Being a Tourist in the Caribbean – Part 2

 

View From Ladera Resort

View from Anse Chastanet Resort

An Extraordinary Opportunity

I think that is how I would characterize the tropical islands of the Caribbean. The choices offered are many.

Cruises:

There are different ways to see the islands. One way people choose is cruises. We saw the reality of cruises whenever we stopped in a capital city. In those major ports the cruise ships arrived and disgorged passengers. The tour operators waiting on the dock were often aggressive and we knew there were others who were gentler. And often we saw the passengers make their way through the duty free shops over and over again. It seemed rather pointless. There was generally a failure to touch the soul of the island and its people. 

Romance and Mystery – More Than a Vacation

We had researched the islands before committing to build but the adventure of actually staying at resorts just happened. We accepted it as an opportunity and a gift. Two resorts utterly intrigued us beyond the small cozy resort in the north where we stayed when we were building our home.

In fact, by seeing the different resorts, we experienced St. Lucia in depth. One evening when we were traveling with our builder, Wayne, he took us to dinner at Anse Chastanet. It is in the southern part of the island and was built up a hill with a stunning view of the pitons. Sunset comes early in the Caribbean—every day all year, because it is relatively close to the equator. And that evening we had a delightful dinner in romantic dim light with a group of people Wayne assembled. They were from all over the world and generally were there on some kind of business. The conversation was truly interesting. The feel that evening is hard to convey. Cozy, warm and so much more.

Another special favorite was Ladera Resort which is nestled between the pitons. The view is truly enchanting and there are no walls on the room on the ocean side. It is a form of rustic. Without a wall on the front there is a special intimacy with the pitons and the larger tropical environment. The quiet is enchanting and the experience enhances companionship. The staff was warm, it was quiet and felt so pleasing. Such resorts are rare and need to be sought.

And then there are the day to day experiences being out and about. One year we were on the island for New Years Eve. The party was fun and, I should say, the local people, even the expats living on the island were unrestrained. At midnight the bartenders jumped out of the bar opening it to the guests. I had been standing by the water and looked down into a boat featuring a couple making love. It was a rich evening.

Doing Research:

Even though our initial experience on St. Lucia engaged us, we did research before we committed. At the time there was a monthly newsletter covering each island in turn. I finally called to talk to one of the authors. The information I received led to confirmation of St. Lucia. Now, of course, it is possible to do research on line. But, above all, we still recommend people get into the richness of island life. It need not be complex but requires seeking environments beyond what largest resort chains offer. But also its best not to be naive. Balance is best. There are many inviting options.

Reality of Island Life

It all requires common sense and often a sense of humor. At the time we often traveled on Air Jamaica. The landings were flawless and one time I commented on the one just experienced to the Jamaican man sitting next to me. He responded, “Yes, they do much better now that they are not drinking.” He was, of course, teasing me. 

On another flight to Montego Bay they passed out a newspaper with the headline, “Eight Hour Gun Battle in Montego Bay.” Of course it had ended before we arrived. Naturally such a thing is not a common event and we have gun battles in the States as well.

Getting out into island life does, however, require not being naive. Simple caution and being realistic is indicated. But isn’t that a fact of life?

Since our experience led us across the Caribbean, in a later post I’ll share the view we gained of other islands.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Being a Tourist in the Caribbean – Part 1

 

Asking What’s the Point

Maybe this is an idiosyncratic viewpoint, but perhaps it is good to think about why one is traveling and where one is traveling. Is this a vacation designed to sit by the pool and read or are you interested in really getting to know the location? Asking those questions opens not just the purpose but possibly the world.

The Caribbean for Us

My wife and I had spent many years going to the Maryland shore in the summer to be at the beach with our four children. When at last they were grown, we had a broader set of possibilities. Yes, we had done things like taking them on a really neat vacation in Northern Ireland, but now we could travel and design adventures just for ourselves.

