Posts Tagged ‘freedom’


Freedom & Efficiency

At this point I am sure some are seeing the homeless serving sector or church ministry as a hand basket to Hell. I want to let you know that I made great friends, and did good work. Saw many blessings of life recovery unfold, and community building.

The challenge of the work is that there was a lack of culture of staff care. As first responders, which we were as each time the police or paramedics showed up they would state with amazement what we did. It was an outgrowth of 1990’s financial populism. The shift of comprehension of social capital to bank statement budgeting.

What does that mean?

Simple, there used to be an acknowledgement that the investment in our neighbour was not a debit on monies, but rather a credit. This is why communities would invest and support one another, the flow of a helping hand. While I was within human services the concept of the bank statement budgeting took over (extrapolated in the zero based budgeting that the money not spent was no longer there, and sometimes a bonus for those that reduced budgets this way).

In the early days of my career the Mustard Seed saw the need for staff to have more, and things such as ASSIST (Suicide Intervention training) and Non-Violence Crisis Intervention training were brought in. The challenge being this was in situation work, with a quick overview to debrief after, yet in hind sight no one knew what debrief at this time needed to look like.

Back to being debits. It was at the 2008 Alberta Council of Disability Services Conference where I was a co-presenter that a speaker put a framework to that which I already knew. With the loss of the concept of social capital, or rather, the person in front of me deserves a good quality of life because they are my neighbour; human services had been relegated to a debit on the bank statement of governance and society. The good outcomes, the intangibles of personal growth of the client were not track able, they were not able to be seen as a commodity. If the only financial outcome for the individual was to go on a form of government entitlement then they were a double debit.

We as a society had lost the language of credit for things such as community membership, volunteerism, or at the very least, being a credit on the bank statement balance sheet for being a citizen.

This was the concept of economics that made for good sound bite politics around budgets, deficit and debt elimination, but did not deal with the reality of governance. That is Peace, Order and Good Governance for citizens, and that meant the majority of services in the new reality were debits, and thus cut table.

This is the reality that created the crisis of homelessness and affordable housing Alberta is still in. Sure, we may no longer have states of emergency declared each winter, but shelters run over capacity in this time of year or at capacity. We have lost the concept of relationship as a form of belonging, and growing home.

In the debit/credit track what also was lost was a value placed on wisdom and eldership within the sector. When I started I was amongst the youngest, with the median age being 39 years old (the age my PNES took me out of service). Today, we are huge debits on the bank balance sheet whether a non-profit would ever admit it. They enjoy the younger worker with less experience, easier to tap into the passion and okay when they crash and burn because there is another young social justice ideologue in training waiting.

It saddens me, it is the concept the military has used within their recruiting and drafting regimes for centuries, why do you think the first wave of drafting is at 18 years old?

I also know in my journey I messed up. It is working with people no matter what label the system placed on them. To be more matter of fact, whether we held the power of the plate (food) or mat (shelter) or not, there were interactions that did not always go well. For those I may have inadvertently injured I am sorry, but there were those that felt injured that had to have a stand taken against them to protect the community.

Within the church ministry realm, I do look back fondly on the youth and children I worked with. I loved seeing the light bulbs go off as they discovered what they believed, and could explain why. There were good religious communities I had the privilege of being a member of on my own journey.

I also enjoyed my chaplaincy volunteering with dementia patients, it was great to see the impact of the hymns of their childhood take them back into the past, and happy memories. The moment created by the music that would bring joy, joy they would share with my son, Leland, and daughter, Justina in those moments.

There was good. The problem is that there is this culture of undervaluing, and expecting literal miracles. Yes, I can put it on me as a guardian/protector personality type that I did it to myself. Yet, in the moments I pushed for debriefs for my team, or other staff members I would be the one that would be left out, or miss it as I was dealing with the situation. Knowing the levels of management, not wanting to be debriefed at the same moment as my team so they would have more freedom in speaking about the situation, it would be a policy that would end up with not a proper debriefing for me more often than not and being left to my own self be true to deal with whatever was there in my soul and heart, and eventually ingrained in my brain and body.

The other sad state of pushing for staff care, is how many times I was written up for it. Certain agencies had a stance no matter what happened to “get back to work”, and that did not truck with me. It always intrigued me however that I would be targeted for the official human resources reprimand, but other leaders I would partner with possibly in the moment would get a pass. Within religious non-profits it came down to the concept it is our ministry to serve, God will give you what you need to endure the pain, pray more, read your Bible more, and have a home church. Sorry, like the home church is designed to deal with trauma and vicarious trauma?

