Category Archives: Uncategorized

2019 Women Helping Women Sponsors and Leadership Donors – Thank you!

Presenting Sponsor – $10,000
American Enterprise Group, Inc.
Mary and Doug Bruce

Leadership Sponsor – $5,000
Angela Connolly, Polk County Board of Supervisors
The Grainger Foundation
Susan and Bill Knapp
Wells Fargo

Supporting Sponsor – $2,500
Aureon HR
Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey
Foster Group
IMT Insurance
Trudy Holman-Hurd
Prairie Meadows
Susan and Carl Voss
West Bank
Whitfield & Eddy Law Family Law Group
Kathleen and Larry Zimpleman

Contributing Sponsor – $1,500
B&G Foods
Bank of America
Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation
Des Moines University
Gateway Market
The Iowa Clinic Women’s Center
Iowa Radiology
Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
MidAmerican Energy Company
Mary M. Riche
Salon Spa W
Silver Fox
Marti Wade
Sally Wood
Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure

Media Sponsor
Business Publications Corportaion

Special Friend – $1,000
Linda Anderson
Dr. Barbara Beatty
Patty Cownie
Paula Duncan
Kathy Fehrman
Judith Flapan
Ann Flood
Jann Freed and John Fisher
Barbara and Michael Gartner
Sharon Goldford
Elizabeth A. Goodwin
Mary Gottschalk
Charlotte Hubbell
Ellen Hubbell
Rusty Hubbell
Kate Juelfs
Linda Koehn
Virginia Lauridsen
Nancy Main
LaDonna Matthes
Brenda Mouw
Doris Jean Newlin
Pauline and William Niebur
Jill Oman
Lynsey Oster
Mary and John Pappajohn
Stephanie Pearl
Shirley Poertner
Deb Pulver
John Ruan Foundation
Jackie Saunders
David Shaw
Rebecca Shaw
Rachel Stauffer
Kathy and Ted Stuart
Nanette Stubbs
Marsha Ternus
Connie Wimer

Leader Plus – $500
Linda and Larry Anderson
Margaret Borgen
Beth and Tim Coonan
Dave Egleston
Rosalie Gallagher
Renee Hardman
Trudie Higgs
Kathleen Hoegh
Ann and Tom Holme
Dianne and Roger Jones
Anne Kelly
Mary Kramer
Rachel McDonough
Jo Oldson, in honor of Susan Voss
Jennifer Lock Oman
Beth Nyguard
Dawn and Steve Roberts
Hallie Still-Caris
Teresa Van Vleet-Danos

Leader – $250
Judith Akre, in honor of Dr. Rebecca Shaw
Rep. Marti Anderson
Anonymous (2)
Becky Anthony
Stephanie Asklof
Sandra Axness
Barb Bachman
Connie Beasley
Kris Benge
Sandy Benson Johnson
Laurie Betts Sloterdyk
Jan Berlin
Beth Bishop
Christie Boesen
Connie Boesen
Meredith Boesen
Nancy Bone, in honor of Paula Duncan
Michelle Book
Mary Boote Roth
Katie Bradshaw
Annie S. Brandt
Phyllis Cacciatore
Kevin Carroll
LaNae Ceryanec
Joyce and Rick Chapman
Nancy Cheeseman
Alicia Claypool
Renee Clippert
Margaret-Ann Comito
Dawn Connet and Greg Nichols
Julie Ann Connolly
Cynde Cronin
Cathy Crowley
Margaret Doyle
Marsha and Ellery Duke
Michael Egel
Karen Engman
Denise Essman
Theresa Feldman
Fran Fleck
Allison Fleming
Beth Gaul
Jessica Giesinger
Kathy Giles
Shawna Gisi
Debbie Gitchell
Diane Glass and J. Jeffrey Means
Linda Goeldner
Judy Goodwin
Barbara Graham
Bonnie Green
Lori and Larry Hartsook
Sarah Hayes
Lynn Heggen
Cara Heiden
Barbara Hein
Starr and Harry Hinrichs
Dixie Hoekman
Michelle Hogan
Debbie Hubbell
Bev Hutney
Connie Isaacson
Martha James
Linda Jennings
Beth Stelle Jones
Maureen Keehnle
Wendy Kriegshauser
Mary F. Kunkel
Marla Lacey
Martha and Christine Lebron-Dykeman
Caroline Levine
Christine Lewis
Marian Lyddon
Sharon Malheiro
Robbie G. Malm
Cyril Mandelbaum
Kate Massop
Claudette McDonald
Andrea McGuire
Susan Vujnovich-McRoberts
Ann Michelson
The Middleton Family
Karla and Mark Minear
Lisa Minear, In honor of Cindy Colgrove and Sally Smith
Jana Montgomery
Debra Moore
Diane H. Morain
Terri Mork Speirs
Barb Mueller
Christin Murphy
Liz Neumann
Kurt Ness
Mary Nilsen
Charlotte Noble
Jackie Norris
Cynthia O’Brien
Sandy O’Brien
Jeanne O’Halloran
Donna Paulsen
Gail Pearl
Sally Pederson
Allison Peet
Deanna Questad
Susy Robinette
Helen Robinson
Janet Rosenbury
Katie Roth
Priscilla Ruhe
Katherine Safris
Patrice Sayre
Pam Schoffner
Mary Kay Shanley
Judith Sheldon
Marti Sivi
A. Joyce Smith
Kelly Sparks
Joan Stark
Sheila Starkovich Lingwall
Ellen Strachota
Randi Stern
Mary Stuart
Gail Stubbs
Cheryl Sypal
Joyce and Harold Templeman
Karen Unrau
Sara Van Wyngarden
Amalia Valdes
Lisa Veach
Charlene Vukovich
Dr. Teri Wahlig
Linda Weidmaier
Michele Whitty
Malinda Wiesner
Deb Wiley and John Schmidt
Jean M. Williams
Emily Williams-Bouska
Carey Wimer
Dr. Judy Winkelpeck
Kyrie Wong
Roberta Yoder

