Resetting Your Brain

Give Worry and Anxiety the Boot

First, I want to say that I have been blessed late in my life with the God-given gift of writing. 

Secondly, for the opportunity to share my gift with you, and the world.

Without you, my words would be lost in today’s shift in the translation of “meaningful” words and “mindless” dialog. Words with meaning that can be backed up with powerful examples of success.. that translate into powerful messages of mindfulness, truth, humanitarianism, hope, and a cure.

This subject is one of deep concern to me and hopefully to all of you who are reading this. My hope is that this message will spread to others who may not understand that they play an essential role in eliminating this provincial stigma of “mental illness”. I don’t like ‘labels”, especially that one, so at this point, I am going to refer to people like us as to some degree, “Emotionally Wounded”.

Everyone exists within the spectrum of a brain, that if not properly cared for, has the power to do more harm than good. Now if this brain is “fed” with the right nutrients, it will receive the voice of God and become your best ally. An ally that will help lead you to a life worth living.   

The discussion about mental illness needs to be discussed at the dinner table, not just behind closed doors within hospitals and mental health facilities (with “understaffed”, and in too many cases, “uncaring” mental health providers). Not to mention the doctors who prescribe medications for their own experiment, lining their pockets with dirty money.

I don’t know how some of them can look at themselves in a mirror or sleep at night.  

This is a subject very close to my heart and needs to take its rightful place in today’s mainstream dialog. It requires more than this blog post for a true discussion, so I have begun to write a book about this crucial subject, which I am hoping to have it available before Christmas. Please wish me luck!

When things get broken and we are provided with the right tools, they can be fixed. If we have the correct tools, and we use them for what they were intended for, we will reap the fruits of our labor over time. However, we are not just “things”..  we are humans with extremely complex brains (through situational trauma), which can blow a fuse.

We need to get proper help to people (especially our children) before their wired circuitry gets unraveled and disaster strikes. We need to raise a generation of young people with healthy brains. It will take a generation to do it, but it will be worth it as long as it can sustain itself for future generations.   

What doctors have known for many years is that certain parts of the brain hold different types of cognitive responses. What they can’t see, is how the complexities of the everyday life of a person suffering from the spectrum of mental illness can cause abnormal behavior. So what are we supposed to do when some of the tools available are broken and ineffective as well? How do we fix the reality of worry and anxiety living invisibly inside of an unhealthy brain? While I’m at it, let me throw hatred, anger, and inability to love and trust into the mix. Worry is a component of anxiety and the proper tools to fix them and a host of other life’s complexities, lie within a wasteland of a shattered mental health system that is unwilling to fix itself. You can’t fix a brain until you fix the environment holding it hostage. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that if you or someone you know is suffering from this unrelenting malaise of symptoms, there is a cure. It just takes time, hard work, and success will only come in “stages”. Remember, the end result relies on a wide and diffused spectrum of determination. One thing to never forget. Start treating your brain like you would treat your mother, your children, and your friends. Fill it with love, hope, and kindness.

Medical providers leave out the most important “unprescribed” and easiest to gain access to medicine (that’s been available for centuries).. the healing power of God. He created the brain and he knows what it needs to heal itself, and he holds our genes, molecules, cells, and the receptors of life.

One thing to never forget. No two people are the same, and the cause for human connectedness is far greater than our differences. Until I finish my book, please start treating your brain like you would treat your mother, your family, and your best friend. Begin the practice of filling your head with daily thoughts of love, hope, kindness, and God — the great programmer of the infinite truth.

Blessings

An Ambitious Mind

The inner voice of a sixteen-year-old boy

Hi everyone, my name is Dante. I am sixteen years old, a junior in high school, and ever since the day I entered middle school I have always been on the high honor roll. After I graduate from high school, I will be enrolled in Lemoyne College. I can’t wait! I love going to school! I learn more and more every day and I get to spend time with my many friends and the wonderful and caring teachers. I love reading books and participating in all kinds of what I call “fun stuff”. In the summertime, I spend most of my days swimming and just hanging out around the pool. I’ve always considered water, nature, animals, the wind, the stars, and the sky as friends. When I was very young, people always wondered why I didn’t talk much, I never looked at them, and why I was always pointing and writing letters in the air. When I overheard someone say how much I preferred to be by myself, it made me feel desperately lonely. It still does.  

