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What do our people need?  A Sense of Community and Belonging

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communityA few days ago I was privileged to attend a conference that focused on our veterans, the issues they faced after discharge from service, their expectations, their feelings of social isolation, and how, together, we could provide resources and opportunities to improve their quality of life.

I came to a conclusion after just the first speaker at the event:  The discussion presented described not only to the experience faced by our veterans, but could be applied to every member of our society, no matter what state or city they live.

As you read on, I am confident that you will agree that the Enjoy Life Community® program developed by the Time to Play Foundation provides a valid solution to address many of the issues being faced today, not only by our veterans, but by a majority of our youth and our people.

Perhaps it is time for the people within our communities to stop just “existing” and “surviving” and to start “living”.

The first speaker at the event was a Vietnam Veteran and a chaplain.  For the purposes of this article, we will call him Mr. O.

He presented how a soldier is trained and embraced into duty and described what becomes missing in their lives upon return to civilian life after discharge.

#1:  A sense of purpose:  Mr. O explained that, when a soldier is in active service, they have a “job”.  He explained how the soldier is important in that job, how the members of service “liked” them in that job, and how the armed forces wanted the soldier to succeed in that job.

#2:  A sense of community / belonging:  Mr. O discussed the soldier’s sense of community and belonging while on active duty and how the soldier knew who they were and where they stood with the others in their command (community).

#3:  A sense of Intimacy:  Mr. O described the sense of intimacy felt by the soldier in their command.  He explained how soldiers not only knew the members of their command (community), but how they stood by each other and supported each other.

Mr. O noted that, after the soldier left active service, they no longer felt this sense of community, of belonging, of purpose, or of importance; that, upon discharge from service, they no longer felt the sense of intimacy or sense of value.

Mr. O noted that there is no system to integrate the soldier back into their home community, and that, without their military unit’s support, they cannot “get home”.

Mr. O said that this is when the dilemma of “where do you belong when you no longer belong” sets in, which is when, he noted, that many soldiers turn to drugs or alcohol to find a sense of comfort.  He described his experience talking to incarcerated veterans who feel more comfortable in jail because they are around people who understand them.

Mr. O said that the feeling experienced by veterans becomes most disturbing when no one understands them, when no one understands who they are, and when they no longer have a voice.  He described how these become the feelings that breed the feelings of hopelessness.  He described how the soldier feels lost without the sense of values given to them and lost because what they believe is not what others believe.

It is, at that time, when the soldier feels very lonely and isolated.

After hearing Mr. O speak, it becomes evident how every person would benefit from being embraced by the community in which they live in the manner the armed forces embraces their soldiers.

Further, Mr. O noted that, years ago in our civilian communities, there were clubs and organizations and a sense of belonging in a community; that people socialized together.  Now, he noted, people are increasingly socially isolated and not embracing of others.

As I imply that there are similarities in the feelings experienced by people who are not veterans, I am in no way minimizing the experience of those who have served.  Thankfully, the general population has not seen the circumstances of war that many of our returning veterans have experienced, and I do acknowledge that our veterans may need support services and programs to face the resulting trauma.

But, think about it. . .

What community member is really integrated into our communities throughout their lives starting with our youth? What programs are available that help the general population feel “at home” or help them develop a sense of belonging or a sense of support?  A sense of not being alone even if facing a negative life situation?

How many articles or events do we need to read about where those who feel “different”, not supported, socially isolated or bullied adopt negative coping techniques including the utilization of drugs or alcohol or cause harm to themselves or others in their communities through violent acts?

I believe the need for self worth and the effects of social isolation are the same for every one of us.

I believe that, no matter where we live, WE ALL NEED a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of importance, a sense of intimacy and a sense of being of value.

We all need a sense of community.  We all need to belong.

The Enjoy Life Community® model presents a solution to all who live in any community.  It will not only help our veterans re-integrate and feel welcome and at home, but the intention of an Enjoy Life Community® is to:  Bring together all organizations and individuals in a community, encourage proactive community collaboration, utilize the community organizations to trickle information throughout a community, showcase the good work of community organizations to encourage participation by community members, identify areas where community participation is available to increase community involvement with the intention to decrease social isolation, and to utilize the strength and experience of community members in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model is a low cost social intervention that is a visible, non-threatening approach to create quality of life for those in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model provides a positive reminder and reinforcement to enjoy life by offering visible cues, establishing pride in a community, and encourages a focus on the positive and the possibilities.

It is a SOLUTION.

It is also important for me to mention here the fact many people do not proactively seek assistance when they are experiencing a negative life situation.  The Enjoy Life Community®, due to its visibility of resources in the community, also offers an opportunity for a more proactive approach to solve this issue.  Additionally, I believe the current system that provides individual counseling may perpetuate (continue) the individual’s experience and current belief system.  Even with outreach or counseling or support programs, the individual may remain isolated and continue to feel “unwelcomed” or segregated from their communities.  That would potentially change in an Enjoy Life Community®.

