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Archive for the ‘Transformation and Change’ Category

I received this lovely email from Betty Liedtke, one of the 40 female entrepreneurs featured in the new book Fearless Women, Fearless Wisdom, by Mary Ann Halpin.  Rather than edit it, I felt it extremely important to share Betty’s words as they were written.  We never know where something amazing is waiting when we share it.

Hello dear Fearless Sisters,

I am SO excited about this! I have to share some more info with you about Tabitha Kyambadde, the friend of mine from Uganda who was so inspired when she heard me speak about the Fearless Women book after I got back from Dallas. I met with her this morning after our Toastmasters meeting and she told me that she sent the Fearless Women book she bought to her daughter in Uganda, and her daughter has shared it with many of her friends. In fact, Tabitha bought and sent her a second book because her daughter wanted to keep her own but have another one to share. EVERYONE there wants a copy! :>

But what excited me the most while Tabitha was telling me all this (actually–what caused me to start shaking, and just about brought me to tears) was when she said that all the women in Uganda who have seen the book are so inspired by all of us in the book, and by our stories. They related to all of us, and to the different things we have gone through in our lives. Tabitha said they all told her daughter, “These women are just like us.”

Doesn’t THAT choke you up??!! Tabitha’s dream (one of them; she’s got some fearless, brave, and AMAZING dreams that she has already started putting into action) is to inspire all the women in Uganda to see what they are capable of, and what is possible for them. She said to me that she wishes WE could all go to Uganda and speak with the women there.

Wouldn’t THAT be a trip!?

I’m sharing this with you for a number of reasons. One is simply to point out again what a powerful effect this book is having on women (and men!) literally all over the world. Another is to sing your praises once more (especially YOU, Mary Ann!) and thank you again for being part of this movement and for allowing me the privilege to be among you.

And also, I know that miracles and magic are happening because of this book (miracles and magic are part of my Dream Coach knowledge, training and experience, too :>), and I am putting this out there with the hope, the dream, and the prayer that some–or all–of us will be going to Uganda with Tabitha so that we can share our stories, our lives, our experiences and our Fearless Wisdom with the many Fearless Women there. I’ve no doubt that we will all come back even more inspired by their lives and experiences, and by the stories and Fearless Wisdom they share with us in return. And who knows what would happen from there!?

Fearless Woman Betty Liedtke

Betty Liedtke

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Gems of Change

By Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.

“Gems of Change” was first published in Spa Magazine January/February, 2001. At that time I was living on the lush Garden Island of Kaua’i Hawaii with my husband.  We are now living in Phoenix, Arizona enjoying the splendor of the ever-changing desert.

Recently, while opening small decorative boxes of trinkets, I came upon the many pieces of sea glass I gathered when I was living on the island so many years ago. As I was handling each of the colorful pieces, once broken and discarded, I thought about the many life challenges so many of us face today.  It was then I remembered this story and realized it was time to share it once again. It is my hope that Gems of Change will bring comfort to your lives in many special ways.

The Story…

Since moving to the island of Kaua’i some eight years ago, after twenty-seven years of living in fast-paced Los Angeles, my life has been in a state of total flux. Rather than the peaceful, simple life-style my husband and I sought, we were greeted with Hurricane Iniki, the worst natural disaster to hit the Hawaiian Islands, just ten days after our arrival.

We thought we were moving to paradise, but instead found the move to be fraught with continuous challenge. Over the years I felt like our goal for a peaceful life-style was being shattered into chards of broken dreams. Every time it appeared as if bits and pieces of my life were coming together, something would happen to squash the opportunities from coming to fruition.

A few months after the hurricane I decided to visit our local neighborhood center. While sitting at a picnic table, one of the Hawaiian elders opened a large jar of what appeared to be multi-colored jewels and emptied the contents into a round basket that was on the table before us.

Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Upon closer look, these jewels were really tumbled pieces of broken glass. I became curious and asked her about them. Aunty Martha told me about a beach on the Westside of the island known as “Glass Beach.” She said that rather than soft golden sand, the beach is covered with what looks like tiny pieces of glittering jewels. However, these jewels are really fragments of broken glass that were once parts from various types of bottles, which were discarded out at sea.

Over time, these jagged fragments are washed onto the shore and transformed by nature into colorful gems. These gems are often used to create jewelry, picture frames, flowerpots, sun catchers, and ornaments of various kinds. Aunty Martha then handed me a piece of glass and told me to put it in a special place.

