By Anne Harbison
“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wisest to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert
You know I'm no fan of "everything happens for a reason." Even "smile for what you had instead of crying over what you've lost" irks me.
I'm all for gratitude journals and graciousness, but when you're feeling lost and defeated, thankfulness is seldom at the top of the list.
After the past two years, I think all of us could use a break from "character-building" experiences. Been there, been doing that, for a LONG time.
That we are all asking better questions and thinking more deeply about our answers.
I am thankful for the new skills and knowledge...
“Over the winter glaciers, I see the summer glow. And through the wind-piled snowdrift, the warm rosebuds below.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
On December 21st, us in the Northern Hemisphere will move together through the winter solstice of 2021.
This is the moment where the North Pole is tilted the furthest from the sun before coming back again, causing the “darkest” or “longest night.” At this end-of-year, we’ll experience the shortest amount of daylight, longest time spent in darkness, and the following morning will rise as the start of the new, light half of the year.
Traditions dating back to ancient civilizations are known to have celebrated in similar ways that we do now: feasting, dancing, bonfires, being with loved ones, showing gratitude, and something special: ...
"I do believe in an everyday sort of magic -- the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone." — Charles de Lint
Accepting help. Setting boundaries. Staying compassionate. Fostering authenticity of emotions. “Being” not “doing.” Riding the wave. Showing up. Resting…
There are countless lessons I’ve learned, alongside my family, since life gave me and my husband the unimaginable challenge of losing our son, and gave our daughter the challenge of losing her brother.
Countless talks, therapy sessions, cries, hopes, fears, and moments of wondering what the future could hold (and not always optimistically).
“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” - Mary Oliver
Sunday was Ben’s birthday.
He would have been 16. Six years since losing him, celebrating his birthday each December 5th finally brings more smiles than tears. As I’ve shared so often, great loss is not something you get over; it’s something you learn to live with. And hopefully there is a shift that occurs where living into the future is more compelling than being anchored to the past.
“This is why parents who lose a child don’t make it,” I thought. One of them loses their minds.
“Let’s have another baby,” Steve said. It had been a year since Ben’s death, and we were healing in many ways. But still… this thinking seemed delusional. I had pledged to love him for richer or...
“When you’re in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all, when you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.” - Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace
Your story, the one where you are the hero, the villain, the victim, where you are thrown into rough waters or are abandoned in a desert, these stories where you can see the role you play and how things turn out -- they’re not stories at all until after the fact.
When we are in the midst of these events, there isn’t always rhyme or reason to it. There aren’t always moments of clarity to stop, breathe, take a step back, and see bigger pictures-- especially in dark moments where a...
When something we care about is lost, cancelled, or put on hold (like so much of life in the past two years), we don’t simply miss that activity; we miss the underlying energy and value that the activity brought to our lives.
Consider in-person team meetings, coaching or playing a sport, travel, being able to attend a concert, play or worship service with others. These examples aren’t just “events” -- they are sources of joy, connection, entertainment, creativity, and adventure.
Too often, that gap fills with loneliness, isolation, boredom, or numbing. But often, in the absence of what was lost, we can find alternate means of fulfillment. And a good place to start is by looking at our own talents, passions, and hopes. They will help us carve a path.
For example, I had a client who loved managing others. When he started a job where he...
Sometimes the best advice to start answering complicated questions are the simple answers. It’s for that reason I want to talk about a steady piece of advice from none other than good ol’ Mr. Rogers.
Mr. Rogers told children that when they saw or felt something scary, whether it be in real life or on TV, they should “look for the helpers.”
When lost in a store, look for someone with a name badge. When passing a wreck on the highway, look for the ambulance and police officers helping the injured. Even on the playground, when feeling shy on the first day of school, look for the person who is offering you a seat at the lunch table. Knowing that these kind souls are ready and willing to help makes us feel more secure and comforted.
That is a soothing reminder for adults as well. When disaster strikes, brave people step up to help, comfort, and heal. They may be wearing surgical scrubs or safety gear. Maybe they have no formal uniform, but they wear their kindness...
“For everything there is a season: a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
— Ecclesiastes 3:1–4
I have always loved advice columns.
Growing up, I read “Dear Abby”, “Ann Landers”, and indulged in the “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” column in Ladies Home Journal while waiting at doctors’ offices or hair salons with my mom.
I’ve since updated my easy reading list. As an adult, I still indulge in advice columns—like those of Carolyn Hax, Amy Dickenson, and Miss Manners. Their pithy words of wisdom balance out the weightier thoughts in a day.
My favorite of all is Cheryl Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” column -- now a podcast with Steve Almond. They are known for taking on meaty issues with no easy answers. Strayed, in particular, provides the same searing, gold-nuggets of truth. Her latest collection of essays, Brave Enough...
The ‘20s (the last two years, not the Roaring) have not been years for getting all dressed up.
For one, who has the time and mental energy to perfect our appearance when it seems the whole world is crumbling in more ways than one? And for two, no one really had anywhere to go!
Like many, I’ve spent most of that time in sweatpants or pajamas—at least on my bottom half during virtual business calls. That experience is so common that many commercials, memes, and comedy routines mock the hazards of our “split personalities” when it comes to attire.
So often our top-half and bottom-half are playing different characters adorning a single body.
Case in point: Recently, I had an actual in-person meeting and enjoyed putting on a nice outfit, make-up, and styling my hair. What a relief to be joining the grown-up world again.
When I walked into the kitchen, my pre-school daughter exclaimed, “Mommy, I love your costume!” (Kids have a way of...
“If you can’t fly, then run,
If you can’t run, then walk,
If you can’t walk, then crawl,
But whatever you do,
You have to keep moving forward.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
On New Year's of 2021, we were all hoping that this would be the year of lasting recovery and relief. We'd lived through the worst year in decades, but now had turned a page. Let the healing begin!
Within the first week of 2021, however, there was a popular meme that captured a different sensibility: "I've seen the first seven days of 2021 and I'd like to cancel my subscription." Political turmoil, the Delta variant, and controversy over the best path forward are only a few sources of the crisis-recovery cycle that continues.
Getting through a difficult time is hard enough -- but being repeatedly thrown from optimistic highs to discouraging lows takes its toll. We have a threshold of tolerance when it comes to prolonged uncertainty.
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