I am reading some articles on therapy and ran across this wonderful quote. It reminds me to always be aware of what the heart and body is communicating as well as what is being verbally expressed in the therapeutic encounter. Sometimes, all any one really needs is compassion and kindness. Good Therapy.org is an excellent resource for information on therapy.
Howard. AKC Goldleaf’s Midnight Sun. Tri-color
Five years ago, I lost the best friend I ever had to old age. When she was young, she could jump so high and so far over my deck, I was sure she could fly. I could shout three words and she would run fast as the wind around trees and bushes like a barrel racer does in a rodeo. She grinned a lot, even in her sleep. We walked together in rain, snow, and sunshine. She would lay beside my chair when I read outdoors, watched over me as I straddled a ladder trimming trees and bushes, and protected me at those times she sensed it was necessary. She was a tri-color collie-black, white, and sable in color. When she sat, she looked like she had on a black tux. Her eyes were dark and her soul shone through when she would watch and study me from any where in the yard. There were times I knew she could read my mind.
Old age crept upon her like a thief in the night, robbing her of her ability to run, walk and even crawl. When she had trouble eating, I knew it was time. That ended up being the hardest day in my life. I must have cried a river of tears. I was inconsolable until one day, I closed my eyes, leaned back in my chair, full of grief, and I saw in my mind’s eye, her running over green fields and brooks, tongue out, and an incredible look of joy on her face. Then I knew, in the depths of my heart, my friend was waiting for me so we could once again run across green meadows in the sunlight when my time came to cross through heaven’s gate.
I stopped grieving then because I knew she was in a better place doing what she most loved to do. I think God knew I needed a sign, something to hold on to as proof that love between a woman and a dog lasts forever.
TREES CAN CONNECT US TO GOD
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
Resiliency has to do with the ability to be flexible and to adapt to difficult circumstances in one’s environment. It is being able to survive all kinds of trauma and still come out on top. This tree has learned to thrive and grow even in water. Human beings also have resiliency and can overcome incredible circumstances to become great men and women who end up making wonderful contributions to society. Maya Angelou was such a person.
Sometimes life gives us every thing our heart desires and sometimes it gives us very little. If we have everything, it makes it hard for us to understand people who have little. If we are given very little in life, we understand what hunger is, what it is like to be alone, what being homeless means, and we understand pain, sadness, hurt, and anger.
If we are not careful, we can be blind to the present and all the gifts that may be possible for us if we develop the courage to believe in the power of love in the human heart, if we have the strength to fight our fears and our own self-doubts, and if we tear down walls that we have built to keep others out. We just might find our lives can change. We can choose to obsess about our past losses or we can choose love, hope, faith and trust. We have the power to walk on a road that leads to bitterness or we can walk on a road that leads to connectedness with people and faith in a God who has the incredible ability to bring goodness into our lives.
Flora Whittemore once wrote: “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”
I find it amazing that in our advanced civilization there exits a segment of society today in the United States who thinks the poor should feed themselves and that the government should not take on the responsibility that every parent has to feed their children. I suppose they feel if enough shame is directed toward these parents, they will be motivated to step up to the plate and feed them. Perhaps they feel, if people go without food long enough, hunger pains will inspire them to work two jobs to feed their children. There are also those who do not want to help the poor for any reason, just because they don’t want to. Some say, “By God, I had to pull myself up by my boot straps and if I can do it, any one can.” I’ve often heard the phrase: “No one helped me. Why should I help them?”
My answer is, because we all belong to the human race. We are all a tribe and tribal members help take care of one another… especially the children who have no power or resources. This is how we survive as a society. Many factors enter in as reasons why people go hungry in America. Some times it is because they have been injured on past jobs, and are in severe pain. Often they have to wait years to be evaluated by the Social Security Disability Officials.
At other times, people have mental health issues or problems with alcohol or drug addiction. They may spend too much money on drugs, and the children are left neglected and unfed. It may be years before they are taken away from their parents. In the mean time, they need to survive. Child abuse is often a reason as well as divorce that lowers the income of either parent. Churches try to take care of these issues but they have limited resources as well. I will tell you a story to illustrate this.
Once upon a time a couple lived in the poor part of town. They both were addicted to alcohol. The couple had five children. The father had a good job, but spent most of his time at the beer joint. He did not want to end up in this marriage, nor did he want these children and so he neglected them. His wife had severe depression and was not physically or mentally present for the children. Most of the time, the children had to fend for themselves and food was scarce. The mother and children attended church every week.
Because food was scarce, the kids ate grass, peaches that grew in the backyard, walnuts that fell from a tree near the side of the house, and mulberries when they were in season. Sometimes, peanut butter was available and when it was, they made sandwiches. They carried cold navy beans to school in a jar for lunch. They were finally put in the free lunch program and the children had a hot meal five days a week while school was in session. A few of the children would steal food from the grocery store as a last resort. This went on for ten years.
If it wasn’t for others stepping in and providing food and a safe place to stay, they could have been hungry for another ten years. Because I was a child in this family, this topic hits close to home. I have always been grateful for the school lunches, and the food found in the outdoors. Each of us has a moral obligation to help our neighbor when we can, and when we can’t, other social agencies need to step in.
