What do our people need?  A Sense of Community and Belonging

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communityA few days ago I was privileged to attend a conference that focused on our veterans, the issues they faced after discharge from service, their expectations, their feelings of social isolation, and how, together, we could provide resources and opportunities to improve their quality of life.

I came to a conclusion after just the first speaker at the event:  The discussion presented described not only to the experience faced by our veterans, but could be applied to every member of our society, no matter what state or city they live.

As you read on, I am confident that you will agree that the Enjoy Life Community® program developed by the Time to Play Foundation provides a valid solution to address many of the issues being faced today, not only by our veterans, but by a majority of our youth and our people.

Perhaps it is time for the people within our communities to stop just “existing” and “surviving” and to start “living”.

The first speaker at the event was a Vietnam Veteran and a chaplain.  For the purposes of this article, we will call him Mr. O.

He presented how a soldier is trained and embraced into duty and described what becomes missing in their lives upon return to civilian life after discharge.

#1:  A sense of purpose:  Mr. O explained that, when a soldier is in active service, they have a “job”.  He explained how the soldier is important in that job, how the members of service “liked” them in that job, and how the armed forces wanted the soldier to succeed in that job.

#2:  A sense of community / belonging:  Mr. O discussed the soldier’s sense of community and belonging while on active duty and how the soldier knew who they were and where they stood with the others in their command (community).

#3:  A sense of Intimacy:  Mr. O described the sense of intimacy felt by the soldier in their command.  He explained how soldiers not only knew the members of their command (community), but how they stood by each other and supported each other.

Mr. O noted that, after the soldier left active service, they no longer felt this sense of community, of belonging, of purpose, or of importance; that, upon discharge from service, they no longer felt the sense of intimacy or sense of value.

Mr. O noted that there is no system to integrate the soldier back into their home community, and that, without their military unit’s support, they cannot “get home”.

Mr. O said that this is when the dilemma of “where do you belong when you no longer belong” sets in, which is when, he noted, that many soldiers turn to drugs or alcohol to find a sense of comfort.  He described his experience talking to incarcerated veterans who feel more comfortable in jail because they are around people who understand them.

Mr. O said that the feeling experienced by veterans becomes most disturbing when no one understands them, when no one understands who they are, and when they no longer have a voice.  He described how these become the feelings that breed the feelings of hopelessness.  He described how the soldier feels lost without the sense of values given to them and lost because what they believe is not what others believe.

It is, at that time, when the soldier feels very lonely and isolated.

After hearing Mr. O speak, it becomes evident how every person would benefit from being embraced by the community in which they live in the manner the armed forces embraces their soldiers.

Further, Mr. O noted that, years ago in our civilian communities, there were clubs and organizations and a sense of belonging in a community; that people socialized together.  Now, he noted, people are increasingly socially isolated and not embracing of others.

As I imply that there are similarities in the feelings experienced by people who are not veterans, I am in no way minimizing the experience of those who have served.  Thankfully, the general population has not seen the circumstances of war that many of our returning veterans have experienced, and I do acknowledge that our veterans may need support services and programs to face the resulting trauma.

But, think about it. . .

What community member is really integrated into our communities throughout their lives starting with our youth? What programs are available that help the general population feel “at home” or help them develop a sense of belonging or a sense of support?  A sense of not being alone even if facing a negative life situation?

How many articles or events do we need to read about where those who feel “different”, not supported, socially isolated or bullied adopt negative coping techniques including the utilization of drugs or alcohol or cause harm to themselves or others in their communities through violent acts?

I believe the need for self worth and the effects of social isolation are the same for every one of us.

I believe that, no matter where we live, WE ALL NEED a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of importance, a sense of intimacy and a sense of being of value.

We all need a sense of community.  We all need to belong.

The Enjoy Life Community® model presents a solution to all who live in any community.  It will not only help our veterans re-integrate and feel welcome and at home, but the intention of an Enjoy Life Community® is to:  Bring together all organizations and individuals in a community, encourage proactive community collaboration, utilize the community organizations to trickle information throughout a community, showcase the good work of community organizations to encourage participation by community members, identify areas where community participation is available to increase community involvement with the intention to decrease social isolation, and to utilize the strength and experience of community members in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model is a low cost social intervention that is a visible, non-threatening approach to create quality of life for those in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model provides a positive reminder and reinforcement to enjoy life by offering visible cues, establishing pride in a community, and encourages a focus on the positive and the possibilities.


It is also important for me to mention here the fact many people do not proactively seek assistance when they are experiencing a negative life situation.  The Enjoy Life Community®, due to its visibility of resources in the community, also offers an opportunity for a more proactive approach to solve this issue.  Additionally, I believe the current system that provides individual counseling may perpetuate (continue) the individual’s experience and current belief system.  Even with outreach or counseling or support programs, the individual may remain isolated and continue to feel “unwelcomed” or segregated from their communities.  That would potentially change in an Enjoy Life Community®.

The Enjoy Life Community® utilizes the resources and people in a community to make it stronger to enhance the quality of life for all.

