Monday, December 21, 2009
I attended a beautiful winter solstice event last night in Windham. There was poetry, prayer, meditation, dancing and beautiful music. The winter solstice has become a sacred reminder to me of the importance of honoring both the cycles of nature as well as those that occur in our own lives such as sleeping and waking, working and resting, embracing and letting go. And then there is the miracle that occurs each and every morning - the dawning of the light following the deep darkness of night.
The solstice above all else symbolizes this to me - the promise that light will always follow darkness. If we are patient and open we will discover that so much can be illuminated by the darkess, and great wisdom comes forth in the silence...
"No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning
red in the palms while
the night wind carries
everything away outside.
All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
round every living thing.
What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
What we strive for
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
and then nourishes
What we hate
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.
Even with the summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.
All those years
listening to those
nothing to say.
All those years
has its own voice
All those years
you can belong
simply by listening.
And the slow
is born from
Silence and winter
has led me to that
So let this winter
for the new life
I must call my own.
By David Whyte
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
- Christine Kane
This past Sunday I crafted an almost perfect day. A quiet morning with a period of brief meditation and journaling, a long winter walk in the afternoon followed by a good book before a blazing fire, a meal of homemade aromatic stew and delicious healthy muffins, and a soul nourishing visit with a very special friend. Nothing extraordinary, just a whole lot of wonderful ordinary thoughtfully placed upon my canvas - a work of art...
Friday, December 11, 2009
National Crisis Helpline:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Calling a warm line
Mental Health Crisis Line:
Grief Recovery Helpline:
Crisis Hotline for the Physically & Mentally Challenged
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Above is a powerful 14 minute speech delivered by Nick Unger on the health care reform bill. He asks a question that each and every one of us needs to answer, "what kind of country do we want to be?" You can read a transcript of the speech at the Universal Health Care Action Network website.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I watched one of my very favorite movies this weekend, Harold and Maude, which was released in the early seventies. I try and watch it at least once a decade and always with friends.
Harold is a depressed and death obsessed adolescent who meets and falls in love with Maude, an elderly free spirit who is about to turn eighty and will teach him a tremendous amount about life and love and the wonder of it all. Among the many junkets of wisdom she shares with Harold is, "A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They're just backing away from life. *Reach* out. Take a *chance*. Get *hurt* even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room."
If you're willing to overlook the ending and travel lightly with the two zany main characters then it's a very special movie. It reminds us that life is to be savored at any and every age and that as Betty Friedan asserts, "Aging is not 'lost youth' but a new stage of opportunity and strength."
Thursday, November 12, 2009
You can watch the program on demand at: http://www.mpbn.net/OnDemand/Makingense/tabid/1024/Default.aspx
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
"On call 24 hours a day for the past five years, a group of senior citizens has made history by greeting over 900,000 American troops at a tiny airport in Bangor, Maine. The Way We Get By is an intimate look at three of these greeters as they confront the universal losses that come with aging and rediscover their reason for living. Bill Knight, Jerry Mundy and Joan Gaudet find the strength to overcome their personal battles and transform their lives through service. This inspirational and surprising story shatters the stereotypes of today's senior citizens as the greeters redefine the meaning of community."
The 2 plus minute trailer is heart warming and inspirational...
Friday, October 23, 2009
Foreign correspondent for The Washington Post, T.R. Reid, traveled around the world trying to find an affordable health care system for the United States. In his book, The Healing of America, Reid convincingly argues that an effective universal health care system in the United States is possible. The above video is a brief interview with Reid.
To learn more, check out the following:
5 Myths About Health Care Around the World
Excerpt from The Healing of America
The Healing of America on Fora Tv
Frontline: Sick Around the World (Can the US learn anything from the rest of the world about how to run a health care system?)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Teen Art Tuesday will allow teens to explore various styles of art and to work with many different media. The projects act as foundations which youth can build upon to create their own personalized masterpieces. Projects ideas include advanced bean mosaics, bookmaking from everyday items, collage art, 3-D photo illusions, t-shirt alterations, and jewelry making. Teens are encouraged to recommend other project ideas as well.
The program runs from 3-6 p.m. in the Teen Room every Tuesday. For more information, stop by the Reference Desk or contact Molly at 513-3004 x 3521 or email@example.com."
Saturday, October 3, 2009
In Circle of Stones: Woman's Journey to Herself, Judith Duerk wrote, “How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you? A place for you to go… a place of women, to help you learn the ways of woman… a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining you and steadying you as you sought to become yourself. A place of women to help you find and trust the ancient flow already there within yourself… waiting to be released… A place of women… How might your life be different?”
When women regularly experience the wisdom, warmth, and acceptance of other women who came together to offer support and to honor one another’s voices through deep listening - the kind of listening that creates “containers of emergence,”[i] lives are eventually transformed.
It’s in a circle of women that we very often come closest to ourselves, discover aspects of our own sacred story mirrored in the story of another; claim our gifts and strengths very often for the first time, and learn to trust the darkness as we fully experience our pain while being held in the hearts of our sisters.
