Friday, December 19, 2014


Compassion, mercy, forgiveness for everyone but myself.
Understanding, empathy for all but me.
This is the journey, to forgive myself, to take responsibility but then extend to myself the same compassion as I give others.
Regrets so acute and in the forefront of my mind, wanting to take the mistakes and drown them in the sea of my own tears.
Providing others with hope when my hope is so small, helping others overcome when I struggle.
Encouragement, boosting, helping, holding, wiping tears and providing a shoulder, every day, most of the day, to everyone with compassion, and mercy, and understanding.
 Yet standing myself against the whipping post and saying, no mercy for you, no love, no peace, only darkness for you that has sinned.
And I smile and nod, and listen, and validate and implore those who suffer to have compassion for themselves, and understanding, to love themselves more.
Mercy for me, to learn this, when it was not offered to me during those formative years, such a lesson, one that must be learnt over and over again, to patch the wounds and cover with the salve of my own self compassion.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014


He is on his back on the ground, sneakers next to a backpack covered by two or three blankets, under a tree, behind a hedge, next to a million dollar building, next to a multibillion dollar university, near a well groomed public park.  And I think he has courage.

Many wouldn't agree.

Courage to go back to his "spot" every night and lie on the ground to sleep with his paltry assortment of wordly possessions and not take his own life.
Bravery for continuing on in this difficult life despite having nowhere to lie his head at night.
Fortitude in staking out a relatively safe campsite, likely waiting to return after cover of night and leaving before too many workers come in and ask him to leave.

Is there room at the shelter?  Probably not, or perhaps he has been robbed there, or it could be too overstimulating for him, or he has used up his time there.

How does one have the courage live day after day having no shelter, nowhere to wash, lacking the basic comforts of stability, to be able sit without needing to move time after time?  I cannot think of a more fearful situation and yet this person still continues on, likely in fear, likely self medicating to overcome the constant uncertainty.

Yet if he were to come to the ED and say he were suicidal we would be concerned.  We should prevent him from taking his own life, we should hospitalize him until he feels less suicidal, then discharge him back to the street again, the same situation, the same fear, and feel vindicated that we "intervened", we prevented him from suicide.  Yet nothing has changed.  His courage was sustained by four days in a hospital with food, and clean clothes and a shower, and warmth, and company.  Another week of bravery, another week of soldiering on, until it rains, until the snow falls, until the gnawing hunger and instability causes him to lose heart and go to the ED again, or not, and he is found on the ground, under the tree, behind the hedge, beside the million dollar building in the heart of a multibillion dollar university that studies such things..........

Friday, July 25, 2014


I often wonder what it's like to hear whispering's inside my head, how scary it must be to see things that nobody else seems to see.
I look at my client with his dark sunken eyes and wild hair and can't even imagine what it must be like to be him.
"I'm a survivor" he says, and he certainly is, spending most of his life homeless with little social contact.
What must it be like to count on a dumpster for food, or a soup kitchen if you haven't been banned from one...
How must it feel to spend the night curled up in the corner of an abandoned building or to live with dozens of other people in one room for months....
My "guy" is resolute in his unwillingness to sign a piece of paper that might make it possible for me to speak with his family, to be able to determine what sort of help he could get, aged and impaired as he is, yet able to speak for himself, not quite impaired enough....
He is polite yet gruff, "not right" but just "right" enough for court.
He is likable and we joke a little and I try to cajole him..."hey, I could help you at least have three hots and a cot bud..."
"nah" he says, smiling...."I'm a survivor" he says again and I smile too..."yup, you sure are."
My "survivor" goes back to jail and I go back to my desk, and my phone, and my hope......

Darker Nights and the Soul

In the lightless times of day, when one lies alone in a bed that feels too big,
With a blanket that is tucked around you like a cocoon so that the space doesn't feel so cavernous....
Thoughts run around to failures, and wanting, and falling into chasms of loneliness.
And then, sometimes too soon, slivers of sun peek in between the openings of the window shade and a decision must be made,
To get out of the too big bed, emerge from the safety of the blanket cocoon and wipe away the tears and know that life doesn't make much sense, that there are lessons, not failures, that there is only what is needed for the soul now and wanting only creates more wanting.
So the most brilliant shirt is selected to stave off the desire to dress in mourning, and a bit of sparkle is added, and the foot goes out the door.
The empty space will be filled with friends, gratitude for what is, and the knowledge that though some things have changed, there is still love and connection, different but steady.  
There is darkness and the soul, yet the midnight sky will not overtake the heart because that would be giving in, that would be accepting staying in the past and not creating a future.  That would be a soul darker than night, and giving in to that which is not light.