Young Leader – $125
Morgan Baumert
Rachel Bruns
Rachel Dahlen
Abbe Davidson
Rachel Eubank
Sarah Frieberg
Alexandra K. Hubbell
Tessa Isaacson
Onnalee Kelley
Emily Kessinger
Jenna Knox, in honor of Annie Brandt
Ali Makris
Leigh Nelson
Laura Palmer
Anne Roth
Erica Shannon Stueve
Amanda Speirs
Jane Thebo
Ann-Charlotte Wade
Whitney Warne
Emily Webb
Andrea Woodard

Table Sponsor 
Carol Bodensteiner
Central Presbyterian Church
Davis Brown Law Firm
Ann Flood
Fredrickson & Byron P.A.
Mary Gottschalk
The Graham Group
LaDonna Matthes
Nexus Executive Women’s Alliance
Robyn Mills
L.U.N.A. (Latinas United for a New Dawn), sponsored by Sharon Goldford
Judy McCoy Davis
Kelle Rolfes, In Memory of Bennett Rolfes
West Bank
Willis Auto Campus
Kathryn Wheeler
Sally Wood

Corporate Friends – $250 – $1,000
Casey’s General Stores
Meredith Corporation
University Dental Group – Dr. Kathy Elsner and Dr. Katie Spellman

In-Kind Support
Bella Flora Event Design
Connie Wilson Design
Integrity Printing
XO-LP // Laura Palmer


For more event information:

African Americans and Mental Health

Billie Wade, writer

Dysthymic Disorder (depression) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) have affected my life since adolescence. Counseling has been an integral part of my life since my mid-twenties. I have always believed in the power of talking about issues and problems and can attest to the value of counseling. For the first time, I have a relationship with a counselor, here at Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, who walks with me as I explore the experiences and meanings of living as a black woman in a predominantly white world. Racism, external and internalized; discrimination; profiling; and, the residue of slavery compound daily in the lives of black people. Many black people disagree with my decision to receive counseling, based on a host of very real reasons.

Black people are under constant scrutiny and judgment by the majority culture—clothing, hair, the car we drive, where we live, our personality, our religion and spirituality, our employment or lack thereof. Our cultural climate is measured against that of the majority and usually found wanting. Dichotomous messages and double standards are applied arbitrarily. For instance, we are told that we must be employed and self-sufficient, but we are profiled if we dress too well or the car we drive is too nice. Moving about in the world is a matter of safety. Because of the factors listed above, I am always a target, emotionally as well as physically.

In my years of counseling, my issues and problems as a black woman went unaddressed. They were not so much discounted or ignored as they were not considered. They were not on anyone’s radar, including mine. I was treated as a white woman with black skin. The discrimination and oppression to which I was subjected “could happen to anybody.” It was years before I recognized the mistreatment and exploitation for what they were. The ebony ceiling is much lower and much thicker than the glass ceiling.