If you are a woman and live within a commutable distance to Lewiston/Auburn, I would like to warmly invite you to join us at the Center for Wisdom’s Women on Tuesday, October 6th from 1:00 to 2:30 for our first wisdom circle. The center is located at 97 Blake Street in Lewiston and is committed to helping women discover their inner resources, pursue life affirming relationships, and develop their potential. Participation in the Wisdom Circle is free.
Rainer Maria Rilke observed, “there is nothing as wise as a circle.” Following are some helpful resources regarding forming and maintaining circles.
[i] Anderson, Sherry Ruth, and Patricia Hopkins, The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women (Bantam, 1992.)
Saturday, September 26, 2009
On Fora TV Micheal Moore talks about his newest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. You can watch the interview here.
Of his movie, Moore writes on his website,
"...I'm gonna show you the stuff the nightly news will rarely show you. Ever meet a pilot for American Airlines on food stamps because his pay's been cut so low? Ever meet a judge who gets kickbacks for sending innocent kids to a private prison? Ever meet someone from the Wall Street Journal who bluntly states on camera that he doesn't much care for democracy and that capitalism should be our only ruling concern?
You'll meet all these guys in "Capitalism." You'll also meet a whistleblower who, with documents in hand, tells us about the million-dollar-plus sweetheart loans he approved for the head of Senate Banking Committee -- the very committee that was supposed to be regulating his lending institution! You'll hear from a bank regulator why Timothy Geithner has no business being our Treasury Secretary. And you'll learn, from the woman who heads up the congressional commission charged with keeping an eye on the bailout money, how Alan Greenspan & Co. schemed and connived the public into putting up their inflated valued homes as collateral -- thus causing the biggest foreclosure epidemic in our history.
There is now a foreclosure filed in the U.S. once every seven-and-half SECONDS.
None of this is an accident, and I name the names others seem to be afraid to name, the men who have ransacked the pensions of working people and plundered the future of our kids and grandkids. Somehow they thought they were going to get away with this, that we'd believe their Big Lie that this crash was caused by a bunch of low-income people who took out loans they couldn't afford. Much of the mainstream media bought this storyline. No wonder Wall Street thought they could pull this off..." Read the rest here
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The Lewiston and Auburn Public libraries have joined together to offer their patrons a wonderful new tool. Career Transitions, a "clear, easy-to-use, self-paced online resource that walks job-seekers through the entire process: from assessing strengths and interests, to exploring new opportunities, to improving their chances of getting a job, to finding and applying for jobs. With Career Transitions LPL and APL cardholders can:
Prepare - build, save, retrieve and update personal career information with a career toolkit
Assess - explore current skills, occupational knowledge and interests and match them with fulfilling career paths
Explore - investigate thousands of career paths, industries, locations and companies
Improve - find educational opportunities and take classes to increase hiring chances
Apply - search job listings from around the country that meet user criteria"
Friday, September 18, 2009
that I find to be both beautiful and powerful entitled, There is a Brokenness.
There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
You can visit her website at http://rashani.com/
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
We're born to create, each and every one of us. I’m not necessarily talking about painting, or poems or novels, although I am talking about works of art. Each of us makes the painful and profound journey down our mother’s dark birth canal and onto a waiting canvas. That canvas is our lives.
We’re not presented at birth with our fair share of resources, nurturing, or opportunities upon our arrival, but we do each receive all that we require in the way of teachers. These teachers school our souls even while at the same time they may break our hearts.
Frederick Buechner in, Our Fiction or our Faith wrote, “There is something deep within us, in everybody, that gets buried and distorted and confused and corrupted by what happens to us. But it is there as a source of insight and healing and strength. I think that is where art comes from.”
Our once empty canvas doesn’t promise beauty or wisdom or meaning. An empty canvas doesn’t promise much. But the world that holds it is overflowing with possibility, more than enough for us to create meaning, and beauty, and wisdom.
It’s entirely up to us.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
“…How can we be in touch with suffering and work to transform it, but not react in ways that lead to further suffering?
…One of the most powerful images in the teachings of the Buddha – the image of the ‘two arrows’ helps us to clarify the nature of suffering and how we might learn to open to suffering without creating further suffering. It also suggests an important and precise distinction between what we might call pain and suffering.
We can imagine, the Buddha says, that when we experience pain, it is as if we were shot by an arrow. Each of us is sometimes shot by this arrow of pain. We each have a certain allotment of painful experiences, some of us more, others less. To be human is to be vulnerable to pain and at times to be in pain. Our soft bodies are easily injured and tend to break down over time. We are frequently startled and shocked – physically, emotionally, and mentally. We want meaning and connection, kindness and love, fairness and justice, yet we often find them lacking in our lives.
Typically, because of this first arrow of pain, we react in various ways. According to the Buddha, our reaction is equivalent to being shot by a second arrow. We can call this second arrow suffering. Suffering arises because when we experience pain –when we experience pain – when we are injured or startled, or lack meaning and love, or are treated unjustly – we typically react by lashing out, at ourselves and others. We believe somehow that this will dispel or mitigate the pain. We act in such a way that a second arrow is shot, at us or others, on account of the pain of the first arrow. When we act so that the second arrow is shot, we ‘pass on’ the original pain.
