Author Archives: Terri Speirs

2020 Annual Report

We gratefully acknowledge and thank all who so kindly contributed to the Center in 2020. This generosity brings hope and healing to children, teens and adults in need of high quality mental health services.

VISIONARIES ($45,000+)
Polk County Health Services

CHAMPIONS ($25,000 – $44,999)
Delta Dental of Iowa of Foundation

DEFENDERS ($10,000 – $24,999)
American Enterprise Group
Doug Bruce
Carlson Family Foundation
Doug A. Fick
Polk County Board of Supervisors
W.T. & Edna M. Dahl Trust
Sally Wood

PATRONS ($5,000 – $9,999)
Bank of America
BWA Foundation
Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Ann Flood
Sally and Tom Graf
William C. Knapp Charitable Foundation/Susan and Bill Knapp
The Viking Foundation of Lincoln
The West Bancorporation Foundation, Inc.
Sally and Sam Wallace
Wells Fargo

HEALERS ($2,500 – $4,999)
Susan and Mark Ackelson
AT&T
Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey
Central Presbyterian Church
Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation
Ernest and Florence Sargent Family Foundation
Starr and Harry Hinrichs
Norma Hirsch
Trudy Holman Hurd
Rusty Hubbell
Hy-Vee
Nancy Main
Sue and Todd Mattison
Plymouth Congregational UCC
Shirley Poertner
Dr. Michael and Ann Richards
Rotary Club AM
Rachel Stauffer and Jim Lawson
Kitty Ellsworth Stoner
Susan and Carl Voss
Marti Wade
West Bank
Kathleen and Larry Zimpleman

NURTURERS ($1,000 – $2,499)
Anonymous
Linda and Bob Anderson
Sandra L. and Rev. Paul R. Axness
Dr. Barbara Beatty
Kristen Benge
Karin Beschen
Annie and Matt Brandt
Elizabeth Burmeister
Teree Caldwell-Johnson
James Carney
Chrysalis Foundation
Roxanne Barton Conlin
Patty Cownie
Des Moines University
Paula Duncan
Easter Family Fund
Nora and David Everett
Kathy Fehrman
Cindy and Tom Fischer
Jann Freed and John Fisher
Foster Group, Inc.
Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
Barbara M. Gartner
Beth and Stephen Gaul
Diane Glass and J. Jeffrey Means
Sharon Goldford
Mary Gottschalk and Kent Zimmerman
Katherine S. Hauser, M.D.
John and Jeannine Hayes
Sarah and Jim Hayes
Leslie and Steve Heimbach
Lynn Hicks
Ann and Thomas Holme
Charlotte and Fred Hubbell
Debbie and Michael Hubbell
Ellen Hubbell
Randy H. Hamilton and Bruce L. Hughes
Iowa Foundation for Education, Environment, and the Arts
Andrea James
Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
Robert Josten and Susan Judkins
Junior League of Des Moines, Inc.
Nancy and Bill Knapp II
Silver Fox
Kristen and Joe Lee
Frank Levy
Tracy Lewis and Rick Gubbels
Janet Linn
Robbie and Rick Malm
Steve Marquardt
Jami Matice
LaDonna and Rich Matthes
Claudette M. McDonald
MidAmerican Energy Company
James Miller
Karla and Mark Minear
Dr. Bernard and Brenda Mouw
D.J. Newlin
Pauline and William Niebur
Oasis, A Paychex Company
Cynthia O’Brien
Jill Oman
Allison and Timothy Peet
Deb and Bob Pulver Foundation
Iowa Radiology
Lynn Rankin and Steve Karlin
Janis Ruan
David Safris
Salon Spa W
Jackie Saunders
David and Mari-Jo Shaw
Rebecca Shaw
Chris and Larry Sidwell
Cameron Shepherd and Peter Sloterdyk
Kathy and Ted Stuart
Mary H. Stuart and David Yepsen
Nanette D. Stubbs
Marsha Ternus
Toni Urban
Sheri and Dick Vohs
Dr. Teri Wahlig and Mark Feldmann
Cynthia and Kent Wanamaker
Karrie and Mark Weinhardt
Connie Wimer
Alan Zuckert and Joyce Dainty

ADVOCATES ($500 – $999)
Anonymous
Stephanie Asklof
Mollie Baker
Susan Ballard
Libby and Charles Becker
Janet Betts
Carol Bodensteiner
Renee Clippert
Beth Coonan
Suzanna de Baca
Marsha and Ellery Duke
Sondra Eddings
Denise Essman
Georgann Franck
Deborah Gitchell
Bonnie Green
Jill D. Greiner
Mary Pat Gunderson
Barbara Hein
Jody and Thomas Herman
Tim Hickman and Frank Vaia
Kathleen Hoegh
Martha James
Ms. Linda Jennings
Karen Jeske
Dianne and Roger Jones
Anne Kelly
Kemin Industries, Inc.
Lola and David Kenworthy
Diane and Keith Krell
Marla Lacey
Jennie LeGates and Fritz Wehrenberg
LMC Insurance & Risk Management
Shirl Melton
Robyn Mills
Cheryl Morton
Barbara and Dan Mueller
Barb and Andy Nish
Beth Nyguard
Jo Oldson and Brice Oakley
Jennifer Lock Oman
Lynsey Oster
Rita Perea
Olivia Rasmussen
Kay Riley
Estee Roe
Kelle Rolfes
Anne Roth
Patrice Sayre
Chris Shay
Marti Sivi
Laurie and Ashley Sloterdyk
Terri Mork Speirs and Robert Speirs
Randal and John Stern
Bob and Karen Unrau
Char Vukovich
Emily and Fred Weitz
Deb Wiley and John Schmidt
Jean and Bob Williams
Emily Williams-Bouska
Kim and Rich Willis
Connie Wilson Design