But what happened was not quite on our plan. I had been in a catastrophic accident when someone drove his SUV in my driver’s door which sent me into years of surgery. At last came the ability to travel. We had business in California and went on to beautiful Hawaii. It was terribly far from the East Coast and we thought about seeking tropical options closer to home. We had friends who were considering a location for their boat in the Caribbean. We joined them when they went to look for land to build a home base. That took us to the island of St. Lucia in the Windward (eastern) Islands.

What did we know about St. Lucia? Nothing. Why were we going? For an adventure with friends. And so we were trekking into the back of the back as well as developed areas. It was an eye-opening experience. St. Lucia at the time was developed, but not highly. And, we could get in touch with the island people who were quite friendly.

Recognizing Potential

On the first trip we went to a mid-size resort our friends had chosen. We thought there would be night life. There was none. A band played but no one showed up. A day gamboling in the sun robs you of energy and if you are there on a honeymoon or in a passionate affair then evenings afford other pleasures.

Over time we experienced many different kinds of resorts. We saw large resorts and cozy inns. Either we stayed or we found it desirable to see what we might advise people about. Why was that? Because our friends didn’t buy land, we did and then we built a house. As described in another post, we ended up renting the house we built when we weren’t there and that led to a rental business including several islands. We needed to be able to advise people.

We much preferred the cozy inns and cottages or villa rentals. They came with the opportunity to know the local people better and to experience the depth of island living. Of the larger and better known resorts only two intrigued us.

Diversity of Resorts:

Some of the larger resorts are those of well advertised large chains. On occasion we had reason to stay in the northern part of the island since that was where we were building our house. Sandals has three resorts at the top off the island. Being waterfront they have next to no views except of a flat ocean. The glorious mountain views were elsewhere. We were told they discouraged people from leaving the resort. What a terrible shame! They advertised drinks available at all times. What that means was they circulated with water and soda which decreased demand for beer and wine.

The small inn in the north, where we stayed, was cozy, engaging and close to wonderful restaurants. Happy hour was a treat. One evening I became attentive to the music they were playing and was told it was the music of the French islands. The name of the music became the name of our villa. There were so many opportunities.

As to tours, we recommend taking a day tour of the island. The cheaper alternative is a minibus with 16 people inside. Clearly getting your own driver for a personal tour would be our preference. Yes, it is more expensive.

A Rich Environment:

I’ll leave it there for this week. Part 2 will be posted next week.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Life As a Journey of Discovery

 

What periods of discovery have you had?

We Begin With “How It Is”

First for us in life comes family. From there our world expands. There were my parents and my brother and then my mother’s two sisters. They lived together and would have been called maiden aunts. There was so much more.

Families can be secretive for reasons that are never clear. It was decades later that I found who one of my aunts was. My maternal grandfather was a milkman in the silk stocking district of Manhattan. That was in the early 1900s. The family lived in Hell’s Kitchen. It was said to be the home of the Irish Mob but census records show a highly diverse population. But in all regards it was a tumultuous immigrant community. 

Our Families Unfold

As my grandfather made his rounds both in Hell’s Kitchen and in the upper East Side of Manhattan he watched for abandoned children. He saw to it that they were taken somewhere safe. I had always wondered why my aunt Agnes loved to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It turned out that Agnes had found refuge in my grandparents’ home and she was not a blood relative. She was joyous and Irish through and through.

Agnes and her sister Ruth saw to it that my brother and myself saw New York. Often you can live in a city and never see it. But my brother and I were their children as well and we toured New York. The most special day was New Years Eve. My first such fest was when I was five. It became a tradition to go to Radio City Music hall for the movie and the show. Then we went out to Times Square. That was long ago and far away and we loved it. And after the ball fell we went to arcades and played games until the wee hours. Yes, I was a night person and delighted in the festivities.

The World Opened

And then when I was ten my father took us to Europe. It was just five years after the end of World War II. London was a pile of rubble still. Some interesting things were left standing but the sight of war and its consequences came home to me. Then we crossed the channel and met the French. To this day I do not understand why the British and French continue to have reservations about each other. Yes, they competed in the past but I found both peoples different but lovely in their own right. At the time the French seemed a little crusty. But as I visited them over the coming decades I saw them relax. Later I understood.

