Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. ~~ Desmond Tutu
Hope is a rather small word. Only four letters and one syllable. Yet people have survived unimaginable accidents, imprisonments, and illnesses. When asked how they held on, most answered continuous hope. That symbolizes a good deal of power in a four-letter word, only one syllable.
How is it such a small word can do so much?
From a base of hope, we see courage, confidence, and happiness arise. These qualities become a coping strategy at a time of difficulty or grief or illness. I’ve had many surgeries over the years, several on my spine. But I had never felt as confused and disheartened as I did right after my surgery this past March. Entering the hospital, I hoped for relief from constant pain.
Since my last posts (here and here), approximately nine weeks have passed. Recovery began the instant the surgeon saw fit to call it complete. Yet, minor complications and some unknowns created a recovery more difficult than expected.
Despite the complications and unknowns, my hope is a reality. The constant pain I suffered since January 24, 2016, until March 6, 2019, is gone!
During these nine weeks, hope has been my mainstay. Of course, there are days when I am discouraged. Or there is a minor setback. But when hope kicks in other feelings surface. The courage to push on through those exercises even though it hurts comes to the fore. The confidence to overcome this stumbling block arises. And a sense of happiness envelops all I must do.
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. 1 Corinthians 13:13 MSG (emphasis mine)
Last week I posted my thoughts and opinions on the turbulent journey we are facing. It was not an uplifting nor light piece.
Today I want to bring hope and light to the page. I believe we have to react with hope and faith in order not to normalize what is happening in our government. Hope coupled with faith helps me hold my personal beliefs strong and founded on solid ground.
But like me, you’ve probably been asking what can I do? how can I help? who needs me to come along? and more. And we’re watching for the light.
WHAT WE CAN DO
FILTER THE NEWS
One thing we have done in our home is agree to limit our intake of news programming by the media. We all are aware that today’s media networks tend to over hype the news they bring us. Media networks, like each of us, have a political preference which impacts their programming.
Here’s what we’ve decided has permission to come into our home daily:
PBS NewsHour will be the first TV news we see each day. We appreciate the intelligent presentation of news items. Most often one or more opinions from authorities on the subject are included.
We then watch the late local news, usually on an ABC affiliate.
Other news arrives in digital from the New York Times, NPR News, NPR Alerts, and The Oregonian.
I am the only user of social media in our home. Stepping back from Facebook and Twitter to a low profile has drained a lot of the vitriol from my life.
I urge you to think about eliminating how much negative information you read. It has helped us meet a more normal balance of emotional health since the election.
VOLUNTEER IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Many opportunities awaited us before and after the election. These opportunities allow us to give back some of our bounty to the marginalized in our community. I have researched and found several organizations accepting monetary and other donations.
Look for organizations in your community providing help to victims of domestic violence. Offer your time or financial support. Domestic abuses heighten in times of turmoil and tension in the rest of our world.
The ACLU stands ready to protect all of us. Why not become a member? If there is a chapter nearby, volunteer to help in some way as a writer, teacher, mentor.
The Southern Poverty Law Center functions to combat hate, intolerance and discrimination. The Center operates from donations. Legal fees are not charged to those they help, so donations are important.
Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization. Reach Out and Read operates to incorporate books into pediatric care. The programs encourage families to read aloud together. Reach Out and Read appreciates financial donations. Check out their volunteer page and find a way to find a program in your area and a list of ways you can take part. You can help by donating books, leading a program, reading to a child. What better way to give hope and promise of a future.
Volunteers often work with English as a second language students, both children and adults. Students learn to read and write English and converse. Check with schools and community colleges that might offer such programs.
Our local church home is one way we connect with the marginalized in our community. Often we help prepare meals for the hungry and work with Habitat for Humanity to build houses. Our congregation welcomes a homeless family a place for temporary shelter.
This list offers suggestions only. Each community has its own needs, and I’m certain you will be able to find a way to give back. By giving back, our lives are enriched. In the current political climate, we may find more people living on the margins than before. To counteract our own feelings, we must act and offer some type of help.
