Many of us have come through a rough year. In this experience we discover how to stay awake, be aware we are still here, acknowledge we HAVE come through, and comfort ourselves. Comfort is always a personal activity made up of childhood, family memories and deeply personal and interior connections. The person who has wronged or harmed you cannot be your comforter but you can learn to comfort yourself. Sometimes it’s better to make new ways to parent ourselves through to kindness. And practice interrupting the negative and ruminating thoughts with lovingkindness however that looks.
Comfort wears something soft
you saved from the goodwill bag,
with a bit of raggedy velvet at the wrist.
Comfort sings a lullaby
or the blues. Maybe she lived
in New Orleans before she came here.
Comfort turns you into a one-note crooning
Southern woman with a voice
full of rain and dirt.
Comfort IS dirt. Good dirt.
Things grow here.
Comfort is rain so hard
you can’t hear your thoughts.
The air blows in fresh
and riverlets happen up
all through the yard
washing everything downhill.
Comfort is seeing 5:00 a.m. on the clock
and knowing you’ve slept all night.
Comfort is dog fur,dog breath, dog warmth
and dog smell. How they connect you
to the Earth they never left
just when your heart is taking off on bat wings
into the darkest part of the cave.
Comfort reminds you there are
people who are saner, kinder, simpler, funnier
who love you and who still come around.
Comfort is reading Rumi and Hafiz,
the old Avila Hotsprings
soaking out weary joints since 1907.
Comfort is Monday coffees by the beach,
and dolphin sightings. Comfort is
and seeing your face
again and again, my friend.
If you are chilled
there is a quilt here for your knees.
See, I have laid us a carpet
of poppies and mountain sage.
Shall we see what compassion has hidden
in the pantry?
Please, my friend,come on in.
This poem was published in an earlier version in If &When Vol. 1. 2013. I wrote it at one of the Veteran writing workshops.
Please let me know if you would like to come to a Writing and Stillness workshop in January..
Roslyn Strohl 2-10-2013 copyright.
A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist;
he is either, like the surgeon, a craftsman, or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist.
This means that in order to be a good doctor a man must also have a good character, that is to say,
whatever weaknesses and foibles he may have, he must
love his fellow human beings in the concrete and
desire their good before his own.
– W. H. Auden
In this quiet setting of a traditional therapy hour or hour and a half, you can reach a level of reflection and trust that reenlivens a belief in your own imagination and character. No fancy tricks, just deep presence and reflective conversation. From honesty with one self in a supported environment, courage and resolution can arise and become action.
The office is 20 minutes South of San Luis Obispo. Right by the office is a lovely walk along the Bob Jones trail ending at Avila. Close by, the Sycamore Hot Springs offer soaking pools and massage if you need to extend your reflection or self care.
Upon entering and leaving my home I pass through the life of my garden. In about the time it takes for me to take three breaths, before I reach the gate my eyes catch something new, a surprise. Today a hummingbird feeds from the hollowed out “lantern” of a persimmon opened by the crows, feasted on by an assortment of others. Half its body disappears inside the fruit as it hovers and darts in and out.
Hummingbirds eat fruit. I never knew…..I watch and smile and remember the native bees that somehow found juiciness in the leaves and canes of the climbing roses after the blossoms were spent.
Just when the story seems to get thin, new possibilities. Resourcefulness.
As the winter descends this week and the fierce retail seduction sets in, we can succumb to sadness and feelings of deprivation, or take a breath, change the thought and proceed with gratitude, humor and joy…..more moments practicing builds resilience and resistence to the onslaught. Through the toughest times I have learned to say, “Watch for the miracles”.
Hold to the beauty of gathering together before descending into the cave of winter. Find and polish your favorite symbols, perhaps one candle not twenty, a branch not a tree, tea not champagne, if money is tight or you are already busy.
Symbolically winter is the time for sleep, poetry, renewal, dreaming, the North, the stripped tree as well as the evergreen and the dark giving way to the light. By savoring this time we are ready when the Birth and rebirth occur.
While our fearful, addictive culture says keep all the lights on, party and decorate, Nature says gather the Beloveds, stay simple, feast on what you have already harvested, believe.
Here is my Winter Solstice offering to you.
Thirteen crows perch
on the wires
above the persimmons.
These fruit have sung to me for months
with their bright refusal to be melancholy
I have watched their curves fill into sweet polished cheeks
their orange clarity against the dying leaves.
It is past Thanksgiving, almost Winter Solstice
and so the crows and I are gathered here
to a communion of ripeness.
Who will eat first
the raven priests or I?
Who will feast on these last fruits, robust
while leaves show their age
take one last spin to Earth
The persimmons glow.
They hold a star within,
almost too sweet
not orange, not apple.
It takes years
to bend the tough persimmon wood
into the tea boxes of Japan.
Yet these most prized.
I have written too long.
Up in the persimmon tree
five crows are feasting.
The fruit yields empty baskets
orange skins hold to branches
like tiny lanterns.
In our angst and advertising driven society so often I hear people self diagnose and identify with their diagnosis, “my depression” or “my OCD”. One of the things I like about Narrative Practice is the idea that the problem is the problem. You are not the problem. This allows for a collaborative problem solving and some interesting new possibilities. There are many ways for persons to engage in therapeutic conversations that strengthen and expand a personal knowledge of one’s resourcefulness.
Read about narrative practice from the originals. The Dulwich Center in Australia generously shares material in their library.http://www.dulwichcentre.com.au/what-is-narrative-therapy.html
I awoke this morning to the twittering of the tiny hummingbirds in the sage outside my window.
In my office hangs an etching of a hummingbird by Rosey Rosenthal from Los Osos,Ca.
The hummingbird speaks of highly focused attention, all that energy to be still and gather nectar.
There is grace in taking only what we need. We are not deprived because the sweetness is already distilled into nectar waiting for us. That was the work of the sun,earth and flower.
Life still is sweet even after trauma. It won’t stop the suffering around you to be still, to be kind to yourself but it will give you delight and strength to do your part.
In narrative therapy we use the term “reflecting team” for the people we surround ourselves with who can reflect well the best in us,the spark. We can find a similar team internally and allow the dialogue of support to begin with encouragement rather than critique. The act of smiling releases tension in the many small muscles covering our heads and sends new messages to our brains.
I bow deeply to the spirit that lives within.