Eps 119: “Honey and Onions” [Insights for Idealists] Guest, Alessandra Pigni

Eps 119: “Honey and Onions” [Insights for Idealists] Guest, Alessandra Pigni

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Today’s guest is Alessandra Pigni. (pronounced: péen – yee)
She will be joining me and the rest of the group selected for the On Being Gathering in February, 2018.

Her book is entitled:
Idealist’s Survival Kit, The: 75 Ways to Prevent Burnout
(The book is published by Parallax Press which is the publisher founded by mindfulness teacher, peace activist, and Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Han.)

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ESP 23 The hidden “family rules” that have shaped you (and still impact your life)

ESP 23 The hidden “family rules” that have shaped you (and still impact your life)

familyfightDid this ever happen to you? You think the way your family (of origin) does something is normal, and then, suddenly, you find out it isn’t?

Usually, this happens when you form close relationships outside your family of origin. Fireworks can ensue!

How your family dealt with conflicts, problems, shame, secrets, and tragedies shaped you and learning relational and loyalty dynamics from the previous generations in your family can bring relational repair, health, and hope.

 

That’s what today’s show is about. I’m glad you can listen, today.

 

Today’s guest is graduate school professor and marriage and family therapist in private clinical practice, Janet Stauffer, Ph.D.

Stauffer-J-038-e1422044242927

JANET’S BIO:

Dean of Students, Evangelical Seminary

Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

In addition to her work at the seminary and her clinical practice, Janet is vice president of the Board of Directors at Philhaven Behavioral Healthcare facility. She has led retreats, presented at professional conferences, and published articles in a number of journals. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and approved supervisor and clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She also holds membership in the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. Her research interests include genuine meeting through dialogical engagement, loyalty dynamics between and across the generations of the family, and the intersection of faith and therapy.


 

SHOWNOTES:

MIN

1:40

Each person is born with an inherent longing to connect.

2:40

Early childhood experiences shape who we are and how we relate to others.

Our ancestors deliver ways of being to us across generations:

4:00

What can be done if the early years weren’t filled with dysfunction and problems?

5:00

How relationship can alter the wiring and re-patterning of the brain.

5:30

Jim Coen, UVA – The Hand holding experiment.

7:00

In close relationships, we end up feeling–not only are you here with me–but somehow you are me. Somehow we are here together.

8:20

Before we can help others, we have to be open to ourselves and our own healing. Our wounds can remain as vulnerabilities and our greatest resource.

11:00

“I because who I am through my relationships with other people, so that more of me gets called forth as I respond to others in my world around me.”

 

The still face experiment:

12:15

“Foo-Poo” (FOO = Family of Origin) influences our current relationships.

12:45

The interconnectedness and “loyalty dynamics” between and across the generations and how during all our interactions we are holding something that has been passed down across generations and in the larger cultural dynamics.

14:00

Example from life (Janet, her husband and the Ford Fiesta). Naming the truth in our interactions and being curious about what we hold from generations before us.

16:00

Janet explored what anger was like for her mother and grandmother and discovered not just a family secret and the shame that was carried on, but also a a family norm relating to how pain is dealt with.

18:00

Family secrets and ways of interacting waiting like land mines that can sabotage our other relationships.

20:00

We can also end up carrying or holding visibly or invisibly things that our spouse (or other close relationships) hold as well.

21:30

There are options for growth and healing if we can be open, aware, curious and can find courage to turn and face [the other] and remember where our weakness are and admit them.

22:30

The power of naming what is happening for us emotionally.

23:00

“Honoring my personal truth, personal awareness, my being, and made a claim for myself has a profound impact in my own knowing.”

24:00

“Every one of us experiences terror at the thought of finding the courage to turn and face the other in a painful situation at some point in our life.”

25:30

A defend or fight mode should be superseded by the prevailing message “You and I are on the team team ultimately. We have a reason to connect and I long for you. But it’s been hard between and here’s something of how it’s been for me… and I want to know what it’s like for you.”

26:20

Yet, we cannot think what we say will always help because we cannot guarantee the other person’s response. So there is vulnerability in saying the truth.

26:50

Being calm, curious and compassionate even in the face of wounds and vulnerability.

27:30

Emotionally self-regulating and contending with emotional triggers.

30:00

(In marriage or close relationships) Learning self and other in a whole new way…in a kind of sacred space to grow through the most tender places that we hold.

31:00

Telling the other what would help in what feels like an unsafe place emotionally.

31:20

Learning to soothe one another.

