A Gentle, Gentle Winding Down

A Gentle, Gentle Winding Down

May Sarton’s poem The Work of Happiness, included at the end of this post, gives some indication of how my leaning from retirement into Renaissance has landed me more and more steadily in a deep contentment of a life well lived and work well done. 

I’ve posted these Resources for Recovering Resilience (formerly titled Healing and Awakening into Aliveness and Wholeness) monthly since January 2008, weekly since September 2012, daily during the worst of the pandemic, then slowing down to twice weekly January 2021, weekly since January 2023. And now… 

I will continue to post weekly through June 29, 2023. I’ll take the week off when I am teaching at the Cape Cod Institute, July 3-7, and then send one final wrap-up post delivered to your email inbox July 13. Beginning in August 2023, I will post monthly directly to my website: www.lindagraham-mft.net under practices for recovering resilience.

What does this mean? To me: writing has always been my best practice for pulling my thoughts together in some kind of coherent way, discovering what I believed to be truth by “mind mapping” it through writing. 

Even though I did start a “newspaper” for my 4th grade class, dreamed of becoming a foreign correspondent while editing my high school newspaper, and graduated from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, which I still credit for teaching me how to think and write clearly, my life took a different direction after college.  Into classroom teaching (helping students edit the high school newspaper) and writing grants for non-profit organizations to help minority students explore careers and public interest lawyers protect the environment. 

The writing re-surfaced after becoming a licensed psychotherapist, wanting to have a book to hand to my clients about how to cope with life’s difficulties. Maya Angelou said if the book you want to read hasn’t been written yet, write it yourself. So I did. I wrote Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being because I really believed clients could recover their resilience if they knew how.

So the writing re-emerged as a major force in my life when I began writing Bouncing Back. And I began posting the e-newsletters in 2008 as a way to sort out my thoughts and share the practices from the slowly emerging book. Even now I get emails from folks who have since discovered those early newsletters, Mindfulness and Empathy Create Conscious, Compassionate Connection  or Resilience Re-Visited, on my website, foundational to all of the later teaching and training

Writing these posts became one of three pillars of my professional life, writing Resources for Recovering Resilience, doing psychotherapy with 20 clients/week, and teaching workshops hither and yon based on the book(s). Posting daily during the pandemic helped me stay steady myself in a world grown disruptive and dangerous. 

Very telling that when I retired from clinical work and clinical training July 1, 2022, I continued posting these Resources for Recovering Resilience twice weekly, then weekly beginning January 1, 2023.  A meaningful, enjoyable “bucket” to catch my thoughts and give them shape to share with the world. The winding down now a respectfully slow and gentle process.  

To you: I have received the most heartwarming notes of encouragement and gratitude from readers over the years. So I know these posts have been of some usefulness in bringing light and wisdom to the struggles of a life’s journey. As I matured in my own teaching about resilience, I came to see that learning the practices that help us cultivate and recover our resilience are so important, of course. And learning that we can learn is even more important. Trusting that we have all the capacities we need to meet life’s challenges directly, courageously. And that is my hope for all of you, that you continue to know and trust that you have all that you need to heal and awaken into aliveness and wholeness. And,   all of the posts, since January 2008, will remain archived on my website, easily accessible and downloadable, for you to access whenever you need to. 

The Work of Happiness

I thought of happiness, how it is woven

Out of the silence in the empty house each day 

And how it is not sudden and it is not given 

But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.

No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark 

Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.

No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark, 

But the tree is lifted by this inward work 

And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours 

And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:

The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors, 

White curtains softly and continually blown 

As the free air moves quietly about the room; 

A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall— 

These are the dear familiar gods of home, 

And here the work of faith can best be done, 

The growing tree is green and musical.

For what is happiness but growth in peace, 

The timeless sense of time when furniture 

Has stood a life’s span in a single place, 

And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir 

The shining leaves of present happiness?

No one has heard thought or listened to a mind, 

But where people have lived in inwardness 

The air is charged with blessing and does bless; 

Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

– May Sarton