Sunday, April 6, 2014

At Home and At Peace


I packed some books today and that can only mean thing – I must be moving again.  Over the years, with each move, I’ve whittled my book collection down to my most treasured along with a few of my father’s treasures.  I miss him dearly.  Representing his most valuable lessons are an Oceanography textbook, Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood which I gave him and an old copy of Origin of the Species – unlimited education, a sense of humor and a great love of science.

Back to moving. Interesting to me that I’ve been trying to think about how I feel regarding moving.  Not really in any place to actually FEEL it and, to be honest, after all the moves I’ve made, not sure I will ever be in a place to feel it until I know for sure that  I never have to move again!  In the meantime, I’ll go with the flow because, basically, I am still strong enough…and I have no other choice.  I am grateful that this past move has been such a positive one for my kids – although they have always been first and foremost in any decision.

The books, though.  What they represent is stability, the cherished bits and pieces of my past.  When they are in my bookcase, I am healed; I am home – my childhood home with books in every corner – and then every place I’ve ever lived.  I imagine that we all have something that speaks the word “home” to us, even if we’ve lived in the same house for much of our lives.

The things that bring you comfort are precious.  So is any moment that you are able to feel at home and at peace.  Don’t ever release the healing power of those symbols…even if you can only hold them in your mind.

morgueFile photo "SDRandCo"

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The ACA in Real Life


As of this week, I have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  I’ve shared gory details of my situation recently and, as you can imagine, I was also one of the millions of Americans that had no health insurance.

When I was forced out of work, for a year I was covered under COBRA (i.e. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allows limited continuing coverage of an employee’s group health benefits), virtually the only way to ensure that any pre-existing conditions would be covered on a future plan – prior to the ACA.  An incredible rip-off, actually, since the insurance companies got you coming and going, as it were.  Of course, people had little choice, so it was outrageously expensive.  I can only hope that you have had no experience with paying for COBRA.  Having worked in payroll/HR, I’ve quoted COBRA rates many times and watched guardedly while sticker shock set in.  “I know, I know,” I’d say.  No surprise to me that while receiving unemployment, I could no longer afford to my COBRA coverage, did not qualify for Medicaid and was screwed for life regarding pre-existing conditions.

Back to today, yes, I have health insurance.  Relief from another crushing weight lifted off my shoulders.  Even without “assistance” or any subsidy, the cost is nowhere near the cost of a COBRA policy or any individual insurance I’ve been quoted.  I was able to choose the best plan for my situation – not the cheapest, not the most expensive.  And, as a note, I currently live in a state that is let’s say one of the least supportive regarding the ACA.

So for those of you who are swayed by the long list of talking points, here is one person’s experience – a person some of you actually know…and a story that will not be debunked down the line.  If you have no real experience with it, whatever you have heard from the TV or about a friend of a friend of a friend, please take a moment to find, perhaps, a bit of compassion for the millions of real people – and me – who can now benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

morgueFile photo "imagina"

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflecting on 2013!


Reflecting on 2013 and feeling like I have something to say.  We’ll see.  If you’ve read my piece from the other day, you’ll have a bit more gory details about the past few years.  At the same time, the challenges have given me great opportunities.  Hey, I mean, I did start this blog in order to heal.  And while I was reaching for some level of sanity, I had the feeling that if I shared from my heart, I could help others to feel their own strength during their struggles.  That seems to have been true.

What has been most incredible about this year is that I saw glimmers of the old me - a huge deal in that I hadn’t even thought about them enough to realize these pieces were missing.  But sure enough, they reappeared!  And I’ve tried to share bits of my journey with you here and there - words don’t do the feelings justice.  And, in the end, the pieces of me that I rediscovered or how I discovered them are fairly irrelevant to your healing.  More important is the point that, no matter what your situation, the“old you” never really goes away and, although she may be in hiding right now, she is always with you.  You never know if, when or how she will reappear.  Have faith that if she is needed to give you a kick forward along your path, she will be there.

