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How do you heal?

Our family is in the throes of an unexpected and heart-rending loss. 

I have been thrown into the very material I study and work with in my spiritual care practice. While I knew this multidimensional experience was happening, Rachel Naomi Remen’s book, Kitchen Table Wisdom: The Stories That Heal pointed it out to me very clearly. She writes, “… each of us heals in our own way” (p.18), which seems so obvious yet is so critical to understand. I feel myself having two different experiences—I am in the grief itself and observing the grieving processes of my husband, daughter, and myself. 

None of us is yet at the point of healing. We are caught in the liminal space of grief, and I feel fortunate that I have tools to use and to share for working with the range of thoughts and feelings. We experience the sadness, tears, desire to go back in time, the memories, and the longing. And we also step away in an effort to create a respite or maybe some “normalcy.” Just as Remen writes, I have noticed that we are processing—being rattled by and expressing our grief—using our skills and working with it (with varying degrees of success). I feel especially lucky to have studied grief (of course, there is more work to do), to have been a companion to others experiencing grief, and to have my work inform my experience now. I can understand my thoughts and feelings more easily and have resources and methods for supporting myself and my family.

We all experience loss. Often, it is passed over, unacknowledged, downplayed, or unrecognized. We don’t know how to let grief enter our lives (though sometimes we have no choice as we are overcome by it). There are many reasons—it hurts, we are not well-practiced in the language of expressing our feelings, and it feels like we may not find a way out of the jungle of our feelings if we open ourselves up to it. While it’s understandable to turn away from pain, suffering, tears, loneliness, and more, we must find ways to do so. Fortunately, there are so many resources and opportunities for support. We need courage to find and use them. We must remember to be gentle with ourselves. Grief is not something we “get over.” Over time, we often find a new path forward.

Here are some of the books I’ve discovered. Of course, there are many excellent podcasts, too. (I prefer to linger over passages and so generally prefer reading.)

  • Altars, Day Shildkret
  • Bearing the Unbearable, Joanne Cacciatore
  • Bittersweet, Susan Cain*
  • Finding the Words, Colin Campbell
  • I’m Not a Mourning Person, Kris Carr
  • Grief is Love, Marisa Renee Lew 
  • Sacred Sendoffs, Sarah A. Bowen
  • The Grieving Brain, Mary Frances O’Connor
  • The Wild Edge of Sorrow, Francis Weller

*As you can see, I am a (frequent) visitor to the local library.

Writing/journaling, finding poetry, looking for prayers/blessings/chants, making certain types of impermanent earth art and talismans, and creating rituals (as simple as lighting a candle every day and making space to remember) support my grieving process. I believe that the depth of my grief is a reflection of my love. That is a reminder to me to endeavor to embrace it.

I feel so fortunate to have a close circle of friends with whom I can share. I am also grateful that I have developed the capacity to decide clearly with whom and how I will share my grief. 

This unexpected event clearly points out that I must remember—people carry so much we never see or know about because it is not the time or place, or we are not the people with whom to share their pain, sorrow, or suffering. It reminds me to offer grace, kindness, and compassion as much as possible. 

Making Time to Be Here Now

As I sit down to write this week, I am filled with swirling thoughts and emotions. While I want to share my ideas and questions around my work, to connect with you and be of service, I am also keenly aware of the heaviness in my heart.

I love to focus on what brings me joy and areas that challenge me in my work yet I need to honor this moment in time. I am not just my work. Even when I am working, I bring all of me to everything I do. So I am going to pause now because it feels right.

Perhaps sharing some of the resources that I use to be in-the-moment/present to challenging times, and finding my way through, to tap into the strength to make change—personally, interpersonally, and societally—will be of interest and support to you. Here are some of my tried-and-true, and also a few newer-to-me gems.

Books

  • The Healing Power of the Breath, Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg
  • The Joy of Appreciative Living, Jacqueline Kelm
  • Dynamic Relationships, Jacqueline Stavros & Cheri Torres
  • A Fearless Heart, Thupten Jinpa
  • Radical Compassion, Tara Brach
  • Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg
  • Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman

Magazine and Sites

More Resources

I also use these tools in my work and personal life:

  • Points of You card decks:  The Coaching Game and Punctum—for reflection and insight
  • www.zentangle.com—for peace, calm, joy, beauty

 

It’s my hope that you will add your favorites—books, sites, podcasts (I didn’t even go there!), card decks, and more— so that I may expand my cache of resources. 

If you are curious about any of these resources, please contact me. I am passionate about their impact on my life.


