Giving Thanks


For all the things that merit gratitude,

Let there be many thanks.

For all the wonders that fill hearts

And gladden souls,

Let there be thanks.

For the bounty of all blessings:

For the smiles,

The newborn children,

The rediscovery of

Newfound hopes

And boundless potential

For growth,

Let there be thanks.


For it is not joy that

Makes us grateful,

But the thanks

that bring us


 happy thanksgiving

Proof of Trying


She came to session in a huff.

“I am SO bad at history,” she stated bitterly. “I hate history.”

After letting in a bit of sympathy and a bit of gentle urging, she pulled out a stapled test striped broad with red–remarks, circled words and crossed out answers–the teacher’s mutilation. A large C dominated the top of the page. She threw the paper on the table, her face a salad of emotions: regret, embarrassment, disgust, disappointment, sadness, frustration, despair, shame.

“I’m not taking this home,” she said. “Can you keep it in my file here instead?”

“How about we look at the test together,” I offered, skirting the question.

She frowned (kids always pick on adult evasive maneuvers …) but nodded grudgingly. We went over the questions and her answers. She was actually almost correct on most, just not quite as the teacher wanted. The girl misinterpreted directions on a couple but wrote accurate facts; misplaced a number on a date; confused an ambiguous passive tense and so got the answer wrong (trick question, that one was); wrote the wrong sequence of correctly memorized events …

The teacher gave no quarter for mistakes of any kind, no leeway. The red marks slashed through the test in an assured hand of criticism. To add insult to injury, the bottom of the second page read “Try harder next time” … harshly assuming that the effort was what lacked, rather than skill or speed of processing.

In effect, the mistakes were very good proof of trying. They were signposts of the effort put in by a child who finds memorizing difficult and worked hard to understand the unfurling of what happened to whom where and when and why. She knew the material, even if the test plumbed all her weak spots and completely ignored the many things she studied.

Comforted some by the validation of her work, she calmed, vindicated that she wasn’t “bad at history” and bolstered by understanding that while the teacher had the right to take off points for errors, there were many places where knowledge came through, if imperfectly.

For the rest of the session we worked on attending to test questions: identifying exactly what was asked, highlighting important words in questions and directions, re-wording it if necessary, reading all the answers before settling on the best one, writing down key-words. Strategies for testing.

In the end she left with the offending graded test in her backpack, ready to take it home and armed with the understanding of what she did right, not only what came out wrong. Still disappointed, she was at least no longer ashamed.

“I think Ms. J sure does loves red,” she noted, a bit of snark in her voice but humor finally restored. “Maybe someone should get her a green marker …”

A Sentry Till Spring

winter is closing in soon by Gunnar Gestur on Flickr

winter is closing in soon by Gunnar Gestur on Flickr

Find a moment of magic

where the air

meets the sky;

where the light

holds back darkness

and the sun

twirls a ribbon

to the frost

swimming by.

Find a moment of magic;

breathe a lungful

of peace.

Brace your heart

with warm knowing:

There will be light on

all winter

standing sentry

till spring.

Rules? What Rules?

A friend sent me this photo, taken 1910 … and I thought, it was the best BEST example ever, of bending the rules … (or at least those rules that make no sense beyond to those who made them … )



I was reminded of it today, after speaking with a young boy who complained that he got into trouble–yet again–for breaking “another of the teacher’s stupid rules.”

The boy’s mother had her mouth already open to reprimand him for using a word one ‘should not say’ in the context of one’s educators … but I gave her one of my ‘please don’t’ looks … and she took a deep breath and nodded.

“What kind of rules?” I asked.

“Stupid ones,” he grumbled. Then seeing that I was actually waiting to hear an example, he sighed. “Like not being allowed to hold our pencils while we’re reading. She keeps taking points off when I break the rule.”

“Did she tell you why she doesn’t want you to do that?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged, “because she said so?”

