Family Fridays—“Look For the Helpers”

Because of the unusually intense tornado season throughout the US this spring, I decided to begin today posting Family Fridays.

Transitions #2: Confusion, © 2005 Joni Beach

So many families, particularly in the South, Mid-West, and Northeast, are reeling from the sudden destruction of their worlds and daily lives. The rest of us are left to watch in amazement and, perhaps, feel some guilt at being relieved that it was not us. Of course, whether a tornado or another crisis, we sometimes wonder, “how would we deal with such circumstances?”

In studies of family stress, Froma Walsh discusses what people need whenever they experience an unexpected crisis. What contributes to helping them to cope, recover, and be resilient? Two very important factors are social support and resources, such as after the tornadoes–water, food, shelter, and medical aid. When a sudden crisis happens, people and their families find themselves quickly needing immediate help from others.

I often wonder how to make sense of this type of life event myself. Recently, I heard the story of Fred Rogers‘ (TV’s Mister Rogersanswer for making sense of scary things. As a child, Fred’s mother always told him to “look for the helpers”. For some reason, this was very helpful to me. While it does not change the bad thing that has happened, “looking for the helpers” gives me a way to focus on something positive and reassuring in the midst of it all. And, I know by personal experience that whenever life has been especially challenging, it was the help of other people who made it possible for me to cope. Looking for the helpers after these intense storms, we see real life examples of the needed social support being given to people, which helps them through a crisis, and how important that help really is…

May we all have helpers when we need them, and may we be helpers whenever we can…

Walsh F. (2003). Family resilience: Strengths forged through adversity. In Froma Walsh (Ed.),  Normal Family Processes (3rd ed., pp. 399-423). New York: Guilford Press.

**I’d love to hear your comments! 

Quote…Life as a River

River...“Nothing is ever the same. Rivers are symbolic of our lives, moving and ever-changing. Movement is life. We feel freedom as we move with the currents…”                                                                                                    Alexandra Stoddard

This quote is from a small book by Alexandra Stoddard, entitled Grace Notes, A Book of Daily Meditations (p.175, 1993). It sits in a basket and I regularly pick it up and read one or two pages at a time…over the years my copy has become well-worn and in a few pieces. For a book…that’s a good sign!

Even though we may take comfort in the familiar, realizing the changing nature of life helps individuals and families to meet the daily stresses, and sometimes crises, of life. Being flexible can help us solve problems and cope with challenges. These same elements are used by artists as they design a piece of art–being able to explore new ways of working with certain materials or considering multiple possible answers are examples of the creative process they need to solve problems and make the artwork that they desire. In life, as in art, may we be able to move with the currents…

Quote…Imagination Or “The Wisdom of a Child”?


“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all  we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”                                                                                                          Albert Einstein                 

(Quoted in interview by G.S. Viereck , October 26,1929. Reprinted in “Glimpses of the Great”(1930).)

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