Resilience and Story

Spring_StoriesLast evening I went for a walk along the lake. It was chilly and there had been snow earlier in the higher elevations. Still, a few people were out, some with their dogs. This morning dogs, and their people, were out in force. Spring must truly have arrived! (I just looked out the window and noticed a large raptor circling while being harassed by the inevitable smaller songbird.)

I’ve been noticing how human I am. Even though I am in my late sixties, spring brings out the younger man in me. As the weather warms I become more playful, get out and about more, and begin to notice other people. As a result, I am reminded that I am a primate, biologically hard-wired to be social. Dogs, while not primates, are similarly wired. They can tell when one enjoys their presence, and will often, with the permission of their owners, reach out to make contact. For us humans, to take a dog, or a baby, out for a walk is to invite social interaction with others. Continue reading

Making Space for Difference

Spring!This is the second of a series of posts about this year’s ASGPP conference.

One of the things that has drawn me to Psychodrama over the years is that it is rooted in the desire for social equality, freedom, and community, and deeply embedded in hope. Indeed, most of the people engaged in the discipline are fierce advocates for these values, and are, thus, visionaries. They are also human, given to the same foibles that plague most of us. Continue reading

Whose Stories ?

Awaiting_Spring

This is the first of a series of posts about my experiences at, and thoughts about, the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama annual conference this past weekend.

After a day in airport purgatory we made it home from the ASGPP  conference shortly after midnight this morning. The conference was exceptional. It was also eye-opening.

The first evening was devoted to a “diversity event”.  As usual, I was the only person who spoke to identifying as Native, and  of a very few who identified as physically disabled. Not that I was alone in my difference, rather, there were a variety of alonenesses identified by people; it turns out that groups marginalize folks for all sorts of reasons. Continue reading

Finding Balance

SunsetSpring is near, although the weather remains cold and snowy. The maple sap is flowing intermittently and, on warmish, sunny days, birdsong fills the air. The equinox arrives Friday, and Passover and Easter follow.

This morning I had coffee with a dear friend who is Mohawk. He was adopted into a European family and, like me, came to his Native identity late. He’s fiercely proud of his heritage and excited about the return to traditional values that underlies the rebirth of the Mohawk Nation. He and I have been asked to speak, together, about Native America at the upcoming community Sedar, and met this morning to consider what we might say. Continue reading

Conversations With The Ancestors

Snowy_TreeEarly music wafts through the house this early Sunday morning, as light snow swirls past the window. Listening to Harmonia on our local Public Radio station is a Sunday morning ritual in our house. I have loved early European music for as long as I can remember; I hope my European ancestors take as much pleasure listening as I do, that they listen through me. Continue reading

A Thorny Problem

Winter_TwilightA while back I received the Spring edition of Contemporary Shamanism. The first article was a piece by Hank Wesselman, Ph.D., entitled Australian Aboriginal Wisdom. I read the piece, or most of it, put the journal down, and forgot about it. Last night Jennie was rummaging through our magazines and brought it out.

In his article, Dr. Wesselman discusses the Australian Aboriginal word, dadirri (deep listening/stillness) as defined by Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. Dr. Ungunmerr-Baumann who, according to UNIYA, “was born in the bush near Daly River in 1950…. is a member of the Ngangiwumirr language group (and) speaks four other local languages.” I encourage you to watched the You-Tube video of Dr.  Ungunmerr-Baumann speaking about dadirri, if you have not done so already. Continue reading

The View From the Orphanage

View_From_The-OrphanageLast night we were honored to be invited by our Abenaki brothers and sisters to drum as part of the opening ceremony at an all city meeting. The event was a  Neighborhood Planning Assemblies meeting called to discuss the proposed development of a large lakefront parcel of land presently owned by a local nonprofit educational institution. The current proposal would place about 700 housing units on prime recreational open space, and is drawing considerable opposition even before the land sells.

Prior to being “owned” by the nonprofit, the building and grounds had been a large orphanage owned and administered by a major religious order. Over its nearly 100 years in operation, the orphanage built an almost incomprehensible history of abuse. During the 1980’s I was part of the legal team that represented about 80 adults who had been victimized at the orphanage as children. Over three years a colleague and I listened to the stories of these courageous people, and supported them as best we were able, as they faced an angry public. Sadly, their court cases were dismissed due to an expired statute of limitations. Back then, few people in the community believed their terrifying stories of abuse. As in many communities, that would change. Later, a few former residents of the orphanage received large settlements from the church. Continue reading