Saturday, February 28, 2015

February is teen dating violence awareness month, continued...

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If you follow my column you know that I’ve volunteered at a domestic violence shelter for a number of years and I am now interning there. Teen Voice is a part of the services this organization offers and, I believe, this is a priceless aspect of their outreach program. Teen voice goes into the schools in Washtenaw County to educate our children about the very difficult topic of teen violence in intimate relationships. Teen voice advocates for healthy relationships and these talks are primarily ran by teen activists lending their voices to an important cause.

Think about it, these teens are our future; it is important they have a healthy sense of connection. Dysfunction feeds dysfunction but knowledge empowers.

We have all been a teenager at one time or another; let’s not forget the struggles of these years. How did you cope? Was it a happy time for you or were you one of the stats offered in the article?

Whatever your experience was you can make a difference by reaching out and getting involved in our teenager’s lives. Help them be the change to strengthen each of them today in order to build stronger communities tomorrow.

Do you have a teenager in your life? How involved are you with this individual? Is he or she involved in an intimate relationship? Is it healthy? Are you assuming this or do you really know? Please find out!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Authentic connection, continued...

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I see Buber’s “I-It” relationship play out in my work with domestic violence. Batterers do not perceive the relationships with their partners as “I-Thou” and instead they dehumanize their significant others. If a person is viewed as an object, it is easy to overlook their human characteristic when the batterer rages into an assault. The survivor is left confused thinking, “How can a person who loves me continue to physically assault me? How can this person physical beat me in one moment and then apologize and promise to change in the next but then continue with future assaults? Again, if the assailant doesn’t view his or her partner as an equal and instead objectifies him or her, the abuse is inappropriately justified. He or she may be thinking, “If you wouldn’t have made me mad, you wouldn’t have been hit.” It’s your fault but even if the significant other is submissive and works diligently to make their partner happy, the abuser will still find fault and continue to abuse. It is always the survivor that the abuser believes must change; his or her line of thought, “You must quit provoking me” instead of the batterer recognizing the inhumane treatment by authentically taking accountability for the his or her criminal actions.

I was racking my brain trying to find a scenario that might be a positive “I-It” connection. Here is my best attempt:

I knew this student who was studying forensics in college this past year and because of this she had to do work on cadavers. If she thought of the deceased person as a tool to research and potentially gain in insight and/or science breakthroughs, she could work with the body. But, when she looked at the person as someone who may have been a mother, or daughter, a friend or loved one and she started focusing on the detail of the body; it’s upkeep, painted nails etc., she would become nauseated and she was unable to continue in the lab. By dehumanizing the corpse she was able to complete her studies. It is amazing to me how our minds work; perception is key.

Hopefully the examples I have provided offers you some valued insight to Buber’s theory on human engagement. We can all benefit from “I-Thou” connections whether it is with the stranger on the street, a neighbor or a loved one. The bottom-line, if we live with love in our hearts and we realize this to be an infinite source, it shines positive light not only into our lives but the lives of those whom we connect with, manifest “I-Thou” relationships!

The mind's eye, continued...

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Amy Purdy talked to Oprah about how she visualized her life while in the hospital after losing her legs from the knees down. She explained that she knew and believed that she would snowboard again. She said not only could she see it but in the moment of this vision, she could feel it; Amy could feel the wind against her face and her muscles twitching as if she was snowboarding. She said she didn’t know how she would get to this point again but she whole heartily believed she would get there.

In the end of my Examiner article I ask you what you see for you life? This question is not about how you are currently living but more about that crisp vision that is holding on in your psyche that instills a thought wrapped by a celestial presence that silently empowers you with a knowing that you are meant to do more with our life.

I, my friend, have this vision; it is clear in my mind’s eye. I feel this knowing in my core that I will achieve a mark in some aspect of a new human services role. I believe this to be my calling into Art Therapy. In order to get to this credential I first felt the need to obtain a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. If all goes well I will obtain this degree by the Fall of this year. It feels like a long ride but I’m getting there. Somehow, someway, I will land into a position that will enable me to use my God-given creative talent and my therapeutic skills that are growing, to serve others; to make a difference in the lives of others one person at a time.

I sense this, I see this and I feel this.

What are you seeing in your mind’s eye? I would love to read about it. Drop me a note and let’s correspond!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

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When I think about all of my hardships, such as a death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, and betrayals it does make me realize that my perception in each situation was foundational to my suffering and to my recovery. When something is going wrong in my life today I always try to look at the hardship in a way to try to understand what it is here to teach me. When we can sit with the pain and suffering without trying to block it, in this raw and vulnerable state, basically surrendering to it, I believe this mindset allows us to free ourselves from its hold. When we fight it and react from our emotions, we block any clarity that the hardship might be here to offer.

Viktor Frankl’s research and offering in the field of psychology gives us the means to flip the switch in our minds in order to internally compensate for any hardship we face by adjusting our thoughts to enable us to persevere in spite of it all and grow because of it all.

Understanding the why of our suffering is big in our recovery process. Viktor Frankl’s work gives us a lot to think about; he leaves us with a pretty amazing legacy!

Are you in search of a meaning? Drop me a note and let’s talk about it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Honoring our parents, continued...

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It seems to me like many people reside in extremes degrees of adult Parent relationships, on one end adult children are living with parents and these parents are practically raising their grandchildren or their parents are not included in their adult lives or minimally when they need something. I believe family connection that honors or nurturers our roots or those who have helped us get here, is beneficial to all involved. It is a bond that grows and strengthens with age.

The Huffington Post offers these statistics and insights, “

“With single parenting on the rise, more and more grandparents are stepping up to help their adult children raise kids, a report released Tuesday found. The research, conducted by US 2010, a research project on changes in American society funded by Brown University and the Russell Sage Foundation, corroborates a recent study by the Pew Research Center that showed that 7.7 million U.S. children -- one in 10 -- were living in the same household as one of their grandparents in 2011. In most cases, that meant living in their grandparent's home.
So why are so many seniors playing such pivotal roles in raising their grandkids? In an interview with the Washington Post, Amy Goyer, AARP’s expert on multigenerational and family issues, cited the 2007 recession as one the biggest reasons for the uptick in multigenerational households. ‘Grandparents have always been a safety net,’ she said, adding that nearly 20 percent of grandparents with grandchildren in the house are living below the poverty line. The study concluded that almost one-third of grandmothers who live with their grandchildren are the primary caregivers. Black and Hispanic grandmothers are more likely than white grandmothers to live with grandchildren and black grandmothers are more likely than Hispanic grandmothers to be the primary caregivers, the report found.”

Why are grandparents involved? Because they care about their loved ones and they want to help even if they are unable to afford it. Or, maybe they regret not being able to give you a better upbringing so they are trying to make a different by helping you and their grandchildren. Whatever the reason, it needs to be honored.

If you are not actively visiting and helping your parents in your adult life, I challenge you to pick up the phone and make the effort; a little bit will go a long way. If you don't believe me, talk to an adult who has lost his or her parents and get their perspective. Most would do anything to talk to their deceased parents again.