“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
14 Feb 2014 Leave a comment
in Addiction, Boundaries, Community, Fear, Grief and Grieving, Mental Health, Safety, Self Acceptance Tags: 12 step, abuse, addiction, alcohol, experts, heroin, hoffman, medical, medicine, methadone, philip, phillip, resources, seymour, sponsor, substance
As part of Twelve-Step programs, they act as support, friend, mentor, and advisor—but they’re also former addicts and shouldn’t be treated as experts.
A haunting writeup in The New York Times Thursday detailed how actor Philip Seymour Hoffman spent his last days after relapsing back into heroin addiction and leaving the home he shared with his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children.
Though he was surrounded by people as the end drew near, the Times piece describes how Hoffman was ultimately “a man who died alone”—which is sadly not uncommon for addicted people. Notably included was a quote from a member of the Twelve-Step program Narcotics Anonymous (NA) regarding what the actor said at a December meeting. Though speaking about what was said by a specific person meeting is an unusual breach of protocol, the incident has got people thinking about what goes on in NA meetings and the idea of members “sponsoring” each other to support recovery.
As a former heroin and cocaine addict who has covered addiction and recovery for over a quarter century, I’d like to stress that I am writing here as someone with knowledge of the field and not as a member of any program. There are many routes to recovery and Twelve-Step programs are just one.
Although touted as an essential element of Twelve-Step recovery, the guidance given to sponsors is extremely vague. There is no requirement for having a certain amount of time drug-free, although at least 90 days is typically required and, most commonly, at least one year. Moreover, there are no specific guidelines related to the amount of contact people should have with their sponsors and the type of advice that should be given at any particular time. An NA pamphlet puts it this way:
Sponsors share their experience, strength, and hope with their sponsees. Some describe their sponsor as loving and compassionate, someone they can count on to listen and support them no matter what. Others value the objectivity and detachment a sponsor can offer, relying on their direct and honest input even when it may be difficult to accept. Still others turn to a sponsor mainly for guidance through the Twelve Steps.
From the outside, the idea that a more experienced member should sponsor someone who is new or has recently relapsed looks like a way to help the newcomer. But, in fact, Twelve-Step literature explicitly says that this is not the purpose, although it is obviously a welcome result. The sponsor-sponsee relationship is predicated on the assumption that “‘the heart of NA beats when two addicts share their recovery,’” and “sponsorship is simply one addict helping another. The two-way street of sponsorship is a loving, spiritual, and compassionate relationship that helps both the sponsor and sponsee.”
In practice, of course, this means that sponsors do give advice and support to newcomers—and anyone who has spent time around people in recovery knows that they will often go to enormous lengths and spend much of their time to try to help.
13 Feb 2014 1 Comment
in Boundaries, Equality, Ethics, Fear, gender, Happiness, Health and Volunteering, Identity, Interviews, Mental Health, News, Potential, Redemption, Relationships, Safety, Self Acceptance, Sexuality Tags: dallas, equality, football, gay, hansen, heterosexual, michael, nfl, sam, sports, straight
During his “Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating Our Differences” segment Monday night, WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen issued a near perfect public takedown to the the anonymous NFL officials in Sports Illustrated’s much-criticized Michael Sam story.
From Hansen’s speech, via Towleroad:
“You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft.
You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome.
Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome.
Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away?
You lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that.
You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!”
Hanson acknowledged his own faults but welcomed Sam, saying it was “time to celebrate him.”
“I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay; I don’t understand his world,” Hansen said. “But I do understand that he’s part of mine.”
03 Jan 2014 Leave a comment
By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer | December 31, 2013 07:56am ET
Planning to exercise more or eat fewer sweets in the New Year? If so, you’re taking part in a tradition that stretches back thousands of years.
Ancient people practiced the fine art of New Year’s resolutions, though their oaths were external, rather than internally focused. More than 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year not in January, but in March, when the spring harvest came in. The festival, called Akitu, lasted 12 days.
An important facet of Akitu was the crowning of a new king, or reaffirmation of loyalty to the old king, should he still sit on the throne. Special rituals also affirmed humanity’s covenant with the gods; as far as Babylonians were concerned, their continued worship was what kept creation humming.
