Maintain A Sense Of Humor

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

At the National Wellness Conference, I participated in a breakout session, “Laughter: It’s No Joke” on the essential role humor plays in our well-being. It was led by Sandy Queen, a well-respected speaker and humorist. She shared some great jokes, as well as describing the structure of humor and pointed out interesting research about how and why we respond to humor. I was hooked before I entered the room.

Comedian, cancer survivor and friend, Brenda Elsagher and I worked together at a survivorship event in 2013. We met again soon after and she was very generous in helping me explore how to interject more humor into my speeches. I followed her suggestions and have come to realize that there is more humor in my story than I have been willing to share. Actually, I used to include a whole humorous section that I entitled “There is Nothing Funny About Cancer.” But over time, I got away from that format and lost some of that humor. The time for change has come. It is a bit of a narrow spot for me.

In July, I started a stand-up comedy class at Stevie Ray’s Comedy Club in Chanhassen, MN. Carl Olson, the stand-up comic/teacher has shared additional invaluable information about the structure of humor and the reality of stand up. I was busy writing jokes while attending a writer’s retreat in Taos, NM. I was the only “comedy” writer in the bunch. I tried out my routine on the assembled audience before returning home. They laughed! My “recital” is in two short weeks.

When we are confronted by a narrow spot in our lives – a change that feels difficult to navigate – it may seem irreverent to either express or accept humor. But experts agree that even during the most difficult circumstances, maintaining a sense of humor and allowing ourselves a laugh can work wonders, having a positive effect on our psychological, emotional, and physical health – our sense of well-being. Laughter can go a long way to heal us.

Humor has various benefits. Allen Klein, in his book, The Healing Power of Humor, discusses how humor can help us get through losses, setbacks, disappointments, and illness by giving us a sense of power and a way of dealing with these difficult situations. It does this primarily by helping us, even for a short period of time, to change our perspective and look at our situation from a different angle, developing a new relationship with what or who has changed. Humor and laughter can provide a respite from pain and sadness.

There is a growing body of research, some of it anecdotal, indicating that humor and laughter really are good, if not the best medicine. When we laugh, healthy physical changes are triggered within the body. Our immune system is enhanced by decreasing stress hormones and increasing infection-fighting antibodies, thus providing resistance to disease. Our entire body relaxes for up to 45 minutes after the laughter has ceased. Our heart experiences increased blood flow and enhanced function of blood vessels, which in turn can protect us from heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. In addition, endorphins, our body’s natural “feel good” chemicals, are automatically released.

The benefits of laughter and even the benefits of a simple smile extend far beyond physical changes. Laughter is very strong medicine. It brings our mind, body and spirit into quick and meaningful balance. The depth and breadth of our sense of humor go hand in hand with having a positive attitude and building resilience. (Read more about building resilience in my March 14, 2015 Blog Post)

So, how do you promote humor and laughter in your life? Find your resources and keep them handy. Perhaps make a list of books, videos and/or movies that are sure to bring a smile to your face – and a deep, down belly laugh to your heart and soul. And don’t keep your sense of humor a secret. Laughter is contagious. Share it freely. Hang out with some funny people. Come to my Stand-up Comedy Recital on August 9. I promise to be funny.

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Connection Is The Currency of Wellness

Replace I by We.001

“Connection is the currency of wellness.” John Travis, an elder statesman of the National Wellness Institute, stated that clearly and authoritatively in his remarks at the awards banquet held during the National Wellness Conference in Minneapolis, MN in June. I was privileged to be in the audience to hear him. Throughout the conference, I heard a variety of speakers share a variation on that theme: Isolation is deadly. All creation is in relationship. Humor is about relationship – not jokes. It was invigorating and enlivened my mission and purpose.

From the opening keynote with Dr Todd Kashdan to the final wrap-up session with personal comments from attendees about what was learned, gleaned and being taken away from the conference, I felt at home – in relationship – with people from around the globe who are interested in, advocate for and employed in the field of wellness.

With an obvious emphasis on body, mind and spirit, this did not surprise me. What I found exhilarating was that the message that I carry – accepting the inevitability of change, gathering resources not to be overwhelmed by change and recognizing change as a growth edge in our lives – was amplified and underscored by so many others, in so many ways.

