Reminders are Everywhere for Listeners

The Spring 2013 semester was one of the most action packed, growing experiences I’ve had in my life for some time. It was filled with emotional ups and downs. A fellow instructor died just as the semester began, a student overdosed and never came back and Henry died from heart disease. Now, with summer around the corner I can unwind and also relish in some of the beautiful memories that happen each semester in Human Services classes.

“All” we do (ha ha) in Helping and Listening Skills class is learn how to listen…ideally to ourselves first and then to others. We learn that simply by listening the answer comes. This is very much in line with the Master Mind principle.

Luckily, the lessons from the class never end because you can always listen and you can get better at it with time.

Since this world provides an endless array of things to listen to, I’ve had to narrow my attention. I’ve decided that I am listening to students who are inspired and motivated because I figure, not only are they on the right track but the gratitude and feedback they give to me lets me know whether or not I’m on track. And sometimes, these students and this feedback can appear in the most unexpected places.

Like yesterday, when I went to Costco.

As I walked in the door, there was Willie, an incredibly supportive and strong student who seems to show up when I need him, even when he’s not enrolled in my class. One night, when two students were really going at it with me, he stood there, looked me in the eye, smiled and asked, “is everything alright?” I only have to think about Willie or see his face to know there are good people out there who will come to my aid if needed.

Temple Grandin on Costco Connection

As I walked out the door, I glanced to see a copy of the Costco Connection magazine. On the cover; Temple Grandin. This one magazine cover floods my mind with many good thoughts: Motivatorman, Savvy Soul Sisters and many conversations about how gifted children with unique minds can create solutions and answers that “normal” and “traditional” children can’t. I have often chastised myself for being outside the box. Temple Grandin’s story reminds me that ‘outside the box’ is where the answers are.

So, as my summer approaches, I will continue to listen and look forward to see what will transpire in the upcoming semester and all the time in between.

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If the clutter of the world has made it impossible for you to listen or if your mind won’t stop racing, Meditate with Holosynch.

Look Beneath the Surface

I’m in the final weeks of the semester, teaching at Long Beach City College in the Human Services department. Over the past 12 years as an instructor I’ve come to embrace an interactive style. We are, afterall, serving humans so it seems logical to me that we should have some understanding of what humans feel, think and do and why.

In all of my classes there is an opportunity to hear the perspectives and stories of the people in the room and all I can say is that if you’ve decided to open the door and listen to people, you’d better be prepared to have your perception of reality blown on a minute to minute basis.

No matter how good you think you are at judging a book by it’s cover, one day in one class will prove to you that what you think you know about people is simply a reconfiguration of your past experiences and training. It has nothing to do with reality.

I’ll use one classroom as an example. It is filled with males and females, the age range is anywhere from 19-63, the skin color range is from light pink to pumpkin latte to caramel to espresso.

You would think we have a lot of “different” stories but in reality, the overlap is incredible. The details of stories about growing up, family and early school years are repeated over and over with only small changes in details, names, dates and places.

All stories include grief over a family member or life situation for reasons such as death, molestation, domestic violence, alcoholism, bullying, unemployment, divorce or time served in the military or prison. The feelings and reactions are very uniform overall. Most people will never realize this until they speak to someone who listens and listen to someone who speaks.

We talk about family dynamics and how some people who live in troubled homes become the scapegoat…the one the entire family blames their problems on.  Yet that same person can go to work or the military and be the one who is top notch and a hero. We also talked about how some social workers can dehumanize clients when they lump them in categories with stereotypes like “crack addict”, “foster youth” or “homeless.” 

We are doing our best to remove pre-existing stigma and stereotypes and see the whole person. The one beneath the surface of clothes, hair and skin; the one who’s hiding and in pain beneath the labels, the stories and the defenses.

I always stress to my students that you can’t tell anything about anyone until you sit and listen to their story and even before that, you have to earn their trust…which can take some time.

One example of how you can’t judge a book by it’s cover is Ted Williams, the man with the “God Given Gift of Voice”  Check it out here, it will blow your mind and it will give you a glimpse of what it would be like everyday if you just listened to a real live person without interrupting or judging them first.