The Enjoy Life Community® utilizes the resources and people in a community to make it stronger to enhance the quality of life for all.

The Enjoy Life Community® model can be applied to any community, including a school community, college campus or corporate environment to create the feeling that people are important and belong.

If you are interested in learning more about this easy to implement solution, please contact us at 631-331-2675 or email: doreen@timetoplay.com.

Just imagine the possibilities if people in their communities felt supported, not alone, and lived in a place where they were able to share or develop their talents.

Just imagine…

After all, I believe every moment of every day should feel like “play”.  It is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

 

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:  Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Life Coach, and the author of the book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.

Doreen is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit organization with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.  The Foundation’s website, www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org, has resources, events and articles for a person to learn what they need to know for a better life.

Photo credit:  http://thedinoffschool.com/about-us/community

"You're as Beautiful as You Feel"

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Carol KingI’m still exhilarated from experiencing “Beautiful,” the Carole King Musical on Broadway yesterday. The incredible music that magically touched my soul is not the only aspect of the performance which is causing me to feel this way.  A powerful factor in my excitement is that her story completely brings to life the exact concept that I encourage my coaching clients with every day.

This show brings us Carole’s answer to the empowering question that I often pose to my clients: “What did you feel held back from in your previous relationship that you can now accomplish?”

The amazing musical genius, Carole King, lacked the confidence to write the lyrics and perform the incredible music she composed during the younger part of her life. She depended upon her husband’s talent for lyrics, was blinded by her love and admiration for him, and didn’t expand her self-confidence.

When Carole went through the painful, disappointing, and frightening demise of her marriage, she was vulnerable and weak, wondering how she could possibly endure personally or professionally. Somehow, she intuitively found her inner wisdom and her courage which led her to compose, write the lyrics, and sing for her platinum Grammy winning album, Tapestry, and to make her mark on the world forever as an iconic female rock star.

What did YOU lack the confidence to accomplish during your previous relationship? If you can identify that significant answer, challenge the beliefs that continue to hold you back, and break out of your comfort zone, you too can reach the stars that you were meant to reach. Your voice can be heard whether you sing or not, your talents can be recognized, and your gifts can be appreciated by all those who you share them with. Use the enormous power you possess to make it happen. Then, much like Carole King, you will create a new life that is truly “Beautiful.” How would that feel?

I Can't Do It

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Suzuki Boulevard

Doreen’s Motorcycle

How many times have you said “I CAN’T”.  How many times have you heard others say “I CAN’T”.

I believe that these two words used together should be banished from our vocabulary, as well as from our minds.

As a student of everyday learning, I will use a recent experience as an example.  I know we’re not alone in what happens to us, and so many have experiences where they learned something that could be shared that can help another (see our book, www.IfIKnewthenbook.com). 

My recent experience is a great illustration of the power of “CAN’T”.

I had wanted a motorcycle for the past 28 years.  After a friend recently pass away at 48 years old (my age), I decided today was “someday”.  Sometimes it takes something to occur to motivate us into action today instead of waiting for the someday.  This was the tipping point. 

I enrolled in a class, never before sitting in the driver’s seat of a motorcycle but on the back of my husband’s for all these years.  I did pretty good driving, I thought, only falling over once due to operator error making a very small u-turn at a speed a turtle couldn’t even turn at.  I actually did that a total of three times in three different instances – kind of just falling over, not really “dropping the bike”, at the slowest speed ever trying to make a u-turn.  No big deal, I just picked it up, got back on, and continued to go cautiously slow and putt along.

On with the story…

So, now I have my permit, some skills education and a motorcycle that my husband and son drove 10 hours to pick up for me.  It’s a cute little Suzuki Boulevard, 650cc, 352 pounds, small enough so I can put my feet comfortably on the ground when I stop, and powerful enough that I can drive on a main road.  As a driver with a permit, a licensed motorcyclist has to be with you at all times and no more than ¼ mile away on the roads.  Jim, my husband, who has been riding for 30 years, and my son Nick who has had his own motorcycle for the past two years, took me out that very night after returning home.  I drove around a little in the local school’s parking lot, doing “o.k.”  After practicing two other evenings, I decided I sucked driving the motorcycle because I couldn’t turn well.  It seemed the more I drove around the parking lot, the worse I was doing.  Straight was no problem, but the ability to turn just seemed to perplex me.  I even watched YouTube Videos on how to ride a motorcycle and considered taking more classes.  I felt more overwhelmed and unsure of my skill level than I had the first day that I had sat on one.

