All posts by Cindy Trawinski

RESTING INTO THIS TIME – SELF CARE

by Cindy Trawinski, Psy. D.

It has been about 6 months since the shelter in place order in Illinois was announced. Most therapists I know went remote in March. Therapy offices around the city sit unused and many therapists are working from home.

The spring challenged all of us to adjust to new precautions and COVID-driven changes to our lives. Summer brought overdue attention, focus and urgency to the country regarding long-standing racial disparities and injustices that have resulted in violence, brutality and death for too long. Now, fall is in the air. The election approaches bringing its own tensions, anxieties and uncertainties.

Back in March, after the initial logistical changes, for some, the first phase of adapting to the new social/physical distancing reality may have been greeted with a sense of relief.  Surprisingly, some of us found working from home comforting. We felt safer in our homes and apartments, insulated from the unknown but pervasive viral danger we were facing.  The hustle and bustle of getting places ceased to be a central feature of our very mobile lives.  We were able to slow down, find our own rhythm and pace. We could settle into our personal sense of introversion.  If we (or our partners) had not lost our jobs or been furloughed, we gradually adjusted to our new normal and welcomed the sense of having more time.  Some felt privileged and grateful that they had work that was in demand and could be provided virtually.

It was a bit surreal but for many the transition was manageable.

However, for those who lost work, confronting financial losses during the slow down became front of mind. Essential workers had and have difficult choices to make. There was the issue of personal risk for those who continued to work.  Those with children at home now needed additional childcare (if available and safe) or time and energy during the day for their care.  Those with their own or a loved one’s immune-compromised health were faced with their vulnerabilities in new ways. Some people became ill with the virus or loved ones became ill. There were recoveries and hospitalizations.  Of those who became ill, some are still in recovery from the longer-lasting effects of COVID.  Sadly, some of us lost a co-worker, a friend and/or a relative. Some lost more than one.

Lifestyle Choices

Many of you seemed to adjust to the new world and perhaps had online therapy as a resource and support but some have fared less well with the changes. Polyamorous and non-monogamous folx may have decided to separate from partners, friends and loved ones to manage the risk of spreading or contracting the virus. Some of you faced big decisions about who to shelter in place with and how to manage, if you did or did not. Conflict emerged for polycules distressed by the decisions around quarantining. Many of you have suspended physical contact with your partners indefinitely. Some relationships simply broke apart. If you are/were single or un-partnered, you may have found yourself thrown into a different kind of isolation or loneliness.  Some of you are managing the tension, loss and urges related to their separations and some are really struggling.

Missing Life Out and About

For some of you, life under shelter-in-place was a harsh disruption and barrier to the nourishment, excitement and stimulation that the world can offer. Our usual life in society — commuting and working with others, attending conferences, socializing with family and friends, dating, partying, seeing art, dining out, enjoying team sports as players and spectators, and more was suddenly closing down In the kink community, closures of dungeons and online munches left some feeling disconnected from potential or existing partners. Support groups and other community events were cancelled or went virtual.  Things were different and sometimes not all that satisfying.  We all started missing the things that gave our days meaning and connection.

There were hard choices and losses. The absence of familiar activities and others (partners, playmates, family and friends, but even our barista or neighbors) from our lives brought loneliness, emptiness, fear, sadness, and frustration – and there were worries about the emotional and physical well-being of family and friends as well as clients who relied on our care and immediate and palpable presence in their lives.

Ground Hog Day

Lately, I have noticed that reactions are changing since those earlier weeks and months of the pandemic.  The feeling that every day is a little Ground Hog Day-like sneaks up slowly on us. With every trip to the grocery store or gas station, sustained vigilance and self-monitoring invisibly wears the committed down. Invitations to in-person social visits seem like small scale temptations but require more effort to resist as the months pass and confusing info about “opening up” clouds earlier clarity. Even routine needs for in-person retail and professional services (like haircuts and doctors’ visits, etc.) seem to require unusually high levels of discernment. For some, a need to throw off the shackles of isolation or caution fills us with dis-ease even as we stick with it. While some find they have relaxed unintentionally into a less socially distanced life and then suddenly have a need to get tested, reset and restore a sense of safety.

For those who welcomed the gradual re-opening of businesses and easing of social and recreational limitations, there may be moments of uncertainty and concern that the guidelines continue to be ambiguous.  The question of what is safe floats somewhere in the back of our minds. Few are completely free from worry about some element of health risk, whether it is for their own health or that of a colleague, friend or loved one.

