Transcendence: to overcome difficulty, to overcome or to reach past adversity. In my lifetime this has been a confusing issue. I believe that is because, at times, I have forgotten that the powers that be (whether that be one's belief spiritually in God, or in universal energy, or in karma, or from a business perspective, evidence based outcomes) are unpredictable. Also, experiences are constantly static.
I'm not a knowledgeable science person, but I can say that while evidence-based outcomes are a necessary study, my evidence has often been collected in hindsight. In other words, the evidence is there, it's irrefutable. It may be someone I know, love, and/or read about that overcomes an obstacle and they reach past limitation. A combination of will, determination, belief, support, and experience bring about needed change. The outcome is obtained. Often times, the outcome is not fully known at the outset. One just feels they can no longer think, act, or manage their lives without making significant change. Hence, the "evidence-based outcome" is in place. In this past week, I spent my second week of a new semester in college challenged to transcend thoughts, health, physical restrictions, and most importantly -- the call to assist my adult son into the hands of those that could facilitate healing for him. Any mom reading this, indeed -- any parent -- understands the limitations and the agony that go with knowing that you can lead someone to water, but they must be really thirsty in order to drink.
It was also a week of "coincidences." Those times when you show up somewhere, or "happen" to run into an individual and they are just the person you didn't know you needed to speak to. I was a guest on a radio show this past Wednesday. This radio station is broadcast from a small community based center in central NJ called City of Angels. They continue to provide treatment to individuals, families, and concerned others that need help with addiction, trauma, and family issues. No matter the problem, their primary purpose is to find help for that population that Sociologists call marginalized. In other words, their insurance is not great, they don't have much money, or they have been through treatment and fallen too many times for anyone to either care or believe in them any longer.
So what some may endeavor to overcome by buying a new car, taking a much needed vacation for two weeks to a secluded location, or perhaps increase their therapy to twice a week until the storm has passed, these individuals do not have a vast pool of resources. In truth, transcendence is a lot like happiness: it's outcome is not really reliant on financial means. That is a truth I have see played out hundreds of times, so I know it to be real. It just seems to be that way when one is going through so many levels of change concurrently.
The old "money fix." I've seen it in action, and while it doesn't hurt to have financial stability, it is not the panacea. So these people with worlds of hurt within their minds, bodies, and spirits and/or emotions are looking for the path to transcendence. For the most part, that person will not be dealing with these issues alone. Their pain and their difficulty will touch parents, spouses, partners, co-workers, family members, church folks, neighbors and bosses. The problem is that many of those that are being exposed to the problem are too busy dealing with their own "private Idaho" to slow down. More often than not, they themselves are concurrently applying a bandage to their own problem(s) and they may reach that confusing place where their individual issues and problems are blurred into another's situation so they truly don't know how to help. Transcend? Doesn't that mean overcoming self? Isn't "self" the root of all these troubles? Wouldn't most people just be better off not thinking about what they're transcending and get to the business of living? These are rhetorical questions for me. Because I know the answers: Yes and no.
The host of the show I was on last week is a close friend. Nancy's (Tilelli) show is called "Wellness in Recovery." Nancy is a holistic health coach, and a non-traditional college student who, like me, is returning to school for a degree after years in corporate jobs that led us to seek alternate paths to better utilize our talents. She is insightful enough to devote a show to depression, a topic that can be difficult to speak to. The stigma is proliferating, it is not going away. If you believe that it is lessening, then why isn't Shepherd Smith fired for calling Robin Williams a "coward" for committing suicide? I find it difficult to claim "ignorance" in a day and age when we know depression, addiction, and suicide are claiming lives at an alarming rate. The show turned out awesome (there are instructions at end of this blog post as to how to access it, if you'd like to listen).
I don't know many people today that haven't transcended a great deal in their lives. Right now, I am feeling personally as though I'm a new military recruit, doing push-ups in the mud while the rain drives down mercilessly around me. Now that's a funny metaphor, because I cannot do one "man's" push-up. I can do 1.5 "women's" push-ups. But the half is shaky at the end.