I did as Aunty Martha told me to do and placed it on a shelf next to pictures of my friends and family, all the while thinking someday I’d like to visit that beach.

That “someday” didn’t happen until about a year later, when I noticed that I was still feeling jagged and fragmented in my own life. I had no regular job, finances were dwindling rapidly, and I missed my friends and family very much. It was then that I decided to take some private time for myself and visit this beach. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas as to what I might learn. I just knew that I needed to be there.

With gentle shore-line waves lapping over my bare feet, I walked along the water’s edge, noticing pebble-size pieces of glass glistening like fine jewels in colors of turquoise, emerald, brown, crimson, and orange.

As I walked further, I notice larger, thumb-size pieces of the glass and decided to collect some of them. After an hour or so, the plastic bag I had brought with me was filled with these gems.

Wanting to survey my treasures, I found a cove, and emptied my sack of glass onto a large beach towel. I picked up piece after piece, noticing each shape and color. One particular piece of smooth, frosted white glass caught my attention. I decided to use this piece of glass as one would use a reference book to find answers to a puzzling question. Holding it in the palm of my hand, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and mentally asked it to teach me something I needed to know right now in my life. I turned it over and over in my hand, while waiting for an answer to surface.

In these few moments of quiet meditation, I realized that our dreams, goals, and visions begin whole and smooth like the glass that was once part of a bottle or a jar. However, sometimes we find ourselves in uncharted waters; perhaps feeling like we were tossed overboard. There may be rough seas, high winds, and unclear navigation. This lack of clarity and turmoil can leave us feeling broken and shattered. With time, the edges of uncertainty smooth out, and we can find a safe place on which to land and gleam.

With these thoughts in mind, I began to think about the many challenges and traumas that have jarred my life over the years prior to our move. I remembered how, at first, these difficulties felt like they would break me apart. However; upon inner reflection, I now know that each experience has helped to smooth my rough edges and helped me to look at my life with greater dimension.

The sun was beginning to set as I bundled the many gems in the towel. Once I was home, I placed them in a large, clear glass jar and tumbled them over and over again. Each time I turned the jar, I saw a new design emerge.

As I look at that jar today, I realize that those once broken chards have become the vibrant colors in a personal kaleidoscope called my Life.

A Kaliedoscope Life

A Kaliedoscope Life

Take a few moments to reflect on your own life, and share with us what you may use to bring beauty to the chaos and confusion you may sometimes be called upon to endure.

 

Dr. Joyce

Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D. LMFT LLC
Creative Solutions for Positive Change
602-923-2704
Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
Co-director of The Phoenix Institute of Ericksonian Therapy
www.drjoycemills.com
www.butterflywisdom4you.com
drjoyce@drjoycemills.com

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“Go to your fields and your gardens,

and you shall learn

that it is the pleasure of the bee

to gather honey of the flower,

But it is also the pleasure of the flower

to yield its honey to the bee.”   ~Kahlil Gibran

 

Each morning I slowly meander into the kitchen and fix my wake-me-up cup of coffee.  

Mmmm, the smell of freshly brewing coffee fills the air as I watch, somewhat impatiently, as the rich, dark liquid begins to drip through the filter into the glass pot.  I then pour that first cup and sip slowly, enjoying the rich taste as it goes down.    For me, it is a cup of pure wake-up joy.   As I think about it, wouldn’t it be nice to begin and end each day sipping from a cup filled with joy?    Perhaps it could lead to another kind of wake-up feeling.       

A Cup of Joy

A Cup of Joy

How many times do we rush through our day not even thinking about the gifts we may have received that day. . . gifts that fill our inner cup of joy?  Perhaps it was a smile from the supermarket check out person, or a hug from your child.  Maybe it was a kind note from a colleague at work letting you know that you did a good job on a project or, perhaps you received a phone call from a friend or relative you hadn’t heard from for some time just saying that he or she had been thinking about you and just had to call. Most of the time these simple gifts go unnoticed and we remain focused on what’s not going well. 

This Steppingstone is meant to remind you to reach for your cup of joy each day and to decide what is in it or what you want to fill it with.   Find a quiet place, take a deep breath, and ask yourself the following questions.  The answers may come to you in the form of thoughts or images.   Grab a sheet of paper or your favorite journal… write down the questions below and allow your heart to respond.

 

  • What gives me joy in my life?

  • With whom do I feel full, respected, joyful?    

  • What would I like to be doing in my life that I am not doing?   In other words, what joy am I postponing? 