ARTICLES FOR READING AND USING IN MOVING AHEAD
The following are articles which crossed my desk via my computer. I found them helpful. Some of the suggestions above came from the Nicholas Kristof article.
I recommend subscribing to On Being with Krista Tippett. My subscription brings hope, solace, and inspiration to my inbox. The staff consists of some remarkable writers. Visit On Being just once, and I’m betting you’ll get hooked. I did.
In times like this, I turn to some of my favorite writers: Eckhart Tolle, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Buechner, Julian of Norwich, and others.
WHAT WE CAN DO AS WRITERS
I believe in the power of writing. Writing sends our feelings, opinions, and beliefs on a variety of topics out to others. We have to continue to write. Search for publications looking for essays, short stories (fiction or nonfiction), poetry and submit something giving hope to future tomorrows.
We can also look for writing programs in our communities aimed at helping young writers. One example I found is Girls Write Now, a New York-based program. Review their site. Perhaps those of you in large cities will find something like this to use your writing skills. WriteGirl in Los Angeles is seeking mentors to work with girls and young women. Mentors may be either male or female
Whatever you choose to take part in–peaceful protests, a Veterans program, reading to children, donating food and dollars to the hungry, providing warm clothes for the coming winter, and other ways–remember the message to deliver is one of love and hope.
We are in early days yet and although things may still look dark, I cling to the hope that the system of checks and balances put into place by our Founding Fathers holds strong.
Ours is a great country. We have had our struggles in decades past but no one ever said America was not a great country until someone said, “Make America great again.” She has always been great, and she still is.
Think on these words, if nothing else:
Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.
I know from personal experience that writing has a healing effect.
From the age of eleven when I received a pink journal with a lock and key, I have written my way through my life challenges. Writing in my journal always makes me feel like I have a safe place to go to unload my concerns and fears. And when I do, I can make sense out of what I am feeling. It feels like my concerns take on a different shape once they land on the pages. Often times when I go back to read my entries over, I will see something I haven’t seen before—a new insight or idea that might help me understand myself a little better.
What I didn’t know when I started writing but have since found out is there is scientific evidence that what I experience intuitively has a tangible health benefits.
Dr. James Pennebaker (http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/) is a noted psychotherapist who has studied the therapeutic effects of writing on health. Now a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and the author of Opening Up, he chronicled his own journey of healing from depression through writing.
Recent research suggests writing may even ease the symptoms of serious non-psychiatric diseases. For example, blood tests show that subjects have more robust immune systems several weeks after completing writing exercises. http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun02/writing.aspx this link refers to all material through quote on next page.)
Another leading researcher in this field of writing to heal is Dr. Joshua Smyth of Syracuse University. He is quoted by Bridget Murray, in this article as saying:
There is emerging evidence that the key to writing’s effectiveness is in the way people use to interpret their experiences, right down to the words they choose. Venting emotions alone—whether through writing or talking –is not enough t relieve stress. To tap writing’s healing power, people must use it to better understand and learn from their emotions.
In a landmark study which appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, 1999), involving 107 asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients, Dr. Smyth discovered that
70 patients in the stressful-writing group (wrote 20 minutes /day for three consecutive days) showed improvement on objective, clinical evaluation than the control group. He concluded that “writing helped patients get better and also kept them from getting worse.
Both Drs. Pennebaker and Smyth acknowledge that writing’s effectiveness in healing will be dependent upon several factors, including a person’s willingness to find meaning in the memory and integrate it into a healing process.
Writing’s power to heal lies not in the pen and paper, but in the mind of the writer.
The journals I wrote in throughout my trials became the seeds for my memoir. Writing my way through the painful memories helped me to get on the other side of them and find a new meaning for the part they played in shaping me into the person I am today.