Leaning In, Pushing Against or to Giving In?

Some of us are waking up feeling unusually stiff and achy from holding tension in our bodies.  Our eyes and necks hurt from craning at our screens. We think to ourselves we may be drinking or smoking a little too much.  Our adherence to a healthy diet has given way to vacation-style food indulgences and comfort foods which we justify by saying we are trying new recipes.  Whether it is working out, walking, reading, taking a yoga class, meditating or learning online, the idea of using this unusual time to improve ourselves is so appealing. Yet, some of us find it hard to sustain enthusiasm for new learning beyond the initial burst.

The seemingly indefinite suspension of important pre-COVID, everyday activities and relationships fatigues us. The effort it takes us to continue to live under our relatively new circumstances wears us down. Changing and confusing health messaging continues to be something manyof us wrestle with. Decisions have been put off. Vacations and weddings were delayed or postponed. Funerals were downsized or went remote. We don’t know when we will next see friends and family living states away. Yet, our hearts and minds are drawn to questions about the future again and again.  We are creatures born to anticipate the future, to look ahead. We tire of turning away from decisions we long to make.

Finding Respite Where We Can

Recently I came across a helpful post on LinkedIn from Holly C. Barker of the Grief Resource Network. She listed 9 types of rest we can offer ourselves and others.  I recreated her list below added a few of mine own thoughts. I offer it here as potential balm for the kinds of fatigue, weariness, pressure and tension many of us may be feeling.

A REST MENU

  1. Take time away. Time away from your everyday experiences, venues, activities and/or relationships can provide a chance to refresh your perspective and relax into a deeper experience of yourself without the familiar pushes and pulls of your daily life.
  2. Give yourself permission not to be helpful.This can bring a big sense of relief to many of us.  I offered this list to some of my clients when the moment called for it, and far and away, the idea of letting oneself not be helpful received the strongest positive on this list.
  3. Give yourself permission to be “unproductive.” Allowing ourselves to be unproductive, can provide us with space from inner and outer demands — and produce healing and rest.
  4. Connect to art and nature. Grounding, earthingforest bathing or just looking at a tree – any form of indulging in green spaces can deliver health benefits.
  5. Use solitude to recharge.Being with alone yourself, whether you are active (i.e. walking or cooking) or still (i.e. sitting or laying down), allows your attention to move freely and can restore a sense of space, time and energy.
  6. Take a break from responsibility. Sign out.Close your virtual door, put up your out of office or vacation message and unplug. Take time off from social media, your personal or professional responsibilities.
  7. Let stillness help you decompress.Find a quiet corner and be still.  Let your body and mind settle.
  8. Spend time in a safe space. A safe space can allow you to let down your guard, to stop trying to protect yourself – to just be.
  9. Spend time alone at home. Reacquaint yourself with your home environment by being in it or moving thru it alone.  When we share space with others, we often agree explicitly or implicitly to let them shape and inhabit the space we live in. As a result, we often find ourselves unconsciously accommodating to their presence in one way or another.  Being alone in your living space can allow you to experience it and yourself anew.

Diving In? Reflections On Fear

by Cindy Trawinski, Psy.D.

It seems we are all either facing fear or acting in the face of our fears these days. A once simple trip to the grocery store is now a strategic undertaking that requires serious reflection on how much personal protection I will need. A recent conversation with colleagues reminded me of this post, from a couple years back, about facing fear, negotiating edges and learning from the process regardless of the outcome.  I hope you will find it prompts contemplation.  I would love to hear how you are doing with your fears.

I have a favorite analogy I like to use when talking to myself or clients about approaching decisions, people, situations, things that we fear. I remember what it was like to first try jumping off a diving board. For many of us, that is a childhood experience that we can relate to, if not recall vividly.

I conjure up the scene in my mind, seeing the diving board from the part of the pool that is familiar and known. I remember the mix of competing interests, excitement and reservations about taking the theoretical — and actual leap! And then, I think through the physical process of walking towards the diving board, grabbing hold of the railings, stepping onto the first rung of the ladder, climbing to the top, tentatively letting go of the railings, standing wobbly kneed and unsupported, aware of the others behind or below on the ground.

Some of us ran down to the end of the board and leaped in a wave of both panic and exhilaration. Some of us, stood silently and contemplated the distance to the edge of the board to the water below. Some teared up. Some said “no” softly, and backed down the ladder. Some, approached then backed away from the edge repeatedly, marshaling courage at the ladder and then being overcome by dread at the edge. Some, finally, though gripped with fear, managed to inch to the edge of the board and weakly drop off.

