How often does your team get together to reflect, learn, brainstorm, strategize and have fun? Networks team members have a history of spending focused time and energy in connecting with one another routinely and have been doing so for 25 years! Our most favorite times are often during get-away retreats, but even having half-day or full day events closer to home where we reconnect is always a welcomed opportunity to strengthen our team. Meetings on the beach, visiting an aquarium, making training plans for the next fiscal year over dinner, playing board games and connecting are but a few of the creative ways we have strengthened our group and kept ourselves energized and focused on our mission.
What is your team doing to stay strong, current, creative, and connected with one another? It doesn’t have to be expensive to have fun and be meaningful! Consider parks and local resources for your getaway places. You need not be far away, but getting out of the office and into a new setting is often all that it takes to help your creative juices flow and your team to bond together. Spring is almost upon us, why not start to make plans for a team-strengthening day today?
– Michelle Sparling
Some people are natural connectors, some people are not, but everyone can learn the art of connecting! I never really thought too much about the impact I have had on people related to connecting and relationship building, it is something that I have naturally done and enjoyed doing. In the last few years, I have seen my connecting ability in action. It has taken but only a few minutes to make a lasting impression on people I have been connected to, send a message, answer a call, or brainstorm a list of contacts and without any expectations, the lives of those people have flourished as a result. From more than doubling the income of a friend’s client based business, to editing resumes and graduate school application essays that have let to acceptance letters and offers of hire, those in my own personal network are having success….and it feels great to be a part of the process with them!
So what can you do? Who do you know? Who is in your network that has a need, and if not a need, perhaps something of value or even an experience you can share with them? It does not need to take much time, you only need to be open, receptive, and willing to take a few extra moments to listen, think, connect and share. Take some time to be intentional and watch the power of connection in action! It not only impacts the lives of others but changes your life as well.
– Michelle Sparling
Grief can be all-consuming, a darkness that while initially feels horrible can actually become a crutch & an all too familiar blanket to keep out others & life. Knowing the very real pangs of grief & the weird pull it can have on you, I have studied it & have tried to understand it on many levels. I also now see it in many others & have made it part of my work with others. Joanie is one of many of those I have regularly tried to assist over the last three or so years. Joanie has lived through & past many loved ones – most notably are both of her parents who she lived with since childhood & who died within a year of each other, two very close friends died after suffering long battles with cancer, a brother died suddenly in a car accident, & then her closest companion for many years, her dog died. Joanie was referred to me for massage & when we initially talked she complained of a very sore neck, back, & chest. She also said she had frequent stomach issues, including a tightness & insatiable gnawing. We agreed to meet at her house for her first session… I later found out that Joanie hadn’t left her house in weeks other than to go to the grocery store, which she only frequented late at night or very early in the morning when the chance of running into others was slim. She easily recognized that she was sad & was purposefully staying away from others even to the point of shunning others’ offers of help. And gradually, Joanie admitted that she liked the aloneness & even the sadness, as it had become a part of who she now was & she felt safe in this. Our “massage appointments” gradually included lunch, & then laughter & discussions about all kinds of things came in. At one point, Joanie kind of timidly called me her friend & not just her massage therapist to which I smiled & thanked her & called her my friend, too. She began sleeping more & just at night, cleaned her house a bit more, wore different clothes on our scheduled days, & started preparing new foods for me to try. And she stopped complaining about her neck, back, & stomach so much. One day she called me asking if I knew someone she could help, maybe doing errands or helping around the house. I was thrilled she was asking, as I had shared several times how helping others helped me tremendously when I was at my very saddest. I promised to think of someone & get back to her but before I could, Joanie stopped by my home one day….. a huge surprise for me, as I had never seen her just spontaneously go out! She was so excited because a neighbor had come by the other day to ask how she should trim her mango tree, which led to Joanie going over to her yard & not only trimming the tree but also giving her neighbor pointers on her papaya tree & several other bushes. Joanie laughingly complained to me that the yard was such a mess & there was so much to do, it might take her a month to fix it all! The next week, Joanie called me to apologetically cancel our regular appointment. She had forgotten about it & booked herself with her neighbor… who was taking her out to lunch to thank her for her help. I responded that I was thrilled for her & asked how she was feeling. Joanie complained loudly how sore her neck & back were but then added with a laugh that it was a “very good sore”. Joanie has since joined the local senior center where she is taking various classes. She also offers her yard service to those she meets there & it seems many take her up on her offer. She tells them all they must pay her with lunch. Sometimes we still meet for lunch (when she has the time!). At one recent lunch, she told me that she now “just misses” everyone she has lost but likes better those new people she has in her life. And then she complained again about all the demands on her from others & how sore she was!!
