Don’t Pitch a Tent in Hell

Dory from Finding Nemo

I heard something once from  a Unity minister named Mary Omwake, that has stuck with me for years. Mary said, “If you’re in hell, DON”T pitch a tent!  Keep moving!”  I love the visual image in that – that image fills me with the energy of get up and go! Don’t just sit there – do something! Move!

That idea of keep moving, don’t pitch a tent in Hell, comes back to me now as I think about choice and the power in choosing.  How often have I sat, locked up and unable to choose something? How long did I sit there in discomfort or pain – “in hell” – unable to choose, unable to move?  And what keeps me locked up and sitting there in Hell, unable or unwilling to make a choice to move?  Well, for me, it’s usually fear that I will choose the wrong thing.

“Choose the wrong thing” – whew, can you feel the weight of that?! Choose the wrong thing – make a “bad” choice – mess up.  Wow, so instead of choosing anything, I will sit in pain and discomfort and discontent. I will pitch a tent and stay in my personal version of Hell.  Being wrong – choosing the wrong thing has a HUGE heavy, yucky energy to it. Do I actually abhor being wrong so much that I will sit in pain and disease; I will pitch a tent in Hell??!

When did choosing becomes so heavy and serious and difficult?  Do little kids have difficulty choosing and keeping moving?  Heck no! Try stopping a 2 year old from choosing – and choosing again – and again – and again!  Kids are like sharks; in a constant state of motion and choosing all the time. Kids stay in choice and keep moving no matter what.  Do they sit down and contemplate that last choice they made to grab that toy and whap their brother upside the head with it? No way! Do they stop and beat themselves up about how bad they are, what a bad choice that was?  No way!  Mom or Dad may put them in time out and try to force them to ruminate on their bad-ness, but it’s not something little kids waste much time on.

Little kids are definitely noticing and logging when they choose something that gets them in trouble or ends up hurting, but they do NOT sit down and contemplate their wrong-ness and the error of their ways like I do!  We have to be trained to do that ruminate on your wrong-ness crap. So, when did I decide that each choice I make is so critical and so loaded with “don’t mess up and make the wrong choice” energy  that I better slow down, stop moving and contemplate each choice for hours or days?  And does that way of being in the world serve me?

Doesn’t the decision to stop and analyze every choice from every possible angle just keep me sitting in Hell longer?

How can I choose faster and easier? How can I unlock choosing, take the weight out of it, so that next time I’m in a painful, hellish place I don’t get stuck there pitching a tent?! How can I make choices more like a kid – with the energy of an explorer? Did Lewis and Clark sit and contemplate which path to choose for days?! Heck no, they kept moving or they would have never made it to the Pacific Ocean!

I would like to get back into that childlike energy of choosing. That “let’s try this and see what happens. and if it doesn’t work out, no big deal – I’ll just choose something different” frame of mind.  How can I do that?  Is that possible at my age?  Why not?

To start moving through life like a kid exploring, I going to have to choose to stop criticizing and judging every single choice I make. THAT’s what gets me stuck – that critical, look what a “bad” choice you made there energy.

Funny, as I write this, that critical voice surfaces in my head, saying “Oh Nancy, this entire blog post is just stupid. and nobody gonna get what you’re trying to say anyway. why bother? just delete this drivel and go do something safe.”  Whew, man that is some heavy, yucky energy!  THAT is the energy of being wrong, isn’t it? But you know what, I’m going to choose to blow off that yucky nasty critical voice and publish this anyway.

I choose to publish this even though it may be incoherent or incomplete or not quite right. I choose to put this out there anyway.  I’m going to choose and choose and choose again. Because frankly, the other way – the sitting in Hell, ruminating on which tiny safe little action will turn out OK wasn’t working for me.

Like the little blue tang fish, Dory in “Finding Nemo”, I choose to “ just keep moving!”

The Five Freedoms

The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be.

The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should.

The freedom to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought.

The freedom to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission.

The freedom to take risks in your own behalf,
instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rocking the boat.

–Virginia Satir, Making Contact

Today I honor Virginia Satir, who was a pioneer in the area of family therapy. Virginia was one of the first therapists to focus on how each individual interacts with other family or group members – how they can choose to express themselves congruently and honestly or hide behind masks to protect themselves. Her work changed the face of family counseling dramatically.