SUPPORTERS ($250 – $499)
Anonymous (4)
Becky Anthony
Assured Life Association
Patricia Barry and Bryan Hall, In Honor of Mary Riche
Mary K. Bartine
Mary Beard
Connie Beasley
Christine Bening
Sandy Benson Johnson, Benson Family Foundation
Beth Bishop
Paula Bittick
Connie Boesen
Nancy Bone
Michelle Book and Woody Brenton
Margaret Borgen
Katie Bradshaw
Dory Briles
Shelley Brody
Mary Brooks
Suzie Glazer Burt
Phyllis and Richard Cacciatore
Bonnie Campbell
Tom Carpenter
Kevin and Julie Carroll
Marilyn Carroll
LaNae Ceryanec
Joyce Chapman
Diane and Tom Child
John and Holly Clark
Polly Clark
Alicia Claypool
Julie Ann Connolly
Chris Conyers
Stephanie Cornish
Kim Coulter
Holly Craiger
Cheryl Critelli
Cynde Cronin
Diane Cutler
Douglas Detrick
Dr. Christine Dietz
Denny Donnelly
Richard Douglass
Kelly Edmister
Lynn Ekblad
Dr. Kathy Elsner, D.D.S.
Karen Engman
Claudia Peyton Ewald
First United Methodist Church
Peggy Fisher
Judith Flapan
Fran Fleck
Allison Fleming
Julie Fleming
Robin Fortney
Heidi Foster
Richard Gibson
Judy Gilbert
Kathy Giles
Shawna Gisi
Linda Goeldner
Judy Goodwin
Mary Gordon
Carrie and Joe Hall
Carol Corning Hallquist
Rachel Hardin
Renee Hardman
Dennis Groenenboom and Scott Hartsook
Lori and Larry Hartsook
Lynn Heggen
Victoria Herring
Trudie Higgs
Kelli Hill
Rev. Martha Hill
Jennifer Hilmes
Barb Hirsch-Giller
Jill Hittner
Dixie Hoekman
Michelle Hogan
Julie Honsey
Beverly Hutney
Connie Isaacson
Connie Cook and Joe Jongewaard
Rosemary Jungmann
Maureen Keehnle
Suzan Kelsey Brooks
Pamela Kenyon
Char Kimball
Mary Ellen Kimball
Kitchen Collage
Kathi Koenig
Mary Kramer
Mary F. Kunkel
Caroline Levine
Tracy Levine
Christine Lewis
Theresa and Doug Lewis
Sheila Starkovich Lingwall
Julie Linn
Lisa Veach
Ann Lyons
Deb Madison-Levi
Cyril Mandelbaum
Kate Massop
Lorraine May
Cathy McMullen
Jan and John Mechem
Kristin Medhurst
Rebecca and Brian Metzger
Ann Michelson
The Middleton Family
Allen Miller
Lisa Minear
Jana Montgomery
Ann and Alfred Moore
Debra Moore
Polly Moore
Diane H. Morain
Jill Musin
Linda K. Neuman
Liz Neumann
Dawn Connet and Greg Nichols
Charlotte Noble
Jackie Norris
Jeanne O’Halloran
Noreen O’Shea and Thomas Benzoni
Katie Gibson Overby
Mary Pappajohn
Donna Paulsen
Gail Pearl
Phyllis Pearson
Sally Pederson
Sen. Janet Petersen and Brian Pattinson
Diann M. Peyton
Melissa Poley, Serendipity Spa
Deanna Questad, M.D.
Judy Ralston-Hansen
Lynette Rasmussen
Artis Reis
Mary Anne Rennebohm
Martha A. Reno
Helen Robinson
Steven Rosenberg
Janet Rosenbury
Katie Roth
Priscilla Ruhe
Katherine Safris
Priscilla Sayeed
Pam Schoffner
Eliza Ovrom and Mark Schuling
Melanie Scupham
Karen Shaff
Mary Kay Shanley
Loretta Sieman
Kendra Simmons
Rachel Sivi
Sue and Larry Sonner
Kelly Sparks
Kimberly Stamatelos
Joan Stark
Hallie Still-Caris
Jacqueline Stoken
Ellen Strachota
Gail Stubbs
Sarah Sullivan
Sarah Susanin
Cheryl Sypal
April Talbot
Joyce and Harold Templeman
Terri Vaughan
Susan Vujnovich-McRoberts
Marcia Wanamaker
Marilyn Warling
Linda Weidmaier
Tracy Wheeler
Michele Whitty
Malinda Wiesner
Willis Auto Campus
Martha Willits
Rena S. Wilson
Mary L. Wine
Janie Wine
Dr. Judy Winkelpleck
Roberta and Reg Yoder

FRIENDS ($100 – $249)
Anonymous (4)
Nancy and Jim Adrianse
Robin Ahnen-Cacciatore and John Cacciatore
Rebecca Albers
Jennie Allbee
Amy Anderson and Mark Hill
Ed Augustine
James Austin
Barb Bachman
Rabbi Emily Barton
Morgan Baumert
Benson Family Foundation
Kathy Bernreuter
La Verne and Blaine Briggs Donor Advised Fund at the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation
Rachel Bruns
John Bunz
Ellen and John Burnquist
Judith Burns
Tom Butterfield
Shelley and Joseph Chambers
Mary Sconiers Chapman
Eva Christiansen
Mary Cory
Patricia and Jay Cramer
Delta Dental of Iowa
Lori and Tim Diebel
M.J. Dolan
Amy and Tom Donnelly
Margaret Doyle
Mary Beth Drey-Buechel
Kathryn Wheeler Driscoll
Teresa Driscoll
Jane Fogg
Marianne Fons
Ruth Foster
Linda Franker
Paige and Jason Franzluebbers
Carol Fredrich and John Fairweather
Mary Ann Gardner
Mollie Giller
Sandra Githens
Eve and Darrell Goodhue
Celeste Goodrich
Mary Helen Grace
Kay Grother
Ann Harrmann
Mark Haverland
Kathleen Heinzel
Jane Hemminger
Denise Holck
Dale Howe
Dr. Alexandra Hubbell
Ted Irvine
Kathe and Bob Irvine
Joseph Jester
Joanne Johnson
David Johnson
Beth Stelle Jones
Megan Kading
Emily Susanin Kessinger
Brad and Lori Kiewel
David King
Jenna Knox
Susan Koehler
Angela Loomis
Marian and Ivan Lyddon
Glenys Bittick Lynch
Sharon and Susan Malheiro
Meghan Malloy
Ali Makris
Anna Mason
Linda and Nile McDonald
Kate Mead
Patricia Mikus
Joan Miller
Amy Mills
Rev. Rachel Thorson Mithelman
Cindy Mumm
Anna and Bobby Nalean
Jessica Nelsen
Charlotte Nelson
Ellen and Bruce Nelson
Nancy Nichols
Nancy Nunn
Mary O’Brien
Catherine Olesen
Linda and Gary Ordway
Leigh O’Tool
Diana and Daryl Pals
Katie Patterson
Muriel Pemble
Judy and John Perkins
Kim Poeppe
Donni Popejoy
Kathy Reardon
Cindy Chicoine and Morgan Rivers
Sunny Roeder
Victoria Roller
Harlan Rosenberg
Annette and Randy Roth
Don Rowland
Barbara Royal and Deidre Fudge
Linda Rullan
Marsha Rusch
Marilyn and Duane Sand
Laura Sands
Kathryn and Mike Sankey
Erica Schaefer
Sam Scheidler
Ann Olsen Schodde
Barbara Scholz
Erica Shannon Stueve
Cherry and David Shogren
Gina Skinner-Thebo
Chuck and Meg Smith
David and Betty Stout
Jan Stump
Martha Swanson
Sue Ann Tempero
Margaret Van Houten
Sierra Waddell
Chris Waddle
Ann-Charlotte Wade
Martha Ward
Whitney Warne and Erik Dominguez
Emily Webb
West Des Moines Christian Church
Christopher Wilson
Andrea Woodard
Barbara and Jon Yankey
Suzanne Zilber