  • Next, look at the answers to these questions and ask yourself:  “What am I willing to do that will bring joy into my life today?”  

  • The next step is simple . . . Just do it!

 

Dr. Joyce

Joyce C. Mills PhD, LMFT, LLC
602.923.2704
6609 N. Scottsdale Rd. Bldg. G-103
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
drjoyce@drjoycemills.com
http://www.drjoycemills.com
 

© 1999 All Right Reserved ~ Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.
Reconnecting to the Magic of Life

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Creating a Peace Garden

Since the tragedy that struck America on September 11th, I have received countless calls and e-mails from therapists, teachers, and parents around the country asking what they can do to help their children at this time of sadness, fear, and uncertainty. During one such conversation, a friend said that her ten year-old son felt fear most of the time and didn’t know what to do.  After a few days of contemplation and meditation, I had a dream in which children were creating a “Peace Garden.” Upon awakening I decided to nurture the message of this dream. Gardens are powerful metaphors for our lives. We decide what we want to plant and nurture, as well as what we want to trim back or remove altogether.

After tearfully watching the Day of Prayer televised on September 23rd, I took some quiet time to reflect on what I was feeling. During these reflective moments, the faces and voices of the children of Harlem singing the African American National Anthem, “We Shall Overcome” continued to stream through my mind. Shortly afterwards a ritual for creating a “Peace Garden” became clear. It is my hope that the creation of a Peace Garden becomes a foundation of every home and school, and that the seeds of a peaceful resolution germinate, blossom, and flower for our children and our planet.

Creating a Peace Garden

Creating a Peace Garden

The following ideas for creating a Peace Garden are shared from my heart to yours.

Materials needed:

Rocks of various sizes, acrylic paints, brushes. Optional are plants, flowers, or a tree.

Where:

Walk out into your yard or garden with your child. Let your child choose the area he or she feels would be the right place for the Peace Garden. This does not have to be a large area.

If you live in an apartment, or have very limited space, use a small planter box to house your Peace Garden. It is not the size of the space that is important; the importance is on the intention.

Time of Day:

The time of day you choose to create your Peace Garden is optional according to your personal family schedule.

Clearing:

Once chosen, create an open space, clearing away any brush or obstacles that may be in the way. While doing so, ask your child to picture clearing away any worries or fears he or she may be experiencing. Take your time in this part of the process. Giving voice and action to inner feelings is a way of honoring our humanity and connectedness.

Planting Peace:

Gather rocks of various sizes and put them in a pile near the area you and your child have just cleared. Next, you and your child choose a rock, hold it in your hands and meditate for a few quiet moments on the word, message, prayer, or picture you want to paint on it. When you and your child are finished painting the rock, place it anywhere in the Peace Garden area.

You may wish to plant a tree, shrub or flowers in the garden also, but it is not necessary.

If your child is having a friend or friends over for a play day, invite them to participate in the creation and perpetuation of the Peace Garden. They can be asked to bring a rock of their own, or use one that you have provided.

Spiritual Pollination:

Like the tiny particles of pollen carried on the wings of butterflies from one flower to the next with the sole purpose of perpetuating regeneration and life, it is my belief that our prayers, messages, and images are transformed into tiny particles of “spiritual pollen,” carried on the wings of angels with the soul purpose of perpetuating healing and peace.JOYM Create a Peace Garden 2

At this time of great challenge and uncertainty we must remember
“Fear is the messenger, Faith is the Message.”

Shared with blessings for peace…

Dr. Joyce

Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D. LMFT LLC
Creative Solutions for Positive Change
602-923-2704
Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
Co-director of The Phoenix Institute of Ericksonian Therapy
www.drjoycemills.com
www.butterflywisdom4you.com
drjoyce@drjoycemills.com

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Sole Survivors

~ Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.

It was a rainy Saturday morning when I finished unpacking from a recent business trip. After jiggling open the sliding door to my closet, I desperately tried to find space for a new pair of shoes I had purchased.

No such luck. Every time I moved one dusty old box, another fell down.

“This is it!” I huffed out loud. “This is the day I give away all of my old shoes.”

The shoes I’m talking about were not just tattered–many of them no longer fit. Why was I saving them? I got my step stool and up into the nether regions of closet land I went.

Sole Survivors

Sole Survivors

The first box contained a pair of black satin high heels. They were my favorites eight years ago when they were new. I remember wearing them the night I attended a grand performance of Swan Lake by the Joffrey Ballet. My friends and I were able to go backstage and meet the dancers.