Within non-religious settings the buzz word was self-care. It was done in the- if you end up burnt out, or with PTSD it is your own fault. Self-care, drink water, exercise, yoga, takes care of you. What was missing is the concept that self-care is about what fills you up. What also is missing is the concept that at any point your job can simply overwhelm. It may not be the present situation but accumulation overtime.

Many good people have left the human services world as a result of employers not wanting to deal with the ickiness of the human experience of serving humans. For me my body and brain found a freedom and efficiency in dealing with the accumulation.

Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures:

What is it?

Simply put, it is an acronym that stands for Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures. It is 25% of the seizure cases that the Calgary Epilepsy Program sees. It can go un(mis)diagnosed (meaning you are being treated for Epilepsy) on average between 7-20 years. It is essentially what comes with Epilepsy without the Epileptic electrical brain activity. It is a convergence disorder, that 90% of the time is associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is a freedom, and a fear in knowing what it is, the freedom is that you do not need the harsh anti-convulsion or anti-epileptic medications (unless it is co-occuring with Epilepsy), the fear is that treatment is a journey within your own self.

Lorna Myers Ph.D (2014) Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures: A Guide is an exploration of the basics. It aptly points out that in one point and time in history these were known as pseudo or hysterical seizures (and even demonic possession), which is a misnomer as they are not false but the physiology of the person experiencing them they are real. Though I must admit watching a serial killer documentary with the wife when the Cannibal stated that it was pseudo-seizures, did cause me to almost do a spit take. I digress however.

I was a lucky one, it only took about 2ish years to diagnosis, and this was after finally getting the gold standard of testing, the observed EEG in hospital with audio and video. That was in September 2018, and in February 2019 I entered into the psycho-therapeutic treatment. It is two pronged, as there is also going to be in depth intervention for PTSD later. Myers does allude that PTSD treatment should come before PNES treatment. I wrestle with that, because if one cannot control or mitigate the dissociative and/or convergent episodes, how are they going to root out the memory ingrained pain to heal appropriately. To each their own, but this inversed path appears to be working.

Myers text for the laity (or patient) walks you through treatment options. That range from Talk to CBT to DBT to exposure therapy, each step of the way pointing out the need for this to be happening with an appropriately trained mental health practitioner in PNES. She points out the role a psychiatrist, psychologist (Ph.D.) and possibly, social worker would play in each role.

In a typical American based fashion she gives a nod to continue working with adjustments while working through the PNES treatment (if possible is a side note). What is needed though, in my opinion, is a grasp on something that gives meaning. Myers notes if one cannot work (as in my case due to the PTSD being linked to the work) then to find meaning in life elsewhere…for me it has been my family, my writing, and a renewal in my reading, and a safe zone in our home church.

The walk will also take you through the role Anger, Depression and Anxiety play in exacerbating the PNES, but also that in the case of Anxiety there can be other psychogenic effects to your system as a whole. It was a good notation, as the wife and I had noticed an increase in frustration and anger over this time. In the complementary treatment section it explores the pros-cons on one’s health of herbal and health supplements, touches on spiritual practice, yoga and Tai-Chi as being beneficial to centering, grounding, and releasing of stress tensions. Basics around healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, hydration as well in the healthy body section. Myers shares some online resources she has created as well.

It is a beginning point of a journey that encourages self-exploration. Not everything everyone will suggest will work for you. Part of the journey of understanding the triggers and precursors to events, working to interrupt and cessation the events, is discovering what works for you.

It is introspective work. It goes deep, because like Gremlins and Saboteurs in life coaching, the episodes have a benefit to your system. For me it is about efficiency is a word that keeps coming through. I strove so hard to protect my friends and family from vicarious trauma of the work I did, it became so internalized that when something went awry, the efficient way for my body to expel the crud is through convulsion.

There is a fear of what lurks beneath, but also a fear that is created within me and my family as a result of the episodes. In a way, the efficiency my biological system created to protect me, has created a system that can traumatize, doing the direct counter of what I was seeking to avoid.

 

Even though it may feel on the journey like there was a freedom, it was a false freedom, for instead of integrating and processing the pain. As the glue that held teams together, that ensured everyone was taken care of, in the moments when other crisis would arise I would compartmentalize to come back later, something was missed within my own soul.