COMPANIONS (gifts up to $99)
Anonymous
John and Laura (Ackelson) Christiansen
Jeff Anderson
Susie and Charlie Anderson
Mary Ann Moore
Beverly Apel
Ashley Asberry
Janice Bannister
Mary Barber
Dodie and Wayne Bauman
Teresa Baustain
Lois Beh
Julie Benson
Judy Blank
Jan Blessum
Patricia Boddy
Nan Bonfils
Lindsey Braun
Rose Breuss
Lisa Brovold
John Robert Burkhart
Beverly Butler
Sue Caley
Vero Chiropractic
Zach and Azure Christensen
Kathleen Clark
Annie Clarkson
Tracy Codel
Julie Coppock
Mark Courter
Rebecca Criswell
Judy Curtis-Latessa
Gina David
Judy Davis
Linda Dawe
Dave and Kristi Dawson
Kathleen Delay
Sheryl DeMouth
Lillian Dittrick
Erik Dominguez
Karen Downing
Jennifer Drake
Keeley Driscoll
Olivia Driscoll
Pamela Duffy
Beth Ann and John Edwards
Jim Egger
Joan Ellis
Beverly Evans
Mary Fanter
Rhonda Fingerman
Brenna Finnerty
Jane Flanagan
Annie Flood
Margaret Flood
Sheri Fogarty
Chris Frantsvog
Eileen Gebbie
Catherine Gillespie
Harlan Gillespie
Julie Good
Grace Green-Dickerson
Courtney Greene
Nancy T. Guthrie
Terri Hale
Sally Hampton
Jan Hardin
Tara Harms
Melissa Harris
Penny Heiss
Highland Park Christian Church
Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel
Larry Hoier
Cheryl Hood
Teri Hughes-Paulline
Janet A. Johnson
Laurie Jones
Diana Kautzky
Mary Keables
Deb Kline
Wendy Knowles
Kay Kopatich
Nancy Landess
Mary Daily Lange
Carol Leech
Ann Levine
Gary Lewis
Linda Railsback
Linda Liston
Jess Lundquist
Lindsey Mabe
Lynn Mankins
Joan Mannheimer
Diane McClanahan
Nancy McClimen
Lynn Z. and David G. McCreery
Ms. Louise McDonald
Carol McGarvey
Alissa McKinney
Michael McNeil
Bob and Sharon Meisenheimer
Matt Meline
M. Ann Mendleson
Reo Menning
Kendra Miller
Jami Milne
Karen Muelhaupt
Phyllis Mumford and Kent Sovern
Marilyn Musser
Stacie Neussendorfer
New Beginnings Christian Church
Fred O’Dell
Carla Offenburger
Vickie Olsen
Mary St. Onge
Laura Palmer
Mary Jean Paschen
Debra Peckumn
Cheryl Pederson
Sandy Percy
Sherri Pike
Kathy Quinn
Linda Railsback, M.D.
Wilma Richards
Lane Riggle
Tamara Rood
Sheila Rouse
Myrna and Kenneth Rummer
David and Lita Sagula
Debra Salowitz
Betsy Salsberry
Karin Sandahl
Abigail Schiltz
Jill Schreiber
Lois Schultz
Cory Scott
Bobbi Segura
Susan Seitz
Andrea Severson
Mary Sheldahl
Beverly Shirbroun
Kathy Shives
William Staplin
State of Iowa One Gift Program
Jan Stegeman
Joshua Steward
Mary Ellen Streyffeler
Sybil Sullivan
Robin Kline
Aundrea Suntken
Deborah Svec-Carstens
Veronica Swift
Sister Cathy Talarico, CHM
Peri Van Tassel
Ellen Taylor
John R. Taylor
Judy Taylor
Debra Tesson
Lisa Todd
Cecilia Tomlonovic
Jill and Derek Trobaugh
Elaine Van Dyck
Suzanne Van Englehoven-Wedeking
Mary Van Heukelom
Carole Venhaus
Christine Walker
Kjersten Walker
Jodie Warth
Jody White
Dee Willemsen
Sarah Noll Wilson
Ronda Wissink
The Reverend Paul Witmer and Lynn Heuss
Chris Woods
Katherine Sircy
Mary Yearns

Gifts in Kind
Anonymous
Tom Fischer
Shirley Poertner
Business Publications Corp.
Integrity Printing
Connie Wilson Design

