Rick grew up in a central Kansas agricultural community. His mom worked as a kindergarten teacher and his dad ran a service station while he was growing up. He has one sister, about two-years-older. Sheila is the second oldest of nine children and lived in a large suburb north of Detroit most of her childhood. Her father was a manager at General Motors and her mother was a full-time mom. Although we were both teenagers in the 1960s, we had very different experiences. For example, while Sheila was going door-to-door collecting signatures for open housing, Rick was riding horses with friends.
College, graduate school for Rick, and post-college work and life experiences brought out similar values and interests. We have both been life-long avid readers. Meeting in our 30s, we realized our potential for a strong complementary relationship when we discovered that while our extensive book collections covered many of the same authors in the genres of psychology and spirituality, we had only one duplicate in our combined book collection.
As detailed in our Origin Story post, Sheila has worked with people of all ages in school systems, mental health agencies, and the business world. She has provided teaching, training, counseling, and inspiration in these settings. After working as a psychologist for the State of Arizona, Rick pursued private practice, specializing in ADHD and behavioral and learning problems for most of his career. He engaged in solo practice from 2005 through 2016.
Sheila has appreciated and produced art since she was a young child. Always fascinated with exploring new artistic methods, she is currently inspired by the local artists in El Valle, Panama, our present residence. For example, she has traded paper and canvas for painting on calabash gourds.
Rick continues to expand the types of music he enjoys, including some rap and Latin music played, often rather loudly, in the buses connecting El Valle with Panama City and towns along the Panamanian coast. The arrival of his electronic piano after a month aboard a freighter ship was a special day for him.
Although we are still working at being minimally conversationally fluent in Spanish, we have learned more about connecting with others non-verbally. Through our travels, we have become more appreciative of differences in cultural values and norms. For instance, we had stayed at an Airbnb in northeastern San Jose in early December. The streets and sidewalks were always busy and numerous restaurants offered a variety of cuisine within a few blocks of our room. We returned to the same Airbnb on December 30th, while traversing the country from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast. There were only a few cars on the streets, we saw only two people on the sidewalk in our 60-minute stroll, and every restaurant, as well as all other businesses, were closed. We finally found an English speaking woman who told us everyone was at the beach with their families. San Jose, the biggest Costa Rican city and capital of the country all but shuts down for the holidays so families can go to the beach.
OUR NEW MISSION
We began our adventure in Central America less than a month after the 2016 US presidential elections. From afar, we have witnessed the passionate disagreement and often open hostility between people in the states, some of which we participated in. (We will soon detail our participation in this and our emerging realizations in an upcoming post.) The cultural divide appears to be at a peak and the worldwide situation seems dismal at times.
However, we also believe that we are at a time in human history where another leap in humanity is possible. From the early 1800s to the dawn of the 20th century, almost every major nation on Earth abolished slavery, during a span of fewer than 100 years. In the United States, over the course of about 15 years during the 1950s and 1960s, the civil rights movement brought a virtual end to the segregation of public places and the passage of breakthrough equal-rights legislation. These developments in equality, fairness, and tolerance were ushered in by a change in consciousness and worldviews by many millions of our world’s population. We believe that we are on the verge of another leap for humankind and that the current cultural divide may be the vehicle, or at least a necessary process, for this to occur.
Most of our past careers involved working with individuals and families to help them better communicate, understand, and cooperate with each other. As we grew in our professions, our approach enlarged to include systems beyond the family, including the school system and businesses. We now believe it is time to invite everyone within the sound of our voice to join in bringing out the best in ourselves and each other as we work together, not only to heal the cultural divide (among everything else that divides us) but to rise to new peaks.