How often have we said, “Enough is enough, when does it end?”, after more bad news from doctors. Is Hope elusive? It can seem that way as the struggle for answers takes place yet Hope is just what we need. For four years the fight goes on to find the end of the road for surgeries and pain. ‘Stage 4 cancer’, heartbreaking words […]
“I had been an artist my whole life – spending much of my childhood imagining, drawing and creating art with whatever tools presented themselves to me. But art was not a viable career when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Especially not in my small rural town and especially not for a young woman. The only real choices in my world were to be a wife right out of high school, a teacher or a nurse. I chose nursing. […]
By Donna Sales, R. Psych. … This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” Ralph Waldo Emerson This post is dedicated to fresh starts and renewal. Spring is always a wonderful time for new beginnings but, fortunately, so is the dawn of each new day, regardless of the season or circumstances. The cells throughout our entire bodies are constantly renewing themselves to keep us physically healthy. We get a fresh red blood cell supply every four months, another layer of epidermis skin every couple weeks or so, and new bones about every ten years. Our bodies are constantly working to replenish, restore and recover to keep us healthy.1. But we are more than physical beings – we are emotional and spiritual beings, too, and these aspects of our health are equally important. Caring for our mental, emotional and spiritual selves improves our quality of life and makes us better equipped to handle challenges and setbacks. What if we adopted a fresh perspective when the old one holds us back, replaced a bad habit with good one, and replenished our energy reserves on a continual basis, rather than wait until we are completely depleted? How might our lives be different if we choose optimism over pessimism, gratitude over complaint, and self-acceptance over self-criticism? A new beginning in any aspect of our lives can be born at any moment in time. The only ingredient required is free will, which we all fortunately have an endless supply of. Is it time to hit the ‘refresh’ button in your life? What do you need right now to feel healthy, balanced and recharged? What brings you joy, fills your heart with love, and builds your confidence? We have one opportunity to make this the best life we can with the hand we’ve been dealt. And it’s never too late for a new beginning, no matter how small. Maybe it’s committing to a daily walk, taking a painting class, or ‘unplugging’ from technology one day a week. Or how about spending time in nature, saying ‘no’ more often, or signing up for a fitness class. It could be bigger, too, like changing careers, ending an unhealthy relationship, or moving to a different home or city. No one knows better than yourself what you honestly need, and you’re the only one who can hit the ‘refresh’ button, too. If we wait for someone else’s permission to follow our heart or dreams we’ve given our power away. If we care too much about what other people think, or try to please everyone all the time, we give our power away. If we are constantly reliving old hurts or feeling sorry for ourselves we are definitely giving our power away. New beginnings are born in consciousness and executed with intention. What life do I choose for myself and how will I get there? This is the beauty in it all…. We are never too old, too tired, or too torn or worn. It starts now, in this moment, a new way of thinking and doing things. It's never too late to shed bad habits, abandon past hurts, or de-clutter soggy minds from old, rusty tapes that keep telling us lies about how limited we are. You deserve to live a beautiful, glorious life. So here’s to new beginnings, my friends. Here’s to refreshing and renewing our whole selves – our bodies, minds and spirits – to be healthy and whole. Here’s to evolving with the tides and rhythms of life to embrace the best life has to offer. I wish you all the best every step of the way. Yours, as always, in hope, Donna 1.Wade, Nicholas. “Your Body Is Younger Than You Think.” New York Times August 2, 2005 Share this post with friends by choosing your options below. Expresso Yourself! We welcome your comments below. Donna Sales is a psychologist and writer living in Calgary, Canada. She is the founder of Hope Café.
