Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Chapter of Changes

It feels good to be here, It's been too long.
But the intervening time has given me alot to write about.
I have undertaken rather a change of Direction and entered a new chapter of my life.
One door has most Definately Closed but others have opened. My life is about to become very different.
I am finding this difficult. I think I may have bloggers block. I have not had the chance to write for over a month and Writing Freely is not coming easily! I don't know where to start?
I have missed writing, I have missed being able to read my Fellow bloggers Journeys. I have missed the connection I have with You All.

So here I am trying to make that connection again through a stream of conscious writing, trying to become more aware of my self talk, that subvocalising I engage in most of my waking hours!
Bear with me, I'll start at the beginning!

Friday 30th March saw the end of my career as a Drug & Alcohol Worker. I have been working in this Field for almost 10 years. Starting out working with Young Carers whose Parents experienced problems with Substance Use, then onto working with the Young People themselves and the last 4 years I have been working directly with Adults wanting to make positive changes in their Substance Use.

This rather abrupt end to my Drug & Alcohol Career was forced upon me because of Funding cuts and a complete disregard for the clients I supported. I have felt angry and frustrated for the clients whom I was supporting and for whom that support has been cut short.  I also feel an emptiness because there has no been closure and I am unable to let go of the journeys that I was supporting my clients in.
However, in an effort to move on, I have now been privileged and lucky enough to have started work for a completely Unique and Special Organisation supporting individuals who have been diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia. This is a specialised role for which I have now had extensive training, which  served as a distraction from what was happening within my job and has helped me to come to terms with the situation I found myself in. I cannot speak for how my (now) ex clients feel however. Have they come to terms with how they have been treated by a governement who don't see a need for the service myself and my colleagues were providing? I doubt it.

I am also going to be starting with what seems to be another Amazing Orgainsation which does exactly what it says:... exsists to serve the people it supports. I will be doing very similar work, this time supporting people who have sustained Head Injuries.

I am still pinching myself that I have landed both these roles and don't think I have really understood yet what this will mean for me! I will miss, I do miss my clients and working in the Substance Misuse Field. I hope the work I did with them enables them to take the opportunities they are offered in life. The skills I developed in this role are what have enabled me to be offered these 2 new opportunities. For this, I am truly grateful and will for ever be in debt to those I supported for what I in fact learnt from them.  It is because of them that I have this chance to expand my knowledge and skills and to be able to continue supporting those in need.

Certainly for the immediate Future, I am going to be working more hours than I have done over the last year, going back to full time employment which will include some Saturdays. I am excited about this challenge but a little concerned about the impact it may have on my daughter who has become used to me being around to pick her up from school at least a couple of times a week.

However, I know she understands why I have chosen to take these roles. New opportunities, new Challenges but most of all, a chance to work towards supporting people to live well and to be able to be part of two grassroots  organisations working within my local community and making positive changes to the lives of People who are experiencing Difficulties.

This also changes our plans for our immediate Future. Our house remains up for sale but the committment of running an Animal Sanctuary, for now, feels on the back burner.

I have taken roles which involve me working closely on an individual basis with people, building relationships based on trust and respect. These relationships can be central to an individual's recovery and I have to focus on this committment for the forseeable future.
Life has a funny way of panning out doesn't it?
The Long Term plans still remain the same of course. I will never be fully content or feel I have reached my True potential until I am actively doing the same for Animals in need as I am doing for Humans in need!

The day I hold the first Baby Lamb whose mother I have rescued, will be the day I know that I am closer to "home" than I have yet been!

As I wrote In the First post of DragonFly Aspirations I believe what will be will be but I also
believe that through our own force of will and intellect, we chart our own path through life. By making the right choices, we can all be predestined for something great. It is our own free will that mucks it up. Sometimes we can be yanked dramatically off this path by fate, chance or coincidence; The people who intersect us on our path can change what our fated destiny is for better or worse. One event might be the catylyst for a thousand other things. However, if we take the opportunities life gives us and use them to our advantage, I believe pretty much anything is achievable!

I worked hard to be in a position where I could take these recent opportunities. I applied for countless roles before I was interviewed for these positions. Now I understand why I wasn't offered the other roles. They were'nt meant to be. The opportunities that have presented themseves for me to grab with both hands are roles that I will relish, I will learn from and can give so much to, and get so much back.

I believe I am being yanked from the path towards running Harmony Boarding Home & Animal Sanctuary because it is not the right time yet. The house hasn't sold because we are in a recession. Our savings are floating on the Gloucester Canal in the shape of our old faithful Narrow boat and who wants to buy a narrow boat in a recession?!

Until such time as we have the money that is tied up in both these properties, we can't entertain the idea of achieving our aspirations.