Virtually all of my counselors have been white males. I did have one Native American Indian female counselor and one black male counselor. When I began working with my counselor, here at the Center, in January 2013, I became comfortable enough, after a few months, to explore the painful topic of race relations. We discuss ways in which racial tension and strife contributed to the trauma in my life and continue to do so. I am subjected to all the issues and problems experienced by white women, compounded by race.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Common mental health disorders among African Americans include major depression; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); suicide, among African American men; and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” Additionally, African Americans are more likely to be exposed to violence and “make up about 40% of the homeless population. African American children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children.” Clinicians often receive little or no training in cultural competency as a matter of course. Because of either conscious or unconscious provider biases, black people are often misdiagnosed or receive a poor quality of care. Providers not trained in cultural competence may not recognize mental health symptoms. NAMI also reported that “men are more likely to receive a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia when expressing symptoms related to mood disorders or PTSD.”

In the chemical dependency treatment field, the desire of a client to confront racial issues is discounted as an excuse, an avoidance strategy to skirt the fact that the individual is drinking and using drugs to her or his detriment. For all clients, substance use is treated as a causality rather than an outcome, seen as primary rather than a stress response and coping strategy. Psychological factors are not considered.

“Only about one-quarter of African American people seek mental health services, compared to 40% of whites,” reports NAMI. The 25% rate surprised me as I thought the percentage was much lower. Many barriers impede access to mental health services for black people, among them:

  • Location of services/lack of transportation
  • Lack of childcare
  • Lack of complete information
  • Fear of being committed to a hospital psychological unit
  • Lack of financial resources
  • Lack of insurance
  • Fear of ridicule by family and friends
  • Perception of counselors as mind-reading psychics
  • Told by clergy, family members, and peers that their life would improve if they attend church and believe in Jesus.
  • Distrust of mental health professionals, medical professionals, and white people
  • Fear of lack of confidentiality, that what they discuss will be used against them
  • Fear of incarceration
  • Fear of appearing weak and unable to control themselves or manage their lives or to control those around them. For instance, “I’d be alright if my kids would stop driving me crazy.”
  • The perception that they are emotionally healthy and stable and that everyone else needs to change.
  • Like many non-minority people, they know they need to change which seems daunting.

Out of necessity, the black community has formed some social supports that sustain them in times of stress and emotional upheaval, such as:

  • Religious faith
  • Close-knit family networks; extended family; there are few secrets in the black community
  • Racial pride
  • Emotional strength and resilience which can sometimes lead to discounting of their emotional pain as they are told they have little or no reason to “complain.”

Finding a compatible counselor can be a discouraging process, and some people give up. NAMI suggests asking prospective counselors the following questions:

  1. Have you treated other African Americans?
  2. Have you received training in cultural competence or on African American mental health?
  3. How do you see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment?
  4. How do you plan to integrate my beliefs and practices in my treatment?

Will family members be involved in my treatment? What if I do not want my family members involved?

Engaging the black community takes time and effort. The Center has taken a step in the right direction to encourage black people to enlist mental health services with the satellite office in the Drake University area. Further efforts could include using black people in marketing and advertising and recruiting black counselors and staff.

I encourage black people to seek mental health services as an essential addition to the social supports already in place. I truly believe that, with earnest effort, virtually everyone can benefit from counseling. To schedule an appointment or for more information about the services offered at the Center, call 515-274-4006.

Warm regards.


To read more of Billie’s blogs, click here.

Meet Rachel Hollingsworth, Student Intern

Hello, I’m Rachel Hollingsworth. I am a senior at Simpson College majoring in psychology and religion, and I have been interning at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center for the past few months. After I graduate in May 2019, I plan to head to seminary to pursue a dual degree in divinity and social work. I will begin my graduate studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary this fall. My plan for the future is to work in a ministry setting, such as parish ministry, counseling, or something
else. I like to try new things, so who knows where I might end up? During my internship at the Center, I am learning more about what makes pastoral counseling different from other types of counseling and spiritual direction. To help me understand different sides of working in a counseling center, I have been able to interview multiple staff members here. All of the individuals I spoke with had different positions and expertise, so I have explored many of the different moving parts of the Center. Each person has something different to teach me. I not only learned about their vocational path and job duties, but also the wisdom and advice they have to pass on.
One of my favorite learnings so far was from Ramona, a previous student in the graduate
training program at the Center. She told me that one of the biggest problems with our world is that we don’t listen to each other. One hour a week where someone else is listening, even if they are paid to do it, can make the world of difference for someone. Another person I interviewed was Ellery Duke, a licensed psychologist and also the previous executive director at the Center. This interview gave me some more in-depth knowledge about the world of pastoral counseling. One thing in particular I learned from this conversation was his perspective on therapy, which is that each person coming into therapy is simply a fellow human just trying to survive and live their life. Every person is on a journey, and pastoral counseling helps us address whatever is limiting us from becoming who we want to be. These are just a few of the things I have learned during my time here, and all of the individuals I interviewed offered valuable bits of wisdom and advice.
The Center has given me several different opportunities to explore my own vocation,
develop professional skills, and dip my toes into the counseling field. I look forward to learning
and experiencing more as I finish out the semester.