The Enjoy Life Community® model can be applied to any community, including a school community, college campus or corporate environment to create the feeling that people are important and belong.

If you are interested in learning more about this easy to implement solution, please contact us at 631-331-2675 or email: doreen@timetoplay.com.

Just imagine the possibilities if people in their communities felt supported, not alone, and lived in a place where they were able to share or develop their talents.

Just imagine…

After all, I believe every moment of every day should feel like “play”.  It is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen


# # #

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:  Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Life Coach, and the author of the book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.

Doreen is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit organization with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.  The Foundation’s website, www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org, has resources, events and articles for a person to learn what they need to know for a better life.

Photo credit:  http://thedinoffschool.com/about-us/community

Talking to Yourself ( am I nuts or what)- by Denise Rodriguez



I talk to myself. Oh sure we all do it from time to time but me, I do it all the time. In the house, outside, at work, in the supermarket (which usually gets me an odd look or giggle) just everywhere. My mother–in-law laughs at me and my daughter calls me a mutterer. Whenever someone speaks up about it I always tell them “hey, I’m the only one who listens”. Talking out loud to myself keeps me focused, it allows me to seek the advice of someone who knows me, knows how I react to things and knows what I am feeling about things deep down.  I find it extremely helpful. So after years of having to say “Oh, I was just talking to myself” I decided to do a bit of research. It seems that talking to yourself can actually make you smarter. So here are 4 types of self-talk taken from her article “Talking to Yourself: A Sign of Sanity” written by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D,  to get you and your best friend (yourself) on the same page.
1.     Complimentary. Why wait to get compliments from another? If you deserve them, (and who doesn’t) give them to yourself. Besides, most people aren’t going to have the foggiest notion about the little actions you take that serve you well. Like the time you were tempted but decided to bypass the ice cream shop because you honored your commitment to yourself to lose five pounds. Doesn’t that deserve a shout-out compliment such as, “I’m proud of you”? Or the time you finally accomplished a bunch of things that you’ve been meaning to do — doesn’t that deserve a shout-out “good job!”? Kids hear that phrase incessantly while most adults never hear it. Let’s fix that right now!  
 (I have to admit, I do a victory dance when I beat a hard level in Candy Crush Saga)
2.     Motivational. You may not feel like doing boring or difficult tasks. Live with others and they’ll give you a swift kick in the pants as a reminder to clean up your mess or tend to that tough task. But you can motivate yourself to get going with a much kinder voice. “Hey, sweetie-pie (that’s you you’re talking to). You’ve got time this morning to tidy up; how about it?” Or, “Hey, big guy, time to call your accountant before the IRS comes knockin’ at your door.”
  (This is where I usually excel at telling me what to do)
3.     Outer dialogue. Having trouble with making a decision? Should you stay or should you go? Speak up or stay silent? Buy this gift or that gift? Choices aren’t easy. Indeed, because they’re so difficult, we often don’t really make a choice; we respond impulsively from habit or anxiety. It’s much more effective, however, to create a dialogue with yourself so that you can hear what you think. “I want to stay because of xxxx but I want to go because of yyyy. I’m clearly ambivalent. Nevertheless, l need to figure out which decision to make. Time to have an interesting dialogue with myself and see which way the wind is blowing.” Having such a dialogue can assist you in making a commendable compromise or a workable conciliation between your wants, your needs and others’ expectations.
4.     Goal-setting. Let’s say you’re trying to be better organized so the holidays are not so frenzied. Setting a goal and making a plan (i.e. what to do, when to do it, how to do it) can be a big help. Sure, you can just make a list, but saying it out loud focuses your attention, reinforces the message, controls your runaway emotions and screens out distractions. Top athletes do this all the time by telling themselves to “keep your head down. Keep your eye on the ball. Breathe.” It works well for them, why not for you? (My list is of course a vocal one, “Get the laundry put away and then let’s get started on the kitchen oh and don’t forget to make the phone calls you’ve been putting off.”)
One thing about talking to yourself, never, never put yourself down. You are your own best friend, No one knows you better. And deep down your own opinion is the one you will respect the most. So if you go about calling yourself a dumbass you’re not helping your friend at all. Instead when you’ve found yourself in a head-slappping situation, tell yourself it’s okay, we will do better next time.  You and yourself will appreciate the support.

Part II – How Can You Reduce Your Cancer Risk ; What is a Free Radical -By Melissa Stockman