 I love to go for long walks, and many times I would just take off running as fast as I can for no good reason and I couldn’t seem to stop. Nature and all that is a part of it feels like a comfortable blanket that is wrapped around me to keep me safe and warm. I love music concerts with lots of people around me, and my mom and grandmother always have to drag me away from the State Fair every year. I’m usually way too pumped up on caffeine. One time I didn’t sleep for three days! 

My best friend is my new thirteen-year-old sister Alyssa. We’ve always been inseparable. I’m a real fussy eater and when I throw temper tantrums or do something wrong, I get told off or laughed at but Alysa is always there to calm me down. Then there are the times when I drive my mother crazy. She may not be aware of it, but sometimes she drives me nuts too. All of this sounds pretty “normal” doesn’t it? Well, in my world it is. 

The world can be a scary place for everyone, but more so for those like me who have a hard time expressing themselves. We know what we want to say, but the words sometimes get lost somewhere in our heads among lots of other stuff swirling around. Sometimes I just repeat things people tell me to say.  Even so, I have been known at inappropriate times to shout out some pretty choice words. If you’ve ever met someone like me who has a hard time “fitting in”, you should spend time with them, I’m sure they would like that a lot. I keep changing over time, just like you because my brain is wired differently than yours.

I guess by now you may have figured out that I live in a world referred to as the Autism Spectrum. Now before you go on feeling sorry for me, please don’t. You see I am no different than you or any other kid my age. I live a happy and fulfilled life thanks to the people who love me; especially my mom and my grandmother. From the day I was born I have been surrounded by angels. They are my friends. You may not think they exist, but they do. Over time I have grown to be able to do a number of things that I couldn’t do when I was younger, and nowadays I’m a lot sunnier.   

From what I see, it’s time to celebrate the things that make us different, as well as what makes us the same. Let’s face it, we’re equal, we’re different, we all need one another, and that no one should be left out or alone. Spending time with other people with disabilities like me will be a rare look for you inside a beautiful mind; an entry into an entirely unknown world. By listening to each other’s  “voice”, we will understand its echoes and stretch our vision of what it means to be human. It will astound you, ground you, and I know that I and other people like me will feel less alone. I just want to be the best person I can be. 

I hope my words will help you understand how painful it is when you can’t express yourself to the people you love. If what I have said connects with your heart in even some small way, then I believe you’ll be able to connect back to the hearts of other people with Autism. 

Well, that’s it for now. Helping people is such an easy thing to do. All you have to do is show up! 

Maybe I’ll come back someday so we can talk some more. I guess I’ll talk, you’ll listen. Sorry, I still get mixed up sometimes. 

Until then, be kind, be careful, and just be yourself!

Dante

This Is The Place

This is the place;

Where the seasons that are four remind us that we sit at the threshold of natures magnificent door

Where rivers, lakes, ponds, and trails, wait patiently for our return 

Where life is good again once the clouds roll by

Where roads and sidewalks lead us to places we call our destiny 

Where there are speed bumps and speed limits, but no limits to what we can do together   

Where there will be no more wasted days or nights, 

Where neighbors count more than just a number on a house

Where we can wake up to nature’s alarm clock and stay out until the cows come home

Where the days add up by counting our blessings,

Where children no longer live in the shadows, but with their heads held high to the sky

Where the lights, tinsel, and gently falling snowflakes of Christmas, take the child that lives 

within us on a sleigh ride down Memory Lane

Where we can celebrate normal everyday

Where we don’t listen to what the doubters say

Where we put our roots down deep and watch things grow, 

Where life is as good as gold, with an abundance of things that can’t be bought nor sold

Where we put our hands to the sky to reach closer to someone who we’ve lost 

Where the things that really matter will always matter

Where wings that fly don’t just belong to Tinker Bell or the birds of the sky  

Blessings everyone.