How Curious Is Memory

Something unexpected happened. Recently I read a novel about the experiences of three women during the time of the Nazi occupation of France. And then I remembered the face of a woman in a shop outside of Paris when I was ten. It haunted me. She seemed to be in a bad mood and suddenly stopped and stared off into space with a look of terror on her face. I was only ten and the Nazi occupation had ended just five years before. As a ten year old I could not understand. Now I could believe she was being hit by terrible recollections. Depth in my life was unfolding.

From France we went by train to Switzerland. To Americans there were odd shortages. We ate in the dining car on the train and as a ten year old I would have been drinking soda or water except the train had neither. So I had the choice of wine or beer. I tried the beer. It was an interesting trip to Switzerland for me.

Building a View of Life 

What’s the point? Our country appears to be on the cusp of major changes. In those changes we will see and discover much about our country and ourselves. In it we will see that our lives are journey’s of discovery. It doesn’t matter how far ranging the discovery is, it is there if we will attend to it. And it may be in the books we read, the friends we make or world events. It is precious and not to be missed. And we each attend to our personal reality.

What have been your turning points?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Health Care Alternatives and Reality – Series – Pt. 5

 

The Myth of Mental Illness

The above is the title of an important book by Thomas Szasz. Mental illness still dominates a significant portion of our health care system and it still has major conceptual problems. Of course, as a clinical psychologist, I was schooled in it. I actually came to love Carl Jung’s work a lot more than Sigmund Freud’s but his work still dominates.

Alternative Realities

And so we again return to where we live on the cusp. Over the decades I found nonphysical problems related to mental and cognitive issues to be far removed from “illness” and often nuanced. And when we move away from the dominant model, we find suitable alternatives. Unfortunately the insurance industry dominates the field and therefore may dictate treatment or at least what it is called. What it is called will often influence what is done. Substantial reform is needed.

Some of the Issues

When my wife and I personally confronted issues for remarried families (aka stepfamilies) we learned important lessons. An important initial lesson was that the process is a matter of adjustment, not psychopathology. Certainly there were some people with substantial disturbance from other causes but we learned to begin with our model of adjustment. The  couple was focused on initially. Too often the mother or stepmother was put in therapy as if they were the problem although they may have shown the greatest distress initially. And we were resistant to putting children in therapy because adjusting to a new family was not pathological in almost all cases. Because of our approach we could structure an information system and found that generally the family could take over adjustment and handle their own future after very few sessions. See our book Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership by Mala S. Burt, M.S.W. and Roger B. Burt, Ph.D.

Another major issue is what is termed post traumatic distress disorder or PTSD. The military is wrestling with removing the word disorder because it proves to be a bar to veterans getting help with their adjustment. Does anyone really believe that someone should go to war and kill people daily or risk being killed daily while suffering stress and not need to cope with management and an enduring reaction. I shared my perception with some friends who were veterans and found them in tears when I suggested they were not “sick” although there were still issues decades after their war experience. 

Enduring and Broad Issues

Those are just two examples of the reality of a world far more nuanced than what is described as mental illness. We can go on between things like personality diversity, numerous personal management needs as we pass through stages of our life. When I first came into the field the predominant viewpoint was that our development was finished in early adulthood. Absurd.

Management of life experience continues throughout life and it would be best if we approached our lives in that fashion. Take an area of life experience and we see that there is change, stress and adaptation. It would help if we defined a type of insurance that was appropriate and took these issues out of the hands of insurance companies focused exclusively on profit.

Life on the Cusp

Yes, here is that cusp again. Each of us is different with a raft of different experiences. We work for stability and commonality and often success. But it would help if we understood the richness of our diversity in the sense that much of the issues are not pathological and that our views from the cusp feed creativity, diversity and innovation. And life can be difficult, even jarring. From time to time we need to seek expertise and guidance but we generally do not need to cast it all into psychopathology. There are problems out there with profound biological origins where the person needs substantive help but very often management and guidance are what is needed.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Pie in the Sky

 

How do you think seniors are doing?

