Saturday, January 27, 2007


My car was repossessed last week. I've been having trouble making payments for a while now. Despite my best efforts to work things out with the finance folks, they came in the night and took it. I've been struggling this week to get to and from work and to get Luke to and from daycare. People have helped and I am immensely grateful. I know that if they could help me get the car back, they would. I am blessed to have such good friends. I thought I had things figured out and that I could get an instant loan for the tax refund only to find out this morning that I wasn't approved and that I have to wait another 10 days. And I've been concerned that my car will be auctioned off before I can get the money. Luke's stroller and other things are in my car and I feel bad that I was careless enough to leave them there. This is a bad time for me but there is a bright side.

My email from "the universe" this morning said that I just need to give myself permission. And the universe will take care of everything else.

My life has seemed like this constant struggle. To raise myself and then my children. To care for my grandchildren, especially Luke, who is totally dependent on me. Getting my bachelor's degree and then the graduate degree. Working even though I'm medically disabled. Struggle and more struggle.

Struggling hasn't worked for me and we all know what it means to keep doing the same thing expecting different results. I just need to let go. Let go and give myself permission to expect miracles. I tend to get so caught up with worrying about what form the miracles will take. I know, I know, ridiculous. My worrying will only block miracles.

So here I am folks (and universe) -- letting go. I give myself permission to stop worrying. To stop struggling in the same old ways. And finally, permission to accept the miracles the universe has waiting for me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

From Rev Alicia

So...what are your "soul mate" thoughts? Are you looking for your "other half;" your soul mate? Have you found him or her? Do you believe such a thing exists?

I will never forget the day, when I was 15 years old, and my dad and I sat at the kitchen table and had a talk about these things. Now, to set the scene, you have to know that my mom and dad had an incredible marriage. They not only loved each other, they liked each other. They rarely fought, and had lots of fun. I surely would say that they were one-and-only soul mates. As my dad and I talked, I asked him if he believed that there was one perfect mate for each person. My romantic heart was horrified when he replied that he thought that a person could fall in love more than once, with more than one person, but when you make a decision that you will spend your life with one then you commit to that one for the rest of your life. Not the romantic reply that would support my "one and only" theory. Of course the reply I had been looking for was that when he saw my mom, it was all over; that was his one and only and there never was nor would there ever be another woman for him. As it turned out, my mom and dad were married for almost 60 years when he left this realm. And my mom still says that there was no one but my dad for her.

As I have come to grow and mature personally and spiritually I, too, have come to see things differently... differently than I had previously...differently than my dad. The concept of soul mate has changed dramatically for me. I have learned that "falling in love" and loving are two different things entirely. I learned that romance and soul mates are not mutually exclusive, nor are they always what we thought they were. To say that there absolutely either is nor is not such a thing as soul mate would be to limit God.

Like all of our wonderful, diverse universe of body, mind and spirit, the concept of soul mates is a paradox. So, I invite you to consider this possibility. In the Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore co-founder of Unity states: "Man is Spirit, soul, and body. Spirit is the I AM, the individuality (the God part of us). The body is soul expressing, and soul includes the conscious and subconscious minds. Soul makes the body, the body is the outer expression of the soul, and bodily health is in exact correspondence to the health of the soul."

In other words, the soul is the sum total of our present level of awareness. It is the vehicle through which we are growing and perfecting our awareness to it's full potential. This is the part of us that grows and develops as we mature and gain spiritual wisdom and understanding. The more we grow and develop, the more of our true essence; Spirit, we express...the more health we express...the more prosperity and harmony we express...the more love we express and experience.

Considering me a soul mate is more like something we earn by right of consciousness than something we find by chance in the elevator, telling us "you complete me."

According to the law of attraction, we draw by right of consciousness that which we need for our spiritual growth. Could this mean that the unhappy relationship experiences we have had in the past were soul mates of sorts...helping us to develop our soul? And then when we "got it," when we learned the lesson, devloped the spiritual quality or strength, we were able to either release, or elevate that uncomfortable relationship to a higher level. Hmmm...worth pondering. Holding THAT thought, what if we quit too soon...before we "got" the lesson? What would we most likely attract then? This is where the "frying pan into the fire" cliche comes from.

