Uncategorized

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 […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

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, […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

Blog and Newsletter Sign-Up