I woke up yesterday morning deciding “I CAN’T” turn well enough and that I was not sure I wanted to continue in this endeavor.  Key words: I decided I CAN’T.  Nevertheless, Jim decided we would go out driving again last night.  I suited up (all the gear, all the time!), got on the bike and we drove to the junior high school parking lot 1/4 mile away from our home.  We drove around the parking lot a few moments, and I stopped in the middle of the space stating that I had quit.  I told Jim that I felt I just didn’t have the skills, that I didn’t feel the effort was worth it, that I was done with the endeavor and wanted to sell the motorcycle. He looked at me, said fine, and proceeded to drive out of the school driveway to what I believed was towards our home and our garage.

Instead, he made a right turn out of the parking lot.  Remember the rules – I had to be within ¼ mile of him… I cursed a bit and was absolutely in disbelief that he did not turn towards our home, but I figured he would just be going to the one side street that also looped to our home.  Nope.  He kept going straight.  I cursed a little bit more… but followed.  He went around the very quiet back streets in our neighborhood, and I followed.  He stopped and I pulled up along his side.  “Feel better?” he asked, and, surprisingly, I did.  He started driving again, and I followed.  We crossed at a few stop signs where there were actual cars waiting for their turn, and I had to cross.  After a little bit further, when he pulled over to check in again, he said we were going on the MAIN ROAD.  I asked if he thought I was ready.  He said he had life insurance if I was not – funny right?

He went.  I followed.  I made it.

I CAN.  But I had let my mind believe I could not. 

Allowing our minds to take over with a “CAN’T” can, and will, steal our confidence.  For example, thoughts or verbalizing to others statements like, “I can’t get that job”, “I can’t do that task”, “I can’t pass that test”, “I can’t go to school”, “I can’t ___________” (fill in the blank).

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”  His words ring true to many people every day.

Aside from this public testimonial that Jim is amazing and that I’m really glad I have been his partner for the past 31 years, it never ceases to amaze me what we can learn every day about ourselves and what we can achieve. 

Later that night we talked about the experience and I thanked him again for what he did, his patience, and his belief that I could ride my motorcycle.  I told him that I was in disbelief that he made that right turn; that I truly was heading home to our garage never to sit on that motorcycle again.  He said it was a split decision, that at the school’s traffic light he realized what would happen and decided to make that right turn. 

What a difference one little decision can make in our lives.

What decisions have you made?  What can you do to break down a task or a goal or an objective that seems too large, or not possible, to make it possible?  To achieve it?  To conquer it?

Henry Ford is right… it is our mind and our “can’t” that we have to combat sometimes to turn around a situation where we feel defeated. 

I CAN. 

Can you?

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It is Time to Play.  www.TimetoPlay.com = It’s time to Enjoy Life.  The Time to Play Foundation, Inc. is a not for profit corporation with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.

Want to be fearless, courageous and to find your confidence? Act!

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I am an acting teacher, but I prefer to be called a coach because I truly believe you can’t teach someone how to act or dramatize.

Don’t think you can do it?  I KNOW that anyone can act or become an actor.

 All you need are four basic things:

  1. Yourself! – You are the instrument
  2. The passion and the will to be public in solitude (have an open heart)
  3. The courage to try it
  4. The want and need to build self-esteem and to enjoy a better life

What I do is coach you in the basics of acting, lay the foundation so you can become your own builder.

Acting is much more than a profession.  It is a gift for anyone who wants to build confidence, discover their true selves, release their true emotional life, take off their masks, and take a journey to loving themselves.

Any age will do. It is never too late to act or too young to start. Grow, change and discover self-love through theatre, television, commercial or film acting, while having fun. Acting will open your creative heart, help you to enjoy life and discover free play, make you fearless, courageous and curious and so much more. Acting 101 basics include:

    1. Learning how to be in the moment
    2. Build listening skills through repetition.  These days, listening is a skill that has fallen by the wayside, and without it we cannot feel safe and confident to be able to play and enjoy the joy of all that is around us. It is never too late to learn how to listen.
    3. Discovering relationships and how to work off the other person.
    4. Find your faith in yourself through self-discovery exercises and believing in your circumstances.
    5. Discover your wants and learn how to get them.
    6. Take off your mask and see your true self and embrace that self.
    7. Build confidence through being part of a group, presenting yourself in front of others, completing a project through true creativity.
    8. For children it is about free play, scripted work, music, body movement, using their voices, senses and art.

Various theater games are used, music, emotional work, relaxation meditation, breath work, acting activities, performing in front of people on camera and learning to understand written material and act it out. Acting can be taught through one on one sessions, in a group through the magical world of skyping or face timing. 

Want to be fearless, courageous and to find your confidence?  Acting might be just what you need!