Suffering can thus be seen in large part as a kind or resistance or reaction to the pain of the present moment. We tend to react physically, emotionally, and/or mentally when we have unpleasant or painful physical sensations, emotions, or thoughts. When we experience physical pain, we tend to tense and contract around the pain, as if this will somehow assuage it. Some doctors say that perhaps 80 percent of what patients exper ience as physical pain is not the result of the original stimulus bur rather ongoing resistance to this stimulus.
Similarly, when there is emotional pain (think of the pain that may follow from a perceived slight by someone close to us or the breakup of an intimate relationship) we tend to comment at great length, produce a flow of emotions, and react physically as well, all on the basis of the original stimulus. We may generate anger and harsh judgments of self or others or rationalize continually, sulk in depression, find a scapegoat, or attempt to escape the pain through food, shopping, sex, or television…
…For the Buddha… the task of spiritual practice is not to rid ourselves of all pain, to prevent being shot by the first arrow. Rather, our core intention is to not shoot this second arrow."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Following are a list of links to resources on mindfulness.
Links on mindfulness
- Mindfulness: The Health and Stress Relief Benefits
- Mindfulness Meditation: Reducing Anxiety by Focusing on the Present Moment
- Lotus Therapy
- Mindfulness Meditation for Alcohol Relapse Prevention
- Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression
- The Mindful Way Through Depression
- Mindfulness with Jon-Kabat-Zinn
- Learn Mindfulness
- What is Mindfulness Meditation?
- Mindfulness Meditation and Back Pain
- Mindful Meditations
- A Moment of Calm
- Mindfulness Guided Meditation with Deepak Chopra
- Mindfulness Meditation Exercise
- Mindfulness Practice Center
- Guided Mindfulness Meditation
- Mindfulness, Stress Reduction and Healing
- Coming to Our Senses by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Neuroscience of Meditation
- We Live Love Mindfully
Sunday, August 16, 2009
In the introduction to her book Fortgang writes, "As I look back at the time I have spent working with people, the yearning for "more" has undergone a transformation. In the late 80s and early 90s, people's definition of more was more money and more status... And now, it seems we've come around to recognize that what we wanted along from "more" was fulfillment: feeling satisfied and finding meaning... I welcome you to an exciting (and sometimes scary) exploration that will reveal the truth - the truth about what you really want, about who you really are, and about what you are really capable of..."
Saturday, August 15, 2009
"Repower America, a national grassroots movement affiliated with the Alliance for Climate Protection, will hold a public informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, at the Auburn Public Library.
Delia Gorham, an organizer for the regional chapter called Repower Maine, will explain the organization's goals, the progress of the American Clean Energy and Security Act and ways to take action in the community. The need to maintain open and ongoing conversations about issues is one of the main points. The Alliance for Climate Protection is an outgrowth of Al Gore's film 'An Inconvenient Truth.' "
You can visit the Maine page of the national site at: http://act.repoweramerica.org/us/maine
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
There's a lot of misinformation out there, and people are, not surprisingly, starting to get pretty nervous. There will be lots of different things we can do this month to fight back, and it's really important that we do what we can.
You can sign up here:
For more information about health care, watch:
a 3 minute explanation of why we need health care reform and a short summary of proposed solutions, watch why we need health care reform.
a 3 minute explanation of why health insurance is so expensive
a 2 minute explanation of consumer driven health care
Friday, July 31, 2009
A few observations made by de Botton:
“Pick up any newspaper or magazine, open the TV, and you'll be bombarded with suggestions of how to have a successful life. Some of these suggestions are deeply unhelpful to our own projects and priorities - and we should take care.”
“We may seek a fortune for no greater reason than to secure the respect and attention of people who would otherwise look straight through us.”
You can listen to a brief (2 minutes and 35 seconds) comment on happiness, ambition and wealth
You can also watch an excellent six part documentary entitled, "A Guide to Happiness" presented by de Botton here.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
George Gerbner, journalist and professor of communications, observed that the people who tell the stories are the ones who have the greatest influence on how we live and how our children will grow up. Not so long ago, considering the vast history of human kind, we received most of our stories from trustworthy elders who had our best interests at heart. Today, profit driven media has become our primary storyteller. By the time American children graduate from high school, it’s been estimated that they’ve been exposed to a minimum of 360,000 advertisements, and on average, by the time we die, most Americans will have spent an entire year of our lives watching television commercials. When we stop to consider what the message of this incredibly pervasive story teller has been, it's not too difficult to appreciate how much soul the American story has lost, and how much of our soul has been silenced by a story heard thousands of times every day across America, a story whose constant refrain is, “buy me."
Psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, observed that his work as a healer didn’t truly begin until he recognized that the key to comprehending ourselves resided in our stories. Jung also maintained that until each of us actively shaped and lived the unique story that resided at our core, our lives would lack the direction and meaning that we long for. If we lose our story, or fail to live it, cautioned Jung, ultimately the very direction and purpose of our lives would slip away. I wonder how much of my own story has been lost to America’s dominant and all pervasive story – a story that I was born into and to which I have had few authorship rights.
