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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


Under the title “Success”, John Heider, in his book THE TAO OF LEADERSHIP, states “If you measure success in terms of praise and criticism, your anxiety will be endless”.

The only way to separate yourself from this endless anxiety is to realize that you aren’t in charge of how your words, your efforts or your thoughts “land” with others. Your job is to give your gifts to the world with an open heart. If you are able to do that, be grateful. Then let it all go. That’s success.

Hang in There

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Paying Attention

It’s been an unusual spring here in Tennessee. We’ve had torrential rain, freezing temperatures, big winds, hail and tornadoes interspersed with days so clear and bright that it makes your eyes hurt.

On the stormy days it feels a little like the Virus, unpredictable and deadly, but not impacting everybody. On the good days it feels as if Nature is apologizing and giving us a present.

Another gift this stay-at-home time has offered us is more opportunity to slow down enough to notice the weather, or the way the trees move in the wind, or the immense beauty of an Iris bloom.

Paying attention to what is right here, right now, is one of the great ways to get through this time of uncertainty. When you focus on what you’re seeing right in front of you, you can forget your worries or exhaustion or anger for just a little bit.

And bit by bit is the way to get through almost everything, even this.

Thank You

Dear Mental Health Professional,
Even if there haven’t been people clapping in appreciation outside your office recently, we know that you save lives every day. What hasn’t ever been the tragic “BREAKING NEWS” on TV is because you did your job.
Thank you.

Whimsy #2

God put me on earth to accomplish a certain number of things.

Right now I’m so far behind,

I will never die.

~ author unknown

Enough, Already!

There’s too much to do. There’s work, family, staying healthy (to stay, to go….?), taking care of kids at home, teaching kids at home, and the never ending bills…to name just a few.

There’s not enough time in any given day to get it all done, and done in the way that is up to your standards.

So don’t. Just do the best you can… and remember to breathe, and laugh, and take a break outside. The world needs you to get through this time… in one piece.

So… try to remember that the best of what you do is done when you breathe deeply, stay grounded, and just be… Just be the loving, accepting presence you have always been. That’s what all those people you feel responsible for really need from you.

Grief in the Time of Transition

We grieve all sorts of things. Basically, we grieve when things change, and things are always changing. It feels as if more things are changing at the moment, although I’m not completely sure that’s true.

What I do know is true is that we and our clients are grieving all sorts of things lost in this time of COVID 19, and could use both some direction and some encouragement.  Here is a bit of both from some smart and wise people:

Tasks of Grief:

  1. Accepting the reality of the loss.
  2. Experiencing the emotions associated with it.
  3. Adjusting to the environment in which the change has occurred.
  4. Begin to relocate the loss, emotionally, and move on with life.

~ William Worden, “Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy”

Growth-Oriented Grief:

  1. Discover all aspects of what has been lost.
  2. Discover what is left.
  3. Discover what is now possible, that would not have been possible if the loss had not occurred.

~ John Schneider, “Stress, Grief and Loss”

When we’re on an unknown road, it’s good to have a map.

I’m Sorry

It turns out that during a crisis where one can imagine the end his or her life, people have the urge to clean up old relationships, end family quarrels and complete uncompleted actions.

Social psychologists have studied this tendency. It certainly makes sense. We want to close circles, mend fences, reach out in ways we haven’t…before it’s too late. They could die, or we could die, is the thought behind this. We forget that all we ever really have is this moment. Nothing beyond right now is ever guaranteed.

So what do you say? Virus or no, resentments and incomplete actions weigh us down…and right now, we don’t need anything else doing that. Today is the perfect day to pick up the phone, write an email, or use some sort of virtual platform to reach out. Hugs, may or may not, come later. You’re just doing this for you.

Whimsy #1

I hope you’ll forgive me for not having preserved important data in my accumulated files, from which I pull lots of valuable snippets. We weren’t very careful in the olden days. You might think of my undesignated offerings as a trivia problem. If you come up with the author, I’ll send you a special snippet.

“I fully realize that I have not succeeded in answering all of your questions… Indeed, I feel I have not answered any of them completely.  The answers I have found only serve to raise a whole new set of questions, which only lead to more problems, some of which we weren’t even aware were problems.

To sum it all up…. In some ways I feel we are as confused as ever, but I believe we are confused on a higher level, and about more important things.”