAY—surround yourself with positive, creative, intelligent and playful people and spend enough time alone to stay sane
  4. New Beginnings—Know that there is an ever-present opportunity to pick up and start over
  5. Nature—never lose your connection with the Earth, and go for a hike, a swim in the ocean, climb a tree, play in the rain, sit or go for a run in a park, exercise outside, sail, stare at the horizon across the water; it’s the connection to the planet that reminds us of the infinite nature of our true reach and how insignificant humanity is and thus our problems…
  6. Quiet—spend time in silence: mind, body and spirit; profound calm creates a space for creative thought and for the imagination to run wild; day dream, meditate… whatever speaks to you
  7. Enjoy—remember that very little is all that important anyway, so enjoy!

stress

Links to my former Patch.com weekly column

The weekly Patch.com column that I was assigned to was on “caregivers,” and the editor and I chose to use that term very broadly. Here are the articles I wrote for that column…

[This column was syndicated throughout several communities in Florida]

Entitlement–a surging sociological disease

I’ve moved into an apartment in downtown St. Petersburg, and I noticed something odd. Notes–lots of notes left on people’s car windshields about where and how they park. Yes, I’ve received these notes, and so have many others. ‘Please park farther up,’ ‘please park farther back,’ ‘please don’t park here,’ ‘please park there…’

Let me be clear, there is no assigned parking in this area; it’s just a bunch of people feeling entitled to parking a certain way in a certain place for whatever reason and feeling even more entitled to tell everyone else how they should be doing it. Maybe it’s a psychological disorder–people with surging grandiosity complexes who have hallucinated a seniority system in their own minds, where they are at the top, that they believe should apply to all others.

Most likely, however, it’s just another sad, vapid display of entitlement. America is nearly crippled with this disease of entitlement. Screw welcoming someone new to the neighborhood! Let’s try to push them around so that they understand just how important I am, and that I am entitled to act like a horse’s ass, and they are obligated to obey me and agree that I am entitled to my self-appointed bullshit.

These are the same people who stand in the middle of the supermarket with their cart jackknifed so that no one could possibly get around them. The same people who talk on their cell phones as they are going up to the bank teller, expecting everyone else to wait for their conversation to end. The same morons who walk down a sidewalk with a group of friends side-by-side headed right towards you, expecting you to either walk right through them or stumble off to the grass to get around them, because they feel entitled to have you move versus stepping to the side so that everyone can walk freely at the same time…

Here’s the thing, I’m not interested. No, I do not agree that you are entitled to anything more or less than anyone else. Not for any reason. No, I will not treat you with increased reverence or even fear because you throw an infantile temper tantrum or demand some sort of un-earned and ill-deserved respect. Frankly, you and your banal antics bore me. It’s not unique, you know–you’re common. Far too common if you look around to this national epidemic of entitlement.

Another very sad side-effect of this disease, it makes those inflicted with it look small and maybe even a little slow-witted. Though they think they look important or scary. Sad. Perhaps there will be some treatment, cure or immunization in the future to save generations to come. Meanwhile, we must attempt to arm ourselves with the only defenses available: kindness, graciousness, hospitality and generosity.

And so, in the end, I will leave this infirmed individual to that parking space in question, in the name of courtesy–a trait that is far too uncommon in society today. Not that I agree that anyone deserves a particular parking space for any reason, but because it is simply generous of me to let it go and move along. And so I will.

“i own me” Local Caregivers Empower Teens To Stay Safe

The Spring of Tampa Bay has partnered with Ad2 Tampa Bay to develop a statewide social marketing campaign, “i own me,” empowering youths to set boundaries and prevent violence.

LINK to full article: http://bradenton.patch.com/articles/local-caregivers-empower-teens-to-stay-safe-a735ce4e

Abuse Can Seem Subtle but Lead to Danger

I  recently interviewed Brenda Rouse, director of communications of The  Spring of Tampa Bay, who described how abuse begins in a relationship.  According to Rouse, abuse begins as a situation in which one person in a  relationship does not honor and respect the personal boundaries of the  other person. Boundaries are critical; these are the rules a person  establishes for him or herself and how he or she wants and expects to be  treated.

Rouse gives an example: “If I were a teenage girl, my  boundaries could include how late at night you can call me on the phone,  the words I allow you to use when you speak to me, the pet names you  give me, and even whether or not you display affection to me in the  halls at school. Violate these boundaries, and it’s abusive. These  personal boundaries are often violated before physical violence and  sexual abuse begins.”

Rouse explains that teaching young women how  to recognize, establish and enforce their personal boundaries is  becoming much more difficult in this age of cellphones, Skype and  Facebook and Internet communications. Rouse said that many girls who  have been abused will tell you that the problem often begins when young  men expect girls to answer calls and respond to text messages on a  24-hour cycle. There is no allowable downtime for communication.

