All posts by karpalism

Identity Crisis: I Need You and You Need Me.

A wonderful friend posted this on FB: “When you see someone, envision them without their cars, jobs, education, degrees, careers, wealth, houses, and see them for who they really are deep down inside them; to see if they can still stand at all without their labels, titles, and possessions they crutch upon. If they are still standing, then they are a better, stronger person than the next guy!!”  It got me thinking…

I always deeply appreciated my mother’s sense of equality.  There was no such thing as color, status, who’s-who, numbers in the bank, what someone wore, etc…  She never, ever voiced this sentiment, it just oozed from her.  And I always internalized this quality and strove to adopt it into my life.  My dad voiced that he deeply appreciated his sister’s sense of equality as well.

My first awareness of the internal strive toward conquering pride ironically revolved around cars.  I didn’t realize this at the time, but in the church I was raised, it was essential to drive a nice car.  The newer the better.  Cars were “the” thing.  It was never verbalized per se, but the car you drove was the unspoken message of how well you had been blessed by God in your life.

I was given the wonderful opportunity to ride in cars that I felt humiliated in.  I was a teenager at the time, so self-consciousness was at an all-time high.  I came from the viewpoint of an upper-middle class family who had extremely high status within the church I was raised.  I was well known, admired by the adults within the church system, respected by all (or at least the high majority), and comfortable in all areas of my material life.

There were a number of times where I had the opportunity to hop into a family van where there were multiple children and whose families exhibited extreme poverty.  The van often made random noises and was quite ugly for the general population.  A few times, the women and young girls in the family had put on their mantillas (lacy head coverings that were reportedly once used for Catholic women as they prayed) for church long before arrival to the church itself.  I sat there on the seat and wanted to be unseen forever.

There was one family I rode with who were absolutely humiliated by how poor they were.  They were open about how difficult things were for them financially.  I was amazed at how hilarious they were.  They were born comedians.  They were extremely good looking.  I realized as I rode with them that I could care less about the care they drove or their poverty level.  I also realized I hurt deeply for them because I realized their humor was a cover for their humiliation.  They felt less-than and there was absolutely no reason.  However, their perception of being less-than were huge hinderances for them on so many, many levels.  I would love to know how they are doing now.  Especially the oldest daughter.  She actually was able to fix her own VW car – and not just change the oil.

The families I rode with in these cases were perceived to have less money than many of the others in the church I was raised and had a significant lesser status within the church.  They also had a larger number of kids, which also instigates negative treatment even though they preach otherwise.  Each time I was able to spend with these families, I was grateful.  So very, very grateful.  And, each time, I was able to practice shedding all my internal dialogues of perceptions – of them and of myself both from within myself as well as the perceived internal dialogue of fellow church members.  I was also able to begin to process the why’s and wherefores.

I was able to shed these stereotypes and human behaviors because I noticed my internal reaction and immediately realized that I had to change this perception and feeling.  I knew deep within that it is absolutely ridiculous to feel different than someone who has less or is perceived less than.  As I got to know more and more people who had less and less, the more it was apparent.  People truly can be wonderful people with wonderful stories no matter social status or class of wealth.  You just have to get to know them to find out.

As a middle schooler, I wanted very badly to be a friend with this fellow girl, but I was chicken.  She was everything that screamed “eew.”  She was overweight, wore horrid looking clothing, had very poor self-esteem, and was a laughing stock by fellow students.  Typical middle school. I was a laughing stock as well, but was determined to be in denial.  I also wanted to preserve any sort of dignity I had left.  So I told her “I want to be her friend, but don’t tell anyone else.”  What a thing to say.  I never truly attempted to be her friend.  However, I immediately noticed when the land of her family property was sold, apartments were built on it, and more.  She is now likely far from her originally perceived poverty level.  I never ever forgot that life lesson.  What you see now is not at all what you see in the future.

Then, my first vehicles I drove were perfect.  I absolutely loved this green 70s Chevy pickup with a white top.  It was a beater stick shift.  But I loved it.  One of the church guys came up to me and said “I can’t believe you’re driving this thing!”  He was super proud of me.  I was confused why he would say that.  I loved it.  Then I realized why he said it.  And I felt proud.  Super proud.  I made my goal.  I intended to be able to not only be a passenger in a humiliating vehicle, but actually regularly drive a vehicle that was a beater – and I didn’t mind.

I was able to test this further by driving what I referred to as a “Mexican car.”  It was a beautifully restored Impala.  The guys who worked on it poured a ton of love into it.  I’m certain of it.  In my minds eye I could envision them working on that car.  They were classic nerds.  I absolutely admired their nerdiness.  From a very far distance.  They would never know my admiration of all they went through as nerdy guys and all that was associated with it and them and their family within that church system.  They had to have gone through hell.  But, they had given this car to my dad and he didn’t know what to do with it.  I’m sure it was a gift given in love and admiration and he was totally clueless.

And so I drove this “Mexican car.”  A car that assisted me to overcome my angst towards the Mexican population of the area I was in.  They were the true underdogs of Gresham, OR at the time.  The Mexicans I encountered at the time were by far and wide field workers.  So, to me, from my vantage point at the time, they had the same status as a modern day slave.  My pride didn’t want to associate myself with this class of people, and so I challenged myself to overcome this.  And I did – through my “Mexican car” (and another story for another time).

And, I proved to myself that this car did indeed conquer what was needed to be conquered when I drove another really humiliatingly ugly “Grandma car” to Omaha for nursing school.  It was definitely – and literally – a grandma car.  When I drove it, I realized I really didn’t care.  A car has no insight into how much money is in the bank, what status you are, who you are as a person.  Nothing.  Nodda.  It was driven for about 10 months until it was hijacked (yet another story for another time).

As I was growing up, I was very grateful for every opportunity I had to ride in humiliatingly ugly vehicles that could create all kind of embarrassment.  I was so very grateful I could ride in all different types of vehicles – brand new leather seats as well as cloth along with hole-ridden plastic seats and floor boards – with people from all walks of life.  I learned to appreciate the use of feces-stained towels, staying the night in family homes who were barely scraping by.  I was able to thoroughly learn to love the people themselves, who had less – rather, were perceived to have less – than I, just as much as I was able to learn to love those who had far more.  Each time I was able to shed less and less of my self-consciousness, feelings of humiliation, and let go more and more of pride.  We are all equal.  Each and every one of us.  A car and status are just “things.”  Money is that – paper and/or black numbers that sometimes turn red.  They say nothing, do nothing helpful, and only hinder everyone involved – both those who are snubbing the person as well as the one feeling snubbed.

Continuing my quest of understanding “different,” as soon as I had the opportunity, I wanted to learn what it was like for the people on the streets.  I had never been exposed to extreme poverty on that level.  However, as I think of it, there was a woman who attended the church I was raised who was from the streets due to schizophrenia – two extreme shame-ridden, nonverbally/nonwritten excommunicatable “sins” that was again nonverbal knowledge within the church.  She came into the church much later than when my questioning began, but it further encouraged my quest to learn and understand more.  So, I waited until I could volunteer for street people, and jumped at the first opportunity I had.

Ironically, at the same time, I had the opportunity to experience poverty for the first time myself.  But, I was still unaware of just how similar we were.  I still considered myself vastly different.  I was living off a credit card.  I had just escaped my dad who had completely, 100% freaked me out.  (Again, another similarity with the street youth I was volunteering for.)  I still didn’t know I was essentially homeless, the exact same thing as “them.”  I had no clue.  I was just living in clueless autopilot. But, I was still wanting to know, to understand what it was like to live in poverty from their eyes.

