Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On Cultivating Happiness

"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. " Alan K. Chalmers

Bill O'Hanlon , psychotherapist, author, and speaker referred those of us on his mailing list to a wonderful online resource entitled happier.com . Happier.com reports its mission is to "inspire people to be happier." How does it attempt to achieve this mission? They offer exercises, assessments, a blog, and the latest developments and research on achieving and maintaining happiness. I highly recommend that you pay it a visit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sustainable Living and Beat Discontentment

Just read two articles written by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits that I thought might be a good idea to share. They are:

Steps Toward a More Sustainable Life of Less and The Cure for What Ails You: How to Beat the Misery of Discontentment

Less truly can be more, really, trust me....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Meditation on Ruin by Jay Hoppler

The poem "Meditatation on Ruin" by Jay Hoppler featured on The Writer's Almanac today would be a particularly good poem to process in our "quake to quest" group. We each encounter on a regular basis those "unremarkable" frustrations, losses, and wounds to our egos, to our hearts, and to our souls. And yes, over the years they certainly can, and do, contribute to our unraveling. Still, what about those other seemingly inconsequential and uncelebrated moments that are contained within our days - the magical dance of sunlight through a prism, a kind word from a stranger, a rainbow, a starry sky, the sweet embrace of a small child, a warm and delicious meal... What do all of these small gifts amount to, where do they ultimately lead?

I think I'll suggest to the "Quake to Quest" group this evening that we spend some time processing the "Meditation on Ruin" and then engage in an earnest 'Mediation on Blessing.'

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life and Parker Palmer

This morning I was reminded of a wonderful piece of wisdom offered by Parker Palmer. He suggests that "before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen to what it intends to do with you..." Hmmm....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 Best Online Psychology Videos

Sandra Kiume listed what she believes to be the 10 best online psychology videos at Psych Central with links to each video. You may want to check some of them out. I particularly liked Kay Redfield Jamison's talk about her own struggles with bipolar disorder entitled, " An Unquiet Mind: Personal Reflections on Manic-Depressive Illness."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

eat red meat and die prematurely/ Healthy Recipe Alternatives

A study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those of us who are middle aged and older who consume red and processed meat on a daily basis are over 30% more likely to die within the next ten years than those of us who do not. What's the take home message here? According to nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health, Walter Willett, it's to shift from eating red meat to eating white meat such as fish and chicken.

Read the full article published at the Washington Post website here

Want to know where to look for healthy recipes? You can find plenty of them at the following websites:

The food network's Healthy Eating

All Recipes Healthy Cooking

The Mayo Clinic's Healthy Recipes

Cooking Light

Eating Well's Healthy Recipe Collections

Food fit

Monday, March 23, 2009

How About a Common Security Club in Lewiston / Auburn?

People feel more isolated than they used to, they also feel more threatened. The need for small communities that offer both significance and support to its members is increasing on a daily basis.

One hopeful response to this need has been the creation of common security clubs. In short, common security clubs offer members opportunities to explore how they can increase their personal/economic security through shared action and mutual aid, and at the same time develop friendships, have fun, and be inspired.

Chuck Collins, Director of the program Inequality and the Common Good wrote, "This epoch we are living in should be called 'The Borrowed Times.' We have been borrowing from the future to consume today. We have been borrowing from the prosperity and ecological stability of our children. We are eating their seed corn. Together, we must face these realities. Our economy will be very different. We can go two ways: We can retreat into fear, isolation, and scapegoating. Or, we can move toward shared abundance, strengthening what we hold together, collective action."

I vote we move towards shared abundance and collective action, and forming a common security club here in Lewiston/Auburn seems like a very firm step in this direction.

To Learn More about Common Security Clubs you can read:

Common Security Clubs: Working Together to Face Hard times

We're in This Together

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good Books For When Things Feel Bad

"Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled 'This could change your life.'" Helen Exley

Arthur I. Blaustein put together an annotated list of contemporary novels that he believes will "enliven the mind and nourish the soul" and offer us "crucial insights into the moral, social, economic and emotional conflicts that are taking place in communities across America."

You can read his article at OpEdNews here and or view the full annotated list here

Friday, March 20, 2009

Growing a Garden in Lewiston

Some of my fondest memories of childhood involve my grandmother's garden. It was magic. It rendered food. It offered places to hide among the raspberry bushes. It seemed to die every winter, and come back to life each spring. It felt like holy ground. It offered hope.

There are numerous practical reasons why growing a garden in our backyards is a wonderful idea and in addition to those, we need a little magic now more then ever. We need to be reminded that new beginnings follow endings. We need places to hide. We need holy ground. We need hope.