Get Teens Involved

Teens can take the pledge “to  demand respect from my boyfriend or girlfriend. I expect to be treated  properly by establishing personal boundaries and to be honored in my  decisions concerning privacy, sex, and affection. I will not tolerate  being physically, verbally, or emotionally hurt” by visiting www.iown.me. They also can like the “i own me” Facebook page and follow “i own me” on Twitter.

Why Preventing Teen Violence Is Important

According  to studies published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine,  Journal of Adolescent Health, Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report,  Journal of the American Medical Association and by other researchers:

  • About 1 in 4 teens report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse each year.
  • About 1 in 11 teens report being a victim of physical dating abuse each year.
  • About 1 in 5 teens report being a victim of emotional abuse.
  • About 1 in 5 high school girls have been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • 80 percent of teens regard verbal abuse as a serious issue for their age group.
  • 1  in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched,  kicked, slapped, choked or otherwise physically hurt by his or her  partner.
  • About 72 percent of students in 8th and 9th grade report “dating.”
  • By the time they are in high school, 54 percent of students report dating violence among their peers.
  • Nearly 80 percent of girls who have been physically abused in their dating relationships continue to date their abuser.
  • Nearly  1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend  had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  • Almost 70 percent of young women who have been raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance.
  • Teen dating abuse most often takes place in the home of one of the partners.
  • The  overall occurrence of dating violence is higher among black students  (13.9 percent) than Hispanic students (9.3 percent) or white students  (7.0 percent), according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Spread the word, and help teens stay safe!

The Poverty Experience: Building Awareness = Compassion = Potential Solutions

My latest Patch.com article: http://palmharbor.patch.com/articles/caregivers-help-communities-understand-the-hardships-of-poverty-723a8df3

More than one in six Floridians are living in poverty — the highest the state poverty rate has been in more than a decade, according to census figures recently released.

Sixteen percent of Floridians were below the poverty level in 2010, up from 14.6 percent in 2009, reflecting a continuation of a steady climb in recent years. Florida’s 2010 rate is the highest it has been since 1995, when it was 16.2 percent. The census data reflect the first full calendar year after the recession of December 2007 to June 2009. (Poverty rates published for local counties in 2009 included: Pinellas County, 13.3 percent; Hillsborough County, 15.2 percent; Pasco County, 13.2 percent; Manatee County, 14.4. percent; Sarasota County, 12.7 percent.)

As for today, October 2011, anecdotal evidence from local social service providers and unemployment statistics paints a picture that is increasingly bleak. This portrait has poverty levels rising even more day by day in response to our country’s current economic recession.

Understanding Leads to Solutions

JWB Children’s Services Council of Pinellas County (JWB) recently partnered with Angelica Norton, founder and CEO of Seed Sowing Sister to create an innovative curriculum, The Poverty Experience. I had the opportunity to participate in The Poverty Experience a few months ago at The Hispanic Leadership Council’s annual conference, and the experience was profound.

The Poverty Experience is a simulation that lasts one hour — 15 minutes equals a day, and families are formed among groups of one to five strangers randomly assigned individual scenarios including age, income and needs of specific family members, rent payments and medical expenses.

Initially, participants are calm, exploring the long lines, politely smiling at one another, moving from station to station to buy food, pay rent, get food stamps, pawn belongings, get to doctor’s offices and buy bus passes.

That’s only for the first 15 minutes. After that, the simulation begins to hit home. People begin to realize they can’t make it. They have not had time and/or money to buy food. They keep getting sent to the back of long lines. They run out of money for transportation. Children wander off in the crowd, and the police remove the children from the families, charging them with abandonment and neglect. People get evicted from their homes because their rent is past due.

The behavior of the crowd changes. They rush from line to line and get annoyed when another person gets a job and they get turned down. Jealousy sinks in. Actual frustration and a sense of urgency take over, and the lightbulb goes off — this is how many of our neighbors live every day.

Core Hardships of Poverty

Five core problems arise when individuals are struggling in poverty. These include:

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Adequate food
  3. Transportation
  4. Affordable child care
  5. Access to communication: phones, addresses, email, Internet, etc.

Without these needs being met consistently, poverty can turn quickly into a downward spiral of progressive illnesses, homelessness and legal issues, including the potential of losing custody of children due to inadequate child care. I have included a video with this article (see above). Benjamin Kirby, communications director of JWB, interviews Jane Walker, executive director of Daystar Life Center, and they discuss many of these issues along with some real solutions.

Bring the Experience to Your Group

The Poverty Experience simulation is available to groups in the Tampa Bay area and throughout the nation. The simulation is designed to help deepen understanding and compassion, which often sparks solution-building.

To bring the simulation to your group, contact Angelica Norton, executive director of Seed Sowing Sister, at seedsowingsister@gmail.com; or Shelba Waldron, training manager of JWB Children’s Services Council of Pinellas County, at swaldron@jwbpinellas.org.

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