Roman New Year
Centuries later, the ancient Romans had similar traditions to ring in their new year, which also originally began in March. In the early days ofRome, the city magistrates’ terms were defined by this New Year’s date. On March 1, the old magistrates would affirm before the Roman Senate that they had performed their duties in accordance with the laws. Then, the New Year’s magistrates would be sworn into office.
04 Dec 2013 1 Comment
in Boundaries, Community, Equality, Fear, Grief and Grieving, Happiness, Health and Volunteering, Identity, Mental Health, Redemption, Self Acceptance Tags: alone, anxiety, christmas, depression, during, eve, grief, grieving, hanukkah, holidays, kwanza, new years, suicidal, suicidality, suicide, the, winter
by Helen Hill MFT
The holidays can be a very lonely time of year for anyone who, because of their uniqueness, finds himself or herself without family, and sometimes, friends. Sharing the time with others can be a salve for those who are tolerated or accepted. But for those of us who are unique, different, eclectic, marching to a different drummer, or suffering from some physical malady, and we find ourselves alone, it can be a challenge to just get through the holidays.
Families are defined by blood. Often, that is a mistake. Sometimes there are those relatives (by blood) whose views and outlooks would be offensive and cruel to any outsider — to any kind and compassionate soul. The challenge is to surround ourselves with a family we choose, who love us and accept us for who we are, rather than for what we are not.
If family during the holidays is defined by accepting only those people like themselves, then we have learned nothing about tolerance, acceptance, and compassion. Let us not make the same mistakes as those poor souls who live in fear of what they do not understand, and the resulting cruelty that manifests itself in the name of “family.”
What I would emphasize to all is that the holidays are NO TIME to be making major decisions about one’s life, one’s circumstances, one’s issues, or one’s family. Suicide is never good any time. But the holidays have a way of making us, what I like to call, “temporarily isolated” or “temporarily inconsolable.” The emphasis, though, should be on the word TEMPORARY.
During this tough economic time, many are suffering. And even in good economic times, during the holidays, there are so many people who find themselves spending the holiday alone. And then there are those who do spend the holidays with their relatives and come back even more depressed and/or vulnerable than before they left.
Family and holidays can be very difficult even in the best of times. No matter what, whether spending holidays with friends and family, or spending them alone, I would recommend that no one make major life changing, irreversible decisions.
For those who find themselves depressed or alone during the holidays, the secret to success is to just get through them!
Survival is success!
The sun will come out tomorrow. There will be a chance for a new day and new beginnings. And hope does not take a raincheck during holidays. It is still there, even if it seems harder to grasp.
As you have doubtless heard many times before, even if you don’t feel like doing something, DO SOMETHING! A walk, a movie, reading a good book, or an activity. Invite another friend over for tea, or meet for a lunch or dinner. Some online support forums can be quite helpful during these times as well.
Solution Focused Therapy provides three very simple, yet effective, suggestions:
- If it is not broken, don’t fix it
- It it is working, do more of it
- If it is NOT working, change it
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a character flaw or a weakness to ask for help. On the contrary, it is one of the healthiest things a person can learn to do – knowing when to ask for help. This link http://helenhill.wordpress.com/emergency-resources/ lists a number of resources that can be helpful during difficult times.
Make the time less about the holiday, and more about self-care.
But most of all, never use a temporary situation to make a permanent, unalterable decision. Never.
Hope and peace are always in season.
07 Aug 2013 Leave a comment
10 Myths About Introverts (As a graphic designer, a list I can really get behind…)
Definition of introverts via Wikipedia:
Introverts are people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, music, drawing, tinkering, playing video games, watching movies and plays, and using computers. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, engineer, composer, and inventor are all highly introverted. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people. They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate. Introverts are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement. They are more analytical before speaking.
Introversion is not the same as being shy or being a social outcast. Introverts prefer solitary activities over social ones, whereas shy people (who may be extraverts at heart) avoid social encounters out of fear, and the social outcast has little choice in the matter of his or her solitude.
