Tag: Support

Just One Decision – That’s All It Takes

Just One Decision – That’s All It Takes

Sunflowre by Annelein Beukenkamp
Floral/Still Life – Sunflower by Annelein Beukenkamp Watercolors

Most of us remember our parents warning us as teens and young adults to think twice before doing a thing we were thinking about doing. Those of us with children did the same. We caution(ed) them as we were cautioned, suggesting they look before they leap. There’s even a cliché for this advice. Experience taught our parents, as it taught us, that life can go awry in a big way. Thinking and evaluating before we act is a good thing.

Too often, however, this sensible advice came with other subtle messages attached to it. The warning may have been delivered from a place of fear. The real message may have been, “I screwed up so many times in my life and suffered the consequences, I love you too much to watch you do the same thing.” We hear the fear and attach it to our own.

Making decisions, particularly decisions that stretch and grow us, is an intimidating proposition for most. Either we haven’t a clue about what we’re getting in to, or we’ve fallen so many times we’re terrified to try again. This is why we absolutely need and benefit from support and guidance.

Guidance is something many who struggle as adults never received as children.  Guidance helps us see the possibilities, good and bad, it shares experiences and stories as story lessons, it helps us process our fears in a constructive manner.  When guidance is missing, warnings illicit fear and rebellion, the antithesis of moving creativity forward to a positive conclusion.

The creative spirit, the life force, in each of us longs to be set free. It longs for an avenue of expression, for experiences that feed it, for success, accomplishment, and growth. In essence it’s very nature is expansion. When our spirit and desire to live, love and create is thwarted by fear, it draws inward. We become depressed, frustrated, angry, or confused and life doesn’t go well. Our relationships flounder, our work life is not to our liking, our world looks dingy and fulfilling. We may even despair, or give up trying.

Picture quote Anais Nin


If you find yourself in this place, if you are stuck and not living a life you love, one decision can change everything. It did for me.

I had little guidance as a young person, at least guidance that was useful and that resonated with who I am.  As a result, I made one less than stellar decision after another. To compound matters when I faced with recovering from my poor decisions, I had no support.  We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn and grow.

Guidance and support is a valuable commodity when it comes to learning from our mistakes.

As time went on I grew more and more fearful of taking risks. The only way I could figure out how to decrease the pain in my life was to live a smaller and smaller life and do what I thought I was “supposed” to do – what family, society, friends thought I should do. I shoved down my creative spirit and locked it away. At times it would sneak out and lead me to a decision – some were good, some not so good – but I’d lock myself down more often than not.

That is, until my early fifties when the time came to either live or die.

It was a horrendous battle, that began with my willingness to find the courage it took to make one small decision, a decision made for me and from me, not for my children, my husband, our business, my family or for any other external reason.

I made the decision to sign up for and take an online writing class. I was fifty-one. I don’t want to bore you with the details here, but that one decision changed my life. Was it an easy process? Not on your life. It took another ten years before I could say I am happy and at peace with who I am and my life and I will always be a work in progress.

Do yourself a favor. If you’re feeling stuck, unhappy, confused, lost, or overwhelmed, make just one decision from the center of you, one that will take you in the direction you long to go. If you don’t know what that decision is, or need or want support and guidance,  reach out to me or someone you know can provide it. You’re worth it. The world needs you. It needs the best of you.




Our Spiritual Nature

Our Spiritual Nature

spiritual art
The Tree of Transformation
by Mary Ann Holley

My nights of late have been filled with dreams of struggle. Arguments, unease, confusion. I am going through a deep change. I can feel it happening in many areas of my life and my dreams seem to be reflecting the movement.

What’s different this time is that some of the dreams are violent. I don’t recall ever having violent dreams like these – along the line of the stuff that permeates our nation’s television and movie screens – and i t makes me wonder if something within me is reacting to the violence in the world.  When we open ourselves to the spiritual world, we may sometimes find that we react more strongly to the negative forces around us, both personally and globally.

I remember feeling the same dynamic some thirty years ago when I was drawn in a quantum leap into a deepening of my spirituality.  A series of events, a mentor, a sense of calling and a deep need to live out that calling, and the next thing I knew I was spending hours reading and meditating on the words of great spiritual teachers and heading to seminary. While my heart and soul were going in one direction, my mind and body were still very much alert and living in the everyday world and culture.

I was a senior in college,  although little older than most at twenty-five, and it was a Friday night. My roommate and I decided to go see a movie that had just come out.  Going to the movies back then was a very different experience than it is today.  We didn’t have a choice of fifteen movies. There was only one, and it generally stayed around for a very long time. A new movie was a much bigger deal and more of an event.  “Death Wish”, with Charles Bronson, was getting some buzz, though I can’t say I read anything about it before going, so we set out to take it in.

