We Wait in Joyful Hope: Poems of Advent and Christmas

In this gathering to explore and celebrate the sacred spaces of Advent and Christmas, we walk with poets as our guides. We’ll take on the spirit of our forefather in faith, Meister Eckhart, who reflected on how “We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”

The session includes prayer, lectio divina with the poems, and a packet of poetic “gems” to carry you through Advent and Christmas, inspiring further reflection.

Mourning Glories

This program contains a nice balance of discussion on the griefs of the last year or so, a chance to look back, and a look forward so we can give expression to what is lost, what is left, and what is possible.

The pandemic and other griefs of recent times have shown us more than ever that life is a cycle of dying and rising, losing and finding, holding and letting go.

With our journals at hand, our hearts open, and with some thought-provoking writings by poets and spiritual guides who have also been down the path of grief, we will explore how, even in the midst of loss, grace abounds. There is time for sharing, but no one is ever required to share and you can opt out of small group discussion if you prefer. Kim hopes to offer reflections that will expand our hearts, our hopes, and our understanding of the holy in life as it is right now.

Finding the Right Words for Grief: A Powerful Tool for Practitioners for Mending the Open Broken Heart

Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter – ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning

Decades of research on journal writing and creative writing has established these methods as best practice for those facing illness, grief, and end of life. Now, attention is being given by helping professionals to using existing poems (containing the “right word” as extolled by Twain for capturing elusive experiences) to build a bridge between facilitators and patients/clients. The National Association of Poetry Therapists has built a strong case for using poems with people facing the fears of a life-threatening illness, the anxiety of long-term caregiving, the grief of those who have been bereaved.

While you may not provide therapy, all helping professionals can learn how the right poem in the right conversation can provide language for understanding suffering in a way that few other modalities can.

Can be structured as one or two sessions.

Participants will…

  • Discuss how, when, and why to use a poem with patients/clients in a way that is easy, natural, and serves to open up or enlarge the conversation of groups, families and individuals
  • Experience a simple mindful reading method and receive sample poems that helping professionals are using in client/patient care that can be used immediately after the session

It’s OK to Laugh in a Grief Group: Facilitation Tools for Grief Group Leaders, Hospice, and Palliative Care Professionals

In this session, ten tips for group facilitation are presented with such clarity that you will be able to use them immediately to enrich your group process and increase client satisfaction.

Typical pitfalls and how to avoid them, creating and maintaining a supportive atmosphere, a tried and true method for maintaining respectful dialogue without trying to “fix” other group members, and methods for handling the rambler, encouraging the silent, and the “care and nourishment” of introverts and extraverts are just a few of the valuable topics included.

Can be structured as one or two sessions.

Participants will…

  • Discuss and practice skills, tips, and tricks of expert group facilitators
  • Have the opportunity to share their own wisdom, mentoring, and worst-case scenarios in a supportive environment
  • Evaluate resources for journal exercises, creating writing, mindful reading, and mindful activities that will enrich the experience of their clients/patients

Grief Brain: Reducing Anxiety and Helping the Bereaved to Normalize the Side Effects of Loss

Whether your client is experiencing the agonizing disappearance of a loved one through dementia or has suffered a death, nearly every grief journey contains the poignant contradiction of “I think I am losing it” and “I am handling it”.

Drawing on the work of resilience researcher George Bonanno’s book on the science of bereavement, The Other Side of Sadness, and Clare Bidwell Smith’s insights in Anxiety, the Missing Stage of Grief, participants will benefit from rich resources and useful handouts to employ with clients.

In addition, Kim will share her own learning from conducting dozens of interviews with grievers and professionals while working on her book.

Participants will…

  • Identify and gain skills to reduce anxiety that encumbers caregivers and grievers
  • Be introduced to evidence-based methods to promote resilience and positive emotion after loss with the clients they serve

Help, I Have Pandemic Brain! Ambiguous Loss, My Clients are Cross, I Feel Like a Sloth

In these days of the COVID pandemic when we, along with those we serve, are tossing and turning at night and forgetful and disorganized and busy during the day, we are getting (an unwelcome) opportunity to grow our coping skills.

