Thursday, March 14, 2013


Earth Quaker Action Teams (EQAT)

Earth Quaker Action Team leader, Carolyn McCoy began fasting for forty days, as of today, in solidarity with the pain and suffering of the people affected by mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. She is inviting other members, or any individuals, to join her, as they feel led. This is an excellent example of folks choosing to live from the inside out -- to take non-violent, direct action.  I'm excited about this action and I'm joining Carolyn one day per week.  I live on the edge of Appalachia, and mountaintop removal as well as the new earth-rape, fracking, have disturbed me for a long time.  EQAT members have done their homework.  Mountaintop removal was disturbing them to their core, so they researched who was funding it.  They looked at how this has been allowed to go on, at the economic base that supports it (this is the root of things in our current society, after all).  Then they looked at a form of action that would have impact in this society:   they withdrew their money from the bank, PNC,  that is funding the companies responsible for most mountaintop removal, and they are now showing through fasting that they are willing to sacrifice their lives behind this cause.  They are showing that this is a spiritual issue for them by fasting as a spiritual preparation to continue their efforts on a long term basis.  They are educating and preparing others to do the same. Start here for more info:

Do you have the courage to take action in a manner such as this?  You may be thinking it doesn't take much courage; this is a relatively simple action, no violence is involved -- ah, there's the rub!  Living your life from the inside out does take courage, and faith, and creativity, and imagination, but not necessarily violence or the things one necessarily associates with being counter-cultural.  I think what is involved is being vigilant.  Being aware that so much of the culture we live in is designed to turn OFF your mind to your values, especially if your values would have you question the status quo.

So, here's the challenge:  For the next forty days, follow this news story.  Be courageous in allowing your mind to stay open.  If you feel compelled, join Carolyn in some small way:  give up sugar, give up the internet one day per week, or fast for a day or more yourself.  Do you have money in PNC?  How do YOU feel about the fact that your bank funds mountaintop removal.  Do you know how mountaintop removal affects the people of Appalachia? (Uh, no, I'm not going to tell you -- google it!)  

I will be fasting on Tuesdays throughout Carolyn's fast and sharing about it here.  Maybe more than a day a week, depending on the impact it has on my core.  I've joined Earth Quaker Action Teams, and I'm committed to learning more about the cause myself, and to seeing if they are doing anything about fracking, which is quickly taking over our area.  I want to find out who is the funding source behind fracking and if a similar action can be taken there.  I know I'm mixing coaching and action here folks, but this is important stuff!

Stay tuned, please!  Maybe we can learn together.  This is where faith and action hit the road.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What it Means to Live Life from the Inside Out:

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
I spotted this quote on a friend's facebook page this morning and thought, "that's it!"  Well, that's a lot of it.  Taking action from your values because you must is certainly a lot of what makes people who live life from the inside out, stand out. I'm asking myself, "how do these people get to that point in their lives?  What brought me to the day I said I  must  live life according to my values completely?

Some things, of course, I owe to my upbringing and the times I was raised.  Being a teen in the 1960s was an awesome "ride," as we would say then.   I recall staying home sick and coincidentally being there to see the moment John F Kennedy was shot.  It was etched on my mind forever.  There was Martin Luther King, Jr, and Bobbie Kennedy, The Riots, and The dawning Age of Love of the 70s.  All of this brought with it a feeling of both excitement and responsibility, at least for me.

Some must be personality make-up as well.  I recall during sit-ins and action-alliances having humorous talks with my compatriots where we wondered about the people who were simply watching football games or having the backyard barbecue, and whether we would ever simply be those people (and yes! I have done those things too, and enjoyed them!).

And some is that elusive, hard-to-define but ever pressing spiritual journey that many of us find ourselves on.  Something speaks to us, gnaws at us, letting us know there is something more, some calling we have not quite answered yet!  So we push forth, striving to define, stretching to listen, until we feel satisfied that what we are doing has met what something (God?) has called us to do.  It is the most gratifying feeling in the world.  

So it is not the result we are seeking.  It is the sense we have answered the call.  It is a sense of being in relationship...of speaking directly with the God of our understanding, through our actions. Is this what you are seeking?  Stay tuned for more in this regard...


Friday, March 1, 2013

Why a Coach and not a Therapist?