And then there's the story I was introduced to in training to be a psychotherapist. A story that stressed that the 'patient' is sick or broken and needs to be fixed, rather than that this unique and special person is in process and is responding to the world in which he or she lives. It was also a story that identified the therapist as the 'expert,' instead of a companion and ally - one with wounds of his or her own.
James Hillman in, "We've Had A Hundred Years of Psychotherapy," bravely (and outrageously according to many psychotherapists) declared that most psychotherapy models do something vicious to the people whom they are meant to serve. They internalize emotion. How? By so often turning the rage and pain brought on by the injustice, chaos, inequity, aggression, alienation, consumerism, and so much more that surrounds and diminishes us into personal demons and inadequacies. For instance, offers Hillman, imagine that a client has arrived at his therapist's office shaken and outraged. While driving his fuel efficient and compact car, he's just come very close to being run off the road by a speeding trailer truck. The outcome of this scenario, asserts Hillman, all too often leads to an exploration of how the truck reminds the client of being pushed around by his father, or that he's always felt vulnerable and fragile, or maybe he’s furious that he isn't as powerful as 'the other guy.' The therapist ends up converting the client's stress (in response to an external experience) into anxiety - an inner state. The well meaning therapist has also managed to transmute the present into the past (the client’s anger and fear is really about unresolved issues from childhood); and transforms the client's outrage about (the chaos, the craziness, the dangers, etc of the client's outer world) into rage and hostility. Thus, the client's pain regarding the external world has once again been turned inward. It's become pathology.
Hillman explains, "Emotions are mainly social. The word comes from the Latin ex movere, to move out. Emotions connect to the world. Therapy introverts the emotions, calls fear 'anxiety.' You take it back, and you work on it inside yourself. You don't work psychologically on what that outrage is telling you about potholes, about trucks, about Florida strawberries in Vermont in March, about burning up oil, about energy policies, nuclear waste, that homeless woman over there with the sores on her feet - the whole thing."
After over two decades as a psychotherapist, and almost a half a century as an American citizen, I've come to appreciate Hillman's wisdom. He maintains that a significant amount of what therapists have been trained to view as individual pathology, is often an indication of the sickness that exists within our culture. In doing this, laments Hillman, "We continue to locate all symptoms universally within the patient rather than also within the soul of the world. Maybe the system has to be brought into line with the symptoms so that the system no longer functions as a repression of the soul, forcing the soul to rebel in order to be noticed."
The Narrative therapist might call Hillman’s perspective about therapy an ‘alternative story’. When we begin to explore and acknowledge both our alternative and preferred stories, we're entering into a creative process where we lay claim to our authorship rights. Our alternative stories, unlike the dominant cultural stories that we were all too often conditioned to accept without question, evolve from our own personal experiences and values. During this process of exploration, evaluation, and creation, we’re no longer simply 'readers' of our story, we become writers too.
From here, where we begin to openly critique and dismantle the dominant stories that we have not only lived, but that have come to live inside of us, we finally become free to envision a story that has personal meaning and integrity to us. During this tumultuous and pivotal time in our country’s continuously evolving story, it may be more important now then ever that we ask ourselves the following questions, “is the story that I am currently living the story that I want to live? “Is this an honorable story?” Does my current story privilege community or competition, sustainability or excess, money or meaning, power or love?” “What are the essential themes of the American story that I no longer wish to participate in, and which themes do I want my story to embrace as an American?”
Monday, July 20, 2009
The Century of the Self is a documentary that explores "the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty" including how effectively Americans are manipulated by corporations. Are you in charge of your own desires? Watch the documentary here and then think again...
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Sandel asserts that, "We live in a time of financial crisis and economic hardship – everybody knows that – but we also live in a time of great hope for moral and civic renewal…Whatever reforms may emerge, one thing is clear: the better kind of politics we need is a politics oriented less to the pursuit of individual self-interest and more to the pursuit of the common good. That at least is the case I shall try to make in these lectures. A new politics of the common good isn’t only about finding more scrupulous politicians. It also requires a more demanding idea of what it means to be a citizen, and it requires a more robust public discourse – one that engages more directly with moral and even spiritual questions."
I could not agree more....
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
This past winter I watched "The Secret Life of Bees" with my mother, daughter, niece, and sister. I loved the book and was equally touched by the movie. It felt particularly special to be sharing this film with the women in my family as two primary themes of both the book and movie had to do with the sacred feminine and the enduring love of families. What made "The Secret Life of Bees" the most significant to me was that it was my first exposure to the Black Madonna. Images of the black Madonna have known to exist in numerous European countries since as early as 50 AD.
In an interview with Heidi Schlumpf about the Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd shares, "It's about a girl who has lost her mother and who finds these women who teach her about a Black Madonna A Black Madonna or Black Virgin is a statue or painting of Mary in which she is depicted with dark or black skin. This name applies in particular to European statues or pictures of a Madonna which are of special interest because her dark face and hands seem to need and love her into healing. Lily's great quest was for her mother, but not only for an earthly mother. It took me a while to understand this as I wrote it, that she was longing--as most all of us are--for a larger mother. We're all really looking for that great mother.
