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Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

The following is a poem by wise and compassionate poet, counselor, and retired Episcopal priest, Alla Renee Bozrath that I first discovered in the book, “Life Prayers: 365 Prayers, Blessings and Affirmations to Celebrate the Human Journey” edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon. If you are a seeker, a griever, or are struggling in any way right now, I encourage you to explore her wonderful work.

“Don’t look back,
battered child,
Time then hurt you,
Let time heal you.
Don’t look back.

Don’t look back,
beaten child.
They knew not what
they did except what
was done unto them.
Don’t look back.

Don’t look back,
abandoned child,
abused, neglected child.
Denial is salt in your wounds.
Dwelling in repeating
the deliberate disappearance
of your soul.
Don’t perpetuate this harm.

Break the cycle,
wait –
stop it here.

Speak out the paralyzing secret
and begin to come back to yourself.
Cry it out to compassionate ears
and be held in the hearts of your witnesses.

The truth shall make you free
but first it will shatter you.
What was broken can be mended,
what was lost, restored.
Find yourself, then,
pure and whole, a child of God.
Look back long enough to let go.”
Alla Renee Bozarth

Look Back
Long Enough
and then
Let Go…..

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I haven’t written a blog entry in over a month, the longest I’ve ever gone without writing. Sadly, inessential activities (like this blog) have been overshadowed by my mother’s cancer and my daughter’s illness, and the lion’s share of my life energy is being poured into sustaining hope and tending wounds.

The trajectory of my mother’s illness is too final and predictable to contemplate, while the weight and course of my child’s suffering is crushing and unknowable. It seems that we have set upon one of those night passages that Sue Monk Kidd observes can “blister the spirit and leave us groping.”

As I tentatively feel my way through a murky shadow land, I remind myself that the whole of my life is still abundantly blessed with love, and sweetness and light even as it requires me to be stronger and wiser than ever before – demands that I do/think/feel more than I have ever done/thought/felt before. Even though it insists that I. must. become. more.

Julia Cameron reminds us that “creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.” For over two decades as a psychotherapist I’ve witnessed so many transformations that were initiated by heartbreak and cultivated in darkness. And while there have been times when I could hardly bare to look into the depths of despair and suffering, I am especially grateful for them now, each and every one of them, because I have seen with my own eyes and heart what we are capable of surviving, overcoming, and becoming. Because I have seen, I can believe.

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Diane Ackerman wrote in the New York Times, “A relatively new field, called interpersonal neurobiology, draws its vigor from one of the great discoveries of our era: that the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life. In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you.” A message well worth reminding ourselves of daily.

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  I just finished Linda Campanella’s book, “When all that’s Left if Me is Love: A Daughter’s Story of Letting Go” about a daughter’s experiences supporting a mother who is LIVING with small cell lung cancer. I stress LIVING because that is exactly what her mother did. She LIVED right up until she died and Campanella remained determined and committed to helping her mother do exactly that throughout the entire process – to LIVE as fully as possible.

One example of how they made the most of each and every day was that around 4:00 in the afternoon Linda, her mother, her father, and anyone else who happened to be in the house at the time settled in to celebrate ‘happy hour’. There was much laughter during this time, and the sharing of news, stories, small gifts, and great love. No one in the room was in denial of death or free from grief, however each was acutely aware in the moment of how precious life is when savored, how beautiful and even luminous in can be in the face of its impending loss.

While Campanella’s book contained heart break and grief, it also offered me, a daughter whose own mother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in August of 2010, much needed comfort and perspective. While I have so often felt powerless when confronting my mother’s cancer, Campenella has reminded me of my families’ strength and essential proficiencies. We are masters of loving, and as we weave our love throughout each and every moment that we’re together, we can create a sacred container which honors life and offers healing even in the absence of cure.

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“There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”
Author Unknown

Being a proponent for strength based therapies for the past twenty years, I was extremely receptive when positive psychology was first introduced to the world. Like so many therapists, I’d experienced that terrible sense of hopelessness that periodically emerged during my early years as a therapist as I and my client become entrenched in the muck of pain and pathology. There in my light filled office, muscles tensed and heart heavy, gazing into the eyes of someone whom I had come to care deeply about, I all too often came perilously close to developing tunnel vision. I had witnessed the pain, listened compassionately, and carefully gathered up the shattered pieces of a broken story, while failing to truly see the
epic tale before me

I had come close enough to not only touch the wounds, but to hold them closely, and yet I had allowed precious and essential aspects of my client to move beyond my immediate reach – all of those experiences, lessons, wisdom, and unique strengths and gifts that my client possessed which absolutely guaranteed a successful (though never without risk or pain)passage.

