Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vocational Development

In my work as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, I continue to see people suffering from the economic downturn and job loss. Not only because a medical condition became a disability and changed an individuals ability to their customary work, but from sheer lack of employers need to hire workers. I keep wondering where is this country heading. What does the future bring?

Messages from my spiritual life, which includes church and contemplative prayer, continue to draw me to the term vocation. This is the term used by the church to encourage young parishioners, both male and female, to pursue service to the Church as a Priest, Sister or religious service of some kind. In the catholic church these are life time commitments usually not for those who have a family to support and mortgage to pay.

The word vocational is also used as a career development term. A person's vocation is their life's work. The job they are meant to do in service to humanity. I believe each citizen of the world has a vocation to serve in some fashion. It might be in business, education, the trades, high finance or industrial/commercial function. I also believe that when a person's true vocation is found it will provide the needed income and environment specifically tuned to the style and needs of the individual and will provide a fufilling life. One way to find this vocation is to take career interest inventories or other assessments that help identify careers that fit with the particular aptitudes of an individual. World of Work Inventory is one tool, others include the Harrington Oshea Inventory and Choices. These provide a structured series of questions that the participant answeres about them selves which help draw a logical conclusion. These tools are used in One Stop Career Centers, Adult Education Programs and Vocational Rehabilitation programs through out the country. However, I would suggest that if you do not know your self well, the results from these exercises will not be as acurate as one might like.

I believe we each need to take some time and be with our selves long enough to let go of the external "shoulds" and allow the internal true self to provide the career decision. Then the above assessment tools are used after this they will be wonderful. I have discovered that using a centering or contemplative process prior to the decision making will make the results much more long term and acurate.

So... learn the contemplative prayer. Connect with your Divine within. Then ask God what your vocation should be.... I guarantee it will provide you a future you never thought possible. Let go Let God... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Monday, November 30, 2009

Winter is coming

Today was cloudy, rainy and had the beginnings of winter cold. No more T shirts or shorts, even to run out to the mailbox. Thanksgiving this year brought great joy to our family. Allison and I invited both sides of the family. My two brothers, their wives and kids, Allison's Mom, her sister and brother-in-law and my nephew and three of Allison's aunts. You know those wise wonderful Lebanese Aunts who have an opinion about almost everything and they are usually right. They always have such nice things to say. Our son Matt the chef cooked two turkeys that served 28 people a wonderful meal. We have alot to be thankful for.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life, work and other important things

I recently started working part-time for a case management agency in addition to my full time job at Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the Maine Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. This was necessary because of the 20 furlough days all state employees have been required to take without pay. Budget problems you know. I was happy to find some additional work, but unhappy that I will be working more than 50 hours a week to make ends meet. And now we learn that the state budget for 2010 will have a 200 million deficit. How many furlough days can they give us?

It's funny though... I am not as upset as I might have been 10 years ago. I am actually grateful to be paying my bills and eating on a regular basis. There are many in America, and the world for that matter, who barely eat each day. I think we may have become a little arrogant in our demand for more and better when we should be grateful for what we have. I know I am.

Forgiveness and gratitude are the key perspectives that make this world bearable and in many situations enjoyable, this combined with the Love of family members and friends makes it a pretty great time to be alive. I look forward to solving the problems of the future as a civil servant and VR counselor

May God Bless you and your family.

Stephen in Maine

Monday, October 5, 2009

Faith will Set you Free

Even with the troubles in the world, I remain amazed how when I let the love of God into my daily tasks I feel light and relieved. Even in traffic or other worldly frustrations. But, what I am learning is that it is very selfish to stay in my ideal world. I then engage the people I work with and for and realize they are suffering and my heart is touched with the importance of sharing. All good things come to pass to those who believe. I am now sorting out my thoughts about the history of the church and the need for administrators (Bishops) to govern. I realize there was many mistakes made by individual priests and other faithful, but I have concluded that does not change the true source of creation. The truth is not based on a democritizaion of humanities ideas but of the perfect creation that is.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Day