Free radicals have an unstable bond or unpaired electrons in their outer shell.  They are unstable because their outermost shell is not full of electrons.  Thus, they want to gain (or lose or share) electrons to become full of electrons in its outermost shell, also known as stable.  These free radicals tend to attach the nearest molecule to steal an electron (-).  Then that recently stable molecule, who now just lost an electron, is now also an unstable free radical.  Then that free radical will look for a nearby molecule to steal an electron to become more stable.  Now a chain reaction has occurred.  It’s important to stop the free radicals because they will cause more free radicals, or unstable molecules.  Free radicals cause oxidative stress/damage to cells & DNA which causes mutations.  These mutations may create disease i.e. cancers, CVD, alzheimer’s,  parkinson’s, diabetes, rheumatoid…. Free radical generators include, but definitely not limited to, pollution, radiation, smoke i.e. tobacco, pesticides, insecticides, sun, alcohol, asbestos…Free radicals accumulate with age.    Thus, it’s important to become proactive NOW!
If you cut an apple in half, oxidation will cause it to brown.  But if you poured lemon juice (vitamin C-an antioxidant) on half of the apple, it would greatly slow down the oxidation process which causes the browning.  When iron comes in contact with oxidants (ie oxygen & water), oxidation & rust occurs.  If free radicals overwhelm the body, it causes oxidative stress.  Many studies have shown that free radicals age us quicker, are linked to weight gain & cancers.  For example, I’ve seen pictures of identical older twins.  Even though they have identical genes, the one that was overweight & smoked appeared several years older.  Genetics play an important role & we can’t change our genes.  Yet, environmental factors also play an important role & we do have the power/choice to make a positive change ie quit smoking, eating more veggies…This is especially important if you have cancer in your family.  
Learn more about preventing free radical damage by reading future parts of this article, joining our “Reduce your 1 in 3 Cancer Risk” seminar/workshop  or contacting me for a private consult.
How can you reduce your 1 in 3 cancer risk? 
Part 3:  What do antioxidants do?
By Melissa Stockman RN, BC-ANP, PNP                                                                                                           



Employee Engagement and Empowerment                                                                                                                                                                                      by Jerry S. Siegel


Often organizations that require change and the development of new procedures, processes, strategies, structures and systems suffer from a lack of motivated and fully-engaged, empowered employees. Statistics continually show that almost 3/4 of all workers are not genuinely committed to the organization they work for. This emanates from the top of the organization. Executives and senior management must learn how to release power, resources and responsibilities to better motivate their employees. The reward for doing so is an engaged employee base where staff members are committed to achieving both individual and organizational goals, performing at their personal best levels, and driven to contribute to the organization’s overall success.


Empowered employees – individuals who feel confident to make decisions and take action – mirror good leaders. Having empowered people at all levels of the organization is the route to improving organizational results. This has been proven through many studies which have found that organizations with empowered employees have higher customer satisfaction, tend to be the industry innovators and market share leaders while experiencing much lower turnover because people enjoy their jobs. Everyone wants to be valued and appreciated.. In fact a sincere thank you from the leader is usually worth more than a few extra dollars. Among the most effective ways to empower employees are to ask for their ideas and suggestions, place them in self-directed work teams to encourage contributions from each team member, delegate specific responsibilities to each individual, cross-train staff to promote knowledge sharing and new skill building, and finally, survey your employees regularly enabling them to voice their opinions and offer suggestions for new processes or procedures. One of the best ways for empowering people is delegation. In addition, it helps the leader have time to focus on higher payoff activities.          Unfortunately leaders don’t delegate for many reasons. Among these are the lack of trust in their team. perfectionism and the need for control. However delegation is a win/win because most everyone wants to grow and become more valuable. The more they can contribute to the success of the organization, the better they feel about themselves. Instead of a chore, empowered employees see challenges.       Help yourself, your customers and your people. Engage and empower them to take ownership and feel they are part of the team. In addition to increasing productivity, your organization will be providing better service to your clients or customers.



JASB – your resource for developing people & organizations!



     A goal can be defined as a dream with a deadline and a plan of action. To help reach
your goals, visualization is powerful because we can obtain what we “see” more
easily. So start by visualizing in great detail every aspect of what you want to
achieve. Then think about the short term goals that you need to accomplish to reach
the final goal.
     The next step is writing the goals. A written goal is much more likely to
be achieved than a goal only in your head. It has been proven that writing
crystallizes thought and thought motivates action. People with written goals far
outperform their peers. The shorter term goals can be part of your plan of action.
Write the goal in specific measurable terms and set a target date or a deadline.
     Next detail the benefits you will gain and/or the losses you will avoid by reaching the goal.
These are the only two reasons people take action to reach a goal. Reading these
weekly will keep you motivated and prevent the obstacles, roadblocks and setbacks
from preventing you from giving up. It isn’t going to be easy or overnight but
remember there are only two reasons for not reaching a goal – not starting or not
finishing. Surround yourself with positive people and circumstances that will inspire
you to keep moving forward toward your goal. Read as much as you can about the
topic, consider alternative strategies and review both the failures and successes of
others in the same field. When challenges arise (which they will) face them head on
and work through them. Achieving the short term goals will also provide additional
motivation because success breeds success. Make sure you fully believe you are
capable of accomplishing your goal and recognize that it may take some time.
     I havefound that there are 3 P’s essential for success in goal setting. These are Patience,
Persistence and Perseverance. Your target date can always be changed because it
was only a guesstimate when originally set. With effort and action you can do and/or
have what you want. Believe and you can make your dreams come true.
JASB – your resource for developing people & organizations !
Management Inc.__________________________________________________
134 Syosset Woodbury Road 516-364-1116
Syosset, NY 11791-3121 www.jasbmanagement.com

How Can You Reduce Your 1 in 3 Cancer Risk by Melissa Stockman