The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Creative Crisis Care

 

The topic of suicide prevention is not what one would consider as befitting a column on bliss, but Phil Garber, Janet Berkowitz and Gary Schoenberg have seen the potentially life saving outcome of their work. That to them, is bliss.  I have known Janet since the early 1980’s, Phil since the latter part of that decade and Gary since 1998. Each has an investment, either personally or professionally in this topic.

Gary is a licensed Psychologist who works as Continuing Care Director at COMHAR which is a community based mental health organization in Philadelphia. Janet and Phil have been recipients of both inpatient and outpatient mental health services at various points in their lives. Together this husband and wife team facilitate presentations for consumers and mental health professionals via Creative Communication Builders. The subject matter ranges from bullying prevention and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to addiction recovery and Bi-Polar Disorder. Their class entitled Creative Crisis Care: Taking Suicide Out of the Closet was offered to a group of Social Workers as a means of earning continuing ed credits, which are required to maintain our professional licenses. In the three hours we shared together, I found myself laughing, crying, and smiling in recognition of the universality of emotion whether or not we have mental health challenges. The tears also flowed as Phil and Janet shared their personal stories of how depression and turning to the unthinkable option of suicide, became their daily or near daily companions.

 

For Janet, suicidal ideation (although she acknowledges never having acted on the thoughts that hammered at her) came as part and parcel of early bullying experiences by peers. At age 8, she had her first thought that ending her life would be a way out of her torment. In the interceding years, this woman, now in the 5th decade of her life, had multiple hospital admissions, has taken nearly every mood stabilizing medication on the market and has been in outpatient treatment to deal with the devastating impact of this illness. Janet is also 24 years clean and sober, a milestone she proudly announced in the class. Lately, she has come to identify herself as thriver who has moved past seeing herself as a mental health consumer and now reaches out to help others. Both Janet and Phil are in training to become peer support specialists. Phil took a different route and his encounter with the system came as a result of cardiac surgery, complications with anesthesia and a sense of failure when he was not able to work for a time. He did attempt to take his own life and blessedly lived to tell about it.

The workshop offered both didactic and experiential exercises that highlighted brilliantly, the impact of suicide on the community, the startling statistics and the need to learn how to support those who are living in the darkness of the thoughts that could and do lead to the premature end of life for those we love. I found one exercise to be particularly powerful for me as a mental health professional since 1979.  A writing assignment, it provided aha-insight into the mind of someone for whom suicide does happen to feel like an option.

As a result of their experiences, Phil and Janet have organized Suicide Anonymous Groups and urge others to do so as well. In comparison to its predecessors of AA and NA, this self help group is startlingly limited in the number of meetings that currently exist.

Art is a huge part of the work that Janet does, being trained in a modality called WRAP  Wellness Recovery Action Plan that was created by Mary Ellen Copeland who is the author of The Depression Workbook. She incorporates what she calls WRAP Scrap and created a scrap book that is a work in progress display of the various aspects of her life. Janet also designed a time line of the depression/suicide roller coaster ride she has been on and it is displayed in the image above.

What it all seemed to come down to is that any of us could become vulnerable and deserve respectful and compassionate intervention, as free as possible of damaging stigma.

www.creativecommunicationbuilders.com

www.suicideanonymous.com

www.mentalhealthrecovery.com

 

http://youtu.be/UyXoRxsG92M Recovery In Mental Health by Annette Palmer

 

 

 

 

The Seeds We Sow

Yesterday I received a call from a dear friend who has been in my life likely since the late 80’s-early 90’s. He is an insightful, intuitive man with a deep spiritual connection into which he taps daily. The call’s purpose was multi-fold: catching up on our sometimes crazy-busy lives, (he lives in a state many hours away and we often play phone tag), telling me that he had just finished reading my book The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary and enjoyed it…..AND…..uh oh….I took a deep breath as I waited for the rest of the sentence. He said that he was waiting for “more of you and your wisdom (0r words to that effect) and not so much about all of the other people on whom you focused and acknowledged.” Whew!  That wasn’t so bad. His take was that I need not rely on these people and their reputations; including some of the transformational teachers I have interviewed to vouch for my own validity as a writer and teacher myself. He seemed to be implying that perhaps I wasn’t as certain of my own abilities, so I was using this as a “See I am worthy.” ticket. Further, he went on to share that I am enough on my own. He added “You know I am saying this because I love you.” Yes, I do know that and I am grateful that he felt secure enough in our friendship to offer that gift.  WOWZERS!  His observations were a reflection of what I have been feeling but have not been able to give voice. Here’s a ‘come clean':   My M.O. has been to shower praise upon those I like, love, support, value, partly because I see their beauty, worth, talent and want the world to see it too and partly because I desire that for myself. I have received it in spades throughout my life from my family, friends, colleagues and strangers. I thrive on it and on some level, figure that it will come flowing back to me. And it does, but not always from the recipient of my support. That’s a tough one at times.