We Have Work To Do

Even if the actualization of a thought is distant or unlikely, there are times when some things have to be said.

Here is today’s dream.

The Elder Tsunami

The “advanced” economies of the world are facing the rapid aging of their populations which means a growing burden on the societies as a whole. The birth rate is often low and getting lower which means less familial and societal support for the elderly. Who will take care of them as they age and become frail? Family is often distant or members few in number. 

Time was that we lived in close family groups. No more. Instead we are fragmented. We need a realistic national dialogue about solutions. Perhaps, as the neocon obstruction dissipates we may see improved governmental programs, but it seems no matter what, it will be insufficient or impossibly expensive. And I must add that Paul Mason’s book Postcapitalism, that directs our attention the future, is making my blood run cold. It is a complex and dense book but each area he touches on is being validated by current events. But the true import of the coming changes in the world economic system is not being recognized publicly—yet.

https://www.amazon.com/Postcapitalism-Guide-Future-Paul-Mason-ebook/dp/B011I42XQ0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464014949&sr=1-1&keywords=postcapitalism+paul+mason     (get this from Amazon page for WordPress)

Certainly there are ideas out there to mitigate the coming trials. One alternative is social.

Societal Commitment

The Elderly for Each Other

I’m impressed by the progress that Habitat for Humanity has made nationally. There can be other forms of programs with societal support. The most likely source for the elderly is each other. Retirement is reached and then often there are healthy years before the inevitable decline. When I was working on my doctorate at Duke they finished a study which described a two year major decline before death that was common. Prior to that time, before the final decline the recently retired elderly could become more of a formalized volunteer force. It already happens somewhere, sometimes, but could be expanded.

The Elderly for the Young

In later years, having a cause is also useful. One cause I would recommend is making the commitment to support the efforts of a younger generation. The future for the elderly dims but there is reason to support younger generations. I don’t mean to say that these things don’t happen. What is at issue is the societal institutionalization of an ethos where we as elderly focus more strongly on our collective wellbeing whether that is for the elderly or for the ones who will remain. We have not been doing this well.

System Efficiency and Personal Management

And then there is the matter of health. Another thing we must do is to finally create a less expensive and more efficient health care system. Currently we have a very haphazard system which is expensive. Each of us experiences it on a regular basis. And included in these changes for the health care system needs to be a change of viewpoint by the elderly. Many have been trained over the decades to assume that the medical personnel will define what must be done and they adopt a passive stance. It is time to change that societal viewpoint so that we take the highest form of responsibility for our own care informationally and by action.

In Summary

In short, I would like to see a societal change in which the elderly, as they go through the later stages of life, work more closely together for mutual benefit. Secondly we should see to it that there is more organized societal support for the generations coming up. It is clear Millenials have felt overlooked and that needs to change. And the third item is long overdue reform of the health care system.

I know the response in many quarters will be that these goals are unrealistic or are already being undertaken. My response is we have not done enough and can do much more effectively.

I can dream can’t I?  Are you dreaming?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

A Vision for Appalachia

Where should we apply our resources?

In this political season there is vision coming from some quarters and none from other quarters. One of the saddest things I am seeing is the complete lack of vision in regard to the future of the people of Appalachia and the victims of the coal industry.

Beauty at Our Doorstep

Appalachia is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever visited and its people have been treated terribly. We now have politicians claiming they are going to save the coal industry and the reality is that it cannot be saved. The corporations have found ways to decrease the labor needed and the coal is running out even while it is clear that we have to turn to renewable energy sources.

The Meaning of Help

So what of the people of Appalachia? Are we to do nothing for them, for their future. They have a very high opiate addiction rate partly because of the injuries so many have sustained in the coal mines. Addiction is not a simple matter. One thing that must be done for addicts, as we attempt to help them with the addiction, is to move them toward hope and purpose. We are not doing that.