Flowers for Mother’s Day

Flowers are a traditional gift on Mother’s Day. If you get a bouquet today, ponder the bundle of beauty that’s been given to you. Consider the invitation to bloom and grow into the unique variety that you ARE. Appreciate what you have done, the part you played in bringing joy, wisdom and creativity to this world. You matter and you are worth it.

Follow IamGalvanized’s board Gardens & Flowers on Pinterest.

Stay in the zone longer. Look at these flower photos on Pinterest and let your heart bloom with love.

Flowers

Consider taking a photo of your flowers and saving them as a constant reminder. Post in the comments if you’d like.

Workout Can Help You Work “It” Out

What is “It”? That special something, that pizzazz that makes a person unique and interesting. Some of us never remember having “It”. We even resent and sometimes bully people who have “It”.

What I learned is that “It”, never goes away but sometimes you hide it, ignore it (or are ignorant of it). Sometimes you even hate It and seek actively to destroy it. If that isn’t working for you any more, you can always work “It” out.

Derby Dolls Fresh Meat 2007

I started to work It out when I joined the Derby Dolls in 2007 and skated with fresh meat. It was the first time in my life I was affiliated with a team sport. It was also my first time seeing women work as a team and enjoy competition without cattiness.

Regardless of how great roller derby is, I could not commit the time necessary to continue. However, I didn’t want to lose what I had gained. I was stronger physically and mentally. I felt more alive. I slept better at night and didn’t hate my life when I woke up in the morning.

One of the reasons my “It” has remained in hiding is because there is a part of me that insists, “I Can’t Do It!” In fact, recently, I said these exact words to my coach when he wanted me to do a Turkish Get-Up with a 50 lb. dumbbell.

He insisted it was not about the heaviness of the dumbbell but about focus, form and technique, which I have. With some prodding, I did lift the 50 lbs. But a part of me still insists, “I can’t do It…again!”

I think my coach was trying the make the point even more clearly when he did a Turkish Get-Up with a barbell weighing a total of 95 lbs. If you’ve never seen a Turkish Get-Up, or, if you’ve only seen one with a dumbbells or kettle bell, you gotta check out this video.

Is there a part of you that is holding back because you believe you can’t do It?

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In Honor of Momacita: An Angel in the Darkness

Momacita had a warmth about her. You could see it in her smile and you could feel it emanating out of her very being. Her hugs were as good as gold and her laughter was contagious. Standing near Momacita, it seemed as if everything was safe; everything was going to be okay. Her faith could move mountains.

She had faith in me and for that I am forever grateful.

I fled to her house. It was after dark. I had to get there. I had to get away. The only items I could take were those I could carry as I rode away on my beach cruiser. My Walkman and cassette tapes were on the list of necessities. I didn’t call and ask permission. I just showed up.

Was I crying? Visibly upset? Or, was I relived?

The time I spent living in Momacita’s presence were absolutely days of relief and restoration. Yet, I was not at a spa.

I was a teenager and Momacita was a single mom with 3 daughters, 2 of them teenagers. We lived in a HUD subsidized, 2 bedroom, sparsely furnished apartment. It was the 80’s and people were feeling the pinch of Reganomics. Momacita was not able to work due to disability.

I remember the day began with the smell of beans cooking on the stove. I can see Momacita now, in her night gown, stirring a pot of beans. She would season them so that it seemed like you were eating a special grandma stew. I promise, it had healing properties, thanks to Momacita’s special touch.

The food came from the food bank. I remember a certain day of the week she would get a bag of beans, a bag of rice and a block of “Reagan” cheese (American). After I moved into my own apartment, I went and got these same items for myself once or twice. It was better than nothing.

Because at the time, I could not even think about going back home. I would rather sleep in my car, and I did.

Once I settled down a bit, I had a series of waitress gigs including Bob’s Big Boy and Norm’s and I lived in apartments with roommates. It could have been dismal but it was blissful in a sense. Maybe not so much at the time as it is now, reflecting back on the 30+ years of life that have passed since then and the many times when Momacita’s love and faith intervened in my life, turning me away from destruction and toward rejuvenation and healing.