  • Rachel

Women Helping Women 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019, is a special day for Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center as the Center hosts the 21st annual Women Helping Women Luncheon at Embassy Suites. The luncheon raises funds to provide counseling and education for underinsured and uninsured women and girls. Five hundred eighty people attended the 2018 event which raised $204,000. In its twenty-one-year history the fund has raised over one million dollars. This year’s theme focuses on suicide loss and prevention. This year’s keynote speaker is Gina Skinner-Thebo, and the honoree is Susan Voss.

Suicide is an important topic to me as I am among those impacted. I attempted suicide at the age of twenty-one. I was married, employed, outwardly happy, and miserable. No one detected any signs. I behaved in predictable ways. The truth was my life was falling apart. I suffered from undiagnosed depression and anxiety, and low self-esteem. My husband found me and took me to the emergency room where the doctor told me not to do it again and sent me home. My husband ridiculed me. I had no social supports, no spiritual foundation, no mental health or medical services, and no effective coping skills. I was alone. To this day, I feel frightened when I think about that time and how close I came to ending my life. While the statistics show lower rates of suicide for African American females, suicides do happen. I nearly became one of them.

The life of Gina Skinner-Thebo changed forever on July 22, 2014. Her close friend, Rachel Atwood committed suicide. The loss led Gina to reevaluate her interactions with women. She is conscious about maintaining her relationships with transparency and authenticity. She founded The Atwood Center for Women to honor her friend and to provide a space for women to express themselves and to explore issues important to them.

Susan Voss has served on the Center’s Board of Directors more than ten years, including serving as Board president. She emceed the 2017 Women Helping Women Luncheon. She has participated on the Women Helping Women planning committee and introduced others to the initiative. She believes in the Center’s whole-person approach to mental health services. She described the Center’s staff as “amazing” and “truly gifted.” I agree.

Sadly, suicide statistics tell their own story of loss and grief.

In Iowa, 451 people died by suicide in 2016, ranking the state 29th in the country. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that “On average, one person dies by suicide every nineteen hours in [Iowa]. The rate of suicide deaths in Iowa in 2016 was 14.55 per 100,000 population compared to the national rate of 13.42.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that for the years 2000 through 2016, the suicide rate for males increased 21% while the rate for females during the same period increased 50%. The ratio of male-to-female suicide rate was 4.4 in 2000 and 3.6 in 2016. The narrowing in the ratio of male-to-female suicide rates reflects the accelerated increase in female suicide rates beginning in 2007. “In 2016, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.” More women attempt suicide while more men die by suicide. Suicide rates for females were highest in the 45-64-year-old age bracket. The rates were 6.2 per 100,000 females in 2000 and 9.9 in 2016.

A fact sheet by American Association for Suicidology reports that African Americans have a lower suicide rate than other ethnicities, based on 2014 data. Of the 2,421 suicides committed by African Americans, 475 were female. “The suicide rate for African American females was the lowest among men and women of all ethnicities.” Distinctive risk factors include “access to lethal means,” “exposure to violence,” and “exposure to racial inequality.” Barriers to mental health services include limited access due to transportation, child care, and insurance; the stigma of mental health; and distrust of mental health and medical professionals. Elements that help protect African Americans against suicide are religious faith, familial ties, community networks, and “ethnic pride.”

Suicide is a complex phenomenon that contains many variables and reasons. Pin-pointing a single cause leading to a suicide is to chase an elusive, ever-transmuting target. Individuals may experience a single event in a cluster or line of events leading up to the suicide. Chronic and long-term stress take a devastating toll that increases exponentially with time, until the person can no longer endure the onslaught and sees no alternatives. Signs and symptoms, particularly changes in an individual’s habits, demeanor, or behavior, may alert family, friends, and colleagues that something is amiss.

