In these turbulent times of political and racial divisiveness, one human experience is the great unifier: Loss. We cannot avoid it, individually and collectively, especially if we are engaged with the world through our work and media information choices. We see fires ravaging communities of trees and people, floods disappearing whole ecosystems and devastating towns, and humans suffering through the terrors of pandemic illness and death on every continent. Whether these losses are personal or witnessed, our awareness of them can positively impact what we think and feel and share with others. Recognizing shared losses puts us in touch with our common humanity. As difficult as loss is, it makes it possible to expand our sense of connection to others, no matter where we are in the world.
For the first two decades of my life, I was oblivious to my white privilege.
The 1967 Detroit riots made the first dent in my belief that we lived in a just world. Countless experiences came afterward, and now The Black Lives Matter Movement and all the racist incidents that led to its establishment make my white privilege impossible to deny.
Most recently, George Floyd’s murder has heightened my awareness.
In my attempt to use my quarantine/social distancing time both politically and creatively, I followed my daughter’s advice and committed to reading Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility. It is a highly valuable book for white readers because it points out the fruitlessness of guilt. While many progressive white people – the group to which I belong – may not consciously take advantage of the racist systems created by white-supremacy ideology, we do benefit from them.
If I am stopped by police, I am relatively certain I will not be beaten or shot. If I show up as a visitor at a school, I am not likely to be frisked. If I walk into a retail store, I won’t be tracked as a potential thief. Writing these words makes me sick at heart. I don’t feel guilt; what I feel is grief.
Using my energy psychology tools has become indispensable to addressing COVID-19 fears for my beloveds and for the world. My daily practice of tapping on my fear lifts the heaviness that I feel when I think about the endangered lives of countless people. Since George Floyd’s death, I have been using these same techniques to address the overwhelming grief I feel when I face the racist narrative that is played out daily. As I write these words, my internal critic says, “Big deal, Jane. You live in safety, from racism and from disease.” A wiser voice assures me, “Acknowledging and releasing grief in this time of political tumult is a very big deal.”
When I do my daily personal work, including addressing my fears and my grief, I am able to be more fully present, less reactive, and more able to support the causes of justice in the world, with my dollars, with my learning time, and with my voice. I am not so paralyzed by my grief that I feel unable to act. I can explore solutions rather than add to the cacophonous chorus of defensive racism deniers. I can ask, earnestly:
How can I contribute to creating a more just world, right here, right now?
Privately grieving for all African Americans, people who have been holding the front lines of resistance since the first white men captured and sold black men, women, and children, increases our human bond. I recognize the dehumanization process at work in the world ever since colonizers committed to trafficking human beings to increase their wealth. Grieving makes it possible for me to remain fully present to the suffering that is exploding in our contemporary world. I do not want to live in a world that distracts with business as usual while an entire race and its myriad cultural threads are torn to shreds. Before I address the grief I feel over systemic injustice using EFT, I feel paralyzed by shame. After I’ve released my grief, I find the energy I need to take action.
While it remains true that I can’t do much, I can take some meaningful actions. I can read White Privilege and become more informed about white defensiveness and how to end my personal contribution to racism. I can listen to Angela Davis’s interview on democracynow.org and learn more about the challenges of participating in intelligent dialogue when fear prompts so many of us to create false choices between having militarized police and having no police at all. I can support Yes! Magazine with my money as well as my willingness to learn about how we can act to end systemic racism.
Alone, my actions count for little, but I am not alone. As part of a growing group of justice seekers of all races, the effect of even our smallest actions in support of a fair and safe world for all peoples is influential in the moment and cumulative over time. This is a long-haul justice movement.
So, let’s do this. Let’s grieve for the state of the world. Let’s grieve for our part in reaping the benefits of white supremacist systems – political, educational, judicial – and the injustice these systems cause, and then get on with it. Let’s watch Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, let’s read Alice Walker’s interview in Yes! Magazine, let’s watch again and again Ava DuVernay’s masterworks, 13th and When They See Us until we can admit and speak against systemic racism. Let’s move into activism with our African American brothers and sisters. Let’s participate in dialogues that support justice and end racism.
And let’s be sure to take some time to release our store of grief, for ourselves and others, every single day.
Feeling and releasing grief may not seem important, but it is. More than any other self-care action we take, grieving racism’s brutal severing of human bonds short-circuits shame and defensiveness, rage and impotence, and so frees the energy we need to keep on keeping on together.
Be Safe. Be Just. Be Aware. Be Love.