This session offers a smorgasbord of insights and strategies as we navigate this new way of living and being.

Let’s face it, we all have pandemic brain, and that’s come as a surprise to the majority of us who are not brain experts. Come take a closer look at what upending our normal lives does to the brain, name and claim this period of adjustment to ambiguous loss, and reacquaint ourselves with the empowering research that indicates most of us are much more resilient that we think we are. Explore how to better manage this jarring and many-faceted experience of pandemic for yourself and your clients.

Participants will…

  • Be able to discuss and define ambiguous loss and growth mindset, and apply these concepts to the pandemic experience
  • Choose from a variety of practical, actionable coping strategies for working with “pandemic brain”

Balm for Blue Holidays: A Circle of Comfort, Consolation, and Creativity

As the holidays approach and the privations of social distancing are wearing thin, we may be trying to make peace with many stark and subtle changes: absent friends and family, political angst, the death toll from the Coronavirus and climate-related disasters, the divisions among us, or simply trying to prepare a Thanksgiving meal that seems overwhelming, if not impossible, this year. 

“In my darkest night, when the moon was covered and I roamed through wreckage, a nimbus-clouded voice directed me: ‘Live in the layers, not on the litter.’ Though I lack the art to decipher it, no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written. I am not done with my changes.” – The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

Late in life, Stanley Kunitz wrote a poem entitled “The Layers” in which he poses the question: “How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?” How indeed; especially in a global pandemic and in a holiday season known for its wide-ranging emotions and expectations? In this session, we form a community circle of support and reflection to dive into the layers of life losses and lessons – noticing, honoring, holding space for our own fertile and creative composting of mind and heart into something rich, something that grows, nourishes and affirms a new way of being.

What new or refreshed traditions, rituals and spiritual practices might bring comfort, consolation and even hopeful transformation, and serve as a healing balm for the soul? What are the hidden blessings in this time of acute anxiety over the various crises within our global family? We will explore in silence, in poetry, in small group discussion, and using journal prompts the losses and lessons of the previous year.

Through community support and validation, we may find it easier to offer a welcome to winter, to changed holiday experiences, to our own  longings – like a stranger who showed up unexpectedly at the door, yet we managed to show her some warmth and hospitality. 

Habits of Highly Grateful People: The Holiday Edition

Most people will be altering and adapting holiday customs in the pandemic year. Some will scale back their celebrations, and others will forgo them entirely. How can we teach people gratitude when those changes are likely to occur?

This year, teach your colleagues the habits of highly grateful people and how to include them into holiday plans, then see what happens!

Learn from the experts about the research on gratitude that can impact our lives and the people we encounter, including the benefits of a robust practice of appreciation, gratitude “stacking”, 3 simple and proven ways to increase feelings of well-being, and resources to start and strengthen a grateful outlook…without having to pretend that life is all unicorns and rainbows. 

CEUs offered for nurses, social workers, counselors, and activities directors.

Myth, Missionary, Mystic: The Complexities of Mary Magdalene

Spend some time with one of the most interesting, misunderstood, and generally talked about women in the New Testament, Mary of Magdala.

We’ll look at how she’s been rendered in classical art, in church history, in a careful reading of the scriptures, and we’ll steal a glance at her role in a non-canonical work called The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. We’ll try to get in touch with the flesh and blood woman that she was, her central place in the community that surrounded Jesus, and why she became an object of speculation, rumor, and calumny, before she finally re-emerged as a respected figure of intense interest today.

Spirituality, Resilience, and the Science of Happiness

Paula D’Arcy says, “God comes to us disguised as our lives.” This practical spirituality is the place where positive psychology and soul work meet.

In this session, we look at how to handle changes, explore strong practices and skills for resilience, look at the role of on-the-go prayer as well as the meaning of simple meditation, and talk about the benefits of a robust gratitude practice.

Learn what to do with the automatic negative thoughts and worries that our brains so shamelessly manufacture! This session is both an evidence based and data driven approach to the science of happiness, and a path toward a no-nonsense holiness and wholeness that anyone can walk.