I have long maintained that being in community is essential.  It is one of the “Pearls” in my book. To feel the powerful presence of a palpable web of support, care, concern and prayer can make a world of difference in the way we navigate the challenges of a narrow spot. It is also a good idea to have an awareness of your community of support before the narrow spot occurs. People will surprise you. Some will come out of the woodwork to help. Some will disappear for reasons that you cannot understand. Don’t be disappointed or take it personally. Everyone has their own journey to navigate. Count on those who are present and accept their help. Asking for and accepting help is a two-way gift.

So what are your connections? Who are the people with whom you affiliate? With whom do you have a special or sacred bond? What is an idea or cause about which you are passionate? How do you share that with others? With what organization or group are you associated? How do you create “relationship” with the people, things or ideas that nourish your soul? What do you send out into the world? How do you internalize what the world sends back to you?

Engagement in wellness – and in my opinion, it is not sustained by itself – is not a selfish act. It is self care. Well-being is our essential nature, so is being in community. Be connected.

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Hands

Right Hand and Cast of Left HandHands tell a lot about a person. Take a look at yours. Hands are the original and ultimate tool. Before AT&T they were the way we reached out and touched someone. Some people are “handy,” able to “lend a hand.” We fold our hands in prayer. Some jobs are so easy you can do them with one hand tied behind your back. We all now know what it means to be “hands free”. I read once that angels will read your life story on your hands. I am confident they will get my whole story.

Take a look at your hands again. What story will they tell?

At the end of each finger are your fingerprints. They are completely unique, like each of us, like the life journey on which we travel. I have found that it is a mistake to compare one person’s journey with another’s – all are different and worthy, and one is not more important or profound than another.

The telling of and listening to stories is the way we make sense of our lives. Barry Lopez said, “Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”

Be authentic in your story telling. Life is a “hand[s]-on job.”

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The Power of Story

I have the privilege of sharing this content two times this month.  In my opinion, the handout, designed for audience distribution at SURVIVORville 2015 in Nashville, TN; and the National Wellness Conference in Minneapolis, MN; is worthy of a broader readership.  I hope you find it meaningful.

I describe change as the narrow spot in an hourglass. The sand, traveling from the top through that tight spot, arrives at the bottom with a new arrangement. Life is full of narrow spots. ~Ruth Bachman

Growing Through the Narrow Spots: Name Them, Tell their Story, and Gather Resources

The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. ~Viktor Frankl

Change is inevitable. It is the rule, not the exception. Small wonders happen every day; the kind we assume, like waking from sleep or the sun rising and setting; and the kind that surprise us, like a rainbow after a sudden thunderstorm. We look at these “natural” changes with anticipation and comfort, and even experience a bit of awe at their existence. Then there are all the “other” changes that are out of the natural rhythm of life. Changes in our family and personal life, finances, employment, living conditions, health, and more. When change occurs in our lives, we think we can control it, but the opposite is true. We can only control how we respond to change. Our attitude is critical.

Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion. ~ Barry Lopez

Narrative is an essential part of our human nature. We live it, hear it and create it everyday. Stories delight us. They connect us to others and help us process, heal, problem solve, express feelings, remember and celebrate. There is a relationship between teller and listener. To enter a story is to make room for its teller. With someone to hear the story, tellers know they are not alone and feel gratitude for being heard. As listeners to someone else’s story, we realize that we can help just by listening, being a witness. The listener confirms the worth of the teller by attending to the story being told. When we tell personal stories out loud, it is like shining a light into a dark closet, a way to discover wholehearted pathways to renewal and transformation.

Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls. ~Melody Beattie

Courage is required to share some stories. Trusting the listener is essential. The root definition of courage – coeur – means heart. Wholeheartedly sharing stories, as a teller or a listener, strengthens resilience and awakens new inspiration for discovering purpose in life.

Every one of us is a wonder. Every one of us has a story. ~Kristin Hunter

It is a mistake to compare one person’s life journey with another’s, all are different and worthy and one is not more important or profound than another. We are all complex, textured, layered beings. The uniqueness of our stories brings the richness and texture to our relationships, communities and our world. Your story is important because it is yours.