Until next time, Jane
Toni Morrison’s long and wondrous life ended this week, on August 5, 2019. All of us alive today have been touched by her body of work whether we know it or not. For me, Toni shone as a woman in a man’s world, and more audaciously, as a black woman in that world. The literary canon still taught in many out-dated colleges and universities carries the heavy load of racial and cultural bias, skewing students’ beliefs about what makes literature great. Toni, along with many other women, outed that lie simply by writing.
As a literature student, always and forever – because story is the humanizing principle of our species – I will miss the anticipation of a new Toni Morrison offering. And I will revisit her literary children and watch the film Beloved again and again, for the heart and the soul of pain and healing it transmits through its cadences, its images, and the shocks and pleasures of its characters. So many women writing today carry on the deep soul work of our best writers. I am grateful for all of them, and especially for Toni Morrison, the woman who emerged from the literary mists of my young adulthood to assure me that the world of story, lasting, vital story, was not the exclusive property of dead white men.
Now I am on the hunt for the new documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. Up in this neck of the very white woods that is northern Vermont, we have two theatres that will likely show it, The Savoy in Montpelier, and The Roxy in Burlington. I know I can watch it on one of the platforms available to us in our homes, but I don’t want to experience this last documented Toni-Morrison moment by myself. I want the public experience of sharing her with others who love and value her work as a writer, a way-shower, a guide back to deep justice, tenderness, and love.
Thank you, Toni, for every word, uttered and written. You are and always will be a light in the darkness of human folly and treachery. First at so many things, you will continue to shine through these dark times and we, all of us, will continue to be blessed by your shining.
EFT and Grief
Losing Ms Morrison is an immediate and sorrowful event for me. I want to feel all my feelings about her courage and her work and the considerable loss I feel at her passing. EFT is useful when grief will not shift on its own. It is not a deadening tool, but rather a relieving one. I have no need to tap on my grief at losing this giant of literature because feeling this grief is part of what makes me human.
If, however, her loss leads to an unshakable depression about the state of the world, then using EFT to release that dread and hopelessness will become a forward path. Just now, I feel nothing but the loss of a spiritual teacher. I want to feel how much I will miss Toni Morrison. Missing her will lead me to revisit her books and her interviews, and this revisiting process will enrich me further.
EFT is useful for chronic, relentless grief. What I and so many others are experiencing now is the healthy expression of mourning. This grief assures us we are alive to the pain and wonder of the world. This grief is a gift. It is at the heart of the human experience. Feeling this powerful emotion for the loss of Toni Morrison, one so bravely present to the world in all its beauty and horror, is a privilege.
Until next time,
Visit www.eftinternational.org to learn more about how the use of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) supports the resolution of inner and outer conflicts, informs more loving and respectful relationships, and empowers its users to contribute to the changes we want to see in the world.
Jane is an EFT International Accredited Master Trainer, writer, coach, and educator specializing in neutralizing the long-term effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) as well as the cultural limitations that interfere with our ability to imagine, create, and live the lives we desire. To engage Jane for individual or group coaching services, EFT International(AAMET) Accredited, Certified Mentoring sessions, and EFT Level One and Two Training for your group, call Jane at (802) 533-9277 or email email@example.com . Visit www.winterblooms.net to learn more about how Jane supports and inspires individuals, groups, and communities.
Please Note: This educational website cannot replace therapy with certified psychologists, family therapists, or psychiatrists. Before training with EFT International, Jane taught at the elementary, secondary, and college levels, in Ontario, and at the Community College of Vermont. She is an early trauma survivor who works exclusively as a learning coach using the best practices of EFT as taught by EFT International. She created this website to support the most effective use of EFT to reduce general and specific stresses and to increase the joy of daily living through self regulation and pro-social experiences.
Please Note: Winter Blooms is an educational website in no way meant to replace building a relationship with a trained EFT practitioner, counselor, or therapist. To find an EFT Practitioner, visit the AAMET website, the Gary Craig website, the EFT Universe website, the Tapping Solution website, or contact Jane for EFT coaching support.
In the northern hemisphere as we enter the ninth month of the year themes of loss abound. Although at this point the changes in colour are subtle, we know in our bones that slowly but surely we are losing our connection to the Earth’s green mantle, the vibrant quilting of plants, shrubs, and trees that makes us feel good to be alive whenever we take a walk down a treed street or set off for a taste of the wild on hikes in the woods. The season of autumn, so poetically called fall, impacts us in profound ways because it mirrors the many personal, community, and world losses we are experiencing each day. EFT, when used as a daily comfort tool, can help us to navigate the transition into this season of loss by helping us to lessen the physical and emotional pain that often accompanies this change in the seasons.