While many sources of stress affect women and men, women and girls experience unique adversities:

  • Hormonal and body changes at puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
  • Depression during pregnancy and post-partum depression.
  • Raising families, sometimes singlehandedly.
  • Caring for aging parents, often while raising families.
  • Job or career pressures that do not apply equally to men.
  • Loss of identity when care-giving is no longer necessary, whether children no longer need emotional or financial support, or when aging parents are settled into long-term care or die.
  • Relief from family responsibilities, so the woman is now free to end her life.

Included in the stellar array of counseling and educational services offered by the Center, two services specifically address suicide loss and prevention. ASIST™ (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) teaches participants how to recognize signs and symptoms of someone contemplating suicide and where to get help. The two-day intensive is facilitated by Diane McClanahan, BSN, M. Div, and Beverly C. Butler. Diane is director of Leadership and Spiritual Life at the Center. Beverly is an ordained United Methodist clergy. Diane and Beverly both are registered ASIST™ trainers. Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group meets the third Tuesday evening every month at the Center. The group is facilitated by Andrea Severson, LMHC, M. Div, who is a counselor at the Center, and Diane McClanahan. Diane also is trained as a Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Group facilitator. More information about these programs can be found on the Center’s website,, and click on “Classes and Events “or by contacting Diane McClanahan at 515-251-6667 or  The national suicide prevention hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and website: The lifeline is free, confidential, and always available.

As mentioned earlier, the suicide rate for females is increasing faster than the rate for males. You can support the Center’s intention to provide counseling and education and other services to women and girls in need. Visit the Center’s website and click on 2019 Women Helping Women Luncheon for more information about the initiative and ways you can participate. You also may contact Women Helping Women Luncheon organizer Terri Speirs at 515-251-6670.

Warm regards.

Billie Wade, writer

For more of Billie’s blogs, click here.

Join us for a live, nationwide webinar and discussion

Solihten Institute and the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center present a nationwide live interactive webcast


click to launch printer-friendly flyer

Program Tod Bolsinger, M.Div., Ph.D. is the Vice-President & Chief of Leadership Formation, and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is a speaker and author of three books including Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory.

How do we minister—how do we lead a ministry—in such a rapidly changing world?

“Seminary didn’t prepare me for this” is the statement that Tod frequently hears from his clients. Fuller Seminary alumni echoed this lament in a 2010 survey, suggesting that even those with extensive education and preparation may need help when navigating the uncharted waters of unexpected missional challenges.

Come watch Tod speak, take questions, and hold a nationwide conversation during this interactive streaming event at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.

Audience Clergy
Date Monday, April 29, 2019
Time 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Central time (live webinar followed by discussion)
Location The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, 8553 Urbandale Avenue, Urbandale, IA
Cost $25 – includes lunch
CEUs 3 Contact Hours (.3 CEUs)

Diane McClanahan, M.Div., Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life at the Center

Diane McClanahan, M.Div., B.N., Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life and Spiritual Director at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.

Express Yourself

Self-expression is innate in every human being. Self-expression is the way we do things, whether we are conscious of it. Through self-expression we say, “This is who I am.” We share our authenticity.

We self-express in myriad ways through our hairstyle and our clothing, the way we talk and use words, body language, writing, art, music, our lifestyle, avocations and career. One person may self-express through beautiful and bountiful flower and vegetable gardens. Another person may self-express through the restoration of classic or damaged automobiles. Someone else may self-express through her or his skills as a surgeon. And yet another may self-express through her or his skills as a counselor or spiritual director. On and on the list goes. One of the many ways I self-express is through my writing, but I also use my organizational skills, my use of technology, my sense of fascination and curiosity, and my imagination.

Because self-expression reveals authenticity, it also means saying, “No,” or “Yes,” depending on our need at the time, the situation, or the people involved. Our ability to say “No” or “Yes” or to speak out is tied to our ability to self-express. Self-expression is about self-permission. We allow ourselves to say what we mean. We express our thoughts and emotions clearly with our words and actions. We let other people know they have violated our boundaries, and their actions are not okay.