Great list of myths about introverts via Carl King Creative:
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
18 Jul 2013 Leave a comment
in Boundaries, Community, Equality, Ethics, gender, Happiness, Health and Volunteering, Identity, Interviews, Mental Health, Relationships, Safety, Self Acceptance, Serendipity, Women's Health Tags: computers, conway, female, ibm, lgbt, lynn, male, men, out, transgender, transsexual, women, xerox
by Lynn Conway
On a sultry June afternoon, as my husband and I strolled towards the White House East Entrance, I reflected back to the time of my gender transition, in 1968.
Shamed as a social outcast, I’d lost my family, my friends and all social support. I’d beenfired by IBM, and lost a promising computer research career. In many jurisdictions, I could have been arrested and charged as a sex offender — or, worse yet, institutionalized and forced to undergo electroshock therapy in a mental hospital.
Evading those fates, I completed my transition and began building a career in a secret new identity, starting at the bottom of the ladder as a contract programmer. Even then, any ‘outing’ could have led to media exposure, and I’d have become unemployable, out on the streets for good. The resulting fear channeled my life into ‘stealth-mode.’ I covered my past for over 30 years, always looking over my shoulder, as if a foreign spy in my own country.
But this was June 13, 2013, and what a contrast it was. My husband Charlie and I, along with many other activists, advocates and allies, were about to join the President’s White House Reception in celebration of LGBT Pride Month. The atmosphere was full of joy and hope for the future. As we waited for the President, I reflected further.
I had been ‘out’ for 15 years now, or so I’d thought: out on the Internet to inform colleagues about my past, out as an advocate for transgender people, out as an activistagainst the psychiatric-pathologization of gender variance.
It was one thing to hide in the back-rooms of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center decades ago, launching innovations as the hidden-hand behind the VLSI microelectronics revolution in Silicon Valley - a revolution that’s changed the world forever. I didn’t mind being almost invisible in my field back then or that no one had a clue what I was really doing, much less who was doing it. I was thrilled to even have a job.
But ‘out’ has many shades of grey — and even in recent years I kept on partly covering, shyly holding back, lingering in the darker shadows. Although times had changed, I’d clung to old habits.
Down through the years no one could explain how the VLSI revolution actually happened. The results were simply taken for granted. Although I’d gained vital knowledge about generating such engineering paradigm shifts, I feared that my personal history would loom large in people’s minds, and obscure any attempts at explanation. It wasn’t till 2012 that I finally got up the nerve to publish a career memoir, to begin telling the story of how the revolution came about …
As the president entered the room, I glanced around and took in the joyful vibes. As he began to speak, I grasped the reality of how far we’d come. Times had more than changed: a fresh wind was sweeping through our society, especially amongst the younger generations.
Then I thought of the millions of other LGBT people out there. I tried to envision the enormity of lifelong struggles against stigmatization and ostracism, of losses of families and employment, of their oppression by having to ‘cover’, often not fully engaging life nor being known for who they were, what they’d done, who they loved or who loved them.
And it hit me: we’ve come so far, so fast, that ever so many others could begin shedding old habits too. After all, freedom isn’t just an external concept, framed by our laws. It’s a gift of the spirit that we must give ourselves, in this case by going towards brighter shades of ‘out’.
Bottom line: If you want to change the future, start living as if you’re already there.
23 Jan 2013 Leave a comment
in Boundaries, children, Community, Equality, Ethics, Fear, gender, Grief and Grieving, Mental Health, Self Acceptance, Sexuality, Women's Health Tags: abortion, anti-abortion, babies, bisexual, children, court, fetus, gender, history, lesbian, norma mccorvey, pro-choice, roe, supreme, wade
She appeared to be the perfect plaintiff in a case that changed America’s political landscape: Roe v. Wade, decided by the Supreme Court 40 years ago this month. But Norma McCorvey, now 65, was never what she seemed: neither as the pregnant Texas woman who won fame as abortion-rights icon “Jane Roe,” nor as the pro-life activist she would become.
by Joshua Prager / vanityfair.com
It is a spring night in rural Texas, and crickets sing as a woman in her 60s with broad shoulders and short brown hair stops a pregnant young woman on an empty sidewalk. The older woman has heard that the younger woman, her neighbor Lucy Mae, may be seeking an abortion. “You don’t have to do this,” she says, her brown eyes and long loose cheeks filling with emotion. “Children are a miracle—a gift from God!”