We face our fears and cross our edges in many different ways. Approaching the edge between what is known and unknown or what we feel we can do and what we do not yet know that we can do is a universal experience. If you doubt this, watch this amazing video.

Are we able to be who we want to see ourselves as?  Do we dare to cross an edge to be something more or different than we already believe ourselves to be? Can we go against the nerve-wracking physical responses, the ingrained social messages or the barely detectable beliefs that lie just out of sight but have a tight hold on us? Or is it even right for us to cross a particular edge at this moment? Can we say no to the peer pressure to “just do it” and back away from some challenges?  Some times it takes more strength to accept our limitations and give credence to the risks we are taking than to close our eyes and jump.  How we negotiate our fear and each edge we face has the potential to leave us feeling victorious or defeated, wise or reckless, self-possessed or regretful — but hopefully we learn something about ourselves along the way.

Each new fear can be an opportunity to cross an edge and go beyond our known identity, although that is not always the point. As we get close the edge, we start to learn about the barriers that keep us from crossing into to new territory. Sometimes we need to honor our fear and back away. And sometimes we must cross the same edge again and again to gain real familiarity with that passage and truly get it into our bones. These are difficult calls.  Each time we negotiate an edge, we can learn what is new in the world beyond who or what we know or believe ourselves to be.  All of it is an important part of the learning we do in approaching what we fear. We can look to the other side but nothing and no one can tell us what the experience of being at or crossing any particular edge will be like and what we will discover once there.

And Just like That, Everything’s Changed

by Julie Diamond, Ph.D.

Last Tuesday, I emailed attendees who were signed up for my workshop at the end of the month, letting them know we intended to hold it.

Twelve hours later, we cancelled it.

We’re in a strange new reality. For most of us, it’s like nothing we’ve experienced in our lifetime. For others, this is not new; you have lived through other crises, SARS or HIV/AIDS, raging wildfires, military coups and war, refugee crises.

Crises get unequal attention around the globe. COVID 19 garners global attention because of its level of disruption and global impact, yet many other crises and tragedies have a greater human cost, without the world mobilizing its resources to respond.

But this disruption is unprecedented in its impact on human lives, not just those who become sick or lose loved ones, but a massive economic impact that will be felt for years. It could be that more people die because of hunger, lack of access to resources, violence, or isolation than will die of the virus.

It’s scary and unprecedented. But, I have to keep reminding myself, it’s also normal.

Normal? Yes. Because what is not normal is expecting things to continue, without disruption, without crisis.

Let me explain.

About 15 years ago, my parents came to visit me in Oregon during a particularly rainy week in July. One day, after what felt like the 100th game of gin rummy, I suggested to my Dad that we go outside, and sit on the porch under the awning.

My Dad was getting older, and I was aware I wouldn’t have much time left with him. I wanted to make sure that before I lost him, I knew his life: what he felt, what he was proud of, what he regretted, his struggles and successes. And I also wanted to know about my relatives long gone. Dad was the last link to my ancestors, shadowy figures in my mind. What were their stories? What were the lives behind those names I grew up hearing, names that seemed so odd and old fashioned to my young ears: Arnold, Gertrude, Tillie, Ruth, and Florence?

So there we sat, under the dripping eaves, my Dad with a cup of coffee in his lap, and me, balancing a legal pad on my knees. I asked questions and Dad talked. We sat for hours, even as it started to get dark, my father telling me story after story about uncles, aunts, grandparents and great grandparents. And while Dad talked, I scribbled down notes, notes I still have, filed away somewhere in my file cabinet.

Hearing the stories of these people was a revelation. Not because any of them were special or did amazing things. Far from it. They were ordinary people, who lived ordinary lives. It was a revelation because each and everyone of them had the exact same story. And it went like this:

  1. [Insert name] was born in [city, small village in the old country] with nothing but the shirt on his/her back, and $5 dollars, not speaking English
  2. She/he worked hard/found a job/went to college/got married
  3. Then lost everything because of
  4. Pogroms/First World War/Depression/Second World War/Holocaust/polio/mental illness/fire
  1. Then recovered, and went into business/got married and had four children/opened up a grocery store/sold shoes
  2. Then lost everything again because of
  3. Illness/bankruptcy/war/divorce/death of a spouse or child
  4. Then recovered and started all over again. Or not.