32:00

On core lies we can believe about ourselves.

33:00

Honoring when emotional safety is just as important as physical safety.

34:00

What to do when it’s not safe to have important conversations.

36:00

Martin Buber-We live with an armor around us and bands around our heart and being closed off and unaware and unaddressed.

37:30

Asking questions of ourselves to create more awareness and realizing our thoughts and memories are not us.

38:30

We limit our imagination about the capacity each of us holds to respond the other, the world around us and ourself.

39:00

We can test our assumptions and plant seeds that bring new possibilities for ourself and others.

40:20

When we can’t yet name or isolate our feelings.

41:00

Giving permission and a soft demand to know what is going on with someone else and helping them find their voice.

42:30

The biblical tradition of the garden where God says “Where art thou?” a story about hiding. God’s longing for humankind.

44:00

King David in the psalms is modeling openness and receptivity…asking “What is in my heart?” “Who am I?” “What do I hold?”

46:00

Being open and still safe. Giving yourself warm, regard, and leaving the self-judgment out.

“Judgment limits the knowing.”

47:00

Being present to and growing in recognition of “here’s what I hold” or “here’s what freezes me” etc and asking “how can I be more free?” and then exploring new pathways and practices that go somewhere.

50:10

On the spiritual practices and things can people do to move forward.

51:00

These ways of understanding what it is to connect, grow and be human are universal and offer hope to those with varied religious tradition and no religious affiliation too.

53:00

The spiritual and the Other when it is not defined as “God”.

54:20

“God doesn’t limit God’s self to the church or the synagogue or the mosque and we can never fully describe God because God cannot be contained and is always more than what I can fathom or grasp”

55:00

Asking, “How do I understand the call before me and how do I invite others and find the place where they are experiencing call and longing and where is this work happening within them. What is being invited forth?”

56:10

How we can pass down the best of our generational dynamics and loyalties to our children.

57:20

On the invisible family rule of perfectionism and how it made Janet think she could be the perfect parent and how that idea was shattered.

58:30

How she approached her son after that point to understand what he was experiencing and being surprised by his reply.

59:00

We can never get it all right, but we can be willing to go to our child and ask them about their experience.

60:00

Inviting others to know themselves in whatever capacity to do that they can and hold what they say with care and honor.

61:00

Enacting moments and accumulating themes and transactions and happenings and asking “Is their a burden they carry or an injury of disregard or diminishment that was not theirs to carry?” which deserve address and caring and honor.

62:00

On having a commit to “I will be there for you, and I will be here for me, and I invite you to be here for me,” is a profound act that helps us for the long run.

64:00

Despite our efforts, outcomes are not guaranteed and each person has an opportunity to respond uniquely.

RESOURCES for further discovery:


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REPLAY of the LIVE class (on Periscope)! with notes!

REPLAY of the LIVE class (on Periscope)! with notes!

I was a sweaty, nervous wreck on my first periscope.

It’s comical…did anyone ever see Broadcast News (the movie)?
I needed two tissues for my sympathetic nervous system.

(Some technical difficulties threw me just before broadcast and I talked SO VERY fast.)

If you didn’t get to see it here you go!

 

 

NOTES:

THE #1 Myth about the SOUL…

is that we have one.

But first….we should get on the same page…

WHAT IS A SOUL?

(what are we talking about?)

This is how I’m describing it:

Titanic-style…

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for soul is nephesh. We might use it this way, “1,517 souls were lost in the Titanic disaster.”

SOUL ≠ dead BUGS BUNNY …like a floating ghost and that sort of stuff.

Not a faint rendering of bugs bunny leaving his body to play a harp on a cloud with Porky Pig. Not something that is ghosty and haunting a house or helping Demi Moore on a Pottery Wheel. (Patrick Swayze-style..google it, young people.)

 

Ancients thought of the mind and heart differently (the will and the emotions)…

Maybe these verses come to mind…but you’ve been thinking about them in your own context instead of the ancient context from which they were written.

 

Remember this one?

The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things JER 17:9

(Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life)

or Proverbs 4:23 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

….The writers of these scriptures were not talking about emotions and feelings when they said “heart” (like we associate the heart today…they were talking about the HEART as one’s will and control center of a person…(the thing we now associate with the mind.)

For them, the emotions (the heart for us in our context) were associated, instead, with the bowels. Perhaps a bit gross..but there is some

MEDICAL TRUTH/correlation : anxiety and stress are closely associated with disease and problem that happen in the intestines…like….ulcerated colon, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (bloating, constipation, gas, and other fun things), digestion issues, food sensitivities and problems in that part of the body. These are extremely related to one’s emotions and levels of stress.


