Be Still

This was inspired by a conversation I had with my grandfather and a video I posted on my Instagram (@sparcguidance) about the same subject.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am definitely one of those people who feels like they must always be doing something. If I’m not working, I feel like I’m wasting time and energy. I hate if I oversleep, even if I was up late the night before. Not seeing daily progress makes me antsy. Even if I try to have a PJ Day (you know, staying in your pajamas for the entire day), I feel guilty and stagnant.

As I vented all of these things to my grandfather, he calmly replied, “To me, it sounds like you need to just slow down for a moment. Everyone is always in a hurry to do something. When you get to my age, you’ll wish you sat still more often.”

At first, this made no sense to me. Are you kidding? This is the time to do all of the running, because I certainly don’t want to be trying to “hustle” in my 80’s. Then I thought about it. When we speed ahead, we tend to miss the signs. We miss the signals that the universe is trying to give us. I realized that I had missed a lot of previous signs to slow down. Now, I was in a place where I had no choice but to slow down because nothing was working out the way I wanted it to. Possibly more important, I was so busy trying to race ahead that I was missing a lot of beautiful things along the way. That was what I think my grandfather was really getting at. I wasn’t enjoying the scenery.

So, as we embark on the summer kick-off, take time out to enjoy the season. Literally stop and smell the roses (unless you have allergies like me…then please don’t). Go by the beach to catch the sunrise or sunset. Eat some summer fruit during your break. Above all, take time to be still. We are always running, coming, and going. Surely we can afford a few minutes (or even seconds) to take a breath and be still, can’t we?

Spiritual Guidance

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This was where I started.

Originally, this was the focus and center of this blog; to explore aspects of spirituality and how spiritual guidance works. Over time, and almost in line with my thesis creation, the blog merged with my passion for autism and psychology. This led to the present incarnation of the SPARC site.

As I continued, though, I began to notice something. It was becoming more and more difficult for me to consistently post and engage. It became more like a chore rather than a joy, and this made me step back and reexamine both my professional aspirations and my spiritual ones. To my dismay, they were no longer in sync with each other.

I then abandoned the spiritual aspect almost completely, going as far as to remove my previous spiritual posts completely from the blog. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was erasing a huge part of myself because I thought that I had to in order to assimilate into the autism field fully.

I realize now that this isn’t the case.

I essentially did the very thing that I always advise others not to do: I stopped listening to my own voice. I silenced her for the sake of trying to “fit in” more with the autism services communities, and in doing so I denied myself. In case you don’t know, that’s a huge no-no in my book.

Moving back to Florida led to a type of forced reset. Now almost completely removed from the autism field, I realized that I had gained and given all that I could there. It isn’t so much that I was shut out (although it felt like that at the time), but more like my contribution to that field was about to take another form, a form other than service provider.

I say all of that to say this: Autism will be getting its own page on this site. I will continue to post/blog about it and the possible implications of it with the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory. I’ve decided, though, that I need to honor that ignored aspect of me. I spent nearly three years studying and giving Spiritual Guidance, and to simply abandon something that brought such joy and completeness to both myself and others is unacceptable. This is where I am being guided to go at this time.

If someone on the spectrum or a family dealing with autism wants to work with me, I will happily do so. Please understand, though, that it will be through this lens of spiritual guidance. To be honest, it always was, I just never truly vocalized it. I am also still open to doing autism education workshops; these will continue in their traditional (non-spiritual) format. I will also continue to examine the MI theory, just with a different lens, so to speak.

In upcoming weeks, I will explain more about spiritual guidance itself on this site. Please feel free to contact me at sparcguidance@gmail.com if you want more clarification, information about my practice, or have some specific spiritual questions.

 

New Layout!

So I played around and picked a new layout for the site. If you’re wondering where the pages are, just click the red button in the top right hand corner (it’s in the center if you’re on your phone), and voila! A new page detailing the classes/workshops has also been added.

I am still uncovering the features of this layout, so if you have any questions about it (or can’t find something), please drop me a line and let me know!