So there were two quests going on--one, for the actual mother, whose loss had left this terrible hole in her. I don't know about that particular quest personally because my own mother is still alive at the age of 82. But as I was writing I understood that I did know about that other longing for this larger, we could say, spiritual mother. In the book I let the Black Madonna carry all that."
Heidi: "What exactly are Black Madonnas?"
Sue Monk Kidd: "There are hundreds of these images of dark-skinned Black Madonnas in Europe, and they are some of the most ancient images we have of Mary. The most well known is probably Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland. Many of them are in great Gothic cathedrals, like Chartres, France, often in the crypts.
There are a lot of inventive speculations about why they are black. Some people have said it's about candle smoke (I think that theory has been more or less rejected), but some scholars believe they are black because they have connections to pre-Christian goddesses, many of whom are pictured black. Their history suggests that there may have been a kind of underground nerve center for worshiping the divine feminine within the medieval church, and it often came through in the Black Madonna.
If that is the case, we've got a very powerful amalgamation going on, a blending of the Christian Mary and these old earth goddesses. And there's an amalgamation going on not just in her history, but in her spirituality, in her mythology, in the stories that evolve around her and in the way people relate to her...People ask, "Who was the queen bee in the story? Was it the Black Madonna?" It really alternated. Sometimes it was August, who stood in as that earthly Black Madonna. Sometimes it was the Black Madonna reflected in the masthead. But ultimately as I tried to portray in the end of the novel, it's something within us. As August said to Lily, you have to find that mother inside yourself."
In The Hidden Spirituality of Men, Episcopalian priest and author, Matthew Fox when writing about one aspect of the black Madonna observes, "The black Madonna calls us to grieve. The black Madonna is the sorrowful mother, the mother who weeps tears for the suffering in the universe, the suffering in the world, the brokeness of our very vulnerable hearts... She invites us to enter into our grief and name it and be there to learn what suffering has to teach us. Creativity cannot happen, birthing cannot happen, unless we pay attention to the grieving heart. Only by passing through grief can creativity burst forth anew. Grieving is an emptying, it is making the womb open again for new birth to happen..." Fox offers several other descriptions of the black Madonna archetype and what she calls us to do in the twenty- first century which you can read online at “The Return of the Black Madonna" however his observations connecting her to the transformative possibilities inherent in grief are especially meaningful to me.
Friday, June 26, 2009
You may also want to pay a visit to the website, Slow Movement which "supports a growing cultural shift towards slowing down. On this site we discuss how we have lost connection to most aspects of our life and to the natural world and rhythms around us, and how we can reconnect – how we can live a connected life. The Slow Movement is a worldwide movement to recapture Meaningful Connection this state of connectedness. The movement is gaining momentum, as more and more people recognize their discomfort at the fast pace and disconnected nature of their lives."
Monday, June 22, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
A middle aged professional shared with me that he had run into an old acquaintance recently who asked him where he was working these days. His shoulders automatically drooped and his jaw tightened as he answered with more than a little embarrassment, “Well, I’m not working anywhere at the moment, I’ve been laid off.” I was saddened and unsettled by his response. Although, yes, in fact, he was currently unemployed, his answer wasn’t true. He was deeply engaged with his work. He had created an abundant and beautiful organic garden, filled with a variety of vegetables and bordered by perennial flowers. He was engrossed in research on sustainable living, an issue he had always cared about but had never had the time to actively pursue, and he had become involved with a group of activists lobbying for health care reform. In a culture where what one does for a job appears to have become the primary measurement of a man’s success, the story my ‘unemployed’ friend had begun telling about his own life had become tragically distorted.
Beldon Lane in The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality quotes an old man in William Least Heat Moon’s book, Blue Highways who asserted,
“A man’s never out of work if he’s worth a damn. It’s just sometimes he doesn’t get paid. I’ve gone unpaid my share and I’ve pulled my share of pay. But that’s got nothing to do with working. A man’s work is doing what he’s supposed to do, and that’s why he needs a catastrophe now and again to show him a bad turn isn’t the end, because a bad stroke never stops a good man’s work.”
Lane makes an important distinction in his book between our jobs and our work. In our jobs, points out Lane, we attend to what needs tending to for money, with our work, we attend to what matters the most to us.
There are so many stories told every day about Americans who have found themselves without jobs through no fault of their own, and while these stories sadden me for a multitude of reasons, I’m also captivated by the stories we are not telling. I am referring to those stories that have nothing to do with stock prices, the gross national product, unemployment figures, or our national debt. I’m referring to stories about those who are unemployed and who are providing loving care to fragile and elderly parents and even neighbors, who are volunteering, involving themselves in local politics to an extent that they never had time for before, who are changing lives and even in some cases helping to revise and strengthen entire communities.