The women are performing a scene in Doonby, a movie about a drifter who awakens a sleepy Texas town to its spiritual possibilities. The movie, tentatively set to be released this year, is directed by Peter Mackenzie, a Catholic filmmaker from Britain. It stars John Schneider, best known for The Dukes of Hazzard, who is a born-again Christian.
The older woman is born-again, too. Her name is Norma McCorvey. She is not a professional actress. But back when Nixon was president, McCorvey landed the role of a lifetime: that of “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in what would become one of the most divisive legal actions in American history.
Forty years ago, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wadethat women had the right to an abortion “free of interference by the State,” as Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote in the Court’s majority opinion. The decision greatly expanded the legal boundaries for abortion in the United States, allowing women to terminate a pregnancy at any point during the first 24 weeks—that is, through the first and second trimesters. (Roe did, however, permit states to impose regulations in the second trimester, including who could perform abortions and where. It also gave states the right to ban most abortions in the third trimester.)
McCorvey, under the pseudonym Jane Roe, had brought the precipitating lawsuit in 1970, when she was pregnant for a third time and living in Texas, where abortion was prohibited unless the life of the pregnant woman was threatened. (The Wade in Roe v. Wade was Dallas County district attorney Henry Wade, the named defendant.) Roe v. Wade was a watershed legal ruling. But it also helped to turn abortion into the great foe of American consensus. Subsequent cases have made it clear that the Supreme Court majority in favor of abortion rights has been eroding, from 7 to 2 in Roe to 5 to 4 in cases decided in more recent years (with the majority deciding against abortion rights in a number of cases). Roe is undoubtedly the most familiar legal ruling in the minds of most Americans—not for nothing did Katie Couric ask Sarah Palin in a 2008 interview to cite any Supreme Court case except that one. But few people know much about the woman who prompted the ruling in the first place.
Norma McCorvey, now 65, has presented a version of her life in two autobiographies, I Am Roe(with Andy Meisler, 1994) and Won by Love (with Gary Thomas, 1997). In McCorvey’s telling, the story is a morality tale with a simple arc: An unwanted pregnancy. A lawsuit. Pro-choice. Born-again. Pro-life. Peace. The truth is sadder and less tidy. And with the help of a cache of documents retrieved two years ago from the clutter of a Texas home she had abandoned, as well as interviews with people once close to her, the story can be more accurately told.
15 Jan 2013 Leave a comment
in Boundaries, Equality, Ethics, Happiness, Health and Volunteering, Mental Health, Potential, Safety, Self Acceptance, Women's Health Tags: church, Community, health, hospitals, mental, outreach, religion, synagogue, wellness
by Barbara Cotter / gazette.com
Judging from the questions and statements in the survey that Patsy Janeba took one day, you could almost see her stretched out on a couch in a therapist’s office, mulling over her existence.
“In general, how satisfied are you with your life?”
“What keeps me up at night?”
“I suffer most with …”
This, however, was not your typical setting for deep soul-searching — though executives at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services believe it might be the perfect place to ask such questions. Janeba was at church, and she took the survey with the others at Trinity Lutheran Church to assess the spiritual well-being of the congregation.
The survey is one cornerstone of a relatively new Penrose-St. Francis program, the Church Health Project, part of the hospital system’s longstanding effort to boost community health and wellness by reaching people through their places of worship and emphasizing the connection between body and soul.
“Generally speaking, if you were to ask a church what its health care ministry would look like, they’d say, ‘We visit the sick and we bury the dead,’” says Penrose-St. Francis Vice President of Mission Integration Larry Seidl. “What we’re trying to do here at Penrose-St. Francis is ask the question: ‘What can a church do for its members to keep them well, or to be with them differently in the process of getting sick?’”
For about 13 years, Penrose-St. Francis has been helping churches create health ministries, with guidance from its team of Faith Community Nurses. Some of the 20 Colorado Springs churches that Penrose-St. Francis works with offer basic services, such as blood-pressure checks and flu-shot clinics. Others, including Trinity Lutheran, have a more robust program.
“It really depends on the church, and what resources they have” says Cynthia Wacker, head of the Faith Community Nurses. “We always encourage them to make sure they open it broadly enough so anyone interested in health and wellness — counselors, spiritual advisers, mental health professionals, chiropractors in the church — can be involved in the wellness of this church.”