Values are what bring distinction to your life. You don't find them, you choose them. And when you do, you're on the path to fulfillment.
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Tales of Transformation
My husband and my father died of heart attacks. One friend needs cardiac surgery; another is pale and unsteady; a client's husband just dropped dead. Am I worried? You betcha!
I try to embrace the tears, welcome the sadness, accept the anxiety of unresolved change in my world.
On July 4th, I didn’t fly my flag because I am ashamed of the President’s language, behavior, and policy. And then I learned to embrace my patriotism as a political act.
In three days, I have become the self I want to be: slower, relaxed, creative, open, curious, attentive.
I’m using numbers to improve my physical, emotional, cognitive, and financial health. The numbers I focus on make me feel in control of my life.
The therapist meets my eyes. “How do you feel about your experts?” The answer is immediate. The tears come again, and with them the simple truth: “I feel safe.”
How the little girls in us fought for attention.
When you're the only woman in the room without children.
Boxes and bags appear to press toward me from all across the room. My stomach tightens, my breath gets shallow, claustrophobia threatens. I close my eyes.
Annie's deep blue eyes meet mine across the 75 miles that separate us. "It’s been a long, hard road,” she says.
I go to imminent demise from a three-centimeter polyp and a blip on a heart-rate monitor.
“I find I don’t like contemplating disaster very much,” Annie notes.
Grief is a rich time, a time of growth if we permit ourselves to be open to it.
As I think about my mother now in the great beyond, I’ll be kept warm by all that unexpected kindness, all that goodness in the world.
He died suddenly, and the trauma of finding him dead hit me pretty hard.
“Whoa!” Rocco exclaims. Eleanor looks away. Ed flinches. India maintains her smiling gaze, but I see her back press against her wheelchair, braced against that speed.
Lark turns and faces me. “It’s the secret room.”
“You may feel a need to escape once you get inside," Lark says as we stand on the landing outside her apartment.
That’s a weird sentence, so I’m going to repeat it for emphasis. I am privileged: I have never been threatened, assaulted, or raped.
Hal says, "When you’ve got intimacy, and you add touching, you’ve got really good sex.”
"I can see you're a good girl, and that you'll work hard," she says, and her affirmation makes me sure that I am and I will, without question.
“Does anyone else feel worried about the safety of a family member?”
“I feel closer to them all,” Carla says. “And I feel so sad to know they are gone from us.”
"There won't be another son," I say quietly. There's a long silence, and then Jack says. "No. There won't be another son."
I feel like I don't breathe for 45 minutes, as each person describes the death of their loved one.
"Willa," I say, "you have to stop riding. It's too dangerous."
I have had diabetes for 44 years, 6 months, and 29 days. But who's counting?
"Going blind," Willa says, "I fear I may become invisible."
I want to protect myself, in that way we do when we're reading a really good book and are afraid of what we suspect is going to happen.
The past 20 years are a gift I wouldn't have had if I had completed suicide: all the adventures, the growth, the connections, the happiness!
Elizabeth Young is a writer and therapist, as well as an adjunct faculty member in the MSW program at Springfield College.