I was learning to live a life free from fear and violence. I was learning what it was like to live principles versus just preaching them in public.

If it weren’t for women like Momacita, who knows where I’d be.

It was easy to say yes when the family asked me to speak at the memorial. I wanted to share the story of Momacita’s love with all in attendance. I believe she deserves public recognition and I hope the story inspires others to know what a difference love and acceptance can make in someone’s life.

momaceta.memorial

On October 31, 2014 this loving woman, who touched the live’s of many made her transition. She was a living example of the saying, “one person can make a difference” and an example of someone who cares for people, regardless of their race or biological family ties. She proved it doesn’t require lots of money to make a mighty difference. A little love can go a long way.

When I feel like giving up, or I think I don’t have anything to give, I remember this. I think of all the people who did little things here and there to help me out, to lift me up. I try to be aware of the fact that my meanness or kindness could be a turning point in someone’s life whether I realize it or not.

Here’s to Momacita, an angel in the darkness. God bless her and the many women like her who provide a safe haven for lost souls and who help parent and redirect youth who come from broken homes.

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Story is Editable

Understanding Codependency, Shame and Self-Sabotage with Sheri Zampelli

Children who grow up in harsh, critical, unloving environments with unavailable parents tend to adopt patterns for dealing with people that are self-destructive in nature. These patterns make it nearly impossible for a person to have a loving, honest, authentic, peaceful relationship with their mate.

These patterns also impact work relationships and even relationships on a sports team or volunteer team. It is possible to identify the self-destructive patterns and to break them. Doing so often requires honesty, open-mindedness and willingness and a hefty dose of acceptance for what is. Because not a single one of us can change the past.

Join Sheri Zampelli, Author of From Sabotage to Success: How to Overcome Self-Defeating Behavior and Reach Your True Potential
in a 16-week class at Long Beach City College. Tuesday mornings from 9-noon, class number 32377. Go to LBCC.com to enroll.

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Value Your Contribution and Give More

Value your contribution

Part of the suicidal sentiment is: “What’s the point, I’m worthless, I’ll never amount to anything.” Each of these statements is false and irrational but emotional turmoil, pain and weakness makes it seem true.

Just think for a moment if you stopped doing everything. You stood still or laid still and didn’t move or talk or even make a face. Within a period of time, someone will come to you and want something from you. Someone will wonder why you’re not at work or not at school. People will have conversations and put pieces together about the last time they saw you and what you said. Regardless of how isolated your life feels the truth is, you are providing value to others simply by your existence and involvement.

If you learned that valuing your contribution is selfish, drop that idea now or change your definition of selfish to acknowledge that you must take care of yourself in order to be in the proper condition to help others. We are of help to others when we can use our strength to pull them up and out of their misery. If we are miserable along with others we will simply keep each other down. This is not a service and if you are staying down out of fear you are selfish. You are cloaking a gift that others need and because of your selfishness, they can’t access your offering.

I’m galvanized when it comes to this topic because I’ve been involved in groups of people for my entire life and some of these groups are considered cults, such as the Jehovah’s Witness fellowship. I was a child and interacted with many elders in the congregation. I overheard plenty of conversations. Enough to know that no person, regardless of their stature is above the social ills of addiction, poverty, mental illness and sexual assault.

I served as a counselor for many years and now I’m a college instructor in my 14th year of teaching. After hearing the nitty gritty details of thousands of people’s stories and reading the research I know that millions of Americans had difficulty in earlier years of life. Not everyone handles those difficulties the same as they get older but what I’ve noticed is that the people who berate themselves get worse and the people who find a way to value their story get better. The people who “get better” make better choices, are kinder to people, want to serve. The people who get worse want everyone to suffer right along with them. They will even go so far as to drag someone down and seek and exercise vengeance.

So, my request to you is that you learn your values and you will honor them. I want you to value yourself. Do it for you, do it for your family. I have a free Values Clarification download over at sherizampelli.com to help you get started.

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