Five Years, What a Surprise

The opening track of David Bowie’s 1972 seminal masterpiece, Ziggy Stardust is an eery dystopian ballad, “Five Years.” In short, the song is about how the earth finds out it only has five more years left to live.

High school came up for me a couple weeks ago when I was writing to a friend. I told her it would take “a barstool, an attendant bartender, and copious amounts of good wine” to begin to explain what went wrong with my high school experience around the time we were rocking out to Mr. Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.

One thing that’s easy to explain is what we had in common in that email thread. We were conversing about our shared interest in domestic abuse. Today, she consults with one of her favorite clients who happens to be in the Midwest where I was writing to her, and I of course, can’t seem to stop working on this.

Five Years to Change the World?

I always loved Bowie’s song, “Five Years.” Today, I’m going to turn the tables on it and instead of interpreting that song to be five years until the end of the world, I’ll rewrite the story to become five years to… change the world for the better.

This week, I sat in on a webinar of well-intentioned professionals who were joking about how those with mental health challenges oftentimes have “unrealistic expectations.” I was saddened a bit by this, mostly because of the othering, but primarily because those of us who embrace our mad identities are often capable of delivering some fairly amazing accomplishments. The evidence is everywhere.

For instance, when I launched The 2.0 Adoption Council or Change Agents Worldwide, all I had was a vision of what could be. A dream. An idea about the end state. That vision caught on and hundreds, literally hundreds, of people bought into it, and paid good money to be a part of it, and eventually for it. Crazy? Maybe. Riffing on Forrest’s loving Mom, Crazy is as crazy does.

By Far, My Toughest Challenge

It was an insane and dangerous idea to take on domestic abuse and violence against women. I had no credentials, no formal education, no field training, no power relationships, no funding, no nothing– except my lived experience and a desire to make a difference.

Every connection was hard-earned. Every project was a risk.

Nevertheless I persisted.

I’m proud to say, after five years, that hard work has paid off. An award-winning investigative journalist was researching domestic violence for years, and she came across my writing. She discovered the case study that I helped bring to life in a film.* She included the case study in her new book that is flying off the shelves in the Australian market. A U.S. version is in the works. The case study, the High Point model, is saving lives every day. More people are learning about the success of the High Point model than ever before.

In my small way, starting from nothing, I changed the world for the better several times, but this time, and in this way, I think even Mr. Bowie would be singing my praises.**

*The film unfortunately never got finished, even though I put six figures into it. It is available, however, as a training film for private audiences.

**A little mad humor. Once when I was quoted top of the fold in the WSJ, I sent the clip to my shrink with this note: “It’s hard to be a recovering manic when your delusions of grandeur keep coming true.” (He laughed.)

Human Whisperer

 

Version 3

Say hello to Buddy, my new therapist.

So, I’ve begun something I’ve always been interested in looking into called, “Equine Therapy.”  I was driving home and happened to see a banner on a horse fence that caught my eye. I almost got into an accident taking a photo of it on my iPhone.

banner

Equine-Assisted Therapy has been used to treat trauma and was popularized especially for veterans who were experiencing PTSD coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering I love horses (see proof), I have been curious about this since I first read about it. It’s strange that after all these years, I haven’t really dealt directly with my past trauma in various counseling sessions. I typically go to counseling to deal with a current crisis. I’m not in crisis right now, and haven’t been in a while, so this may be the best time to exorcise some old ghosts.

The stable is less than a mile from my house, Crossroads Corral.  I didn’t know what to expect when I showed up, but my first impression was positive. The farm is very peaceful and the two counselors (one therapist, one equine-assistance expert) were compassionate, knowledgable, and kind. I was surprised how much I divulged in just my first session with two strangers.  I’ll report back after I’ve attended a number of sessions to share how it’s progressing.

So far, I love the whole idea of it and am looking forward to going again.

 

 

Mood Management

omoaMy daughter had been looking for a full-time job in New York City.  She recently said to me, “I have mild unemployment depression.”  I told her it was a Quote-of-the-Day. (Happily, she has since accepted a job offer.)

I’ve been going through a bit of negotiating my moods lately too. I’m still carrying guilt and frustration over the demise of Big Mountain Data, while simultaneously facing financial insecurity as I attempt to pivot once again professionally.  I can feel myself slipping into a similar mild depression too.

When I sense I’m starting to get overwhelmed, I take precautions to pro-actively “change my mood.”

Yesterday, I took the afternoon off from client work and job-searching and visited the Orlando Museum of Art.  I’d been wanting to do this since I moved here last year.  The museum was lovely.  Architecturally, it’s more impressive than I expected with a contrastcotton2013 of vaulted, well-lit ceilings  and soft, low-lights for interior exhibits.  There were two featured exhibitions that I particularly loved. The first is this sweet display of sugary goodness: “The Influx Series: Will Cotton.” It instantly elevated my mood by the honestly displayed in how much we all love frivolous confections.  This portrait in particular, “Icing,” was spectacular.

The second exhibit I took a long time with was “Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment.” In a word, wow.  Many of these photos captured a palpable sense of the struggle these photojournalists wanted to reveal.  Most were depressing, yet had uplifting messages embedded within.  The series (11 photographers in all) presented a stark contrast to the silliness of my self-pity and sulking that brought me to the museum. There was something about the fact that these photos were taken by women that touched me.  It was deeply moving.  This exhibit is traveling around the U.S. If you happen to be in line to receive it at your local art museum, I highly recommend it.

After immersing myself in art for the afternoon, I stopped to eat in a funky downtown cafe.  I had my laptop with me, and the cafe was playing an 80s channel on Sirius.  I was inspired to write for a few hours, and spent the rest of the afternoon in a world of make-believe that I was creating in my mind.  Before I knew it, it was almost 6pm.  It was a great day, and I accomplished my goal.  I not only changed my mood, I put my troubles in perspective, and came away with a newfound confidence about my potential to make a contribution to the world.