The GEM MODEL of the Soul (my version)

 

Think of the SOUL as a gem and the facets are ways to see the soul.

You can go as far as saying other things beyond these are facets:

family of origin, social economic situation, skin color (if that has been a defining factor in your life)

education, the country you live in,

Even Christianity is a facet. A worldview is a facet that we can gain a kind of look at who we are.

Grace is central to Christianity, for instance. We can look at our soul through the facet of grace.

When light is added to a stone you can see its flaws and imperfections and you can see its quality (color, cut, clarity, caret)

UGLY soul? Is that possible? what do you think?

In his book Care of Souls, David Benner writes, “We can define soul care as the support and restoration of the well-being of persons in their depth and totality, with particular concern for their inner life. Soul care is done in the context of community.”

The vantage point of Soul Care views struggle or failings not as fatal flaws or illness to be “cured”. Not therapy or self-help. 

It’s a sustaining endeavor for our interior lives and our relationships, like water and food is for the body. Incidentally, caring for the body falls within the bounds of Soul Care.

Ten Signs that You Need the Renewal of Soul Care 

1. Fruitlessness. Are there observable deficits in the enacted your Fruit of the Spirit? That means, is there any lack or slack in the

 

areas of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control? (If not, I think E.T. went home without you. Phone again. You might want to text, and retweet as well.)

2. You find yourself perceiving things others say as personally offensive, or as direct attacks. 

3. You are “venting” more in person or online.
4. You feel unloved.
5.You feel increased frustration, restlessness, or disconsolation.

6.Your fears and anxiety are more prevalent.

7.You have increased tension in relationships.
8. You struggle with one or more of the “seven deadly 

sins”: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. 

9. You have problems sleeping or bad dreams.


10. You’re in a creative slump. 

RECAP:

THE #1 myth about the soul is that…. you have one. You don’t have a soul you are a Soul. You have a body. George MacDonald, in 1892 (C.S. Lewis quotes him and the quote is mistakenly attributed to him sometimes)

Think of the Soul as “the real you” the essence of you. contained in a body, yes, but made up of everything about you in a pure sense.

Some might say the soul gets extinguished or goes to paradise or gets absorbed into the great Life Force (God) …but in terms of what you need…you always need Soul Care, because you are a soul and that include both the visible and the invisible.

All this more and much more is available in my book. Shame-filled plug.

Episode 21 (PART II Tom Reynolds) “Care isn’t so much “doing for” but “being with”

Episode 21 (PART II Tom Reynolds) “Care isn’t so much “doing for” but “being with”


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Tom Reynolds
Tom Reynolds, PhD

 

Shownotes: PART II
A conversation with Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, author Tom Reynolds

 

Bio:
Tom joined the Emmanuel College (part of the University of Toronto) faculty in 2007. He is committed to an interdisciplinary, practical, and relational vision of theology, and his teaching and research address a range of topics related to constructive theology (particularly the doctrine of God and theological anthropology), theological method, intercultural and interfaith engagements, contextual theologies and globalization, philosophical theology, disability studies, and the thought and influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher.

His recent Articles

Email: tom.reynolds@utoronto.ca

MIN 00:30

Tom on Theodicy – The question of why does God allow suffering and how should we think about suffering.

1:00

How would Tom, as a theologian answer the question, “Why would a sovereign God allow a person to be born disabled and encounter such suffering?”

2:20

The Why questions and the answers are messy, ongoing, and evolving. These answers are limited and open to ongoing revision.

3:00

Reframing needed. Question the question and its suppositions about seeing suffering first and foremost as the issue.

3:40

If we are pitying a disabled person and seeing them how we would interpret suffering, we might be off base.

4:10

Exclusion as suffering. Social suffering is something we can alleviate as the church or community.

4:40

Tom on the central questions of Theodicy.

5:30

What would a good world be? Interdependent and that holds up the preciousness and fragility of life and human experience as valuable. Good things can be fragile things.

6:30

Does God cause suffering and determine it? Maybe it’s (all) unfolding for us in mysterious ways.

7:40

Book of John, chapter 9: The man born blind.

Who sinned? (disciples of Jesus thinking of blindness as a curse)

So the glory of God can be revealed. (What might that mean that we haven’t understood yet. [Lisa])

The story is less about curing the disabled and more about reveal Jesus’ power and legitimacy as the Messiah.

