"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." ~ Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Making the Impossible Possible in 2013

Venice, Italy in front of St. Mark's Basillica
It has been a while since my last post, but I wanted to start 2013 by wishing you all a very happy New Year! After some technical bumps in the road and some busy months I am back. There is so much to share that now the hard part is figuring what to write about first. I can say that 2012 was a year filled with wonderful surprises both professionally and personally. It is always amazing to look back on the past 365 days and see just how the moments unfolded to create the path where we find oursevles standing at today.
Mental health officials from Italy and visiting group from United States (and new friends)
Starting the year with a list of resolutions is one of the favorite parts of my "see, believe, and achieve" goals. Having some sort of action plan helps to keep me focused and align myself with the goals most important. Ironically enough, last year I bought myself a calendar of Venice, Italy and hung it up where I could see it every morning. I told my mom that one day soon I would see those floating gondolas! You can imagine my surprise when I received a call in October, inviting me to visit Italy, along with a group of established mental health professionals from the United States. The purpose of the trip was to learn more about Italy's effective mental health system and see firsthand what is being done to address this critical issue. Being able to meet first hand with policy makers and professionals in the field was BEYOND my wild mental health professional dreams. The group I travled with were from California and so accomplished in their field of work. Just to sit among them gave me some isight as to how one of Socrates or Plato's students must have felt. The knowledge shared and friendships established moved me to tears. What I would give now just to sit amongst them again and have my mind filled with their blessings of skill. Our hosts and guides were BEYOND hospitable and you could see the passion of their work ooze out of every part of their being and soul. Never in my life had I experienced such genuine and pure beauty. Heavenly is the only word to describe them.

Turkish coffee break with my friend Ami
As fate would have it, the only ticket I found within my price range included layover in Turkey, where I was able to see my beautiful friend Ami and take in some sights. The smell of chestnuts roasting on the street corners of Istanbul, Turkey is forever engraved in  my senses. To be so far geographically and yet feel so close to the universe at the same time is something I will never be able to justly describe. I did to embrace each moment and capture what I could on camera, but no picture does any of it justice.

Miramare Castle in Trieste, Italy
The day I arrived in Italy, I was taken straight to our first meeting. Upon walking in it took about 3 seconds to realize just how real everything was, when the the ENTIRE meeting was held in both Italian and Spanish. Thankfully, the languages are so simular that my ears quickly adjusted (I still am impressed at the amount of Italian I understood! Who knew?). In all my research on mental health, I have always been so inspired by the work being done abroad and there I was front and center! Yet, what I read about and what I actually experienced and saw first hand were unbelievable. My trip to Italy was life changing to say the least, and I returned home with a new sense of hope, energy, and focused mind on what we can accomplish here in the United States. With one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, Italy's approach to mental health is every mental health professionals dream come true. If I had not seen it for myself, I probably wouldn't even believe this place existed! The humane approach to caring for those with mental illness was humbling to say the least and their national policies implemented to ensure that no man, woman, or child falls through the cracks, gave merrit to my own goals and vision. While in Graduate school, my research was primarly focused on mental health policy and establishing the concept that without policy, mental health has no chance receiving the attention needed to change society for the better and heal those affected the most. With every mental health professional we met or visit we made, whether to a psychiatric ward, emergency care unit, youth facility, or behavioral health center I saw the impossible become possible.

4th Century Italian crypt and church paintings
While we have a long road ahead of us, I am even more confident in the path ahead for my work in mental health. This is a global issue and one that cannot be ignored. It will never remedy itself and we as a people MUST act. I am a strong believe that everything happens for a reason and know my trip abroad was fate. The friendships made, sights seen, lessons learned, and seed of motivation/knowledge planted are enough to keep me going well through 2013 and beyond. I cannot wait to share some of the upcoming projects with you all and I invite you to join me on this journey. Today is January 2, 2013 so that we only have 333 days left to make the impossible, possible. Cheers to a new year and may we all See, Believe, & Achieve our way to a year filled with love, happiness, and success.

With love,

Beautiful Turkish lamps in Istanbul, Turkey


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