One of my first Internet publications in the mid 90's was about the challenge of my eye injury and how I viewed religion and spirituality. I re-published these original stories on this blog. I think my feelings about religion and spirituality being a personal private affair is changing. How will anyone know how wonderful my faith has supported me over the years unless I tell them. I have begun my studies for the Subdiaconate formation process and have learned much about the early church around Antioch and Edesa. The arguments between faithful about the nature of Christ demonstrate that if the early believers kept their thoughts to them selves they would have never sorted out what they believed to be the truth about the Divine. Now, as I begin this journey to learn the teachings of the one first church and how the divisions were created over time I pray that I will see a possible unity among all the faithfull.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Journey to Brooklyn

Down to Brooklyn and back in one day. Met with Bishop Gregory and Chorbishop Michael Thomas. I am now offcially a candiate for Subdeacon in the Maronite Rite. With some studying and prayer I hope to be ordained in the near future.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wondering What it will be like to be thin.

I am down a few more pounds this week. Even with a birthday weekend. I really feel I have changed my eating habits. Oatmeal every day, salad or stirfry and fruit at lunch and a great dinner of a main meat lots of cooked or raw vegetables and plenty of water. I bought a jug that is equal to 8 glasses of Water. I finish the jug and then know I have had my minimum water. I am amazed at how good water tastes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shredded Triscuit

I bit into a Triscuit today and flashed on my Grandfather,
Fifty-five years ago when I was two.
At the farm house on County road in Doylestown, Bucks County, PA.
He ate shredded wheat biscuits every morning with whole milk and sugar.
He did not crunch them up like my Mom did,
He cut the biscuit, like a piece of cake, with the side of his spoon,
And scooped each milk dripping morsel into his mouth.
What a wonderful picture in my mind as I sat at my desk.
Another working day among many,
pleasantly sparked by the power of fond memories of days gone by.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Weight Loss Journey

Today I am now back to my "normal" weight of 273 which has been my center for 5 years. I go up 5 lbs during holidays and other celebrations and down 3 lbs when I get conscious of my food consumption, but I can't seem to break the 269 barrier. Been there twice in the last 8 months but could not sustain. By now you all are yawning and wondering who is this guy. You know that saying "too much information"?, well as a counselor I encourage my clients to tell all and I sometimes get into the same vein when I am communicating with others.

Food is such a temptation. Butter, sugar and bread, steak, and, and, and, and... my mouth is watering. How will I ever sustain counting points using the weight watcher point system? One day at at time. Thanks Bill W.... Wish me luck as this is the most important thing I have done in years. Take care of myself. Selfish you say? Naw.... that is the biggest barrier of getting healthy. Reaching the conclusiong that it is OK to take care of self. It is easy to focus on others, help others, serve others but to truly Love and take care of yourself? Seems sinful.... and it can be if your self care is focused on the wrong thing. We (I) sometimes take care of our(my) emotional self in a way that is contrary to our(my) physical health. Your(my) body is the temple of God. The place where we (I) house the creative source of our (my) life. The first cell we (I) became so many years ago now has grown and changed into the humans we (I) are(am) today. WOW.... And I want to kill my body with glutonny, drugs, smoking and other destructive forces? Thats slow suicide, unconscous maybe, but certainly suicide. But it makes me feel good. But it will eventually kill me. But we all die, and so on and so on and so on....

So the battle begins. I hope you are cheering for me, becaus I am cheering for you! May the creative force, that I call God, who has been revealed to me through Jesus, keep me on the path.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lean Health Care Discussion

Recently I received an email communication from Helen Zak, Chief Operating Officer of Lean Institute in Cambridge Mass reminding me of the ongoing debate in Washington D.C. regarding Healthcare and how Six Sigma and other lean process analysis tools might be utilized to save money, increase efficiency with medical claims processing and ultimately make the quality of health care better. We have not heard much discussion about the wonderful lean work being done in the public sector, both in the healthcare setting and in government. In response to this apparent lack of awareness the Lean Enterprise Institute has collaborated with the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value to form a nonprofit partnership to make sure lean thinking is part of the current discussion and the future state of healthcare in United States. You can learn more by reviewing their statement of values at

