“Chef J” had no idea what she was getting herself into when she surfed the computer early Saturday morning. But, by the end of the day she found more than a dozen people who were “just like her,” struggling to make sense of a world that seems cold to the sensitivity of others.
Chef J — which is what her license plate says, and so we’ll call her “Jackie” — found the group by accident. Looking for something to do in the early morning, she “Googled” Meet-Up on the Internet. She found a section listing activities the same day, one starting at 11 a.m., and she decided to attend.
“I saw the topic on ‘negotiations,’ and thought it’d be interesting,” she said after the 90-minute meeting in Ambler, PA, just outside Philadelphia. “I saw something about HSPs, but I had never heard of it until today. I didn’t know anything about them”
HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Persons, those of the world who possess a high degree of emphatic emotion and an in-grown sense of compassion. Many tend to “sense” things and read body language better than the so-called norm. Most reach adulthood believing they’re “cursed” with this outlook, but find comfort in groups that show it’s more of a gift than a hindrance.
“I didn’t know that I was one, until I heard all of you talking,’ Jackie told the group of some 20 HSPs. “I saw myself in everything you said.”
Some are extraverted, others introverted, points out the leader, Sarah O’Doherty, a Brennan Energy healer who practices out of the Resiliency Center in Ambler. (See www.portalofgrace.com) Once a month she helps the group focus on given topics, such as “Assertiveness and Negotiations” which was this month. “Spirituality” is for next month, the first Saturday in April. Some members meet informally outside the group in smaller numbers, as 10 of us did at a nearby tavern for lunch, where one could really learn from another.
Take Jackie. Served as a sergeant in the US army, with a tour in Germany. Like many of us, she had her share of troubled relationships. One time, after breaking up with someone, she decided to move to Atlanta, Ga.
“I didn’t know anyone there,” she said. “No family or friends. “I just wanted to live there. I always did.” Hence, she moved there and made a life for herself.
But, not for long.
Born in Barbados and raised in New York City, she found her true “calling in life” at age 25, when she entered the restaurant business. “I was cooking since I was 10,” she said. “I always loved to cook, it just came natural.”
She runs a “personal chef service” outside the Philadelphia area and can be contacted for professional work at www.QualityThymes.com.
Now, let’s see how she will fit in at an informal Philadelphia HSP meeting at the Conshohocken IKEA with the international cast of characters in the next few weeks. Somehow, with the type of “chutzpah” she has already shown in life so far, I think she’ll do all right.