It is an insistent grace that draws us to the edge and beckons us surrender safe territory and enter our enormity. ~Stephen Levine

When faced with a life-changing event, most people feel overwhelmed. It often feels like going over a waterfall with an inner tube, drowning in new vocabulary and experiences. While there is a myriad of tangible and intangible resources available to aid in mitigating this feeling, there is not always a clear path to discovering those resources. A change in perspective is essential – moving from your head, which is racing with questions of “How” and “Why” and sinking into your heart, which assures us of possibilities for acceptance. Take the time to slow down, breath deeply and listen to your heart. This is not a selfish act. It is the cornerstone of self-care.

Maybe stories are just data with a soul. ~Brené Brown

Research shows that resilience is the outcome of being able to respond to change with resources that promote well-being and cushion us against being overwhelmed by it. A resilient response to change requires the skills of patience and persistence; along with setting the intention to work toward some goal, having faith in the outcome, accepting some coaching and help from others, maintaining a sense of humor, expressing gratitude and realizing that grace is present in it all.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves,…. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. ~Rainer Marie Rilke

Who are the people you know who live with a spirit of abundance? Those are the people you want to be around when you are experiencing significant change. Ask for their help. You may well discover that asking someone to help – allowing someone to help – is a gift to them as well as a gift to you. That help may come from a variety of sources because narrow spots affect all 5 dimensions of life: cognitive, behavioral, emotional, physical and spiritual. Remember that wisdom has no age requirement.

Change is inevitable. Transformation is intentional. ~Ruth Bachman

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Focus on Wholeness

I recently had the privilege of speaking at both IgniteMinneapolis 8 and bushCONNECT 2015. Both were exhilarating experiences – 5 minutes/20 slides (that advanced automatically – talk about no control…). My topic was “One-Handed in a Two-Handed World”.

My goal was to disarm the audience while inspiring them to see that having an obvious hole in my silhouette does not, in and of itself, limit my choices in life. On the contrary, that is a source of personal power. I get to choose what I participate in and work to accomplish. I wanted to be humorous. (I really wanted it to be a stand-up comedy routine – maybe next year.) Based on Twitter chatter after both events, people caught the humor and found the statements “Do you focus on the holes, or on wholeness?” and “Stop borrowing trouble.” to be quote-worthy.

I had a blast doing them both. It was well worth the challenge. Please watch the video and let me know if I succeeded in my goal. bush CONNECT is up on YouTube, IgniteMinneapolis will be there soon.

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Be Patient

I have written about this often.  It seems at this time of year that we are all particularly impatient to be outside, working in our gardens or walking in warm sunshine or welcoming the possibility of growth in our lives. Spring brings change – an it is major change.

Change is inevitable. In the song, “Closing Time” there is a lyric, “Every new beginning comes at some other beginning’s end.” Transformation is intentional. While a gift of grace, transformation is purposeful and not effortless. Within the depths of winter, it is hard to imagine spring. The beauty of nature takes time. Think of transformation as tending a garden – your very own little plot of earth. Trust that it can be cultivated and that cultivation will bring it to its full potential. Even though it’s full of rocks and the soil is dry, you begin to plow this plot with patience, sowing the seeds of your future well-being. At the beginning, joy might be found in just feeling that your situation – your little plot of earth – is workable. You stop looking for a different or better place to be. This does not mean that there are suddenly flowers growing where there were previously only rocks. It means you have confidence that something will grow here. As you cultivate your garden, tending it with a quiet mind and an open heart, the conditions become more conducive to growth and transformation. Slow down, breathe deeply, listen to your heart. Have patience and faith. Something will blossom.

Be patient.

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Resilience: Thriving, Not Just Surviving

In his book, The Beethoven Factor, Dr. Paul Pearsall describes “Thrivers” as those who know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” He defines “thriving” as stress induced growth that happens when we face a challenge. The way we respond to change – both large and small – is a good indication of our level of resilience.

I had the privilege of attending a day long training “Thriving vs Surviving During Times of Change: Science of Enhancing Resilience” presented by J. Bryan Sexton, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director of Patient Safety Research and Training, Duke University Health System. It was hosted by the Minnesota Hospital Association and aimed at exploring the issue of burnout in healthcare professionals. Resilience is an essential component in anyone’s hearth and well-being, whether you work in healthcare or not. I found the day to be totally affirming of the message I share. Here is a brief recap of the day.