This seemed very important news to share with the Continuous Improvement blog community, especially in these economic times. Certainly lean thinking and tool use is not a panacea for all the ills of government, healthcare and manufacturing, but in most cases incorporating this analysis in the planning process of each of these industries will increase product and service outcomes and assure the highest customer satisfaction. To completely ignore these effective process analysis tools in the health care discussion would be, dare I say, ridiculous.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Patience comes with age and wisdom. When you are young you want everything now. Right now, not in a few minutes or a few days or, in the case of completing college or starting a business some amount of years. But as time goes on we learn that all good things eventually come. I wrote a poem many years ago and it recently became more meaningful. Here it is.


Patience is a funny thing,
that not inside of me.
I wonder how, and why, and when,
patience will come to me.
I hope it's soon for it's getting late,
I really am afraid.
For if I don't get it soon,
I just will have to wait.

Available in 4 wallet size booklets Transformation Press

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The timeless Divine Presence

Reading Luminous Eye I learned a very profound truth. Human worldly life counts the days and years as tasks are completed, lives are lived, buildings built and communities created. Divine life is timeless. Jesus died on the cross yesterday, last week, 2000 years ago and one minute ago. As we understand this we become more open to God's grace.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

Joined Weight Watchers (WW) today. Need to get healthy so I can continue with my writing, working and living life to the fullest.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wonderful Min Vacation

Back from Bar Harbor. Had a wonderful three day excursion that included Cadillac Mountain, Maggie Restaurant and the ImprovAcadia venue. Nothing very deep, but very relaxing an fufilling.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Spiritual Resources

Spirituality is a personal issue. We must each find our own path and then stay true to it.

I was raised in the protestant tradition. I attended the First Presbytarian Church of Pitman as a child and teenager. In College I met and married a wonderful Lebanese Maronite women. I discovered Eastern Christianity which combined my Christian upbringing with eastern spirituality in a Monastic tradition. St Sharbel a Maronite Monk sets the tone and reverence of the Divine Liturgy.

In 1978, after a year of study with the local Maronite Priest, I converted and became a Maronite Catholic.

May God be with you (and me) in your (our) search for the source of life and truth. Ultimately I believe you will find God within you and within others who believe.

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, `Here it is,' or `There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21) This last line has also been interpreted as the "kingdom of God is within your midst".

You must discern for yourself which meaning rings true. For me the silence of prayer and regular attendance at the Maronite Divine Liturgy is the best way to discern this. Silent prayer is best practiced as Centering Prayer, as taught by Fr Thomas Keating and discussed in the Cloud of Unknowing.

Thank you Fr Keating and others in the Centering Prayer and contemplative network, my connection to you sustains my hope in the Lord, which is supported by unending Love provided to me from the Maronite faith and particularly the people of St Joseph Maronite Church in Waterville, Maine.

Peace Be with you.


Below are some other links that may help you in your spiritual search:
The World Community for Christian Meditation
A Christian Way to Transformation by M. Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.
Society of Friends
Centering Prayer Articles by Fr Thomas Keating
Sacred Space: a Jesuit website for daily prayer

Contemplative Outreach
Living Water Spiritual Center
Bible Search

Here are some other links related to the Maronite Church

The Maronite Diocese
Bkerke: Home of Maronite Patriarche
Our Lady of Lebanon - Washington,

Copyright (C) 1997 - 2008 Stephen C. Crate Permission is granted for academic use of this material if cited appropriately.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recovery and Rehabilitation Perspective

Successful mental health recovery and rehabilitation is a process that has evolved to an individual recovery process or model. Individual responsibility is the key. Unless you make a conscious choice to move forward and recover, it will not happen. While there may still be a need for medication and medical treatment when biomedical imbalance exists or regular psychotherapy or counseling is necessary, this approach transcends the medical model with a significant paradigm shift. It adds a spirit dimension to the healing process. The spirit dimension adds the awareness that your spirit or consciousness exists beyond your ego and body. You accept where you are, be present in the moment and do what needs to be done. This is spiritual in that it relies on faith in something yet unseen. Some people choose to relate this to a higher power. Others consider it a function of the mind. In any event the belief must come from you. Recovery will not happen until this awakened spiritual consciousness is present.