Thank you to those who have made that difference for me!  I wish you all a Happy 2014!

morgueFile photo "mensatic"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Being "Long-Term Unemployed"

I’m going to completely “come out” here.  Just 7 weeks ago, I was one of the“long-term unemployed.”  And with all the recent chatter about these beautiful souls and the questioning of their intentions, it is time to speak out!

I was forced out of the workforce due to health issue which, in the end, simply required an actual diagnosis and treatment.  As soon as I was able, I moved from disability insurance to unemployment and began my 1.5 year job search – multiple daily searches and hundreds to thousands of resumes sent.  Having already been out of work for a year, I immediately experienced the negative effects of long-term unemployment.

As any sane person could imagine, my disability income was no replacement for my working income.  Moving to unemployment, my income was severely cut again.   After a few months, my state unemployment expired and, thankfully, Congress had passed legislation to extend state unemployment due to the still faltering economy.  After a few months, the Sequester was passed which decreased the benefits of the unemployment extensions so my income was cut again.  My unemployment extension expired before I was finally hired and, thankfully, I began working just two weeks later.  I am incredibly thankful.  Still, the step-by-step loss of income took its toll.

Unemployment benefits are intentionally limited and purposely low – meant to replace only a small portion of your prior income.  Certainly, if you had a job with a livable wage or more, unemployment is unlivable.  Surely, it is certainly not enough to put your feet up and abandon your job search.  And I seriously resent that implication from members of our “do-nothing” congress and, specifically, Rand Paul.  I cannot even imagine the tiny percentage of the unemployed who would be able to give up their job search and happily live the dream thanks to the US government.  The allegation is completely absurd.

As a note, my limited income was too much to qualify for SNAP benefits.  Again, Mr. Paul et al, SNAP is no incentive to abandon a job search - although, dead-end, minimum-wage jobs seriously increase the reliance upon the SNAP program.  But I digress….

The point is, do not judge the “long-term unemployed” by the “talking points” of Rand Paul – or anyone else.  Until you have walked in my/their shoes you have no clue.  And even if you have, remember that we all have our own story.

morgueFile photo "Scarab"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Open Your Heart


For a year and a half, I’ve been working with Sarah McCrum, an incredible energy coach.  To be honest, her presence in my life has been nothing short of a Godsend.  And when I write about meditation or relaxation sessions, almost always, I am referring to those with Sarah.

In August, I took Sarah’s Open Your Heart course which is described on her website as “a 12 day e-Course that takes you through a powerful process to open your heart in any of your close, heart-based relationships. It creates profound healing, rebuilds love and respect and gives you understanding of why we get hurt in relationships.”

Although I chose to focus on a family relationship for the Open Your Heart process, what happened is that my heart opened to love itself.  And that pure love began to manifest itself virtually everywhere possible…reflecting love back to me…at incredibly intense levels.  What I found was that in every situation, negative and positive, the experience of love with a purely open heart was the only force that mattered…almost frightening, at times, because the innocence of it and the reality of it defied human logic.

Having the original experience still revealing itself, Sarah suggested that I complete her Open Your Heart course specifically focusing on my relationship with money.  Only Sarah would say that, I truly believe.  So 6-ish weeks after completing the first go around, I repeated the entire 12-day course, receiving great insight into my perplexing relationship with the energy of money…yet another fascinating journey and more pure love reflecting back at me.

It wasn’t easy but it was simple…sincere observations…raw emotions...fun.

So in every aspect of my life these days, I’m moving forward with love for all, more importantly, love for me, the only thing one can really do when faced with a questionable relationship (with money, that is!) – eyes wide open and feet on the ground.  In the end, I clearly see me.  What could be more illuminating?


THIS WEEKEND you can join Sarah for a free webinar – The Secret to Opening Your Heart.

Learn more at http://openyourheart.alkimea.co/the-secret-to-opening-your-heart-and-reconnecting-with-the-magic-of-life-free-teleseminar/ or learn more about Sarah's relaxation sessions visit her website at Alkimea.

personal photo taken in York, ME

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Attachment in Humans


Attachment Theory is a psychological concept that seeks to explain the dynamics of long-term human relationships.  Most parents have heard of Attachment Theory in relation to infant bonding and child development and in this context it is fairly simple to understand – infants form bonds with those who are sensitive and responsive to their needs and, of course, the more positive the attachment formed, especially between the ages of six months and two years old, the more secure a child feels and the more he/she thrives in future relationships.