Resilience was defined as “a function of one’s ability to cope, and the availability of resources related to health and well-being.” There was a substantial amount of depressing information and statistics about the high percentage of burnout in physicians and nurses in the US (30-40%). That is not a comforting statistic. While Dr. Sexton painted a rather dismal picture of the reality of depression and exhaustion in the healthcare workforce, he also highlighted several ways to counteract that reality with the intention to make resources available to survive and thrive. Those resources do not always require money. They require intention and commitment to bring about positive change.

“Your focus determines your reality.”
~J. Bryan Sexton, Ph.D.

Drawing from research from authorities like Drs. Barbara Fredrickson (Positivity), Ellen Langer (Mindfulness), Robert A. Emmons (Gratitude Works) and Martin Seligman (Flourish), we participated in several exercises to boost resilience. The exercises are beneficial for anyone wanting to increase their resilience resources. Here are some to try:

Deliberately Practice Random Acts of Kindness
Random Acts of Kindness Image

Maintain Strong Social Relationships

Hug More (4 times/day is the minimum)
Physical contact optimizes oxytocin and serotonin – which boost mood and promotes bonding – hold a hug (or handshake) for 6 seconds or more.

Practice Active Constructive Responding – Paying Attention is a Form of Love

Be positive, interested and caring
Maintain eye contact/smile/touch/laugh
Concentrate on asking questions (at least 3)
Listen without judgement

Cultivate Confidants

Have REAL friends not just those on social media
Do you have someone you can call at 4:00 am to tell your troubles to?

Write Down “Three Good Things”

Every night before you go to bed write down three (3) positive things from your day.
You will sleep better and have residual positive affect on your close relationships

Practice Gratitude

Keep a Gratitude Journal
Write Thank You notes

Experience Awe and Wonder

Seek out and take notice of life: from beautiful scenes in nature to witnessing an amazing accomplishment of another person to encountering something vast in size, number, power, or complexity, many things can make you feel awe.

Find Your Strengths and Take Maximum Advantage of Them

Take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths 

VIA Character Strengths

Practice the 5 Pillars of Resilience

Self-awareness – Do what you are good at
Mindfulness – Noticing without judging
Purpose – Being part of something bigger than you are
Self-care – Fatigue management, nutrition, physical activity, etc
Relationships – Loneliness is deadly

As I said earlier, this workshop was an affirmation of what I have long known to be true. Resilience is the outcome of being able to respond to change with resources that promote well-being and cushion us against being overwhelmed by it. Those resources include patience and persistence; along with setting the intention to work toward some goal, having faith in the outcome, accepting help from others, maintaining a sense of humor, expressing gratitude and realizing that grace is present in it all. It is the ability to say, “Yes, this has happened. And now what?”

Much more than a positive attitude, although that is a key contributor, resilience is a complex and significant component in our well-being. Some people are indeed positive by nature. I admit to being one of them. However, resilience is not being a happy-go-lucky Pollyanna, floating effortlessly through life with rose-colored glasses. On the contrary, a resilient response to change is far from effortless. Not unlike a garden, cultivating resilience requires intention, patience and effort which allows us to grow.

How do we increase our resilience? Primarily by putting forth the effort each day to focus on what is right – cultivating the positive. It sounds so simple. The key is focus – where are we bringing our attention? When you stop to think about it, narrow spots actually contribute to our well-being, providing an opportunity for personal growth.

Be Resilient

 

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Be Kind

As you may already know, I have an amazing and wonderful granddaughter, Amy, who is my role model for resilience. Her remarkably resilient response to all of the challenges (narrow spots), medical exams, tests and procedures she has experienced in her 10 years of life with cerebral palsy and epilepsy sets a high standard for accepting “what is” and moving forward for everyone – most especially me.

Amy and I “keep each other company” on the phone – usually FaceTime – almost every morning. Often we read to one another. Each of us has a copy of the book and we take turns, page by page, chapter by chapter or paragraph by paragraph. We recently finished reading the book, Wonder by R. J. Palacio. This book is truly wonderful.

Wonder Book CoverWonder tells the story of August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy with severe craniofacial abnormalities. Auggie goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade in a private middle school in Manhattan, within walking distance from is home. Auggie is bullied and isolated by most of his classmates, befriended by only a few and courageous in his valiant effort to be just another boy in school. It is a remarkable story of resilience.