There may be fewer jobs available, but there is no less work to be done. In fact, it feels to me as though there is more work then ever before. Lets not underestimate for a moment the tremendous value of those who are doing so much of this work -- the unemployed.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
All too often when facing a dilemna we fail to trust the wisdom that exists within each of us. Instead, many of us secretly yearn for an all knowing teacher who can provide us with the perfect answers and protect us from making mistakes. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, points out that life itself is our finest teacher, "Life is the teacher that shows up when the student is ready... Life is often the only teacher we are given that is perfect in every way."
Estes reiminds us that our own lives are a source of tremendous wisdom -- our memories, our experiences, our mistakes, our disapointments, our struggles, our pain - every single thing that serves to make up our lives holds valuable lessons than can and will provide enourmous guidance if only we open ourselves up to them.
Frederick Buechner advised, " "Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
Resolve to listen to your life, to settle deeply into those teachable and precious moments that are offered up to you, and prepare when ever possible to harvest them.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The logical next step would be to consider how you might regain what you've lost touch with. There are countless gifts that accompany dancing with abandon, singing your heart out, allowing yourself to be completely absorbed in a story while fully open to its lessons, and able to embrace silence as a trusted companion.
So how about if each time you have some time alone you do at least one of the following:
Dance around the house
Spend some time outdoors listening to the wind
Sing your heart out
Write in your journal
Draw in your journal
Create a collage
Close your eyes and spend 5 minutes quietly following your breath
Work on your memoir
Close your eyes and listen to meditative or soul expanding music
Read a short story someone recommended
Get in touch with the one who still lives inside of you who used to burst into song and dance spontaneously and who unreservedly believed in magic...
Friday, June 5, 2009
The Men's Room is a weekly talk show on men available for viewing online. Thus far the show has covered topics such as:
Boys and Rites of Passage
Men and Depression
Mentoring for Boys
Images of Men
Men and Happiness
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Moving increases the risk of suicide in adolescents.
Group Therapy Prevents Depression in Teens
Friday, May 29, 2009
The other catastrophe according to Brewi and Brennan would be to embrace our shadows while at the same time rejecting much of what we've valued up until this point, deeming most of our past choices to be the wrong ones, and the 'self' that we've presented to the world up until this point as an impostor. Those of us who respond to our shadows by abandoning all of the now rejected old, in order to be completely free to experiment with the more titillating new, often sabotage their development and risk catastrophic losses.
Psychotherapist, James Dolan, suggests that one of the most obvious ways that we can detect the presence of the shadow is in the simmering depression that haunts so many of us. This depression, from his perspective, is connected to our sorrow, our regret, our resentment, our lost dreams, our creativity, and so many other facets of ourselves that we've denied.
Finding oneself is not purely about embracing the desired, or rejecting the unpleasant. Instead, it's about examination and integration -- exploring what fits, letting go of what no longer works, embracing the gifts that we've lost or abandoned, and weaving the various strands of the self together to create a whole and unified tapestry.
The years following young adulthood offer as many (if not more) prospects for growth than our often romanticized youth promised. Opening ourselves up to these possibilities by reclaiming or modifying old visions or by creating new dreams fosters hope, discovery and renewal. Focusing on what did not/ might have/ could have/ should have/ and should not have been only leads to prolonged and unnecessary suffering.
It's impossible to arrive at midlife without being scarred. In "Listening to Midlife" Mark Gerzon points out, "None of us reaches the second half whole... Our health depends on beginning to heal these wounds and finding greater wholeness - and holiness in the second half of our lives."
The process of healing past wounds and reclaiming lost gifts can often be a painful one, and yet when we proceed with wisdom and integrity, it is always a sacred journey.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Recommnendations for those suffering from insomnia by those who conduceted the study include but are not limited to:
1. Don't read, watch television, worry, etc. in bed, bed time should only be sleep time.
2. If you are unable to sleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and return to bed only when you're sleepy again.
3. Establish a wake up time that is the same time each morning, don't plan on getting up at 7:00 one morning, 9:00 the next, 7:00 the next, etc.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
regarding diagnosed cases, prevention strategies, and treatment. There is also a general public call in number, 1-888-257-0990 or 207-629-5751.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Suffering is initiation into our deeper creativity...
The definition of courage is comprised of two French words meaning "wise heart."
To overcome our fear it's helpful to connect with what we love and cherish.
Our culture fails to appreciate the value of the void, we're always trying to fill it up.
Wisdom brings heart and mind together.
Men have to recover their warrior nature (huge difference between warrior and soldier.)
Christ, Gandhi, King were all warriors.
The warrior is a lover and a mystic.
"Don't give a loaded gun to young men who have not yet learned to dance."
The love of death (necrophilia) grows when the love of life (biophilia) is stunted.
Wildness is the wellspring of creativity
Clarissa Pinkola Estes asserts that creativity (and the wild woman) lives in the gut and not in the head
The love of life and the grief of life give birth to creativity
The first level of grief is anger
Our universe is completely committed to birthing and creativity
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
MacEowen quotes Soren Kierkegard who cautioned, "Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness that would have me; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thoughts so burdensome that one cannot 'walk' way from it."