I am often called on by folks who want to tap into my well-connected, social work rolodex brain for resources to resolve someone’s issues from finding a good therapist, to finding a place to live or a job. Or my PR Goddess mind that helps promote events and people, that is described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point explains, I am a connector. From Wikipedia :

  • Connectors are the people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.”[5] They are “a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances”.[6] He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. To illustrate, Gladwell cites the following examples: the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram’s experiments in the small world problem, the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to “their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.”[7]

 

Immediately I riffle through the files in my head and  I come up with a series of ideas to offer. A few nights ago, my son called me en route from a friend’s house late at night, having missed a detour sign and his GPS was broken, so I became the MPS (Mom Positioning System) as my sleepy brain cells had to go on alert to guide him through unfamiliar streets. It was then that I called on the AGS (Angelic Guidance System) and surrender my own growing frustration. I asked for them to get him home safely. That they did a short while later. I have to admit that I have a paradoxical relationship with that dynamic; both liking to be the ‘go to’ person who helps because I CAN and have the skills, tools and ability to do so and then feeling helpless or unable to find answers as if it  is somehow up to me alone to fix, save, heal or rescue. My old ‘friend’ co-dependency, comes to call at that point and exhibits what I refer to as ‘savior behavior’.  I have had dialogs with it and asked of its origins and purpose. Having grown up in a loving, nurturing, addiction free family with parents who modeled a committed relationship for nearly 52 years when my dad died, I was puzzled. It has become clear that even in their desire to share values of service to the world, there were mixed messages. They both worked full time jobs and volunteered throughout their lives and yet my father would say “Charity begins at home.” They were proud of our accomplishments and said so often, to us and other people and yet would (in attempt to instill a sense of humility, I imagine, lest our budding egos gallop off into the sunset with us) add “Don’t toot your own horn.”  Thus the dichotomy and challenge for me as the new ‘mother’ of a book that I desire to share with the world. Whenever someone praises it, as much as I want to embrace and accept it, I deflect, volleying back a comment about how it wasn’t a solo job and that many people are represented in the book. My friend commented that there are many talented writers with huge egos and many non-talented writers with huge egos and that I don’t fall into either category.  On some level, my fear is that ‘she’ (my out of control look-at-me ego is lurking in the shadows to take over in a weak moment.)  We then spoke about my next book and he agreed that the subject matter was ideal for me…not revealing yet:)

Another friend  named Molly Nece, who I consider one of my cheerleaders sent me this email as if in direct answer to my thought process that I suppose she was picking up from the cosmic telegraph: “Keep reaping the rewards you deserve… Each and every one of them is a result of the seeds you had sown!” It was a potent reminder that although I didn’t plant the garden myself, I did clear the ground, dig the furrows, scatter the seeds, fertilize, water, weed and feed the plot and now I am enjoying the bountiful harvest.

Inch By Inch sung by John Denver

www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3FkaN0HQgs

Whatya Know?

 

There’s knowing, and then there’s knowing. To find your way in the
wild new world you have to, you know, know.
—Martha Beck, Finding Your Way In A Wild New World

 

I received this clever email message this morning and the think link thread led me to question what it is that I know-know, not just believe, not just wanna consider might be so, but what I have not a shred of doubt about.

So, here is a list for your contemplation. I don’t have the right to tell anyone what to believe or even know, and I encourage you to create your own list.

1. I am alive, as an embodiment of Divine Creative Life Force Energy.

2. As such, I am tapped into the wisdom of my Source and choose to use it for doing good in the world.

3. I am a miracle manna-fester and have witnessed people and events and things coming into my life, sometimes at the speed of thought.

