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Sushama Kirtikar


“We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.” Al Gore spoke eloquently and persuasively in his acceptance speech last month for the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. He, of course, was alluding to the climate crisis of global warming that the planet is facing. He described it thus, “The earth has a fever. And the fever is rising.”

I am sure you agree. I ask you, how large is your carbon footprint … the one that you leave behind on earth? Now, what about the one you leave behind on your ‘self’? Have you ever wondered what damage we do to our psyche every time we emit poisonous gases with our negative thoughts and actions? We could end up with a ‘nuclear winter’ where the sun’s rays of hope could not penetrate the thick nuclear cloud of self-doubt and self-destruction. Or, we could end up with a permanent ‘carbon summer’ where we will be charred beyond recognition because of self-neglect and self-harm.

Just as global warming is a stark reality that can no longer be dismissed as an uncertainty by the naysayer, so too the body-mind-spirit connection is irrefutably proven by now that can no longer be brushed aside as a New Age fancy. If even one aspect of the ‘whole’ is warped, neglected or ill, it affects the entire system of the person. Holistic health care or psychoneuroimmunology (the operative term for the new millennium as they couldn’t come up with a simpler term) point to attending to every aspect of ourselves.

We all make New Year’s resolutions to change the way we exercise or eat or work and so on. I propose we go beyond the obvious. Take a moment to reflect on who you are as a person. Do a complete and honest self-inventory. I do not mean just your dreams and ambitions and stretching your comfort zone. I mean, think about how you have reacted and acted in challenging situations. Recall interactions with others and their responses to you. Take responsibility for your part in it, setting aside the urge to blame. Pinpoint that which is not supportive of you, and then stay open to change.

I beckon you to see what aspects of yourself you would like to improve upon. Sometimes, we need a jump-start in the form of others’ feedback of how they view us. Sometimes, insight into ourselves is keen enough to motivate us to change. It takes a lot of courage to examine what we might be deficient in or lacking, excessive in or addicted to and to make the resolve to change that facet of the self.

None of us is perfect. We were born with clean slates, which got written upon and scribbled upon over the years till the writing on the slate became illegible. Now, it appears as gibberish and makes no sense even to us. This is what needs wiping, rewriting choosing carefully what goes on our slate.

New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on the body and improving it with fresh plans and disciplines. This year, I suggest you give the mind and spirit a fair makeover as well. Hippocrates himself, the founder of medicine, is quoted as having said, “I would rather know what sort of person has a disease than what sort of disease a person has.” The emphasis is on the person and not what s/he ‘has.’ Make the resolve to heal all parts of yourself from within and without. Take stock of your psychic carbon footprint. Once our defenses are down, we can truly begin to let the light of self healing shine resplendently upon us. As Al Gore implored, “We must act.”

Sushama Kirtikar, a licensed mental health counselor in private practice, can be reached at (813) 264-7114 or e-mail at

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Dr. Ram P. Ramcharran

There are many organizations in the Tampa Bay area that focus on helping special needs children but the one organization that everyone should know about it is STAND (Statewide Advocacy Network on Disabilities Inc.) This not-for-profit organization, which has been around since December 1996, was organized by a group of parents and attorneys to help educate people on their rights.

STAND's purpose it to inform the families of children with disabilities of their rights. It is dedicated to getting a child with a disability the right education that they are entitled to under the law. The three main laws that STAND is concerned with are: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. It focuses on three topics: advocacy, legal rights, and above all, education.

This year, STAND will be hosting SPARC 2007 – Stand Pinellas Accessing Resource Conference. The organization’s goal is to provide parents, teachers, therapist and other professionals with resources that help children with disabilities make achievements in their life. STAND focuses on children with Special Needs and they take this mission very seriously.

This year SPARC 2007 will be held at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School in Pinellas Park, on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Morgan Fitzgerald is at 6410 118 Ave. N., Largo, FL 33773. Cost for the conference is $25 for pre-registration. That will include one entry to the conference, a lunch ticket and a program.

(Dr. Ram Ramcharran will be a guest speaker at the STAND event. He will be discussing how to better understand and deal with children with special needs. If you have any questions regarding this event, contact Melissa Tremblay, SPARC chairperson at (727) 784-8493 or visit

Dr. Ram P. Ramcharran can be reached at

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