Honor Gifts
Gifts were given in honor of: Given by:
All the hard working staff in Iowa’s community health centers Nancy Adrianse
Susan Ackelson Mary and Lorlin Barber
Laura and John Christiansen
Cris and Dick Douglass
Ellery and Marsha Duke
Ann Flood
Diane Glass and J. Jeffrey Means
Kathe and Bob Irvine
Marilyn and Duane Sand
Susan Seitz and Mike Smith
Marti Wade and Benjamin Ullem
Suzanne Zilber
Beverly Apel Paul Bittick
Jan Berg Kruse Tracy Wheeler
Laurie Betts Sloterdyk Annie Sloterdyk Brandt
Peter Sloterdyk
Susan and Carl Voss
Mary Kay Bruce Michelle Book and Woody Brenton
Mary Brooks
Azure Christensen
Eileen Burtle Phyllis and Richard Cacciatore
CASH Potluck Group Diane and Tom Child
Shelley Chambers Shelley and Joseph Chambers
Renee Clippert Joan Ellis
Eva Christiansen State of Iowa One Gift Program
Dennis T. Cuthbertson Susan Ballard
Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center Staff Beth Bishop
Linda Goeldner
Christine Dietz Brenna Finnerty
Melissa Harris
Debra Peckumn
Barbara Royal and Deidre Fudge
Ellery Duke Beth and Stephen Gaul
Ann Flood Annie Flood
Mary Gottschalk Carol Fredrich and John Fairweather
Teree Caldwell-Johnson and Vernon Johnson
Lynn and David McCreery
Jerry Gubbels and Robert Lewis Tracy Lewis and Rick Gubbels
Harold “Hal” Higgs Kathryn and Mike Sankey
In gratitude of Christmas Traditions Richard and Robbie Malm
Diane McClanahan Susan Ballard
Teresa Baustian
John and Christine Burkhart
Beverly Butler
Cindy Chicoine
Christine Dietz
Eileen Gebbie
Harlan Gillespie
Diane Glass and J. Jeffrey Means
Sharon and Dennis Goldford
Julie Good
Mary Gottschalk and Kent Zimmerman
Leslie Heimbach
Julie Honsey
Kendra Miller
Karla and Mark Minear
Terri and Robert Speirs
Joshua Steward
Susan and Carl Voss
Marti Wade and Benjamin Ullem
Martha Ward
Paul Witmer and Lynn Heuss
Rachel Meier Paige Kennedy Franzluebbers
Mark Minear Kathleen Hoegh
Greg Nichols Nancy Nichols
Allison Peet, Terri Mork Speirs, Billie Wade Katherine and Andrew Hauser
Ashley Sloterdyk Peter Sloterdyk
Kathy Reardon Chris Frantsvog
Beth and Stephen Gaul
Sharon and Dennis Goldford
Julie Honsey
Catherine Olesen
Beverly Shirbroun
Jan Stegeman
Deborah Svec-Carstens
Marti Wade and Benjamin Ullem
David Wright and Kathi Sircy
Mary M. Riche Jennie and Robert Allbee
Becky Anthony
Patricia Barry and Bryan Hall
Mary Ann Beard
Dory Briles
Mary Kay and Doug Bruce
Mary Chapman
Connie Cook
Kitty Ellsworth Stoner
Heidi and Rod Foster
Mary Susan Gibson
Katie Gibson Overby
Judy Gilbert
Sharon and Dennis Goldford
Mary Pat and Joe Gunderson
Carol Corning Hallquist
Ann Harrmann
Victoria Herring
Jane Hemminger
Connie Isaacson
Karen Jeske
Susan Judkins and Robert Josten
Maureen Keehnle
Pamela Kenyon
Jenna Knox
Tracy Levine
Ann Lyons
Richard and Robbie Malm
Linda Neuman
Allison and Timothy Peet
Audrey Rosenberg
Priscilla Sayeed
Sue Ann and Richard Tempero
Anna Van Heukelom Mary Van Heukelom
Susan and Carl Voss James Carney
Shannon Welch-Groves Allison and Timothy Peet
Memorial Gifts
Gifts were given in memory of: Given by:
Isabel Anne Dietz Myrna and Kenneth Rummer
Jan Berg Kruse Tracy Wheeler
Walt Githens Sandra Githens
Winnie Grace Hayes John and Jeannine Hayes
Troy Matice Delta Dental of Iowa
Jami Matice
Victoria Roller
Tim Means M. Ann Mendleson
Don Pinkley Karen and Larry Holer
Ray Speas Anonymous
Margaret Swanson Mara Swanson
Kris White Linda “Sunny” Liston

House File 802: If we don’t talk about injustice, all is right with the world

House File 802: If we don’t talk about injustice, all is right with the world

Interview with Billie Wade, Guest Writer and PrairieFire graduate

Interviewed by Terri Mork Speirs, Director of Community Relations

Billie Wade, Guest Writer and PrairieFire graduate

August 2021 — This month we offer a different format to Billie’s blog. We have interviewed Billie to dig deeper into some of the concerns and opportunities on the topic of racism. 

Terri: Hi Billie! To help our readers understand our relationship, I want to start by sharing that you and I have known each other for over ten years. We first met at a networking event, following our unfortunate experiences with job-loss in the 2009 recession. Fast forward to 2020 and the renewed awakening to the horrific realities of systematic racism. You have served as a teacher to me and many of us who want to learn how to be an anti-racist. (More on that later in the interview.) Can you tell us about Iowa House File 802?

Billie Wade: Hi Terri! I am glad to share my perspective of Iowa House File 802, signed into law on June 8, 2021, by the governor. The Act steps toward eliminating discussions about racism, diversity, and inclusion, beginning with government agencies and public institutions of education. Dialogue about how Black people continue to be subjected to systemic—also known as systematic—denial of human rights is now illegal. The law specifically prohibits some fundamental rights of free speech.

Terri: This law seems to make illegal exactly what you and I have been doing: discussing racism past and present, and seeking to understand how it works. Is this law unique to Iowa?

Billie Wade: Iowa is part of a trend of state legislatures across the United States that are enacting laws to eliminate discussions addressing continued racist tyranny. Talks of inequitable treatment of certain groups of people—usually Black people and people of color—can no longer be presented if such training is classified as “mandatory.”

However, the Sec 2. NEW SECTION. 261H.7 of the law also specifically outlines prohibited topics.

Terri: I don’t understand how this law will help our community grow.

Billie Wade: We cannot create change if we cannot speak, teach, and learn the truth. We are severely restrained in our ability to do so just as the law is designed. Students at all levels, K-University graduate, are placed in a bubble in which they learn only what others want them to know, a very dangerous move.

Terri: In my own journey of racial reckoning, I’ve evolved. I used to think that I was a good person because I myself believed all races were equal. In my mind, I treated everyone the same. I’ve come to learn that racism is much more complicated. That racism is not just about me – it’s about deeply intertwined systems built on centuries of policies. How do you define racism?

Billie Wade: In my February 2021 column for the Center, An invitation to sit with your discomfort, allow it to speak to you, I define racism as “a system consisting of rules, laws, policies, and practices designed to disenfranchise nonwhite people. The organism systematically perpetuates the unfounded belief that Black people are inferior and, therefore, suitable for subjugation and exploitation.” Because racism is a system the tenets create self-defined—systemic or systematic—situations. A few examples:

  • laws that make voting more difficult for Black neighborhoods by closing convenient polling locations and restricting voting hours;
  • résumés not considered because the applicant’s name sounds “ethnic,”
  • a White illicit drug dealer sentenced to five years in prison for possession of five hundred grams of powder cocaine while a Black illicit drug dealer is sentenced to five years for five grams of crack cocaine.

Terri: It’s like peeling an onion – the more you learn, the more there is. For example, recently I became aware of the “remember the Alamo” myth. I grew up believing the Alamo story was about freedom. Now I’m learning it was about preserving slavery. If learning actual history, backed up by research and facts, is the kind of education that House File 802 prohibits, that is concerning.

Billie Wade: Exposure by the stark light of the truth is our greatest weapon, of which the lawmakers are quite aware. They can no longer say, “I didn’t do it,” or “I didn’t know about it, so I’m not culpable.” These statements are excuses of self-exoneration and self-permission to continue reigns of unfounded persecution. HF 802, Section 2. 261H.7 specifically lists under “Race and sex stereotyping—training by institution prohibited” concepts that cannot be discussed. Black people have been subjected to “scapegoating,” “stereotyping,” and “Specific defined concepts” since our ancestors were brought to this country for slavery. Now, when White people, as a “collective” are called out for racist behaviors, there is a law prohibiting such. Black people cannot bring to the awareness of others the injustices and disparities of our daily existence. We cannot identify patterns of discrimination or seek reparations for injustices of the past that perpetuate today. We cannot protest denial of the only thing we have ever requested—Equal Opportunity.