4. Love is all there is and all we are and so I ask myself in most cases, ‘WWLD’…What Would Love Do? and then do my best to follow the guidance that comes from that question.

5. Prayer is portable and need not be confined to an edifice such as a church, synagogue, temple, mosque or shrine.

6. Loving energy; whether you call it prayer or reiki, makes a difference.

7. We all matter and we all have an important purpose. It is our responsibility to discover what that is and then act on it.

8. The Universe has your best interest at heart and is out to do you good.

9. We all make a difference in the lives of people we encounter; with one benevolent thought cast in their direction, we can change or even save a life.

1o. I am and you are, worthy of the abundance (in all forms) showering upon us by that benevolent Creator that set us on our journey.

11. The sun’ll come out tomorrow…bet your bottom dollar, there’ll be sun.

Travel well~

 

http://youtu.be/5PzL8aL6jtI  Tomorrow from Annie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Beauty

When you open your eyes each morning, what is the first thing you see? If you wake up next to another person, do you behold them with eyes of love or derision? If an animal companion is nestled beside you, do you feel a sense of gratitude for their warm fuzziness? If you are sleeping solo, can you hold out your hand and be thankful that you can see it, feel it, move it ?  If not, find at least one other thing for which you can express appreciation.  I use an analogy when explaining how our perception shapes our reality. I wear glasses and if they are smudgy or finger-printy when I put them on, that’s how the world will look to me. If, instead, I clean them before donning them, then the world will be more likely to shine through with clarity. Simple as that.

It’s a practice, I know. Are you used to a habitual way of seeing the world, the people and the events that come along with it?

I appreciate beauty in all forms. At the moment, I am appreciating the beauty of listening to my favorite Sunday morning radio show called Sleepy Hollow on Philly based radio station WXPN (Saturday and Sunday morning) It also streams on www.xpn.org . I soak up  the beauty of the sunshine pouring in through my window. I am immersed in the beauty of ‘taking spiritual dictation’ as I type these words.  I anticipate the beauty that I know I will experience at celebration this morning at Circle of Miracles (an interfaith community of which I am a part) and that which I will know as I ‘sweat my prayers’ at the gym later today and fold laundry (yes, even laundry can be a sacred practice) and connect with friends. I will drink in beauty on this late autumn day in bucolic Bucks County, PA, as I drive on rolling hills, watching the last of the leaves take leave of their tree homes and come spiraling ground-ward.

What is beautiful to you? Are you willing to view life through the eyes of an ‘opti-mystic’?

http://youtu.be/QeK5tq0n2Ok Norah Jones

http://youtu.be/WI3oXC1401s Young Rascals

Previous Posts

Frozen
Although the movie has been out since last year,  this past week, I climbed up on the sled and took a wild ride with Anna and Kristoff, in the not so wonderful winter-landscape created by Elsa via her out of control emotions.  Frozen (based on the Hans Christian Anderson classic:  The Snow Quee

posted 8:25:25am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Uncovering My Heart
  I attended a workshop this afternoon that was facilitated by an old friend that I had not actually met hug to hug until today. Her name is Ambika Devi, author of the cosmic journey called Lilith which combines historical teachings, powerful legends, in this case the s/hero's journey, as

posted 9:29:08pm Oct. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Life Smoothie
In conversation with my flight attendant friend Jewelee Landis, about whom I have written many times over the years, we were musing about life being like a smoothie. She, like most of us, wears many hats.  Hers- wife, mom, daughter, granddaughter,  friend, doggy and kitty mom and now grandmom to n

posted 7:07:24pm Oct. 18, 2014 | read full post »

What Does Your Facebook Page Say About You?
What did we ever do before the Phenom of Facebook?  It is where people turn for companionship and to relieve boredom. To learn what is happening in the world, without watching the news. It serves the purpose of entertainment and to gain a different perspective,  as well as to rally the troops for

posted 11:50:22pm Oct. 16, 2014 | read full post »

For Me
I had a revelationary thought today as I recognized that for much of my adult life, I have done things for the benefit of others first and foremost, or to please someone so as to gain or not lose love and/or approval. Now, since the heart opening experience in June, I do more things for my own satis

posted 7:48:13pm Oct. 15, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.