There are terrific resources here in Maine for those of us who need help in establishing and nurturing a garden including:

Lots to Gardens (here in Lewiston!)

Video about Lots to Gardens

Eat Maine Foods

kitchen Gardeners International (based here in Maine!)

Maine Cooperative Extension

The Maine Gardening Forum

Also, On March 28th, (next Saturday) the annual Maine Garden Day workshops will be held in Auburn. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn for both new and experienced gardeners.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happiness is Connected More to What We Do Then What We Have

According to research findings presented by Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University, ultimately it's our experiences (what we do), not our possessions (what we have), that contribute most to our overall happiness. Hmmm... Science reinforcing wisdom...

For more you can read:

Study: Experiences Make us Happier Than Possessions

Money = Happiness, But There's a Catch

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Everything is Amazing, Nobody's Happy

What a beautiful day today -- sun shining, snow melting, spring in the air...
A good day to celebrate the simple pleasures, to say "thank you, and "yes!" A good day to attend to our spiritual lives through practices that integrate gratitude and affirmation and dance and even laughter. And so here's my offering to you today, an opportunity to both laugh and an invitation to ponder some of the 'bigger things'.... Here's a youtube video to watch called, "Everything is Amazing and Nobody's happy"

Have an amazing day, it's hard not to when you open yourself up to the miracles that surround us...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We have a new Calendar of Events

We have a new calendar of events that you can find here It not only lists events that occur at SagePlace but will include other events that we believe might be of interest as well.

NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation : A New Treatment for Major Depression

There's an interesting article and video about NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a new treatment for major depression for people who haven't experienced success with antidepressant medications. You can read more about it here .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Music, Message, and Healing

I have always been a firm believer in the power of music and other forms of art to not only touch, but to even transcend.
Here's just one example. I'll be adding more...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sustainable Consumption

Bill Seitz wrote in response to Umair Haque's article, America's Addiction and the New Economic's of Strategy that, "maybe consumerism is a pathological vacuum-filler compensating for a lack of meaning/engagement/creativity..." I believe there is significant truth in Seitz's statement.

This economic crisis certainly calls for a life filled with far more meanginful activities, civic engagement, and enormous creativity. Questions that I think are important to ask ourselves right now are:

(1) are enough of us going to answer the call?
(2) In addition to asking how we might live with less, we need to consider what will ultimately offer us more of what matters most.

Here are just a few sources that I've been reading lately

Excerpts from Bo Lozoff's book, "It's a Meaningful Life"

Sustainable Consumption: Facts and Trends (an online document available online)

The New Economics of Sustainable Consumption (a book, not available online however you can read an article by one of the authors here )

Friday, March 6, 2009

Troubled Marriages are Bad for Health, So is Divorce

A University of Utah Study found that women in troubled marriages are more likely to not only suffer from depression but also other life threatening conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, meabolic syndrome and more... You can read a summary of this study at WebMD

The National Institute of Mental Health has asserted that, "the single most powerful predictor of stress-related physical as well as emotional illness is marital disruption."

According to Bryce Christianson in In Sickness and in Health: The Medical Costs of Family Meltdown published in Policy Reiview, "Divorced adults are more susceptible to severe emotional and psychological problems, plus early death from an assortment of causes, than for married individuals. The suicide rate for divorced white men, for example, is four times higher than for their married counterparts. The situation for divorced adults is such that Harold Morowitz of Yale University contends, 'Being divorced and a non-smoker is slightly less dangerous than smoking a pack or more a day and staying married." You can read more disturbing facts regarding the health effects of divorce here

So to remain in a troubled marriage poses significant health risks (and I've seen ample evidence of this in my work with clients) and at the same time divorce poses health risks of its own. Considering the evidence as well as the considerable strain that is being placed on marriages today by the troubled economy, I would suggest that more needs to be done to support the creation and maintenance of healthy marriages.

Our response at SagePlace is to offer a support and educational group for couples designed to strengthen relationships. To make this group affordable, there will be no fee, however we will gratefully accept donations. If you're interested in attending, contact us as attendance will be limited.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Upcoming Continuing Education Opportunities for Mental Health Professionals

On Friday, April 3rd, SagePlace will host an all day workshop for mental health professionals entitled, The Use of Ritual and Narrative in Working with the Dying. The workshop will begin at 9:00 and conclude at 4:30.

On Friday, May 1st, SagePlace will host an all day workshop for mental health professionals entitled, From Quake to Quest: Promoting Post Traumatic Growth

As we are committed to supporting mental health and allied health professionals by offering high quality training as well as providing opportunities for growth, renewal and self-care, our workshops are small, occur in a warm and inviting home-like environment, and focus on meting the individual needs of each participant. Because of this commitment, we limit attendance to 10 participants.