9:20

NT Wright author of Evil and the Justice of God

(on the Problem of Evil)

• God as the Incarnation steps into human suffering as a means to assuage it and also, in that, provides us a model for how to encounter it in the world ourselves, practically speaking.

The answers to suffering can become “incarnational”, not cerebral and (held) at a distance.

12:00

The why questions signal a (good) unsettledness which can be productive…

12:20

1. God is bigger than our questions and we should feel free to engage in dialogue with God and each other about God.

2. And because it calls us to live into the world and the lives of people will engage who ask, “Where are you?” and we can be there in presence and not (just) with answers.

13:00

“being-with”

(The heart of Incarnational living.)

13:30

In many cases God’s own presence is us to each other.

14:00

“Care isn’t so much “doing for” but “being with”.”

15:00

1 in 5 families regularly encounters a serious disability of some kind.

15:30

We (as a family) chose to continue to come to church even though it was sometimes messy so he (and everyone) could figure out how to make it work. (Lisa)

16:00

How can people in Christian Communities or leaders in Christian communities do better when it comes to being truly hospitable  and caring well for people with disabilities.

17:00

Training ministers to come along side is important.

17:30

In his mission and intro to Theology class, what is framed is practical wisdom lived out in relationships of caring regard with other people. (not in the academic halls or in isolation).

18:00

On developing the perception to see/understand differently and to see places where people have been harmed by certain ways of seeing these…like the healing narratives…illness as curses from God, or metaphors of seeing and hearing language and attitudes (able-ism) for example.

18:50

How to show consideration:

Asking before you assist someone. Or asking how you can best help and not presuming that you know (or know better).

Listen first, then do.

19:30

Ministry doesn’t have to be deficit-focused to the “needy”…but rather possibility focused.

As all people of resources and gifts [are] welcome among the community…this turns things upside-down.

20:30

Think of people as sites of wisdom that help a community of belonging.

21:00

1 Cor 12:25

Members having the same care for one another. All can care and contribute.

Living out the image of God with shared affinity.

22:00

Transformative and vulnerable communion within our communities…being together.

23:20

[There is] dignity in participation. (Lisa)

Allowing people to serve along side means that we are equal.

25:40

Equality isn’t sameness. Difference doesn’t mean a hierarchy.

27:40

(Tom) Music is my therapeutic other life.


 

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Episode 20 – Puncturing the Illusions of our own Ableism and Flawed Ideas of Normal (with Tom Reynolds) part 1

Episode 20 – Puncturing the Illusions of our own Ableism and Flawed Ideas of Normal (with Tom Reynolds) part 1

Tom Reynolds
Tom Reynolds, PhD

 

Shownotes: PART I
A conversation (in 2 parts) with

the author of Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, by practical theologian Tom Reynolds

 

Bio:
Tom joined the Emmanuel College (part of the University of Toronto) faculty in 2007. He is committed to an interdisciplinary, practical, and relational vision of theology, his teaching and research address a range of topics related to constructive theology (particularly the doctrine of God and theological anthropology), theological method, intercultural and interfaith engagements, contextual theologies and globalization, philosophical theology, disability studies, and the thought and influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher.

His recent Articles

Email: tom.reynolds@utoronto.ca

MIN 4:00

Incorporating the theology of disability into his work training pastors at Emmanuel Seminary, because theology is personal, and not disconnected from the real world concerns of the church and people living their lives.

4:30

About his son Chris sparking his interest and work in the theology of disability.

5:30 Learning that disability isn’t a problem to figure out, but rather it’s about a person who I love and live with, and care with and for, which radically reoriented my perspective on theology.

5:50

Disability and God’s Providence

(Questioning does God “cause” disability as a curse or opportunity for healing…or a kind of moral lesson…)

6:30

His son exploded the theological categories (and assumptions) pertain to Providence…making everything confusing and needing to be re-thought.

7:00

What is abnormal? What is “faulty” humanity?

Amos Yong, Hans Reinders, John Swinton writing on the topic too.



8:15

Tom details the new book on the Theology of Care which builds on the first book.

8:40

Some churches stress Cure over Care in terms of disability.

8:50

(Lisa) My visit to a church where the leadership was interested in healing my son from his non normative experience of the world.

10:00

The range of responses churches have when encountering people with disabilities.

The  church’s “urge to cure” is better than outright exclusion, which plenty of families have encountered.

11:00

It comes from the the idea of remaking and fixing someone in a way that is more comfortable for non disable people and normalcy (what they consider normal). Not helpful or Christian.

