Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On 2008...

Looking back is an interesting exercise. There's this assortment of memories that stand out for me from the past year. Like going to New Orleans for a Personality Assessment conference, walking down Bourbon Street, and thinking that I'll never listen to Sting's "There's a Moon Over Bourbon Street" quite the same way again. I remember the conferences I attended and learned so much from -- some of which was technical, but mostly about expanding compassion and humanness in this work that I do.

I remember golfing more this last year than I have in the past. I remember time spent on the driving range, time spent looking for advice on how to fix my swing flaws. I remember being good enough to routinely beat my older brother's scores when he came back from Japan for a few weeks -- and how empty that was, how just having that time together was far more meaningful.

I remember the growth and progress of my sons, moments of joy and frustration, progress and puzzlement. Mostly I remember the pride I feel in them and the love they inspire from me.

I remember the election, how my hopes soared and my interest peaked. I remember being glued to political coverage and the talk of the punditry. I remember following opinion polls and the trends of such polls. I remember my sadness at the loss of Tim Russert, who was one of my favorite TV personalities.

I remember moments in therapy -- moments of surprise and delight, moments of connection, moments of sadness.

I remember talks with friends, the joy of reconnecting with old friends on Facebook, and the wisdom I so often have the privilege of finding on the blogs I follow.

I remember reading Pema Chodron and listening to some of her audiotaped lectures. Such good stuff.

Peace be to all of you, and the best of wishes for a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Seeing beyond...

I've been reading this new Psychology book on "Metacognitive Therapy." It has some pretty interesting things to say about why we become depressed or anxious when we do, but that may be a post for another day. On this day, I've been considering what it has to say about feelings and reality. One of the things the author discusses is the need to get a sense of detachment from our feelings and thoughts -- to see past them, through them, or beyond them -- in order to get at the reality of what is happening. Or, put another way, to focus our attention externally rather than filtering our sense of reality through an inner "filter."

I say this in part because I have not been feeling particularly ready for Christmas this year. There's my struggle with church, with religion, for one thing. And there's also a sense of loss I have around that topic, particularly around Christmas.

But as I try to see beyond those reactions, I'm aware that my underlying faith is not diminished by the fact that I'm experiencing a struggle with my religious tradition. I'm aware that my experience of loss doesn't mean that this occasion is any less full of meaning, joy, or love. And that perhaps new insights or appreciation stem precisely from this type of struggle.

In any case, peace be with all of you this Holiday season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A dream

Mary visited me in my dreams last night. Yes, THAT Mary (hey, I was raised Catholic after all!).

Anyway, it seems that she wanted to clear something up about that whole "Silent Night" thing. Turns out, the night was not so silent.

"Jesus screamed his little head off" she informed me.

"Really?" I asked. "But he's, you know..."


"Yeah, God."

"Well, how would you feel about the rather abrupt shift from being in heaven to living on earth?"

"Umm, well..."

"And how else was he supposed to let us know that he was uncomfortable? Or hungry? Or just wanted to be held?"

"Alright, alright, I get it," I demured. "But somehow it just doesn't seem think of the night that way."

Mary shook her head at me. "Your problem is that you too easily attribute holiness to feelings or images that are comforting. Didn't your boys cry when they were born?"

"All the time," I agreed.

"And did that make them, or make their births, any less holy?"

"Well, umm, no, I guess not."

"Their cries are opportunities for us to give them comfort, for relationship, for connection. They are as filled with holiness as any other moment, if you can just get past they distress they create in you."

"Yeah, alright, Mary" I offered. "But you gotta admit, 'Screaming Night, Holy Night' just doesn't have the same ring to it. It sounds like one of those bad horror movies that they put out on Christmas."

And Mary laughed.