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Love in the Time of COVID

I’ve been trying to figure out what I could do to be of any help to you, Professional Counselors and Counselors in Training of Tennessee, during this time of scary transition, horrifying loss, tele-health adaptation and isolation.

There are enough scary stories out there already. There are also many (I am hesitant to say enough, as there are probably never enough) wonderful training webinars and articles about how to assist patients and clients in these troubled times.  I still may write a few of my own before this is over.

Maybe what we don’t have enough of is snippets of wisdom and whimsy that may have something hopeful or helpful to say to us as we travel on this new path.  One we would have never chosen.

You are some of those first responders, who run toward the fire.  It is the best of our human nature that you display as you listen to people with heartbreaking stories and sad hearts.  I hope you know that the Universe thanks you.  We don’t say it enough, and our cultures don’t pay you enough.  But you are all Rock Stars!

Hang in there….. It’s a cliche, but it is nonetheless true, that we can do this, if we do it with each other; supporting each other.

The snippets of wisdom and whimsy will not be all mine.  I will gather them.  I will make them short, so you can ignore them if you want.  My hope is that some of them will speak to you and offer either a laugh, some encouragement or some ideas of how to get through this messy time.

They are offered with love…hence the title.

Ann Sparling White, MS, NCC, LPC (retired), LMHC (retired)
TLPCA Membership Chair

Do Not Lose Heart

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world which is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take “everyone on Earth” to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

A Reminder from Oprah

This excerpt came from Oprah Winfrey’s speech to the graduates of 2020.
I thought it might speak to you today. It was something I sure needed to hear….

“ I wish I could tell you I know the path forward. I don’t. There is so much uncertainty. In truth, there always has been. What I do know is that the same guts and imagination that got you to this moment – all those things are the very things that are going to sustain you through whatever is coming.”

You really can do this. You’ve been preparing for it your whole life.

On A Sense of Humor by Thomas Penn

WISDOM:
If you could choose one good characteristic that would get you through life’s many struggles, choose a good sense of humor, so long as you understand that everything life throws at you isn’t a joking matter. You can’t see a rainbow without first putting up with the rain and dealing with the mud afterwards.
Reprinted from the FaithUnity Streetpaper #137

Perfect Happiness

Recently, one of my children asked me what my idea of perfect happiness was. Although this was a perfectly good question, I was unable to answer her. I’m not sure there can be perfect happiness if you’re a human who is still alive. Life is wonderful, fascinating, joyful, complicated, educational, beautiful and meaningful…. as well as horrific, scary, painful, frustrating, sad and traumatic.
You don’t get one without the other.

The best we can do is find good therapy for the hard times, actively work to make life better for all and keep our attention on the good stuff. It’s also helpful to remember that we don’t have to be unhappy because others are.

Although perfect happiness is a long shot for humans, dogs seem to have it all figured out. If they’re safe, fed and have someone to love, they’re good to go. We can only hope that human evolution will help us be more like dogs.

The Garden

We plant not in light, but in dark soil, with no assurance of success. We plant anyway–tomatoes or a kind word–hopeful for the fruit it might bear. Gardening, like life, is an act of faith. Today, may we pause to notice what calls to us, and act upon it with courage, even when the outcome is uncertain. Whether from a catalog or from our heart’s longing, most seeds will grow if tended with care and, in time, nourish more than we can imagine.
~Jennifer Hofmann
May, 2020

“What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”

You get to have bad days. You get to have days when you’re the one who needs a little support…. You’re the one who wants everyone to just leave you alone for awhile. As much as we counselors strive to be supportive and present for our families, our clients and our friends, we aren’t perfect. We’re just human. The present is HARD and unpredictable, and very different.

Know when you need to just give yourself a break. Last week, I needed a break, and I knew it because of the exchange below:

She asked me, “How are you?” I said, “I’m fine. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

Optimism

This came to me from the writer Kristin Wong, via the New York Times, via a friend I walk with. The following quote was part of a much longer article titled “Despite Uncertain Times, Choose Optimism”.

Easier said than done, I thought…. But this stood out in the text:

“ … at its core, optimism doesn’t require you to sweep those anxious, negative feelings under the rug. It’s not about smiling when you don’t feel like it.
Optimism is simply being hopeful about the future, even when the present feels wholly negative. “

Like all good things, choosing to be optimistic in the face of overwhelming negative events and feelings takes practice and patience. Start little. Be gentle with yourself…. and know that all great change was once just an idea and a hope.

Christmas in June

This usually shows up at Christmas time, but I thought it was a great time to be reminded of the wise words of Howard Thurman. This helped me today, in this time of not quite knowing what to do and how to help.

“When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoners,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.”

The Pond

In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who couldn’t understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the lily stems to the top of the water.

They promised each other that the next time, the one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what had happened to him. Soon, one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface. He rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation, which made him a dragon fly with beautiful wings.

In vain, he tried to keep him promise; flying back and forth over the pond. He peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him, they would not recognize such a radiantly beautiful creature as one of them.

The fact that we cannot see our loved ones and friends, or communicate with them after the transformation we call death, is no proof that they cease to exist.