Every generation is overwhelmed anew. We are called upon to pull from deep within to mobilize our individual resources—however meager we believe them to be—and to galvanize with the strengths of others. Our hope lies in synergy. We refuse to go away. We refuse to be cowed. We refuse to be eradicated. We have to keep going. We have to.

Terri: You already know this, but for the purposes of our readers I would like to mention that I am a bit self-conscious of placing you in a position of “my personal racism teacher.” I know that White people need to do their own learning and not rely on one individual to represent the entire Black experience. For me, I’ve learned much about racism through books, television and movies. (Happy to make recommendations.) I also count myself as one of the lucky ones who get to learn from you directly. You have said that you feel called to share your perspective.

What is your advice to White people who want to learn more?

Billie Wade: Learn all you can about racism in whatever way you can. Terri, the sources you mentioned are excellent. Genuine sensitivity and compassion are our only hope. We all must look to each other for the hard questions and for the hard answers. Because institutions are powered by people, people at the macro level must power the change. A difficult task at best, the onus is on each of us to consciously step into the discomfort of self-examination. We cannot change what we do not know. We cannot unknow what is brought into our awareness. When we are called out about a painful misstep, we can seek to recognize the feelings of the person we have hurt and reach out with sensitivity and compassion. We also can ask the person to listen to our story to resolve conflict. Reciprocation is key. An important question to get started is: “How can I see this differently?” We are then positioned to move forward.

Terri, thank you for your time and willingness to discuss a tough subject. You are paving the path for others on this interdependent journey in which we find ourselves. With joy, gratitude, and peace to everyone.

Terri: Thank you, Billie. I love how you say we are on an “interdependent journey.”  I’m grateful to be on this path together with you and so many others.

 

For more posts from Billie’s blog: www.dmpcc.org/Billie

Explore the spiritual journey of aging with Dr. Christine Dietz

A new group!

  • Dates: 8 sessions, Tuesday, August 24 – Tuesday, October 12
  • Time: 11am – 12:30 pm
  • Location: The group will be a hybrid of in person and Zoom. Those participating in person must sign a release for in office services and wear a mask in waiting rooms and hallways. Depending on the course of the current surge of Covid 19, there may be changes in this plan, including wearing masks when meeting in person or moving to a totally Zoom format.
  • Cost: $240
  • Facilitator: Dr. Christine Dietz (scroll down for bio and more information)
  • Questions: email Dr. Christine Dietz at cdietz@dmpcc.org
  • Group info: The group sessions will include some mini lectures, large and small group discussions and other group activities. The book, The Second Half of Life by Angeles Arrien is recommended but not required and will provide a context for the class. Other suggested readings will be provided at the first class session.

The Spiritual Journey of Aging

For more information on this 6-week group in August, please contact Dr. Christine Dietz by emailing cdietz@dmpcc.org

by Dr. Christine Dietz (scroll down for bio)

(July 2021) — From birth to death, we are all on a journey of aging. But American popular culture, still adolescent in so many ways, goes to great pains to deny it. Don’t believe me? Take a walk through the greeting card section of Target and look at the messages. Aging is presented as silly, shameful and to be strenuously avoided. For example: on the cover, “Everyone gets to be young once.” Inside, “Your turn’s over.” Or, “Don’t let society tell you what people your age can and can’t do.” Inside, “That’s what your knees are for.” Conversations among aging adults sometimes sound like this: “Aging is not for sissies.” “It sure beats the alternative!” And then there is the “organ recital” – a review of all our aches, pains, symptoms, and illnesses. In my very first group for older adults, a participant, referring to commercials for prunes and adult diapers, said, “They think of us as wrinkled babies!”

The mainstream media often portrays aging as disease, decline and poverty, to be addressed by retirement plans, long term care insurance and careful financial planning. Or it sends the contradictory messages that, in order to have meaningful lives, older adults must look young, stay fit, and continue to advance in their careers; or that they should “retire” to the margins of life and leave the important issues of policy, visions and values to younger people. There is little appreciation of the wisdom of elders, the value of their years of experience, or the gifts they offer to younger generations, in or out of the workplace. There is no cultural vision or path for meaningful engagement in life and work AS older adults.

Spiritual and psychological traditions provide more wisdom on the journey of aging. Carl Jung said, “One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie” (The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche). In his book, Falling Upward, Richard Rohr uses this metaphor to explore the first journey of life, in which we discover our “script”, and what he calls the “further journey,” during which we write and live that script: “The first task is to build a strong “container” or identity, the second is to find the contents that container was meant to hold.” He continues, “None of us go into our spiritual maturity completely of our own accord, or by a totally free choice. We are led by Mystery, which religious people rightly call grace. Most of us have to be cajoled or seduced into it, or we fall into it by some kind of “transgression,” … Most get little reassurance from others, or even have full confidence that they are totally right. Setting out is always a leap of faith, a risk in the deepest sense of the term, and yet an adventure, too.”

I have been working professionally with older adults on spiritual journeys for many years. It was never part of my first half of life career plans. In 2003, life circumstances pushed me in a new direction. Now, 18 years later, I recognize that new direction as what my teachers, Rabbi Howard Avruhm Addison and Dr. Bobbie Breitman term a “call from the future” or what Rohr describes as a fall into the further journey.

At the time, I was on sabbatical from my faculty position at the University of New England School of Social Work and had also just been accepted into a training program for Jewish spiritual directors. I planned to work on a research project on lesbian mothers during my sabbatical while contemplating my new journey as a spiritual director.  Instead, I found myself struggling with illness, loss and anger at God.  I had one of a long sequence of eye surgeries, with increasing likelihood of the loss of sight in my right eye. According to my surgeons, there was nothing I could do to heal my vision. I wrote my first angry letter to God, complaining that “this is not what I signed up for!” Through prayer and conversations with my spiritual director, I discerned the need to leave the tenured Associate Professor position I had spent the previous 20 years achieving and left academia for a new job as Director of Elder Services at a local community mental health center. I never completed the research project and instead explored a newly discovered interest in aging and the second half of life.

Looking back from the vantage point of 18 years (a number signifying “life” in the Jewish tradition), I now recognize the signs of what Richard Rohr calls, “falling upward” or the Hasidic masters call “descent for the sake of ascent.” (Ironically, I wrote my final paper for my spiritual direction program on that concept!) Simply put, things have to fall apart in order for the soul to ascend to a higher place, to find what Jung called the Self, or Rohr calls the True Self. Now, several years beyond “retirement” age, as I contemplate working less to find more balance in my life, aging means something very different. In 2003, I thought of aging as something that happened to someone else, “elders” as someone other than me. For many years, I taught classes and led groups for older adults on the spiritual gifts and opportunities of the second half of life.    Well intentioned and impassioned as I have been about the positive aspects of aging, I have shied away from the darker side. I did not want to think about aging as a one-way journey leading to death, and the curricula for my groups and classes contained little about illness, death and decline. In a culture that considers older adults irrelevant and incompetent (“OK, Boomer”) we who are conscious of our aging struggle with the inevitable losses, grief, confusion, isolation, loneliness and sense of meaninglessness and helplessness that accompany us on this journey. Not to mention the fear of death, an inevitability that our culture is particularly ill-equipped to address. At the same time, we are trying to engage meaningfully with life, with little acknowledgement or support from the culture, or often even our family and friends. Spiritual traditions, ancient and modern, offer paths through those painful realities, but only if we are willing to confront the void and accept the insights and truths revealed there.