The true freedom is going to come by confronting the fear, to have a new release; a new lease on life. It is easy to jump ahead to what comes after, but in the jumping ahead excitement and endorphins can continue to mask the sorrow, can continue to suppress and compress the pain. It is being present in the journey, wrestling with the pain, integrating it into the pilgrimage of my whole self…


P-N-E-S.

What is it?

Simply put, it is an acronym that stands for Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures. It is 25% of the seizure cases that the Calgary Epilepsy Program sees. It can go un(mis)diagnosed (meaning you are being treated for Epilepsy) on average between 7-20 years. It is essentially what comes with Epilepsy without the Epileptic electrical brain activity. It is a convergence disorder, that 90% of the time is associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is a freedom, and a fear in knowing what it is, the freedom is that you do not need the harsh anti-convulsion or anti-epileptic medications (unless it is co-occuring with Epilepsy), the fear is that treatment is a journey within your own self.

Image result for psychogenic nonepileptic seizures by myersLorna Myers Ph.D (2014) Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures: A Guide is an exploration of the basics. It aptly points out that in one point and time in history these were known as pseudo or hysterical seizures (and even demonic possession), which is a misnomer as they are not false but the physiology of the person experiencing them they are real. Though I must admit watching a serial killer documentary with the wife when the Cannibal stated that it was pseudo-seizures, did cause me to almost do a spit take. I digress however.

I was a lucky one, it only took about 2ish years to diagnosis, and this was after finally getting the gold standard of testing, the observed EEG in hospital with audio and video. That was in September 2018, and in February 2019 I entered into the psycho-therapeutic treatment. It is two pronged, as there is also going to be in depth intervention for PTSD later. Myers does allude that PTSD treatment should come before PNES treatment. I wrestle with that, because if one cannot control or mitigate the dissociative and/or convergent episodes, how are they going to root out the memory ingrained pain to heal appropriately. To each their own, but this inversed path appears to be working.

Myers text for the laity (or patient) walks you through treatment options. That range from Talk to CBT to DBT to exposure therapy, each step of the way pointing out the need for this to be happening with an appropriately trained mental health practitioner in PNES. She points out the role a psychiatrist, psychologist (Ph.D.) and possibly, social worker would play in each role.

In a typical American based fashion she gives a nod to continue working with adjustments while working through the PNES treatment (if possible is a side note). What is needed though, in my opinion, is a grasp on something that gives meaning. Myers notes if one cannot work (as in my case due to the PTSD being linked to the work) then to find meaning in life elsewhere…for me it has been my family, my writing, and a renewal in my reading, and a safe zone in our home church.

The walk will also take you through the role Anger, Depression and Anxiety play in exacerbating the PNES, but also that in the case of Anxiety there can be other psychogenic effects to your system as a whole. It was a good notation, as the wife and I had noticed an increase in frustration and anger over this time. In the complementary treatment section it explores the pros-cons on one’s health of herbal and health supplements, touches on spiritual practice, yoga and Tai-Chi as being beneficial to centering, grounding, and releasing of stress tensions. Basics around healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, hydration as well in the healthy body section. Myers shares some online resources she has created as well.

It is a beginning point of a journey, that encourages self-exploration. Not everything everyone will suggest will work for you. Part of the journey of understanding the triggers and precursors to events, working to interrupt and cessate the events, is discovering what works for you.

It is introspective work. It goes deep, because like Gremlins and Saboteurs in life coaching, the episodes have a benefit to your system. For me it is about efficiency is a word that keeps coming through. I strove so hard to protect my friends and family from vicarious trauma of the work I did, it became so internalized that when something went awry, the efficient way for my body to expel the crud is through convulsion.

There is a fear of what lurks beneath, but also a fear that is created within myself and my family as a result of the episodes. In a way, the efficiency my biological system created to protect me, has created a system that can traumatize, doing the direct counter of what I was seeking to avoid.

Even though it may feel on the journey like there was a freedom, it was a false freedom, for instead of integrating and processing the pain. As the glue that held teams together, that ensured everyone was taken care of, in the moments when other crisis would arise I would compartmentalize to come back later, something was missed within my own soul.

The true freedom, is going to come by confronting the fear, to have an new release. A new lease on life. It is easy to jump ahead to what comes after, but in the jumping ahead excitement and endorphins can continue to mask the sorrow, can continue to suppress and compress the pain. It is being present in the journey, wrestling with the pain, integrating it into the pilgrimage of my whole self…

For the new-best me, awaits on the other end for my soulmate, and kids…and for me.