I chuckled. “Fair enough … sometimes grownups say that you should not do things just because they say so … but I was wondering if she ever actually told you why. Sounds to me she maybe has a reason–maybe kids play with their pencils? Drop them a lot and it is distracting? Doodle in the books?”

The boy peered at me with a look that let me know that I have just lost about 200 points of coolness in his view along with several dozen in the IQ department. “Sometimes we’re supposed to write in our books,” he stated, “… anyway, if she said it was for that it would make sense, sort of” he added. “I don’t drop mine. I just hold it. She doesn’t want us to hold the pencils just because.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Just because?”

“Yeah,” he stressed. “She said that we don’t need a pencil in our hands for our brain to read…” the boy pouted. “How does she know what my brain needs for reading? What if the pencil reminds my brain what the letters are?”

Point made.

I actually could see how it could do that.

I told the little guy that if it helps him to hold the pencil when he’s reading, to go ahead and do so.

He looked at me, suspicious. “It’ll get me in trouble.”

“Not if you tell her that I told you it’s okay for you to keep holding it if it helps your brain.” I smiled, more than a tad conspiring.

His eyes grew large, and the grin that followed had enough wattage to light up Manhattan’s night sky.


On Nov.7–Making Peace with Suicide–a recommended new and powerful book!

Launching November 7, 2014!

Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort

By: Adele Ryan McDowell, PhD

Sometimes a new book comes along that deserves a special shout out–this is one !

I am delighted to help spread the word about Adele McDowell’s new, powerful, and heart opening book.

I’ve known Adele for almost 18 years now, and she is the real deal: knowledgeable, compassionate, deeply empathetic, super-sensitive, and down-to-earth. She understands human suffering and human potential, the depths of pain and the triumphs of spirit, the reality of trauma and the tangible hold of hope.

The combination of her skill and personality make her the best person to approach and manage such a tender topic, and she does so with much heart and practical advice.

The book is filled with information and much needed explanations to one of the most heart-wrenching realities of human connection and loss. It is also filled with anecdotes, candid testimonies, and personal paths through grief and healing.


Read it!

Join the launching celebration on November 7 and be one of the first to own a copy!

Get it on November 7, 2014!

Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort

By: Adele Ryan McDowell, PhD

Get it on Amazon November 7!

About the book:

Insightful, compelling, and compassionate, Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort takes a good hard look at the world-wide phenomena of suicide.

This book is designed for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide and felt that sucker punch of grief; for anyone who is in pain, walking unsteadily, and considering suicide as an option; and for anyone who works with, guides, or counsels those feeling suicidal and/or suffering the profound grief from a suicidal loss.

Making Peace with Suicide includes stories of courage, vulnerability, and steadfastness from both the survivors of suicidal loss as well as the unique perspective of the formerly suicidal. It offers shared wisdom and coping strategies from those who have walked before you. It explores the factors leading to suicide and the reasons why some do and some don’t leave suicide notes.

Making Peace with Suicide sheds light on the phenomena of suicide vis-à-vis our teens, the military, new mothers, as an end-of-life choice, and asks if addiction is a form of slow suicide. It provides a seven-step healing process and opens the door to consider suicide and the soul, the heart lesson of suicide, and the energies of suicide.

If suicidality has impacted your life, Making Peace with Suicide is a must-read! You will be guided through the unknown territory, given insights to allow understanding, stories to help you heal, and ways to make peace with a heart wide-open. Making Peace with Suicide is good medicine for the body, mind, and soul.

Praise for Making Peace with Suicide

“Suicide is one of our most painful, difficult, confusing and wounding of human experiences. Dr. Adele McDowell addresses this topic with love and beauty. She non-judgmentally restores empathy, compassion and understanding.  She courageously offers deep tending in a “place of primal pain.” And she is comprehensive, sharing the history, complexity, universality, and even positive dimensions of this mysterious act. Whether you are contemplating or have survived the attempt, lost someone to suicide, or counsel and help these populations, Adele McDowell’s Making Peace with Suicide will bring you hope, healing, compassion and understanding.”