Why are people on the streets?  Is it something God did to them?  Is it something they did to themselves?  Did they truly sin somehow in some way?  Did they truly “ask for it”?  Did they do something truly bad some way some how?  Did they truly do something or make some wrong choice along the way that was their own fault, their own wrong-doing?  Are they truly bad people?  Were the kids disobedient?  Is that why they are on the streets?  Do they deserve to be shunned and treated with so much disrespect?  Who truly is at fault?

Interestingly enough, I learned that homelessness and poverty is very rarely truly their fault.  Yes, sometimes bad things happen because of the choices that were made on an individual level.  However, usually there are many more underlying reasons to the core problem.  What you see – almost always – is surface stuff.  People are on the streets in America due to societal perceptions, societal norms, family problems, how our economic and political systems are structured, extremely poor health care management, and more.  Very, very little has to do with choices made by that particular person.

Given the right questions, the right circumstances, the right people, the right structures in place, absolutely no American citizen would be living on the streets.  Nor would they be living in poverty.  We in America are going down the shit-hole.  Just look at our roads.  Just look at the numbers of people suffering from medical conditions, who are one paycheck from being on the streets themselves.

Sarah Lazare reports that nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and are unable to afford a disaster.  She links to Assets and Opportunities Scorecard of CFED who reports that “nearly half (44%) of households in the United States are “liquid asset poor,” meaning they have less than three months’ worth of savings—conservatively measured as $5,887 for a family of four, or three times monthly income at the poverty level… Who are the liquid asset poor? The makeup of this financially vulnerable group confounds the stereotypes. One quarter (25%) of middle class households (those earning $56,113 to $91,356 annually) have less than three months of savings. The majority of the liquid asset poor are white (59%) and employed (89%), and nearly half (48%) have at least some college. Among liquid asset poor families with children, roughly half (51%) are headed by two parents.”

That is pretty scary.  One out of every four people working in professional job settings (doctors, lawyers, nurses, business officials…) have maybe one or two month’s salary for a one income earner in their savings account at any given time – if that.  But how long does it take to get a new job?

Aspire Solutions writes “If you were in that initial early bird “premier” group of referred candidates, you just endured 2 months and 3 days between the time you submitted your resume, and the time they came back with an offer letter. And if you were like the other 99% of candidates and submitted your application in response to the initial job posting from day one, you endured just about 2 months from application to offer.”  But that’s only application to starting the job.  Once you start the job, you might have to wait a month or longer to get the paycheck depending on how often you get paid.  Thankfully more organizations seem to be paying every two weeks instead of once or twice a month.  But you still have to wait for the payday cycle to kick in.

However, that’s assuming you get the very first job you apply for the very first day you are no longer employed.  So, how long does it take to get a job?  Ben Casselman reports “More than 2.5 million Americans have been out of work for a year or more. That’s down from more than 4.5 million in 2010… But while there are significant differences between the employed and the unemployed, there is very little difference between those who have been out of work for more than a year and those who have been jobless for shorter periods.”  There are 43.5 million people living in poverty in the U.S. where “in 2013, the official poverty rate was 14.5 percent, down from 15.0 percent in 2012. This was the first decrease in the poverty rate since 2006.”  This means that even more than 1 out of every 7 people you know of everyday people living within the United States are at the food bank and many many more should be.  They might even be living with a roof over their head solely through HUD housing.

Thus, if you have 7 friends, there is a high likelihood that you have a friend who cannot afford to eat, and may even be homeless, but you have absolutely no idea.  Or, you might know and not care.  Or, you might know and not comprehend.  Or, you might know but not know what to do about it.  Or, you might know – yet not.

It is extremely difficult to work our way up from the red.  It takes money to make money.

I never realized that I should ask myself those questions from the light of homelessness, but I was still asking those questions from the vantage point of being a daughter of an upper middle class family, a father of my daughter and all the significance attached to that, and a member of the church I was raised.  I did not at all perceive myself to be homeless.  God was providing through my overdrafting my bank account and it going into my credit card.  God would provide, always would.  I had beautiful furniture, everything I needed.

Yes, there were rats in the neighbor’s apartment.  And, yes there were ants in my apartment and the refrigerator was not clean so I just didn’t bring any food home nor did I use the kitchen.  I loved that apartment.  I loved the structure, the location.  I felt safe and hidden.  It was owned by a friend of the Oregon Master’s Swim Team instructor, so I felt connected with someone I considered to be a friend I could trust (yet who I truly didn’t know).  Ironically, I was in the slums and had no clue.  I had heard rumors, but all I knew was that it was in transition as Adidas was coming into the area and that it was the next up-and-coming place to live.

And, so here I was, eating one meal a day – if that – thanks to intentionally overdrafting my debit card, and volunteering to understand homelessness and the people associated with poverty.  As I write this, I’m taking a moment to pause.  As I’m doing so, I’m seeing a whole ton of irony on multiple levels, from multiple stances, and from different time frames within my life.

I’m just now recovering from health problems due to myriad of sources and reasons, have $1 in my wallet and have no idea what is in my checking account – anywhere from 0.50 to $25 — maybe, have bills up to wazoo from survival, am renting a room thanks to a tax refund and some charity organization, have things in storage that I might not see again, have a car that I hate but has been wonderful due to its level of gas consumption and the dignity associated with its brand name and gives me the opportunity to feel like I have a life, and am – once again – living completely on faith.  I have multiple degrees, a brain on my head, a professional license, and more.  And, once again, I see myself completely different as someone on the streets.  I do not see myself as a Charity case.  I refuse.

I had no desire to admit this internally, externally – nor especially on this blog.  But, it’s important to share.  It’s important because we truly are absolutely no different from each other.  The only thing we’re different is our story, our perceptions towards life, our attitudes towards each other, and how we perceive the world around us.  That is the only – absolutely only – difference between the trillionaire and the person living on the street or should be living on the street.

I learned early on that it’s dangerous to ask why questions.  I once asked my dad “Why is it wrong to sponsor a child?  Why is it wrong to be a missionary in another country [for an organization outside of the church system I was raised]?”  He got red in the face, leaned over me, got super close yet his body was far enough away where he could lean over, pointed his finger in my face right close to my eyes and nose, and said, “You!. Are on your way out the door.”

For those of you who don’t understand the significance of this statement, it meant the same as everything associated with status and difference.  It meant alienation, labeling, judgement.  It meant being “the other.”  It meant shame, humiliation.  It meant being distanced from everyone around you who you once thought truly cared.  It meant you had a black mark on you for life that you could never, ever get off.  You were dirt.  Absolute dirt.  It was wrong to associate yourself with someone less than you.  In doing so, you became – even worse than – “the other.”

Now, if you take a step back, look at Mother Teresa.  She lived in absolute poverty – partially by choice, partially not – and yet served the poor.  She is known far and wide as a very beautiful person.  Look at Donald Trump.  He has a history of waffling back and forth from destitution to having and owning and being much more than anyone ever needs and most everyone aspires to.   Look at Abraham Lincoln.  He has a history of a myriad of perceived failure.  In yet, he is a wonderful person.  There are many, many more stories like these.

“But,” you say….

Where’s the but??  Why the “but”?  They are people.  Beautiful people.  They are and were human.  Just like you and I.  They are absolutely no different from you and I.  The only difference is know-how, learning by experience, and never giving up.  With Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln, they cared about their fellow being.  I hope Donald Trump does – and always has.  I do not know.  Maybe his TV show gave some insights and perspectives he hadn’t considered or thought of before.  I kind of think it made him a better person through it.  I would love to know.

The thing about me is that I care.  I truly care.  I care about each and every person in the world.  I bust my butt off to be a better person in all aspects of my life.  I bust my butt off to find answers, to understand, to know.  This is why I ask questions.  Questions that have become detrimental from one perspective and amazingly wonderful from another.

