Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Such low expectations....

I participated in a health insurance forum yesterday. Former Oregon Governor Kitzhaber is leading a project called the Archimedes Movement. It's focus is to confront the reality that the current health insurance system is failing us and must be redesigned to meet the needs of the 21st century.

At one point in the process, we broke up into small groups with the 'assignment' to design a health insurance system for Oregon. What would we want?--universal access?, means testing? prevention, public health education?--. In the 20 minutes allotted, we brainstormed lots of different ideas. In the course of the conversation, I threw out that with universal access there should also be some level of responsibility/commitment by members to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I said this based on the fact that, 80% of the illnesses that we'll be dealing with are "lifestyle" illnesses. The top four areas where we spend health care funds--heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and obesity--all have a major component in how we live our lives--so prevention was as necessary as any medical intervention.

Instantly, all the doctors in the group jumped on this and said "We shouldn't penalize patients for not meeting a health criteria--many patients simply can not due to poverty, mental health issues and 'diseases' like obesity (?), be held responsible for what is outside their control."

And you know, I know these doctors think they're well-meaning, but in truth, they've just trapped their patients in the 0-5 level of health care that has resulted in our terribly dysfunctional, fix it after its broke, reactive health care system--the very one we need to change.

One doctor expressed that many of her patients have drug problems, dual diagnosed mental illnesses and multiple generational/family health issues--along with poverty. She was essentially saying...This population can't function on a 6-10 level--they simply can not learn to be proactive, know themselves as whole human beings, take responsibility--they are victims and that's all they'll ever be.

We didn't have time to discuss this further....but I would argue to her that I've worked with this population--women coming out of prison with everything she said--drugs, mental illness, dysfunctional family.....and when I introduced the Life Puzzle model to them--their response was, "Wow, how come I've never seen this before?" They proved once again that most of us live on the 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum-simply because that is what we see all around us and we rarely see the 6-10 side. My experience showed that when you share the 6-10 side of the Choosing Continuum, people will gravitate towards it.

Unfortunately, as these doctors made clear in this meeting, we have accepted such low expectations--0-5, reactive, unconscious, victim to the world around us. The medical/health system is perpetuating the 0-5 and the outcome results in very poor health. Despite throwing more money in our health care systems than anyone else in the world, we rank only #37 in world wide health quality. I don't know why we're surprised--a 0-5 health system could never lead to great health!

What does that mean to you? Choosing to build your own Life Puzzle is the option you'll have--but you'll have to choose it. Our medical system isn't ready for it yet!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Zaadz anyone?

Life Puzzle is all about creating whole and dynamic lives in a world that is otherwise focused on the linear: grow up, get a job, house, cars, kids, stuff, die (consumerism). Life Puzzle challenges this old mindset and says, as we build in all 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF, we have the opportunity to consciously create our lives. It is a great way to live, yet only about 10% of the population even has a clue that this is possible.

One of the complaints from new Life Puzzle makers is that they feel relatively alone out there--and often don't have anyone to share their ideas and thoughts with. To that end, I wanted to share a website that you might find useful. It is and its focus is to connect people and businesses who are on the leading edge of new ideas.

Zaadz gives you the ability to post 'pods' around topics you'd like to discuss and as others see it, they click on and 'join' the discussion. It is quite a fun experience. Right now I'm in a pod called Beyond Ishmael (discussing Daniel Quinn's book, Ishmael) and Peace through Commerce (focusing on improving global peace by encouraging economic development in third world countries). Actually I challenged the originator of the Peace through Commerce pod--and we've now been going back and forth trying to find common ground.

In the course of this dialogue, he shared a lecture by Peter Barnes of the Schumacher Institute (Small is Beautiful). Capitalism, the Commons and Divine Right which I think is well done and think you'll find quite interesting. As a Life Puzzle-maker, it will provide insight relative to several pieces of your life--financial responsibility, community & environment, parenting/family building and work!

One of the main themes Barnes talks about is how we currently 'revere' money above all. We revere it so much that we have given it 'divine' status. "Capitalism (moneyism) is the thing" and we are all so thoroughly trained in this divine status that we can't even see that we're at the expense of life. He is encouraging people to challenge the divinity of money--and essentially saying it is time to shift and put our energy on 'revering' the Commons (or I would call it the Community of Life--which includes air, water, land, animal, plant etc.).