Up and down. Gained it and then lost it. Fled violence and poverty, started a new life, then died in the war. Put himself through school working night shifts as a janitor, started a business, and then lost it all in the Depression. Married a childhood sweetheart and then lost him or her to cancer or polio or mental illness.

Each and every one, made a life and lost it. Built something and then had to start from scratch. Up and down. Sometimes two or three times in one lifespan.

Sitting there, on the porch in the July rain, it struck me that this was normal. My life was not.

I didn’t feel lucky, though. I felt uneasy. It was sobering. Because at that moment, three things struck me with utter clarity:

  1. What I’ve come to expect, that my life will be free from crisis or massive disruption, and that my gains will continue, is not at all certain. In fact….
  2. It’s just a matter of time before probability catches up with me. It’s not that things could happen, they will. Because that little dot that is me, on the graph of x (time) and y (place) in history is such an unlikely occurrence, so statistically improbable, that yes, it was just a matter of time. My life is the exception not the rule, and the rule is pandemics, wars, depression, and  immigration. And this made me realize that
  3. I was not prepared.

Many of you readers, and millions of people across the globe live through these ups and downs. But for some, like me, you may not have had anything of this magnitude impact your lives so immediately and intensely.

That afternoon on the porch with my Dad changed me. I began to think more seriously about what could happen to disrupt my life. What could I lose? What do I take for granted? And most important, how prepared am I to do without?

Here’s what those ancestors whispered to me:

  • Any success is not permanent, nor is it certain.
  • Starting over again is inevitable.
  • Prepare for difficulty, always. That doesn’t mean stocking up on toilet paper. It means be mentally prepared to lose, to have to start over again, from scratch.
  • Be ready to live without: without the routines you think you can’t live without. Without luxuries. Without comforts, and without your loved ones.

My ancestors were a tough and scrappy lot. They came to a new country with no money, no relatives or friends, not speaking the language. They fought hard and toughed it out. So, preparing for difficulties doesn’t mean giving up easily. Work hard and fight for what you want, but also be prepared to let it go.

With that in mind, I intend to use this time of isolation wisely, to improve at something, to do something I’ve been putting off, to get better at living without. I hope you, too, use this time wisely and well.

Ryan Holiday wrote in his Daily Stoic newsletter last week,”Don’t let the possible weeks or months of isolation be for nothing. … The version of you who steps out of quarantine at some future date can be better than the version that entered it, if you try.”

Be kind to yourself, and be good to each other. If you have the privilege of a salary, or can easily work from home, be grateful, but also see what you can do to help out hourly workers who may lose their paychecks, or those who still have to go to work and are more exposed.

Schools are closed. Is there something you can do to help people who have to choose between caring for children or working?

In the United States a staggering ⅔ of school children, 22 million children, depend on free school lunch for their food. Is there some way you can help out, donate, or drop off food supplies?

The elderly are advised to stay home and not have visitors. How about starting a phone tree, engaging your friends and family to call people who may be feeling isolated or anxious. Offer to pick up and drop off groceries.

Fear is normal. And I know my ancestors were afraid at times but they did not let anxiety or fear get the best of them. They soldiered on. Which is why I’m here. And though we have no control over the virus, we do have control over how we respond.

I know that my ancestors would heartily agree with Tom Hanks, quarantined in Australia with COVID 19, who reminded us all in his Instagram post: “There’s no crying in baseball.”

Be well, everyone.

And as always, thank you for reading.

– Julie

To subscribe to Julie’s newsletter, click here.

Finding Possibility

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by Umair Haque

Umair Haque wrote this piece entitled “Finding Possibility.” Umair is a thought leader, consultant and author whose personal journey from the achievement and trappings of success to a devastating fatal diagnosis and beyond helped him find peace, happiness and a passion to give to others. Here is an excerpt from one of  his reflections called The Sky in Us: Holding Possibility, an argument for transcending rationality and seeing the world and ourselves as possibility.

We do not really try bold things anymore, do we? Our ambitions are limited to staving off further decline. This is a lack of spirit, isn’t it?

Holding mind too close always breaks the spirit. The mind only believes in what is probable. It is limited by what has been.

Would the seed ever break the soil that way? Would the river ever reach the ocean? Would the rain ever burst the cloud?

So in this age of mind, this age of little delusions and big thoughts, if we are really to change anything at all, let us begin with us. And just discover that we are not only mind desperately clinging to self, like the clouds trying to contain the sky. How can they?


