Turn Toward Something Better

Had a great time at, “Seams of Gold.”  Great example of how community is friendly to “Me.”  Met a wonderful man.

Me:  Hi!  I’m Dr. Quijada!  I’m a psychiatrist.

Him:  I’m Frank.  I’m a recovering Alcoholic.

Got to love love that kind of company.  Thank you to all who participated and volunteered.

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Found after our evening, was thinking about that darn “justice” ever skirting so much of Me.  The way becoming the victim to abusive treatment drives “Me” into helplessness all around us.  Things like money turn us to blame and ugliness.  In the end, telling our story, we hear from our own selves more about the behavior of the curmudgeon than would ever leave cause/change/control space for an innocent like “Me.”  Yep.  It’s them.

Using the behaviors and emotions of others is never useful to explain/justify the emotions or behaviors of “Me.”  We are as free to choose to be a victim as we are to not.

Programs like, Seams of God, and people like Frank, remind us that turning toward something better is, Way!  It is way, like opening a window to a hot room, like turning the lights on, like biting into a ripe home-grown cherimoya.  Turning toward something good rather than away from “bad” is choosing to be free.

Be free. Everything starts and ends with Me.

 

Keep on, dandies.

your own,

Q

 

Join us at, Seams of Gold!

The University Surgery Center, Department of ECT, and myself will be joining our community at Seams of Gold, where we will share life changing stories of ​resilience, restoration and hope.

Thursday, May 1, 2014  

​6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Doors open @ 6:00 pm

“Event is Free”

PLEASE COME!  🙂

 

A Father’s Lament  contopolos

On May 29, 2010, we lost our 26 year old son, Nick, after a 14 year struggle to find long term, affordable, quality recovery and care from mental illness and addiction. During Nick’s brief life, both he and those of us who loved him were left with a fatal absence of hope while we struggled, as do many others, to navigate our society’s haphazard, fragmented “system of care”.

Months after Nick had died, I recalled a former broadcast on CNN with a woman who had suffered enormous loss after Hurricane Katrina. The interviewer was asking this lady how, in the face of such loss, she was able to continue on and now help others. She said, “at some point, I stopped asking “why me” and began asking “what now”. That statement, in conjunction with an honest admission from my pastor that “during Nick’s life, he had absolutely no idea how to understand nor how to help us”, was what led to the “what now” of Seams of Gold community service events.

Seams of Gold is named after the ancient pottery art of “Kintsugi”. In this ancient art form of Kintsugi we find the inspiration in how we respond to the fragile beauty that surrounds us.”

Seams of Gold is a FREE multi faith, multi denominational community service event. All are invited.

We are asking that all who have been affected by mental illness and addiction as well as those who love and serve them, to come and be inspired, informed, educated and equipped. Join us, as through the prism of our tears, we pilgrimage together towards a “better day” of empathy, compassion and care for those who suffer.

Recovery is Powerful, it is Possible and it is Beautiful! 

                                                                                                                                  –  Jim Contopulos

 

The beauty of the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve in southern California provides the backdrop for a father’s lament. Seams of Gold founder Jim Contopulos invites the viewer to join him on a journey as he reflects upon losing his beautiful son to addiction and mental illness.

“Birthed from Pain… Inspired by Art”

                                                                   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGZ1ESOlvbM

Violence and Originality for friendship

Guest Post!

…keep reading…

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Learning new ideas and concepts releases Dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter/messenger.  I find this theory consistent with my personal experience as I am studying for the boards.  The new concepts, when I grasp them and link them to things I already know, do seem to bring a tiny packet of fell goodness.  So, as I study, i really try to capitalize on this mechanism of feel-goodness.  Maybe I can get addicted to learning.  That would be a great addiction.  I think in some ways, I already am.

Using Dopamine in enhancing our everyday life and getting addicted on life:  Creative expressions can cause release of Dopamine – proven by both science and by our everyday observations of living our life.

Gustave Flaubert, of Madame Bovary, famously said:

Be regular and orderly in your life that you may be violent and original in your work.

To me, this fits.  I find I don’t need to lead a wild and dangerous life.  I don’t need external thrills.  I get my Dopamine from being able to be violent and original in my thoughts and ideas – Quite the thrill.  The regularity and order I try to effect gives me the time and space to be just that – violent and original.

The most cutting truths live in works where the artist is violent and original.    Flaubert, of Madame Bovary, said, “be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work. “. He is fiercely unapologetic in the way he worked.  I like that.  Be violent and original in one’s work, all the while freeing one’s mind to achieve that end by being regular, mundane, and orderly in one’s life.  The creative juices that thusly pulsates in the artist’s veins more than makes up for the seemingly boring and orderly exterior.