In the late 1980’s Attachment Theory was broadened to include the relationship dynamics of adults.  Four principal styles of attachment were identified in romantic relationships – secure attachment and insecure attachment with the sub-categories of anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant.

Secure attachment
Securely attached people tend to agree with the following statements: "It is relatively easy for me to become emotionally close to others.  I am comfortable depending on others and having others depend on me.  I don't worry about being alone or having others not accept me."  This style of attachment usually results from a history of warm and responsive interactions with relationship partners.  Securely attached people tend to have positive views of themselves and their partners. They also tend to have positive views of their relationships.  Often they report greater satisfaction and adjustment in their relationships than people with other attachment styles.  Securely attached people feel comfortable both with intimacy and with independence.  Many seek to balance intimacy and independence in their relationship.  Secure attachment and adaptive functioning are promoted by a caregiver who is emotionally available and appropriately responsive to her child’s attachment behavior, as well as capable of regulating both his or her positive and negative emotions.1

Anxious-preoccupied
People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to agree with the following statements: "I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like.  I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don't value me as much as I value them." People with this style of attachment seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their partners.  They sometimes value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on their partners — a condition colloquially termed clinginess.  Compared to securely attached people, people who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to have less positive views about themselves.  They often doubt their worth as a partner and blame themselves for their partners' lack of responsiveness.  People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment may exhibit high levels of emotional expressiveness, worry, and impulsiveness in their relationships.2

Dismissive-avoidant
People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: "I am comfortable without close emotional relationships", "It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient", and "I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me."  People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence.  The desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether.  They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others.  They often deny needing close relationships.  Some may even view close relationships as relatively unimportant.  Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with relationship partners, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves.  Investigators commonly note the defensive character of this attachment style.  People with a dismissive–avoidant attachment style tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection (i.e., their relationship partners).3

Fearful-avoidant
People with losses or sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence often develop this type of attachment and tend to agree with the following statements: "I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others.  I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them.  I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others."  People with this attachment style have mixed feelings about close relationships.  On the one hand, they desire to have emotionally close relationships.  On the other hand, they tend to feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness.  These mixed feelings are combined with, sometimes unconscious, negative views about themselves and their partners. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their partners, and they don't trust the intentions of their partners.  Similarly to the dismissive – avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful – avoidant attachment style seek less intimacy from partners and frequently suppress and deny their feelings.  Instead, they are much less comfortable initially expressing affection.4

In order to assess individual levels of connection, working models had to be developed which measure two aspects of human attachment – thoughts about one’s self and thoughts about others.

Now for the “fun” part!  I found this online assessment and, even though I am not in a long-term romantic relationship, for the most part, I was able to respond using basic tendencies from past relationships and current realisms.  Check it out at http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl    

As one could guess, people assessed with secure attachment styles tend to experience more satisfactory and longer-lasting personal relationships.  “Although the link between attachment styles and marital satisfaction has been firmly established, the mechanisms by which attachment styles influence marital satisfaction remain poorly understood. One mechanism may be communication. Secure attachment styles may lead to more constructive communication and more intimate self-disclosures, which in turn increase relationship satisfaction.  Other mechanisms by which attachment styles may influence relationship satisfaction include emotional expressiveness, strategies for coping with conflict, and perceived support from partners.  Further studies are needed to better understand how attachment styles influence relationship satisfaction.”5   Fortunately, counselors are well-acquainted with Attachment Theory and certainly have the ability to help individuals and couples who struggle with issues regarding their levels of attachment.

Personally, for some fairly good reasons from past relationships, my assessment was spot on, although, perhaps, not completely indicative of any future relationship.  We all learn and grow – and figure out what we need OR what we DON’T want, at least, right?  Oh, man, I can only hope! 

2.  Ibid
3.  Ibid
4.  Ibid
5.  Ibid

morgueFile photo "AcrylicArtist"