We are heart longing for possibility, and spirit containing impossibility. That is the sky in us.

The seed contains the tree, the tree contains the forest, the forest contains the rain, the rain contains the river, the river contains the ocean, the ocean contains the sky.

There is everything in that one seed. The sky is born right there in it.

Let us see the world that way.

Pull the Next One Up

summit
JONATHON RELD Shot at Maiden Dam, near King Williams Town, Eastern Cape, South Africa

by Marc Kelly Smith

When you get to the top of the mountain
Pull the next one up.
Then there’ll be two of you
Roped together at the waist
Tired and proud, knowing the mountain,
Knowing the human force it took
To bring both of you there.

And when the second one has finished
Taking in the view,
Satisfied by the heat and perspiration under the wool,
Let her pull the next one up;
Man or woman, climber of mountains.
Pull the next hand over
The last jagged rock
To become three.
Two showing what they’ve already seen.

And one knowing now the well-being with being
Finished with one mountain,
With being able to look out a long way
Toward other mountains.
Feeling a temptation to claim victory
As if mountains were human toys to own.

When you ask how high is this mountain
With a compulsion to know
Where you stand in relationship to other peaks,
Look down to wherefrom you came up

And see the rope that’s tied to your waist
Tied to the next man’s waist,
Tied to the next woman’s waist,
Tied to the first man’s waist,
To first woman’s waist … and pull the rope!

Never mind the flags you see flapping on conquered pinnacles.
Don’t waste time scratching inscriptions into the monolith.
You are the stone itself.
And each man, each woman up the mountain,
Each breath exhaled at the peak,
Each glad-I-made-it … here’s-my-hand,
Each heartbeat wrapped around the hot skin of the sun-bright sky,
Each noise panted or cracked with laughter,
Each embrace, each cloud that holds everyone in momentary doubt …

All these are inscriptions of a human force that can
Conquer conquering hand over hand pulling the rope
Next man up, next woman up.
Sharing a place, sharing a vision.
Room enough for all on all the mountain peaks.
Force enough for all
To hold all the hanging bodies
Dangling in the deep recesses of the mountain’s belly
Steady … until they have the courage …

Until they know the courage …
Until they understand
That the only courage there is is
To pull the next man up
Pull the next woman up
Pull the next up

Up

Up.

To read more about Marc Kelly Smith, founder of the poetry slam, go to www.marckellysmith.net

The Pain is Our Pain

IMG_2904By Brandon Haydon

The pain is our pain.
It is the wound in the world and
we are of the world.
I know that all moments,
across the whole of humanity,
are occasions of suffering and joy,
beyond my scope.

I suppose that when a blow lands
so close to heart and home,
the perimeter I hold against the tides of sorrow
breaks like a levee, and I risk such deluge.
The dark roil of Her great injury takes my breath.
Like black waves made of such gravity
that my light cannot escape.
For a moment longer than time,
in that numb, drowned dungeon, in a hole in the world,
I forget that it is not the whole of the world.

Camus inquires, “what else is there to do but live?”

And living is the celebration of the love
from which we emerge, deeper than our knowing
or our feeling because it is the love from the Source
where they are still the same.
I choose it.
My sight is bleary and my heart is pierced
and chained but I see you all stir and rise beside me.
I rise.
I remember.
I hail you, the other ships upon the roil.
Like lanterns that shatter the illusion of starless night.
Breaking the dark horizon with hope of a thousand
soul-sized suns in the fire-bled sky.

How To Be a LGBT Ally

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by Hayley Miller

This post originally appeared on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) blog on October 5, 2015,  in advance of National Coming Out Day.  It was written by Hayley Miller, Senior Digital Media Associate.  We think it contains valuable information for anyone wanting to become more affirming and supportive to LGBT friends and family members.

For a lot of people, learning that someone they know and care about is LGBT can open a range of emotions, from confused to concerned, awkward to honored. It may be hard to know how to react, leaving you with questions about what to say, how to talk about being LGBT and wanting to know what you can do to be supportive.

An “ally” is a term used to describe someone who is supportive of LGBT people. It encompasses non-LGBT allies as well as those within the LGBT community who support each other, e.g. a lesbian who is an ally to the bisexual community.

