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Turning Points – December 2009

We send you this holiday blessing from Healing Journeys:

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence. . .

May you respond to the call of your gift, and find the courage to follow its path. . .

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention. . .

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder. . .

                                    ~ from John O'Donohue, Eternal Echoes

In this issue:
Director's Reflections - by Jan Adrian, MSW

Jan Adrian Dear Friends,

When I decided to shave my head in a "sympathy shave" on Halloween, it was also a decision to let my hair grow out in what would now be my natural color. No longer the redhead I had been all my life. It was a difficult decision because I "knew" it would be gray and I assumed I would look older and not as attractive. Was I ever in for a surprise!

After 6 weeks, I know the natural color of my hair now is white — kind of a platinum blonde. It's been called fantastic, stunning, sophisticated, and awesome. I look younger. I don't have to style my hair every day. No hairdryer with a diffuser to drag along when I travel. No monthly appointments with the hair dresser. No more messed up hair if I wear a hat and take it off. My life is easier and I'm saving money.

I feel lighter, empowered, courageous, optimistic, excited, and curious. What a lesson this has been! A metaphor for many things in life. What other changes have I put off that would improve my life if I would make them? What if I didn't hang on to what is familiar and predictable? What if I took more leaps into the unknown?

Somehow something as simple as shaving my head has made me less afraid of death — even curious about it. What if, after resisting and being afraid of death, we will discover that it's the grandest adventure we could imagine? We never know what's on the other side of a change until we make it.

In the spirit of healing,
Jan Adrian's signature
Jan Adrian, MSW
Founder and Executive Director

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Healing Story

Shieva Khayam-Bashi
Note:  Shieva Khayam-Bashi, MD is a clinical professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at University of California San Francisco.

She teaches medical students and residents, and cares for patients at San Francisco General Hospital.

All this Joy, All this Sorrow
by Shieva Khayam-Bashi

Why pain? Why suffering? I just could not understand.

I had just completed my three years of residency at Stanislaus Medical Center in Modesto, California, and was feeling exhausted, battered, and war-weary, worn down by the suffering of so many of my dear patients. I had seen it all — cancers of all kinds and stages, traumatic amputations, sudden paralysis, disfiguring burns, debilitating strokes, heart failure, kidney failure, lung failure, brain abscesses, and rare and incurable diseases of all kinds.... Full Story.

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Healing Poem

Elizabeth O.
Note: Elizabeth O. just turned 9 years old and is in the 3rd grade. She is a voracious reader and loves poetry, science and American History.

Born with severe food allergies, she is learning that sometimes life's difficulties make you stronger and it is okay to be different. She is a Thriver.

Her poem was written on Veteran's Day.

The Pass to Freedom
     by Elizabeth O.

The pass to freedom
lies in one place.
You may go miles
take shortcuts, and
long cuts, but get
nowhere. Wise men
don't know, but
loving people do, the pass
to freedom is in
your heart.

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Book Review

Just Fine: Unmasking Concealed Chronic Illness And Pain
by Carol Sveilich, MA

Reviewed by Terri Reasoner

Book cover-Just Fine: Unmasking Concealed Chronic Illness and Pain Learning that a friend or loved one suffers from an Invisible Chronic Illness (ICI) or lives in chronic pain may be a challenge to comprehend because they look "just fine" in appearance.

Just Fine discusses this dichotomy of looking one way while feeling quite another and provides insight into the obstacles, difficulties, and emotional torment that individuals who suffer from ICI deal with on a daily basis.

Author Carol Sveilich provides over fifty personal narratives of individuals who share their stories of coping with a wide variety of concealed disorders. This book offers a compassionate glimpse into the lives of individuals who deal with physical limitations and pains, the disheartening judgments, and hurtful things that people say when disabilities are not immediately evident.

Using personal stories, Sveilich weaves ideas, practical approaches, and suggestions of how people (both those who suffer and those who are caretakers) cope with ICI—giving the reader an opportunity to decide for themselves how to support, cope, and manage the illness experience.

If you are currently suffering from an ICI, reading this book will help affirm that you are not alone. If you are not suffering from an ICI, this book allows you to "walk in the shoes of another" and to empathically connect to their lived experience. A must-read for any pain clinic worker, medical student, psychologist or doctor dealing with pain patients, psychiatrist, or family member who wants to better understand how to support individuals living with any type of chronic illness.

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