When I learned to adapt my lens so that I could readily shift my focus back and forth between pain and possibility, pathology and promise, I not only improved my effectiveness and enhanced my vision – I discovered an inner voice. This voice has sustained me through many difficult, frightening and even heart breaking journeys with clients, and while this voice still expresses self-doubt and even despair, it is never without hope. And with hope in tact, we can go on. I can go on.

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In a funny, thought provoking, (sometimes scary) and inspiring TED talk of less than 20 minutes, Roger Doiron (one of Maine’s own) shares how growing our own gardens can improve our health and well-being, increase our wealth, power and freedom, and help save the world. Here are just three of the many facts that Doiron shares during his talk:

Around the world both Hunger AND obesity is on the rise

To keep up with our expanding population, more food will need to be grown over the next fifty years than has been produced thus far during the past 10,000 years COMBINED and we will need to produce this food with LESS – less oil, water, soil, climate stability and time.

Our yards need not simply be yards, they can truly be full service green grocers!

You might want to visit Doiron’s wonderful site, Kitchen Gardners International: A Global Community Cultivating Change where you’ll find information, community, recipes, resources and more.

Here’s just a very small taste of what this website can offer you:

How to plant a garden in the snow
How to give Eco-friendly and budget-friendly gifts
How to connect with and learn from other gardners in your community and around the world
How new low tech technology can assist in growing food in arid environments

Disclaimer: I do not personally know or have ever had contact with Roger Doiron. I simply believe in his work and want to promote it. I firmly believe in the healing power of both nature and community, healthy eating, and living sustainably, consciously, and responsibly.

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I’m a major fan of Yes! Magazine , of Margaret Mead, and of the power of music to both inspire and instruct. Whle purusing Yes!’s archives, I came across a wonderful music video by Kathryn Mostow inspired by Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I invite you to watch the video, and allow yourself to fully absorb the beauty and the hope…

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I think the following, written by Pema Chodron, is particularly relevant today.

“The whole globe is shook up, so what are you going to do when things are falling apart? You’re either going to become more fundamentalist and try to hold things together, or you’re going to forsake the old ambitions and goals and live life as an experiment, making it up as you go along.”

I am a risk averse planner who is working very hard to embrace Chodron’s wisdom. As more and more falls out of my control, I am learning to let go of old expectations, fears, and unspoken demands that things go a certain way in order for me to feel safe and secure. I am striving to keep my mind and heart open to new realities, new challenges, and new possibilities. And the more I am able to do this, the more it seems I’m able to feel a powerful “YES” rising up from a very deep place inside of myself, moving through and beyond my anxiety, my uncertainty and my fear….

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Happy 2009!

I’ve heard a whole lot of people in the past few days say that they’re especially happy to be putting 2008 behind them. Still, on this sunny first morning of 2009, 2008 seems more than anything else to me like a remarkable year. With the election of Barack Obama, how could it be anything less?
According to “In a ‘Bad’ Year, the Good News of Our Times,” published at Fox news.com, crime rates have continued to fall, the divorce rate is the lowest its been in four decades, life expectancy is up, and the rates of both cancer deaths and aids transmission are declining.
And so on this first day of 2009, in spite of the challenges we face, I’m absolutely confident that there’s much more good news to come. Happy new year!

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What I most love about the internet is the window to the world’s wisdom it provides. From my office in Lewiston or from my little cottage in Wayne I can attend lectures, listen to interviews, and watch thoughtful and informative webcasts.
Today I listend to an interview with Duncan Campbell and David Boren who talked about his new book, “A Letter to America” on Living Dialogues. Boren’s message regarding the crisis’s that we in the United States face is both alarming and inspiring at the same time. I encourage you to listen to the interview as well as to a number of other valuable and thought provoking interviews that are available on the Living Dialogues website.
Each and every day I listen to individuals who are appropriately worried about their futures, good people who share that they all too often feel powerless and frustrated. It’s in my nature to want to reassure and comfort, and I find myself in most cases automatically leaning forward, unconsciously assuming the posture of compassionate witness. And then I am pulled back by the awareness that now is not the time for empathy nearly as much as it is the time for accountability and action –a time for us to collectively face the challenges that confront us while creating a vision for a healthier and more sustainable future.

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