Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yesterday and Today

By: Marisa Geitner, president & C.E.O. of Heritage Christian Services

It seems as though just yesterday we were celebrating the the accomplishments of 2013, so when I reflect on the changes I've seen in 2014, I can't help but compare them to yesterday.

Yesterday we saw a person hired into a paying job.

Today we watch that same person leave that job in order to pursue a career that is more in step with his interests and passions.

No longer about a job, but rather about the right job.

Yesterday we encouraged a family to include their daughter, as they would any other, in the difficult experience of losing a loved one. We encouraged them by saying, "We can support them through it. We can't protect them from loss."

Today we watch as that same family is shaped by the emotional fortitude and faith demonstrated by that same daughter as she holds the hand of her dying mother with a presence not often witnessed and leads her family through the celebration of life that follows with a sense of peace and strength that only comes with true faith in what is to come.

Emotional fortitude and faith developed from a lifetime of experience and adversity.

Yesterday we thought of self-direction as a complex New York state "system" appropriate for only a few.

Today we see citizenship, authority and direction as an entitlement of all.

It is about what I want out of life, not what a system wants for me. If my desires aren't clear to you based on how I communicate, look and listen differently. I have intuition that shapes my choices.

This change, this shift in thinking, wouldn't happen without your commitment. Each of you has stepped back -- not only to allow space for people to grow, but to enlarge the world in which we live. You've stepped back and extended a hand to welcome others into a relationship that you have come to cherish.

Broadening relationships, expanding experiences and imagining new possibilities.

Share with us, expand the story, encourage others. What are your yesterday versus today stories? I look forward to your sharing.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fight or flight -- we can do better

By: Marisa Geitner, president & C.E.O. of Heritage Christian Services

I take my health very seriously. I try to listen to the signals my body gives me. I work to understand how to interpret those signals and adjust to ensure the best outcome to my physical and emotional wellbeing. Perhaps that’s why I am so fascinated by the response we have to confrontation. Like animals, we too are hardwired for swift response to confrontation: fight or flight.

Supporting individuals in achieving their outcomes in a system in chronic flux is riddled with daily confrontation. We can spend hours commiserating about the uncertainties and the insufficiencies – and waging war against “the system” and those responsible for the decisions that impact it.

When faced with these daily confrontations, my brain (and my heart) quickly rule out running away, so I prepare to fight. My heart rate quickens, my breathing deepens and my senses are in high alert. I am prepared to stand strong, defend and fight. I close myself off to anything that might influence or distract me. I am battling. It’s only in hindsight that I see the shortcoming of my response.

Too often we surrender to a primitive response in the face of adversity. Adversity is a gift if we accept it. Not a passive acceptance – that to me is the same as fleeing. I’m talking about active acceptance with open arms, open ears and an open mind. Embrace it so that we can guide our actions beyond a chemical response.

If we remain only battle ready we miss the opportunity to collaborate and innovate. To create possibilities not yet imagined. To solve age-old problems with new and sustainable solutions. Let’s harness the energy our body gives us not to fight but to imagine and be active in the change.

That is the kind of response this important work deserves.