While reading this book together, I asked Amy, who is certainly “different” from other girls in her class, which characters she thought were most like her. Her answer was always the students who befriended Auggie – never with Auggie or with the bully and his “peeps”. There were several places in the story where I cried empathetic tears with this young boy trying to fit in – undoubtedly projecting my fears and judgements on Amy and her classmates.

At the end of the book, during his commencement address to the fifth and sixth graders at the school; the principal, Mr. Tushman quotes from The Little White Bird by J. M Barrie, “Shall we make a new rule of life…always try to be a little kinder than necessary.” Tushman goes on to quote another book, Under the Eye of the Clock, by Christoper Nolan, in which a young man who is facing some extraordinary challenges is treated kindly by a classmate: “It was at moments such as these that Joseph recognized the face of God in human form.” The simple and powerful act of kindness. Palacio goes on to have the principal deliver a profound message to the students, their parents and to those of us reading the book: “If every single person … made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you…the face of God.” That is a profound message, indeed.

Today and everyday – Be just a little kinder than necessary.

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Storytelling for Wholeness and Healing

I have known for sometime that telling the stories of our narrow spots is essential to healing. I recently had the opportunity to hear renowned storytellers Kevin Kling and Matthew Sanford in an informal conversation with Dr. Jon Hallberg. The event was sponsored by the Center for Spirituality & Healing as a Kick-off to the American Holistic Medical Association Conference in Minneapolis.

Not only was my belief in storytelling affirmed, the evening inspired me to focus on developing a workshop specifically aimed at empowering participants to tell their stories as a means of moving forward on the path of recovery from loss.
So the question is: If I host a workshop of this nature, would anyone come?

Here is what I propose:
The Heart of the Matter
Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion. ~Barry Lopez
I and those who join me will be both storyteller and story listener. When we tell a personal story out loud, we discharge some of its danger, shining a light into a dark closet.
Setting Intention
The fact is that we human beings speak the same language. And the language that we speak is the language of storytelling. ~Harold Scheub
Narrative is an essential part of our human nature. We live it, hear it and create it each day. Stories connect us to others and help us process, heal, problem solve, express feelings, remember and celebrate.
There is a relationship between teller and listener. To enter a story is to make room for its teller. With someone to hear their stories, tellers know they are not alone and feel gratitude for being heard. As listeners to someone else’s stories, we realize that we can help just by listening, and being a witness. The listener confirms the worth of the teller by attending seriously to what he or she tells.
The Invitation
Bring your curiosity (a strong desire to know or learn), and spend a day on a journey of renewal, transformation and healing.
What we will create together
An opportunity for individual discovery and learning:
• to learn from other people’s stories,
• to awaken a spirit of possibility,
• to honor the grieving process,
• to gain perspective on perspective,
• to recognize the difference between “Yes and…” and “Yes, but…”
• to stay engaged in the process of being,
• to create a vocabulary for one’s own healing, renewal ,
• to examine and befriend the moment.
Stay tuned…

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Poetry – Giving Voice and Words to Life’s Narrow Spots

Gratitude for Grains of Sand
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – a time to be grateful. Why do we need a special day to focus on gratitude – an essential ingredient of health and well-being? Another topic for another day…
I am grateful for the grains of sand breathed in from a 3-week class entitled: LITERARY MIDWIVES: ASSISTING IN THE DELIVERY OF WORDS AND STORIES, offered at Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality in St. Paul, MN. The course description defined “literary widwife” as, “Someone who helps another find words or stories, whether for the unspeakable, the challenging or the sublime….” It was about giving birth to voice, words and poems to experiences in life that might be left untold. The class provided an opportunity to listen, reflect and write. The facilitator was poet, editor and grief educator Ted Bowman, a community instructor in Family Education at the University of Minnesota. He was a well equipped and able guide.
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.” ― Barry López
I had previously spent time developing a workshop and speech around the theme of the essential benefit of storytelling in healing. It was my Art of Convening “Final Project” or Case Study. I had not stopped to think of poetry as a part of that telling. I have had a change in perspective. In three weeks, I have actually written three poems about things that I have acknowledged as reality in my life, but not in a poetic form. I have found the experience to be rather profound. You do not need to think my poems are worthy of publication. This is my blog after all…