This has been a transitional time for me, and I thought I'd talk about it with you, my readers:
It has taken about five years to transpire.  It started when a series of small injuries gave me the message it was time to stop gardening as a career, and find another vocation.  I thought I'd given up counseling as a career, but after exploring a few other avenues, I found myself opening that door again.  I even began to feel I was "called back to that place."  It felt good.

However, the counseling job I left, was not the job I returned to.  In the interim, managed care had hit the agency scene.  Now, instead of just the client's stated problem indicating the treatment, insurance coverage, county mandates, levels of care (LOC) and a host of other initials (that I couldn't even be sure what they stood for) dictated treatment planning.  Not only that but length of treatment and goals was also mandated by the agency providing funding.

I was fully unprepared.  When I'd left being a service deliverer, I was in private practice as a family therapist.  Although I would provide a diagnosis when required to for one of the few people I filed insurance for, I was a "systems thinker," meaning that I thought more in terms of how one person fit in the whole of their networks, not how they were diagnosed by some numerical code.  Oh sure, I'd been taught those codes in grad school, and I knew how to use the DSM IV, but I avoided it wherever possible, and most people I knew used it only sparingly, preferring to diagnose people as "Adjustment disorder not otherwise specified" which was the most "non-diagnosis" diagnosis you could hang on a person, and was unlikely to affect a person further down the road.

Now I found myself diagnosing people in order to guarantee length of stay, coverage of treatment, admission to a program, etc, and while the diagnoses fit, this was almost directly opposite to twenty years prior in my life.  I kept adjusting myself to fit the times, adjusting, adjusting....

Then there was the paperwork, and that ultimately was my downfall.  For every thing one writes there is a release, and  privacy warnings, and justifications and history, and so on.  Twenty years later, I found I could just not keep up.  It was sad but true.  Paperwork had gone from five to ten pages to over thirty per client, and often the client did not stay, but the paperwork had to be completed.  I was attending more to paperwork than to client needs.  I was ultimately let go from my last position because my productivity was not up to par -- not my productivity in seeing clients, mind you, but my productivity in completing paperwork.  At one point one of my supervisors was giving me a pep talk saying, 'Come on Linda, get with it, we need your clinical skills!!'  But alas, it was not to be, I could not keep up with that amount of paperwork, even to do the work I so dearly loved.

I have been grieving deeply for that work.  I cannot do work with PTSD, deep depression, or borderline personality disorder in a coaching venue.  It requires psychiatric support and groups and one on one contact that this modality will not afford me and that I would not feel ethically right in performing it.  But there are oh so many benefits in moving to coaching for my beleaguered soul!

I had skills that I could rarely offer in the current climate of the public agency setting:  creative, artistic teachiing and coaching skills that were outside the realm of the cognitive behavioral brief therapy measurable existence.  More and more treatment planning was calling me to measurable goals.  Coaching calls me to the same things, but the difference?  The CLIENT sets the goals, not managed care.  If my client wishes to explore spiritual or esoteric or creative goals that are not so behaviorally measurable, SO BE IT!!

If I challenge my client to dream or visualize or create, and the goals do not fall within the 12 designated sessions funded by managed care, THE CLIENT makes that choice.  After all, isn't the goal of most therapy of whatever form that the person entering the therapy become responsible and be able to make active and healthy choices for their life?  I had begun to wonder how we help people to do so when we just begin to engage and the funding is cut, or we form a relationship and the insurance policy changes to one not covered.  Bye-BYE!!  Sorry you're not covered any more...

Do I sound a little bitter?  Yes, I am.  Public agency work enabled me to see people who might not have otherwise sought out counseling or been seen.  But often the services ended suddenly or too soon, and the client rarely felt in control of their circumstances.  Even private insurance clients felt the same way and were left high and dry before even getting basic needs met.  

So coaching offers us a new way.  We don't deal with pathology, we deal with HEALTHY CHOICES.  We contract ahead of time for clear financial guidelines and clear goals tow ork to achieve mutually agreed upon objectives. These are, of course, open for discussion as the relationship moves along.  No one but you dictates what goes on in your session. The client is responsible for getting their needs met, and each person, the coach and coachee, has responsibilities that can be spelled out in each session. I hope that, given the opportunity, you will try it out.

What a novel idea -- mutual accountability.  That my friends is why a coach and not a therapist!