Questions:  What role has learning played in your “feel good” self?  What helps you be violent and original in a way that is friendly to Me?  How do you channel your ferocity in the most friendly way?  How has the boredom otherwise affected your quality of life?  Please comment and tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:   Be violent and original in a way that is friendly to Me

 

Dr. Chin Tang is in his last year of psychiatry residency training, on his way to Fellowship in psychopharmacology through University of California, Irvine.  He is happily married with much adored children.

Dr. Tang says he likes being my friend because in so doing, he is more “emancipated to be as weird and eccentric” as he is, by nature, meant to be.  Dr. Tang really knows how to make a girl feel great.  Thank you, Dr. Tang! 🙂  Keep on.

Planning helps, even on vacation

A boy in a children's swimming pool.

A boy in a children’s swimming pool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is amazing how little time there is to write when living through a day as perfectly uncomplicated as string cheese, reading books and guarding the swimming pool.  In between this higher living, I have been thinking and thunking about what we will say to the university folk about psychiatry, but it has been as if space got in the way of clear thought.

I took a nap, but when I awoke, although rested, there it was.  The space and timelessness of no schedule plugged up whatever clever thoughts were waiting to come.  It was like those expensive tires that patch themselves when you ride your bike over a nail.  I imagine there is green foamy stuff all over my brain, stopping up holes where super thoughts might have tried to pass through.  And before it could be clearly grasped that this was not accidental, that these thoughts were wanted, indeed solicited and not hot air, wouldn’t you know it!  The day is over and I am flattened.

And so for tomorrow I am planning, rather than hoping.  I plan to write.  And I know when too!  And it will not disallow the necessary open space.  I will write and have my space with it.  My cake and eat it, you know, or some other sort of adage to explain that planning can enhance and add much flavor to the space of time around us.

Self-Care Tip:  Plan for what you want to do.

Question:  How does planning improve or diminish your space?  Please tell us your story.

Tell us, What is the the long and short of being your own friend?

Sarah
That’s a really, really good question. At first, the hardest part was mourning part of my old lifestyle. I knew I was giving up some things—not just certain foods, but certain hobbies and ways of being (i.e. sleeping as late as the children and not exercising, baking, a coffee culture, social eating, and making excuses). My best friend put it to me this way: “You cannot be a SAHM who bakes as a hobby and not expect to gain weight.” Boom.It was also hard to get into the mindset of daily weighings and—gasp—being accountable. I had to learn calories for various foods and proper portioning. Not a lot of food it felt like at first…but after a few months, a surprising amount of food if I chose to eat veggies and to eat clean.The hardest part mid-way through was a distancing of a person close to me who is very, very much into the food culture and who knows that she is overweight. We used to be into food and overweight together. The distance partly comes from this person and partly from me. Food used to be a major shared interest…and now it isn’t. Now I think we wonder what we both still have in common… But I view food as being like a drug, at least for me. It is fine in medicinal doses, but it is like being a recovering addict in many ways. I’ve had to switch cultures, to keep my mind on the right track. This person isn’t ready to make this journey. I don’t judge that: she’s just not ready. I try not to take our mutual distancing personally, and we’re still friendly.

Right now, I am struggling to switch my mindset from “losing weight” to “maintaining weight.” In some ways, it is easier for me to be in a “losing weight” mindset than it is to be in a “maintaining weight” mindset…if that makes sense. Long term, I am scared of losing control over myself again. There is part of me that knows I won’t, because I have educated myself now about food and calories. The documentary Forks Over Knives has been huge for me, as well. But part of me knows the potential is there for a relapse, and I live with that every time I come downstairs to do dishes and feel the tug of my past late-night snacking habit.

The challenge long term is also to keep goals ahead of me. I do best when I have something to work for. I met my weight goal, but now what? I have been thinking about focusing on strength now, and performance. I have to stay hungry for achievement, versus being hungry for food.

Questions:  How about you? What have you found to be the biggest challenges long and short-term?  Please tell us, also, what is your story.  We need to hear.

Sarah McGhaugh is the auther of blog, birdinyourhand, where she describes herself as, “a teacher, entertainer, four star general, and nurse: in other words, a mom.”  Too cute!  She is also my friend :).  Thank you Sarah for engaging with us.  Keep on.

 

When we feel whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood

http://bit.ly/14uwdV7

The girl, with her thin lashes and small eyes, looked at her.  What was her name again?  Bee?  Bernice?  Benny?  Something with a B.

Angelica looked back and waited.  “Helloooo?!” she thought to herself, and wanted to knock back as if to say the punchline to a knock-knock joke.

Oh mercy!   This job was getting to her.  She was at the same level as her five-year-old nephew who made up what he thought were jokes, like,

“Knock-knock.

(Mommy say, Whose there?)

‘Whose there?’