I was introduced to Millicent through another massage therapist. She knew Millicent & her family but did not feel comfortable providing bodywork to her because she had late stage ovarian cancer. I visited Millie at her home & offered to massage her feet, to which she responded with tears saying her feet hurt so badly. She apologized for the condition of her feet & toenails but I just said that everyone here in Maui has nasty feet! She chuckled with me but seemed embarrassed so instead I suggested we get a pan of warm sudsy water & just let them soak. She loved this idea & said she hadn’t been able to get in the bathtub for so long & missed just lying in warm water. As her feet soaked, I massaged her hands & then her neck & scalp. Millie purred like a kitten! This started a 2 year ritual between Millie & I, where our monthly visits were a combination of soaking (yes, gradually getting her into a bathtub again), chatting, massaging, giggling, & singing old songs. Millie said that everyone was so afraid to touch her as she became sicker but all she wanted was others to hold her. She was afraid to ask. Millie’s granddaughter, Lokelani, was the first to ask if she could sit with us… & so she learned how to massage her Tutu’s neck just the way she liked it. Next came Sam, Millie’s son & Lokelani’s father. He joined us after I massaged his shoulders one day after work & asked if he could do the same for his mother. Soon our visits transitioned to many of us around Millie’s bed which was now center-stage in the family’s living room…. all singing, laughing, & massaging one another.
The last day I saw Millie was at a nearby beach. Millie had been saying for some time that she needed to get to the ocean & so her family made it happen. Her “boys” carried her into the ocean, cradling her in their arms, while many others joined in as always singing her songs & massaging her & one another. And, as always, Millie beamed & purred.
I was told that Millie passed one evening not long afterwards, while Sam was massaging her feet.
Recently my grandfather needed more bathroom cups. However, I happened to be at the $1 store and they did not have normal size bathroom cups in plastic. (He can’t use paper because the Listerine eats through them and they collapse when you pick them up.) I noticed mini-cups clearly marketed for other enjoyment(!!). But they were plastic and small and the perfect size for his morning needs. So I picked them up to hold him over.
Well… it turns out this was a perfect thing! He can pick them up without HELP! He does not have to tilt his head back as far, thus not choking. The cups are sturdy and do not crack like some bathroom cups, nor does the Listerine eat through them like the paper cups. Woo hoo!
When I saw him last night he asked me to pick up some more of THOSE cups. He said they were good to use now. I said no problem, I bought the last 8 packs at the $1 store today. 🙂 He was quite a happy Grandpop and my Mom was happy, too. Mom chimed in and shared that it helps because she would set him up for the morning routine and by the time he was ready the Listerine would have leaked through the cups or she had to help him grasp the cups. Not any more!
So, a simple smaller cup has added or extended a level of independence to a stroke victim and older man. Another victory for keeping our eyes and imagination open… anything can be AT!
Several years ago, I was asked by a friend to attend / demo our approach to body / energy work at a health fair in my local community… two colleagues, Marianne & Jess, joined me. We set up a massage table & the adapted massage chair & several people enjoyed mini-treatments from us. A couple of folks came easily up to us, a few kept coming back for more, & one man kept circling closer & eventually landed & was skittish but then melted! (I was later told that people who knew him were almost in tears watching him! Apparently he is a very cautious man & rarely lets people in.) A woman similarly kept coming by & watching but when asked was clearly not sure & would kinda run away (never said a word). I kept talking with her with each round she made & offered my hand to her (my palm up) & she took it…. I put my other hand on top of hers & she put her other one on top of mine. She then quickly pulled away & fled again. She came back a few minutes later pulling a young woman with her. This woman introduced herself as her nurse & said she had never seen her friend so interested in something. I reached out my hand again & she took it & walked me over to the massage table where she climbed aboard & laid down face up, as she had seen others do. I started Reiki with her & she reached out for her nurse friend. Within a couple of minutes, the woman started showing signs to her nurse that she was having auras & was about to go into a seizure….. but she didn’t want to move off the table. Not knowing what their usual process was when she seizured I asked if I should stop & the woman on the table said “no!” very emphatically. Her nurse friend looked very surprised she spoke & so strongly & so I kept doing what I was doing. I had recently studied CranioSacral Therapy (CST) so sat down at her head & did some very simple “adjustments” & a “stillpoint”. The nurse kept watching closely but the seizure never happened. After awhile, I finished & she slowly sat up. She was smiling ear-to-ear & very calm. Her nurse was blown away & said this never happens —- once an aura is that clear, a seizure happens & apparently her seizures are pretty substantial. The nurse asked what I had done & I tried to explain Reiki & CST, as best I could. I told her where she could go for more info. From what I was later told, the nurse took a CST course at Upledger Institute. I told this story at my CST II training at Upledger & my teacher was aware of cases where seizures were lessened in intensity & regularity by CST but not prevented or stopped while in the midst of one or as it was coming on…. but he certainly confirmed that it could.