Relief, delight, spaciousness, agency—these are the feelings I experience…

when I look at my calendar this morning. No appointments, calls, or video chats, no classes or deadlines for today! While there’s lots to be done, I am the designer of my day—and I LOVE it! Sure, we all have (varying degrees) of opportunity to shape our days—this one is bliss for me, as I am feeling overstuffed of late. The chance to plan, prepare, and dive into my projects is exhilarating.

What about you? How are you feeling about your days (and evenings)? Have you figured out how to ride the waves of work, opportunity, and connection — both professional and personal?

It’s possible that I’m more in tune with appreciating this unusual circumstance because I am in the middle of taking the course, Developing an Appreciative Mindset offered by the David Cooperrider Institute, and reading, The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm. I am quite consistently conscious of making the time to imagine, reflect upon, and note/journal about what I am grateful for, what will bring me joy, and developing an appreciative eye. This work takes me back to my life-changing experience in Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching program, in 2004. His book, Authentic Happiness, and the work in the program made many of the practices integral to both my professional and personal lives. 

What do you know about your strengths? How are you leveraging them during this topsy-turvy time? If you haven’t taken the Strengths survey at The VIA Character Institute, I can’t say enough great things about it! It’s free, requires maybe 15 minutes of your time, and yields valuable and actionable information—even if it just confirms your thinking! It’s what you do with the results that can make a huge difference in your life.

I noticed that my results had changed just a wee bit since 2004…

My strengths—now and then!

A snippet from Our Family Tree of Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the EuViz 2014 Conference in Berlin, Understanding the Light and Dark Sides of Our Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years, in my consulting, training, and volunteer board work, I have used the survey results to help people nurture greater understanding of themselves and others, to leverage strengths of teams.

The strengths survey results of the 2014 IFVP board members.

 

The strengths survey results of NPower interns

What would be possible for you, if you were to consciously and consistently, use your strengths? Can you imagine it?

I LOVE these kinds of conversations! If you take the survey and want to chat about your results—and how to work with them in your life, let’s do it! All my coaching clients complete and reflect on the survey results before we start our formal work together. Click here to join me for a complimentary coaching session.

Visual Note-Making—My Newest Self-Reflection Tool!

I came to the realization slowly… after I had written and drawn all my thoughts. The ideas, questions, concerns, and feelings of frustration, curiosity, and uncertainty were still fresh for me. Once I stepped back from my drawing and realized that I was using it as a reflection and self-coaching tool, I had to chuckle!

Templates, creating vision maps (hand-drawn, as different from visions boards {though I do that too and LOVE it}), and capturing coaching client sessions by graphically recording them (for my notes of the experience) are all in my wheelhouse… but I had never done this before. Sure, I used mindmaps and other visuals to plan or capture, but this was different. This literally helped me see my thinking and feelings, enabling me to have great clarity about my personal experience in a meeting and to begin to determine if I wanted to continue being a part of the group for future meetings. It was AWESOME! I do this all the time with clients and had NEVER done it for myself. How crazy is that?!

I want to know—do you use your visual practitioner skills for yourself? As you can tell, I am not talking about using visuals for visioning or planning or creating agendas (all great uses of our skills) instead I mean using thinking and drawing as a reflection tool?

When I got over the shock of realizing I had used my favorite tool on myself, I remember that for about three months, many years ago, instead of journaling about my days, I drew mindmaps of my days. It was super fun and fast… Alas, because I did it close to bedtime, the habit didn’t last that long… I am a morning gal and sometimes fall asleep with a coffee cup in my hand.

In practice, journaling spanning my years and experiences…

In thinking more about this, because I am excited to do more of it, I’m reminded of one of my tasks in my current coursework on Appreciative Inquiry from the David Cooperrider Institute. We just read about the importance of journaling in a Forbes article.

I have many journals, spanning from my teen years to college and graduate school requirements for my teaching credentials.

As a Points of You trainer, I journal all the time about the cards and spreads I work with from the deck.

I’m also reminded of a coaching session that I did with my colleague, Erin Randall. She was the impetus for me starting very successful bikablo programming in Austin, Texas. In the coaching session, she asked me to draw what I was thinking—and it was HARD! I was unclear about my own thinking and that made representing it particularly challenging. In the more recent instance, I’m writing about, it was so much easier because I had a jumble of thoughts, feeling, and needs that just need an avenue of expression.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, in an effort to practice both my drawing skills and integrate more of nonviolent communication into my work, I have been capturing (through drawing/in single panel/comic format) moments between people that demonstrate or indicate their feelings and the needs behind them. I have quite the little collection of files cards with drawings… I see this as another form of journaling… though maybe I am stretching the word too far?

 

 

In essence, I am fired up again about the possibility of journaling using my visual practitioner skills—what fun!

How about you? Do you use your tools for yourself, your personal reflection? Please share if you do! If you want to chat about this, let’s do it!