Here are five ways you can be an LGBT ally:

  1. Be honest:  It’s important to be honest with yourself — acknowledging your feelings and coming to terms with them. And it means being honest with the person who came out in your life — acknowledging you aren’t an expert, asking them what’s important to them, seeking resources to better understand the realities of being an LGBT individual so that you can be truly informed and supportive.
  2. Send gentle signals: Showing and sharing your acceptance and support can be very easy. Many people often don’t realize that LGBT people keep watch for signs from their friends, family and acquaintances about whether it is safe to be open with them. It can be as subtle as having an LGBT-themed book on your coffee table.
  3. Have courage: Just as it takes courage for LGBT people to be open and honest about who they are, it also takes courage to support your LGBT friends or loved ones. We live in a society where prejudice still exists and where discrimination is still far too common. Recognizing these facts and giving your support to that person will take your relationship to a higher level and is a small step toward a better and more accepting world.
  4. Be reassuring: Explain to a someone who came out to you that their sexual orientation or gender identity has not changed how you feel about them, but it might take a little while for you to digest what they have told you. You still care for and respect them as much as you ever have or more. And that you want to do right by them and that you welcome them telling you if anything you say or do is upsetting.
  5. Let your support inform your decisions: It’s about working to develop a true understanding of what it means to be LGBT in America and trying to do your part to help break down the walls of prejudice and discrimination that still exist — for example, by supporting businesses with appropriate anti-discrimination policies, saying you don’t appreciate “humor” that demeans LGBT people when it happens or learning about where political candidates stand on issues that have an impact on the LGBT community.

HRC’s Coming Out as a Supporter resource, made in partnership with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National, is intended to be a welcoming guide for supporters to build bridges of understanding when someone they know comes out to them as LGBT. The guide answers initial questions and shares facts, strategies, and ways to show your support as an ally in the fight for LGBT equality.

Read the guide in full here.

Polyamory Book: Stories from the Polycule

Polyamory BookI am pleased to announce that my friend and associate, sociologist and researcher,  Dr. Elisabeth Sheff recently published her newest book, Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families. The first of its kind, this anthology collects stories and essays written by and about real people living in “polycules”: the networks between people in polyamorous relationships.

This new polyamory book gives an in-depth look into the experiences of children growing up in families with more than two parents, as well as what it’s like to co-parent with more than one partner. From triads to solos, poly veterans to newcomers, all kinds of relationships and configurations are represented in alternatively funny, poignant, and life-affirming portraits of real families.  

The book also features an essay written by myself. You can read an excerpt from this chapter here.

Elizabeth (Eli) Sheff is a leading authority on polyamory, and author of the book and Psychology Today blog The Polyamorists Next Door. To learn more about her, visit elisabethsheff.com.

Meditation on Weathering: The Inevitability of Aging

weatheringWeathering
by Fleur Adcock

My face catches the wind
from the snow line
and flushes with a flush

that will never wholly settle.
Well, that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young forever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
and only pretty enough to be seen
with a man who wanted to be seen
with a passable woman.

But now that I am in love
with a place that doesn’t care
how I look and if I am happy,
happy is how I look and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake,
my waist thicken, and the years
work all their usual changes.

If my face is to be weather beaten as well,
it’s little enough lost
for a year among the lakes and vales
where simply to look out my window
at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors
and to what my soul may wear
over its new complexion.

I have a favorite bench that overlooks Lake Michigan here in Evanston, IL. I call it my “eternity bench” due to an experience, I frequently have when looking at the beach, lake and horizon from there. I often sense something that exists throughout and beyond space and time. However esoteric that may sound, that has been and is my experience there.

Reading the poem, Weathering, I am in touch by something similar  — the inevitability of aging, and the something that connects me to everything over all time and to all of us who have the privilege of aging. Like the author, Fleur Adcock, I look less in my bathroom mirror to find beauty or lack thereof, and look more within to find it.

As I live with my own aging process and that of aging clients, I appreciate our weathering, our regrets and joys, as we sometimes fight against and sometimes drop deeply into the eldership of weathering.

About 30 years ago, I knew a woman who had her face lifted and tucked, implanted, slimmed down, puffed up and pulled so tightly that she had a slightly permanent smile. But she couldn’t laugh because her face couldn’t move. At 75, her face showed no signs of having lived.  It was actually quite sad.

I grow to appreciate my wrinkles, and sun spots, and even a little sagging here and there. Those spots tell me how much pleasure I have had walking the lakefront and the seashore, face up to the elements — wind, rain, snow, sunshine. Ahhh, weathering!