As I confront the questions of meaning that now arise, as I consider who I am if I am not working full time, if I continue to lose my sight and my ability to drive, if, God forbid, I stop working altogether, I am terrified. My terror comes from the losses I have experienced – of both my parents, of a step-daughter, of my sister’s newly diagnosed chronic illness, and the potential of losing my sight – as well as the recognition that, as I age, these losses will be compounded. I am looking into the void. I still long for meaning and purpose, and I cling to hope that my journey will continue to be blessed with creativity, generativity and service to others. But my container also needs space for grief, for uncertainty – and for silence, emptiness and presence.

This is a painful place, and we need companions to help us negotiate it, to “hold the tension of the opposites, “as Jung terms it, to acknowledge both the blessings and the pain of aging. In August, I will offer a six-week group for older adults called “The Spiritual Journey of Aging” to explore the gifts and challenges of this journey. We will explore wisdom from spiritual traditions, literature, myth and fable as well as generative insights from writers such as Richard Rohr, Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, James Hollis, Marion Woodman, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ram Dass and Mark Nepo. The only requirements are a willingness to courageously explore the gifts and challenges of one’s journey in the second half of life, and to laugh and cry with others. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me directly by email at cdietz@dmpcc.org.

*

Christine A. Dietz, Ph.D., L.I.S.W.

Dr. Christine Dietz is a licensed independent social worker, spiritual director and Reiki Master. She is the Center’s Director of Clinical Training. She received her M.S.W. from the University of Iowa and her Ph.D. in Sociology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is a graduate of the Lev Shomea Training Program for Spiritual Direction in the Jewish Tradition. Christine’s focus in counseling is on helping people reconnect to their innate wholeness and renew their sense of hope and possibility. She works with people experiencing anxiety, depression, OCD, trauma, life transitions, chronic illness, grief and loss, and relationship issues. She also offers individual and group spiritual direction to people from all faith traditions. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and Spiritual Directors International.

Chris’ blog – June 2021

Pastoral Care Specialist for The Generalist

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by Chris Waddle, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life

 

June 2021 – In one of his lectures, Family Systems therapist, Rabbi Edwin Friedman recites an overwhelmingly long list of all of the ways psychotherapists can specialize:

“It is possible today to become expert in thousands of emotional problems that range from: agoraphobia to xenophobia, living with preschoolers to living with aging parents, coping with single parenting to coping with stepchildren, personality disorder to schizophrenia, impotence to promiscuity, abuse of substances to child abuse, creativity to catatonia. . . “

His list keeps growing as he began to detail the various specializations and subspecialties of study. At one point the list becomes so nuanced and obscure that his audience begins laughing. His point was not to dismiss specialization, but to remind his audience of just how much there is to learn and know and how one person cannot possibly learn it all.

In a world that seems to be more and more specialized, clergy are largely expected to be generalists. Clergy are expected to be competent in public speaking, fundraising, teaching, management, public relations, theology, philosophy, history, politics, comparative religion, popular culture, entrepreneurship, layout and design, communications, computers, music, marriage, family dynamics, death and dying, social justice, public policy, sound systems, air conditioning, and plumbing!

If I ever need a reminder of how unrealistic the role of clergy can feel, I just go to my own denomination’s Book of Discipline and read “Responsibilities and Duties of Elders and Local Pastors.” I always chuckle as it is clear that no one pastor can do all of these things at exceptional levels at any one time. I often imagined some parishioner, miffed at something I said or failed to do, looking at the list and gleefully exclaiming “I’ve got him now!” I also knew, that but for grace, they would be correct. At any one time, yes, I could be doing more and doing it better.

One of the duties on nearly all clergy “job descriptions” is “pastoral care.” It can feel overwhelming for clergy. There is always someone in the congregation or the community who could use support. It is nearly weekly that someone will say, “You really should call on _________. They are having a tough time.” This is often followed by, “Please don’t tell them I told you.” Any clergy in any kind of congregation, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu. . . any clergy, could spend 100% of their time in some form of “pastoral care” alone and still not meet all the pastoral needs in the community.

On top of this, often clergy feel ill equipped for pastoral care. Despite what most people assume, most clergy do not get a great deal of formal training in pastoral care. This became clear to me when I was in college and thinking about my own major.

I knew that after graduation, I was going to seminary to study to become a United Methodist Minister. So, I began to ask different clergy, “what is it that you did not get in seminary that you wish you knew more about now?” Nearly every one of them said “pastoral care and counseling.”

With that knowledge, I changed my major from Biblical Studies to a basic degree in counseling called Social and Rehabilitation Services. It was an excellent decision for me. While it did not make me a therapist, it did give me the basic knowledge and skills that helped me have confidence in my pastoral conversations with others. It also helped me to know when and how to refer people to others, when their needs were greater than my time or skills could meet. Many times, my understanding of the therapeutic process helped me encourage others to take their first step to talking to a trained counselor.

The good new is that if you are congregational leader, lay or clergy, and you want to grow in your pastoral care skills, you do not need to get a counseling degree. I encourage you to explore Pastoral Care Specialist program at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. In this two-year, three-hour-a-month course, you will learn from clinicians, educators, and partners of the Center with special knowledge and experience on the subjects of:

  • Forgiveness
  • Whole-hearted Listening
  • Memory loss and cognitive decline
  • Suicide awareness and prevention in faith communities
  • Living with illness and chronic pain
  • The spirituality of children
  • Caring for the anxious: Being a non-anxious presence in an anxious world
  • Evil in every day life
  • Ministry with LGBTQ individuals
  • Mindful ministry
  • And more!

Class size is limited, and classes begin in September, so do not delay.

If you have questions, feel free to email me at cwaddle@dmpcc.org.

Your partner in hope and healing.