So, new horizons beckon for now. The outlook has a slight variation to how it looked when I last posted. That was before we recognised the impact of this recession, and most importantly, before two interview panels believed in me and placed on me the hope that I can help them develop the frontline work that supports people with Early Onset Dementia or Traumatic or Acquired Head Injury to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives.

"The point is, Not to survive, but to thrive with passion, compassion, humour and style"
Maya Angelou

This is my interpretation of the events of the last few weeks anyhow and I see meaning and experience as being  interactively constructed - We have the experience and we must interpret that experience for ourselves. There is no reality beyond our own expectations.

My reality is My Family, My Friends, My Hopes, Dreams & Aspirations and my Role in my Community....................That was to support those affected by Substance Use. However, because of events beyond my control and because the local Powers that be believed that my clients didn't deserve that individual support anymore, My Role in the Community has altered.

I want to give my New Role as much as I gave my Old Role and that means Committment, Dedication and Perseverance. So for now, that gives little room for bigger projects; But For Now is Not For Ever and who knows, maybe an opportunity will arise to combine the two!
So, I sign off for now. With my new roles, my time for Blogging will become more limited and I shall probably have periods such as my recent Break from Blogging when I don't get to write.

But for now, it's good to be back and I hope to post again Before Long!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Help and Hindrance

Last night I watched a thought provoking episode of Natural World.
Silky Sifakas (picture from National Geographic)
I love Nature, Wildlife and the Environment as I hope has become quite obvious by now!

However, it is rare I watch programmes about them mainly because we don't have a TV but also because I become very easily upset when I see the cycle of life take place before my eyes.

Once upon a time, I went to Zambia. I was lucky to go but it was also a difficult decision for many reasons. However, go I did, only for two weeks and it was maybe one of the most intense experiences of my whole life.

I met passionate environmentalists and conservationists and wondered why I hadn't chosen this path for myself because I was enthralled by the magic and beauty of the Zambian culture and of course the Wildlife.

I won't go into the story behind this trip or the fact that I constantly wish I had known what I wanted to do with my life alot earlier on as this post is not about me. However, I wanted to touch on this experience because during this trip to Zambia, I went out on to the National Parks and Game Reserves and witnessed the wonder of the Natural World for myself.

It was awe inspiring and took my breath away. I could barely believe that I was there. I felt like I was in another world, I felt overwhelmed but also as if I belonged.

So, I came home and as the memories faded I started to acknowledge that my experience would have been very different had I witnessed the cycle of life right in front of  my very eyes!

The strange thing is, that when I was there, I didn't even consider that I might see a kill or an injured animal. The magnificance of the landscape completely overtook my senses and I could only see the wonder and beauty. Thank goodnesss!

If someone offered me the chance to go on safari now, I would turn down the opportunity because I am very acutely aware that I was incredibly lucky not to witness any bloodshed. I was completely naive to the fact that it was out there and could have revealed itself to me at any time. But it didn't and I believe it wasn't meant to. I was only there to witness the glory of the Natural World, not the goryness of it. Someone, my Earth Mother Spirit, was watching out for me.

So I have extraordinary memories which I will cherish and have no desire to repeat the experience.

However, I do watch the Wildlife programmes when I can, until the camera shows us nature in all it's brutality, at which point I turn off.

So Last night I watched Madagascar, Lemurs & Spies which told us about the complicated life of the Silky Sifakas and the fight to preserve this endangered species of Lemur.

There were no difficult to watch scenes as far as the animals were concerned.

It was difficult to watch however because it was essentially the story about how humankind is ravaging our planet.

This story concentrates on the  pillaging  of Rosewood and Ebony trees in the protected rainforst national parks in Madagascar. Many of these trees are centurys old. The illegal logging is destroying diversity, Flora and Flauna unique to Madagascar. This is the food of the Silky Sifakas which is why these lovely creatures could never survive in captivity because their diet is so Unique.

Madagascar has great biodiversity. Three quarters of the 200,000 species found there, do not exsist anywhere else, however, with the illegal logging, a large number of the large species are now extinct and more that  80% of the original forest cover has disappeared.
Madagascan Rainforest, Picture from National Geographic
In 2009, loggers took an estimated 100,000 rosewood and ebony trees out of the forests after a coup which saw an already  poor country plunged into a political and economic crisis.

These trees are so heavy that it takes many men to pull them down to the river and then another 5 -6 trees have to be cut down to float one of these trees down the various rivers to the production sites. This has led to extensive deforestation and the loggers set up camp deep in these forests which means they kill and eat the forest animals including the various Lemur Species.
Logged Rosewood, picture from National Geographic

The programme told us about the efforts of two men, a passionate scientist who has dedicated much of his life to protecting and studying the Silky Sifakas, and an Undercover Detective from Washington, to expose the illegal logging trade to ensure the long term survival of these beautiful primates.

As I watched this programme, my attention was focused on this struggle between destruction and survival and I was so aware that this was about a group of individuals with a conscience  trying to do the right thing, resisting a group of individuals with no conscience, doing absolutely the wrong thing.

