Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Victimology and Recognizing our Intuition

I was sitting in my car, enjoying an In-N-Out cheeseburger as I stared at the open doors of Costco. It was already getting dark, and I was tired. After resting my legs for almost 30 minutes, I decided it was time to go back in the store and finish my book signing. I only had thirty minutes left, and was tempted to break down my display early and call it a day. The slow post-Christmas traffic caused the day to go by much slower, although it proffered many interesting conversations with the ladies who give out food samples.

I'm glad I went back in. Almost immediately after taking my post, I saw a man who had been shopping in the store for a long time. I'd noticed him long before I took my cheeseburger break. He stood out because he carried himself with confidence. As he walked by, I mentioned that he had been there a long time, and that started a conversation. It didn't surprise me when I learned he was a retired police chief, and had worked many years for the FBI as a criminal profiler. I imagine you would gain a lot of confidence being in that line of work.

He told me that he loved his career, although years of examining the mind of a criminal can jade you a bit. He now teaches criminal justice and victimology at a couple local universities. He looked at the book, and told me he agreed with the concepts. He commented that every evil act he has encountered in his line of work had its root in an evil thought.

He has a great concern for children, and how many are innocent victims of molestation and abuse from adults. He said there is a great need to educate children of all ages so that they won't be a victim. I asked how he suggests this can be done. He told me we all need to learn to listen to our "inner voice" or "gut instinct" as he refers to it in class. He said that here in our community, we tend to expect the best in everyone, and often don't listen to our gut instinct when something feels wrong.

In his victimology class, one assignment is to have the students record feelings of "gut instinct" whether it be a thought to call your mom, to lock the doors, check the windows, or move into another lane of traffic. A part of the student's grade comes from recording these intuitive thoughts. He said that without fail, students who do this exercise increase their sensitivity to their inner voice and find themselves acting on their impressions. I asked him if any great stories have resulted from this exercise. He said, "You bet! One student moved into another lane on the freeway and avoided a collision. Another learned that she had prevented a suicide attempt by acting on an impression to call a friend. Others have told stories about changing plans at the last minute, and later learning that a terrible crime was committed where they originally planned to go. Acting on that impression helped them avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

He said the more we can help our children trust that "gut" feeling and act on it, the safer they will be. I found it interesting that the exercise of writing down impressions (in other words "focusing" on those gut instincts) raises awareness of our "inner voice".

It reminded me of an exercise my sister Leslie once told me about. She attended a seminar where they were learning to trust their intuitive feelings. I can't remember how they were instructed to do this, but she was partnered up with someone who was supposed to think of an emotional event from her childhood. Leslie was to stand in front of her, and trust her "gut" and say the first thing that came to mind. After a moment, Leslie apologized to her partner, and said, "I'm sorry, but all I can think of is Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite." She was apologizing because it made no sense to her. In her mind it was ridiculous. The girl she was facing started to cry and said Pedro was the name of her dog! The event she was focusing on involved her dog. Amazing!

Is there any doubt that thoughts are things?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trains are AWESOME!

A couple of days ago I met a gentleman and his wife who were finishing up their Christmas shopping. They are grandparents, and told me a great story about childhood dreams and fulfillment.

This man's Grandfather worked for the railroad many years ago. Hearing weekly about his Grandfather's stories was the genesis of this man's love and appreciation for trains. When he was a little boy in the 1940's, he lived in a home on the hillside in Provo. There was a train track that ran past his neighborhood. Each day at the same time, he would run as quickly as he could to a spot on the hillside where he loved to watch the train go by. He waved at the conductor each day and the conductor waved back. This happened for over a year. It was the highlight of this little boy's day. He would dream about riding in the engine, imagine pulling the horn and being in control of that huge machine.

One day when he was about eight years old, he took his spot on the hillside as usual, and waved as the train approached. But this day, the screech of the brakes was heard, and the train slowed down. I asked him if he was scared, and he said, "No! This man was my friend. I felt like I knew him."

The train stopped, and wide-eyed, this little boy watched as the conductor walked towards him. They shook hands, and the conductor asked where the boy lived. Together they walked the short distance to his home to get permission for the little boy to ride on the train.

In this day and age, I don't think any mother would let her son accept an invitation like that, but this story happened in the 1940's, when I think there was a lot more decency and trust in the world. The mother agreed to let her son go. As this man was telling me this story from his youth, his eyes lit up and I could tell he was that little boy again for a moment, filled with more joy than a child experiences on Christmas morning.

He spent the rest of the day with the conductor, sitting on a stool, looking out the window, and even pulling the horn each time they approached an intersection.

I met another man that same evening who told me God doesn't give us what we want, only what we need. I disagree. God gave this sweet little boy his wish. Riding on the train wasn't a need. It was a desire. I believe God gives us many of our desires when we open our heart and mind to the possibility of His blessings and love.

The little boy who rode on the train is now a Grandpa sharing his train stories with his grandchildren. The trains he conducts are miniature train sets. He even has one in his backyard that can survive all types of weather. He bought a train set for one of his sons years ago as a Christmas gift. The wife told me they have a picture that is treasured among the family. It is from the 1970's. This grandpa and three other men are on the ground, bottoms in the air, playing with the train and assembling it. His son, who the gift was given to, is standing near them with a look on his face that says, "Hey, isn't this my train?"