As he says, “If we were to revere the commons (community of life) as fervently as we currently revere capital, our divine right would shift'. In other words…we would have LIFE driven economy and the 'market' would serve LIFE in creative, entrepreneurial ways to to improve, support and grow LIFE. What a fabulous way to spend our energies–with LIFE as the outcome, everything we do would enhance life. Yes, there will be a 'market' and money will be made, but what we do, and where we choose to put our energy would be different than it is right now where MONEY is the primary outcome. With LIFE as the outcome, we design cars that ensure that life is not destroyed. Our current cars don't enhance life--they spew massive amounts of CO2 which is leading to global warming and the total destruction of life. But our new cars are lightweight, use solar energy to power them and are then totally recyclable when its time to do that. We'll make money yes, but mostly we'll build the Community of Life.

As it is right now, we revere capital. Thus, we have a Money driven economy and the 'market' serves it in its creative entrepreneurial ways to improve, support and blatantly to grow MONEY. If LIFE is lost in the process--it is considered acceptable! While a small portion of folks are having a great time doing this (the upper 2% which control 98% of all money), massive amounts of humans are enslaved to this limited vision and we stay stuck.

I think it is bringing forward and exposing this skewed 'reverence'–because we are so blinded by the golden glint of 'divine right of capital' we can't even see that it is problematic, that is of utmost importance. It seems to me anyway, that when people examine this–just like when they first learn about the 'whole” Life Puzzle–its a 'duh, wow, now that I see it, its so obvious' that sets the foundation for actually being able to shift out of the old and into a new world that values natural, social and economic systems in a balanced whole.

At any rate, these are some of the ideas being discussed at Take a moment to look around and see if this is a good place to put some of your time in the process of building your Life Puzzle...a piece at a time with the whole you in mind!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In the footsteps of....

While dusting on a Saturday, I turned on CNN hoping to find something interesting to watch. Lo and behold, Christiane Amanpour's piece "In the Footsteps of Bin Laden". I found it so interesting that I put down the dust rag and watched.

She was interviewing a whole host of people who knew Osama Bin Laden, grew up with him, worked with him or perhaps were related to him. In the process she peeled away the layers of a terrorist and showed the human that had grown up in Saudi Arabia as a child of one of the wealthiest families in the world. She helps us travel through his childhood, on to college and eventually, by 21 into the desert to live the life of a religious ascetic who, influenced by extreme fundamentalists eventually became one of them and then, the leader of them.

Because of my background in early childhood development and counseling, I'm always interested in how early childhood influences manifest themselves in our adulthood. I know childhood plays a huge roll in the choices that one makes as an adult--yet most adults are not aware of and rarely connect how a specific childhood experience results in a future adult choice. Much of the design of the Life Puzzle has been to help clients see this connection so they can reassess choices from a 'whole adult' instead of 'yet formed child'. (And please let me be clear--we are not 'victims' to our childhoods--we can not use our childhoods to excuse our adult behaviors--only to explain them.)

As I watched Osama Bin Laden's childhood journey, it became obvious that his 'edges' and thus SELF development were highly influenced by many outside sources. He, like many of us in childhood, was deeply unsure of his SELF. In the quest to remove this anxiety, he allowed outside 'systems' to fill his SELF. He's not unusual in this--but unfortunately, the outside systems that poured through his still to be formed edges/SELF were overpowering and essentially usurped a healthy loving SELF. Today, his SELF promotes death and destruction as he serves an outside system (fundamentalism/terrorism) to which his SELF is now beholden.

At one point, his family approaches him and requests that he return home and abandon the fundamentalist/terrorist path. But it was too late, he'd handed his SELF over to the religion. Like the child who had joined a cult, he could no longer hear his family's love and support. He rejected them outright--because to walk away from fundamentalism/terrorism would feel like walking away from his "true self"--though in truth, he'd abandoned his full SELF formation long ago.

When we hand over our SELF to any institution--religion, marriage, work/money--on the assumption that in doing so our SELF will be fulfilled, we instead end up with the exact opposite. It provides a quick fix, but prevents us from truly tapping into our inner SELF which takes much longer to achieve--fully into our 30's and 40's. . Sadly, Bin Laden had handed his life over by 21--and has remained stuck ever since.

