The Wild Edge of Sorrow

image | courtney’s “to read” pile

Yesterday my therapist read this quote below to me after I shared a story about a “loss” that I more recently experienced. I spoke about how even though I was feeling sad, I genuinely felt a sense of appreciation for the experience. The experience, despite the loss, gives me hope despite the sadness felt, and for this I feel gratitude and it further opens me up to life. Hurdles, hardship, and heartbreak are inevitable – like the first Noble Truth talks about, dukkha.

I loved the quote she shared with me so much that I looked it up online, and now want to share both the quote and an article that included it.

The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That is how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps that heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible. – Francis Weller

As we all individually cope with the different losses in our lives and while we witness countless grief in the world amidst the political and racial turmoil in our country and our world, it’s easy to wallow and inwardly suffer. Allowing for grief, pain, and sorrow to be held supports our well-being. It creates an environment where the many feelings we have as humans are normalized and where we learn healthy ways to embrace and sort through them, rather than shame and shield them, often leading us to turn to unhealthy ways of coping. We all hurt. We all experience loss, We can almost look at grief similar to big “T” trauma and little “t” trauma, as loss is not just a death, and even small “l” losses matter. Loss can look and feel different to all of us. It’s human.

The important part, as Weller mentions, is to also find room for gratitude. To hold grief, expand gratitude, and create compassion. Balancing our sorrow with gratitude gives us hope, and I believe hope dies last.

What losses have impacted you. What helps you to cope with expressing loss. Have you tried feelings and needs identification? Do you create space for gratitude to also be spread out alongside it.

The Geography of Sorrow article can be found by clicking here. I also own Weller’s book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, which also comes highly recommended by my therapist – I just need to read it! There is a growing pile of books to read going on over here!

Salty September Giveaway!

SALTY SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY!!! This month marks 12 years working in the field of end-of-life care! And, September is also Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In recognition of this, I am offering a giveaway for caregivers of a person(s) living with dementia. 

Isolation can wither the soul. On a “normal” day I see how hard it can be for individuals struggling to connect with things that were once so familiar. As the disease worsens, finding ways to connect often becomes more and more difficult – for those living with the disease and those caring. During covid, isolation is even more prevalent due to restrictions in place to help protect people from spreading the disease. One small way to help drive connection during isolating times is to offer music. 

Familiar music, even for individuals living with late-stage dementia, can do wonders for the soul. In this giveaway, you have the opportunity to own and watch one of my favorite, most eye-opening documentaries, Alive Inside! You also will receive the Memory Player, wireless headphones, from the related Alive Inside Foundation, allowing you to create a personalized playlist for an individual in your life who is living with dementia. Included is an SD card reader as well for ease in downloading music. Additionally, you will receive a nautical chart face/neck gaiter as navigating the healthcare system can be so challenging – I empathize with you!

This is a great giveaway for someone who is personally or professionally caring for someone living with this disease. These resources will hopefully help in some small way during these different, difficult times. To enter please complete the following steps:

1. Visit @salt.selfawarenessletstalk and like Salty September Giveaway post dated today (9/8/2020)
2. Follow @salt.selfawarenessletstalk
3. Comment / Tag someone who may be interested in these resources.

The giveaway will close on Wednesday, September 23rd at 11:59pm (my mom’s b-day, as she was the most dedicated caregiver to my aunt and grandfather, both of whom lived with dementia). The winner will be randomly selected and will receive a DM on Thursday, September 24th. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Instagram or the products involved. Best of luck!

Migraines are Real


Fact : I suffer from migraines. This month has been a challenge. The humidity and changing weather patterns have been my greatest trigger recently. Thankfully, Excedrin Migraine really helps if I take this right when I feel a headache coming on, along with my head wrap and neck massager (aka, my “headgear”).

For the past 10 years I’ve had them and they used to interrupt and consume multiple days each month. However, after instilling my practice of nonviolent communication (aka compassionate communication) about 5 years ago, I noticed a decrease in the frequency of migraine episodes. Although I still get them, seemingly due to hormone and weather-related reasons, I truly credit SALT practices for helping to release some of the stress that my mind, my body, was carrying.

Life is stressful. We hold so much of the stress in our bodies. SALT practices afford an opportunity to release the stress through clarifying, naming, and validating why we feel the way we feel. I believe there is some truth to the sayings,  “Name it to tame it,” and  “Feel. Deal. Heal.” Speaking of HEAL, have you seen the documentary on Netflix? If not, run to your couch!

For the Feelers and the Self-Healers


Does a practice of greater self-awareness that can be integrated into every aspect of your life interest you? We all have feelings and we all have needs – it’s a common thread among us all. SALT is the perfect place to begin the practice of identifying feelings and needs in order to find clarity in life.