I believe in YOU

Many mistake more traditional rehabilitation as occurring when the professional practitioner does something to the patient with the professional taking significant responsibility for success or failure. Was the therapy correct? Was the medication correct? Were the counseling sessions long enough? In the self directed recovery and rehabilitation process you take responsibility for your healing process with guidance of your rehabilitation counselor and support from other medical professionals you work with. Each contact between you and the counselor is a separate moment in time. The same process is utilized each time but the result is up to you. You decide the next constructive creative step from a list options in accordance with your vision for the future, your plan. The counselor empowers you to work your plan. The counselor encourages you to make conscious choice to move to a balance of function.

This model is based on a number of psychological theories. These include Carl Roger's Client Centered Theory, Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Theory, William Glaser's Reality Therapy and a touch of Victor Frankel from a Search for Meaning among many. It is an ecletic blend of these theorists and the individual counselors own centeredness. William Anthony is the prolific writer on this model. He is connected, among other institutions, with the Boston University, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Another great source for this movement is the
National Consensus Statement on Mental Health

Mental Health rehabilitation process is recovery. Recovery is an ongoing process that must start now, where you are at, where you believe the focus is. Then each choice moves you towards healthy behavior and activity. The recovery model empowers you to take an active role in the decisions or choices regarding your future. There are some limits to this where medication is necessary to control biochemical imbalance. However, to the extent it is possible each decision must be made by you with guidance and a clear understanding of probable consequences of those choices or decisions. This process evolves your awareness with individual dilemma, then choice, suffering and choice, and then some success comes. It does not take place in a single point of time but rather is an ongoing recovery process. The choices you make are personal. Professionals cannot make the choices for you but rather facilitate the exploration of all options. Sometimes this requires going outside the box, at least during the exploration stage. By outside the box I mean using a brainstorming and/or visualization to imagine the ideal. Let the body, mind and emotions feel that ideal in a thought and that vision can then become a goal. When goals are visualized and believed they can be achieved. The goal must come from your center in recovery. Professionals may suggest, encourage or even demand certain goals but the final choices must be left up to the individual. The only exception of this is when the choice will be harmful to the individual or any other human. Then the professional must intervene.

Finally, psychosocial rehabilitation is still evolving in its own definition. Each time you fail to reach a goal, but get up and going again there is progress. Each success brings new possibilities for healing. The final measure is the peace and balance you experience, the ease with which you live and make decisions and the love you have for your self and others.

Email Steve

Hello, welcome to Stephen's Thoughts and Things a web page dedicated to an exploration in human cooperation for the greater good of humanity. This web site is work in progress. I have found enormous, inspiration and insight surfing the net since June of 1997 when I created this page. I believe the internet is a physical, or at least a metaphorical, manifestation of Carl G. Jung's collective unconscious. Which includes all the good and unfortunately the not so good of humanity's conscious and unconscious thought, values, behavior and spiritual awareness. We must discern the difference as we explore the internet and stay true to our creative source which supports and ecourages our life.

Human cooperation will increase when the bridge between traditional, conventional thinking and progressive thinking is strengthened. This melding includes practices regarding individual healing, community and economic development, spirituality and education. We are all humans on this earth. We each have individual needs and differing approaches to meeting those needs. Failing to work through these conflicting views in a collaborative and peaceful way can destroy community living. There seems to be a prejudicial gap among various groups that is keeping our communities from seeking this collaboration. In spite what some think these differing groups are not mutually exclusive. This is not an either or, black or white, kind of debate or discussion. Every individual has their own perspective. Promoting and expanding our differences causes more conflict and discord. We certainly must understand and respect our differences. But that is where it should end. We should pay attention to the concepts that bring us together. This page promotes a collaborative mission encouraging a democratic and ecumenical tolerance for people with different cultural, community, economic, religious and personal values. It supports and embraces all the common core values of being human.