My body has been met with some incredible challenges, and six years ago I decided that taking pharmaceutical narcotic medication wasn't a good strategy. I actually wanted to participate more fully in my own life. So I have found alternate methods to heal, and to transcend my daily responsibilities. This process of seeking alternative methods have put me in touch with people like Nancy. And people like Julie Fischer and Janet Watkins, owners of an incredible yoga studio (Live In Joy) that provides services such as Thai Massage, Auravedic cooking classes, yoga for the beginner and the advanced, reiki -- and a number of other non-traditional but extremely effective methods of healing. I also add My friend Angelique Bouiffou, who is a Master Reiki Practitioner and a graduate of the Actors Studio in Manhattan. Or Ashley Semola, a fireball of energy that is healing so many with her gift of massage modalities. Rachel Weiss, the single most incredible acupuncturist I have ever met, who studied in China and has been healing the chronically ill and multi-diagnosed for many years. I'm leaving some out, but these are just a few of my circle (I remind myself of this gift when I feel down or I feel alone).
I have not yet earned my college undergraduate degree. I do not personally know anyone that is famous. But I am surrounded by talented loving people. I used to look at them and say: great for them. But where do I fit in? What is my gift? Today I am finding answers quicker than I can process them. In my core, inside "where I live" as my friend Joanne often says: I just know that I'm on the right path. At this particular juncture I am feeling things like oh -- moments of dread. Uncertainty. Loneliness. Financial decimation. Profound sadness. But I am literally meeting each of those with the following battering rams: friends, family, laughter. Speaking openly about depression and about overcoming life's challenges on a radio show that is not(yet) famous but was so invigorating.
Many are being helped by each person's willingness to open their minds and heart and share who they are. On the reverse side of dread, or financial decimation or whatever else life throws my way, I cannot refute that I am inside in the rain, I am not hungry. I am writing. I have wanted to do this my entire life, more so than to eat or sleep. want to write about the experiences that have brought me through to this point, with an emphasis not on the pain but about the outcomes, the humor I am blessed with, the ability to eventually laugh at the most tragic of situations.
I was telling Nancy a humorous story that she hadn't heard. It's a funny one, because not one person I know would actually believe that this woman walked into a vacuum shop in strip mall for vacuum cleaner bags one day. Upon doing so, she became engaged in a conversation with the owner. She was impressed that aside from owning his small business, his real passion was for "magic," for illusion, for hypnosis, and most noteworthy: his keen ability to levitate people in his audiences. This woman was so swept away with his tales of levitation and hypnosis, that she allowed him to show her. He placed two metal folding chairs facing one another, a slight gap in the middle so that she could fit -- laying down -- across both chairs. After a brief period of hypnotic speak and muffled phrases, he reached forward and removed the chairs, leaving her levitating above the floor. However, she ended up on the floor, the two metal folding chairs collapsed beneath her and a row of upright Hoovers toppled after their fall from a failed levitation. That woman was me, and that's just a day in the life, so to speak.
Many have transcended so much that is funny, poignant and painful, so I feel it would be remiss not to share the hope. To transcend difficulty, one must let go of self absorption and do the work of self investigation. It is through that process that transformation takes place. I do hope there is someone listening. I hope that the person listening hears that to transcend a bad marriage, or an addiction, a job loss, a financial reversal, or worse than all -- the serious illness of their children whether young or adult -- one will need to ask for help. We are each called daily to do what is in front of us. When I transcend an experience or a bad thought, I must remember to celebrate. Laughing at oneself is mandatory.
To hear our Wednesday radio show, please click here: http://www.coaradio.com/ Click on past shows, Wellness In Recovery -- Nancy Tilelli -- and "Depression in Recovery." And please: let me know if you agree that open discussions regarding this very important topic are needed.