Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer Reading 2018 ...



We read to know we are not alone.

William Nicholson





Hello, Everyone!

Happy Summer!  After a very busy spring of workshops and writing (to say nothing of moving both home and office thirteen miles east to a mountaintop at the head of Burrard Inlet), I'm ready to put my feet up in my lovely new garden and begin reading the books that have been accumulating on my bedside table since the New Year.

Here are a few of the titles I'm hoping to read over the summer and fall (interspersed with a few novels and murder mysteries), just in case you might be interested in any of them yourselves:

1.  Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths by Rupert Ross (2014)
Rupert Ross, retired assistant Crown Attorney for the District of Kendra, Ontario, writes about how the Indigenous people from whom he has learned about healing see healthy healing processes and a healthy future. He shares what he has learned about healing activities and about anchoring Indigenous life in traditional cultural visions once again.  He describes twelve striking differences between Indigenous and non- indigenous healing practices.

2.  The Courage Way: Leading and Living With Integrity by the Centre for Courage and Renewal and Shelly L Francis  (2018)
Based on the work of Parker J. Palmer, Shelly Francis identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage, the most fundamental being trust - in ourselves and in each other. She describes how to build trust through the Centre for Courage & Renewal's Circle of Trust approach, centred around eleven "touchstones" or guidelines for trust building. Each chapter features true stories of how leaders have overcome challenges and strengthened their organizations.

3.  Everyday Gratitude by A Network for Grateful Living (Foreword by Bro David Steindl-Rast)  (2018)
A collection of quotations on gratefulness, each followed by a question for reflection.

4.  On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old by Parker J Palmer. (2018)
Best-selling author, educator and activist, Parker J Palmer, explores aging as a passage of discovery and engagement.  He writes about cultivating a vital inner and outer life, finding meaning in suffering and joy, and forming friendships across the generations that bring new life to young and old.

5.  Climate Change by HRH The Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper and Emily Shuckburgh. (2017)
A small book from the Penguin Ladybird Expert Series explaining climate change in brief and simple terms written after Prince Charles addressed the Paris Climate Change Summit in December 2015. In conversation with a friend, Pr Charles was told that most people really don't understand what climate change is all about. The friend went on to suggest that Pr Charles produce a "plain English guide" to the subject. This book is the result.

6.  Chronic Sorrow: A Living Loss  2nd Edition by Susan Roos  (2017)
This is a new edition of the only book written on Chronic Sorrow to date. Written in a more accessible, though still somewhat dense style, it is a pared-down version of the original psychotherapy text giving an excellent explanation of the concept of CS and useful practices for coping with the continuing grief of chronic illness/injury and family caregiving.

7.  Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems Edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai & Ruby R Wilson (2017)
This book begins with the words, Some poems are good medicine. It goes on to offer a definition of mindfulness that guides the choice of poems for this collection - Mindfulness is keeping our heads and hearts where our bodies are.  Each poet illustrates mindfulness in a distinct way, many employing natural settings or imagery.

8.  Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande  (2014) 
I've been meaning to read this New York Times bestseller for a couple of years. It explores, though research and stories, the conflict that occurs when what medicine can do runs counter to what it should do. It looks at the suffering produced by medicine's neglect of the wishes people might have beyond mere survival, the quality of life questions we all should consider much earlier than we do.
 
And, for those of you who are wondering, the next community-based Caring On Empty Compassion Fatigue Workshop for Helping Professionals will be held on Friday November 2nd at the Granville Island Hotel in Vancouver, BC from 9-4. Brochures and registration forms will be available in early September at caregiverwellness@shaw.ca.


 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Compassion Fatigue and Chronic Sorrow as Soul Injuries



All it takes is a beautiful fake smile 
to hide an injured soul;
they will never notice
how broken you really are.

Robin Williams




Hello, Everyone,

Lately, I've been noticing that some of the people in the CF and CS workshops nod in immediate recognition when I describe full-blown compassion fatigue and chronic sorrow as soul injuries. They know, intuitively, that the suffering they experience is deeper and more pervasive than the emotional pain described and addressed in some self-care workshops. It is a relief for these folks to have someone acknowledge the severity of their pain. This acknowledgement is often a first step toward releasing shame and opening the pathway to healing.

