Saying yes to people is not enough

The title of this blog is “Healing validations” – and I am known for saying positive things to people. One of my clinical interns a long time ago dubbed me the “master of the positive reframe” – and lots of people trust me as someone who will build them up and make them feel better about themselves.

But I am realizing more and more clearly that saying nice things to people is only one side of the story. It may be 90% of the story. Roughly 90% of the time I am telling people they are great: “You’re on the right track – keep going.”

But sometimes they are not on the right track. And I am realizing that the other role I play with people – and maybe even the more important one – is to be the person who is can be counted on to say “No, that’s not OK. You have to do better.”

I explore these ideas in this 10 minute video.

Covid Day 15, Back in Spruce Pine

Sunday night I slept 15 hours. I got up for about an hour, then went back to bed and slept two more hours.

I woke in a panic about my dog. “My landlord hates my dog. Her big rough farm dog hates my dog. I’ve been trying to put in plans for someone to come up from Asheville to get Pancho if I die, but I’m not trusting those plans to be solid. I have to get out of here.”

I went from being so weak I could not walk to the bathroom and was peeing in a jar next to the bed – to spending the next eight hours moving out of my apartment and driving down to Spruce Pine, where my friend had reserved a motel room.

3 p.m. Dancing in the park

Is it not really Governor Cuomo’s fault? No – it’s ours.

I was a big fan of Gov. Cuomo early in the pandemic, but at the end of the day is he not an American oligarch? Does he not represent one of the great American patriarchal families?

Is that not maybe the root of the problem? These folks are used to having power. Propositioning a staff member feels to them like just one of the perks of their position.

If we, the American public, keep going to our comfort zones and electing people who are household names, we will keep getting leaders who casually abuse power and don’t really get it what it’s like for the little guy.

Covid Day 13, Sun., 2/28/21+

8:50 a.m.

“Life – you take it.”

11:30 a.m. – Top of the old road

11 a.m., half-mile down road

11:06 a.m. – by the stream

12:29 – at the foot of the mountain

11 p. m. – Still dancing

Today’s FB memory: on 2/27/13, I started a new job – back in my old field of “mental health”! Yay! (Read on…)

2/27/13 – my Facebook post (which Facebook very helpfully reminded me of today)

“I start a new job on Friday! Full-time at Family Preservation Services (a wonderful agency) in their adult day program (a wonderful program). I’m totally psyched! It’s been a good run at Greenlife, but after almost two years I’m very ready to bless it and let it go – and go back to my old field of counseling, where I can use more of my rifts.”

What a amazing memory, from my current perspective (2/27/21).

I left that job after just about two weeks, saying that I was too depressed to be able to do the complicated mental work.

Sure! The “complicated mental work” was to organize and document the psych evaluations of new patients.

As a clinical psychologist myself, I probably could have actually performed those psych evaluations better than the person who did them.

But my karma in this lifetime is to do battle with the entire process of judging and labeling people, especially by the psychiatric profession.

Hear the dialogue at NPR’s 1A program on January 10 (not even two months ago) about “mental health”, in which I twice – calling in to the show – try to shift the conversation away from giving labels to people.

At Family Preservation Services, I was not overwhelmed by writing up those diagnostic evaluations because it was too complicated for me. My brain was resisting that work because it was exactly what I am here to try to stop.

At that point, I was still in the throes of believing that I myself had a psychiatric disorder. I had recently gone through of solid week of training to be a “peer support specialist”. I was in that job because I was “someone with a psychiatric problem” trying to help “other people with psychiatric problems”.

I didn’t know then that I was actually there to let the animals out of the zoo cages. I was there to open the jails and say “Run free my friends!”

(Last summer, my very young friend Sam rode with me and Pancho in our van – Narwal the Whale – for 10 days. When she happened on us, she was homeless and in a world of trouble. She did better with us every day. “Sam, wherever you are, I still love you and promise to come looking for you.”)

Last summer, the first night that my friend Sam rode in the van with us, we “somehow ended up“ parked in that parking lot – where I worked for Family Preservation Services and where I also, during another period, attended depression and bipolar support meetings in a Family Preservation Services conference room.

Sam had told me very clearly earlier that night last summer that “I do not dance”.

So when she and I ended up – at three in the morning – dancing in the moonlight in that parking lot, it was one of the great karmic triumphs of my life.