I only made it half way through the opening scene. I was so horrified and repulsed by what I witnessed on the screen that I got up and left. My roommate came running after me wondering what the heck had happened. We’d been friends for several years, and she knew I was not particularly naive, or underexposed to the darker side of life. I was a New Yorker, for crying out loud. I spent many a weekend wandering the streets of Manhattan with friends, from Times Square to 42nd Street. We saw it all. This time, it was not what I saw, but how I saw it, that was different. I was not separated from it. It was happening to me and I was repulsed by it as if I had been actually present at or participating in the crime.

I didn’t understand what was happening to me then, or how to handle it, any more than I understood how to handle a similar experience when I was fourteen.  A week at summer church camp had drawn me deep into the center of my spirituality. It was profound, life altering even, and yet, when I returned home, I didn’t have a clue how to share what I had experienced with the people in my life or how to keep the change alive by incorporating it into my every day life. I blamed myself, but really, in spite of being a church goer in a church going family, I didn’t have the tools, or the support to actually guide me in living out of what I only sensed to be something very real and very powerful. I did not have a guide of any sort, within or without of the church, to teach me to manage something so undefinable yet all-encompassing. I was trying to bring a symbolic understanding of life into a very linear, literal world. I find it astounding that as a society we’ve chosen to spend so much time, effort and money educating the minds of our children, but have done nothing to guide and nurture their spirits.  Even organized religion has fallen down on the job choosing to mandate more often than moderate.

As I stood in the lobby of the movie theater that night, I sensed that a new perspective had a hold of me. Again, I did not know how to speak it into the world — the real, every day world and I’m pretty sure Jena was as perplexed by my behavior as I was. I told her I was sorry and that I’d be happy to wait for her if she wanted to go back in and watch the rest of the movie.  I didn’t want to ruin the evening for her, but I just couldn’t watch it. She said she wasn’t all that into it anyway and we went for ice cream instead.

I’ve never gone back and watched that particular movie, but I’m pretty sure it’s tame by comparison to what is on our many screens today.  What I have come to understand about my experience is something that warrants attention, both on an individual level and a cultural one.

I believe that human beings are spiritual creatures by nature. A creative, loving force lives within each of us. Some call it God, some call it our soul or Soul, others Source without source, or the divine.  We are creatures who think symbolically and we understand intuitively, that there is power in a name. It is not surprising that we seek a name that feels right to us, one that is congruent with our beliefs. Whatever one calls it, it is the essence of what it means to be a human being, it is what I call our spiritual nature, that thing or force that fires our passions, erupts in love, and drives our richest, most meaningful creativity.

Our freewill, however, allows us to choose where we focus our passion, the creative force we hold within us. Therefore, we can just as easily choose to direct it toward something finite or evil, as toward something infinite or benevolent. A third option, that I believe to be most prevalent today, is the choice which is actually the denial of choice. We don’t know what to do with our spiritual nature so we do nothing.  We don’t know how to handle it, or what it looks like, or what to do about it, and so we push it aside. We neglect it. We ignore it. We bury it in day-to-day detritus.

The longer we neglect it the duller our awareness of its importance and power becomes. Our spiritual nature will always exist, but our sense of spirituality is deadened and dulled in much the same way that a neglected child loses interest in life and becomes despondent and unresponsive. We fire ourselves up by focusing on superficial concerns and we live with our ego as our guide. This choice is ultimately our own, but in a world devoid of spiritual guidance, such as that once offered in abundance by organized religion, we are easily stymied and at a loss as to how to help ourselves.  Managing the spiritual world, particularly when we live in a cultural that is so potent with its antithesis, is no mean feat.

Organized religion has become irrelevant to the masses, and nothing, as yet, has replaced it.  We have spiritual gurus popping up like daisies, each with their own brand of theology,  each gathering their own band of followers. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but having a viable spiritual guide or community in ones own neighborhood is rare. We don’t know who, or what, to turn to or to trust.

There’s a great divide between the spiritual and the cultural. Is it any different from the past? I really don’t know. What I do know, is that in the here and now, there is a great dearth of spiritual guidance for the individual, and spiritual leadership with integrity is in short supply. It’s no wonder we find ourselves adrift. It’s no wonder as a culture we become increasingly secular. We know we have outgrown the guidance offered in the past, but our mistake is that we think we need none now.

This is not an issue that is resolved easily for anyone and so I will offer no answers here. Just food for thought in what in my mind is a very pressing question. I welcome your thoughts and reactions.

We All Need Support

We All Need Support


It took far longer than I would like it to have taken, for me to understand what real “support” looks like. I’m a rebellious sort, by  nature or nurture it’s hard to say, and I have never liked people telling me what to do, think, or say. It’s one of the primary reasons I did not pursue ordination after I graduated from seminary.  I couldn’t buy into any one denomination so completely that I felt I could follow their rules and dictates, nor did I want someone telling me how, when and where  to live out my faith. (I was ever so idealistic and naive!)