To register call: 207-620-0792 or register online by visiting the workshops' webpages which are linked to their prospective titles. Pre-registration is required as attendance is limited to 10 participants.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gordon Brown's speech to Congress

Today prime minister Gordon Brown gave a speech to congress, one that I believe is well worth taking thirty minutes to listen to. Among the many statements that resonated with me were:

"The very creation of America was a bold affirmation of faith in the future, a future you have not just believed in but built with your own hands..."

"on 20 January, you the American people began to write the latest chapter in the American story, with a transition of dignity, in which both sides of the aisle could take great pride. President Obama gave the world renewed hope, and on that day billions of people truly looked to Washington DC as 'a shining city upon a hill'..."

"We have learned through this world downturn that markets should be free but never value-free, that the risks people take should never be separated from the responsibilities they meet..."

"In our families and workplaces and places of worship, we celebrate men and women of integrity who work hard, treat people fairly, take responsibility and look out for others. If these are the principles we live by in our families and neighbourhoods, they should also be the principles that guide and govern our economic life too.
In these days the world has learned that what makes for the good economy makes for the good society..."

"An economic hurricane has swept the world, creating a crisis of credit and of confidence. History has brought us now to a point where change is essential. We are summoned not just to manage our times but to transform them.

Our task is to rebuild prosperity and security in a wholly different economic world, where competition is no longer local but global and banks are no longer just national but international.
And we need to understand what went wrong in this crisis, that the very financial instruments that were designed to diversify risk across the banking system instead spread contagion across the globe. And today's financial institutions are so interwoven that a bad bank anywhere is a threat to good banks everywhere.

So should we succumb to a race to the bottom and a protectionism that history tells us that, in the end, protects no one? No, we should have the confidence that we can seize the opportunities ahead and make the future work for us. ..."

And so I say to this Congress and this country, something that runs deep in your character and is woven in your history, we conquer our fear of the future through our faith in the future.
And it is this faith in the future that means we must commit to protecting the planet for generations that will come long after us. As the Greek proverb says, why does anybody plant the seeds of a tree whose shade they will never see?

The answer is because they look to the future.

And I believe that you, the nation that had the vision to put a man on the moon, are also the nation with the vision to protect and preserve our planet earth.

And it is only by investing in environmental technology that we can end the dictatorship of oil, and it is only by tackling climate change that we create the millions of new green jobs we need
For the lesson of this crisis is that we cannot just wait for tomorrow today.

We cannot just think of tomorrow today. We cannot merely plan for tomorrow today. Our task must be to build tomorrow today..."

"And if these times have shown us anything, it is that the major challenges we all face are global. No matter where it starts, an economic crisis does not stop at the water's edge. It ripples across the world. Climate change does not honour passport control. Terrorism has no respect for borders.

And modern communications instantly span every continent. The new frontier is that there is no frontier, the new shared truth is that global problems need global solutions.
And let me say that you now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory. A leadership that wants to cooperate more closely together, in order to cooperate more closely with you..."

"So once again I say we should seize the moment — because never before have I seen a world so willing to come together. Never before has that been more needed. And never before have the benefits of cooperation been so far-reaching.

So when people here and in other countries ask what more can we do now to bring an end to this downturn, let me say this - we can achieve more working together..."

"No one should forget that it was American visionaries who over half a century ago, coming out of the deepest of depressions and the worst of wars, produced the boldest of plans for global economic cooperation because they recognised prosperity was indivisible and concluded that to be sustained it had to be shared. And I believe that ours too is a time for renewal, for a plan for tackling recession and building for the future. Every continent playing their part in a global new deal, a plan for prosperity that can benefit us all. First, so that the whole of the worldwide banking system serves our prosperity rather than risks it, let us agree rules and standards for accountability, transparency, and reward that will mean an end to the excesses and will apply to every bank, everywhere, and all the time..."

"I am confident that this president, this Congress and the peoples of the world can come together in Copenhagen this December to reach a historic agreement on climate change..."

As I listened to Brown's speech, the dreamer in me again begins to stretch and stir. In this time of crisis, it is absolutely essential that we create a positive vision that we can believe in and can thus create. Surrounded by bad news and pointed fingers, I need to hear words of hope, of commitment, and of vision, not only from the leaders of my own country but from others who share this small, fragile, sacred blue world.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I read a quote this morning by Robert Brault that has stayed with me throughout the day. It was, "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Today I held the big hard working hand of my 76 year old father and as we walked together hand in hand, I was never more aware that this simple uneventful day (in my own life) did indeed contain the 'big' things...