I think that the biggest error belief that some of us tend to hold about soul-mates is that we will meet our soul-mate, fall in love at first sight, and live happily ever after. We think it will be easy and smooth riding for the rest of our lives.

Our relationships, like our souls, are vehicles through which we grow and develop. We learn and grow not by basking in the glow of romance, but by learning to give and receive and share; we learn and grow not by our easy compatibility but by overcoming our differences and challenges; we learn and grow not by the downhill coast, but by the uphill struggles we share and support each other.

And I embrace and even higher concept of soul-mate. I see all people, and all creation as soul-mates. Through our actions and interactions we come together to learn and develop as together we succeed, fail, love, hate, laugh, cry, pray and praise; as together we overcome self-centered narcissism in favor of the truth of our Oneness in Diversity. Then...and only then...will we truly, fully and completely experience our Oneness in God.

On being assertive/a hard ass

Having patients "no-show" for appointments is nothing new for many professions: doctors, nurses, and therapists. In the "world" being a therapist and having someone not show for their appointment can be frustrating and expensive. In prison, it is likewise quite frustrating. Because in this setting, I have to actually hunt them down and talk to them, even if they decide not to show. And they know this. They can request an appointment, knowing full well that their rights as offenders means I have to see them within 48 hours after I get their request. So I go through the TDC computer and have a special pass that gets printed and handed to them the night before, in their dorms, that says they have an appointment for the next day. They use that appointment to get out of going to work or to school or whatever. And sometimes, they then decide to just hang out in their dorm and sleep, watch TV, play dominoes, or whatever. After all, they know I've got to come find them, right? So that's what I've been doing. And whenever I try to bring this up as a therapeutic issue, they tell me they did not get their pass or else they got it and the security officers wouldn't let them. And because I do know these things are POSSIBLE, I have let them go. Other folks do not and write them disciplinary cases for this. So I finally started writing cases myself the other day. And sure enough, I had two patients who came in very angry with me. One reminded me that he was in prison for assault. Yet I held my ground and informed them that we would deal with their anger therapeutically. Likewise for their lack of accountability. It worked out okay and both ended up leaving much less angry than when they came in. Since I wrote an additional five cases yesterday, I'm sure I'll have lots more angry men on Monday. And eventually, I'll have a lot less no-shows. One of the nurses said I officially became a member of the hard ass club, congratulating me. And you know what? I'm okay with that. And with the respect that it garners.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Living alone (just the two of us)

The empty nest is underrated...Nora Ephron

That quote stays at the bottom of this blog but I don't think it's very noticeable. I always know it's there. And I fervently believe it. Not that this applies to Baby Luke, but it does to everyone else in my nest. Those who live in it and those who visit a bit too frequently. I'm dreaming of the day when Luke and I can move out and get our very own place. May 2007 is the plan.

We'll do very well in our own quiet home. I've always enjoyed living alone -- during the times when my little (or not so little) birds have flown away. Luke and I both do best with limited stimulation. I know, I know, I used to be somewhat of a social butterfly but that side of me comes out for very limited engagements now. And I've always liked a place to charge my batteries. Don't you all? One of my favorite readers just got her very own home and I know how much she adores it. Somehow I think she feels more alone in her house than she did living alone in an apartment. I can understand that. Of course, I also know she'll quickly fill the house with her beautiful art work and then with memories of good times with family and friends. But I do envy her. Not just for the very cute home, but for the place to herself. Luke and I would/will have a ball in our very own HOUSE! And that is something that I am intending for us. Would those of you who read this posting hold that thought for us? And while you're at it, hold the thought that I'll be able to keep Luke and raise him as my own. He already is, you know, in my heart.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Everything is relative

Yesterday, an inmate threatened to kill me. He was in my office, lunging over my desk, with spittle flying from his mouth as he described how he planned to do away with me. His plans were not very practical, if I must say, because he planned to "lethal injection" me. And as he was handcuffed at the time, with no syringe in sight, I felt rather safe from that threat. All the same, I still did not feel comfortable until I finally convinced the security officer to remove him from my office. Even then, he still loitered, shouting at me and about me, at my doorway. I promptly stood up, closed, and locked my door until he could be taken far, far away. Now the guy was genuinely psychotic and so I did not file charges against him. And I genuinely felt that I was in more danger from whatever his spittle might have contained. Spittle...handcuffs...lethal injection...everything is relative.