We hear that their future is dim, that other forms of energy must be used but we hear nothing of how they and their communities may have a new and brighter future.

Other Models

Recently I spoke with someone who also attended Duke University and he had made a visit to the Research Triangle (Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham area). He said everywhere he turned he saw thriving startup companies. It made me think of Appalachia.

The mountains and the valleys are lovely, graced with streams and glorious seasons. Each of these little areas can be homes to the right businesses. Of course, there is snow which has a beauty of its own and then there is spring and a brilliant fall. The summers, because of the mountains, are more muted. 

New Possibilities Being Born

We have entered the technological future and are seeing the possibility of something called post capitalism. We no longer are inclined to build huge industrial complexes. Instead we have pocket industries of a wide variety of sorts. Where California is lacking in water, Appalachia has abundant water.

Taking the Challenge 

Because of history, the eastern mountains have many problems and change will not come overnight. But with vision we have an area which has tremendous potential. The beauty of it can help build a future but it will have to be a very different kind. It will take considerable resources, including health resources, patience and offering something to younger generations among many other things. At present I hear nothing of vision for them and their area. 

We have been mired down in obstruction and lack of vision. Maybe I can raise the hope that we can begin to focus on constructive action and many shades of vision. In that we just might be able to develop the potential of Appalachia and to give the people hope and purpose. I can dream can’t I?

What visions are found in your dreams?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Health Care Alternatives and Reality – Series – Pt. 4

Our Ailing Health Care System

Where to Begin!

Since this is a post, not the required book, I’ll keep it short. 

We are a nation in crisis currently and not the least of the crises is our health care system. The enduring battle to reduce if not cripple government has taken its toll. We are the only developed country without an advanced health care system for all its citizens. And even what we have is under attack. Our system is inefficient and costly. Even if you are well off and well insured you immediately see problems.

And now that the government is under continuing attack we may see the collapse of small hospitals in rural areas. It would make the system even worse.

Seeing Problems First Hand

A few years ago I began to suffer mysterious and ephemeral problems and began a search for a cause. It turned out that I had Lyme Disease which had been poorly studied and is now epidemic. That was a major indicator of medical shortsightedness in itself. But then the problems became more obvious. I saw three separate physicians and each ordered a blood test (which we now know was virtually useless). When the results came in I found they were all the same tests. What a waste.

In France the public carries a data card and all results go on it. If we had such an efficient system the second physician would have had the results and there would not have been a second or third set of tests.

Floundering Over the Years

I am now considered to be a chronic Lyme Disease sufferer. It has been ten years since I believe I contracted the illness and I’m in my fourth return of the disease. This time my treatment will be more protracted. I can’t fault the medical people who have tried to help but the research has been abysmal and denial has been widespread. The stories of problems are endless.

Each of us has our own stories of problems, failures and inefficiencies. And the mental health field is no different. In a later post I’ll focus on one notable issue I became centrally involved in.

Failure on the Horizon

Many of us are looking at health care systems around us failing or on the verge of failing. As noted above, poorer, rural areas are particularly vulnerable in present circumstances. If those hospitals close, the effects will be devastating and the consequence will echo down the generations.

And currently we see areas which are very vulnerable and I saw a very specific area decades ago and it has not gotten any better. When I went to work in the impoverished area in the inner city of Baltimore our young staff learned quickly that the greater threat to “mental health” was poverty because of the depression and anxiety. But our seniors held fast to their desire for centralized systems rife with long term therapy and medications which served our people in the inner city poorly. I’ll leave it there for now. The sad tales go on and on.

But There Is Hope

Suddenly we are seeing an uprising in America. Our young are proclaiming “Enough Is Enough” and women are proclaiming “Me Too” in regard to sexual harassment and at the same time we are seeing a reenergized civil right movement. Now we can see the distinct possibility of vision and attention to the realities for our future. And health care is an essential part.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt