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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist (tm)

Date: Tuesday, August 25, 1998 12:15 AM

The Stress Doc Letter Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

August 1998, No. 2

Dear Readers,

Here is your free Stress Doc Newsletter. Twice a month I include original or favorite essays and articles from my various online and offline writings, including my weekly Humor From the Edge and AOL/Online Psych <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych</A> columns.

Please forward this letter to interested friends, colleagues and family members, or send along their email addresses. (Also, if you don't wish to receive the newsletter, email me - stressdoc@aol.com .)

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Stress Doc and Digital City- Washington Go National: Shrink Rap and Group Chat, the Stress Doc's popular dynamic chat group, moves to a weekly Tuesday format from 9-10:30pm EDT. Here are links & announcements: <A HREF="aol://4344:1097.tuechat.25384394.563747919">Tuesday Chats</A> and <A HREF="aol://4344:363.gorkin.5732839.568857121">Dig City Promo - Stress Doc</A> . Hope to see you on Tuesdays.

`````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````` ``````````` The Aug., No. 1 edition went from the highs and lows of mountain climbing to searching for a spiritual homeland. I started in the bayous and left off about to journey to the world of kaleidoscopic rocks and metaphysical energy -- Sedona, AZ. Is it real or is it a Vortex? Find out below.

Also, scroll past the essays to find information on my speaking and training schedule, the library of articles on my award-winning website - www.stressdoc.com <A HREF="www.stressdoc.com">STRESSDOC HOMEPAGE</A> - and any fastbreaking developments. And here's my AOL/Online Psych Page <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych </A> and special AOL/Workplace Series <A HREF="aol://4344:972.docwork.1255066.562088752">The Stress Doc Interview @ Online Psych</A>.

Click on these links if you'd like free subscriptions to Humor From the Edge <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/hfte/">HUMOR FROM THE EDGE HomePage</A> and/or to The Death and Dying Newsletter <A HREF="http://www.death-dying.com/"> Welcome To Death & Dying...Where Life Surroun...</A> (See, this newsletter will make you die laughing ;-)

Finding A Spiritual Homeland: Part II

In Part I of my haven quest, I defined a spiritual homeland as a geographic- cultural world and ambiance that possesses, in its own style and substance, the qualities I desire in a partner: an aesthetic and sensual presence along with "a heart that sings and a mind that dances." I also shared my years of self-imposed "creative exile" in New Orleans. The Crescent City Muse helped inspire both meandering and exploring tenaciously an uncommon heart-mind-body- spirit path. Along "the way," I began to recover and embrace my individual and creative essence.

Painting the Way to Sedona

Part I concluded with my reflecting on a recent trip to the Southwest, culminating in a stay in Sedona, AZ. After seven years of wandering in the Washington, DC political badlands, my intuitive sense told me I would soon be coming "home" to Sedona again. Let me illuminate the process. Two long-time friends and I had spent a day in the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest before arriving in Sedona. The desert surrounds you - low sloping, soft, voluptuously curved mesas; layers of pastel-colored sediment painted and sculpted by the ultimate artist. It's an endlessly expansive, panoramic palette. And the designs, and the heat, are both above and below. The mostly-parched arroyos, with their cracked, diamondback patterns, appear to silently glide under your feet. The patches of slightly moist, smooth clay from the last brief rainfall...Did I want war paint or a mud bath? A tough choice.

Our senses were definitely primed for Sedona. After nonstop driving, closing in on our destination, bouncing along a fairly abandoned dirt road, in the fading sunset, we were suddenly stopped short. In our sightline, the massive, green shrubbed, multicolored and layered rock formations that stand sentinel over deep, lush, hauntingly quiet Oak Creek Canyon.

The First Supper

If this was a "Yin," our next experience was a "Yang." In a late dinner, we encountered two Southern California women who spoke of their psychic readings and filled our heads with the lore of a number of locals and tourists - the indigenous "Nessie," the transformational Vortex. New Age metaphysicists believe Sedona and the surrounding canyons possess some of the dozen or so "power points" of the earth. There are vortices (singular, vortex: a whirling mass of energy that draws into its current everything that surrounds it) below the earth which, allegedly, give off energy, heighten creativity and instill inner peace. Well, seeing one of the women in action, I'm not sure about creativity or serenity, but energy...this woman talked incessantly. I had to use some of my best couple counseling skills just to allow her friend to get in a word.

Now I must confess, I'm a skeptic when it comes to some of the metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. Still, I did go for a reading from a spiritual healer. However, when she told me, based on the vibrations she received when I said my name that, in my past life, I was a seal fisherman in Alaska...let's just say we didn't quite connect. Past lives theory and therapy, when based on substantive exploration, for me, is an attempt to construct a meaningful belief system -- not unlike the purpose of Greek mythology or, even, Freudian psychoanalytic theory. That is, it can provide lessons, often symbolic or metaphorical, for understanding universal conflicts and human temptations, as well as providing guidelines for grappling with justice, sexual passion and ethics in a world that often seems beyond our comprehension and control. (Though, for me, Greek mythology, has a much higher literary value. As for Freudian theory, I plead the fifth...Hey, it helps pay my bills. As past life regression theory does for its practitioners.)

While skeptical, at the same time, I have a pretty good pedigree when it comes to mystical-like experiences. (See my past column on "Creative Burnout," on my website -- www.stressdoc.com -- or on AOL, Keyword: Stress Doc.) I know there are much deeper levels of awareness than which our ego or everyday consciousness allows. I get perturbed, though, when I see people searching for that vortex moment...like trying to hit on the psychic lottery. Too many want to project their, as yet, unrealized creative needs and drives onto some outside incarnation that will just visit them.

Discovering or recharging one's creativity is a profoundly human process. Of course, it involves being open to the obscure and "the obvious." It's also a process of exercising aptitudes and natural gifts along with encountering - often grieving - one's history. Perhaps most important, is the capacity to risk failure and to withstand disapproval and separation anxiety. That is, to pursue an individual path, however lonely or frustrating, that seems to defy the traditional, expected or familiar. And, surely, perspiration, not just inspiration is crucial - what I call persisting in one's headwork, heartwork and homework. And finally, there is that inspiration, from a muse, a place, a source of life greater than one's individual self.

And, much like my inexact modus operandi when traveling on vacation, I have taken a longer detour than planned. So, in an upcoming column, I will spell out why Sedona, despite my being somewhat vortex-averse, is pulling at my spiritual home- and heartstrings. Until then, of course, Practice Safe Stress!

Finding a Spiritual Homeland: Part III

It's the homestretch on my spiritual homeland series. The key question: why is my intuitive side drawn to Sedona, AZ? I've dubbed Sedona the "rebirthplace of the 60s." But I believe the heartfelt connection goes beyond nostalgia and the days of having a full head of hair. And certainly deeper than some of the more lightweight metaphysical principles I met up with. While my skepticism was evident as expressed in Part II, I must admit, during our first hike, after briefly cruising some of the town, there was an immediate energy surge. My friend, Burt, observed that I hadn't been so manic since our 1970 hitchhiking and backpacking trip through Europe. "Aha," you say. The higher power point, "The Vortex," was at work despite my pedestrian cynicism. (Actually, one spiritual seeker warned us against climbing to the top of Bell Rock as the power of the vortex would just overwhelm us. You know which rock we climbed.)

Articulating the Ineffable

Let me try an abstract yet down-to-earth interpretation. Encountering Sedona reminded me of discovering, a dozen years ago, the work of the controversial early 20th century Austrian artist, Egon Schiele. I had never before seen a painter integrate themes of sensuality, sexuality, aggression, poignant and angst-ridden expressive realism along with such strikingly angular lines and moody colors. A tremendous and energetic sensation of enlightenment hit me: "Oh, so that's what all those elements (within myself) look and feel like."

In analogous fashion, Sedona was a physical and psychological bridge between my inner dreams and real world desires. My resonant "aha" was discovering a small community that was integrated with its natural, and naturally beautiful, surroundings. (Or, even better, a community that was dominated by the dramatic landscape.) In five to ten minutes you can go (to quote from Sedona: A Pictorial Guidebook) from desert-like terrain to starkly beautiful Red Rock Country, with its "massive buttes, precipitous cliffs, towering spires and rugged canyons...Much of its semi-arid terrain is bare, reddish rock."

Seeing Red, Moving Up

Being an Aries, a fire sign, and a "red" in coloring and temperament, perhaps I was vibrating with the simpatico terrain. We know that colors affect our perceptions and mood. Red is associated in humans with power, vitality and the competitive urge. Could this influence my heightened arousal level?

Now ten minutes northward from Sedona brings you another landscape and mindscape -- Oak Creek Canyon. The top of the canyon is 7,000 feet above sea level compared to Sedona's 4,000 foot altitude. Here there is lush vegetation, a year round flowing stream, even dark green Ponderosa Pine forests. The rapidly changing altitude, cooler climate and kaleidoscopic rock formations definitely did a number on my senses. Also, one reason I so resonate with mountains now is because of my first spiritual homeland. New Orleans was a great place to "come out of the creative closet," but it left me seasonally and altitudinally deprived. Anyway, Sedona and environs definitely illumined a Stress Doc maxim: "Fireproof your life with variety!"

Communal Attraction and Repulsion

And, finally, there were the people -- so open and friendly. A good number of writers, artists, sculptors, in addition to middle age and New Age psychics and healers. (Hey, in the "The Big Easy" I definitely hung with some oddballs and outcasts. I can do this scene.) And as an online friend observed, upon hearing some of my "metaphysical community" skepticism: "At least these folks are still searching." I agree. Better to be on a journey that explores and extends the inner and outer envelopes than to believe you have all the right answers.

Or, even more sad, to be trapped in a burnout box - no matter how elaborate or prestigious - that's psychologically numbing or that's providing "security" in exchange for rapidly receding options, energy and hope. I call this when you're one-time niche of success has you stuck in the ditch of excess. Hey...you are at a crossroads!

While attracted to a creative colony, perhaps, as I do more and more writing, there's simultaneously a need for increasing solitude and open spaces; a wish to let my inner heart and soul romp free; to seek momentary escape from the shadowy writer's cave in absolute, other worldly beauty. Hey, Stress Doc, enough with the analysis, already.

So, is it real or is it Vortex? You know what...who cares. It's Sedona! And I will have more of it. Are you ready to explore a spiritual homeland? Are you ready to build a bridge, however gradually, between inner dreams and outer desires? And can you do all this while still Practicing Safe Stress?

Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge -- <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/rkestep/index.htm">HUMOR FROM THE EDGE HOME PAGE</A> . Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych -- <A HREF="aol://4344:972.stress.1277273.543794536">ONLINE PSYCH: THE STRESS DOC</A> and Financial Services Journal Online -- http://fsc.fsonline.com/fsj . His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com, or check out his website: www.stressdoc.com or click <A HREF="http://net-site.com/gorkin/">STRESS DOC HOME PAGE</A> .

"The Stress Doc Letter" features and functions:

1. Psychohumor Writings. To provide you the best of my past and current online and offline writngs, including Humor From the Edge columns and America On Line/Online Psych special topical essays, e.g, <A HREF="aol://4344:972.docwork.1255066.562088752">The Stress Doc Interview @ Online Psych</A> and <A HREF="aol://4344:972.olpny3.1264502.565460680">Make Your Resolution A Habit With Help From Online Psych!</A>. For those not on AOL, if you'd like a copy of these popular series, just email - stressdoc@aol.com. Or check out my website - www.stressdoc.com - or my AOL/Online Psych Page - Keyword: Stress Doc, <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych </A>.

My writings now appear twice/month in Perspectives, the electronic magazine of Mental Health Net. MHN is a not-for-profit organization devoted to mental health information and education resources online. They are located at: www.cmhc.com/

2. Special Projects/Speaking Updates. Workshops, conferences and new or special projects that are flying around or about to be (or have been) launched:

a) Come on by for my weekly"Shrink Rap and Group Chat" on AOL/Digital City - Washington, Tuesdays, from 9-10:30pm EDT. It's an online stress support group. It's a free wheeling discussion, with some Stress Doc direction about your personal concerns on stress and wellness, relationship and family issues, loss and grief, career transition, creativity and psychological growth, etc. The openinig topic: Finding a Spiritual Homeland; Tuesday August 25th. Here's the link: <A HREF="aol://4344:363.gorkin.5732839.568857121"> </A>D <A HREF="aol://4344:363.gorkin.5732839.568857121">ig City Promo - Stress Doc </A> .

This group replaces the Frequent Sighers Club which never quite got off the ground. (I still like the name.)

b) Team Building Series for Aeronautical Charting and Cartography/Dept. of Commerce commenced on June 5th and continues in high gear. A number of peer facilitated groups have been launched. This follows two highly successful Stress and Conflict Management all day workshops. For more info, call Melissa Hartman, Special Projects Manager, (202) 482-3026.

