Winters in southeast Alaska are not particularly cold. Do you find that surprising? If so, then you are probably one of the many people who think that Alaska is all polar bears and igloos and snow (all wonderful things that I would like to see someday, but they are over a thousand miles from here). Or perhaps you imagine it to be like a scene in one of the crazy "reality" shows about the north country. But southeast Alaska is more like coastal Oregon- without so many people. It is a temperate rainforest. No igloos, no polar bears, not enough snow to get out my snowshoes. However, if you have ever been on a cruise or a ferry tour of my home country, it's beauty would take your breath away, even in the almost constant rain. The actual experience of southeast Alaska is much better- but very different- than assumptions made from surface information.
Wow, that's like people. How many people have I categorized in my mind, based on brief encounters, with words such as "weird", "typical teenager", "talks too much" or "red flag"? Once we place someone in a category, it is like throwing them into a deep pit- very hard to get out. It's just brain chemistry. When I decide to "write someone off" based on a surface judgment, that person no longer exists for me because the brain has so many other things to attend to. Yet, what potential treasure do I miss by not taking the time to get to know someone, by not giving someone the chance to reveal their "true colors"? Some of my most treasured friendships have developed with people whom my brain would have dismissed based on my first couple of surface encounters. Certainly, many of my clients- unique and beautiful people that they are- were written off by others because of behaviors they demonstrated during times of great pain. It's takes time, kindness, an open mind, and conscious encouraging action- to give a stranger permission to reveal who they really are. Most people are amazing - well worth the effort to get to know them. For example, people think I say these things because I am a counselor. But if you got to know me, you would know that I say them because they are part of who I really am. I am glad I made the effort to climb out of the pit.