Chris

For more information about the Pastoral Care Specialist program see: https://dmpcc.org/our-services/leadershipspirituallife/pastoralcarespecialist/

For more blog posts by Chris: www.dmpcc.org/Chris

Blog: Media review for hope and healing: Face, A Memoir by Marcia Meier

Face, A Memoir by Marcia Meier

Reviewed by Terri Mork Speirs, June 2021

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When Marica Meier was five years old, she was dragged nearly 200 feet underneath a car in front of her home, in a catastrophic accident that happened in a matter of moments. She writes:

My cheek was scraped off down to the bone, my left eyelid was missing, and the bottom lid was carved away from the eyeball, though the eyeball was intact. (17)

The left side of her face was gone. Her trauma was further aggravated by a series 20 surgeries whereby skin was grafted from other parts of her body for facial reconstruction. Her hands were often tied during and following the procedure. Sometimes she was also blindfolded to keep her still for the surgeon. She experienced teasing from classmates and taunting from her church and teachers, who would often have her detained alone in the coat closet for “acting out.” The words of her mother haunted her for years: “We told you never to cross the street without looking.” As if she were to blame.

The Center’s approach to mental health counseling is often described as the integration of the mind-body-spirit connection. But what does that mean? This book is a deep dive exploration of these interconnected parts.

Marcia Meier’s mind shines as she searches her own memories and acknowledges the variable nature of memory. She weaves in her own journalistic research of the history of skin grafting and other intellectual curiosities related to her experience.

Marcia Meier’s flesh displays in this book and everyday as the most public part of the body – the face – is the object. She starts each chapter with surgeon’s notes. She titles her chapters with carnal language such as: lacerations, eyelashes, exposed, and suture.

Marica Meier’s spirit is rebellious. She makes her own decisions on who to forgive, how, and when. And who not. Her painful recollections of Catholic school made me squirm – the abuse and humiliation. Her life improved when she started pubic school. As a teenager she declared no more surgeries. She even messed up the final surgery because she was instructed to hold still for a few days following the procedure. Instead she spent time with friends and laughed a lot, far from keeping her face still. I love that she chose to laugh.

A powerful interplay of the mind-body-spirit connection is offered by Marcia Meier through the verbatim of a counseling session, when her counselor Michael helped her understand that the accident was not her fault:

“Why do you think the accident happened?”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Whose fault was it?”

“Obviously the guy who hit me,” I say.

He smiled. “Yes, that’s true. But shy did he hit you?”

“He was blind in his left eye. He didn’t see me.”

“Uh-huh. But why didn’t he see you?”

“I don’t know…Maybe it was meant to happened,” I say.

“Why?”  …  “Do you believe in fate?

 “I don’t know. I don’t think things happened because God wills it, like its pre-ordained.”

“Do you think you could have prevented it?”

I pause. My mom’s words drift back to me.

“If I hadn’t walked into the crosswalk. . .”

You think you could have topped the car?”

“I should have seen it.”

“Say you had. How quickly do you think you could have gotten out the way? You were in the middle of the crosswalk.”

I couldn’t have gotten out of the way. No one could have.

It was not my fault.

It was not my fault!

Do you believe in God? Michael asked me. (61-62)

Dear reader, I’ll leave it there as a cliffhanger. There’s no way I can do justice to Marica Meier’s answer to this question or the remainder of the book – but Marica Meier certainly does. She has transformed her horrendous childhood experience into art. Her book dedication reads: For anyone who has ever suffered as a Wounded Child. And for Kendall, who fills up my heart.

Our stories  are our own. We need not compare or contrast one trauma with another. Marcia Meier’s experience is hers. Your experience is yours. They are all valid in and of themselves. I think all of our stories have healing properties, especially when they are offered with so much sincerity and grace, as this one is. Thank you Marcia Meier.

*

For more information about author Marcia Meier and her book Face: A Memoir, please visit www. marciameier.com.

Billie’s blog: June 2021

Juneteenth – How Black People Celebrate Freedom

by Billie Wade, guest blogger

June 2021 – Juneteenth, June 19, is a joyous day for Black Americans for it ended slavery in the United States. On this day in 1865—more than two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation—General Gordon Granger read to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas “General Order No. 3.” The words of the order declared: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This simple statement freed 250,000 slaves. The Declaration of Independence dated July 4, 1776, and signed August 2, 1776, did not declare freedom for what would multiply to almost 700,000 slaves in 1790.

Newly freed slaves immediately celebrated. On June 19, 1866, freedmen in Texas organized the first formal celebration, then called “Jubilee Day.” Over the years, Juneteenth celebrations have included music, barbecues, prayer services, parades, and other activities. Juneteenth spread to other regions of the country as Black people moved from Texas.

Juneteenth, thought to be the oldest African American holiday, is the melding of “June” and “nineteenth.” In 1979, Texas became the first state to decree Juneteenth an official holiday. Today, 47 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, while efforts to make it a national holiday have so far stalled in Congress.

The Emancipation Proclamation signed January 1, 1863, which provided in part, “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free,” freed only those slaves in Confederate States. When Northern forces marched into the South, numerous slaves fled to safety behind Union lines. Despite the order, some slaveowners suppressed the news until harvesting was done. On December 6, 1865, with ratification of the 13th Amendment, the institution of slavery in the United States was officially abolished.

President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation with some trepidation. He believed Black men should have the right to improve their lives and enjoy the rewards of their endeavors which equaled them to White men. However, he opposed absolute equality. In a September 18, 1858, debate with U. S. Senate opponent Stephen Douglas, he admitted that he was not nor ever had been in favor of social and political equality for Black and White people.

Mr. Lincoln went on to say he was against Black people having the right to vote, to sit on juries, to hold public office, and to marry White people. His biggest hurdle, though, was the endorsement of slavery by the U. S. Constitution which included clauses governing fugitive slaves and the clause defining slaves as three-fifths human. At one time, Lincoln considered removing Black people from the country and colonizing them in various locations in Africa which angered Black leaders and advocates. He said because of the racial differences and the hostilities of White people toward Black people it would be better if the races were separated. Little has changed in the past 156 years. When White people become uncomfortable, Black people must go away in all the many forms that happens in this country.

Although limited, the Emancipation Proclamation indicated a critical change in Lincoln’s mindset regarding slavery and the Civil War. Approximately 200,000 Black men served the Union Army and Navy landing a deadly strike against slavery and opening the door for abolition declared by the 13th Amendment.

Important dates in Iowa:

On March 22, 2021, the City of Des Moines announced Juneteenth is now an official City holiday. City offices and buildings will be closed on June 19 or the adjacent weekday to the date. Scott Sanders, City manager stated. “We hope by commemorating this date, we can better illustrate the significance of Juneteenth and generate greater recognition throughout our community and the state.”

June 19, 2015, Iowa Public Television, known as Iowa PBS as of January 1, 2020, presented “2015 Juneteenth Jamboree” produced by PBS station KRLU of Austin, Texas which included mention of the Iowa Juneteenth Observance.

On February 26, 2015, the Iowa House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 11(HR11) which stated, in part, “Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, that the House of Representatives acknowledges the 25th Anniversary of the Iowa Juneteenth Observance and recognizes the significant role of the Iowa Juneteenth Observance in serving as cultural and historical asset to Iowa’s citizens.”