Photo by Ronna Jevne When Hope Cafe officially launched in December, 2011, I asked Dr. Ronna Jevne if she would consider writing the first feature article and was thrilled when she agreed. Ronna is the most ambitious ambassador of hope I have ever known. Her extraordinary work as a professor, author, psychologist, researcher, group facilitator, and more, has benefitted not only countless ordinary people and health care professionals but also the field of psychology. Ronna is also a terrific photographer (see one of her photos above) and Hope Cafe's 'hope photos from around the world' initiative was inspired by her. I am deeply grateful to Ronna for her ongoing support of Hope Cafe! Donna By Dr. Ronna Jevne Welcome to Hope Café. It is a daunting task to write the inaugural feature article. What might best be offered as a starting place for sharing thoughts and resources about “this thing called hope”? The temptation is to share stories and moments that I have observed in three decades of counselling that attest to the power of hope. There is the woman sentenced to life for murder who described herself as locked in the “bowels of existence”in solitary confinement only to discover that scratched into a corner of her cell were the words, “Where there is hope, there’s life”. That was a turning point for her taking baby steps back to the life she had lost. There was the young mother who, knowing that she was dying, left a legacy for her two small children on a video. There are the Stephen Lewis grandmothers who creatively and practically assist the grandmothers of Africa. In each of us there is a story of hope. In 1992, we opened the doors of the Hope Foundation of Alberta, a research center affiliated with the University of Alberta, dedicated to understanding and enhancing hope in individuals, families and institutions. The Foundation offers counselling to the hope deficit, trains professional in hope-focused practice and pursues a variety of research projects related to hope. For two decades, we have had the priviledge of witnessing firsthand the power that hope has in the daily lives of ordinary people. When I began to study hope, I read passionately across numerous disciplines only to discover there were a wide range of views about hope. Since the myth of Pandora, scholars have argued whether hope is a blessing or a curse. The views have ranged from German philosopher and poet Nietzsche who declared it “The worst of evils for it prolongs the torment of man” to American psychiatrist Menninger who was adamant it was “an indispensible factor in treatment”. We ridicule those with too much of it and we hospitalize those with too little. It is dependent on so many things, yet indisputably necessary to most. Words can destroy it. Science has neglected it. A day without it is horrible. A day with an abundance of it guarantees little. Those with it live longer. Hope is not only a concept. It is a “lived experience.” So often we only notice hope by its absence, when we are living in uncertain times. This summer, in a period of six weeks, my husband required emergency life threatening surgery, my only surviving sibling who might be described as Mr. Fit had a surprise heart attack, my son-in-law was in intensive care, my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, my maid of honor of thirty years ago who has remained so special in our lives died of lung cancer and a serious storm did $40,000 worth of damage to our home. Without hope, I am not sure how I would have navigated these emotional landscapes. I must not only understand hope, I must practice it. When hope becomes a practice, something we take care of as routinely as we do dental care, the likelihood of being present in constructive ways for ourselves and others goes up exponentially. Reflecting on hope one day, I wrote: “Tell me of hope.” So the scholars mused and the theologians struggled. The linguists quibbled and the philosophers argued. And all were puzzled. She said again of others, “Tell me of hope”. So the nurse said it with compassion, and the dying grandmother sang it with her eyes. The mother cried it with her tears and the brother tied it to the tree. The cancer patient knew it with his soul And none were puzzled. As I grew increasingly more familiar with the existing literature about hope, I wrote “I have a dream…” as my personal vision statement. Perhaps this dream will stimulate discussion at Hope Café as visitors reflect on their own thoughts about hope. I have a dream that one day we would understand hope well enough to reach those with the deepest of despair, well enough that each child and parent, each student and teacher, each patient and doctor, each person -rich or poor, wounded or well, would envision a future in which they are willing to participate. That despite hardship and uncertainty that they would say “yes” to life. Not “yes” only if they are employed, well, loved or educated but “yes” to the very condition of being human. For this we need a commitment to hope. I have a dream that every child would know hope as a companion throughout life. That every person would know where to look for hope when it fades. That each person who stands at the edge of hopelessness can step back intentionally. That we will be part of encouraging those moments when it is unquestionable that someone has taken a step towards hope. Albeit a small one. I dream of places where young and old, employed and impoverished, well and ill, join in a search for hope. Where wounded bodies, heavy hearts and weary souls exchange their despair for hope, their fear for courage. For this we need a practice of hope. I have a dream that the three h’s- hope, health and happiness, would take their place beside reading, writing [...]