I thought, while Osama Bin Laden's case might be the extreme, the reality is, this happens to many of us in our late teens/early twenties. I recall talking with a gentleman who shared what a close call he'd had that might've ended with him joining the Chicago Mob! He was 18 and as we all do at that age, he needed money. He had a friend whose father was in the Mob--and his friend was willing to introduce him/help him get a job. While that entry level job would have paid well and been rather benign, in truth, it would have set him on a path that would take him deeper and deeper into the Mob. It would've been a no way out path in a very short amount of time. As he said, "I was insecure, under a lot of pressure and I'm looking at guys driving fancy cars, wearing great clothes and flashing big bankrolls of c-notes!" "Falling into step with these guys looked like a successful route--only then my friend pulled out a gun and it jolted me back to a reality that the solution for my insecurity offered not only cars, clothes and money--but also death." I thanked my friend and walked away--but what if I hadn't?"

I think today of Osama Bin Laden--what if he had returned to his family? What if he had been able to see that he was using religion to fill his insecurity of SELF. What if he'd been able to see the massive levels of destruction these choices would make?

Most amazing to me is how often people with poorly formed edges/SELF end up in positions of power. Their false SELF acts as if it is powerful, yet if you look under the false SELF, what you find is insecurity and fear of true self. By this I mean, when you have a whole SELF, you respect your body and other people's bodies (thus murder/death is only in self-defense), you are aware of and in charge of your emotions, you make conscious choice and accept the consequences--while respecting that others can make choices that you do not agree yet you do not insist they choose as you do, and you honor that you are greater than no one--but no one is greater than you--and you are focused in seeing love in all. Clearly, Osama Bin Laden's edges are missing--but Christiane Amanpour's documentary gives us a glimpse as to how this happened. Again, this documentary is not an 'excuse' for his behavior, just an explanation.

I wish all teens had the opportunity to see the Life Puzzle as a framework for a healthy SELF. It might prevent situations whereby insecure teens turn into rigidly controlled/fear based adults who harm the world.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mary J. Blige, "The Breakthrough"

Last night while I was finally reading the newspaper--there was a story on Mary J. Blige's album The Breakthrough".....and she was talking about her self...and how, despite being extremely successful, in truth, she barely knew her SELF. As I read the article I thought, in Life Puzzle language--none of her edges were complete!

Reading this article made me think of several of my clients and prompted me to write several of them a note. Because I spend a lot of time helping folks build strong edges and discover a SELF that they truly love. Many people think this is a selfish thing--but in truth, it is a loving thing. Every human should know who they are and love themselves when they look in the mirror.

I ask them to do the 'mirror exercise' whereby each day, at least once, they take a moment to look in the mirror and truly look at themselves and say, "I like me, I love me, I care for me". This might seem like a simple thing--but it is actually hard for many people! This article on Mary J Blige prompted me to send a portion of what she said....hoping that by seeing her struggle to do this, they too would realize the value in this and also know--everyone on this planet is a Life Puzzle under construction and despite success--has to figure out how to put a healthy, whole SELF together! We aren't born knowing how to do this.

The article said that essentially up until about age 30 (!)...Mary J. Blige acknowledged she didn't have a real SELF, but was a missing self that let everyone and anyone shape her Life (puzzle). Now, when she looks back on who she was, she says, ""Once you get a reality check of 'Oh, my God, who am I? I have a arm over here and my leg over here--I'm all spread out. I can't even collect myself at the end of the day and say...."I love myself and I like myself.' ......"'That's when you know you've been living for the world for a long time. You've got to really be ready to see it, because when you see it, it's not nice...."
The article went on.... Blige 'saw it' about 6 years ago. She then made a series of life changes. First, she learned to like the person she saw in the mirror every day'.... She says, "I wouldn't call it religion, I would call it a spiritual breakthrough because the spirit (love) is in me. I just got tired of feeling the way I did about myself: Looking in the mirror and the only time I'm happy with myself is when my hair and make up is done. What about when my hair and make up is not done? I need that kind of confidence--I wanted to like myself even when men are not saying I look good. I want to feel good about it. I don't want to cater to people's opinions..."

Learning to love and like the person you see in the mirror every day.....a task for all of us! This is why I stress that clients continue doing that mirror exercise---that self-loving person, ..the one that is confident/loving no matter what others are doing is waiting to 'breakthrough' :)

And as I ended the notes to my clients I said, "Heck, I know you think its corny, but if a woman who has won 3 Grammys, released seven albums and sold millions has to do this...I think you'll see it might be worth it!