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BEARING OUR SOULS: A CRASH COURSE IN SOOTHING THE OVERWHELMING EMOTIONS OF A PANDEMIC – PART 1 – STORIES MATTER

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/SoulsPart1Audio May we face our selves, in the wilderness and the world, and recognize the forces that drive us, so that they do not always drive us. — Pádraig Ó Tuama On a Thursday evening about four weeks ago, I said goodnight to my last therapy client of the week, closed the door behind her, and turned off my waiting room lamps. The following Sunday afternoon I sat with my family at one of our favorite restaurants, raising a glass of bold red wine over a […]

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Turn TOWARD the Pain: A Counterintuitive Approach to the Fear of Covid-19

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/TurnTowardAudio Most people have turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it. — Rainer Maria Rilke In the past couple of weeks I’ve had the good fortune to host Zoom meetings with several groups of therapists I consult with and teach. I’m moved to tears by the end of almost every one of these meetings. The willingness of these open-hearted, caring professionals to rise to […]

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Gratitude: It’s Not For Sissies

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/GriefGratitudeAudio . How can we live gratefully? By experiencing, by becoming aware that every moment is a given moment, as we say. It’s a gift. You haven’t earned it. You haven’t brought it about in any way. You have no way of assuring that there will be another moment given to you, and yet, that’s the most valuable thing that can ever be given to us,this moment, with all the opportunity that it contains. If we didn’t have this present moment, we wouldn’t have any opportunity […]

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Batting My Way Out of Hell

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/BattingAudio From my archives: Periodically I publish pieces I wrote almost 30 years ago, when I was immersed in the throes of my grief. This personal essay is one of those — I wrote it in 1996, four years after my husband died. On this bright spring Saturday morning the sun filters through the living room blinds and spotlights a mound of sports equipment uncharacteristically piled next to our front door. The assemblage of a pair of baseball bats — one made of hollow banana-colored plastic, the other of faded […]

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Serenity? Sorry. Freedom Is Not an Escape

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/SerenityAudio . Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. — Lao Tzu I’ll never forget the way her frown pinched her forehead after I read my essay aloud. I’d written about bashing a chair into bits with a baseball bat. Grunts and moans and yelling jumped off the page and shattered the smooth perfection of the ever-so-proper living room where our writing group sat on the […]

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Stretch Your Heart to Feel >1 Emotion: You Won’t Regret It

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/MoreThanOneEmotionAudio . When we achieve the mark of mature intelligence… we can hold in the mind two opposing thoughts without undermining either one of them. So the inescapable uncertainty of human life is accepted as our destiny from which we do not flee. — Rollo May It happens all the time in my therapy room: People fear that if they examine parents’ actions or words that had a painful impact on them in childhood, and if they discover they feel anger or grief or hurt toward these beloved […]

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Feeling Anguish? Listen to Your Body. Not to Other People.

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/FeelingAnguishAudio . The body says what words cannot. — Martha Graham I love swimming in Austin’s amazing Barton Springs Pool — it’s cold and enlivening. Most of the time I swim there three times a week, year round. But last year my dad and my dog died in the depths of winter. It doesn’t get that cold in Austin, but it takes much more mental discipline and grit to jump into the cold spring water when it’s 25–45 degrees outside than when it’s 95! When my dad and my dog died, everything in […]

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Embrace Your Broken Parts: Unleash Love

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/BrokenPartsAudio . I think that the rawest, most brutal parts of our humanity… can be incredibly beautiful if we’re willing to see it that way. That’s the great disparity. … When we can really embrace every bit of our humanity, even the parts that shame us the most, there’s such great beauty in being cracked open. How much beauty there is in our brokenness. — Joe Henry, interviewed by Krista Tippett on On Being I have a weird job. Most people don’t understand it. A couple of months ago, chit-chatting with […]

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12 Things I Learned About Love When My Husband Died on Valentine’s Day

To listen to an audio reading of this post, click here or go to bit.ly/12ThingsAudio   Heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way. — David Whyte My husband Marty was a healthy 39-year-old runner who developed a sudden illness just after our baby’s first Christmas. A virus ate his heart muscle and sent him to the hospital with shortness of breath on New Year’s Day of 1992. The ugly virus caused massive heart failure a week […]

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Positive Thinking? Pathetic! Strong People Make Meaning Out of Suffering

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. — Viktor Frankl When Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote the above quote in Man’s Search for Meaning, I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to imply that people who are experiencing bad circumstances should “think positive,” or “look on the bright side.” Can you imagine suggesting to any prisoner in a concentration camp — having lost everything, starving, struggling to stay alive — that she should focus on: – how the experience is, in […]

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