Questions, life, and circumstances has a way of laughing at you.  As I write this blog, I encourage you to never ask questions to understand, to “know,” in a way where you will be able to understand intimately on a personal level. That is, unless you truly do want to know and that is the only way you can truly understand your human fellow, truly begin to comprehend the “why’s” and “wherefores” of our existence, the world and universe around us, how our body works, how life works, how things work, etc.  If at all possible, I encourage you to ask to understand your question – especially your human fellow – without actually having to literally stand in his or her shoes or experiencing crisis, mayhem, ill health, and more as the result.

Eckhart Tolle suggests that life circumstances – who you are professionally, the balance of your bank account, the balance of your investments or the condition of the stock market – is not a problem until you start looking into the future.  It’s all a story, they are all externals, “mind created stories.”  Who you are in the essence, The Now, the timeless space, is who you truly are.  The absolute importance is understanding the essence of who you are which has nothing at all to do with life circumstances.

It’s a fun concept.  It’s so wonderful to consider.  It creates a viewpoint that enables someone to truly live without worry.  To live as they truly are.  To be who they truly are.  To see each other as we truly are.

“Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are” – Eckhart TolleA New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.

“Never judge a book by its cover.”  What you see on the surface is not what you get down below.  I encourage you.  Truly get to know your fellow human.  Get to know your neighbor, church member, the stranger sitting next to you, the “bum” on the street.  Is there someone you are afraid of?  or judge? or despise? or hate?  Get to know them.  Ask “why am I afraid?”  “Why do I feel the way I do?” Test your hypothesis, your judgment.  See if it’s truly legit.

Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t.  There is much to learn from why questions.  It can solve a whole lot of our problems actually.  If we asked more why questions, if we truly got to know the person we thought were “the other,” we’d solve a whole ton of problems on many, many levels.

So… back to my friend’s Facebook post…  “When you see someone…” see who they truly are from the inside.  Discard the labels, perceptions, and more.  There are beautiful people sitting there on the streets, needing assistance from charity organizations, greeting you as you enter WalMart, shopping next to you at the grocery store, working with or for you at your workplace, driving the Mercedes or Jaguar, living in a mansion…  There are also very ugly people in all those places as well.

“Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.” ― Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane

Every life is a story.  I’d love to know yours.  Let’s learn and grow together.  Let’s help each other succeed.  Let’s help each other find fulfillment and true meaning in life.  Let’s help each other find true health, happiness, and joy.  By doing so, we can also help each other find a way to put money in that damn bank account.  It makes life easier that way for all of us.  If we do these things, our world would be a beautiful place.

And, as I write this, I realize the keys:  Ask questions, Listen to gain awareness and understanding, apply true Love with Nonjudgement to truly gain awareness and understanding, apply Knowledge, Awareness, and Understanding with Teamwork toward Action.

We need each other.  I don’t care who you are, what you’ve done, where you come from, what your life story is.  I need you and you need me.

2014: Hell Riddled with Questions, Ended With Answers

Holy shit was this year tough.  Incredibly difficult.  A year of sheer terror.  A year where I experienced a bit of hell on earth – literally.

2014 started with the realization that I was experiencing incredible workplace violence.  However, I realized the full dynamics of what was going on in the local office, the root cause of the problem source, how I was reacting to the violence, the source of my angst, and discovered steps to overcome my reactions to the abuse and mayhem.  But, the violence only got worse.  And worse.  And didn’t stop.  I’m hoping they’ve now stopped tapping into my phone and computer, but I really don’t care.  That blasted NSA.  But, whatever.  It must be a fun bit of entertainment.  Like Facebook, only getting into people’s filing cabinets, bedrooms, bathrooms, and connecting up with friends and family to uncover random useless and useful facts and tidbits all in one through the source of spying electronically.

But, what frustrated me about the whole thing is that my body reacted to intentional verbal abuse.  Words and actions are only as effective as you let them.  The intentional abuse from the corporate office was quite effective.  To the point of my body shutting down.  Someone “from the other side” called my name until my body revived itself.  It’s a really strange feeling when you feel your heart and organs ready to give out then be pulled back to life again via a ghost.  However, that experience started a whole ton of why questions.  A ton of why questions that yielded a ton of angst, healing, and answers through a ton of hard work, research, exploration, and screaming internally at God and whomever/whatever as my mind and body did its own thing for the entire year of 2014 increasing in intensity until it climaxed and was released New Year’s Eve – a complete answer to prayer.

In the midst of going through inner turmoil along with the aftermath of mayhem of a horrific work experience ending, I learned through family dialogue and engagement that my family suffers from narcissism.  It was also 100% verified that my dad truly engages in abusive behaviors.  It’s all non-intentional, but it’s there just the same.  My family who engages in narcissism does care, but only about themselves and through the lens of their own perception.  I’ve known this for years and years, but apparently it didn’t sink in until this year of sheer hell.  I re-learned that I can still choose to be around them, and that my dad’s shit is just that – his shit.  I also know that I can be in control of how much I handle and when.  Some of my family members are well-meaning, well-intentioned people.  But, they’re clueless.  And that’s okay.  That’s what family is for – to learn and grow from.  And, through them, I can help others.  And, that’s the point of my life.

However, not only did I experience the hell of how, what, when, why questions revolving around abuse, the hell of healing emotionally through re-experiencing shit while undergoing the recovery process post-surgery, but I also experienced what it’s like to live in a demon-possessed body and apartment.  it’s fucked up.  Let me tell you.  Intruders are one thing, but demon possession – within and without – is not to be laughed at.

We as Christians believe in God, the devil, angels – good and bad, the afterlife, but we poo-poo the idea of actually experiencing the paranormal.  That is the worst mistake anyone could ever make.  It is incredibly damaging to you, to the person experiencing whatever they are experiencing, and more.  Not believing in psychics, paranormal, and all that goes along with all that is just plain naive, stupid, and dangerous.

Just like everything else out there, there are frauds.  There are myriads of people who don’t know what they are doing, people who are over-confident in their perceived abilities, and more.  It is human nature to capitalize on income potential amidst skepticism.  But, those who are legit are truly legit.

Those who truly experience ghosts, demons, paranormal, whatever… truly go through hell.  Some might co-suffer from mental illness as the result of demon possession (including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, and/or schizophrenia).  Others are just plain gifted.  and those who co-suffer from mental illness just might be solely suffering from untreated demon possession.  But, to be “gifted” in the ability to be able to see, experience, and/or understand the paranormal is a gift that no one in their right mind should ever want.

“That’s really cool” to one person can be sheer hell to the person experiencing it.  Especially if that person is from the Western cultural mindset.  Because with the Western mindset, they believe that all of that is just plain ridiculous.  But, those with that mindset are the ridiculous ones.  Just ask the majority of humans out there – the ones who aren’t talking because they’re too afraid.

Fear is so stupidly insane.  It provokes insanity on so many levels.

So, throughout the sheer hellish year of 2014, not only did I realize that I am gifted in the ability to see ghosts, hear ghosts say my name, hear the paranormal make noise, be tormented by demons internally and externally, learn to assist others to cross the other side, but I learned that I’m an empath.

Now, let me tell you, what I deemed as “the Jesus complex” is another “gift” of sheer hell.  I had just come to the realization that I was not needing to feel guilt and shame with regards to any form of employment mayhem.  I had come to fully own that the words and actions that I had experienced by the workplace that ended in the spring of 2014 were just that – abuse that I need not own nor validate.  And so, not only did I have to go through a recovery period from trauma, but I also came to the realization that I was experiencing the emotions of “the collective angst.”  Feeling the feelings of others is horrifically maddening.  Having my own emotions laden down by years of experiences of sheer terror, horror and abuse is tough enough let alone to feel “the collective angst,” persistent ‘itching’ of a friend, or emotions of a passerby.