Walking on a regular basis is therapeutic on a number of levels. It releases endorphins (the 'feel good' chemicals in your brain, and natural pain killers), reduces risk factors related to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, improves mood and relieves stress.
Following are some helpful links:
Walking in Nature to Promote the Health of the Mind, Body and Spirit
Healthy Maine Walks
Best Walking in Maine
Monday, April 27, 2009
How might our lives be different if we held them lovingly, recognizing each moment as sacred, each life a precious gift...
You can listen to an interview with him entitled, "the stewardship of pain" here.
Friday, April 24, 2009
" I have spent most of my life exploring the hinterlands of the hidden self, and when the time was right, I made the north – the mythological direction governing birth and death; the body and nature; growth, creativity and silence – my own.”
She also wrote, "Still, the last decade of the millennium was more for me the beginning of ten years of wandering in a small wilderness, and it would change me for good. It is not that I found myself in the sparse wilderness of Monomoy, but rather that I lost myself there, in the intricate elegance and uncompromising energy of nature.”
For me, Maine fits her description of the North perfectly and offers us opportunities to be both lost and found.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
According to Gallagher, signs exist all around us suggesting that we long to reconnect with our natural environment. In exploring our growing attraction to nature-based activities, as well as the benefits of such endeavors, Gallagher cites a study conducted by Stephen and Rachel Kaplan who concluded that nature has a profoundly positive impact on both mental and physical health. Acts as simple as listening to a bubbling brook, feeling a gentle breeze ruffle your hair, lifting your face to the sun, following the flight of a butterfly, each of these experiences can be soothing and restorative.
Psychologist and researcher, Marc Fried, found after identifying the significant factors that enhance the quality of our lives that while the strongest predictor of life satisfaction was a good marriage, the immediate surrounding (the natural environment in particular) rated as the second strongest predictor. Not everyone is graced by a garden in the backyard, a beautiful view, or a park nearby. However, most of us can bring some degree of nature home by including live plants or fresh flowers in their living and work spaces.
According to Sam Keen, in Hymns to an Unknown God, the organization of the human soul reflects the world in which it is contained. He observes further that most of us have been cut off from our natural environment, working at desks and confined to artificially cooled and heated buildings for much of our lives. Keen believes that in order to sustain spiritual health we require expansive views, close contact with the elements of nature, the wind, water, the sun, lightening storms, and "the reassuring sight of something that grows from seed to maturity."
On this beautiful, warm and sunny Earth day in Maine I prepare to head outside to count my blessings...
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"the world is sick; it needs healing, it is speaking through us, and it speaks the loudest through the most sensitive of us."
Following are quotes from the book, " Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth Healing the Mind."
"...the trauma endured by thechnological people like ourselves is the sytemic and systematic removal of our lives from the natural world: from the tendrils of earthy textures, from the rhythms of sun and moon, from the spirits of the bears and trees, from the life force itself. This is also the systemic and systematic removal of our lives from the kinds of social and cultural experiences our ancestors assumed when they lived in rhythm with the natural world."
"Our enormously productive economy... demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption ... we need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing rate... "
"Psychological evidence shows that the relationship between consumption and personal happiness is weak. Worse, two primary forces of human fulfillment - social relations and leisure - appear to have withered or stagnated in the rush to riches. Thus many in the consumer society have a sense that their world of plenty is somehow hollow - that, hoodwinked by a consumer culture, they have been fruitlessly attempting to satisfy with material things what are essentially social, psychological, and spiritual needs."
Alan Thein Durning
Friday, April 17, 2009
I came across a wonderful collection of articles some time ago collected and published by Cross Currents, a publication and global network sponsored by The Association for Religion and Intellectual Life. You can view these articles online here . They include:
Trees, Forestry, and the Responsiveness of CreationBrian J. Walsh, Marianne B. Karsh, and Nik Ansell
The Greening of Buddhist PracticeKenneth Kraft
The Gaia Hypothesis: Implications For a Christian Political Theology of the EnvironmentStephen B. Scharper
Islam and EcologyMarjorie Hope and James Young
Ethics and Trauma: Levinas, Feminism, and Deep EcologyRoger S. Gottlieb
Christianity and The Survival of CreationWendell Berry
Eucharistic Ecology and Ecological SpiritualityBeatrice Bruteau
Mountains Made Alive: Native American Relationships With Sacred LandEmily Cousins
On The Wings of a Blue HeronPaul O. Ingram
Re-conceiving God and Humanity in Light ofToday's Ecological Consciousness: A Brief StatementGordon D. Kaufman
Global Requiem: The Apocalyptic Moment in Religion, Science, and ArtJack Miles
The Ecotheology of Annie Dillard: A Study in AmbivalencePamela A. Smith
Green Lap, Brown Embrace, Blue Body: The Ecospirituality of Alice WalkerPamela A. Smith
The Green Face of God: Christianity in an Age of EcocideMark I. Wallace
And the Earth Is Filled with the Breath of LifeArthur Waskow
Most of the above articles are written in sophisticated language and are not simple reading however, their messages are worth the time and energy expended in absorbing them.