Instead of living under the umbrella of organized religion, I chose as soon as possible to become self-employed.  Sometimes I envied people who could cozy up to a group, business or organization and make it their life. It provided structure, guidance, answers to questions that required no thought, or questioning, or finding one’s way through the dark. Going it alone can mean little if any support, unless you make a conscious effort to seek it. As an introvert, I did not and I rarely had time.

Years ago I believed that a “supportive friend” was one with whom I could commiserate; someone who would rally behind me in my anger and frustrations with life. Of course, I would return the favor. I remember the exact day I decided I was done with that kind of support.

In my late twenties, I was working for a small non-profit organization, drowning in politics and drama. Caught in the middle of the fray, I was fired. Understandably stunned, upset and angry,  I went home and started calling whoever I thought would understand and see things my way.

After several days on the phone with various friends and co-workers, I came to the conclusion I was not getting what I wanted. In fact,  it was making matters worse. Some of the people I was “sharing” with weren’t even really on my side.  In fact, I was drowning in pity, judgement and platitudes, and feeling more and more inadequate and flawed by the minute.  In that moment, I decided I would never again share my problems with anyone, especially in that way.  I was on to something, but it took me many more years to take the step I really needed to take.

I went on to use a different flawed approach, going it alone. Except for my husband, I shared my personal life with no one, unless I was paying for the privilege. That didn’t stop me from listening, supporting and empathizing with the few  friends that I did have over the years.  By the time I reached fifty, I was crumbling fast. I was burned out. I was carrying a weight so heavy I was practically crawling on my knees.

It wasn’t until the accident, that I finally stumbled upon the real solution. I was no longer on my hands and knees, I was flat-out, face first in the mud. I couldn’t breathe or move, let alone think or feel my way out of the place I was in. Every ounce of security I had once felt, and I admit it was not a ton, had evaporated through my fingers. I could trust no one and nothing, most especially  myself.

Immediately after the accident my focus was on my hand. Several times a week my husband drove me to rehab, as I could not drive, and there I received loving care and emotional support from Jane, the physical therapist who worked with me. As look back on it, she did as much for my emotional state as she did my hand; helped me find the courage to keep going and to believe in a positive outcome.

It took two years for my hand to heal enough that I no longer was constantly reminded of the injury by my difficulties with typing, removing jar or gripping the steering wheel of the car.  The stiffness and pain was also within an acceptable range. Now, I’ve gotten used to the scars and the way my pinky turns under. I didn’t know that I had yet to face the bigger challenge of PTSD.

Unable to think clearly, leave the house, drive a car, or return to my writing with any sense of purpose or direction, I began to consider seeking help. For what, I really didn’t know.  What I knew was that I was terrified to go to sleep at night; that I could not “feel” my feelings; that I was not “in” my body; that I had panic attacks regularly and often over little things. During the day I was riveted to my chair in the living room by fear and immobility. At night, I managed to get myself to sleep by listening to ebooks by such life savers as Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Byron Katie, Brene Brown and so many others. That was my first step in find support and comfort.

As I look back on it now, getting back on my feet has been a step by step process that absolutely required the support of friends and professionals, but friends and professionals who “got me”, who did not offer me platitudes,  pity,  judgment,  opinions, or unasked for advice. What I needed, and what I’ve come to believe everyone needs, is understanding, compassion, wisdom and a willingness to believe in us, when we no longer believe in ourselves. We need people in our lives who reflect back to us our truest self, with love.

What I have also come to accept about myself is that I need support from people who can go deep; who can speak to me in the symbolic language of soul and spirit where I live. Traditional therapy, while I have spent more hours and days engaged in such over my lifetime, has never been particularly helpful, or healing. When I turned to Crystal for help, I turned in the right direction. I’ve learned so incredibly much from working with her and it was possible because she has always seen me as a whole person, body, mind and spirit. She addresses all of my needs while challenging me to step up to the plate.

My dear, wonderful friend Jill also has the capacity to listen to my heart, to challenge my mind and to encourage me to grow and stretch into the center of me. She reflects back to me my real self.  These two people, their advice, guidance and counsel provided the foundation for my growing understanding of support.  It doesn’t take a dozen friends, it just takes one or two of the right ones and then choosing bit by bit to make oneself vulnerable and open to their love and care.

When you are looking support, look for someone who listens carefully to what you are saying, who can empathize with you and validate your experiences, all the while maintaining enough distance and perspective to offer insight and perspective when asked.  Sounds easy and sensible, but hard to find, even in therapists and especially in healthcare professionals.  Above all else, TRUST OUR INTUITION.

Often the hardest part about getting back on our feet is taking the first step when we’d rather curl up in a ball and die, to muster up the courage and strength to risk again and again until a support system is established. Not to risk is to stay broken, to continue to hurt, to give up and give in to despair and defeat. The only way out is through, and no one else can do it for us.

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright


Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

Holistic Detoxification Process