12:00

About the church that didn’t want his son as a disruption and a church that did receive them.

13:00

“How can we help you?” was water for his parched soul. How the church accepted and welcomed the uniqueness of his son.

14:15

Hospitality vs. a narrow view of what is preferred.

15:00

The messiness of various kinds of people, in general, means we have to expand our view of grace.

15:30

Who gets to be a full-fledge member of the church community?

and the “mascot syndrome” for those with disabilities.

16:30 – 17:50

Levels and types of responses:

• Tolerate disabled, but they do not get to be a true part of the church.

• “Inclusion” sometimes means means the the “outsiders” get invites to the inside group based on the good graces of the in group, but are still treated as problems to be solved, or people that are to receive the gestures of charity from others (people for whom things are “done for (them”)”. Doing for instead of “being with”.

18:00

What is access? In is not just accommodations (i.e. ramps and special bathrooms) and alterations but ongoing…

Faith communities may be not expecting and not ready to receive those with disabilities.

18:30

It’s not an issue about outsiders, because disability extend to a broad range of issues, both visible and not visible, including mental health challenges that are already there.

18:50

Thinking of the word “BELONGING”

as in “to be longed for when you aren’t there in the fullest sense.”

John Swinton and belonging

19:40

Jean Vanier “In giving and receiving do we really thrive as people”

20:30

Unconscious bias that includes “fear of the stranger” and “fear of the stranger within”.

21:00

We fear weakness and vulnerability.

21:30

Before “mainstream”…the stigma of “retard”…and fearing and disposing weakness.

22:20

Nathan means gift. (Lisa) I learned that I had to recognize weaknesses (shortcomings) in myself the I saw reflected in my son…and communities can do the same type of thing unconsciously.

23:00

“The encounter with disability punctures the illusions of what we think of as our own strengths.”

23:50

The journey with a child with disabilities is isolating.

25:30

Societal epidemic that fears being vulnerable or perceived as weak or unable to perform in ways that are considered valuable by society.

26:00

We have to see what are myths about autonomy, independence, and productivity where are assume we are self-reliant and these qualities are prized so highly. “Able-ism” (The idea that being able in body and mind is normal and most vital which serves as the lens by which we see and judge the world and others outside those parameters as faulty.)

27:00

Tom’s latest work called “A spirituality of attentiveness”. Christianity: St Paul’s strength in weakness serves as a prophetic witness against a society that prizes the strong as the main thing of value. 1 Corinthinians pretense of strength undercuts our ideas of grace)

29:20

We are all only temporarily-abled. (Lisa).

31:00

On hearing “You must be so blessed to have a disabled person as a teacher.” Is this sometimes a reframing of the situation that spins the situation to be more palatable? A glossing with spiritual truths and making it about spiritual growth.

31:20

Instead, Chris’s life seeks its own flourishes, and he may at times function as a teacher.

33:00

Thoughts on intellectual ability (or inability) and belief in terms of Salvation.

God’s works God’s own path in different ways and in different capacities with people. This undercuts my arrogance (as a theologian), so I don’t think I can so easily map it out definitively and universal for all people in all places.

34:00

His son’s atheism (who is the God he doesn’t believe in)…and how that challenges our presuppositions about God.

34:50

“It is in the kind of relationships of mutual belonging that the full image of God is borne out.”

35:30

(Lisa) To my son I said, “when you see someone who is loving you, you are seeing God.”

(Lisa) On how I changed from thinking “right belief” as the way to understand God was central. Our intellectualizing what God has done is not salvific.

38:00

Martin Luther’s theology of the Cross:

The pretense that we know exactly where God is and how God works. Where God is most hidden is where God is most vividly revealed in saving ways.

38:30

“Who I am to declare that God’s grace only works in some ways? and the God’s capacity and God’s own mystery is limited to what I would deem and my community would deem adequate.”

39:30

What the practical theology of disability tells us about Grace with God and relationships with others.

40:00

“The longer I live and work as a theologian the more I realize the limitations of theology and the true infinite mysteries of God.”

Jesus was disruptive to religious pretense and suppositions. “You say this..but I say this…”

Theodicy – The question of why does God allow suffering and how should we think about suffering.

How Tom, as a theologian, answers the question,
“Why would a sovereign God allow a person to be born disable and encounter such suffering?” (This is great!)

The best is yet to come! Come back for part II next week.

Will you help me meet my goal of raising $100.00 in August to keep Spark My Muse going? Use the Donate button on the left sidebar. Thank you for being a big ball of love!

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