Virginia also created a model for change, detailing how people react to and cope with change in their lives.  Virginia died before I could meet her, but I was exposed to her work by two of her amazing students, Jerry Weinberg and Jean McLendon.

Virginia Satir’s work was all about being open and aware and taking responsibility for your own happiness.

Thank you, Virginia.

💗

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Our beliefs become our thoughts…
Our thoughts become our words…
Our words become our actions…
Our actions become our habits…
Our habits become our values…
Our values become our destiny.
-Author Unknown

I intend to plant a seed in your mind today and encourage it to sprout. And today’s seed is… Change your mind, change your life.

✧✧✧

What if I told you that your biggest block to health and happiness lies in the beliefs you hold; beliefs that shape your every thought and emotion; beliefs that define your every reaction to life? If you are open to the possibility that your beliefs are really that powerful, then read on…

Your beliefs can help you or hold you hostage. Do you realize that your chronic health issues are chronic and difficult to heal because an old belief or emotional pattern is probably getting in your way and keeping you stuck in pain and out of balance? I’ve witnessed this over and over in my healing practice; I will treat two clients of the same age and sex with the same physical issue, but only one of them will heal while the other stays stuck in pain and misery. Why? Because these two clients hold different beliefs about the world and how it works. They hold different beliefs about what kind of healing is possible for them. So one of them heals while the other stays stuck in pain.

Your perceptions and beliefs about the world create your reality. Your perceptions and beliefs can limit you and close off amazing options – or open doors for you and expand what’s possible in your life. Unfortunately, your core beliefs were put in place when you were a very young and vulnerable child. What that means is, some silly idea you formed at the age of 2 about life and how it works may still be pulling your strings and affecting your health and happiness years later when you are an adult. And if you had a traumatic childhood, just imagine what kind of crazy ideas are still mucking up your life today from deep within you!

In my healing practice and in my personal life, I have witnessed the effect people’s beliefs have on their health and happiness for years. And I have found shamanic techniques that can be used to shift beliefs and emotional patterns. No matter what you’ve been taught in the past, I am here to tell you that you truly can release those old outdated thoughts, emotional reactions and beliefs from your system. Yes, you can change your mind! And when you change your mind, you can change your entire life.

☾☽

Change your Mind, Change your Life, Change your World.

The Path Here: Nursing Then and Now

 

If you had met me five years ago, you would have never guessed I was a nurse. I managed a computer network group back then and I rarely mentioned my nursing background to even my closest friends. I left nursing back in the late 1980’s and for a very long time I was embarrassed to call myself a nurse.

I had been a good nurse, one of the best. I learned and applied all the latest technologies to my patients, from IV feedings to balloon pumps to SOAP charting and nursing care plans. Yet most of my ICU patients were not “fixed” by their treatment. Most of them died after a very expensive hospital stay. And worse yet, the treatments I gave caused many of my patients to suffer. I witnessed the failings of modern Western medicine up close; I watched patients held in limbo on the edge of death, only half alive. I watched patients suffer as they were separated from their loved ones by the very technology that was supposed to help them.

My nursing education had given me no framework to make sense of the pain and suffering I saw around me. The hospital where I worked was one of the best in the region and the nursing care I gave was state of the art. And yet I felt anger and a deep sadness within as I tried to care for patients the way I had been taught. I eventually left nursing and found a nice safe career in the computer field where the only thing that crashed and died was a poorly written computer program. When I left, I thought I put nursing behind me. But here I am back again.

Returning to nursing after more than a decade away was like peering down into a wild, raging river, seeing the whitewater and fast current and jumping in anyway. My friends and family looked at me in wonder and asked why was I going back? Health care is a mess, doctors and nurses are under constant fire and the nursing profession seems to be having an identity crisis. Plus, I earned twice as much money as a corporate manager. So, why did I return?