Growing up and throughout most of my adult life, I did not speak up. I did not have opinions. I did not know that “No” was an option as well as a complete sentence. The same applied to “Yes.” I let other people talk me out of things I really wanted to do. Or worse, other people made decisions for me and I did not speak up in self-defense. Other people took credit for my work, sometimes with the full knowledge of those in charge. I endured the exploitation in stoic silence. When I did speak up my voice was often weak and ineffective. Very few people listened to what I had to say. Now, I am conscious of my values, my self-worth, my heart’s desires, and my freedom to speak. When I am hesitant, I search within and arrive at a decision that serves me. When I say “No” or “Yes” with conviction, I am also taking responsibility for my decisions. I take credit for my skills and accomplishments. I take ownership of things I do well. I acknowledge the Divine Presence that guides my life.

Self-expression can challenge us to be our best selves regardless of the judgment of others. Some people may deem our activities as silly or a waste of time or wrong. We may have to persevere against ridicule and criticism to let our heart’s passion express. I grew up in an alcoholic home. My father disapproved of my career choice when I earned my bachelor’s degree and became a substance abuse counselor.

Self-expression respects other people, opinions, beliefs, and ideas. Using it to hurt others also hurts the giver. Self-expression is a gift to share. We cultivate meaningful relationships. We look for solutions that benefit everyone concerned. We share our gift of individuality in ways that enrich our life and the lives of those we encounter.

Here are seven ways to self-express:

  • Saying “Thank you” is a simple form of self-expression when someone treats us with compassion, kindness, and grace.
  • Displaying a calming presence in the midst of dissention and chaos can deescalate a tense situation.
  • Making amends and apologies can become a vehicle for our self-expression.
  • Showing compassion and kindness benefits the giver as well as the receiver.
  • Asking for what we want, and need, means others are in a better position to support us.
  • Extending empathy and a generosity of spirit can lift someone’s mood for the rest of the day, fostering a sense of connection and rapport.
  • Complimenting someone can elevate her or his spirits by sharing in their self-expression.

Be conscious of the ways you self-express. Are you sending the message you want to convey about who you are and what you are about? I invite you to spend some time celebrating your unique attributes. What life changes do you need to make to express your true Self and live with authenticity?

Conscious self-expression means allowing our true Self to shine. We temper our behavior in ways that promote amicable relationships and win-win outcomes. We express our emotions in a conscious, full, and open manner. We live our lives as art. Enjoy.

Billie Wade, writer

For more of Billie’s blogs, click here.

The Wonder of Generosity

Tis the season of March, which invites me and others of Irish heritage to celebrate the memory of St. Patrick. Not the usual distortions of all things green, but literally a heritage. I’ve been known to sing a traditional ballad now and again. I often set aside time in March to read a bit of Irish history or literature. Options abound. This year I’m reading John O’Donohue, whose lively imagination has helped me and many others to pay attention to the little things each day in order to experience the joy of wonder. Here’s a quote that inspired pause:

One of the most exciting and energetic forms of thought is the question. I always think that the question is like a lantern. It illuminates new landscapes and new areas as it moves. Therefore the question always assumes that there are many different dimensions to a thought that you are either blind to or that are not available to you. So a question is really one of the forms in which wonder expresses itself. (p. 6)

John O’Donohue, Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World. 2015.

The power of a question to guide us to wonder.

I experience it on a regular basis when I’m working with the generous people who support our work at the Center. I often begin conversations by asking people how they became connected with the Center in the first place. I’ve reflected on answers to that question in previous posts, but suffice it to say that a relationship was established in which the Center played a role in helping someone to find their way to hope and healing.

A follow up question regularly inspires wonder: Where did you learn to be so generous with your time, or talent, or treasure/resources? The answer often involves modeling. Donors grew up in families that valued generosity. They encountered someone whose generosity benefited them and made a difference in helping that person to find a path to success and fulfillment. They engaged in the work of an organization like the Center and saw the direct connection of supporting a mission in order to help others thrive. Lanterns illumined new landscapes and possibilities.

I encourage the community of stakeholders engaged in our work to keep these questions in mind as you’re out and about in the community. “How did you become involved in mental health issues?” (It’s a great way to fight stigma). All of us are touched in some way by these issues. There are too many tragic tales, but also inspiring narratives of healing. Don’t be afraid of the follow up question of how folks learned to be generous as they engaged an issue like mental health. My guess is you’re going to hear more inspiring answers of how one learns to be generous and engaged so as to live a fulfilled life. It’s the path to leading a life that matters and there is much work to be done.

I stand in wonder each day when I see how our work is made possible through the generosity of so many  who participate in and support our mission.

click image to read more of Jim’s blogs