Is Autumn only at the fall of the leaf

Autums prismatic colors arrive as crisp and as golden as an apple, while you carve your smile into a thousand pumpkins.

When it comes to Autumn splendor, there is no place on earth to feel it better than in Central New York’s  Leatherstocking country– our home. It’s a seasonal feast that captures an abundant palate of unforgettable nourishment, and fills our plates with plenty of colors to stimulate our five senses; especially our intuitive sixth sense of “mysticism”.  It’s a door that opens to a world full of the sublime things yet to come. Autumn makes everything seem right with the world. Things in life just seem to be “better.

The kaleidoscope of magnificent colors is bewildering. Pumpkins, burning leaves, apple cider, apple fritters, and a never-ending assortment of some of the best apples grown this side of the Pacific ocean, don’t even begin to round out the menu. All roads lead to one of nature’s best performances. Take the back roads as much and as far as you can. They will lead you to the small villages, quaint shops, the best food, and everyone’s favorites; antique shops, old red barns, and covered bridges. It’s time for all of us to surrender to the magical world of Autumn in Leatherstocking country.

As you can tell, I’m already very contagious, so if you want just a little of what I’ve got, wave to me if you see me. I’ll be out there somewhere and I’ll even buy you breakfast!  It’s the American thing to do!

Now get at it…

Beyond The Pavement, Feelin’ Right At Home

The Place Where We Belong

Central New York’s Leatherstocking Country is one of the most beautiful places to live in the world; a statement I have consistently heard from hundreds of people I know who have traveled to almost every country there is.

Within the boundaries of the five counties that make up this sublime chunk of American soil, lies a world filled with exceptional people, places, and things of great significance and deep historical value; and it’s only a stone’s throw away. (Writers aren’t supposed to use clichés, but I didn’t have the time to make up a better one).

Time has moved on, but the villages are still colored with a golden glow, shaded with elms, framed with woods, lakes, ponds, and streams, and they haven’t changed a bit. There are backcountry roads and covered bridges, which will lead you across plowed fields, battlefields, down hidden scenic paths, and hiking trails that will coax you along to places yet to be discovered. The call of Mother Nature still rings out to each and every one of us loud and clear; her voice echoes the beauty, peace, and tranquility she offers throughout all of her four marvelously distinct seasons. 

This place we call home steeped in Iroquois history, succinct fictional stories, celebrated fables, and back roadhouses with one or more gables, is where together as neighbors we can do the most good.

Get out as often as you can and make new friends, new memories, and seek out places and things you never knew existed within the boundaries you set for yourself.  Take your dog along to scare away any varmints, pocket pets, along with a menagerie of other delightful critters you find along the way. Your children will take in a pocketful of miracles and their heads will be chock full of delightful memories that they will unlock someday to share with their children when the time comes. So, rise up with the beautiful sunrise, and don’t come home until the sun sets on the horizon.

Isn’t that what home is really all about anyway? You know, that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you know you belong to someone or something? Especially when your dog and kids have a few smudges of chocolate around their mouths when you pull into the driveway when you get home.  With all of its unmatched beauty, this place is for you and your children to stay put and to call your home. Besides, there’s not one blade of grass in the whole wide world greener than the grass in our own backyard.

Love where you live. It’s the best place there is to call home.

Peace and Harmony On A Country Road

An uncommon Encounter 

After my daily walk through Eastwood last Sunday, I did some writing, then headed out with a sense of impetus to look for a roadside stand that sold a stone statue of the Blessed Mother. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so the decision was made to go the extra few miles and visit some friends in Canastota. Since no one was around, I decided it was time to head back home. My choice at that point was to stay on the main highway or to take the road less traveled. It was an easy choice for me. I turned off the highway onto a secondary road, and a little way up the road I spotted a small cemetery.