I went through a huge grieving process.  Why me?  Why the fuck me?  I was angry.  Am I going insane?  I am 100%, completely willing to own it if it indeed is mental insanity that I’m experiencing.  I’m willing to do whatever to overcome it or accept it as it is.  However, in my quest, a quest laden with sheer anguish, I learned that all my experiences that portrayed itself as “mental illness,” physical illness, and “employment issues” was not at all related to insanity.  It truly, 100% isn’t.  I am not mentally insane.  Nor am I physically sick.  What a relief.  In yet, what a huge, fucked-up burden.  In yet, with all of what has been identified up to now, I am still not fully aware of all that I’m “gifted” with.

I’m grateful I am not alone in obtaining these “gifts.”  People who are gifted with the sorts of things I am are being used in amazing ways throughout the military, police force, government, helping professions, and more.  As I learn the tools I need to implement, I get to join these people in doing work that is helping free others of pain and suffering.  I get to be and make a huge difference in the world.  I finally get to be myself and use the talents I have been given.  Thank God there is a reason for the incredible suffering I have gone through in the process of realizing my gift.  This is why I share.

If you are gifted, or if someone you know is gifted, please seek out help from someone who understands these arenas.  Idiots are idiots for a reason.  Those who poo-poo the paranormal, the psychics who know what they are doing, shamans, empaths, Reiki healers, and more, are idiots plain and simple.  I pray to God they never experience what gifted people experience but I also pray to God they don’t continue to create mayhem in negating what is truly out there.  In this case, ignorance is bliss until you experience it and don’t know what the hell you are experiencing and have no one to explain it to you.  And, if you intentionally – or unintentionally – create hell by poo-pooing sheer hell experienced by others, I pray to God you “come to Jesus” before you experience hell from the hell you create.

Fear is the work of the devil.  Plain and simple.  It binds, prevents healing, prevents awareness – which is the entire point of shutting your eyes, ears, hearts, beliefs, thought processes to the idea of the paranormal, of things you don’t understand.

I’m new to this whole thing, but everyday people – including 100% born-again, church-going Christians of every denomination – can be plagued with dark forces (including demons), ghosts, paranormal phenomenon just as much as 100% Athiests and Agnostics.  Just because you don’t want something to happen, doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Rose colored glasses can work quite well sometimes.  So can sunglasses blind a person in a dark room.

Some psychiatrists “get it,” many don’t.  Psychiatry and mental health is new medicine in yet we take it to be gospel truth.  The Western mindset is just now starting to open their willingness to explore and consider the idea of a world related to electricity, paranormal, thought patterns, and more.  Thus, Western medicine is just as slow to wake up to what the world has known for millions of years before.  I’m really grateful for what appears to be a relatively new movement that I have recently become aware of.

And so, here’s to an enlightened/enlightening me.  A new beginning.  A beginning toward healing and triumph in new and different ways.  A beginning toward truly being and making a difference.  This year and the years to come are going to be wonderfully amazing.

May you find light, peace, health, beauty, goodness, renewal and truth – but not through experiencing hell as I have…  Thus I share so that you might have life, health, and freedom from angst and worry that may or may not be directly linked to you…

I am so very grateful that there are people out there who know, understand, care, and can help.

All I can say, is throughout this year full of sheer hellish torture, torment, suffering, anguish, angst, questions, hurt, wonder… God, The Universe, and all those surrounding light and goodness are so very, very good…

I am grateful.

My prayers in my quest for complete healing from 40 years of hell that then culminated into a full year of sheer and utter hell that only intensified then calmed and intensified some more, was fulfilled New Years Eve 2014.

Here’s to a re-birth, renewal, and yet another new beginning.  May there be continued abundant blessings towards peace, light, love, joy, health, wealth, prosperity, and happiness from now and forever amen… what a beautiful, anticipatory concept.

I am determined to believe with certainty that God – and all that is good throughout this vast, unknown-yet-beginning-to-be-known, beautiful Universe – are so very, very good.  I am so very, very grateful.

Christmas… So much pain… So much love

Christmas is such a beautiful time, but it can be wracked with so much pain.  Pain of loss, pain of suffering, pain of love.

As I think of the Christmas story from a different lens than what I normally think of, I see a story full of pain and suffering oozing with love.

It starts with the pain of not having a place to call home.  The humiliation of having a child in a barn, in the smelly, dirty, yet wonderfully homey manger.  We glorify it, but it must have been absolutely atrociously horrifying, in yet beautiful at the same time.  I love the smell and warmth of the barn, but it can also be overpowering as well.  I hope the barn was as clean and beautiful as we make it out to be in our Christmas stories, but somehow I doubt it.

Then, the process of childbirth.  It’s a bloody mess full of gut-wrenching pain.  Some women have an easy childbirth, I hope Mary did.  Most don’t.  It’s a sweaty, intensely painful process that some can handle, some can’t.  (Watch this story.)  The birthing process can be absolutely agonizing to watch, let alone experience.  In yet, for many, it’s a beautiful process with a wonderful outcome.  For many others, not so much.

I love how my friend is loving the experience of Christmas through the lens of a new grandma twice over.  She is a wonderful woman, a mom of 4 wonderful men and 2 up-and-coming-men and is now a grand mom to two beautiful little girls.  They are so lucky to have her in their lives.  There is nothing like the beauty of family.  And, now, she is reflecting on the beauty of Christmas through the beauty of the recent births of her grandchildren.  As a result, she is cherishing the beauty of Christmas in a whole different way as a result.

But, life isn’t easy.  For some it is easier than others.  I cannot imagine just how burdensome it would be to live a life knowing that your life was meant to be lived to be a sacrifice for the joy and peace of others.  If Jesus knew his life purpose was to die to save men from suffering starting from the very start of his life, what a burden to bear.

The responsibility of living a life for the sake of others is a huge burden.  Living your life for the meaning and blessing of others can be a huge blessing, aid in giving your life meaning, can keep you going through hell, but it is a burden.  I can literally feel the heavy burden that Jesus must have felt at the realization that his life wasn’t meant for his sake alone.

Then to realize that for some, people would take the meaning and reason for his life out of context, would misread his intentions, would not “get it” even though they proclaim they know him, understand him, believe him, and follow him.  That, too, would be incredibly burdensome.  It would give a hopeless feeling for sure.  All this pain and suffering in living life for the sake of others then for those people to misconstrue it?  I cannot imagine the heavy feeling that comes with this realization, the acknowledgement of this fact.

Then to live through experiences where you are not understood, blamed for things that are way-crazy and out-of-control madness.  It’s bad enough to be blamed for truth, but when it’s completely out from left field??  Then to live a life of the famous where people are stalking you and begging you for healing and words of encouragement and no matter where you go, you just can’t get a break.  And, you can’t help everyone.  There are thousands wanting help and others who just plain don’t and he wasn’t able to help them all.  Burden upon burden and he hadn’t even gotten to the part of his life where he was crucified.  An event that could only be described as sheer hell on earth.

Not only were people reeling, criticizing, his friends desert him, governments making the whole thing a huge big deal and using him as a political pawn, he then goes through the process of literal torture.  I just cannot imagine.  If he could forecast the knowledge of the event, the pain would be horrific to anticipate let alone to actually experience it.  Sheer horrificness.

Then, to feel the burden of sins.  Not necessarily yours, but the sins of others.  Rushing over you, rolling over you, pounding through your soul, the very core of your being.  Can you imagine the burden?  It’s absolutely no fun, that is for sure.  It’s not your fault, but you take it on because your life purpose is to heal others, to bring blessing to others.  So, for their sake you take on their burden so they can become free.

A life full of pain, suffering, and a burden that is completely unbearable yet he bore it.  For love.