Struggling with the Covid?

To listen to me reading the text from this post click on this link:

Folks –

I have been struggling with some health issue – that I think is probably the Covid virus – for about 12 days now.

On Day 5, last Friday, I was so sick – and kind of delirious – that I started to put my affairs in order, making plans for my dog, etc.

Then, on Saturday and Sunday, I made a miraculous recovery and thought I was in the clear. Each day after that, I improved a little bit – but stayed clearly sick. Yesterday I got concerned that I wasn’t seeing very clearly.

This morning, I seemed OK for about an hour – then got smacked down with a wave of weakness and dizziness that put me back in bed, coming in and out of consciousness.

After a couple of hours, I got up – and got progressively (a little) better over the course of the day. Then tonight my lungs took a big hit – first time I have had any symptoms there.

That does have me pretty worried. The people who are closest to me know that I am at a very peaceful place in my life – really complete, especially grateful for the 20 months since I had a life-changing spiritual experience on June 26, 2019.

My blog offers a video journal of the last year and a half of my life. The very first post in the blog summarizes that story. (Click the link at the very top of the post to hear me read the post to you – that’s more fun.)

In case I do actually slide off the board, please remember:

1) From my “waking up” experience on June 26, 2019, I have had one hell of a ride. By far the most exciting time ever. Happy almost all the time – even in the most difficult of circumstances.

2) my blog is both my journal and my legacy.

There are probably 200 more videos in my phone. I talked with a friend about maybe somebody fishing them out. But the most crucial ones are already up there.

3) I am right now at the most peaceful place with Terry that I have been for a long time. He loves the roles of husband and father – and is doing a heroic job of taking care of his family during the pandemic. I am very proud of him.

4) If I go now, I leave with at least a couple of agendas incomplete:

I wanted to sue Mission Hospital and the American psychiatric Association. My blog post about mental health may still be useful somehow somewhere.

I wanted to get laid one last time.

But my message again and again from life – and from my friend Sam, who rode in the van for 10 days and who I loved as much almost as my son (4 or more videos about her, maybe only one posted – in the post about rehab programs):

The last instruction I gave her as she went into the convenience store to buy us a pack of cigarettes was “Only non-additive cigarettes. Fork over the seven dollars for American Spirits if you have to.”

When she returned with some red package that I did not recognize, I said in playful disgust,

“Oh God – menthol too. I forgot that you’re a menthol smoker.”

She gave me the sassiest, cutest little look and said just as playfully,

“You can’t always get what you want.”

I laughed really, really hard. She nailed that line better than the Rolling Stones.


Majo John

P.S. feel free to email me this weekend.

I may even bounce back and be here next week. This would not be the first time that the rumors in my head of my impending death were greatly exaggerated.

Framing Brittney Spears – and other talented girl “commodities”

Two weeks ago, I knew like nuthin’ about online abuse of girl celebrities. Now, thanks to NPR’s shows 1A and On the Media, I’m ready to do battle for these girls.

I first heard of the phenomenon of these girl celebrities being treated like property on NPR’s On the Media:

Then, yesterday, NPR’s 1A show dove deep into the same topic.

In this segment, I was especially impressed with Rebecca Black. This young woman had a big hit in 2011 with her song Friday.

Despite that song’s fun lyrics and infectious beat – and Rebecca’s tender years (13!) – she was subjected to tremendous online abuse by both professional music critics and hordes of would-be critics wielding the power of the social media Comment.

Well, Rebecca – with lots of support from her family – survived all that, learned from it and is back in black.

Her remix of that original song is a thumb-in-your-eye triumph, with sassy touches she could not have pulled off at age 13, like the line “It’s the fucking weekend, people!”

The song itself is wonderful: buoyant, celebratory and so-danceable – perfect Friday music.

But the music video is the real master class on busting ass. Cartoon visuals make it absolutely clear that Rebecca Black is back – large and in charge. It’s a blast!

When I tweeted about all this yesterday, I looked up Rebecca’s Twitter handle: @MsRebeccaBlack. A vulnerable 13-year-old girl no longer!

Based on all these stories of young women fighting back against a corporate (and sometimes patriarchal family) establishment intent on using their talent (and often their sexuality) for others’ profit, I started creating a “Girl power!” playlist. I found some of these songs – and some of them were recommendations from Pandora.