Some of the common core values that we all strive for include an individual vision to live a peaceful and secure life filled with human cooperation, love and joy. And...gratitude for the goodness of life which helps maintain and nurture this view.

Another important part of living on earth is economic opportunity, people all over the world must have a reasonable way to make a living in the community they live. The source of this economic opportunity must be ethical and transparent. It must maintain human dignity. Only then will it sustain the individual, the community and the world.

We each must feel secure physically, economically, emotionally and spiritually. A significant part of this philosophy is that individuals take personal responsibility for the development of our local communities, workplaces and themselves. Working in your local community is a great start. Volunteer in your local community or place of work to make it a better place.

A great example of world cooperation is the, just one click helps feed the hungry worldwide. Another site is KIVA: Loans that Change Lives where individuals can invest in small businesses around the world.

Many individuals are also actively seeking individual healing and sustained health through various self directed activities such as prayer, meditation, good nutrition, life long learning, and regular exercise including stretching and/or yoga. The work of Andrew Weil and Bruce Lipton are good examples of personal health approaches that include a paradigm shift, which will help evolve health care and medical practice for the foreseeable future. I also have experienced wonderful benefits from centering prayer, it promotes an internal spiritual sustinence by triggering the relaxation response, adding an conscious intention and encouraging you to "just be" with your creator in silence and all that entails. This sacred time which represents the Alpha and Omega is unlike linear historical time. In that silence your intention to be with your creator becomes timeless. Don't worry about defining creation or where it comes from, "just be" with your source. Meaning will comes as you quiet yourself with the intent of being one with your source of life. It can transform one from being self centered to creation centered. It is also is called contemplative prayer.

My particular professional expertise and interest is in education, vocational rehabilitation and public administration from a moderate and Constitutional perspective. Continuous Improvement practices combined with focused life work are critical areas all humans must encourage, sustain and promote in them selves and others in order to live a full life. Individuals need however, to find balance in their lives by identifying the various internal and external systems (beliefs, people, organizations, etc.) that support their life, including work and learning then consciously strive to attend to these systems by doing what needs to be done. Avoid your feelings and get it done. A good strategy for keeping on task and not letting our feelings sidetrack us is by reviewing The Constructive Living Maxims by David Reynolds. These sayings, used as a thoughtful break from possible down sliding and/or overwhelming thoughts, will help you overcome the feelings and take your next step to achieving balance in your life, community and workplace.

This strategy can be used in governments, communities, families, work environments and each individual human. These concepts are universal and can be applied by any human being, community or workplace that is striving towards more balance and continuity with the environment they exist it. This awareness creates a paradigm shift, which occurs when this practice becomes part of everyday choices. It then moves each individual entity from an isolated self preservation perspective to a local and world community preservation perspective. We realize we are all connected in some way. We center ourself, then, when we cooperate with and attend to the systems that sustain and support our existence, individual, community and global balance is achieved because we each cooperate with multiple systems and ultimately the source of creation. These systems, including our own thrive. Community is born and sustained through individual focus and effort.

We must teach our children this gift. It starts with sound educational policies. Organizations that promote and attend to the needs of children are critical for the future of our world. It continues with local, state and national governments and in the work place.

We all want thriving workplaces, vibrant communities, and personal contentment. When all individuals and communities are thriving through cooperative efforts, we will each have found inner peace, and then will we truly be a healthy planet as the The Earth Charter envisions.

This is a worthwhile global goal for humanity. This page is dedicated to promoting human cooperation in daily community living and in the work environment. Promoting individual and global sustainability

Thanks for visiting my web page
Keep the Faith

WE are the People Makers
WE frown they hide their heads, We smile they come alive
WE hurl belief at them
and,... they succeed

"Take care of yourself by caring for humanity"

Copyright (C) 1997 - 2009 Stephen C. Crate, MPA,CRC
Permission is granted for academic use of this material if cited appropriately.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Mohandas Gandhi