The Christmas story is a beautiful story that demands to be considered.  From a lens that is different than what we traditionally think of.  Even if you don’t believe that it’s true.  Even if you don’t believe in Jesus.  Just the story from a human concept, a human perspective is something to consider.  We all live this life of pain and suffering to some degree.  But, because others take on pain, we don’t have to experience nearly as much as we do.  Take the soldier on the battlefield for instance.  Or your janitor.

The Christmas story is a story of pain and suffering oozing with love.  A love so we can live in peace, joy, and harmony – if we so choose.  But, even those who believe in the story still don’t understand the concept.  Still, love continues and oozes out full of love and grace and goodness…

ObamaCare: Is it really caring for the mentally ill and those in poverty ?

Ironically, the abused are often the ones who are blamed for their abuse and the aftermath that follows by humankind as well as by professions.  By friends, family, coworkers, as well as strangers. By businesses and management.  Victims are continually re-traumatized. The homeless, jobless, imprisoned… are the ones who are pointed at and mocked for things that begun – and may still reside – completely outside of their control.

I’m a victim. I know.  I am also an RN and have worked in the industry.  It’s incredibly angering and extremely frustrating for all involved – those working with the insurance companies, within all levels of social services (from the front desk to the practitioners), and those receiving services. Most everyone’s hands are tied. Most everyone in the process is frustrated. Meanwhile society – and those learning the system – believe that there is help, that there are solutions, that there is something being done.  I beg to agree in yet also loudly differ.

The article within the series The Cost of Not Caring shares: “You can only get care at the very end stage of your illness. The way we pay for treatment of addiction and mental illness, you would be waiting until you have Stage IV cancer before you begin chemotherapy. But that is often how we reimburse for mental health and addiction treatment….”  This is so very, very true.

And then the article writes:  “By the time she was 16, she was addicted to crystal methamphetamine, and homeless. “My depression and anxiety were so extreme, and I had no idea that’s what it was,” says Puckett, 34, a certified peer support specialist in Houston. “And nobody was talking about mental health in the mid-’90s. Every single therapist I went to, the question of a mental health diagnosis never came up. I was always treated as if there was something missing with my character. I was a bad kid or rebellious.”

I’ve witnessed a minimum of three mental health hospitals as being nightmarishly scary and have heard of more from other locations I will never visit.  Mental health hospitals can easily become prisons in and of itself.  And, while they try to help, they often won’t or can’t.  People recycle in and out as “frequent flyers,” there aren’t enough beds for the demands, the workers (management down) often don’t know what the hell they’re doing and inadvertently perpetuate the cycle of violence.

Speaking of prisons, the article shares that 90% of incarcerated women are victims of abuse.  That means 90% of the population of women in the prison system could have had the opportunity to not be in there should they have gotten the help they needed when they needed it.  That means many who are in there do not deserve to be there.  They are there because there was no one willing to help them some way, some how, in the way they needed it when they needed it.

This means that there are people who are stuck in the system of mental health, poverty, and those within healthcare and prison systems who do not deserve – nor do they need – to be there.  There are people in the streets, who are homeless, who can work and are ready and willing to work, but can’t because they don’t have their needs met in the way that is needed for them to become functional.  They either can’t work or hold down a job because their medical and/or mental health needs are not being met.  Sometimes this is by choice, and sometimes it just plain isn’t.

Sometimes all they need is the right combination of medical care and social services.  But, there is not enough money, time, resources, interest, and the set-up is so messed up that the whole process becomes a cyclical problem.  Spiritual sources of help are most typically the most un-helpful and non-helpful methods of helping for a myriad of reasons.  There are so many sources, solutions, and ways about going about things that the filtering and information-gathering know-how is lost, overwhelmed, and just not there.

Let me tell you straight up. This ObamaCare system that is in place is not helping. How our medical system is run via medical insurance companies is literally killing us as humans as well as a nation. The best social services that are in place are still unable to help in the ways people desperately need.  The worse off a person is, the least likely it is that they are able to get back on their feet.  Especially with how we help each other via our thought processes, actions, non-actions, and resources.

Ironically, the ones who can help, choose not to. What are you going to do to help and stop the cycle hindering help for the victims? Please, I beg you, help in some way, shape or form. Even if it just means opening your mind to the concept: The abuse, their current state of wellbeing, their diagnosis of mental illness, their status as homeless and/or joblessness just might not be their fault after-all.

If you have a coworker who appears to be suffering from blatant or subtle mental health issues, please help them out.  Either listen, guide them to resources that will help, and give them opportunities that will meet their needs to maintain or retrieve their sanity — even if it means an extra 5 minute bathroom break or a 30 minute extension for lunch from time to time.  Work with each other.  There is a time where you are going to need a favor.  By helping someone gain or re-gain their sanity, you are literally saving a life on many, many levels.

Better yet, pay for someone’s medical bills so that they truly can get the help they need. Good therapists and psychiatrists charge for their services. You can’t get services without the right insurance unless you pay out of pocket. An excellent psychiatrist in the area will only take out-of-pocket or out-of-network insurance options.  Each visit is somewhere between $200-300.  It’ll take a minimum of 2 or 3 back-to-back sessions to start the process of understanding which diagnosis might be going on then to figure out a med to try.  From here, weekly to bi-weekly visits will ensue, tapering off to monthly or bi-monthly visits, then from there it’s best handled through maintaining what is referred to as “maintenance visits.”  If you have a doctor who knows what he or she is doing, the success rate is much higher and at a much quicker rate as he’ll likely know what meds to try first.

But, meds are not the only solution.  It’s a huge step in the right direction, but not the end-all, be-all.  The brain houses the functioning ability of all of who we are as a human: spiritual, physical, social, emotional, and mental functioning all happens as the result of how that structure functions and how well it functions.

Finding the right mental health therapist (psychologist or social worker) is a tricky one.  You have personality differences, biases, opinions, and experiences that are unique to each therapist.  You have different modalities of treatment and each therapist takes a unique approach.  There are times for novices and there are times for experts.  There are times to ignore hick-ups and there are times to find someone who truly is a good match.

Even some psychiatrists and mental health workers despise concepts surrounding mental health as well as the concept of being a mental health client.  Some despise alcoholics, some believe the victim “asked for it,” some believe the patient “is crazy” and thus subhuman.  I was shocked when I learned this, but it’s true.  I heard it from their lips and watched their actions behind closed doors.  It’s hard-pressed to get good help with that sort of mentality going on.  I highly value excellent therapists and providers.  I am more than willing to give you a list of my favorites (smile).

Victims often have a difficult time being able to afford what they need. Doctors who know what they are doing don’t take ObamaCare options – or at least Coordinated Care. Coordinated Care options and social services utilizing this method of payment inadevertently help you become stuck, stay stuck, or get re-stuck. The more complicated a case is, the least likely the professional within those systems knows what is needed to rectify it.  Or, if it’s rectified, the person gets a job and loses the ability to receive follow-up, continued services due to a myriad of reasons.  And so the person stays stuck or gets re-stuck.  It’s a whole process of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I’m praying that we are going in the right direction, but the whole experience of desperately needing help and not being able to get it is fucked-up and wrong both from the patient’s perspective as well as the service provider.

In the spirit of giving, please consider opening your mind, concept, and understanding toward the dynamics of what all is involved in mental illness, poverty, and abuse.

What you see is not what you get.

You truly cannot get the care that is desperately needed from those who desperately need it solely through ObamaCare.  It’s a good start, but it’s definitely not an answer to the problem.  If you don’t get the help when you need it, how you need it, that is where you’ll land – unless you are supremely lucky – again, no fault of your own.

So, please, if you’re a victim, get the help you need when you need it how you need it before you desperately need it.  If you’re a friend or family member of a victim, please help that person get the help they desperately need.  They might be able to articulate it, they might not.  They might refuse.  But, please try.  And if you try, take the perspective of the victim not the abuser.  Do not perpetuate the cycle of violence in your attempt to help, not help, or deny helping.

Christmas: The Concept of Giving and Receiving

Christmas is a wonderful time to think about who, what, when, where, and how we give.  It’s a process that is best done with thoughtful contemplation – something that is very difficult to do in this day and age.  It can be incredibly overwhelming to know who and how to give utilizing a method that utilizes mindful caring and compassion that yields results aimed toward the greatest good possible.  Giving is a hot topic that pushes many buttons on many levels for many people.  

I understand the concept of the importance of giving both as a giver as well as a much-needed receiver.  I’m very blessed in ways many, many are not.  I’m also extremely lacking in ways that others are incredibly blessed with.  I’m naturally a giver, but some aren’t.  I’m naturally an empathizer – I understand things from other people’s points of view, but others are completely inept at that.  Many, many Americans are afraid to give in ways that once felt normal and natural.  We all need to be blessed and be a blessing at one point in time.  Both sides – giving and being the receiver – can be burdensome.  

I’ve been asking myself constantly:  Should I ask?  If I am supposed to ask, when and how?  Should I give even if I want to – or don’t want to?  When is the best time to give?  How?  When is it time to give and when should I receive?  Why is this whole concept and process so very, very difficult?  

Please read my blog Give Smart for ideas as to how to give.

Give Smart

There are so many ways to give and to receive.  So many wonderful ways.  So many destructive ways as well.

It’s a blessing to have people and things to give to.  It’s a blessing to know of organizations to give to.  Two I recommend at this moment are Enterprise for Equity and The Olympia Free Clinic.  These are options where truly wonderful people work to provide wonderful, helpful service through kindness and equality.   Kiva is a fun organization too.  If you want to keep a person off the streets, please consider giving to the Community Action Council.

And, if you literally want to save a life, choose Friends New Underground Railroad.  Or, ask Paul Southwick from One George Fox as to how you can make a life a better place for a Christian of the LGBTQ community.  As you know, their life can be hell.

If you want to benefit someone with services from someone who is in life transition, about to go into transition, or wants to figure life out, maybe you can donate on behalf of someone for services such as those Teron offers.  If you want to open up someone’s view of life, consider paying for a ticket to another city, country, or another side of the world.  Or perhaps open horizons through the lens of Humans of New York.

Another idea is to give gifts that keep on giving, through shopping online via AmazonSmile.  Or, give by literally clicking on a link posted on the website of Greater Good (each tab has its own link and opportunity to click to give – hunger site, veterans, animals, and more).  It’s also a whole ton of fun to click on the link, shop, and receive the gifts from these sites as well.

Others are blogging about the concept.  Two blogs I highly recommend visiting are “Socks are Not Enough: Social Justice Lies Upstream from Charity” and Elaine’s reflection on this blog “Socks are Not Enough.”

But, more than that, I highly recommend giving to your neighbor, your relative, your friend who truly need it.  Even professors are on food stamps.  Give smart, so give to charities who enable tax write-offs.  But also give smart in that give in a way that really serves the person you are giving the gift to.

Make the gift meaningful.  Learn about what the person truly wants deep down inside.  Is it a handwritten card?  Choose a beautiful card and take the time to write a meaningful, intentional letter.  Is it a roof over a person’s head?  Maybe you can’t personally afford to do that, but maybe you can help that person find what they need by offering your time, ear, and telephone – maybe even home address.  Does a person want a pen?  Clothing?  A toy?  Maybe just cash?

There are two gifts I gave that were flops:  a fountain pen and a wheel chair.

I gave a fountain pen for a birthday or Christmas present years ago.  It was not the type of pen he uses.  He appreciated the gift, the unexpected gesture of kindness, but it wasn’t usable for him.  He couldn’t use it in a meaningful way and thus it was less desirable for him.  It would have been much more meaningful should I have given him the pen he really, truly was hoping for.  He could use the one I gave, but it wasn’t as effective nor as wonderful should I have taken the time, asked the right questions, and listened to what he truly wanted.  He was incredibly kind, thankful, and grateful, but he could’ve been more thankful and grateful had I given the right type of gift.  Thus, my gift was essentially a poor use of resources, money, time and effort, a disappointment for him, yet a lesson learned for both of us.  It’s better if gifts are not solely lessons learned.

I was working at a job where I was all excited about the ability to purchase a wheelchair for patient.  I made the mistake of assuming what he wanted, the style that would be the best for him, etc.  I was super excited about the idea of being able to choose and give a gift.  Especially one of that nature.  However, all my effort and desire to help ended up into my making a huge mistake and ended up becoming a huge flop.  The wheelchair only got in the way of his daily activities, took most of the space in his bedroom (which was extremely tiny to start with), was completely impractical, and created incredible safety hazards.

The whole point of my sharing this story is that he could have had so much better had I asked more questions.  I ruined his ability to have the chair he needed in the way he needed because of my impractical giving through government resources.  He kindly used it, but he couldn’t use it in the way he truly needed it.  He was incredibly grateful, but I’m certain he felt incredibly frustrated as well.  It was essentially the same thing as giving a bag of candy to a diabetic.  The wheelchair was beautiful, made the mouth water, but was completely non useful with the literal potential of killing the person.

Last Thanksgiving and Christmas were a blast for me.  I used the excuse of a holiday and having no family to spend it with to splurge on others.

I was sitting in the parking lot of a Chevron gas station/Jack-In-The-Box complex while chatting on the phone with a friend who was working on a military base in Japan.  (Ironically he is an individual who choses to spend the vast majority of money he wins via poker machines to give to coffee baristas, base charities, his sunday school students, and more.)  I was feeling in the dumps because I hate the holidays.  I absolutely hate the holidays as “it rubs me in the face” that I’m solo, single, and due to the unhealthy nature of my biological family I just cannot justify spending time with family on a holiday even if they should ask – which they do not.  There is nothing more important in my mind than the concept of love and family.  So, in my mind, if there’s a problem, let’s fix it.  I’ve tried myriads of methods to fix this personal problem of mine, but my methods haven’t worked for me, and what I tried in the past was definitely not going to work for that year, so I conjured up a new solution.

I decided that I was going to use the holiday as an excuse to give.  Partially selfishly so that I can feel like I can be in the holiday spirit, and partially so that I could give just to give, for the sake of giving.  And, to be completely honest, I also partially gave selfishly to yield a much-needed rush of positive, feel-good brain chemicals.  But, when it really comes down to it, I really, really wanted to give in a way that means something to someone somehow and not just to me.  Giving selfishly can become an unselfish act of sheer generosity.

And so, putting my plan in action, I interrupted my conversation with my friend (a gift in its own way) to give a woman cash.  She was so excited, so very excited.  It was only $40 or so – maybe more I don’t remember.  But, she was so excited.  It was so much fun to see.  I wasn’t paying attention to it at the time, but she was a very young mother of two little boys who appeared to have recently been going through a divorce.

On a different occasion, there was a young man I gave $20 to.  He was an angry young man.  Incredibly angry.  Full of hurt and angst.  But, he needed it and I’m grateful I gave it to him – even though he likely used it to numb pain through drinking or otherwise.  Both were intentional gifts.  Gifts that meant something to them and something to me as well.  Gifts that will help in the long-run as well as in the here-and-now.

This same Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season, I missed an opportunity to give a gift by paying a woman’s purchase.  She was paying for her Christmas meal at a 7-11-type place.  The kids were excited but the mom felt like a complete failure.  They were eating pizza, pepperoni sticks, horrid awful food.  It was her way of giving but she felt horridly guilty and inadequate.  I still feel the weight that was on the mom’s shoulders.  I wish to God I would’ve swiped for her food like I had considered, but I was focused on the total to see if I could afford it.  Rediculousness.  I ended up paying $75 for tons of people’s gas without the intention to (the gas attendant kept my credit card line open (you had to prepay inside) and I didn’t know it).  $30 (more or less) would’ve been just fine.  A blog I wrote that surrounds this time is here.

Appropriate gift giving takes time, effort, resources, along with communication and listening skills.  Many of us don’t have those luxuries.  Thus, we feel discouraged.  And, when we feel discouraged, we give up altogether, make haphazard approaches to solving the problem, overcompensate, and more.

If you are giving a gift for work, family, or friends, consider the source.  Use communication.  Ask yourself is this something that is truly meaningful to them?  Is this a “me” wish or a wish that satisfies a need?

If you don’t have anyone to give to, give to random strangers.  Some ideas are to swipe a card to fill someone’s gas tank.  Swipe your card to pay for someone’s grocery bill.  Pay for someone’s storage unit before they lose their things – it just might be all they own or their storage unit might house memories or meaning that will be forever lost.  Call a local pharmacy and pay someone’s medical bill – or go there in person and swipe your card for them.  Holidays are excellent reasons and excuses to give and do random acts of kindness.  It’s a whole lot of fun for both the giver and the receiver when done right and well.  But these sorts of giving doesn’t have to be done due to the label or intent of celebrating Christmas.

There is a whole ton of red tape involved for services to give to people in need and for people in need to receive services.  I feel that giving to social services or large organizations can often be a copout, but they do serve a purpose.

If you want to give, truly give, be a Good Samaritan yourself – don’t let it just be a Bible story.  Don’t just leave good things, actions, and gifts for the saints to do and give, become Mother Teresa yourself – even she wasn’t perfect and had to start somewhere, somehow.

If you want to truly give, give in ways that mean something to that person.  If you don’t have any money to give, give a hug.  If you don’t have any hugs to give, say something nice in a meaningful way.  If you can’t say something nice, then do something that is nice to them.

Not everyone is greedy.  Not everyone are takers.  Some give too much.  Some give way too much.  Stay balanced in your giving.  You never have to give.  Giving is a choice.  A wonderful choice.  Make it fun, meaningful, enjoyable, in a way that will last.   It’s okay to not give to the person, individuals, groups, or organizations who demand that you give – or guilt-trips you into giving – to them.  It’s also okay to give to people who truly need those services.  Stay smart in your giving.

Different people feel loved differently.  The Five Love Languages is an excellent resource in understanding how a person feels loved (as explained by the blog entry of personalty cafe).

Be intentional in your giving.  Give with goodness and love in your mind and heart.  If you can’t muster up the goodness, don’t give.  If you don’t feel good about that particular idea, method, intent, whatever… don’t give.  If you feel a strong urge to give, then please act on that urge – especially if it’s strong and “keeps popping up.”  There is a God-given reason for it.  However, take a moment of discernment to determine if it’s a gut-reaction or true inspiration.

Whether it’s a gift you are giving, a message you are receiving, or an action you are taking, take a moment and consider questions and ideas Steve writes about in his blog:  consider your motive, consider your audience, and consider your source.

It’s okay to not give in a particular way or form.  It’s okay to choose to not give.  However, it is better to give than to receive.  It’s best to give to those who truly choose to give and pay it forward – be it organizations, family members, friends, or strangers.  It’s okay to feel good about giving or even not-so-good about giving or not giving – just realize it’s a choice to give.  If you use practical, mindful intention in your method of giving, this will yield much better results in the long-run.  But, it’s a process of learning and growing.  It takes time and effort.  But, just like investing money, the best methods yield the greatest results.

Do not judge, but give wisely.  Do not expect anything in return, but give wisely.  “Do not cast your pearls before swine.”  Choose to give in ways that are meaningful.  Find people who truly need what you can give.  And give in ways that they truly need.  “Don’t burn a hole in your pocket.”  Let your resources be reinvested and recycled in some way.  Money and spending money are not the only ways to give.  Sometimes that $5 gift means the same as if you purchased a $5,000 gift.  Sometimes a $5, 000,000 gift has the same value as dirt.  And sometimes verbalizing “give yourself a hug” means more than if you literally gave them a hug or a $500 gift certificate.

There are times to give to an addict, and times to hold off on a particular form of giving.  There are times to give to mean people and there are times to let them go.  There are times to give to demanding situations, individuals, family and organizations, and times to let them figure things out on their own.  Use discernment  – and when you use discernment, let your personal bias fly out the window.

Maybe your husband, wife, son, daughter, sister, brother, friend… would rather a cup of coffee with your smartphone left in your car and a truly open, nonjudgemental, listening ear for an hour, a day, or weekend instead of that brand new Rolls Royce.  Or maybe they want a cup of coffee instead of a pen.  Maybe your friends, family, customers, clients, patients… are begging you to just listen.

Please, give with caring.  Leave selfish, self-centeredness behind.  Just give – truly give.

If you need ideas or  want someone in particular to give to but just don’t know who, feel free to ask me and I’ll be more than willing to help brainstorm or lead you to that person, individual, organization, or more.

With all this in mind, please give.  Think outside the box.  Give smart.  And please, don’t just give on Christmas.

Philosophical Whys

Over these past few months after working in short stints in two different mental health institutions, and while experiencing and reflecting on my own life that involves periods, events, and escapades of sheer hell, I’ve been asking a ton of why questions.  A whole ton of why.

Why are we born into the life, body, family, location in the world, the particular city, education, belief system we have?  Why are we born to experience what we have and are?  Why do some “have” and some not?  Why do we treat each other the way we do?  Has it ever been different?  Why are we killing each other in every way possible – literally and figuratively – from the way we raise our crops to the way we do business to the way we perceive – then treat – each other?  Are all these things chosen or is it all random?  Did God create it into existence, did we imagine it, or was it just something that randomly happen?  Is life and our experienced predestined or random?  Do we make things happen or do they happen from things, events, etc. outside us?

It’s so easy to put blame.  We blame God.  We blame each other.  We blame ourselves.  We blame “the other.”  Is blame justified?  How can blame be overcome?

Where do we get our philosophical, religious ideas?  Who is right?  Which one is right?  Why?  Where did they come from, originate?  Why are they still “alive”?  Have they morphed and changed?  If so, why and how?

Are we star dust?  Are we reincarnated?  Are we here for a purpose?  What is the reason we are here?

Where do we get our ideas as to life, the meaning of life, how we interact with each other and the world?

Why are some people just pure mean, others a mixture, and yet some others sheer angelic in nature?

Why are we so tied to the dollar?  We hate each other because someone has, did have, will have, or has taken in the effort to have.  Why?  Does it matter?  How can this be overcome?

What does it mean to love each other?  What does it look like?

Is there such a divide between male and female, ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, viewpoints?  Yes.  Definitely.  Why?  Why do we limit friendships and dialogue?

Why are we so afraid?  How can we stop being so afraid?  Fear is so limiting, so disempowering.  So dividing.  Yet we mess with levels of fear in order to intentionally create chaos, bring attention to a matter, or bring about change.  FOX News has much to own up to for capitalizing on the concept of fear.  FOX News has changed – and is changing – our whole country, belief systems, way of thinking (and/or lack of thinking), perceptions, how we act and what we act on, and more.  It’s fascinating to watch things unfold.

Why are people born grotesquely disfigured, crippled?  It’s cruel.  They’re automatically born into a life of being ridiculed, treated poorly, having fewer advantages in life.  Why are people born into lives that immediately trap them and prevent them from experiencing progress?  Systems I understand, but there are people involved.  Why are those particular people seemingly born into that experience?

Are we all insane?  Do some just hide insanity better than others?  Are most of us struggling with some aspect of insantiy while a few have been blessed with full sanity?  Why do so many struggle with depression and anxiety?  It’s a rate of 1 in every 4 Americans who struggle with anxiety alone – half of those also struggle with depression.  Either one of those can be completely disabling, life-killing, family-killing, and a detriment to our society as a whole in micro- and macro- levels.  1:4 is a number recognizing those who are diagnosed with the “disorder.”  There are others on a subscale that don’t require meds or significant treatment or are somehow missed from accurately being diagnosed and/or treated.  Depression and anxiety can create insanity, but there are others who are insane in different levels.  Some of the insane are treated, some aren’t.  Why do we ignore treatment, the cause of the problem, prevent ourselves and others from getting treatment, wait until it’s too late or close to being too late, and more?  Then, we point fingers at the insane, laugh at them, ridicule them, shun them, put them into closets of rooms in crazy-making institutions filled with other crazy people who still aren’t getting the proper treatment that is needed to gain at least a minute amount of sanity.  Why so many excuses?  Finger-pointing? Name-calling? Blaming?  By ourselves to ourselves independently as well as to and by others on a personal and societal level?  In other words… why is so many things being done, covered up, and dismissed with the end result of so much good being stopped and prevented on so many different levels?  The human cost factor of untreated mental illness, insanity, and lack of mental health (each are independent of each other yet intertwined and all slapped with the label of “mental illness”) is huge.  There is an incredible cost on many detrimental levels to our own lives, our family life, our places of employment which all bleeds into the health and well-being of our local community, society, state, and country.  In yet, we turn our heads, give excuses, label, become afraid, dismiss the problems and root causes of the problem…  Why?

Why do we who have want to save the lives or see things continue as they are for those who are experiencing – or will experience – a life of horror?  There is a time to live and a time to die.  Sometimes enough is enough.  Yet, we continue the torture and are horrified once the torture is no longer or is prevented.  Abortion and suicide are two concepts that we just don’t get.  We choose not to get because we don’t want to fathom pain.  But in not fathoming pain, in not understanding it, we create it.  Hordes of it.  Horrific amounts of it. We go on our merry lives in joy and normalcy while those we have made to live live in sheer agonizing hell.  I do not advocate abortion nor suicide.  But, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves why – a whole ton of why.  Why do people do it?  What happens if we stop it?  What happens if we prevent it?  What happens if we solve the root cause of the problem?  What is the root cause of the problem?  In other words, Why?  What happens if, when…?

Why don’t we do more to prevent homelessness?  Why do we perceive some as deserving of badness?  Why do we allow the negative people to win?  Why do we not treat the underlying causes and symptoms?  Why do we make excuses and utilize blaming instead of looking at facts and solving the problem?  Why do we just look away or put 1/2-ass efforts into fixing the problem?

Why do some have the tools, the knowledge, the know-how while others don’t?  Why do some choose not to?  Why do some search and search and never find what they are looking for?  Why do some just not know or understand?  Why do some not care?  Is it good to not care?  Does it matter?

Why are so many stopped from doing good – literally or figuratively – in one fashion or another?

Is there a God, gods?  Is there more to the Christian God, the Christian Jesus, the Christian religion/philosophy/viewpoint?  How about all the other religions?  If there is more to the standard religions, what does it look like?  What is energy?  What does it mean?  What are ghosts?  What does it mean?  What are spirit-guides?  What does this mean?  What does the Universe mean literally and figuratively – scientifically and spiritually?  Are they intertwined?  Are all religions correct with bits and pieces of correctness of which some portions interlap?  What if there is really no one God or gods?  What if religion and all that we have defined within that religion and religion as a whole are all partially correct, are analogies to something that we’re missing, are a starting point??  Does it matter?

Why MUST we believe in God, the presence of a God?

Why do we have an egocentric view of ourselves?  Why do we matter individually and collectively?  Why do we have to be in human form?  Why do we think of ourselves the way we do?  Why do we perceive ourselves the way we do both literally as well as philosophically?  Why do we see ourselves the way we do through our eyes, our souls, our beings, our bodies?  Why do we see ourselves as a whole different age with a whole different physical look even when we’re 80 years old and in a wheelchair or using a walker?

Why do we see ourselves and think of ourselves, immersed in our own lives as we are sitting in the same room with someone who is hungry, alone, homeless at the seat next to us?  Why do we feel our own pain in yet not the pain of another?  Will we become overloaded if we experience more than what we ourselves experience?  Or are we just afraid we will become overwhelmed, on overload?

Where are all the birds?  The wildlife?  The trees – tall trees at that?  The beautiful, clear, blue water?  Healthy grass and food?

What is our role in being and making a difference?  What is our responsibility?  What isn’t?  It’s so easy to be overwhelmed with “the problem of evil” and “the problem of pain” in our world.  Why is so much good being stopped and prevented?

Should I ask myself those questions?  What is the point of asking those questions?  Each one of these questions can drive a person literally insane or to become immobilized in one fashion or another so why do I try to ask them?

These questions are important to ask in the effort to solve my current life problem.  Why am I here?  What is my purpose in life?  Why me – or does it matter?  What can I do?  How can I do it?  Should I?  Does it matter?  Do I matter?  With all that in mind, what am I going to do about it.  Is it possible to get stuck?  Am I stuck?  If so, can I get unstuck?

As I’ve written those questions, I realize I have come up with answers to most of them – some still in the process of being developed.  Even though the questions and what is involved in answering those questions make my head swim and yields an incredibly overwhelmed feeling, I’m really glad to be asking those questions.  It makes me extremely grateful for Phil Smith and Mark McCleod-Harrison’s philosophy courses I’ve taken.  It makes me grateful for my life experiences because they have aided me in the ability to think to ask the questions and has provided the possibility to attempt to answer them.

I am determined to believe that there is a reason for everything.  Either made-up or otherwise.  There is a purpose – random or made to happen – for everything.  But, we have to want to make the reason and purpose manifest itself in its highest potential.  If we don’t want to, if we don’t want it, then it won’t and there most likely won’t.  It won’t happen, it won’t be.  It was never there, will never be there.  There is no reason nor will there be a reason.  Unless we want it, make it be there, and/or desire it to manifest itself/be manifest/become manifest.  This belief of mine gives me a reason for the mayhem of my life, a reason to keep going, and a reason to believe that things will get better.  Everything.  Absolutely everything.  Is a matter of perspective.

This world is fucked up.  But it’s beautiful.  We’re all fucked up, but we’re beautiful.  Each and every one of us are loved – the beautiful, bad, ugly, and wonderful – or so I am determined to believe.

Why?  I don’t know.  But, it’s good to try to figure out.  It’s good to think about.  The why’s just might provide answers, meaning, solutions, discoveries.  The why’s just might turn the ugly into the beautiful, bring good from bad.  Asking the why’s might just stop bad from continuing or unfolding and turn the bad into good.

That, is why we must ask why.  To find, discover, capitalize, reveal, create, and share the good.   The good within us and without us.  The good surrounding us and upholding us.  The good that creates a meaning of life and the reason to keep going. We don’t realize nor understand unless we ask why.  We don’t appreciate until we look around and ask ourselves the why questions.

Goodness is a blessing.  It blesses us.  I want to be blessed, to be a blessing.  This can only happen through goodness.  Thus, I ask why.  Asking why is a blessing and a curse.  There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with knowledge and understanding.  There are a lot of unknowns.  Asking why questions and the answers that unfold can “rock our world” and has been known to drive a person insane.  Thus, we become afraid to ask the why questions.  However, if we don’t ask, we just might kill ourselves, stop or prevent potential, seriously harm someone or groups of people, and more.

I encourage you, implore you — ask the why questions.  Maybe you’ll unlock a mystery for yourself – and better yet, for another — maybe even for the world itself.