Finally, I learned that this man recently shared his hobby with a neighbor who was under doctor's orders to get more exercise. His friend has serious health problems, but liked the idea of building model train sets for his own grandchildren. Today, these two neighbors are known for the multiple hours they spend outdoors in all kinds of weather, bringing joy to children as they teach them there is more to life than video games. His friend's health is improving as his focus has turned to a hobby that brings him satisfaction and exercise.

I think this was a great illustration of how healthy it is to focus on positive images, and actively engage our minds in wholesome pursuits!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Band Uniforms and Tiaras

It's Christmas time, and the phrase Twelve Drummers Drumming has taken on a new meaning. I heard the best story about an unconventional Homecoming Queen.

I met a woman and her beautiful daughter while they were shopping at the Ogden Costco. The daughter attends Fremont High and was chosen by her classmates as the Homecoming Queen this past Fall.

Initially, this high school senior didn't care about the nomination, but as days went by, she found she really liked the idea of winning. She has a couple sisters who really got behind her as she shopped for her dress and prepared for the assembly. Aunts from different states also got involved in the excitement. The phone was always ringing off the hook with words of encouragement. The mother got misty eyed as she expressed how wonderful it was to see siblings supporting each other, void of jealousy or competition.

This girl was not your typical Homecoming queen. Back in my day, you could always count on the Homecoming queen being picked from among the song leaders or cheer leaders. This young lady was in the band. She was on the drum line.

The night of the homecoming game, she had two choices. Tell her director that she was going to sit out on the band number, so she could wait on the front row of bleachers in her gown like the other contestants, or go ahead and wear her band uniform and perform.

She decided to perform. They did their opening number. She drummed with her fellow drummers, and then the announcement came. She lifted the drum set over her head and off her shoulders, and ran across the field to where the announcement was being made. They gave her a crown, and helped her and the other attendants onto the back of a truck for the drive around the football field. She is probably the only homecoming queen Fremont High has ever seen who chose to wear a band uniform with her tiara. She is college bound in the next few months, and I'm sure she is going to be a influence for good in the world as she grows into an adult.

I was so impressed with the poise and composure of this young lady who chose to stay true to herself, even on a night like that. Her mother told me many have gained from her example. High School can be a difficult time for many teens as they try to fit in and be like everyone else. The desire for acceptance can often lead to compromised standards.

Be yourself, like who you are! Don't be afraid to march to the beat of a different drummer as you daily bring your own gifts and talents to the table of life. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can Murder be Endured?

Earlier this week I met a woman whose daughter was murdered six years ago. I met her at a book signing. She was a lovely woman, who had an unusual calmness about her. I could sense the compassion she feels for everyone. This was confirmed as no less than ten people walked by while we were speaking and stopped to hug her and tell me about all the wonderful things she has done for them.

Our conversation began after she read through my book. She loved it and told me the concepts were true principles. Then she pointed to the word "Gratitude" on my marketing banner and said, "Do you realize there is a higher concept than Gratitude? There is a word you can use that will have a more powerful effect on your psyche than simply expressing "I am grateful" or "I am thankful". I was completely unaware of what it would be. She said the word is "praise". She suggested I try "I praise thee that......" the next time I want to express gratitude. She said I will be able to feel that it is a more powerful term. It expresses more clearly the trust we put in God as our master architect. It takes you one step beyond the gratitude level.

Not only was her daughter murdered, but her husband was shot during the same incident, yet survived. I was in awe of what this woman was teaching me. There was no bitterness or despair in her. As we spoke, I referred to when she "lost" her daughter and she corrected me. She cupped my hand in both of hers and said, "Oh Valerie, I never "lost" my daughter. Please don't refer to it that way. She simple went home, and today I feel very close to her. She is near, just in a dimension I can't see, but I can feel her. I never lost her."

Turning to God through that traumatic experience helped her grow spiritually, and she was willing to share a few key things she learned. She gave me permission to blog about our conversation.

She said that through that traumatic experience, she has discovered the power of words. Words generate an energy of their own when spoken. They have a direct influence over our emotions and our physical body. One of the neighbor's who stopped to chat had an obvious physical ailment. As this neighbor walked away, my new friend referred to her neighbor's "endurance". I found the word "endurance" curious, so she explained that she never uses terms like "trial, affliction, etc." She said that most people equate endurance with suffering, yet it is the opposite of suffering. It is an opportunity to refine our faith and trust until we can recognize our Father in Heaven's voice.

She also told me that the phrase "time heals all wounds" is a lie. Time has no power to heal. The only thing time does is give you an opportunity to reach the moment when you consciously CHOOSE to endure it well. When you switch from bitterness and fear to faith and trust, this is when your wounds heal.

It has been days since I met this wonderful lady, and I continue to think about her and our conversation. How would I react in that situation? It is hard to know. She is an example to all of us as we "endure" our personal "hills and valleys". I know mine pale in comparison to hers.

What an amazing education she gave me. She is the real deal. I've already tried the "praise" approach, and it does make a difference! Try it yourself!