Robby.

(Mommy say, Robby who?)

‘Robby who?’  Robby poopy face!”

The kid had a brilliant career in comedy coming.

Brianna was still looking at her and Angelica finally asked her how she could help her.

“It’s your note, Maom.”  Bernice, or was it Brenda, had this way of calling her mom and ma’am all at once, reminding her that she was too young to be either, but she may have well of been since she couldn’t remember the note or many other details about her colleagues.  She’d always been like that though.  It bothered her as she became more aware of how undervalued she thought she was.  All Angelica did notice were the criticisms that came to her from administration.  It made her feel like everyone was talking about her behind her back, but she knew she couldn’t be that special.

Angelica shifted in her chair.

The last boss-message was verbally delivered about when she took her lunches.  She had sat there and taken it.  Wondering, where had all the hard work gone, she gave what she thought was a polite smile.  Where was the appreciation?!  Angelica replied with thanks for the feedback and that she would continue to work on her timeliness.  Yes, she would like to revisit this in a month and how supportive that was, boss-man.

Beonca was holding her hand out and Angelica reflexively shook it.  Wait!  Was she crying?!  Hold on here.  And now she noticed that B was swiping her nose with her sleeve.  Oh hell.  Was she sick?  Great!  Now she’d get it.

“Your note was so sweet!  Thank you for giving that feedback on my job performance in to boss-man!”

Oh yah!  Now Angelica remembered.  After she’d last gotten the pearls thrown at her regarding lunch hour timeliness she had decided to put some words on paper that were good.  Since nobody was noticing her goodli-lishissness she’d notice theirs and start her own powerful paper trail.   Just cuz.

One of their customers who was giving Angelica a hard time was really happy with B and had told Angelica about it.  Instead of losing brain time on wondering what the customer did not like about her, Angelica had put in a note about how much the customer had liked B.

Since then, Angelica kept a stack of customer feedback slips handy to fill out any time she noticed a colleague and/or herself doing “it” right.  She was going to overwhelm boss-man with good stuff and just enjoy knowing that the stuff had been noticed and said.  No more would she be unappreciated.  Even if only by herself.

Angelica looked at the crumpled paper in B’s hand and read,

“Germaine is an excellent worker.  She found merchandise a customer wanted with speedy response today and the customer specifically told me about it.”

Germaine!?  Ah well.

Angelica leaned over and gave her own wet-eyed sticky hug back.

It is universal for all of us to feel whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood.  And then what?  Let us give it the elbow jab and be our own advocate.  Put it on paper.  Say it out loud.  Be grateful about it and ruminate the gratitude.

Personalizing what is not about us gets worse with brain illness.  It is almost pathognomonic for it in fact, when it gets to the point that it cannot be redirected by conscious decision, when it interrupts interpersonal relationships and when it takes away our ability to feel pleasure.  Taking medical treatment can change the way we feel and behave without beating ourselves up over it and moralizing what is not moral.  However, this kind of elbow jabbing Angelica decided to do is just plane friendly.  And if you want…?  Well?

Questions:  Have you felt whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood?  Have you been able to get friendly with it?  Or do you feel the victim?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Acknowledge yourself and others.

Tension as a tool for Balance

I wrapped my feet arches with support tape, pulled up my pinkest compression sleeves, had on the leggings, running bra, tank and cap.  I had my dog.  Two bottles of water in my cup-holders and my phone loaded with a dishy novel, I drove to meet my Kaia running group this morning.

Do I sound ready?  Yes I sound ready.  (And old.)

Twenty minutes later, I pulled in to park and get going!  Timothy, my labradoodle, started whining as soon as the car stopped and I pressed down the emergency brake.  He knew he was supposed to be getting out soon and thought his whining might remind me.

Timothy

Then I saw, rather than remembered, what was on my feet.  Slippers.  Sheez.

There are so many ways to react to a time like this.  Reasons why, like wagging fingers, get in our space.  I could be defensive.

I thought I might complain, but Timothy was already whining.  Someone had to be the strong one.

There is a tension between paradigms of any kind.  An ecosystem of microorganisms vs. the human body, the balance resting keeps with labor, this way with that way – and we know that any side is chaos without the other.  Some wonder whom could believe in an evil if they don’t believe in God. Or, would there ever be rich if there weren’t the poor, an ugly if not for pretty, happiness with out sad?  We could list these through tomorrow if we wanted.

Today, I think my slippers played their own role in this.  I choose to react to them with a knowing appreciation toward balance.

Self-care tip:  Identify what/where your balancers are.
Questions:  

  • Do you think tension is a balancing force?  
  • What is helping you maintain tensions necessary for balance?  
  • Is identifying them useful to your friendship with yourself?  

Please tell us your story.