And I found  myself appreciating that our societiey is made up of those that fight for justice, freedom and awaress, and those who are or choose to be ignorant and continue to destroy, devastate and wreck. I became aware of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

These two men and their teams faced great personal danger to expose this illegal trade and bring it to the world's attention but they did not let that distract them from their ultimate  mission to save the precious rainforests and wildlife of Madagascar.

I have spoken many times about my admiration for inspiring individuals such as these passionate activists. People who truly stand up for what they believe in and put their beliefs into action.
I watch their stories and am in awe of their dedication, steadfastness and resolve to bring about change. I have nothing but respect and love for their determination and passion.
Dr Erik Patel,  Picture from BBc website
But as I watched this programme,  I felt sadness that there is a need for individuals to continually fight against the wrongs done by other individuals and I wondered why there is such disparity between our values.

If I didn't have to work, I would use the time to learn and what I would like to study is Social Sciences. How does society shape people?  Where do our Values and Beliefs come from? How are differences and inequalities produced? How is society shaped not just by humans but by material objects and the environment? How are we connected and disconnected from each other and how do we see each other and others?

There is a Social Psychologist called Johathan Haidt who studies how and why we evolved to be moral. He believes that by understanding our moral roots, we can learn to be civil and open minded. He says that we are not purely selfish and that most people long to overcome pettiness and become something wonderful. 

Two of his quotes which I think fit perfectly for this post is:
"The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human co-operation - A force for construction and destruction"

"If our goal is to understand the world, to seek a deeper understaning, our general lack of moral diversity here is to make it harder. Because when people all share values, when people all share morals, they become a team"

One of the reasons I found Jonathan Haidt is because I was looking at his TED talk on Religion, Evolution and self - transcendence because I am interested in Transcendence - that we can expand to identify with all humanity and other aspects of the world beyond the body. In doing so, we transcend conditions of seperateness and isolation, which are the source of much misery and angst. By recognising the inherent unity of all exsistence, we experience subsequent feelings of belonging, oneness and peace.

I wish that these loggers could relate to this transcendent sense of self because maybe then they would care for the protection of free nature as the protection of themselves.

We are all structures, as are all beings on this planet, who are sustained by an influx of matter and energy that starts at the sun and is channelled throuogh plants, up food chains to us. Therefore, any seperation in time or space between us and the natural world is a projection of the mind.

So this post is about How humanity can help our relationship with the Natural World or completely hinder it. How a group of like minded individuals with the right beliefs can make a difference when opposing a group of like minded individuals with the wrong beliefs but how it is a constant battle.

Although I have a transcendent sense of self with Mother Earth, I have a long way to go before I can expand my sense of self to identify with those ignorant individuals that plunder,destroy, kill, hurt and ravage our Natural World.

What I do understand is the power of money. If you are poor and need to feed yourself and family, if you are fighting for survival then the lure of $1 a day to cut down trees in a protected rainforest, even if you know it is illegal, must override any part of your conscience telling you it is morally wrong.

What I do understand is that if you fear for your life because you have become entangled in a situation which feels dangerous to leave, then you  may stay in that situation rather than be brave and speak out against it.

What I do understand is that we in the western world are aware of the environmental damage we are wreaking on our planet. We have been blessed with an education and given the opportunity to observe individuals with good morals and values who are  raising awareness of our impact on the environment.  Many of us choose to listen and make changes to our lives to effect better outcomes for the earth. Some of us however, choose to remain ignorant and lazy.

What I do understand is that, For those loggers who are living in one of the world's poorest countries where 70% of the population suffer from malnutrition and where there is little education system, poverty, fear and ignorance is the driving force behind their actions. So I can begin to transcend the feelings of separateness I have from them so I can challenge my anger and frustration at their actions.

I cannot however, understand why the educated, intelligent business men at the top of the chain continue to authorise action which they know is morally wrong and illegal. THey are choosing to be ignorant.  They have the information, They know what they are doing is wrong in every way for every reason, but they are greedy and power hungry, selfish and egotistic.

It is these individuals who are the force of evil that the forces of good continue to fight.

This story does end on a happy and hopeful note.

The efforts of our Scientist and Detective resulted in the biggest importers of the Precious wood, Gibson Guitars, being raided and thousands of pounds worth of wood seized.

This had an immediate impact on the illegal logging trade in Madagascar. The illegal logging has greatly reduced and for now, the Silky Sifakas are safe again.

This was truly a story of how Hope, Belief, Determination, Dedication, Passion and Hard &Dangerous work, led to a Positive and Favourable Conclusion.

It is a story of Good overcoming Bad!

It gave me hope!

May we all continue to have hope and stand up for what we know is wrong.

Earth Blessings to you

I leave you with some pictures of my trip to Zambia nearly 7years ago!