Feeling the Gratitude….(& A Few Oprah Favorites)

6230854973_52df93805d_zThis week a beloved member of our family died. His name was “WARFY”.  He was a 19-year-old cat my husband got from a farmer while looking at a camper shell from a local craigslist ad. This elderly man had about 20 animals on his farm and was having difficulty “keeping up with them”. As a big Star Trek fan he decided to name his pets after various characters from the show. My husband fell instantly in love with two tiny kittens who were born from the same litter. “WARFY” was the large, dominant and friendly one. “DATA” was a much more shy and reserved feline….

….At any rate, I remember getting ready for my Sunday night shift and passing Warfy as he was attempting to climb up the stairs. He stopped part way and looked up at me as if to say, “Can you carry me the rest of the way?” I called my son and had him grab our old friend. I told my boys, that the time is near and they need to say good-bye. At 16 and 10, they did understand, but it was nonetheless difficult for them. He passed in his sleep some time that night while snuggling next to my oldest son….

image….Fast-fowarding a couple days, I’m was confronted with more sad news today. My son came home today and told me his friend’s mother just died at the age of 31, due to complications from drug and alcohol use. This was like the cherry on top of a sundae. Throughout the week as a therapy student and healthcare worker, I’m already inundated with sad news.  this sort of ring-side seat tragedies and turmoil definitely leaves is impact upon me…

…Today, while scrolling through the OWN Network Youtube Videos, I found myself watching on a few random clips and reflection upon the happenings of my week.  Here are a few favorites …

The Power of Gratitude….

imageThis video discusses the power of gratitude:  a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness.  I am a big believer in the idea that what you focus on expands.   In other words, like attracts like.  If all you do is complain, what you get back in life is more to complain about.  Focusing instead on what you have to be grateful for is a powerful force for change.   My job is helpful in putting things into perspective, I’m profoundly aware that life itself is a gift.  Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.  Every day, is all there is…..

imageI’m grateful for my two boys & the opportunity I have to watch them grow into two young up.  I almost lost my oldest son & endured a miscarriage before having my youngest.  I love these two boys with every ounce of my being…

imageI’m grateful for my “partner in crime”.  He has brought into my life the experience of knowing what it is to be truly loved.  I am grateful for this in ways words don’t describe after surviving a “dysfunctional” relationship in my youth…

Finally, I’m grateful for 40+ years of perfect health.  I’m grateful for all the life experiences that brought me to the present moment.  They have allowed me to grow into the person I am today.  I spent my youth working through unresolved traumas.  I now have opportunities to work on myself, uncover my true potential & life purpose.

History or Destiny?  Which one are you choosing today???

“When you hold onto your history, you do it at the expense of your destiny….” – T.D. Jakes

I love this tidbit, definitely an “AHA MOMENT”.  As this video notes, you only have so much energy in life to give.  The question which then naturally comes to mind is: where are you focusing your energy?   It has taken me many years to let go of old traumas, and begin forgiving unresolved transgressions within my family.  As T. D. Jakes also notes: “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”

Taking Responsibility…

“When you know better you do better” – Maya Angelou

Here, Oprah describes feeling alone after being moved away from her grandmother.  She states she came to understand then that “If anything is going to move forward in my life, I have to be responsible for making it happen.”  This means seeing yourself as a solution the the problem, and living by the serenity prayer.  What can you change?  Focus on this.  What is beyond your control, (i.e. other people and/or circumstances)?  Let it go, forgive, and move forward…..
*The power to change things is in the present.  Put all your focus here….
*Be willing to see things for what they are.  This requires a bit of Radical Acceptance…
*Take constant & consistent action in the direction of your goal.  

Believing in Yourself

You become what you believe you are and you get what you believe is possible.”– My Mother …

imageBeliefs when unexamined exist as self-fulfilling prophecies.   Oprah calls these “Shadow Beliefs”.  Examining these belief systems and understanding them is critical to “Getting Unstuck”.  Failing to do so, means acting on all your unresolved bullshit.  You perpetuate what you deny endlessly like a hamster on a wheel.  Understanding this, has allowed me to dig deeper, into the true nature of my motivations.  What drives me forward?  As Oprah notes, until you understand this, all you can do is mindless acting on your shadow belies. In the end, you’re running away from what you don’t want, according to a predefined and skewed belief system.

The Secrete to Surrender…

“God can dream a bigger dream for you than you could dream for yourself – Oprah”.

I still struggle with this life lesson.  Surrendering control and allowing things to happen is difficult for me.  However, I’ve noticed that when I hold too tightly to something it escapes my grasp.  For much of my life I’ve felt “perpetually stuck”.  Creating forward motion has required me to learn to let go.

*I’ve set goals for myself.

*I strive to achieve them.

*I’ve hope for a successful outcome.

*I’m doing all I can, one step at a time.

*I surrender & hold onto my faith.

*Things will fall into place as they are meant to….