The next box held the silver-mesh heels with beaded flowers delicately draped across the front that I first wore to our youngest son’s bar mitzvah 12 years ago. As I closed my eyes, I could still hear his 13-year-old changing voice chanting.

Less glamorous were my workout shoes, all tattered and torn, but reminding me of exuberant aerobics classes at the gym. Each pair of shoes was like an old photo album carrying vivid pictures of treasured moments.

In 1992, when I moved from Los Angeles to Kaua’i, Hawaii, I brought all my shoes, knowing full well that many didn’t fit anymore (my feet seem to get wider with age). At the time, I didn’t know why I was taking them, but sitting on the edge of my bed, holding my black satin heels, I knew … I didn’t want to let go of the memories of parties, weddings, vacations,  and anniversaries.

I’d worn these shoes during some of the best years of my life. They were with me when, against the odds, I went back to school, got a Ph.D., wrote books, and built a private practice as a marriage, family and child counselor. It wasn’t just the accomplishments that were important. It was all the wonderful people who enriched each experience. By holding on to the shoes, I’d been trying to hold on to the memories. Even though moving to Kaua’i was a goal my husband and I worked hard to achieve, it seemed I was still spiritually linked to my 27 years in Los Angeles.

I took time to carefully dust off each pair of shoes and put them in a white plastic giveaway bag beside me. After placing the last pair inside, I twisted a wire tie around the top and reflected upon the importance of creating space in my life.

I realized that letting go of what no longer fits allows for experiences — and shoes — that fit the person I’ve become. While the memories continue to nourish my journey, now my closet has room for new shoes to travel with me on the path ahead.

Update:

It has been twelve years since I wrote this story.  Sole Survivors was subsequently published in Living Fit Magazine, in the July issue in 1997.  I am now living in Phoenix, Arizona and still reflect on the messages I received from cleaning my closet on that fateful Saturday morning.

After reading this story, perhaps you will also take time to reflect on the importance of letting go of what no longer fits and creating space in your life for new pathways and discoveries yet to be discovered.  I welcome your thoughts and share the journey.

Joyce

First published in Shape Magazine, 1997.
All Rights Reserved – Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D. LMFT, LLC 2009
Dr. Joyce C. Mills
Creative Solutions for Positive Change
602-923-2704
Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
Co-director of The Phoenix Institute of Ericksonian Therapy
www.drjoycemills.com
www.butterflywisdom4you.com

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An Angel In the Mist

An Angel In the Mist

An Angel in the Mist

In honor of 9/11, I am re-posting this story so that we might remember and keep alive in our hearts those who so courageously gave their time, love and lives for us.


~ Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.

Have you ever met someone that changed your life in a split second? Meeting Tim, a Fireman (one of Brooklyn’s finest), provided such an experience for me.

It was early evening on Sunday, January 6th, when I first saw Tim. I had been hired as a consultant and program developer on a special project with a team of trauma experts designed to help the children and families that were affected by the tragedy of 9/11.  My contribution to the team was based on a three part healing project I created nine years earlier for the children and families on the remote west side of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i in response to the devastating experience of Hurricane Iniki. Ironically, the hurricane hit the island on September 11, 1992.  Rather than the typical forms of debriefing, the program was based on natural healing abilities and resilience.

After nonstop days and sleep-deprived nights of eating Dunkin’ Donuts, drinking coffee, and taking “Emer’gen-C” vitamins – while developing, redeveloping, and refining this special program – I knew that I had to go to Ground Zero to meditate and pray. There would be no way I could work with the families and children without visiting and paying my respects prior to our first meeting.  And so, on January 6th, my dear friend and colleague, CharlesEtta (Charlee) Sutton and I bundled up and drove into New York from New Jersey – to the site of Ground Zero.

As we drove, Charlee and I talked about our feelings of sadness coupled with fears related to what we were expecting to see or feel. When we arrived, the lines of people waiting to go onto the platform set up to view the actual site were endless. One police officer told us that the wait to walk onto the platform was over three hours. Knowing we were unable to wait that long, we decided to walk on the sidewalk around the site and pay respects in another way. I had brought a braid of sweetgrass with me, which is a Native American sacred herb used for healing and prayer.

Tears filled our eyes as we silently walked by the thousands of letters, cards, pictures, posters, candles, flowers, teddy bears, and religious articles that were left by people from all over the world.  Many people obviously had visited to pay their respects and offer prayers to those thousands of innocent relatives and friends, whose precious lives had been so senselessly and tragically taken in a violent act of terrorism. For some reason, I could not seem to find the area where I wanted to place the sweetgrass.