Dec 1, 2011 By Donna Sales, R. Psych. Perhaps not too surprisingly, I’m writing this, the first column for Hope Café, in a coffee house. Or is it a coffee shop? Or café? Doesn’t matter, I love them all (it’s true, I’ve never met a coffee shop I didn’t like). Call it what you will, there are common threads that bind them. Comfort. Community. Ritual. All essential but sometimes missing in our hectic lives and rather impersonal culture. It is early evening on a cool fall day in Kelowna, B.C. and this coffee house is filled. Conveniently, images of hope surround me. There’s the little wide-eyed boy staring into the showcase filled with desserts turning to his father with such a hopeful look I’m tempted to slip him a cupcake if his father doesn’t give in. There’s the young couple out on a date, leaning in towards each other so far you can hardly tell there’s a table between them. You can bet they’re both hoping for something, and it may or may not be the same thing. There’s the elderly gentleman sipping his tea while he reads the newspaper. Maybe his wife’s a talker so he came here hoping for some peace and quiet. Or maybe he’s a widower and the house was a little too empty tonight so he’s here because he’s hoping the loneliness will lift a little, for a while anyway. Then there are all these people on their laptops. Mostly students working away at the long counter that stretches the length of the window, hoping to do well on the test or project so they can get a diploma or degree and end up with a good job one day. Yes, hope surrounds me. What’s interesting is that hope is here because I’m choosing to look at the world through this lens of hope. I realize now that I’ve never actually done this before - took the time to scan a room of strangers and ask myself, ‘for each person here, what might they be hoping for?’ It’s not always as obvious as it is for the boy who wants that cupcake, but it really does provide a refreshing perspective regardless. Hope, without doubt, resides within each person here. Hope transcends race, culture, and class. Everyone has experienced it yet we each have a deeply personal relationship with it. We need it like we need the air we breathe. It both anchors us and motivates us. It’s even managed to insert its way into our daily communication. Hope all is well with you. Hope you have a good day. Hopefully things will get better. Hope even transcends the species. The look on my dog’s face when she suspects she might be getting a walk is so hopeful it borders on pathetic. Every inch of her furry body goes on high alert, she won’t take her eyes off you, and she lets out this high pitched, barely audible whine. She acts this way too when the wheels of the car get within three blocks of the dog park (play time with her buddies) or Tim Horton’s drive through (old-fashioned plain timbit). She also likes to rest her chin on your thigh and look up at you when you’re sitting on the couch having a snack. Hope brimming in those unblinking brown eyes. Everyone has the right to hope and no person or event has the power to take it all away. Jaycee Dugard, abducted in 1991 at the age of eleven and held in captivity for eighteen years, never gave up hope that she would be reunited with her family and neither did her mother. The Hebert family in British Columbia whose three-year-old son was abducted from his bed overnight this past September never gave up hope that little Kienan would return home safely. The boy miraculously appeared on their sofa wrapped in his blanket four days later, unharmed. Forty-eight hours after the massive earthquake in Turkey this past October, rescue workers never gave up hope they would find someone alive and miraculously pulled Azra, a two week old baby girl from the rubble, followed by her mother and grandmother. There is a universal hunger for stories like these. We feel tremendous joy for people we don’t even know who beat the odds; it warms our hearts and inspires us. Hope can be highly contagious and fuel a revolution, overthrow a dictator, and create tremendous social and political change. In the wake of the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, leaders have fallen in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya over the past ten months and hope is spreading, too, to neighbouring countries where it is sparking civil uprisings and protests. Dictators are ‘hope stealers’, using desperation, fear, and intimidation as power over the people, manipulating them to be so focused on everyday survival that they do not have the strength or resources to create change. They know that chipping away at people’s hope will eventually bring them to their knees. The most desirable leaders in the world are ‘hope dealers’. The rise of Barack Obama is, of course, a striking example; hundreds of millions of people across the globe projected their hopes onto Obama. Mother Teresa breathed hope, we know this from the remarkable humanitarian work she committed her life to. Mahatma Ghandi, of course, was a hope dealer, too, and his assassination is a reminder that taking on this role can take a lot of courage and even put your life at risk. In the business world, inspirational billionaire and lover of life Sir Richard Branson exudes hope. According to Branson, “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” Although I couldn’t find the word hope in any of his quotes, hope is clearly interwoven into his personal life and business operations. We can be hope dealers, too, in our everyday lives and interactions with others. We may not be politicians or CEO’S but we [...]