Soul injuries are wounds of our souls or essence, the loss of our sense of inner goodness, beauty and vitality stemming from trauma, unattended loss, burnout and the guilt and shame of our own actions or omissions.

Soul injury symptoms are described by Opus Peace as the familiar signs of postraumatic stress plus a defense-penetrating breach in the integrity our deepest selves. They often include:
1.  A haunting sense of being defective or tainted,
2.  A sense of betrayal by one's self, others, an organization, religion or God/Higher Power, and/or
3.  A sense of emptiness arising from disconnection from the part of ourselves carrying the pain.
Some of us have carried these injuries from childhood and others have experienced them through longterm exposure to the trauma and suffering of those we serve.

While our souls or essence will never be killed by our work, we can become separated from our original strength, truth, wisdom and compassion. We separate ourselves from our souls each time we cover up, numb out or run away from our truth and that separation eventually generates it's own symptoms. On the other hand, when we own our truth (including its pain) in gentle respectful ways, our souls can expand to hold and heal our wounds.

The healing of a soul injury entails addressing soul issues. Not only must we grieve unattended losses and re-regulate traumatized nervous systems, we must also forgive and make a home for the parts of ourselves we have denied and split off due to guilt and shame.  Then, we need to develop and nurture a life of the spirit - deeply personal and meaningful beliefs, teachings, ceremonies and rituals that will provide a strong foundation for building resilience.

As Opus Peace says, we all need a class on:

...how to open our hearts to our losing and failing, paradoxically becoming whole in the process. Re-owning and then re-homing pieces of self (often hidden behind facades or exiled into unconsciousness)  can precipitate healing. Telling stories of our lostness (without the distorting illusion of how we wish our lives to be) is the first step toward freedom. Hearing other peoples stories en-courages us to liberate our own.

So as we become deeply honest with ourselves, at least one other person and Whom or Whatever Benevolence we believe in, trauma can be healed, losses grieved, guilt atoned, forgiveness accepted, shame dispelled and a future, strengthened and brightened by hope and small "s" spirituality, explored.

Once I have moved into my new home at the end of the month, I hope to begin designing a second tier compassion fatigue/chronic sorrow workshop tentatively called, Compassion Fatigue/Chronic Sorrow: Going Deeper, which will address Compassion Fatigue and Chronic Sorrow as soul injuries. You will be the first to know when it's ready!

In the meantime, the next Caring On Empty Workshop for Helping Professionals will be held at The Granville Island Hotel on Monday May 7th from 9-4.  Brochures with registration forms are available at caregiverwellness@shaw.ca.   Please tell your friends and colleagues!



Photo from the Opus Peace website.



Monday, January 1, 2018

Hope for 2018 ...



Hope is the belief that tomorrow
could be better.

Anonymous




Happy New Year, Everyone!

Here we stand on the threshold of a new year, in the in-between space of expectation and possibility between old and new.

My focus today (and perhaps my new word for 2018) is hope. Thoughts about hope have arisen organically through the rhythms of life over the holidays. I am taking Jan Richardson's free online retreat for Women's Christmas 2017 - Walking the Way of Hope, I'm reading a Christmas gift book about hope and, in a very real way, I'm actively practicing hope each day as I look for a new place to live. The notion of hope is all around me.

For me, hope is not a Pollyanna-ish, frothy, pie-in-the-sky type of experience but a rooted, ever-available, undergirding strength that promises that even in painful times, even when hope itself flickers, there are unexpected gifts, new directions and fresh possibilities in each moment, if we have the eyes to see them.

There are those who decry hope as being future vs present-oriented and, therefore, not a useful concept. To these people I can only say that there have been times in my life when focusing continually in the present would have been overwhelming and traumatizing and, without the forward pull of hope, I might not have survived let alone thrived.

Jan Richardson, whose blessings I use so often in my workshops, calls us to hope in this way:


Rough Translations

Hope nonetheless.
Hope despite.
Hope regardless.
Hope still.

Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.

Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.

Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come.


Whatever your circumstances this New Year, may hope accompany, enfold and strengthen you and may you look ahead with eyes primed to find the best this year has to offer.