The CW tends to start super hero shows out well, the new Black Lightning series is no different. Two episodes in and Jefferson Pierce’s life is being laid out. The lead is much older than most, if not all, of the CW heroes brought to the small screen. In comics, he first launched as a black-ploitation hero; then was a member of Batman’s team the Outsiders; onto the Justice League (before that, many forget the President Lex Luthor time when he was in Luthor’s cabinet as Secretary of Education). Milestone Comics Static (Shock) was a very visible nod to the hero as it was a teenager taking up the power.

Jefferson Pierce is a principal (in original comics a teacher) using the investment in education to hopefully lay new paths away from the 100-gang life for his community. Within Pierce’s body courses the power of the lightning, but he has chosen a path to make a difference when offered a choice by his wife Lyn. A choice he has stayed the path on while the darkness overtakes his city without his alter-ego out being the light. Hoping to save his marriage—yet still separated. Not re-dawning the costume until his daughters are taken into sex trafficking to rescue them—at Lyn’s insistence.

Which brings us to the question of addiction Lyn raises in Season One, Episode 2: Lwanda: Book of Hope. She states that he can’t go back for he was addicted to the power. Even with his community calling upon him out of the shadows as a rallying cry to freedom.

The statement on addiction made me think of 3 other stories that dealt with addiction in superheroes:

  • Roy Harper (Speedy, the Green Arrow’s Sidekick) during the awesome ripped from the headlines style run of Green Lantern-Green Arrow it is a 2-parter that reveals Roy’s heroin addiction. It delves into the orphan now abandoned by his adoptive father. The story was prophetic for its time in that it spoke to the lack of belonging that fed into addiction. The lack of belonging, and feeling no control leading to the one thing that can be controlled. It is through belonging he finds a path out of the darkness. A risk taken.
  • Hourman (Rex Tyler). This may be a long shot for anyone to remember, but Hourman was a golden age super hero, Member of the Justice Society, All-Star Squadron. His son took up the mantle later on. Why Hourman? Simple, he took a pill that for one hour gave him super powers. Miraclo. This was the story of a heroic man, who succumbed to the habit of popping the pill to transform his life from what he saw as the mundane to the heroic. The adrenaline rush not only of doing good, but literally of the magic pill serum coursing through his body. Never believing he could be a hero without the drug, never believing his life had meaning without. Pushing away his life for everything but Miraclo and the adventures that came.
  • The final one, is from Captain America in the early 1990’s I remember buying them from our local Ma’s & Pa’s convenience store every two weeks when each part of the 6 parter came out “Streets of Poison”. It is the basic war on drugs story from the streets. Yet Cap (Steve Rogers) shows great insight that his powers are a result of drugs. Cap had the super soldier serum drained from him, and continued being a hero. He may not have been as “super” as before, but he was still a well trained, hero hearted person driven to make a difference. Shining through that heroes will even strive to be heroes with or without the power source.

Which brings us back to the episode of Black Lightning and Lyn’s assertion the Pierce has an addiction to the life. Yes there is an adrenaline rush when it comes to combat, same as what comes with doing good works. Yet if it was the addiction he would not have been able to walk away so easily, and stay away from it. Perhaps as my wife pointed out in talking about it, this is a case of projection in that Lyn was addicted to being the girlfriend/wife of the super hero but disenfranchised by not being able to scream it from the rooftops, so she finds a new addiction—the ability to control someone.

The story could take other twists, that is the fun of the many forms the heroic meta-narratives can take. It is also part of the fun to watch these shows with friends and discuss what ifs, what you think, what may be a deeper underlying message.

For me, up to the end of episode 2 the Black Lightning is showing that heroes are those that struggle to be the light in the darkness. Heroes are those that work to change the tide. Will Pierce and Lyn’s debate on addiction fit one of the 3 noted above or something else entirely.

Is it an addiction? Or is it being a good citizen?


It is amazing

when one first realizes

that a piece of our own eternal

internal

freedom

is the release of

responsibility

self-imposed

for another’s choices and actions

these are made

in real time

and we

as observers

need to simply observer through the heart lens

of soul & love without judgment

and release the choice of the other

and ourselves

to be free

and know

that each of us,

has the internal volition

for a different choice