c) Overcoming Stress, Loss and Change; Managing Anger and Conflict - continuing series for Fairfax County Government, VA, Metro-Area Re-employment Project: for Displaced Federal Employees. For more info, call: Marilyn Manno, (703) 324-7390.

d) Confronting/Managing Downsizing and Organizational Change - On August 4 and August 20, all-day workshops for allied health professionals of the DC Commission on Mental Health Services. For more info about these popular programs, call Patricia O'Meally, Training Coordinator, (202) 373-6801.

e) Practicing Safe Stress - On August 19th, one hour evening program for the Alexandria, VA JCs. For more info on this "great program," call Genie Moore, (703) 222-1434.

f) Rebuilding the Fire: Transforming Burnout into Your Creative Career Path; On June 8th and 9th, two highly successful half day programs for the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers Annual Conference. Rumor has it I was "the star of the conference." These comments from Ron Lambert, Director, Career Services, John Hopkins University/SAIS, (202) 663-5710: Once again, let me thank you for the outstanding job facilitating "Rebuilding the Fire; Transforming Burnout Into Your Creative Career Path."...From the evaluations submitted, clearly, it was one of our most successful workshops of the conference. While my own coordinating duties kept me from attending, every time I passed by your seminar room, it was clear that you were able to build and maintain a high level of energy and enthusiasm...In these frenetic times, yours is a gift that many organizations surely will find a great benefit.

g) Generating Creativity and High Performance; as a spinoff of the above Rebuilding the Fire EACE Conference, will be leading a 2 1/2 hour "Beginning Year Kickoff" motivational workshop on Aug 11th at Ithaca College for 80 Student Personnel staff members; for more info, call Gary Littlepage, (607) 274-3365.

g) These comments from David Odar, Program Chair for American Association of Healthcare Adminsitrative Mnagement on May's Practicing Safe Stress presentation: We want to express thanks for the wonderful presentation you made to our group last month. It was obvious that you connected with the group and provided us all with some fresh perspectives and strategies for dealing with stress...We look forward to having you be an integral part of our year end meeting that will focus on strategies for "career control."

3. Online Coaching/Training. To promote my Coaching for Consultants and Entrepreneurs Program:

Special Announcement: I am starting a Multi-Media Coaching for Consultants Program: ** developing, delivering, marketing workshop programs online & offline ** humor/speech writing services and website design with the Cyber Doc ** online consultation and participation in chat group

For information on the products and instructional services, email me at Stress Doc@aol.com. With questions, call (202) 232-8662 or mail me at:

Mark Gorkin Stress Doc Enterprises 1616 18th Street, NW #312 Washington, DC 20009-2530

4. Award-Winning Website. To remind you that there is a lot more material on my award winning, USA Today Online "Hot Site" website. It's also just been acclaimed a 4 Star, top-rated site, by Mental Health Net, the largest review guide of mental health, psychology and psychiatry resources online today. Go to www.stressdoc.com or <A HREF="http://www.stressdoc.com/">STRESS DOC HOMEPAGE</A> . Also, check out my AOL/Online Psych Page, <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych </A> or Keyword: Stress Doc. Over 100 articles are arranged in 15 different categories:

Stress Doc Bio and Philosophy Stress and Burnout Managing Anger with Authority Power Struggles: Dyads-Systems Depression/Teens, Parents... Cyberaddicts Anonymous Good Grief Searching for Love Career Transition Humor: Art and Science Creativity Unbound Achieving Peak Performance Spiritual Exploration Readers' Submissions

5. Readers' Platform. Please submit questions, comments, criticisms, cutting edge information as well as stories about how you've used humor to help relieve a client's, family member's or your own stress. I will gladly print your offering and credit you completely. (And thank you for using your spellchecker.)

Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. He is also the internet's and the nation's leading "Psychohumorist." The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge -- HUMOR FROM THE EDGE HOME PAGE . Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych -- ONLINE PSYCH: THE STRESS DOC and Financial Services Journal Online. And he is an offline writer for two mental health/substance abuse publications -- Treatment Today and Paradigm Magazine. His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel: A Smart Mouth for Hire! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com, or check out his "Hot Site" website: http://www.stressdoc.com or click STRESS DOC HOMEPAGE. (The site was selected as a USA Today Online "Hot Site" and designated a four-star, top- rated site by Mental Health Net.) Mark Gorkin 1998 Shrink Rap Productions