As soon as I entered, the feeling of “intent” got stronger. I drove my car to the top of the hill, then walked throughout the cemetery taking pictures of old gravestones, not paying any attention to the ground underneath me. I tripped over a gravestone, lost my balance, and fell to the ground. I got up, brushed myself off, and thought; maybe there was a reason I tripped over that particular stone. I remained a bit curious. It was a very old flat stone embedded in the dirt with a corner exposed just enough to catch someone’s foot. I was going to take a picture of it, but I don’t remember why I didn’t. Everything on it was completely faded and unreadable except for the name Issac.

It was time to leave.      

After a few miles, I came to a fork in the road. I drove onto a secondary dirt road and about a mile down, I pulled my car to the side of the road with a beautiful view of open fields leading up to what appeared to be a good-sized farm. Coming down the road was a horse-drawn carriage with an Amish couple. As they passed by the husband looked straight ahead, while his wife held an infant cradled securely in her lap, glanced at me with an expression of deep determination. I headed down the road into the quietness of the late afternoon countryside, while the serenity of the moment opened up around me with a welcoming voice. 

Now with a clear view of the farm on my left, my eyes caught sight of a small group of people heading down a tree-lined dirt road on the opposite side of the farm. It wasn’t long before I caught their attention. A few more steps ahead and I noticed two people heading back up the road. The others stayed where they were. When we caught sight of each other we shared a cordial “Hello”. They appeared to be a husband and wife and they stood in silence waiting for me to speak. I introduced myself and explained what I had just witnessed in regard to the couple in the buggy. I said that when I realized that they were Amish, it piqued my curiosity.

The husband was cordial, but a bit suspicious. We continued talking, and by then the rest of his family had come and gathered just behind them. Two teenage girls, two girls in their twenties, a boy and girl both around the age of 5. 

They were all in plain dress, very well behaved, and respectful. The father did all the talking. He and I discussed our biblical faith, living a simple life, while both of us holding onto peace as a core value; our belief in a Godly way of life. He asked a few more questions, and from the tone of his voice and facial expressions from the answers I gave, I felt that we had already established a sincere and trusting friendship. 

The more we spoke the more curious I became, and I felt comfortable enough to ask if I could share fellowship with them at another time. He agreed. I felt his gesture of friendship was sincere and genuine; from the heart. I stood wanting more of them and I would like to think they felt the same. I plan on going back next Sunday. Even if our fellowship ended on that day, I would remember the moments spent with these scriptural people and the pastoral land that God made.  

On the surface it appeared their lifestyle to be staid and inflexible, however, it reflects a genuine way of life with an abundance of modesty, obedience, equality, and simplicity. They want to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they leave behind, not by physical appearance. My exact thoughts. Thou shall not make unto thyself a graven image. Dressed as not to draw attention to oneself, it is unlikely not to notice.

One more thing.

When I mentioned my little “mishap” in the cemetery, the man said that his great grandfather is buried there. I asked for his name. He replied, “Issac”. I never did get the man’s name.

I guess I’ll just have to go back Sunday and find out. 

My Darling Soldier Girl

My Darling Soldier Girl
Is a source of pride and joy
She marches with the best of them
Keeps up with soldier boys

My Darling Soldier Girl
Loves country, friends, and family
She’s capable and confident
There’s nothing she can’t be

My Darling Soldier Girl
Reaches for the moon and sky
She’s bright, brave, and beautiful
There’s nothing she won’t try

My Darling Soldier Girl
Is so strong, yet gentle too
There’s nothing in this world
That my soldier girl can’t do

– Carol Wood aka Platoon Nana

The Power of One

There are many kinds of pressures that are applied today, to get people to join the “majority of numbers”… to get them to move in a specific direction. There also exists the pressure of appearance, where one who “looks” differently or “sounds” different, is made out to seem foolish or “out of step” with the times.

Then comes the pressure of dogma, where one who thinks differently is made to look and feel like a heretic treading on long-established sacred vows. The pressure of “force”, where one who remains faithful to their own “voice”, begins to feel endangered by doing so through the loss of relationships, work, and financial support. There also exists the pressure of moral conflict—in which those who hold different views from oneself feel equally strongly about the moral integrity and depth with which they hold dear to them. 

The last and most difficult kind of pressure is for a majority of one to contend with are moral truths. 