While I was away from nursing, I continued to search for meaning in all I had seen and experienced as an ICU nurse. My avocation became alternative healing modalities; Chinese medicine, herbal remedies, massage, acupuncture, spiritual healing. I read all the time about health and healing and became an avid student of mind-body medicine. I read studies on the power of guided imagery in fighting cancer, and on the power of prayer in helping open heart patients to heal. I learned how the simple act of massage helps premature infants to grow faster and thrive. A new world of healing possibilities slowly opened up to me.

As an ICU nurse I had focused on the physiology of the human body. Now I delved into the emotional and spiritual components of illness. I tried many of the alternative healing methods I read about, loved some and hated others. I went through a divorce, remarriage and a cleansing emotional healing of my own. And over time I began to miss nursing. At my core I was still a healer, a nurse, no matter how many computer programs I wrote.

So I finally came back to nursing. But I am not remotely the same nurse I was when I left in frustration years ago. My idea of what nursing is about has changed dramatically. I can still remember myself as a nurse, fresh out of nursing school. I remember believing then that “good” nursing was about mastering technology, understanding medication effects and curing an ailing physical body. My focus was on the disease and how it affected the physical body. Back then I thought nursing was science pure and simple; just apply the right technology or give the right medication and the patient would be fixed. It sounds a lot like car repair in retrospect. No messy emotional connection required or desired.

It’s been a long winding road for me. The shift in my definition of nursing has been gradual over many years. I cannot pinpoint when my idea of nursing actually mutated. Like the slow building of a sunset, my view of myself as a nurse has shifted moment by moment, experience by experience until today I look around to find that I am a totally different nurse.

Today I see nursing as more art than science. Nursing is not about passing meds and taking vitals for me. It is not about whiz-bang medical technology. And it is not about curing or fixing the physical body. Now nursing is about discovering how the emotions and the spirit of a person interact with their physical body. It is about connecting with a person and helping them to heal body, mind and spirit. And it is always personal and sometimes messy and emotional work. This time nursing is about relating to people one on one. It is about creating a healing space where the mind can rest and the body can heal. It is something I do with a person rather than to them.

Do I still find value in IV meds and CT scans and laparotomies? Absolutely. I also find value in meditation and prayer and acupuncture and herbs and the simple act of touch. I have come to believe that there are many paths to healing. True health is a balance of many factors; there is no one treatment, no silver bullet cure. Each person is unique and must find the balance of treatments, both conventional and alternative, that fits for them.

I have found my own balance. I have found a way to nurse that is uniquely mine and it gives me great joy. If you meet me today and ask me what I do for a living, I will smile and tell you proudly that I am a nurse. It is good to be back.

© 2002 Nancy Lankston

☾☽

Note: I wrote this essay 10 years ago and it’s been buried in my files for years. But My nursing buddy and sister of the heart, Megan, asked me to pull it out and share it. So, here it is. Unfortunately, most of what I say about hospitals and healthcare in the U.S. is still true in 2012. Here’s to changing it in my lifetime.

Blowing in the Wind

Lyons, CO

Wow – it’s been almost 3 months since I spouted off here in my Blog.

That’s a LONG time for me to go underground. But I have a very good reason for going all “Turtle” and disappearing from view – I moved cross-country this fall. Moving from one state to another is tough even for a flexible, go with the flow type chick like me. (My husband is laughing hysterically right now about my “go with the flow” description of myself. But hey! This is my Blog and if I want to view myself as easy going, he should just learn to hush up… 🙂

So, more about moving. Any change is tough – most humans do NOT like things in their life to shift around or change much at all. But I have always prided myself on enjoying change. I used to do corporate change management work, for God’s sake! This move cross-country was a change that I pushed for and WANTED. And yet… this move was unsettling to say the least (pun intended).

It always takes me awhile to find ground and establish a new routine whenever I move, even just across town. But, silly me – I thought a much anticipated, much desired change would be easier. Hah! Maybe it’s because I’m an Earth sign (Taurus); I tend to root deeply into each place I live. Or maybe all those therapists are right when they claim that moving is one of the top three stressors in Life for everyone. Even good change is hard and stressful.

After our move, I felt unmoored, ungrounded, unsettled, off-balance. Like the least little breath of trouble might blow me right off my feet. It took me weeks to feel at home and truly relax in this new place. I knew what I needed – I needed to find gound. Hah! So it’s time to practice what I preach all day long to my clients, huh God?! I’m supposed to know how to do this, right?

