Say Yes to Compassion

The older I get I’m getting bolder.

I’ve learned that dwelling on what’s not right in the world–the hate and violence people have towards each other–is simply only a foolproof way to make yourself ill.

The person who is filled with hate only serves to make themselves ill. The object of their hate most likely could care less if the hater becomes ill.

Wait just a minute: there’s a better way to live and act and be: kind compassionate with joy and love in your heart.

Harboring hate well into your older years isn’t healthy.

Interact with loving people and you’ll see a difference in your own health.

This blog and my other blog are stigma-free zones.

It’s coming up on summer.

Summer is my favorite time of year for enjoying optimal health.

Meet me in the next blog entry for some quick and simple recipes to cook.

They’re healthful and easy to prepare.



Sacred Contracts

My mentor stayed clean for decades. I think he was motivated to live drug-free because he wanted more than anything to help people.

If you ask me figuring out your Sacred Contract–essentially your life purpose–can give you the motivation to stay healthy and care for yourself.

Caroline Myss believes our sacred contracts are life assignments given to us to carry out in this lifetime.

A client of hers is quoted in the book Sacred Contracts. Liza had dreamed she was in a small rowboat going in circles. She could see an ocean liner in the distance and wanted to be on that ship not stuck where she was. Liza had been paralyzed in an accident and had to makeover her career and her life.

To quote Liza: “The key is to learn to row the boat you were given.”

I recommend you buy these two Myss books. Any kind of self-improvement project that is healthy shouldn’t be frowned on. We should only be competing against how we were yesterday–not against what other people can do today.

I say: “No thank you” to critics who compare peers to people who don’t have MH issues. The size of another person’s ocean liner shouldn’t concern us.

In a coming blog entry I’m going to talk about The Myth of Competitive Employment.

Why Disclosure is Not Relevant

I wanted to continue in the vein of the second-to-last blog entry. I had gotten carried away with a side project and took a detour with the last blog.

The fact is that when you find the place where you belong disclosure is not relevant.

Years ago I bought in a housewares store a set of eight dessert plates with witty messages in the form of fortune cookies.

One of the fortune cookie messages on the dessert plate reads:

“You think it’s a secret but it’s not.”

That’s how it goes with disclosure in the workplace. A former therapist told me once: “Are you kidding yourself? They know.” He was talking about coworkers.

A guy who is a literary mentor and a life mentor to me has died. He is Gil Fagiani. In the Left of the Dial blog I offered a tribute to him. He wrote a book review for the back cover of my memoir.

It’s no secret that Gil was in recovery from heroin addiction. He was interviewed about this in the New York Times. He didn’t keep this a secret.

Wanting to honor Gil’s legacy I’ve become emboldened about telling my story to others.

This mentor was a kind and compassionate politically progressive individual.

His life was a testament to speaking out and doing the right thing to help others.

You might think that a person with an addiction wouldn’t be so vocal about talking about his past. Yet the fact that he did just this–tell everyone his story– uplifts and inspires me to no end.

It’s why I’m confident that when you find the place where you belong–where you’re supposed to live and work in the world–disclosure is not relevant.

I still think it’s dice-y to disclose your mental health diagnosis on the job. Yet chances are when you find the career where you belong there’s no need to disclose at all.

This is because you’re accepted for who you are and what you bring to the table as an employee. If your job is an ill fit with your personality it’s going to be that much harder to succeed.

Which is how I jumped into writing about archetypes in the last blog entry. And I’m going to write in the next blog entry about archetypes and sacred contracts in detail.

In here today I simply want to reinforce that if you feel like you don’t belong somewhere you can find the place where you belong.

In Gil’s memory I’ve decided to put the diagnosis on the table.

I choose not to care if other people will harbor stigma against me.

I urge you to take a tip from this mentor of mine: be not ashamed to have a mental health issue.

Chances are wherever you’re employed you’re not going to be the only one with a diagnosis.

Having a Plan B (And Plan C)

Your life can change after you get a mental health diagnosis. I’m here to say that though your life is different it can be better.

Having a Plan B when your Plan A doesn’t work out  is critical. You should also have a Plan C and D. Heck, you can have two plans going on at once.

In my twenties I had the dream of rising up to be a corporate Executive. That didn’t happen. So I went back to school to get a library degree. Now my goal of publishing the second book is taking longer.

No one has ever talked about how to proceed after a setback when you have a mental health thing. I’ll tell you here: you have to figure out if it’s the goal itself that is not right–or if the method for achieving the goal is wrong.

A nifty way for figuring out the life path you should go down might be met with skeptical response. Yet I firmly recommend studying the life work of Caroline Myss. She created a philosophy of Archetypes and Sacred Contracts.

Like what happened when I was in my twenties a lot of us pine to be someone we’re not. No–I wasn’t cut out to be an Executive–I didn’t have that archetypal pattern.

My theory is that when a person understands how their archetypal patterns interact they are better able to figure out what the right goals are to have if they want to succeed in life.

I’m going to talk about archetypes and sacred contracts in a coming blog entry.

Casting your Chart of Origin and analyzing how your archetypes express themselves through you might just be as helpful as taking any career quiz.