For moral truths come in many sizes and temperaments, requiring great clarity and great love to see that others who hold different perspectives may also hold a “portion” of the truth, yet be different from oneself.

In the end, a “majority of one” is not an isolated individual, but one who is committed to the future of humanity and seeks to improve that future in whatever ways are possible. This can only occur through the commitment to a way of thinking and feeling that influences the consciousness of others by its very strength and depth, and by the force of its own truth. 

For this reason, it is up to each of us who cares about the future of humanity to live as a majority of one. A single voice of vision and integrity, that exists within the larger majority of numbers. Such a voice arises out of spiritual depth.

With a firm conscience, it continually pursues the deepening of truth and understanding through the seeking of clarity; and through an ongoing effort to align with the source of all truth.

Americas Flag, Revisited.

There seems to be an unwillingness to understand why it’s necessary to commit one’s loyalty to a flag.

To understand the importance of this homage, we must first understand its symbolism

Originally the symbol and banner of the thirteen colonies, its form, and colors, were not chosen on the basis of rational thought. Its form and colors were chosen of an intuition infused by truth and guidance, which led to the correlation between the people, and the flag that America came to call her own.

It was on the intention that the founders of this great nation, that its citizens, be ordained the watchful and guiding eye over its destiny. At the time of her birth, America’s flag was simply bands of red and white, and a circle of stars against a background of blue. Yet, in its simplicity, lay a depth of meaning and purpose. The red is emblematic of the blood, that was shed in the war that led to the establishment of our independent republic. The white stripes that accompany the red, signifies the higher realms of purpose that connect mankind. Finally, the blue background against which the stars are placed is a symbol of the eternal being of God.

It represents the Infinite, out of which both America’s identity and the earth itself have been constructed. The blue that represents America’s relationship to God, remains as the assurance that this connection will never change no matter what ideology becomes popular.

It’s why “In God, We Trust” is written on all of her currency, and why in so many other instances, the connection with the eternal has been enunciated as part of America’s most transcendent document. The stars on the blue background identify the composite image showing the many changes from thirteen original colonies, to now representing the much vaster size of fifty states. The number of stars in the original pattern was shaped in the form of a circle, a symbol of unity.

This flag of America is the hallmark of her sacred heart. Her soul is a nation whose spiritual name is love.  

The debate over who made the first American flag may go on forever, but in any case, the Stars and Stripes were finally flown for the first time in September 1777 during the Revolutionary War.

The cost of a flag today is minimal; the value of its true spiritual worth will forever remain incalculable.

Vulnerability, the last thing I want you to see is the real me.

We are living in a world that to some of us seems to be a world without connection. I am not referring to the world of being connected by technology, but the world of being connected to each other. My belief is that we are neo-biologically wired to feel connected to one another, but there is one major reason we deny that wonderfully human emotion called love to grow, and that is — vulnerability.

With all this “data without a soul” we seem to seek every day, our perception of if you can measure it, it does not exist, allows us to become disconnected from each other and prevents us from being human.

Life is messy, love it anyway
Don’t jump into discomfort, lean into it
Have the courage to be imperfect
Connection is why we are here, it gives real meaning to our lives
We believe we are worthy of love but fear that we are not worthy of connection
Find that compassion to be kind to yourself first — then you can be kind to others
As a result of our own authenticity, we will gain a compassionate connection to others around us
Fully embrace “vulnerability”, believe that what makes you vulnerable —  also makes you beautiful
Revealing all that we are is not comfortable, but it is necessary. Without it you can never be the “real” you 
Letting someone in so far they could hurt you, will allow them to give you everything
Vulnerability is the willingness to say I love you “first” —  with no guarantees of receiving it back 
We try to numb our vulnerability, but we can’t selectively “unfeel” our emotions
There are no assurances in life, but let yourself be seen, and love with an open heart
Being unprotected is the birthplace of love, life, joy, and belonging to God

I am empty, come and fill my soul with who you are. I am at a loss for words, but in my silence still hear me.

But most of all — believe that you are enough…