For the Difficult Times:

As a therapist, I've gotten pretty good switching off emotionally when things get hard.  Some call it cold, I call it self preservation.  I think I'm pretty good at what I do and I'd like to be able to do it for a while

With that being said, I often have a strange reaction to tragic events that occur.  I'm privileged to do a majority of the work that I do with older adults.  And not just any older adults, but hymn humming, Mississippi Delta older adults.  

The tragedy that many of them have known is heart breaking but they've always stood strong in their faith knowing that somehow, they are going to be OK.  I teach them to stand up for themselves, set boundaries, communicate effectively and they teach me how to be still, stay quiet and have faith.  It's a beautiful thing really, learning from people that are so different from you yet have all of the same human experiences.  Fear, uncertainty, joy, anger, peace...we're all swimming in this soup together.  

Their response is often them same when I ask how they plan to cope with this situation or that situation

"I'm going to pray to the good Lord and trust that we are all going to be OK."      

Many shake their heads at this and blow it off as simple minded.  I think it's just a good combination of mindfulness practice and  cognitive restructuring, both of which are proven techniques to reduce stress and improve overall well being.  

There's nothing I can do about what happened in Connecticut.  There are no words that can comfort the people that were affected, no way to explain why the gunman did what he did.  People will be judged, people will be afraid, people will take sides, lessons will be lost. 

But here's what I can do:  put good energy out there.  Today, and everyday, I can set an intention to put good energy into a world that has a lot of bad energy in it right now.  Today I can be kind, compassionate, pleasant.  To know me is to know that I can be pretty ratty at times so this is not something that comes naturally.  I have to work at it! But how cool would that be if we all put more good energy out than bad today?  If we all did that....how very cool? 

I understand that this is oversimplifying an incredibly complex and horrific situation. I've lived a life relatively free of tragedy (ugh, knock on wood I hate to even say that) and I don't have children so I don't even understand 1/1000th of what the parents of those children are going through.  But I do understand the benefits of living mindfully in the moment and taking it back to basics to take care of yourself when things get scary.  

Love each other, my friends.  And on this day, may you be filled with ease and light, peace and strength.  
From Laurie Wozniak, Communication Officer in the
Episcopal Diocese of WNY:

Almighty God, welcome into your arms the victims of school violence. Comfort families, children, and all who mourn the tragedy of this hour. Help us in our fear and uncertainty. Bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love; and strengthen all those who work to bring hope out of loss and comfort out of pain. And give us wisdom and strength as a nation to address the larger issues of gun safety and availability. We ask this in the name of the One well-acquainted with grief, your Son Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God forever and ever, Amen.

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