But there were many days, I put my manuscript aside; walked away and came back to it when I felt strong enough to face my past mistakes. I’m not the same person I was back then and it was excruciating to re-visit those times when I could have, should have made different choices…
Eventually, with the support of mentors and fellow writers, I did find my way to the other side. I began to forgive the young woman in my story who made so many self-defeating choices that had led to untold heartache for not only her but her children. I shed the guilt and shame I had carried around for twenty-five years and started feeling compassion for her. She did the best she could. She acted in good faith, albeit naïvely.
Writing my memoir helped me find my pathway to healing. My greatest hope is that others who have struggled or are still struggling will find hope for their own healing on the pages of my story.
And, if and when I have the chance to talk with my readers, I will tell them that writing helped me to find my pathway to healing. It’s research-based.
Get to Know Kathy Pooler:
Kathleen (Kathy) Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28.2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.
She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.
A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in which she receives a prophecy, she slides back, taking several self-defeating detours that take her through a series of heartbreaking events.
When Kathy’s second husband, Dan’s verbal abuse escalates, Kathy finally realizes she must move on before she and her children become a statistic.
How does a young woman who came from a stable, loving family make so many wise choices when it came to career, but so many wrong choices when it came to love, so that she ended up sacrificing career and having to flee in broad daylight with her children from an abusive marriage? What is getting in her way and why does she keep taking so many self-defeating detours?
The story opens up the day Kathy feels physically threatened for the first time in her three-year marriage to her second husband. This sends her on a journey to make sense of her life and discern what part she has played in the vulnerable circumstance she finds herself in.
She must make a decision–face her self-defeating patterns that have led to this situation and move on or repeat her mistakes. Her life and the lives of her two children are dependent upon the choices she makes and the chances she takes from this point forward.
Some of the links contained in this blog are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate. It’s free for you, but I receive a portion of the sales, which funds go to support this blog. I only recommend products and services that we know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.
The remainder of Kathy’s tour:
Monday, October 13 @ Women’s Writing Circle
Kathleen Pooler sits down with Susan Weidener for a friendly conversation about how Kathleen crowdfunded her memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse. http://www.susanweidener.com/
Tuesday, October 14 @ Lauren Scharhag
Don’t miss Kathleen Pooler’s interview with Lauren Scharhag as these ladies discuss the hot topic of memoir. Find out more about Kathleen and her own Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse. http://laurenscharhag.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, October 14 @ Vera’s Version
Join Kathleen Pooler as she guest blogs about “How Writing Memoir Helped Me Find Self-Forgiveness” at Vera’s Version and shares insight into her memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse. http://verasversion.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, October 15 @ About Amish
Kathleen Pooler and her memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse makes a stop to visit Saloma Furlong at About Amish where you can read Saloma’s review and get in a giveaway for an opportunity to read Ever Faithful To His Lead for yourself! http://salomafurlong.com/aboutamish/
Friday, October 17 @ Jerry Waxler
Author, Friend, and Fellow Memoir Writer Jerry Waxler reviews Kathleen Pooler’s Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse This is a blog stop you won’t want to miss! http://www.jerrywaxler.com/
Monday, October 20 @ Romance Junkies
Join Kathleen Pooler as she stops at Romance Junkies for an insightful interview about herself and her memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse. http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/
Tuesday, October 21 @ Mary Gottschalk
Kathleen Pooler shares her latest project: Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse as she visits with friend and fellow author Mary Gottschalk and fittingly writes about “Girlfriends Matter”. This is a blog stop you won’t want to miss! http://marycgottschalk.com/home/
Wednesday, October 22 @ CMash Reads
Join memoir writer Kathleen Pooler as she guest posts at CMash Reads. Kathleen will share her story of “Writing Through the Pain” and tell more about her popular memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse. http://cmashlovestoread.com/
Thursday, October 23 @ Bring on Lemons
Hear what Crystal Otto has to say as she reviews Kathleen Pooler’s Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse Don’t miss this blog stop as Kathleen Pooler has graciously provided a copy of her memoir for one lucky reader to win via a giveaway! http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/