Lifeworks Hightlights & Insights

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In this issue:

Is Everything Okay?

What I've Learned

HSP Poem,
Charles Gulotta

Notes from Fall 2003 East Coast Gathering

2004 East Coast Gathering
March 15 - Early Registration Deadline

2004 West Coast Gathering

Making Work Work,
book review


About LifeWorks

HSP Gathering Info



A newsletter from Jacquelyn Strickland   |    March 2004 Vol. 1 Issue 1

Is Everything Okay?

I was recently asked this simple question and my answer took me by surprise. It was anything but simple. The answer my 'authentic-mask-off-self' revealed created a sudden wave of grief and sadness in me. Strange, I thought. Is my sadness because of the death of my dear friend, Cris, a 98-year old HSM? Or is it because winter has firmly settled in and my energies have been shrinking inward at a faster pace than I am comfortable with? Maybe I'm depressed. Maybe it's SAD? One thing I do know since being asked that question is: No, everything is not okay. I am definitely sad.

Yet, the truth is, my daily life is fine. I have a passion for my work, my family and the people I care about. I am living a fairly balanced, holistic life. I have enough time. Time to process, time to be alone and in nature, social time, spiritual time, exercise, and, even animal time! Yet, I am sad.

Pondering this more deeply as we HSPs do, I realize the part of me that is sad is my HSP Priestly Advisor. And she is not only sad, she is angry, although she pretends to be neither. In The Highly Sensitive Person's Workbook, Elaine describes the priestly advisor role as one in which the HSP "teaches, counsels, advises, heals, keeps the history in words or art forms, envisions the future, thinks about the meaning of life and death, leads rituals, studies the subtleties of nature or law, and puts the brakes on the more impulsive warrior kings." This definition assists me in feeling empowered. I can at least identify the sources of my sadness and anger.

As a priestly advisor:

  • I can't help but view the world through the eyes of humanity;
  • It is increasingly difficult to just focus on 'me and mine';
  • I can sense the sounds and emotions of pain and suffering, even if they are far away;
  • I desperately want to do something, but truly, do not know what to do.

Normally, I am a fairly optimistic person, always hopeful; always seeing the glass as half full. But this year seems different. 2004 has found me feeling hopeless and unempowered. The feeling of hopelessness comes when I view mainstream America, or the mainstream I have so often felt out of alignment with. When I view this 'other' America,' I get a total sense of incongruity. I see:

  • Fear as a basis for decision making;
  • An on-going war in Iraq and Afghanistan;
  • Thousands of innocent lives being lost;
  • An Alaskan Wilderness being intruded upon;
  • A trillion dollar federal deficit;
  • Potential expanded powers to corporate and media conglomerates;
  • Inequitable tax cuts;
  • An AIDS epidemic in Africa, as documented beautifully on Oprah;
  • Millions without healthcare;
  • The thousands who have lost their jobs here in Colorado and elsewhere;
  • Hundreds of prisoners being held in Guantanamo without formal charges or access to lawyers;
  • Hundreds being killed in Palestine and Israel;
  • Is there anything else I should be worrying about?

Seriously. These are the things that have been dominating my thoughts lately. I have never really considered myself to be too 'political.' Yet I know this all sounds 'political.' So even though I am not trying to be political, the old saying the "personal is the political" has never seemed more real to me. Besides, is there anything wrong with being political? My own answer to that would be "the only thing wrong with being political is that it usually creates strong debate and harsh words." Ouch. We HSPs don't like that. Instead, I would like to think we Americans could have passionate dialogues about the current political climate. Maybe that's what is happening in Iowa, Missouri, Delaware, Arizona and other primary states? But I digress. Back to my peace of mind. Where has it gone? Why isn't my "Meditation of Hope and Love" (previously published) working anymore?

I've had to dig deep this year to find my hope, not to mention my joy. Both have been more difficult to latch onto than in the past. I don't know that hope can be found in the mainstream either. Instead, I think it peeks through in the form of changing perspectives, the nooks and crannies in each of our homes, and through the passions of committed people.

With my hopeful eyes, I can see many cultures, including the HSP/Priestly Advisor culture, stepping forward to be heard in a new way. I can see there are many people working to change the planet - outside of the political arena. I find a bit of hope when I see bumper stickers that say "God bless the whole world," and when I hear about Oprah's campaign to save AIDS-ravaged orphaned children of Africa. I find a bit of hope when I see alternative fuel vehicles on the highways, and when I see wind farms in Wyoming. I definitely feel hopeful when I see many HSPs connecting with one another from state to state and country to country, and I see many lives changed by support received, over and over again.

So sometimes we must work a little harder to clear our eyes and to see the signs of hopefulness. What is hopeful to you this year? What priestly advisor visions are you ready to help make a reality? Whatever they are, here are some important words from a very lovely and wise HSP named Francine:

You need to test the waters.
You stop short of testing the waters.
Follow your hunches and see where they lead.
If something goes amiss, then you adjust your course
And your intuition adjusts accordingly.
There is no easy way.
Keep your thoughts from spiraling down
Follow those hunches that embody life-giving energy.
Be still and feel the presence of Being leading you on
Make your intentions pure
Seek action that leads to right consequences.
There are no mistakes
If you learn from all you do.

So, I'm learning to be political, and to put energies into my priestly advisor visions. I think it's time we priestly advisors took our rightful place as healers and visionaries. Finally, here is my own poem. Perhaps I can learn from it as well.

In memory of my dear friend, Cris Crisfield, an HSM
August 31, 1904 - December 25, 2003

For Cris
Grow yourself.
In your own garden.
Reach out and up.
Make yourself known.
Allow others to be known,
Even when they don't know how.

For we can always start
Anew ... each day ....
Sometimes staying in....
Finding Meaning,
It's your turn. Go now.
Rejoice and Smile.
Stay faithful.

Out into the heaven's sky
Where the arms of
All that is the Universe
Wait to embrace you.

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Creek and woods photos: US Fish and Wildlife Service