2022 Annual Impact Report - 8

The Life Raft of Hope
and Love
By Lesley Huff, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist
In my clinical office, I have a sign that
reads " As long as everything is going as
planned, I am totally flexible. " Many
clients give it a knowing chuckle because
we tend to grasp onto our plans and need
for certainty with a white knuckle grip.
The author Anne Lamott points out that
when we " let go " , we usually leave claw
marks. I have had many conversations
over the years with clients where they
beat themselves up for not having
been able to plan and control for every
possibility, those who view their plans
falling apart as a personal failure, and
those who are afraid to take the first step
because of the unknown.
Change feels like our biggest nemesis,
and yet it is one of the few things that
is reliable, constant, and guaranteed. In
an interview with Brene Brown, Richard
Rohr pointed out that after the Age of
Enlightenment we began to lose our
connection to mystery. He lamented that
we have become " entitled " to certainty.
In her book, " When Things Fall Apart " ,
Buddhist nun Pema Chodron encourages
us to let go of hope. This initially may
feel like a horrible recommendation,
until you realize she is referring to the
delusion, wishful thinking hope where
we think that if we pray enough, beg
enough, criticize ourselves enough, we
can somehow control what is not ours to
As part of the end of year reflection,
meditation teacher Steve Hickman gave
a talk on hope and love. He shared a
current experience that he and his wife
were navigating where their plans to
spend a month in San Francisco at no
charge in an apartment overlooking the
bay fell apart. He talked about the pain
that arose from having something they
were looking forward to disintegrate
before their eyes, as well as then having
to scramble to make new plans. He spoke
about the importance of hope and love
in these moments. Unlike the hope that
Pema Chodron warns us about, Steve was
reflecting on the hope that things would
eventually work out in some way (maybe
not ideal or as expected...but in some
way) and the hope that he and his wife
(and their dogs) would be able to adapt
to whatever came next. He saw the role
of love being how he created space to be
kind and gentle with himself (and his
wife), as well as to be kind to all of the
various feelings and reactions that arose.
Rather than having to push the feelings
of frustration, disappointment, sadness,
longing, etc. away, he could acknowledge
their presence and still choose which
feelings would inform his next steps.
It was such a gift to hear Steve's talk,
since not two days later, my plans fell
apart. Feeling an urge to continue to
find ways to embody mindfulness and
compassion in my own life, I had signed
up to volunteer at an animal sanctuary
starting in January and to continue
being a drop off location for the local
community supported agriculture (CSA)
program, which usually provided me with
a surplus of fruits and vegetables that
I was then dropping off weekly at the
food bank. Within hours of each other, I
received an email saying the sign-ups for
the CSA this season were much smaller
and that the volunteer hours I had been
given were taken by someone else. I
wanted to cry. And then I got angry. Full
on arms crossed, foot stamping, pouty
lipped angry. In a true show of humanity,
I looked to offset my painful feelings by
trying to find someone to blame....myself
or someone else. And then I heard Steve's
words, " hope and love " . Whenever I felt
the anger kick up, I softly repeated those
words. I then realized that under the
anger was some embarrassment as well
since I had proudly shared my upcoming
volunteer gig with some others. Even
though I could remind myself that I had
shared from a place of excitement and
not ego, it still added to the pain. This
was another opportunity to use love to be
gentle with myself.
Like Steve, I reminded myself to
be hopeful that I could adapt (as an
enneagram 7, I have no trouble filling
my time). I reminded myself that there
may be some exciting things that start to
unfold in 2023 that I was not aware of at
this time. I reminded myself that things
are always changing and you cannot
know everything. Encouraged by Steve's
wisdom, I also made space for all of the
feelings that arose, including the pouty,
foot stamping ones. I placed my hand
on my heart and told myself that this
hurts and that my reactions make sense.
I shared what had happened with my
daughter, who reflected back to me as I
have done many times with her, saying, " I
can totally see why you would be sad. " My
heart eased just a bit.
I share my experience in hopes that
in your own moment of plans dissolving
or unexpected changes, you can also be
reminded of Steve's wisdom. Hope and
love truly are a life raft in the turbulent
waters of our lives.
Lesley Huff, PsyD, is a licensed
psychologist, and offers courses in mindful
self-compassion through the Change
Through Compassion
program. For
more information,
please see our
website at https://
https://scclanc.org/mental-health-wellness/change-through-compassion/ https://scclanc.org/mental-health-wellness/change-through-compassion/ https://scclanc.org/mental-health-wellness/change-through-compassion/ https://scclanc.org/mental-health-wellness/change-through-compassion/ https://scclanc.org/mental-health-wellness/change-through-compassion/

2022 Annual Impact Report

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of 2022 Annual Impact Report

2022 Annual Impact Report - Cover1
2022 Annual Impact Report - 2
2022 Annual Impact Report - 3
2022 Annual Impact Report - 4
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2022 Annual Impact Report - Cover4