What finally worked for me? What helped me find ground and settle in this new place? Meditating and consciously grounding my legs and hips helped me immensely And walking in the mountains was a God-send for me. The energy of the Rockies is very grounding (go figure!). And oddly enough, the simple act of unpacking our treasures helped a lot. Having boxes everywhere is very unsettling for me.

Yesterday I came across an essay named Finding Ground that I wrote a few years ago And I laughed to myself as I read it – if only I could have accessed all the wisdom I expressed in it during my “unsettled days” this fall.

My new home is good – I’m the one grinning from ear to ear every time I look outside and see the Rockies. It’s going to be years before this “flatlander” takes living in the mountains for granted.

Life is good here. Probably because I am finally completely HERE.
Much love and hugs from the mountains.

I encourage you to also read  “Finding Ground”, with the hope that it might help you
face the chaos of change in your life.


The Solution to the Problem

Oil Spill photo by Gay, AP May 28, 2010
Oil Spill  by Gay, AP May 28, 2010

It does not take a genius to know that this country is in a deep financial mess; billion dollar bank bail-outs, massive numbers of mortgage foreclosures, record debt levels for both individual Americans and our government as a whole – we have dug quite a deep hole for ourselves. And it’s not just America, the crisis is worldwide.

And it is not just financial news. Add to that my worries about the sickening state of this country’s food supply and healthcare system, and oh yes, let’s not forget global warming and the state of the world’s oceans. Just 15 minutes with the news and I may decide to curl up fetal and never leave my bed again.

How does a reasonable adult deal with the state of our world today? What can I possible do that will help turn this mess around? Anyone with a firm grasp of reality would look around and be very worried. But spending my days in a stressed out, worried state is NOT going help me or anyone else. And I don’t want to ignore the problems either. That would be like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. So, what’s a woman to do?

Well, my solution is mostly spiritual; I spend way more time in prayer and meditation. I increase my connection time to God. That might seem to some people like running away from the world and our problems. But I think it’s just the opposite. Connecting with God or Spirit calms me and keeps me grounded in a reality beyond all the horrible news. It reminds me that I never see the entire picture and that God has got this. God has got this under control, even when it looks like everything is going to Hell.

The other thing that happens when I take time to meditate or prayer is that my mind clears; I stop pinging from one problem to the next. And I find that I can calmly get out of bed and happily go out into the world and face our global problems without panicking. But if I don’t stay “prayed up”, I am constantly freaking out about the future and predicting gloom and doom. Connection time with God is key.

One of the thoughts that keeps coming to me in meditation is that the solution to our problems will not be logical at all. The solution to this mess will NOT come from logical, linear thinking. A right-brained, holistic view of this mess is needed before the solution will become apparent. My left brain looks at the mess we’ve created and screams in panic because the hole we’ve dug is so deep that my logical brain cannot conceive of a solution. But my right brain intuitively KNOWS that there is a solution to every problem – even this one. My right brain also knows that the Universe is a helpful place, not a malicious torture chamber. We will figure a way out of this mess. And the solution will holistic, global, non-linear.

I look around at my kids and their friends and I see the PERFECT minds to tackle these global problems. Please don’t send the straight-jacket, I am totally serious. This is a generation that excels at right-brained thinking. They may lack in the linear thinking department, but right-brained networked thinking is their forte. Attention Deficit Disorder gets a bum rap, in my opinion. ADD should be called Extraordinary Right-brained Thinking! It is a strength, not a weakness. Unfortunately our schools are using 19th century methods to teach 21st century thinkers.

This generation surfs the internet and intuitively knows that there are no national boundaries. They know that we are all in this mess together. My suburban kids have friends from every ethnic group and sexual persuasion. A global economy makes complete sense to them. A global solution will come naturally to them.

So, I read the news and still I am filled with hope. I cannot WAIT to see what happens next. God (and my kids) have got this one under control.

Progress?