The Shortest Guide to Mindfulness You’ll Ever Need

Years ago my shrink told me I should practice mindfulness.

No kidding–it’s not a trite concept and it’s not pop-psychology babble.

It works–mindfulness is a valid healing practice. How do I know this?

Having had a severe cold for one week was no joy. As I started to be on the mend I was able to do things. This inspired me to have a weekly mindfulness practice and to make mindfulness a daily habit too.

You don’t have to read a 300-page book on this topic.

Just read this one sentence: Mindfulness at its heart is simply paying attention to what you’re doing and not doing things on autopilot.

That’s all it is.

Thinking about mindfulness can conjure up meditation or another behavior that seems hard to implement successfully.

The truth is–there is no right or wrong way to do or to practice anything–just the way that works for you.

In terms of mindfulness, it can help to focus on the 5 W’s: the who, what, where, when, and why of what’s happening in your life at this particular moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh a famous monk author uses the classic example of washing dishes with awareness of what you’re doing.

Feel the plate and sponge in your hand. See and listen to the water.

Really experience what you’re doing instead of doing it mindlessly.

To this end I’ve started a mindfulness practice.

I was motivated to do this by the simple act of washing my makeup brushes when I had gotten over the severe cold.

Simply washing makeup brushes with care and attention can spark joy.

The truth is, if what you’re doing doesn’t spark joy and you don’t have to do it–I say stop doing it.

Stop doing busywork and start doing the things that are important to you and align with your values.

I’ve come to see the beauty and benefit of practicing mindfulness.

For women, I recommend hand washing bras and washing makeup brushes 1x/per week.

When I decided to practice  mindfulness it was like I was hit on the head with a piano falling from the roof of a building in a TV cartoon.

It occurred to me that mindfulness begets mendfulness. That to mind what we do can be the first step to mend what’s not working.

I for one don’t want to live my life on autopilot anymore.

Finding Your 5 Commitments

Years ago I read a book that Leo Babauta of ZenHabits wrote.

In it he urged readers to make a list of their 5 commitments.

Limiting the focus of your life to 5 things was appealing.

What saved me?

Art and Music and Fashion and Writing and Exercise.

These 5 things were and always will be integral for  enabling me to recover as fully as I have.

What are your Top 5 commitments?

Find what gives you joy and go do that.

I wouldn’t be so quick to be pessimistic and give up.

I wouldn’t be so quick to throw yourself a pity party.

I wouldn’t be so quick to be jealous or envious of another person or to compare yourself to them.

I think EVERYONE living on earth has good traits and God-given gifts.

None of us is any better than anyone else.

We each of us need to believe in ourselves first of all–to take pride in who we are not what we are able to do.

Not being able to hold a job doesn’t preclude a person from being able to do other things.

It goes back to the concept of woodshedding when you’re in a plateau and in a valley not on a peak.

I wrote about woodshedding in one of the first blog entries I posted here over three years ago. This is a term taken from the jazz world where musicians would go into a woodshed or other private space to practice their instrument until they could perfectly play the piece or had greatly improved.

That’s what the early years of recovery are often like: we could require solo time to rest and reflect so that we can heal.

I would say that hibernating in your apartment for years and years isn’t healthy. Yet going off to be by yourself when you need to rest and recuperate might help.

Practicing woodshedding when it could help you to do so is one tactic for making productive use of a plateau when you’re in a valley not on a peak.

Focusing on limiting yourself to 5 Commitments might also help you.

In the coming blog entry I will talk about another technique that I find useful in recovery.

Here’s a link to the ZenHabits blog.

Latest Book News

I’m working on a second book titled You Are Not Your Diagnosis.

It’s a school and career guide for mental health peers.

To this end I have started up my Facebook Author page again.

The link to the Facebook page is at the very bottom of my website

Since I’m starting to publish numerous books both fiction and nonfiction I’m committed to using my Facebook Author page more consistently.

I’m a reluctant user of Facebook after a person signed me up for an anti-psychiatry Facebook Group without my permission circa four years ago.

This person didn’t ask me if I wanted to join. She signed me up without my knowledge. When I found out I deactivated my personal account.

I still don’t like to interact with people on a personal Facebook page.

My intent in having a Facebook Author page is to communicate information and inspiration to mental health peers.

This to me is a great way to stay in contact with readers and give people who Like my page a valuable service.

For better or worse social media is here to stay as a relationship-building tool.

Since I find my always-optimistic preaching that “There’s always hope” isn’t always welcome on certain Facebook Groups:

I decided the best way to communicate my message is to start up my Facebook Author page.

In this blog over the last over three years I’ve championed “Recovery for Everyone.”

I will always maintain that the goal to shoot for is to have a full and robust life.

I’m a family member as well as a peer with lived experience.

I understand that coping with our loved one’s illness can be a roller coaster.

Still I maintain: there’s always hope.

Recovery for one person might involve being able to get up and take a shower and go to a coffeehouse for for the day.

Recovery for another person might indeed be having a job as a CEO.

Everyone struggles. There’s a purpose in the pain though that purpose might be hidden.

I simply want to create things of beauty to share with others to make them feel good.

Giving others joy: I say YES to giving others joy.

We don’t need anymore negative chatter in the world.