While I was growing up, I lived a very sheltered life. I had lived in four different agencies that cared for children by the time I was eighteen. My social skills were limited and I had never traveled anywhere until I entered college.
In college, I was fortunate in finding work while I attended school. I learned how to spend money on root beer floats and hamburgers. I didn’t have a car and most students who lived in the dorms stayed on campus for lack of transportation. We became a close-knit community out in the middle of no where, far from the rest of civilization.
As a freshman, our stately institution created an initiation for the first year students. It was called “Fish Week.” I had to wear a dorky looking cardboard hat on my head that stayed in place with an elastic string that rested under the chin. Trust me, it was dorky. I also was given a green construction paper fish to wear around my neck. My main task was to see to the needs of the upperclassmen. I had to carry their books and run errands for them. They also required me at times to drop to my knees and sing songs, quote scripture, and recite praises for their mighty achievements. After a week of embarrassment, I felt the seeds of rebellion grow inside my normally tranquil heart. I brought together a group of freshmen students who wanted to restore their tattered sense of dignity.
While some of the upperclassmen were in classes, my trusty comrades and I hid their mattresses in hard to find places. We stashed dissected worms from our biology lab classes in their text books. We covered their dorm rooms with toilet paper. After a time, they discovered who was making their lives difficult.
One night, I foolishly decided to take a shower. The dorm shower was empty when I went in. I took off my clothes and hung them on a hook, right outside the shower curtain. I had a great shower. When I finished, I reached out to grab my clothes to put them on. My hand hit empty air. I shoved back the curtain and sure enough, the clothes were gone. I could feel the panic grow inside my body when I heard the first sound of a snicker. I felt rooted to the shower floor. Then I heard a mighty roar of laughter.
I knew it was a long walk back to my dorm room, and I was a very private person about my body. My eyes zeroed on to the shower curtain. I removed it from its hooks and wrapped it around my body like a Greek goddess. Holding my head high, I threw a corner of my toga over my shoulder, and walked down the long hallway to my room. The hall filled with upper-class women. There was not a sound as I made my way down the hall to my room. As I opened my door, there was a roar of applause. The rest of the year had its own reward. The upper-class women invited me into their meetings, and invited me to visit their dorm rooms as well. I made a lot of friends my freshman year by being persistent and by hanging in there. Most of all, I retained my sense of dignity.
Information shared or contained within this blog is for educational purposes only. This site does not give medical advice for any one who seeks or is under the care of a physician. My wish is to share some information with you I have gathered over the years that has been helpful to me as an individual. This blog does not replace any psychotherapists or counselors you may decide to work with now or in the future. Hopefully, it will influence you to talk more openly to those you are going to for help and it will offer new insights for clients, therapists, and others seeking self-growth. Always follow the advice of your Doctor or therapist. By participating in reading this blog, you agree to release me and this blog from any liability now and in the future. The opinions I share in this blog are mine only, unless documentation is given that states differently.
When I was young and full of vim and vigor, I hiked the trails like a pro. I was strong, muscular, and trim and moved through the forest on the balls of my feet and not a leaf rustled in the underbrush. I had spent years perfecting my quiet stride. I have pictures of me walking right up to deer in the forest and a flying squirrel once landed beside me in the mountains of New Jersey where I spent five summers at a camp for disadvantaged children. It was the experience of a lifetime. I learned to cook there, build shelters out of saplings and binder’s twine, and I learned to name birds by their size, color, and bird song. I learned a lot about trees, how to build fires the old way with flint and steel. Those were some of the best times of my life. I never wore a hat, because I loved to feel the wind blow through my hair which was inky black. I chopped down trees with an ax and sawed them into pieces with a bow saw for the campfire. A five-mile hike was easy to do. The years passed and I became domesticated. I married in my late twenties and had children. I taught every thing I had learned at camp to my son and he now loves the land as much as I do. I went to school and earned a master’s degree. I spent years working full-time helping people and I loved my job.
The years passed and I grew older, much older.My hair turned grey, my skin wrinkled, and my eyes were no longer as quick and sharp as they once were, my body no longer sleek or trim. My feet had a tendency to trip over every thing in front of me. But I still loved to hike. ( I am more cautious, more careful now in my approach to tackle new adventures. ) I decided to go hiking again in a wild life refuge nearby. With great enthusiasm, I went shopping to dress myself for the trip.
I saw a hat that was on sale and decided it would help me avoid the hot sun. It looked like a jungle camouflage hat that someone would wear on safari. There were no mirrors around for me to look into. I couldn’t go wrong because of the hat sale and it was big enough to protect me from the elements. I drove home and headed for the mirror in the bedroom. I wanted to see how I would look to other hikers going down the long trail. One look was all I needed. The hat was enormous and it just increased my stature. It rode low over my forehead making me look dangerous. I reassured myself that I had made the right choice because maybe, it was a smart decision to look tough out there alone on the open trail. I draped a whistle around my neck. I looked great! I just needed to make sure I wouldn’t trip over my own feet and fall into the lake. I knew the choices I made would decide whether my outdoor adventure would end up being a success or failure.