Please Note: Winter Blooms is an educational website in no way meant to replace building a relationship with a trained EFT practitioner, counselor, or therapist. To find an EFT Practitioner, visit the AAMET website, the Gary Craig website, the EFT Universe website, the Tapping Solution website, or contact Jane at 802-533-9277 or firstname.lastname@example.org for EFT coaching support.
At the heart of the film Still Alice is Julianne Moore’s portrayal of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Told from the Linguistics Professor’s point of view, we see the world shrink and distort for her, as if she has boarded a tiny boat and is suddenly in the middle of the Atlantic. It is a terrifying story and an important one, not only because it explores the ravages of personhood that is Alzheimer’s, but also because it allows us to imagine the tremendous loss family members and friends bear in watching this wasting disease erode the loving, competent, insightful, and forgiving person they once knew. One thing I take issue with is the fictional story’s overworked irony of a linguistics professor losing her words; the true story of such a condition may be found in the film Iris, a biographical film acted with ravaging truth by Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent about the life and intellectual disintegration of Iris Murdoch, celebrated Irish philosophical novelist. This disease is horrifying because it robs its sufferers of the competence developed over a lifetime – whether one stays home with children, rises up the corporate ladder, makes one’s mark as an academic, or sells cars. Alzheimer’s robs its sufferers of meaning: how to use toothpaste . . . how to follow directions . . . how to find the way home from a familiar location and, eventually, . . . how to find the very meaning of home.
My husband and I touched hands frequently as we watched this film together. We both wept for the imaginary Alice and for the fraying of family life the disease causes. At the end, we remained seated, our fingers touching, our eyes moist. It is a mature person’s film and a young person’s film; it has a heart and a soul that is deep and tender because it expands our understanding of what it is to care for someone who is losing the self to this condition we call Alzheimer’s as well as our understanding of the person who is losing the self.
Inevitably when we do our deepest work, we come to what may be our greatest cultural taboo: Death. Even at funerals we tend to focus on death’s antidotes – the flowers, the embalmed bodies that “look better than ever”, and the religious belief that the dead are in a “better place.” The truth is, we can’t know with certainty what lies beyond this life. What we can know is that nothing in life is permanent and this impermanence often makes us anxious. As we approach death psychologically and emotionally, admitting its reality and reflecting on its meaning for us, tapping can help us to explore the fears we have absorbed from our family, friends, and culture.
On this Father’s Day, those of us who have lost our fathers or are estranged from them often feel an overwhelming sense of grief, especially when we see photos of young dads with their new babes in body slings, middle aged dads sharing proud moments with older children, and older dads who have made the transition to loving grandfathers. We look at these images and our hearts pulse with longing for that deep connection with someone who has been absent from our lives. When our fathers die early, disappear because of separation or divorce, or become lost to us through addiction, the usually dormant father-loss placeholder in our lives can become a pulsing wound as everyone around us celebrates.
Tapping for someone else is called surrogate tapping. Many who use it, me included, feel it is a form of prayer. When I first heard about surrogate tapping, I was concerned that I might be intruding on someone who didn’t want my help. Gary Craig, EFT Founder and creator of Official EFT sheds a more benign light on surrogate tapping. When asked if he considered tapping for others intrusive, he compared it to prayer. Generally, we don’t ask if we can pray for those we are moved to shower with love, he offered. We do it whenever we are moved to send loving energy their way.
Each of us alive on the planet today is experiencing change brought on by events over which we have little or no control. One ongoing event we all share, we call climate change. At a recent gathering called to strengthen and nourish a diverse community of elders in these parts, participants spoke of the perilous state of bees everywhere and of the diminishing populations of bats in the northeastern states. Fewer butterflies, bees, and bats, interrupted growing seasons, and extreme weather in the form of drought or deluge here and elsewhere signal that our world is changing and that we must respond intelligently to these changes rather than react out of fear.
Throughout my childhood and early adolescence in the nineteen fifties, it seemed almost everyone I knew smoked. My mother, aunt, and eventually my older sister and school contemporaries were lighting up Dumauriers, Rothmans, Kools, or Camels. Boys used cigarettes to foster an aura of coolness, hoping to emulate James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Girls often used cigarettes to suppress their appetites to achieve the lean boyish look that would eventually peak with Twiggy, the wide-eyed, androgynous teen model who burst onto the Mod style scene in the mid-sixties.