Holding Space

Over the last few months, this concept has popped up numerous times in both my professional and personal life. It’s not as straightforward as traditional psychological terms and approaches, but I wanted to speak on my view of it since most of us will be in this situation at some point.

There will be moments where you simply won’t know what to say to a person. Perhaps they just lost someone, or are ranting madly because they’ve been wronged in some way. There’s really nothing you can do to help the situation. So, what do you do?

As a therapist, I’ve had these moments. I’ve had to be the solid pillar while someone’s life was falling apart. I’ve had to break seemingly bad news to parents about their child. I’ve had to sit with a teenager while her brother lay in a hospital, dying. In all of these situations, I had to realize that nothing I say is going to make the situation go away. I can’t remove the pain. The other thing I realized was that I could not bring myself to give some kind of rote response. “You’ll be okay” or “Everything happens for a reason” won’t cut it here.

Here is where the concept of holding space comes in. You simply make that space a container. In these moments, people often just need to express. There is no pressure to think up a solution for the person. They already know that you can’t do anything about it. They sometimes already know that they’ll get through it. In that moment, though, they need to process. They need somewhere safe to vocalize their frustrations, sorrow, confusion, and occasionally socially unacceptable thoughts.

Of course, this is easier said than done. In the therapy field, we are almost programmed to think up solutions, and we may think up some right at these difficult moments. A lot of times, though, that’s not what people need. They need to feel a sense of peace, to know that at their most vulnerable moment, you are making them feel safe. I have been on the flip side of this, where I expected a place to be able to express myself, and instead was reduced to tears by someone who felt that I needed a “reality check” at that moment. No, I didn’t. I needed to process my feelings, and I was demeaned for it. After that, I never trusted that person as a confidant again, and I learned how not to be with regards to future clients.

You don’t have to be a therapist to do this. Sometimes friends and family just need to talk, and maybe sit in silence for a bit. We are often so afraid of silence, when it can be an amazing gift. Silence allows processing, and it allows Spirit to enter the picture. To me, this is holding space: creating a safe, peaceful environment to allow another to process and express…and to allow Spirit to enter and help heal.

Transformation

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This word has pretty much been my state of being for the last two years or so, and let me tell you, it has not been easy.

By its very definition, transformation is painful. You are changing form. You are becoming something else. You are shedding an old skin, switching out parts, or removing a former state of mind. It is tough work.

SPARC itself has changed a million times since I first started thinking of the program. It looks nothing like it did two years ago. Back then, I wanted a spiritual center. I remember going to an all-day training, and nearly every other person said the same thing, that they wanted to create a spiritual center. I soon canned that idea, because I realized I wanted to narrow my focus. That was not an easy thing to do, at all. It can be very hard to abandon an idea you were so excited about, but you have to trust that the next one will be much more aligned to what you are truly meant to do and be.

Just as transformation can be difficult for you, it can be difficult for those around you as well. In the last 24 months, my friendship circle has drastically changed. It had to change because I changed, and some people within that circle could not seem to accept this fact. They eventually removed themselves, and while it was difficult, it was necessary. Even now, this process is continuing. Those who stay in your circles may need to adjust to who you are becoming and what you’re doing, so go easy on them. 🙂

The worst thing one can do in this situation, though, is run from the transformation. I’ve noticed that most people do not stop running until their present situation is worse than the transformation. I am guilty of this myself, but if I had not been willing to let go and allow my ideas (and myself) to evolve, transform, and reinvent themselves, I would still be stuck on the stale, undeveloped thoughts.

Running from your transformation is running from yourself, from your opportunities, and often from your destiny. You have to be willing to lean into it, and trust that the Universe (or Sprit/God/the Divine, etc.) has your best interest and growth in mind.

Then, hold on tight!

Believe In Yourself- Video

I have followed this YouTuber for awhile, mostly because he is hilarious (and has an amazing voice!) and is a great distraction from life at times. Every now and then, though, he comes out with an amazing vlog like this one. You can start at about the :30 mark to avoid a few programming things. It’s almost 9 minutes long, but totally worth it.

There is a bit of language, but not much. Also, if you like gamers on YouTube, he’s a very entertaining one. His name is Markiplier.

