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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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When Good Enough is Good Enough…

Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. — Parker Palmer I awoke at 4am last night and couldn’t go back to sleep. I’m a therapist, and paying close attention is the center point of my job. Paying close attention requires herculean effort when I haven’t slept. I’m also a writer and was planning to write first thing in the morning. It’s hard to write when thoughts are foggy and slow due to sleep-deprivation. So I stared at the ceiling in the dark and fretted about how messed up my day was going […]

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Want to Support Your Grieving Friend? 5 Truths About What REALLY Helps

We who grieve are exiled in our society. Exiled by the turning away of a face so that they do not witness my agony. Exiled by the silence left as friends and family drift away. Exiled by the lack of recognition of this universal experience. Soon enough we sit in solitary confinement feeling as if no one else has ever felt what we feel. — Stephanie Ericsson My husband, Marty, died of a sudden illness at age 39. A virus disguised itself as a cardiac cell and lured his white blood cells into feeding on his own heart, cell by cell, […]

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2 Mistakes You Make Because You’re Scared, and How to Avoid Them

I never raised my hand in class in elementary school, middle school, high school, or college. Never. Not once. I never asked a question or volunteered an answer, though I often knew the answers to questions the teachers asked. I was too scared to even know I had my own questions. (If you know me now, I’m sure you find this hard to believe. But it’s true. Really.) If a teacher asked me a direct question in front of the class, my heart thudded so high up in my chest that I’d choke on the answer. I responded so quietly […]

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Resilience: A New Grief Myth That Can Hurt You

The antidote to despair is not to be found in the brave attempt to cheer ourselves up with happy abstracts, but in paying profound and courageous attention to the body and the breath. … To see and experience despair fully in our body is to begin to see it as a necessary, seasonal visitation and the first step in letting it have its own life, neither holding it nor moving it on before its time.— David Whyte, Consolations I had a hard time sleeping last week. I jolted awake with my heart pounding two or three times every night. Lying with eyes wide open in the dark, […]

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5 Expansive Mindsets That Will Make You Flourish Before 5pm

We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive. — Joseph Campbell Everywhere you look — especially in supposedly inspiring New Year’s articles — you see tips and tricks for how to become “successful.” Success articles tell you how important it is to be productive, and they prescribe programs and routines that ensure that you never waste a moment. They tout plans of action that will help you be the person you should become, rather than the person you are now. They imply that […]

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What Makes Us Real? Being Loved

I flick on the lamps in my waiting room and sweep the entryway doormats for the first time in two weeks. In the still quiet before my first client arrives, I plop down into my orange leather counseling chair and watch as the morning sunlight glows and shimmers on the moss-green walls. Breathing in, breathing out, I gather momentum for the long, full day ahead. Just before I rev into motion for the day, a wave of emotion surges through me. An ache in the center of my chest. An ache? Now? As I begin my first day back from […]

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I Want to Take Action, But I Don’t Know How: How Can I Make A Difference If I Haven’t Yet Found My Cause?

Our society is tumultuous right now. I’ve been conversing with a lot of clients, colleagues, and friends who share my distress about the fever-pitch levels of discord, disharmony, hatred, suspicion, and negativity that are swirling through our communities right now. In the middle of such painful uncertainty, I’m touched and inspired by the fact that so many people I know are refusing to succumb to the paralysis-inducing fear that this kind of societal negativity naturally evokes. They march, make phone calls, host postcard-writing parties, offer aid to immigrants, facilitate healing, examine their own biases, and lead idea-generating discussion groups. Yet […]

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