Life doesn’t always go as planned, and yet fortunately we still find unexpected joys. No matter where we are in life, these practices are applicable. Feelings and needs identification sounds basic, I know. The truth is, it can be really hard AND it has the potential to be life-changing.

Thank you for being here alongside me, and if this speaks to you stay tuned for the release of my self-guided study of SALT practices in the coming months.

This is Us


A deck of Inner Active Cards was included in the SALT Essentials Giveaway, and I continually can’t say enough good about them when working on self-awareness. They are a gift when working to better connect with the many parts of ourselves. As you can see from this image, my deck is getting worn in from use! Twice last month I had friends pull cards. Tears welled up in the eyes of one, and goosebumps developed on the arms of the other. The details in the illustrations are amazing and highly insightful. They were a studio favorite and for good reason!

Right / Wrong to Win / Win


Self-righteousness is a real thing. It’s something I struggle with. We get stuck thinking our way is best and wavering from our way can be a challenge – for us and those around us. We choose to plant our feet, draw a line, and stand tall in our stance. Sometimes we easily begin to play the blame game and label – right / wrong, good / bad, better / worse – because, well, our way is best. This drives disconnection across all settings.

The first step to moving away from self-righteousness is self-awareness. Once we are aware that our superior, one-sided thinking has kicked into gear, try slowing down. Pause. Breathe. Acknowledge. Soothe. And consider other perspectives. Try reeling in the rigid convictions and lean into curiosity and possibility. Consideration for our own feelings and needs, as well as others, will help with building connection. Keep in mind that there are MANY ways to meet one need. A win / win outcome is ideal!

Addiction / Connection


I recently re-watched the movie Rocket Man about Elton John’s life, and I am reminded of this quote above. I never looked at addiction quite this way until I read Lost Connections by Johann Hari, and I haven’t looked at addiction the same since. We become addicted to things as a way to cope with a disconnection that has occurred in our life. Read that last sentence a few times. Human connection is vital to understanding addiction, as well as our well-being and healing.

Requesting Reassurance


This is a big one! Often times when we are feeling insecure, unregulated, and/or “needy,” we “behave” in ways that push us further from what we want and need. Sometimes that need is reassurance. SALT can help with learning to clearly, calmly, and kindly communicate what we need.

Instead of instigating fights, acting like everything is “fine,” playing the waiting game of text responses, or bottling everything up then exploding, how about simply owning our “stuff” and asking for what we need? Remember, human needs are universal, therefore to some degree we can all relate to them, including the need for reassurance.

I will never forget the first time I tried asking for reassurance. I was feeling insecure about something before I left for work. I noticed my heart racing and I had a pit in my stomach (my main somatic signals of an unmet need). Instead of ignoring these signs, and leaving the house like this, I chose to use them as my guide. I knew reassurance would help bring me relief. I said to my partner at the time something to the effect of, “So I’m noticing that I’m feeling insecure this morning about (situation). Do you think today you could give me bit more verbal reassurance about us?” His response was a quick and casual, “Yah, sure!” (so simple, as if I asked for a drink refill) with a good-bye kiss. What a response! What a relief! And what a better day we both had! No drama. No stress. Just taking care of my needs, myself.

SALT practices are one strategy to improved connection to self and others. Have you ever asked someone directly for reassurance? Might this be helpful to you?

Stay SALTy Giveaway


STAY SALTY LOCAL GIVEAWAY!!! Hey CT/RI summer-lovin’ friends! Here’s your chance to win a few fun items as we dive into the last full month of the memorable summer of 2020! The giveaway includes a bottle of Bon Jovi’s Hampton Water Rosé ; a compact, portable, waterproof Bose speaker ; my favorite candle by Madewell ; and a copy of my next summer read, a story by Richard Russo, that takes place in Martha’s Vineyard. Let’s admit it, chances are … we could use a little more lightness in our lives right now! When we dive deep, it’s important to balance out life with some fun and joy! (Plus, you get to reap the benefits of giveaways helping to meet my personal need for contribution!)

To enter the STAY SALTY LOVAL GIVEAWAY please visit @salt.selfawarenessletstalk.

The giveaway starts today and closes on Saturday, August 15th at 11:59pm EST! The winner will be randomly selected and will receive a DM notification on Sunday, August 16th. You must be at least 21 years of age and live in Connecticut (where I live) or Rhode Island (where I work) to win. I cannot ship wine, therefore delivery / drop off will need to be arranged. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Instagram or the products involved. Stay well, STAY SALTY!