These messages include but are not limited to:
1. The need for us to recognize and address what Thomas Berry has defined as our "cultural autism" and to develop an ability to 'hear' the voices of creation once again.
2. The significance of the Gaia hypothesis and it's implications for our culture.
3. The earth's crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis
4. Many of us are traumatized by the growing threats to our world
5. The view of our earth as a eucharistic planet (the true presence of the divine) has existed in almost every culture in the world in one form or another and reclaiming this view is essential for the protection of our world.
6. Learning about Native American religious traditions can help non-Natives as they offer a model for developing a spiritual relationship with the land.
7. If we look at hell as a metaphor then, "hell is land that has no spirits to claim it." (Mamie Salt)
8. Religious life and the earth's ecology are inextricably connected.
9. The importance of a biohistorical perpective of being human , one that emphasizes "our deep embeddedness in the web of life on planet Earth." (Gordon Kaufman)
10. The very real possibility that humans might become extinct sooner than anyone imagined offers significant opportunites for spiritual and artistic growth.
11. "In the deepest origins of Jewish life, the most sacred relationship was the relationship with the earth." Arthur Waskow
12. "Earth itself has become the nigger of the world...While the Earth is poisoned, everything it supports is poisoned. While the Earth is enslaved, none of us is free .... While it is `treated like dirt,' so are we." Alice Walker
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Jim Stoltz "a Montana Folk Singer and traveler is bringing his multimedia show, "Forever Wild" to the First Universalist Church of Auburn. In his preformances, Stoltz takes his audience into the wilderness using photography, musc and stories. Named Walkin' Jim for the 27,000 miles he has traveled in the wilds of North America, his lyrics convey his deeply held respect for nature. The show will begin at 1 P.M. and tickets are $10 for adults, free for children. Make reservations by calling (207) 783-0461 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. "
In an article by Zachary Hecht-Leavitton in the College Media Network Jim explained, " "In my show, I combine photography and music and put them together to create a real double-whammy. Art plays to heart. Getting more than one sense working makes for a stronger message and touches people in a more powerful way."
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
How many of us find ourselves at home in the natural world, and how great of a price do those of us who find ourselves estranged from it pay?
Monday, April 13, 2009
Tonight at 7:00 at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth there will be a discussion of an essay and a book, "Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility." The Audubon website offers the following description:
"Three years ago Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger lectured to environmentalists that their movement had outlived its usefulness and must die so that something new could arise. The essay angered many environmentalists, but ignited a much-needed debate over the fate of the environmental movement in the United States. In this follow-up to the original essay, the authors give us an expansive and eloquent manifesto for political change. What Americans really want, and what could serve as the basis for a new politics, is a vision capable of inspiring us to greatness. Making the case for abandoning old categories such as nature vs. market, and left vs. right, the authors articulate a pragmatism fit for our times that has already found champions in such prominent figures as Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama."
It should be both an informative and inspirational evening. Hope to see you there!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Thursday, April 9, 2009
In this six minute video Van Jones talks about how the break down of our economy and the peril to our planet can lead to a break through offering tremendous opportunity. While watching the video, I found myself repeatedly thinking about how wonderful it would be to bring "the green for all" movement here to Lewiston/Auburn.
The folks at Green For All would like those of us in cities and towns across the country to know and then act on the following: " Between now and June, your Mayor and local officials must come up with a plan to secure and implement President Obama's Economic Recovery funds. Does your Mayor have a plan yet? Do you know what that plan is? This may be the most important opportunity you'll ever have to bring green-collar jobs to your community." You can read more here
What are Mayors' Jenkins and Gilberts plans?
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
You can also pay a visit to The Hour Exchange in Portland to learn more about Time Dollar programs in general
Monday, April 6, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
In “The Discovery of the Unconscious,” historian Henri Ellenberger described a process whereby illness in addition to being painful, debilitating, and frightening can also be evolutionary and transformative. He called this phenomenon, ‘creative illness.’ Serious Illness and dis-ease often lead us to confront issues that we haven’t truly faced before, and to ask the kind of questions that seldom (if ever) have easy answers. Today, many of us are earnestly asking questions that we’ve long avoided such as, “what will we need to do differently, more efficiently, sustainably and now as we face global warming?” and, “how must we behave, think, and live differently in order to survive the harsh new economic realities?” Ready or not, we have been launched on a quest -a quest that threatens, challenges, and frightens us.
Quests by definition are initiated by questions, some of which have the potential to distract and overwhelm us, particularly those that are all too often accompanied by complicated and even contradictory answers. Poet Rainer Maria Rilke advised us to love questions, while another poet, Mary Oliver, suggests that there is ultimately only one question that we need to ask ourselves and that is, “how to love this world?”
It’s my belief that the outcome of our collective quest will have a great deal to do with the quality of the questions that we ask ourselves along the way, and I am dearly hoping that through the questions we ask and the courage and integrity required in not only seeking, but then living the answers, we will in the end be stronger, deeper, wiser, and more creative, and that through our questing we will be both transformed and redeemed.