Stewardship: a whole new possibility

this is a bit from my Writing Ourselves Whole newsletter for November:

Trauma Stewardship book coverLast month, I attended a day-long training on Trauma Stewardship, with Laura van Dernoot Lipsky (this training was hosted by the Domestic Violence Coalition, CUAV and the Asian Women’s Shelter — thank you so much!). Here’s what I want to tell you: there’s not anyone I know who wouldn’t benefit from the ideas and the possibility that Laura (and her coauthor Connie Burke) offer in this training, and the corresponding book. Although it’s written primarily with those who work with survivors of trauma in mind, what I know is that all of the communities I participate in are traumatized right now, and so nearly all of us are going to experience trauma exposure response — which means we could be doing trauma stewardship.

As someone who has come up with every reason there is not to take care of myself (too busy, too guilty, too tired, not as bad off as others, etc — you know these, don’t you?), I’ve been in need of a change for at least a year (some might say longer), and couldn’t figure out how to make space in my life for self-care. And often, I couldn’t honestly believe that I deserved it.

In her introduction, Laura says this about the book (Trauma Stewardship: An everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others), and about the ideas of trauma Stewardship as a different way to walk with the work we’re doing in this world:

“This book is a navigational tool for remembering that we have choices at every step of our lives; we are choosing our own path. We can make a difference without suffering; we can do meaningful work in a way that works for us and for those we serve. We can enjoy the world and set it straight. Taking care of ourselves while taking care of others allows us to contribute to our societies with such impact that we will leave a legacy informed by our deepest wisdom and greatest gifts instead of burdened with our struggles and despair.”

Laura’s concept of Trauma Stewardship has turned a lot around for me. With deep and loving kindness, and fierce compassion, she called all of us out in that room at the Women’s Building: if your work in the world isn’t including time to replenish, and if you are not coming to the work from a place of powerful and rooted centeredness and choice, then your work is going to be unsustainable, and you’re going to end up not recognizing yourself in the mirror.

I want to write more about what’s happened for me, the changes I have started making in and for my life and work since this training, but for now, I absolutely encourage you to visit her website and buy this book — share it with your organizations and communities and friends. We are all stewards for one another right now, and we need to be as kind and gentle with ourselves as we can be during this strong and gorgeous and difficult life.