WEEK 1
Poet Patricia Kirkpatrick brought her skills as a “Medical Midwife: Words and Stories for Living With Medical Conditions.” A survivor of successful surgery to remove a nonmalignant brain tumor in 2007, she shared her 4 responses to her diagnosis and treatment: 1. “You’ve got to be kidding!” 2. “Why me?” 3. “This is interesting. I might learn something here.” and 4. “Maybe this is the something bigger I have been looking/waiting for.” In sharing her poems, we were encouraged to see that being witness to someone else’s pain can be the inspiration to write about our own – that stories are contagious. Poetry is meant to be said more than read.
A powerful example came from a poem by prominent Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai:
From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the Spring.
The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.
But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plough.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.
Here is the poem I wrote in response to the session:
Oh, to be a poet – to find the words – the vocabulary – and put it down succinctly to communicate the message.
Oh, to be a poet – to find the meter and rhythm to convey the depth and breadth of the inevitability of change.
Oh, to be a poet – to find the metaphor and alliteration to assure the reader that there is a way, and only they know the path.
Oh, to be a poet – to find the illustration to communicate the meaning to be found in being present to whatever is taking place in life and allow it to be a teacher.
Oh, to be a poet – a teacher – a pathfinder – a change agent – a messenger.
Oh, I am.

WEEK 2
Guest Poet Jim Moore guided us through thinking about bringing voice to “Living With Contradictions and Conundrums.” Words like: ambiguity, paradox and unsolvable were intended to be the food for thought that evening. Reminded that if something is unmentionable, it is inevitably unmanageable; we were encouraged to think of words that we would say if given permission to say anything. Jim said, ”You showed up. That is an indication of your desire to live through what is happening in your life.” Reading and writing poetry is about asking questions. The answer to which is to be human and present in the moment. My most significant messages was: “Things that are ‘unspeakable’, if unspoken, become unmanageable.” How true is that? James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Writing brings you space and perspective – sacred space – not solving, fixing or judging. We do not always know the answers. We are just giving space to breath in the reality of life. Again we were reminded, “When written, read poetry aloud.”

Here is the poem I wrote:
Living Without…
My mind is racing with questions:
How will I peel a carrot?
How will I button my jeans?
How will I write my name?
How will I make french braids in a little girl’s hair?
The mind races with questions.
My heart knew:
I had learned to live without my sister.
I had learned to live with lost dreams.
I had learned to live without my parents.
I would learn that there is more to being a grandmother than braiding hair.
I only needed to slow down and listen.
The heart knows.

WEEK 3
Guest poet, essayist and lyricist Michael Dennis Browne brought poetry and comment to “Assisting in the Birth of Beginnings: Advent, Solstice and a New Year” with words like regret, resolution, rebound and renew. Quoting notables like Julian of Norwich, Robert Hayden, Robert Sardello, Wendell Berry and Jack Kornfield, Michael wove a tapestry of images and words that challenged participants “to empty yourselves constantly, leaving room to be filled.” The emptying is cultivating a practice of letting go; being present; not investing in negative thoughts and patterns; and reading and memorizing poetry as a vehicle for the filling. Nothing is certain. We are all in the “middling.” And again the admonition, “Read poetry aloud.”
Here is the poem I wrote during the session:
Before She Came…
Before she came, I only thought of what I would NOT be able to do
I would not be the grandmother I had always thought and dreamed.
Before she came there were preconceived ideas about who she would be,
a baby – my first grandchild – healthy to be sure, growing into whatever she could imagine;
and very tall.
Before she came the preparations were like so many others;
Names selected, crib and diaper service; a room made ready for new life.
Before she came our hopes and dreams were in the realm of “normal.”
And then she came – after having a brain hemorrhage in utero,
spending 5 weeks in the NICU,
shattering all our dreams and expectations of “normal”.
A very special gift from God.
Hemiparesis of her right side.
Together we make a complete pair of hands.

It was a remarkably magical time. The three weeks, two hours each Tuesday, flew by. I was entranced by the published, well-written poetry shared by the presenters and intrigued by my response to the challenge to write. Watch for more poetry.

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