A Dose of Joy!
- By: Candace McKibben
October is a busy month for health awareness. Breast cancer awareness is but one of many important concerns, including dental hygiene, physical therapy, and world mental health day. In the field of human services, there is an important mental health concept identified by Dr. Charles Figley, while he was a professor at Florida State University, called “compassion fatigue.” Dr. Figley says, “Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.” Unlike burnout, which is a cousin and has to do with the work environment, compassion fatigue is when you take on the trauma of those you are serving and has more to do with the work itself.
The idea of fatigue or immobilization from an excess of something that is personally unhealthy has moved beyond the helping professions to other avenues of life. Some people experience “voter fatigue,” believing that their vote does not matter and thus feel apathetic about voting. The PEW research center says that seven in ten Americans have “news fatigue,” feeling worn out by the amount of news that is accessible these days. Some people know what has been termed, “resistance fatigue,” a sense of exhaustion at protesting, being vigilant and on top of disturbing happenings. From as far back as 1997, the term describes activists of all ilks who find themselves run down by the number of issues to oppose. Years ago, Thomas Merton recognized that “to allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.” “Outrage fatigue” is related to “resistance fatigue” and is the term given to an overwhelming sensation of helplessness and hopelessness. And on it goes.
I believe we are living with a blanket of anxiety or fatigue from the uncertainty of many things in our current national experience. That, coupled with the recent storm that has created great suffering for many in our region, has left numbers of us with a heightened sense of exhaustion and sorrow. I think of a wonderful author, speaker, and psychotherapist, Miriam Greenspan, who came to our community in December 2014 to speak on “Grief and Healing in a Brokenhearted World.” At the invitation of author Sue Cerulean and Big Bend Hospice, and with the support of generous community people, she challenged us to find hope in gratitude. Between her words, Velma Frye’s lovely music, and David Moynahan’s inspiring photography, we left the event feeling uplifted and encouraged. It was a great mental health boost.
We have the opportunity to experience another dose of hope as a community on Monday evening, November 5, as we gather at the Goodwood Carriage House for a heartwarming experience with the authors of a delightful book released in 2016 called, “Driving Miss Norma: One’s Family’s Journey Saying ‘Yes’ to Living.” Tim Bauershmidt and his wife, Ramie Liddle, have written with passion and joy about a cross-country adventure they made with Tim’s mother at age 90. Two days after her husband of 67 years died, Norma Bauershmidt learned that what she had suspected was a malignancy was indeed uterine cancer. Rather than receive treatment, she accepted the gracious offer of her children and their Standard Poodle, Ringo, to take her into their home, which just happened to have wheels. 32 states and 13, 000 miles later, they all were changed by what they had experienced together.
With more than a half a million likes, her Facebook page has warmed the hearts of people around the globe. You may have seen her on YouTube or the evening news. The page, plus her book and interviews, are inspiring others to say “yes” to living. This free event is being held in honor of National Hospice Month, the twentieth anniversary of Aging with Dignity, the creators of Five Wishes, and the thirty-fifth anniversary of Big Bend Hospice.
The book is being sold at the event by Midtown Reader and the authors will be autographing copies. You will enjoy root beer and key lime pie in memory of Miss Norma, as those were her favorites. The conversation with the authors will be causal, including an opportunity for audience questions, and I have a deep sense that we all will leave with a deeper appreciation for life and the joy we can find in even the most difficult circumstances.
I love what the authors say in the last chapter of the book about Miss Norma’s journal. What was surprising to them was not what she had written, but what she had not mentioned. Come find out more!
If you come:
When: Monday, November 5, 2018 – 6 – 7:30 PM
Where: Goodwood Carriage House, 1600 Miccosukee Road, Free parking
What: “Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying ‘Yes’ to Living”
Who: Tim Bauerschmidt, Ramie Liddle, and Ringo, the Standard Poodle
Why: A dose of joy!
Contact: Candace McKibben, Director of Faith Outreach at Big Bend Hospice, 850-671-6029 or firstname.lastname@example.org