 

Over the past 2 years I have been watching a huge compound of office space, apartments and retail stores being built less than a mile from my house. It’s called Lenexa City Center, although it lies nowhere near the center of my town. I guess they mean “center” in some metaphorical sense that I don’t quite understand. Here is what the official web site has to say about the City Center development:

“Lenexa City Center is an exciting mixed-use urban development that is being built on all four corners of 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard, in the center of Lenexa.

Born out of the community-driven Vision 2020 planning process, Lenexa City Center will be a key destination area that will combine a mix of shopping, restaurants, entertainment, office, residential, hotels, and public gathering areas such as parks, plazas, and a civic center all in a pedestrian-friendly, high density, new urbanism development.

At build-out, Lenexa City Center is expected to offer about 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use development on 200 acres in the I-435 corridor.”

A slow economy and the overwhelming volume of commercial real estate that currently sits empty all over Kansas City with no tenants in sight has not deterred Lenexa from building a new City Center. And each edition of my city newsletter relays the latest news of this important development. Apparently this is “PROGRESS” for our city and we should all be thrilled.

But I for one have sadly watched their “progress” over many months; first the area was bulldozed and stripped of all trees, bushes, grass – anything remotely resembling life. Then the land was reshaped and reformed until it no longer even looked like its former contours. That phase was rough for me because the old land had been a mix of pasture and trees that I enjoyed checking out every time I passed. And am I the only bleeding heart who wonders what happens to all the squirrels, bluebirds, deer, turkeys, hawks, fireflies, worms, spiders, raccoons, coyotes and other creatures that lived where a new strip mall now rises? Do we humans REALLY want to shove all other life out of the way for ourselves?

My family took a vacation road trip to Wyoming earlier this month. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks on the western edge of Wyoming hold some amazing scenery and wildlife. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. This gorgeous spot was partitioned off into two National Parks over a hundred years ago so we wouldn’t be tempted to try and improve it and civilize it right out of existence (Thank you Teddy Roosevelt!). “Progress” tends to be deadly for wildlife and gorgeous scenery in every part of the country.

To get to Wyoming from KC is quite a haul by car, but I kept imagining what it would have been like to travel the 1,100+ mile distance by wagon a hundred and fifty years ago. Two days in the car is nothing compared to 6 months bumping across roadless prairie. We’ve made “progress” when it comes to fast, safe travel, haven’t we?

We drove through the Black Hills of South Dakota on our way to Wyoming. Back in 1868, the U.S. government “gave” the people that lived in the Black Hills long before white guys showed up (mainly the Lakota tribe) a small piece of the hills and grassland that the tribe held as sacred ground. Our government signed a treaty with the tribes and promised that the land would belong to them in perpetuity. But then gold was discovered in the Black Hills about 5 years later and in perpetuity didn’t mean much. Jeez – talk about indian givers! I felt like personally apologizing to every single Native American on earth after I read what my ancestors did to the Black Hills.

White guys (and I include myself in that label) have a long history of shoving others out of our way in the name of “progress”. If our kids shove others out of their way on the playground or take some other kid’s stuff, we “civilized” adults cry foul and lecture them on the error of their ways. But if our culture does it to another culture (or to another species), or if one corporation does it to a competing corporation, we label it survival of the fittest and claim that it’s “progress” towards a better, brighter future.

I think “progress” may actually just be a polite way of saying we get to do what we want and take what we want because we’re bigger and more powerful and we’re in charge.

Back home at Lenexa City Center, a complex of buildings that looks like offices and retail store space appears to be complete. But the huge parking lot outside the complex sits empty month after month. I ask that you insert Joni Mitchell singing ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ at this point in your reading for the desired effect. Meanwhile the latest city newsletter holds yet another update on the exciting developments at our new City Center.

And what does City Center “progress” look like from here? Well, “progress” is a group of empty buildings, a hideous manmade pond with prefab concrete sides and some spindly trees planted in little islands of dirt in the empty parking lot. But hey, I read yesterday that the developers plan to add a “large green space and walking trails” in the future. This must be to simulate the natural green space they bulldozed to build City Center in the first place…Hmmm. I guess it all doesn’t have to make sense to me. Just as long as I keep paying my taxes…

prog-ress n 1. Movement toward a goal. 2. Development; unfolding. 3. Steady improvement of a society or civilization.
Definition from the American Heritage Dictionary.