About Happiness…

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I’m starting to think that being happy in America is either an insult to miserable people, or a word that people use when they think they’re happy when they aren’t.

Actually, it’s both.

I’ve seen and encountered both, and of the two, the second is the saddest one to me. Being an intuitive (aka I pick up on people’s emotional states whether I want to or not), I cringe when people try to convince me that they are in FluffyLand when I know for certain that they are not. It is especially painful when it is someone that I care about. Oftentimes they do not even realize that they aren’t happy. They just look at what they have, think “well, based on my possession of these things, I should be happy,” and conclude that they are happy. Meanwhile, they look, talk, and act like they are miserable.

Because they actually are.

First, if you are depending on outside things (material things, a relationship, a job, etc.) to create your happiness, I hate to break it to you but you’re probably already miserable. I know people get sick of hearing this, but it’s true: happiness comes from within. It comes from a state of being content with yourself, your life, and your purpose. I’m not saying that you’re dancing around singing Disney songs with forest animals 24/7. No, at that point you’re no longer in reality (though the occasional Disney singalong is totally allowed and encouraged). You can’t be slap happy all of the time, but you can have a general feeling of contentment.

By the way, this goes double for relationships; why put that amount of pressure on someone? They have to be responsible for both their own happiness and yours? Would you want that kind of pressure…heck, has someone already put that kind of pressure on you?

Second, other people often see it before you do. If someone you know has that intuition and is constantly asking how you are and checking in on you, they’ve picked up on something. We’re not trying to be annoying or ruin your artificial high (because it is artificial), but we are concerned. I can think of about three people right now off the top of my head who are constantly declaring how happy they are, and their appearance and behavior say the complete opposite. If I’m asking, it is because I see the truth and I care.

Third, becoming the source of your own happiness is no easy feat. Our society practically trains us from birth to seek happiness everywhere except within us. Happiness is often ridiculed in the U.S. culture as well, implying that if you are happy then you are clearly a psychopath because there is no reason to be happy in this society. Mind you, this is very different from the spiritual bypassing I mentioned in my last post. That is still a form of fake happiness.

All of that being said, I cannot tell you what your inner happiness looks like. All I can say is that you will know it when you feel it. One of my favorite moments of it was a day at the ocean. When a wave suddenly overtook my legs and soaked my sneakers, socks, and jeans, I started laughing and spinning happily in the ocean water and foam. I couldn’t care less about my clothes at that moment. I was in pure bliss, connected to the ocean in a manner that I didn’t think possible. This is one reason why I take the stance that I do with regards to autism. I have seen my clients in moments of pure bliss, and I have seen well-meaning professionals snatch that moment away in the name of progress. Who are we to take their happiness away like that? Why don’t we join in on it?

Why don’t we learn how to be happy from them?

Thesis Update

Hello all!

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind, but I am super excited at the fact that my thesis on autism and spiritual/creative gifts has a thesis committee and is in the process of going through the ethics committee! My thesis committee has been amazing at helping me fine tune and enhance the proposal so that it is concise, understandable, and academic. The part that I really love, though, is how excited the committee is about the topic.

There is certainly something to the saying “when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear.” In the last 2-3 weeks, I have seen several teachers appear. These are others who, like myself, refuse to look at autism as just a set of behaviors to be corrected. Some are on the spectrum themselves. The teachers have also been of different ages, as several of my young clients are also teaching me every day.

In the next few weeks, I will be moving into the interview stage. I have a couple of kiddos and adults in mind, but I am always open to more voices. Even if they don’t end up in the thesis paper, they will probably be in the book I’m planning to write about the subject/program once I graduate in June.

I’m in the Bay Area of California, but thanks to this lovely invention called the Internet, I can also include people who are from all over. Even if you don’t want to participate in the thesis or the book, I love to chat with people about this subject. In my area, there are a handful of us in the field who feel this way. We would all like to see that handful grow.

Interested in participating, or know someone who may? Have a question about what I’m studying, or my plans for the SPARC program? Just want to say hello? Shoot me an email at sparcguidance@gmail.com.