It was getting darker, when Charlee and I decided to walk down Church Street and offer prayers by a barricade which blocked one of the entrances to the site. Just as we got there, Charlee got paged and had to answer an important call. Because of the noise coming from the huge cranes still working at the site, Charlee moved away to make her call, while I remained standing by the barricade to wait for her.  I found myself just gazing at the on-going work that was ensuing through the curtain of dusky light. It was during this very quiet and private moment, that I saw “him.” Like an angel in the mists, a tall, dust-cloaked firefighter in full gear slowly lumbered his way across the fallen debris towards the opening in the barricade.

As he approached, I wondered if it would be appropriate to talk with him at this time. He looked so tired and worn from his daunting task. As he turned to leave the site, I saw his name written on the back of his jacket. Reflexively, and almost in a whisper, I exhaled his name.  He immediately turned and slowly walked towards me. I extended my hand and introduced myself.  “Good evening, my name is Joyce Mills, and I am very happy to meet you.” I then reassured him that I wouldn’t take up much of his time, because I knew he was probably exhausted and wanted to get home. With a warm smile and an Irish-twinkle in his blue-grey eyes, he took off his work-worn, dust covered glove and extended his right hand.   “Tim,” he said.

It was then that I knew why I had brought the sweetgrass and to whom it was to be given. Reaching inside my purse, I took out the braid and told Tim that I had brought it from Phoenix to be offered in prayer for all of those who had been lost in the attack and in honor of those who were working so hard to help. I told him that we were not able to get onto the platform, but that I now knew why… it was because I was to give the sweetgrass to him.  While still holding it, I explained that sweetgrass is considered to be a sacred healing herb by many Native American tribes – that it was braided together as mind, body, and spirit.  I suggested that he should use it to help himself, his family, and his buddies through these many challenging times. He asked if I was Native American, and I told him no, that I am a Jewish kid born in the Bronx, but that I am a spiritual relative to many Native American People for many years and now live in Phoenix.

Tim smiled and extended his hands, palms up, to receive the small gift.  He gently handled the braid, almost as if one would hold a newborn baby for the first time.  Tim asked more questions about how to use it. I told him that I have been taught by Native people to use it to bring a sense of sweetness into life.  It is also used to purify a place when something painful happens. I went on to say that there are many places he could use the sweet grass – such as in his fire truck, at the fire station, in his own car, truck, or home. I explained that he could keep it the way it is, or burn it from time to time. The sweet smell could help remind him of the sweetness in life even when there is tragedy.  Tim said that he would definitely use it and thanked me for bringing it so far. I told him that it is he who needed to be thanked for all of the work he was doing.

Tim then started talking about his buddies who died and the many others who were killed. Tim’s eyes were soft and tender as he shared his story; he was clearly not in a hurry to leave. Tim said that firefighters usually “get in and get out of a site rather quickly, but this was different.” With conviction in his voice, Tim said that he and his buddies were not leaving until every bit of debris was cleared. He said there were over 3,000 bodies including 125 firefighters, somewhere in there, and that he was going to do what he could to recover whatever or whomever possible.

Tim talked for some time, while I stood and listened. I knew that meeting Tim was the reason I was there. He was the human platform from which I could view the site and offer prayers.  While just one person with great humility, Tim embodied the strength, sensitivity, fortitude, and courage of every person who was working to help.

As I write this story, I question what is it that Tim came to teach me that night? Perhaps it was about finding the inner strength and courage to go on when life strikes the most challenging of blows. For each of us the challenges will be different. For some it will be the loss of a loved one, for others it may be the loss of a job, or a personal confrontation with illness. We must each search our hearts in the quest for healing. Like Tim, it is in the service of a greater whole that we find the inner strength and meaning to face the fears and find healing.

As I leave you with this story, I also want to encourage you to take it into your heart and ask yourself how it impacted you.  Did it remind you of someone who forever changed your life?  Did you get a renewed sense of courage yourself?  Did it cause you to consider searching you own heart in the quest for healing?  Or did you, perhaps, find a personal revelation about your purpose in the service of helping others to heal?

Be inspired!

Dr. Joyce

Dr. Joyce C. Mills
Creative Solutions for Positive Change
602-923-2704
Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
Co-director of The Phoenix Institute of Ericksonian Therapy
www.drjoycemills.com
www.butterflywisdom4you.com

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