–Edward Tick, PhD; Director, Soldier’s Heart; Author, War and the Soul and Warrior’s Return

“With sensitivity and compassion, Making Peace with Suicide explores the depth and breadth of suicide and offers insights and healing. This book is essential reading.”

–C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD

“No topic could be more timely than suicide. This remarkable book addresses people who have contemplated ending their lives as well as those who have to deal with the aftermath of those who succeeded. But it will also be invaluable to mental health workers and military chaplains, especially those who deal with young people who have been bullied and veterans with PTSD. For such a complex topic, Dr. McDowell’s writing style is reader-friendly and the stories she presents may well evoke tears. Her wise recommendations include teaching self-mastery techniques to help people cope with the stress of a success-oriented society. I have read many books on this sensitive topic, but none with the breadth and scope of Making Peace with Suicide.”

–Stanley Krippner, PhD; Co-author, Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self and Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans

“Finally. A book that explains—in the simplest of terms, in a non-sensational, non-academic manner—the phenomenal, worldwide epidemic we call suicide. If you read one book on mental illness and how it affects our world, READ THIS ONE!”

–Ginny Sparrow, Editor, American Association of Suicidology

“Adele bravely and compassionately tackles a topic that many people avoid discussing—suicide. Yet in the understanding of it, the confusion and sense of loss is greatly eased. Making Peace with Suicide is rich with insight and healing methods all intended to help heal the void we feel when we lose a loved one to suicide. It’s also written for those who are suicidal to help them understand their pain and despair, and to let them know there is always help and there is always hope. I wish I had this book to read when my best friend took her life.”

–Carol Ritberger, PhD, author of Healing Happens with Your Help: Understanding the Hidden Meaning behind Illness

“This powerful book, written by a psychologist and former suicide-hotline responder, speaks to us all, about a present epidemic, surrounded by shame, taboo and secrets. Offering many personal stories, Adele helps the reader to find peace speaking to both those who believe they’re the only person who has ever felt this desperate and to the survivors whose lives are thrown into turmoil. This excellent book, full of useful resources, is essential for everybody who feels alone with their issues of life or death, bringing greater understanding, acceptance and comfort.

–Christine Page, MD, seminar leader & author of The Healing Power of the Sacred Woman

“As a minister/therapist for more than thirty years as well as a wife who lost her military husband to suicide, I have never found a more compassionate, effective book on suicide and its aftermath. This book serves many needs and highlights the myriad ways in which suicide changes one’s life direction. I cannot say strongly enough how powerful and helpful this book is.”

–Rev. Colleen E. Brown, Unity minister

“The loss of a loved one by any means is traumatic. When the loss is by suicide, in addition to the grief of the loss itself, survivors are often left riddled with guilt, anger, shame, and endless questioning, by both themselves and by others. In Making Peace with Suicide, Dr. McDowell gently and brilliantly weaves vital suicide survivor education with comforting and inspirational thoughts and quotes, all designed to direct the reader on a path of healing, resolution and peace.  A must-read for anyone who has been touched by the tragedy of suicide and left to answer the question, ‘Why?’ ”

—Carole Brody Fleet, award-winning and bestselling author of Widows Wear Stilettos…; Happily Even After…; and When Bad Things Happen to Good Women

“A subject such as this is never easy to digest. However, with Adele’s wisdom and guidance through her experience, this is a must read. We are in a new world now. Let Adele’s wisdom guide you with her insights for a new perspective on suicide.”

–Mona Delfino, author of The Sacred Language of the Human Body


Get Making Peace with Suicide on Amazon, November 7!

Paths of Gold

Found on

path-in-autumn-reghin-romania Found on

There is gold

in the air

ruby wealth


There are showers

of ocher,

breathing fairies

and wonder,

sprinkling mist

on cool weather,

building paths of

true splendor.

There is magic

to tread through,

parting leaves

end of season,

mixed with dazzling hues

of the richness of nature

spilling forth

onto you.