On February 23, 2015, the Iowa Juneteenth Observance transferred to the Iowa State Historical Society (Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs) articles to be included in permanent museum collection records. They are used to strengthen the Juneteenth exhibit in the State Historical Museum of Iowa.

On April 11, 2002, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, currently serving as the United States Secretary of Agriculture, signed into law the official observance of Juneteenth on the third Saturday in June.

Information for this year’s Juneteenth Observance is highlighted by DSM USA of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Enjoy.

For more blog posts from Billie Wade: www.dmpcc.org/Billie

Chris’ blog – May 2021

Putting Down The Pushers

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by Chris Waddle, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life

May 2021 –If anyone asks me what I love most about being a part of the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, “the people” is always at the top of that list. When I consider the employees at The Center as well as the external partners with whom I work, I feel so fortunate.

One person, with whom it has been a great joy to work, is Rev. Bill Selby from the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies. Bill has been a mentor to me and it has been great to partner with him for a seminar and three small groups devoted to leadership as an emotional process.

Bill offers a simple way to begin building emotional connection in any small group, including committee meetings. Invite each person to:

  • Share your name.
  • Tell a story about how you got your name.
  • Tell a story about how you got here today.

He encourages leaders to take the time to do this kind of safe emotional sharing even though some may feel it is a “waste of time.” I can tell you from personal experience, it is not. It changes the nature of the group. It helps build empathy and trust. However it is also important to remember that if any new person is added to the group, this process must start over again. Why? Because adding anyone makes you a new group!

Bill also teaches that one of the most important things leaders can do is create “emotional space” when interacting with others. Anxiety has a constricting effect. Even in small amounts, such as when we are trying to keep to a schedule, or when we are not sure where a conversation is going, or when we are not sure we are being taken seriously, anxiety works against emotional connection. We become less playful, less creative, less flexible, less curious, and more emotionally reactive.

Bill suggests we create this emotional space, not by paying more attention to other’s emotional state, but to our own. In order to open up emotional space. Pay attention to “the pushers”.

We all have them and most come in one of these four emotionally-suffocating varieties.

Hurry up!

Be perfect!

Please others!

Be strong!

After we notice the “pusher” that is compressing the emotional space we can begin to give ourselves and others grace or “permission” to put down the pusher. Here is what this might look like:

Hurry up!. . .   No, there is time for us to talk and we do not have to do everything in this one conversation. It is ok to ask curious, and clarifying questions. It is ok to just enjoy being together.

Be perfect!. . .  No, I do not have to be perfect. I can be unsure, I can change my mind. If I am not sure what I believe or feel I can say so or even say “my best guess is.”  So can others. I don’t have to say it “the right way.” It is even ok to have an awkward conversation.

Please others!. . .   No, It is ok to say what I need or even what I just prefer. It is ok if others do not agree with me. It is ok for me to say “no” or “I do not want to talk about that.” It is ok for others to do the same.

Be strong!. . . No, no one is ever always strong. it is ok to be vulnerable. It is ok to show emotion. This is actually how strong emotional bonds are formed. Others do not have to play pretend roles of ‘always strong’ for me either, even those whom I admire for their strength. It is ok and human not to always be strong.

Which one of these, or perhaps another, has a tendency to compress your emotional space? What is your “primary pusher?”

Think of some conversations or contexts when you feel the pusher the most. Perhaps a particular group or a person comes to mind.

How might you create more emotional space in yourself and “put down the pushers?”

If you would like to learn more about leadership as an emotional process or if you have resources you wish to share with others, please let me know. You may email me at cwaddle@dmpcc.org

Your partner in hope and healing,

Chris

 

For more blog posts by Chris: www.dmpcc.org/Chris

Billie’s Blog – May 2021

Getting the Hang of Hair, Part 2

by Billie Wade, guest blogger

Read “Getting the Hang of Hair, Part 1” here

(May 2021) — The hair of Black people is malleable into an endless array of styles. So, we have the flexibility of sculpting our hair to fit our mood, a special occasion, a particular outfit, or for easy care. Hairstyling is an art form that plays a significant role in the identity and self-expression of Black people. Our hair shows our pride in our race and our zest for life. Black hairstyles are limited only by the imagination and creativity of the wearer or the wearer’s stylist. Black Americans spend upward of two and a half billion dollars—according to an August 2018 article by CNBC—to color, bleach, cut, grow, curl, straighten, shampoo, condition, tame, let loose, and arrange our hair.

Black-hair biases and prejudice are very real, as we saw last month, in “Getting the Hang of Hair: Part 1.” In slave times White women whacked off the hair of their Black female servants because it White men became “confused” about which women were free. Our hair and how we manage and care for it is suspect as dirty, unkempt, distracting, faddish, and audacious—and a source of pride of which we are to be denied.

I previously wore my hair dyed a deep auburn, in short spikes. None of my White coworkers said a word. When I returned to hot-comb-straightened hair, they profusely complimented my new style. Apparently, they did not like the spikes coming out of the natural base. On one occasion, my stylist did not have the color I wanted, so she used a substitute—which she swore would “look really cute” on me. What a hideous result! The only comment came from a White coworker who said, with all the earnestness she could muster, “Billie, your hair is purple.” My White coworkers deemed my hair acceptable when I conformed to their expectations.

I have worn my hair short and natural for the past twenty-one years after numerous failed attempts to find suitable styles and stylists. Ironically, my hair stylist of the past twenty-one years is White. An instructor asked her beauty school class, “Who wants to learn how to cut Black hair?” She raised her hand. She always confers with me before cutting and follows my directions. I tip her very well.

Black women are implored, to conform to White dictates, so we have tried everything to create “hair that moves.” Braids, dreadlocks—aka dreads—weaves, extensions, and “cold” perms allow Black people to experience hair that moves in a befitting style. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties and seventies, Black people have become freer and more expressive with our hairstyles. As we saw last month we are routinely punished for our insolence.

Even Black people debate about hairstyles, especially those who support assimilation. They believe we must do everything we can to conform to White demands and standards. From my vantage point, this approach does not work. Emulation attempts are doomed self-attacks on one’s intrinsic humanity. No matter what we do to our hair, our skin color remains under assault. Other Black people defend the liberation of the full range of articulation of who we are collectively and individually.

White people scrutinize Black people for evidence of the tiniest violation of whatever rule they are “interpreting” at the moment, any signs of behavior which does not please them, which is often. They set us up to fail by creating lose-lose circumstances. The underlying intentionality of control and annihilation is based in unfounded hatred that results in the myriad tendrils of racism. We are a proud, quiet, gentle people but not according to the stereotypes. We have never asked for more than equal opportunity.

I, along with other people, long for the day when all people are free to live and to be and to showcase their hair.

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For more blog posts by Billie Wade: www.dmpcc.org/Billie