October 2017
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Archive for October, 2017

Survivor Guilt

I am feeling some survivor guilt and PTSD.  I know I am not alone.  Rational or irrational survivor guilt is normal.  The reaction and degree of survivor guilt varies from person to person.  Contributing factors to the intensity are: a history of trauma, existing depression, low self-esteem and lack of support.  Realize that relief and appreciation of your survival co-exists with grief.

Once singularly listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it is now listed under PTSD.  First identified in Holocaust survivors, it has come to include veterans of war, survivors of major catastrophic events (natural disasters, mass shootings/bombings etc.), and survivors of individual events (auto accidents, suicides, overdoses, etc.).

There are things that can be done to work through survivor guilt:

Accept your feelings.

Allow yourself to grieve.

Realize you are not alone.

Practice self-care: Physically move.

Good diet and rest are important.

Get involved in helping others, no gift is too small.

Talk with a good friend or Mentor about your feelings.

Seek professional help, individually or in a group.

I am not feeling like I did something wrong, or that I could have done more to prevent the disaster.  I am feeling lucky; I am feeling blessed that my family is safe and I still have a home. And, as I listen to my friends who have lost everything save their lives, I am heartened by their will to move forward and humbled by the power of their grief.

It is also true of the community at large.  The outpouring of support in every way imaginable (and some not so imaginable, like the homes moved here by Burning Man Festival Folks to help house the newly homeless) are inspiring and spiritually uplifting.

Traumatic tragedies often raise questions about life; it’s purpose and meaning, fairness and justice, it’s tenuousness and fragility.  These are questions of spirituality and faith.  The next several months and years will test our trust, our faith, our beliefs.

Sonoma Strong!

 

 

Aftermath

Fires are still burning in Northern California; thousands of people remain displaced as recovery slowly begins…these are physical realities.

Cal Fire expects full containment by Wednesday.  Expressions of gratitude for the Fire Fighting, Police/Sheriff’s Community the CHP, locally, as well as those who came from around the world, have no full depth or boundaries.  Their work and sacrifice are  treasures beyond price.

I invite you to check out www.pressdemocrat.com, sharing stories and insights into the scope of  loss, devastation, heroism, optimism and opportunity. Especially the cogent account and reflection of SSU Professor Stefan Kiesbye, in the Forum Section – Page B13 – of Sunday, October 22.

The emotional realities are front and center too; shock, numbness, disbelief, denial, grief, anger, guilt, sadness and depression.

Everyone has been impacted in some way.  People are joining together; there is a tremendous outpouring of love, strength and support.  It is now so vitally important to begin the process of emotional healing.

Allow people to help. Volunteers are prolific.  Neighbors generous; accept these gifts of love. Moving toward acceptance requires admitting, expressing and letting go of anger, grief, and guilt; allowing a full realization of the tenuous fragility of life, as well as the depths of strength, love and compassion.  Let tears flow when they come, allowing without judgment space for others to cry or not cry.

Lean into and on your faith.  You may think that you don’t have active faith, but there are spiritual roots.  Regardless of where you feel you are on the spectrum of faith and belief, take what you have and build upon it…one step at a time.  Trust the power of love!

In crisis is opportunity.  As the land heals and new growth springs forth, so too, will personal growth.  Finding strength and courage you didn’t know you had, discovering a deeper faith, appreciating a greater love…all fruits of personal and spiritual growth.

Physical recovery and personal growth are processes, not events.  Allow the process.

Blessings!

 

Firestorm

Never in California’s history has there been a firestorm of this magnitude.  It began Sunday October 8 and continues to ravage several North Bay counties.

I am one of the lucky ones…my family is safe, my home has been spared: a miracle in itself since I live within a mile or so from hard hit Larkfield, Mark West, and northern Santa Rosa.

Surreal is the word being used by many.  Indeed, it is a surreal landscape, a surreal experience.

It is the kind of tragedy that brings forth the best and the worst in people.  Our communities are strong; noble acts and deeds common.  I had no idea  when I wrote a recent blog about ‘heroism’  that I would be witness to so many acts of heroism. And knowing there are hundreds more going unseen.

Please join us as we are praying for rain, and believing it will come.  And praying for those who have lost family members as well as the thousands who have lost virtually everything but the shirts on their backs.

There is a long, immense recovery ahead.  We are ‘Sonoma Strong’, California Proud, and the job will get done.

Thank you all for your love and support.  If you wish to make donations, please choose those sites and organization that give 100% to the community.  Redwood Credit Union Community Fund is one reliable and community conscious company.   Napa County has also set up a direct fund donate account.  Check with the Napa Valley Foundation.  There are also many other places including the American Red Cross, The Sonoma County Humane Society or Napa County Humane Society, among them, where you can help with the immediate need and the long term recovery.

Bless you all, and STAY SAFE!

Heroism

Heroes come in many shapes, sizes, ages and genders.  Heroic action is spontaneous.  We honor and admire heroes and heroines in many ways; and, sadly sometimes not at all.  And there are many people who do heroic deeds and prefer to remain anonymous.

Las Vegas is a recent incident that reveals the self-sacrifice of heroism.  Increasingly, we are witness to acts of heroism throughout the world as tragic events become daily events..

“Heroism often results as a response to extreme events.”  James Geary

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.  It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”  Arthur Ashe

“Rosa Parks was the queen mother of a movement whose single act of heroism sparked the movement for freedom, justice, and equality.  Her greatest contribution is that she told us a regular person can make a difference.”  Mare Morial

“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.  It demands greater heroism than war.  It demands greater fidelity to the truth and much more perfect purity of conscience.”  Thomas Merton

I invite you this week to take a moment to give thanks for the many forms and acts of heroism.

Self-Nurturing

The collective ‘we’ is in a powerful, unsettling period of transformation such as human history has never before seen.

It is the archetypal feminine that leads the way to emotional and spiritual transformation.  But to achieve optimal effect demands that the feminine nurture not only collective consciousness, but their personal consciousness as well.

Women are hearth keepers.  However, to be authentically engaged and maximally effective with this task, it is essential for the feminine to self-nurture.  This is a tremendous challenge.  For the feminine to self-nurture and not sacrifice is not only difficult, but is often viewed as selfish behavior.

“I think we need the feminine qualities of leadership, which include attention to aesthetics and environment, nurturing affection, intuition and the qualities that wake people to feel safe and cared for.”  ~Deepak Chopra

“Feelings of self worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible-the kind of atmosphere found in a nurturing family.” ~ Virginia Satir

I invite you to honor the archetypal feminine,  the feminine in your self, and to embrace self-nurturing.  No one can give from a depleted heart.