*This is what is meant by “letting go”

Love Liberates

“I’m grateful to have been loved and to be loved now & to be able to love because…love liberates it doesn’t hold – that’s ego.  Love liberates.  – Maya Angelou”

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Images: 1, &  2

 

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NCE STUDY – Native Americans

(((I am currently studying for a licensure exam & completing an internship.  This blog post is intended as a study exercise.)))

A Historical Cultural Assessment

In order to understand the Native American’s perceptions of the dominating Euro-American culture a historical context is important.  Historically, the relationship between Euro-Americans and Native Americans has been fraught with a mixture of cooperation and conflict (Hays & Iwasama, 2006).   The assimilation of Native American’s into the dominant Euro-American culture has been brought with trauma and varied forms of assimilation.  For this reason, an assessment of the cultural background and assimilation experiences of Native American’s who we provide counseling to.  As a biracial individual, I can personally attest to the fact that a person’s phenotypic appearance doesn’t reflect their cultural background.  It is therefore inaccurate to look at person and make judgments of their culture based on whether they appear Indian.  For example, while I look white, key aspects of my own childhood have provided me with a cultural belief system that reflects my mother’s culture.  I may not look very Filipino in appearance but have some belief systems that are reflect of this culture.

Educational Disparities

A great disparity has existed historically between how Native Americans have conceived education, and how it is viewed from a Westernized perspective.  Historically, governmental policies have managed to instill a high level of distrust in governmental services.   From an educational standpoint, our governmental education policies have included attempts to eradicate Native American culture and assimilate individuals into a Westernized educational system.  In fact, separating children from their home environment, takes children out of the natural setting in which they learned.   According to our textbook, Indian children tend to prefer visual learning to the verbal and auditory methods utilized in Westernized school systems.

Mental Health & Multicultural Competency

According to the 1999 Surgeon General’s report, the Native American community has  suicide rate 1.5x the national rate.   High rates of PTSD, and alcohol abuse exist in this population.   However despite this fact, the Native American community tends to under-utilize available counseling services and experience high drop-out rates.  Cultural competency within the counseling field is essential to overcome a 500-year history of oppression and domination from the American government.  Cultural sensitivity starts with an awareness of cultural differences and their underlying historical context.  For example, our course textbook states that 85% of psychologist are from an European American heritage in which the following cultural beliefs are dominant:

Assertiveness in social interactions take precedence over subtlety as a preferred response (Hays & Iwasama, 2006).  
Change takes precedence over acceptance and patience as a life-solution.  (Hays & Iwasama, 2006).  
Personal independence takes precedence over dependence and duty to family. (Hays & Iwasama, 2006).  
Self-disclosure and directness is preferred to cautious protection of a family’s reputation. (Hays & Iwasama, 2006).

Belief Systems & Counseling Practice

In this final section, I feel it may be useful to list some belief systems common in Native American culture that diverge from the typical Euro-American perspective that dominates the mental health field.  I list them below in no particular order:

Counseling Goals.

Within the mental health field a medical perspective dominates that choose to view problems as a matter of individual dysfunction.  The CBT-oriented perspective focuses on dysfunctional thoughts, feelings and behaviors, as an effective solution.  In contrast, Hays & Iwasama (2006) suggest that harmony of body mind and spirit is critical for wellness in Native American culture.

Acceptance & Mindfulness.

A Euro-American perspective is solution-focused.  In counseling this might translate to pragmatic CBT approaches, stages of change and motivational interviewing.   In contrast Native American culture might also include components of acceptance and mindfulness.  Traditional healers and the utilization of substances in context of spiritual practices are common.  Rosenthal, (2005) latest that “drinking large quantities of beer is a way of enjoying oneself and is more socially acceptable”.

Nonassertive & Agreeable Passivity.

Rosenthal (2005) states that a “counselor should feel free to ask questions in order to ascertain where the client is coming from and what they think.”  In Native American culture a nonassertive passivity is more preferred in the context of social interactions.  Direct the conversation with questions is essential to understand the client’s perspective.

Possessions & Self Worth.

American Indian’s historically have a relationship with things that diverges greatly from the Euro-American’s materialistic perspective.  For example, how does one “own the air”?  It is just out there as something to enjoy.  It doesn’t reflect who we are or our worth.  This perspective is divergent from the dominant perspective in American in which social class is dependent on an array of ecumenic factors that tend to determine our sense of worth, (i.e. “keeping up with the Jonses”).

Time Orientation

In American culture, we are long-range planners.  We think about our pasts and how we got to here.  We then examine our goals for our future, and sacrifice for today, what we hope to achieve for tomorrow.  This hamster-wheel existence diverges from Native American culture in which one lives in the present more.  Rosenthal, (2005) suggests they “are not generally accustomed to delayed gratification and long-range planning”.

References

Hays, P., & Iwasama, G.Y. (2006). Culturally Responsive Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Assessment, Practice, & Supervision. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Rosenthal, H. (2005). Vital Information and Review Questions for the NCE and State Counseling Exams. Routledge.

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