Today, I was called to an emergency in lock-up where an inmate was threatening to harm others because he had been denied his commissary. After hearing his story, I began to understand his concern. When you have been locked up in solitary confinement for 6 months, having a little store-bought food can be very important. Everything is relative.

Another emergency today, an offender was threatening to harm others because he was angry about being housed in a dorm he did not like. Two weeks ago, I shipped him to a crisis unit for similar threats. They sent him back, with notes that he was doing just fine. Today, I informed security they could take disciplinary action against him. He was just fine and I was an hour late leaving work. Everything is relative.

I get home, tired, hungry (no time for lunch again today), and in need of a bit of understanding. I have an argument with a family member who is not in the least understanding. Again with the relative.

I'm going back tomorrow and plunging in again. Surely I do more good than harm there. And being there will keep me from being here with the family. Everything is indeed relative.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More of life in prison

I feel at time that working in prison and coming home to live in the world is a bit like straddling two very different lifestyles. The lingo, for instance. To "buy the hog" or to "sell the hog" refer to playing a con game. The "hog" is a scam, B.S., or being played. This happens constantly. The offenders have nothing but time on their hands to find ways to con the employees. And they are very good at this. Remember, most of them have the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. They have no qualms about hurting someone for personal gain. Sometimes the gain is leverage against an employee. If they can get close to that employee, by learning some personal information about them, they can eventually get that person to break a rule. Once the rule is broken, the offender will then use that to blackmail the employee to break more rules. Eventually the broken rules will include bringing contraband into prison or having sex or doing something else that will benefit the offender. Buying the hog is when the employee gets played. Sometimes the hog is very small. The offender may ask the employee for a paperclip. Contraband. Who would think? That's the thing, employees have to be constantly diligent. I believe this is more difficult for health care workers. We're trained to help people. Even inmates, right? That's our job. And the inmates love that. We're such easy prey. But I've noticed the guards are also easily played. The offenders will call the guards "boss" and the guards begin to depend on the subserviance for their own sense of self-worth. They compliment the guards. They notice when they have on new uniforms or new hairstyles (the women). And if they learn information about the families, they'll ask about them often. I've noticed myself beginning to buy the hog a few times. In my case, it's when I'm beginning to buy into a patient's report of ficticious symptoms. Or when they tell me they're meds aren't working (I later find they're not being compliant with meds). Sometimes they'll tell me they've never been able to trust any other therapist (man, they're good). Many times they'll start crying in the office and then apologize for it over and over. Friday, an offender stopped me when I was walking past the dorm cells. He told me how he had to talk to me right away. He just heard his young daughter was pregnant, considering abortion, and he felt stuck in prison and unable to help her. He just HAD to talk to me immediately, without going through "all that paperwork." He could tell I am a really good person. (I assured him he had no idea what kind of person I was). But these are just a few examples. Then I'll get this sinking feeling in my gut. And I get angry, both with myself for buying into it and with the offender who is working so hard to sell it. Then when I leave work, I find myself continuing to be diligent about people selling the hog to me. I guess for me, that's not such a bad thing. I have had tendencies to be naive. This is an important learning experience for me. I just have to find a way to balance without becoming jaded.

And I know that very bad things happen in prison. So much of it is hidden, of course, from the eyes of employees. But in counseling, you learn how dangerous it can be for offenders. And so many of them proclaim their innocence to me. Especially the ones convicted of sexual assault or sexual assault of a child. And there is a part of me that wants to believe them, if for no other reason than that it would make it easier to provide that unconditional regard. Someone said Friday that our population there is 65% child offenders. How do I maintain an attitude of wanting to help them with their depression or anger or anxiety or whatever when there is a big part of me that things child offenders should suffer in prison? Things I'm working on. That and trying not to buy any hogs.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Note to previous post

I've got to correct myself: Big Unity did not actually tell us to leave the church that year and go into the cold winter snow. What the usher said was, "would we please take the child into the cry room?" Not cold, no snow. The Big Unity is full of very nice people. And my friends from Little Unity told me they were actually entertained by the granddaughter's dancing this year. REAL nice people.

And I'm SO excited about the new year. Glad I stopped making all of those troublesome resolutions and just decided to be good to myself. Is anyone else out there as excited as I am?